The cumulative total of American student loans hit $1.5 trillion earlier this year, spread out across a little over forty-four million people. According to Forbes, this makes loans for university count for the second highest form of consumer debt in the country, with only house mortgages beating it out. It should come as something of a surprise to hear that the sum total of all the car loans in the country still can’t even hold a candle to the borrowed expenses of the now mockingly-labeled “higher education” in this country.
Maybe there’s a reason that the last few generations have been funneled on into higher education despite the work force not being able to sustain the influx. Maybe there’s a reason college education has been valued so highly while the trades have, until the last couple of years, been sidelined as a last-ditch alternative. Maybe there have been state actors actively involved in curbing the American identity away from labor and into academia, and the embrace of the STEM fields as an alternative to the left-compromised humanities departments has only ever been a red-herring.
Oh, but that’s starting to sound like a conspiracy theory!
The Government’s Interest
Back around 2009, after the housing crisis resulted in the near-defaulting of several major Wall Street banks and a mind-blowing taxpayer-funded bailout, you might remember talk from then President Obama about the government getting more involved with the student loan field. The result was his student loan forgiveness program, which made him come across as sympathetic to students and a champion of those otherwise crushed by the gargantuan cost of college education.
But then you take a look at a couple of charts and you realize that it was under Obama’s watch that, not only did college tuition start jumping into astronomical numbers by the year, but the government’s portion student loans jumped from about 30% of all that borrowed money to closer to 80%. As this piece by Advisor Perspectives points out, by the time Obama left office, student loans accounted for nearly half of the US Government’s financial assets—yearly taxes, for the sake of reference, only amounted to about 16%. This means the government is funded by holding onto those loans, and the greater the share of loans the government holds onto, the harder it gets to extract the government from the business of lending money.
And the reasoning on the government’s end is simple: the government—and the banks—get to compound their interest.
Well what’s wrong with charging interest on loans, you might ask. Especially today—after all, back in Medici-ruled Florence, usurious loans would reach well into the 30% or 40% regions for annual loans. That’s a huge number! Well, it’s comparable today. Obviously, no one in their right mind would agree to a loan charged out at 40% interest, so bankers found a work around: compound interest. That splits a yearly interest rate into segments—in the case of federal student loans, those segments are daily—so that interest can be charged against a sum total of money that already included interest. This is called compound interest. It turns out, most loans today are charged that way. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself—these guys even sort of defend the practice.
So when your own government is charging compound interest, you really have to sit back and question the motives of the federally-backed student loan program in the first place. Does the government have an interest in seeing a costly four years of education be relegated to entry-level positions at careers barely above menial labor? Does the government have an interest in the devaluation of the academic degree? Or does the government merely have an interest in scamming people into taking out usurious loans?
Well, it seems like it’s a combination of all of that.
Send Your Kid To Trade School
It’s all well-meaning, I’m sure. Student counsellors, indoctrinated into the sector of public schooling, see the only way forward for students to be throwing their money into the university system. The diminishing returns of higher learning continuously get derided by critics for being anti-intellectual and backwards, when the reality is that university learning has turned into one of the most costly scams in American history. Only here could it be possible to teach classes that explicitly deny the truth in order to push radicalized subversive propaganda about race and sexuality, and not only get paid for it, but receive tenure and state grants for your “research” on the subject. Only hear is it possible to be so deluded as to believe you’re part of a great and down-trodden resistance while standing at the front of a lecture hall full of over a hundred students who hang on your every word in order to get a passing grade.
Granted, you still have the trades as a viable alternative, and viable they will stay. Socially, of course, the trades remain something of a mixed bag; the blue-collar neighborhoods still look upon labor with a sense of pride, tapping into a tradition that dates back all the way to medieval Catholic life that economized labor as a form of currency. Labor was the means by which man not only proved his worth, but found meaning in a world imbued with a telos that was knowable both by reason and revelation. While this notion is not so thought-out today, it remains alive in the pockets of generally lower- to mid-income communities that most urban elites would find terrifyingly backwards.
But the war against labor and against production is not a new one. The Greeks and Romans historically looked down upon the laboring class, in part because the market for labor was skewed with the presence of slavery. Any economy that allows slavery to exist sends a message to laborers: your work is valuable only inasmuch as it is effective. Meaning cannot be derived from work applied under such duress. The attempt by modern historians to construe the feudal system of central Europe, in which the peasant effectively owed his labor to his lord in return for protection, as a form of slavery remains willfully ignorant of the nuanced social life that made that arrangement possible. Peasants were not enslaved in the way that various laboring classes of the Roman Empire were, much less in the sense that Americans are too keenly aware of in their own history.
We hear echoes of this today. The rural Trump-supporting residents of red-state America are called backwards hicks, trailer trash, and ignorant, along with the host of typical liberal buzzwords that comprise the contemporary leftist eschatological bag of sins. The red MAGA cap has become synonymous not with what is actually embroidered there above the rim, but rather the negative stereotype of the blue collar aesthetic: overweight balding men wearing flannel shirts and smelling of cheap beer. Look at any political cartoon from the last three years that has been churned out of the urban machine and you’ll see the same patterns: rural, low-income people are worthy of scorn and ridicule.
Instead of labor, the urban elite value academic study—but a contorted version of it, given how the pursuit of truth has been sidelined in every department of most universities for a variety of reasons. In the humanities, professors paradoxically declare that truth is an illusion of power or wishful thinking while simultaneously reminding their students to read the assigned pages for the following seminar. In STEM, truth is used merely as a means to an end: the procurement of a stable job with a stable income. The ability to tell right from wrong has been reduced down to apply only to whatever particular field of engineering they’re studying to get a paycheck.
Much of the present state of academia falls in with this scam. It’s a self-perpetuating machine that succeeds in a number of things. First, it takes the ones smart enough to follow the rules but flimsy enough not to question them and throws them into one of two tracks. Either they explore their artistic sides and pick up the social cues and willingly indoctrinate themselves into the current mode of the humanities gibberish-relativism, or they become engineers and limit the range of their cognitive experience to fixing practical problems and ignoring bigger pictures.
Second, the academic system forces out the people unwilling to bet the unmanageably-high costs of college tuition against the chances of finding a job lucrative enough to pay off that expense. Do college graduates make more than those who don’t? Well, yes, most of the time. But that comes at the price of crippling debt that leaves most college grads well behind the eight-ball in the long run.
There Is No Easy Solution
The extent of the federal loans is not something to be sidelined. The government wants you chained to a debt that isn’t easily payable. That is the very definition of debt slavery. That the baby boomers still haven’t figured out how drastically the times have changed makes many of them almost complicit in this evil act. The rising costs of college tuition—themselves largely artificial—pale in comparison the usury inflicted upon those clueless or driven enough to seek out higher learning.
This is not intended to be an excoriation of academic learning, although many academic fields of the modern world probably deserve to be burned to the ground. If anything, the modern university system is unrecognizable when compared to what it was founded to be. Universities existed, once, to produce learned people. What they exist to produce now are, instead, people willing to follow directions. Employers look for a college education not so they can know whether someone is capable of critical thinking but so they can know whether a prospective employee is willing to put up with the sort of bureaucratic nonsense expected out of a large corporate company. Universities exist to produce the economic units necessary to service the debtor machine. Without those units making those interest payments, the whole system falls apart.
But maybe you’ll ask, what’s the other option? Well, I have to admit: I don’t know. You have the trades, which are certainly worthwhile, but the trades won’t reap the same heights as scoring it big in the so-called educated fields will. STEM still reaps quite a sum, so long as the chips are played right. The other option—the only option—is the option that has been on the table since Calvary: live humbly, pray, and do your best to avoid being scammed. What other option is there?