The French writer, theorist, and social commentator Alexis de Tocqueville said of America after visiting in the 19th Century “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” Well, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a member of our bicameral Congress, harkened the end of the days Monday with his promise of student loan forgiveness and free university education.
Sen. Sanders (perhaps we should call him Sen. Spenders), stood outside the Capitol in Washington, proudly accompanied by House members Rep. Ilhan Omar D-Minn., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and let America know that if he is elected president he intends to forgive the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt currently outstanding and to also make all public universities and community colleges tuition free.
How to pay for this astoundingly expensive proposition? No worries. The senator said he will simply tax Wall Street. Problem solved. After all, nobody likes those guys so why not just take away a few their profits and use them to bribe the American electorate?
Omar and Jayapal were standing next to Sanders because they each are planning to introduce separate pieces of legislation in the House that when combined would make Sanders’ plan a reality.
Of course, at the moment, a Republican-controlled Senate and President Trump represent a formidable reality check for Sanders and his socialist minions.
We can go all the way back to Cicero and the early days of Imperial Rome to read the warnings about the corrupting effect of politicians making grand promises to the citizenry to redistribute wealth. This one-time $1.6 trillion transaction would likely be the largest single act of wealth transfer in history. The resulting concentration of government power inside of higher education would provide for endless opportunities for graft.
In “president” Sanders’ world, only the wealthy would be able to escape the ocean of educational mediocrity in which average American students would be forced to perform the academic crawl stroke. Private Universities would still be able to offer some form of quality education, while the rest of the American university system would be turned into the Chicago Public Schools.
There is no question that there is a financial crisis in America's higher education. For decades, the government has been providing the necessary liquidity through easy student loans, which in turn has allowed the universities to raise tuition without consequence. The problem has become particularly acute since the government took over the entirety of student lending with a rider to the Affordable Care Act (this to the chagrin of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., when she recently discovered at a Congressional Hearing that nobody told her about it).
The solution to student loan debt, high college tuition costs, and the issuance of bachelor’s degrees that translate into no employable skill does not lie in Sanders’ “books & butter” proposal. A fundamentally new approach is needed like the one outlined in the president's proposed Reforms to the Higher Education Act. The system is completely broken and needs an overhaul, not a transfer of wealth from one group of citizens to another.
If “crazy Bernie” did get his way, it would complete the government’s nationalization of the higher education system. Does anyone truly believe that the future American student, your son or daughter, would benefit from an education completely controlled by a leviathan state?
The temptation is great. If you are a recent college graduate with the average student loan debt of just over $37,000 how can you not support the proposal of Sanders, Omar, Jayapal, and other corrupt politicians? It would be such a relief for you. It would make your life easier.
For America, this is the moment for citizens to decide if they are willing to make the Faustian bargain. Ironically, In Goethe's masterpiece Faust wanted to trade his soul to the devil for access to unlimited knowledge. This deal with the devil will actually have the perverse impact of limited knowledge in the long term. That said, 2020 has a myriad of Democrat candidates making various attempts to bribe the public with the public’s money. You certainly have the choice, more than ever before, to enjoy an immediate financial high at the expense of someone else.
The comedown from that high could quite likely lead to the end of the American Republic.