Forgiving All Student Loans: Coming Next?

Half of college students believe their student loans will be forgiven after graduation, according to a recent poll.

So…this means they never were loans, right? Will they be willing to pay college for strangers 20 or 30 years down the road?

LendEDU, “a private firm that connects students and their families with student loans and loan refinancing,” conducted a survey that found 49.8 percent of students believe the government would forgive their student loans after graduation, the New York Post reported.

I find this really, really sad.

If this poll is accurate, then about half of the nation’s young people – literally, America’s future – falsely believe that “everyone else” will be able to pay off their tuition bills for them. It’s sad that they believe this CAN be so, and it’s downright tragic if they believe it SHOULD be so.

A loan is supposed to be exactly that: a loan. Of course, opponents of government intervention in the marketplace, like myself, never favored a government student loan program in the first place. Such things should be worked out in the private market. Why should colleges and universities get the cushioning of Big Government to enable them to raise tuition costs into the stratosphere? Why not force them to operate in the marketplace, where supply-and-demand drive costs up and down relative to what customers/students are able and willing to pay? Markets mean accountability and responsibility; government means perks, favors, recklessness and ultimately bailouts.

There’s a weird sort of justice in these students’ attitudes, to be fair. Government drove the cost of tuition way beyond what it otherwise would have been by intervening in the marketplace. So government should pick up the tab, in a way. No, that’s not right. But it’s an understandable feeling, at least to a point.

Government’s intervention in the market should be a reason to get government out of the market, so costs and the pricing mechanisms may stabilize and become more rational. Unfortunately, young people – in large numbers, many of whom already support socialist Bernie Sanders – don’t want to consider this factor. It’s not likely they were ever exposed to free market thinkers in economics. Instead, they go the low road – half of them, at least – and say, “Just give it to me.”

Of course, reality is its own avenger. These young people will probably get their student loans excused by vote-seeking politicians, at least if history is any guide. (Think: auto bailouts, mortgage bailouts). What then? The United States will now be $60 trillion in debt rather than $20 trillion. And these young people will mature into their 40s and 60s with this mess on their hands, expecting more and more to be done for them by a federal government whose obligations and debt exponentially exceed the unlimited wants and demands of the citizens. It will not be pretty!

On top of that, when you get something for nothing, you tend not to value it. The mere fact millions of college students expect their debts to be totally forgiven shows how little they value their college education in the first place. When you value something, you’re willing to pay for it—at least part of it. Whenever something is “free,” it doesn’t mean anything to you.

When you don’t have pride in yourself and love for your life, you don’t yearn for the responsibility of paying your bills. You think so little of yourself that you’re more than happy to leave it to others. It appears that’s what’s happening, and this runs deeper than any political fights or battles.

It saddens me to say it, but I fear it may be true: This will be the generation that finally runs out of other people’s money. But who knows? Maybe they’ll rise to the occasion, like prior generations, and quite literally start over. Starting over with a renewed Constitution that separates economy and state just like it separates church and state. It does not seem likely, but it’s always possible. And nothing less will save them.

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