How Societies Work

“I can be someone’s and still my own.” — Shel Silverstein

I suppose I have to be a teacher because I find that I repeat myself quite often. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I’m a good writer or not. That’s not really for me to say. The best writers are the ones that offer lines like above. I’ve used it more than once in this space because it packs so much into such a tiny place. It’s simple and yet more profound than probably anything I’ve ever come up with. When you read great writing like that it becomes ridiculous to consider yourself a good one.

We’ve been talking about student loan forgiveness for a few days now. I have tons of responses on Facebook and the other site I write for. Those negative responses usually fall under a few different categories. These are categories I’ve addressed before. You see? I keep repeating myself after all.

The main word we come to in all of these discussions is the word deserve. These students don’t deserve to have their loans forgiven. They haven’t done anything to earn that. Either that or we will cite the fact that they willingly entered into this contract, so they should suffer the consequences of that decision. Of course, the mere fact of suggesting that anyone should suffer anything should make us pause.

As I said in a previous piece, the idea that any of us deserves anything is presumptuous. Certainly, in a philosophical/theological sense that is definitely untrue. We don’t deserve a damn thing. However, one could claim that everyone should get a measure of human kindness. Silverstein’s quote above eloquently points out that we may think we are lone wolfing it, but all societies have a certain interconnectedness that we cannot deny. We can belong to someone else and still be our own. We can support each other and still maintain a measure of self-reliance.

We all acknowledge that the government does not have an infinite amount of cash to spend. We all get this. So, when we ask the question of whether we should forgive loans we have to look at it as an investment. What do we as a society get for that? Is that enough to justify the investment? It’s a fair question especially when thrust against other opportunities where we can invest in people.

For instance, the second argument levied is why these people get assistance and not those people. Someone asked why they should forgive student loans and not cancer patients. Of course, no one bothered to consider that we could conceivably do both. Sure, it means that other things may not be funded, but opponents love to present a false choice.

Like I said on my Facebook page. You don’t have to support loan forgiveness. Heck, I didn’t commit to it one way or another here. What we need to do is avoid those logical fallacies and myths that really don’t further the conversation along.

Author: sbarzilla

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

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