Riders on the Storm

“Into this house, we’re born
Into this world, we’re thrown.” — Jim Morrison

A few days ago I talked about the death of the Republican party. Obviously, if you are one of my 12 readers you looked at that article in amazement. I see Republicans everywhere. What in the hell am I talking about? Obviously, what you are seeing could be classified as political zombies.

They wander the halls of Congress and moan the word “no” under their breath. Occasionally, they might mutter something about tax cuts to business and how that will grow the economy. Anyone that pays any attention knows those policies don’t work anyway. The economy has done better under Democrats than under Republicans since World War II. You could probably go further back than that, but if we go back beyond FDR we run into problems of how we can define Democrats and Republicans.

Part of that can be in how we even look at problems. One of those problems has been the rising costs of college and the college loan debt in the country. There’s definitely more than one way to skin a cat, but conservatives seem to have the same outlook as they do on big business. That’s because college is big business. In Texas, they lifted caps on tuition. Not surprisingly, those costs have gone up to what we see now.

If you compare that with trends in education overall you can’t help but notice the gap. For those that don’t want to look at the data too hard, I would simply point out that Texas spends somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 per student each year. Obviously, exact figures fluctuate, but it is fairly staggering when you think about all that includes.

I’m officially not a classroom teacher. I am a support facilitator. I go into other teacher’s classrooms. Our campus doesn’t even have anyone that is profoundly disabled. Other campuses have to include support facilitators and those that provide more invasive support. These are things that most colleges and universities don’t provide. That all factors into that money per student costs.

If you take a look at the costs for people to attend college in Texas you will notice that only one school came in below 23,000 per year when all expenses were considered. Multiply that four or five times and you’ll see the total cost of a degree. As you might suspect, the number of people that have 92,000 dollars lying around is between slim and none.

So, keep in mind that the cost of college is more than double when they don’t even include special education services in most instances. They don’t provide free and reduced lunch. There certainly aren’t nearly as many guidance counselors and they really don’t employ assistant principals. The battle over student loan debt seems to be ignoring the most important element in most instances. Why in all holy hell is college so damn expensive in the first place?

A vibrant conservative party could provide some answers to this dilemma. Instead, they stoke passions amongst the old and inspire them to go into one of those “back in my day” kind of diatribes. I paid off my loans. Why in the hell should they simply erase the debt now? Well, we could start off by pointing out that college costs have skyrocketed over the past 50 years.

You lose your conservative card if you give anyone anything (unless they represent big business). So, it is not surprising that they would push back against retiring college debt. Yet, there seems to be no effort to actually provide any solutions to the problem. Instead, they let the “free market” decide and the free market is what ballooned costs in the first place.

There are plenty of stories about how people pay large sums of money for years to see very little actually get paid off. We know that can’t be good for the economy. The question is whether higher education is something worth investing in or whether it should continue to go to the highest bidder. Some people might consider free tuition to be a bridge too far. That’s certainly a reasonable opinion, but those that shoot down ideas should be coming up with some of their own.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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