Riddle me this…….

Let’s say you want to start a business. After going through all the preparation, you are ready. You are going to provide a service for others. Your customers will pay for the service, but then you find out you are eligible for a Federal subsidy. You will get regular checks from the US Treasury. There is no time limit on the subsidy, and the government considers your service important enough that you will probably get larger subsidies every year. So you get started, and everything is a success. But it turns out that the revenue from the customers that buy your service pales in comparison to what you get from the Treasury. After a year in business, you prepare to be audited by the IRS, so you go ahead and call them even before you file your taxes. “You won’t be audited,” you are assured. “You don’t even have to report the subsidies as income.”

This cannot be happening. You ask, “Are you drunk?”

“Nah, it’s only 9 in the morning,” the agent replies with a chuckle. “We do this all the time. Trust me.”

You file your taxes with only the income from your customers as your revenue. You get a large refund. The IRS doesn’t come calling. “Hey honey,” you holler across the house at your significant other. “We’re going to Hong Kong for vacation this year!”

The scenario repeats in the second year of your business, only with bigger government checks. You schedule another overseas vacation with only first-class accommodations, renovate your home office and buy a bunch of things that sort of relate to your business, but you can easily succeed without. You drastically increase your price to your customers. They complain, but continue to come to you for your service.

Then a politician in Washington D.C. introduces a bill to cut the subsidies given to your business. You and others around the country that have similar businesses flock to D.C. to speak to the committee reviewing the bill. You testify that your service is so vital that without it, young people will be lost, wandering the streets every day, being more susceptible to muggers and gang violence. “In short, if this bill passes, people will die.” The media picks up your testimony and makes it the lead story on every newscast for a month.

Sound over the top and/or crazy?

The media, regardless of ideology, loves the quick & easy story. Take a problem, find the easiest and most sensational narrative, then broadcast it as irrefutable fact. Do no research, just run the sensational dialogue every broadcast. Any attempts to introduce a different viewpoint is castigated as evil, coming from an evil person. Oh, yes, make sure to find a way to present the story in such a way that anything other than the sensational angle will result in people dying.

What I have just described is not a group of small business owners, but the colleges & universities in the USA. For decades, grants such as Pell Grants and Federally-backed student loans have been freely flowing to the colleges. Every year the colleges get far more government money than they get from the customers (students) seeking to acquire the service (education / degree). The schools have absolutely ZERO incentive to manage costs, knowing the flow of government money is going to increase every year. They can add useless majors like Environmental Justice and hire dozens of professors to indoctrinate students with their political beliefs. And since the vast majority of colleges get some kind of government money, they naturally become politically liberal – if you put food on your family’s table with a government-funded paycheck, you will be naturally inclined to have a favorable view of government, and being liberal means using government programs as the first choice in solving a problem. As the schools become more liberal, they become more intolerant of conservative or Libertarian ideas. Today, it has become acceptable on college campuses to commit acts of terrorism and violence toward conservative and Libertarian ideas.

Making matters worse, no matter how much government money a school receives, it will loudly proclaim that said amount will leave the institution on the brink of insolvency. Tuition rates charged to the students skyrocket while the institution cries poor to the state and Federal legislatures. In my pretend scenario above where the service provider claims people will die without the provided service, that claim is obviously exaggerated, but it has become much more common for lobbyists and politicians linking increased death rates to any reduction or elimination of their favorite use of taxpayer money. The two things that you will always encounter in liberal ideology is that government, and ONLY government, can fix whatever problem is the current topic of discussion. Further, whatever amount of government money you wish to dedicate to the solution, it is NEVER enough.

And where does this money come from? This is where the Dems & Republicans differ only slightly. Republicans just want to borrow it. Let the next generation figure out how to pay it off, just borrow as much as is needed. Democrats want to “make the rich pay their fair share of income taxes.” They have no definition of “fair share,” they only agree they aren’t paying enough. They also don’t have a clear definition of what is “rich.” Personally, whenever I see someone call for higher taxes on “the rich,” the definition appears to be every person who’s net worth is 1 dollar higher than the net worth of the person talking.

All the bloviating aside, we do have a serious issue with student debt. The money is insane, with everyone coming out of school with 6-figure debt. We also have a problem with students getting useless degrees. A school really did introduce an Environmental Justice major for the current year. There’s only one job you can get with that degree – Al Gore Clone. All you can do is go around making speeches about how Earth is going to implode before the 22nd century arrives, that human activity is the ONE and ONLY reason for climate change – well, actually, the capitalist activity of white American men is the ONE and ONLY reason for climate change – and the only ways to avoid the implosion are 1) for America to switch to solar and wind power ONLY, by tomorrow, and if that costs too much, make the “rich” people pay for it in higher taxes, and 2) for America to give its entire gross domestic product to “poor” countries so they can build their solar and wind farms. On the other hand, get an Engineering degree and you will go from your graduation ceremony directly to a full-time job and your student loans will be a distant memory by the time you are 30.

There are two ways to deal with the student loan issue.

1) The Rational View – Colleges should be forced to adopt strict budgets, like a family whose sole breadwinner just lost his/her job would have to do, and decrease the free money flowing to the colleges that the students get stuck with paying. Also, since college grads usually leave with debt that is similar in size to a mortgage, lump all of a student’s loans into one account, and give the former student 30 years to pay it off, starting 5 years after graduation. A $100,000 loan at 4% for 30 years is about $475 a month. If the former student gets a real degree, employment should be available and the student loans can be paid off much earlier.

2) The Socialist View – This method has the support of the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and most major media outlets. Send heavily-armed IRS agents to the home of every person on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America (who have a combined net worth of $2.4 trillion). Put guns to these people’s heads and tell them they are to immediately surrender 50% of their net worth so the more than $1 trillion of US student debt can be completely eradicated, “cuz you can afford it; you have enough money.”

I would opt for option 1.