Monday, March 29, 2010

Student Loan Reform (and the Right's Hidden Agenda)

cornell university.Image by matt.hintsa via Flickr

Sara Robinson of Campaign for America's Future believes President Obama's assertion that federal government ought to help with student loans is such a "no brainer" at this juncture that the right's resistance must be due to a hidden agenda.
And what would the goal of such an agenda be?
The first goal is preserving privatization. The conservatives have been telling us for 40 years that there's nothing the government can do that the free market can't do better. Of course, most of us really get it now that "privatization" really means "paying 25% more for the same stuff and letting the private sector skim off the profit while sticking us with the messes." While privatization has worked well in some areas, it's been a disaster in others -- and this is one of them.
Never suggest that the banks and private sector can be outclassed by government, it is a kind of conservative sin. Privatization must be preserved at all costs, lest the federal government come in and attempt to take power away from the corporate sector.
It is obvious that the federal government ought to be involved and interested in college education, and that the right are howling is a sign of the winds of Change blowing right in their faces.
Mistrust of the Middle Class

The whole post-war counter-cultural movement of the 1960s was born of the middle class and much of the working class all attending college at once, Robinson reminds us. Ergo, to defund higher education was always one way that Republicans could keep progressive tendencies at bay. This is a valid point, and it remains sure which side you will fall on will reveal if you are progressive or conservative.
The influence of that "despised class of degreed professionals (journalists, lawyers, accountants, engineers, biologists, etc. etc. etc.)" are those who aggressively monitor private industry on behalf of the public interest. The less of them, the better, which may be why Ronald Reagen slashed student college loans so aggressively in the 1980s.
Robinson points out that in the '80s and '90s, the high rates of student loans guarenteed a reversal of the 1960s and '70s trends:
Sorry, young lawyer; you can't afford to become a public defender. It's got to be corporate law for you. Too bad, young doctor; you might want to join the Peace Corps or work in a ghetto clinic; but you need that HMO paycheck to keep up with the loan payments. And you, young wonk -- you want to take a job with a non-profit defending workers' rights? Hah! Not if you ever want to own a home or have kids. You can have a paycheck and a life, or you can have your principles. But if you want a college degree, you can't have both.
That's one way to tame the upstart rabble, and the other is : Join the Military. Sell your body to the US military, or sell your soul to the US Corporate structure. It is obvious Obama wants to reverse this trend. And that is not Change the unemployed Tea Baggers dare to believe in.
Sell your soul? Or sell your body? To the conservatives, the idea that you're worthy of an education merely because you're intelligent and hard-working and have something useful to contribute to society just isn't enough any more. But if you're willing to forego something intrinsic to your ability to function as a happy, healthy adult, we'll reluctantly punch your ticket.

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