Forgive Student Loan Debt Now

Three years ago, Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert F. Smith paid off the student loan debt of the entire Morehouse College graduating class. It was a good thing for him to do. But it was appalling that it was even necessary. Even more appalling is that the problem of student loan debt remains nation-wide. Student ought not have to accumulate a lifetime’s worth of debt for a four-year degree.

Over twenty years ago, I accumulated more debt than was healthy so I could finish college and then a graduate degree. Largely, I did so because I didn’t understand debt and how it would affect me. My debt for two degrees was smaller than what many students have accrued today for a single degree. And still, it prevented me from doing a lot of things I wanted. It forced me to make choices that I didn’t necessarily want in service to that debt.

I have since paid off my debt. I was fortunate to parlay otherwise impractical degrees into a career in technology that paid far above what I would have earned elsewhere. And while I enjoy what I do for a living, I’m definitely in this field because of the money, not for its own sake. I’d rather have been able to focus on writing fiction. I’d rather have spent time on woodworking. I’d rather have played guitar. Those things all had to take a back seat to servicing student loan debt.

I’d rather no one else have to make those sacrifices.

Massive student loan debt is a drag on our economy. It damages creativity, innovation, and progress. It is a symptom of the disease that afflicts this country: that people exist only so that profit can be squeezed out of them for the benefit of those who already have grotesque amounts of wealth.

Forgive all student loan debt now.

Confiscate it all

Here we go again. Republicans cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, which will sink the nation deeper into debt. When Democrats retake the government, Republicans will wail and scream that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible, that raising taxes on the wealthy is theft, and so on. It’s the same old cycle that’s been going on for longer than I’ve been alive. Except this time the con doesn’t even pay lip service to tax relief for the lower and middle classes.

We need to retake the government. Elect Democrats in a wave in 2018, then again in 2020. Replace the pervert in the White House with someone intelligent, honest, and sane.

And then we need confiscatory levels of taxes on the wealthiest. We need at least a 90% marginal tax rate on the one percenters. Almost that high for the top five percent. We need an inheritance tax that breaks up the wealth of families like the Kochs and Mercers. Let their offspring fend for themselves in the free market they purport to worship. Use their money to level the playing field for the bottom 80%, and to pay off the massive debt the nation will incur for their benefit.

We need to break up the giant media conglomerates so that they don’t control the national discourse. Enshrine net neutrality in law, so that it’s not a matter for the next Ajit Pai to overturn at the command of his corporate masters. No company should own more than one media outlet in any given market. No more vertical integration between news sources, so that there is only one voice in the community.

Destroy the power of the rich by taking their wealth. It’s the only way we regain our freedom.