The Occupy movement has voiced many concerns over its few month’s existence, some legitimate but mostly selfish and idealistic, and in my opinion misguided. Sure, the demands would certainly benefit individuals, but for the overall economy would be very disastrous. One of the complaints of the Occupy movement that has me particularly perturbed is the idea that student loans are so burdensome that they should be forgiven. Bail Out Students, Not Banks! is a slogan being bandied about. I have a few thoughts on bailing out students.
Personal responsibility is a vulgar concept to most liberals, of which the Occupy movement is near universally comprised. These students went into the collegiate arena knowing exactly what the costs of education would be. They intentionally overlooked smaller, less prestigious schools such as State colleges or Community colleges — not to mention technical or trade schools — in lieu of high-priced universities with name recognition. This recognition and prestige doesn’t come cheap. But tuition fees are not a secret. Everyone goes into higher education with eyes-wide-open. To be sure, the federal government has artificially inflated the cost of higher education by guaranteeing what ever the tuition costs may be. Loans, being so easy to secure invite schools to inflate fees and entice prospective students to think of short-term schooling rather than long-term debt.
Add to that all the pie-in-the-sky students who choose fields of study that are of personal interest rather than financial security, the situation is a powder keg just waiting for ignition. When people go to school for, say, art or history, the specialties limit the occupations for which the degree would be valuable. What can you do with a liberal-arts degree except teach liberal-arts? Instead, a smarter choice would have been to study engineering, medicine, or some other science-based field. The problem is too many people are educating themselves for pleasure. Education is put to better use by studying for field that will be lucrative. This is the root of many of the financial woes of students saddled with debt and no work to pay it off.
Now for the illogic of the Occupiers demand: Bail Out Students, Not Banks! They don’t seem to know what it is they’re asking for. First, it is obvious they get their information from activists like Michael Moore rather than actual news sources. I suspect the kind of bail out the occupiers are looking for is a payment of loans on their behalf. After all, the banks were defaulting and the government “bailed” them out, why not us, right? Well, most people are oblivious to the fact that the bail outs for the banks were loans. And they have been repaid…with interest. So if what the Occupiers are seeking is a bail out, they have already received it.
The student loan “bailed” them out of having to pay the university upfront for their education. In essence they are asking for a loan to pay their loan, they just don’t realize what it is they are asking for. What they want is money to be taken from the haves and handed over to the have-nots. But what they are asking for is a loan.
Banks — who are in business to make a profit (See: Shocking Revelation) — offer a service for a disclosed fee. It is not the job of banks, or any business for that matter, to work or provide their service for free. Businesses are not charities, and should not be derided for not acting like one. I don’t provide my services free of charge to my employer, and neither do you. Why not? Because we work to make money, we strive to turn a profit. So do businesses. They rely on people honoring their informed commitments. As soon as we demand businesses — banks, insurance companies, investment firms — to work for free, they will close up shop or move to a country that will let businesses be businesses.