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As Congress’s resident socialists tell it, the Americans who hold a collective $1.6 trillion in student loan debt are victims of an exploitative higher education system, robbed of their financial future through no fault of their own.
That’s why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and their cohorts introduced a bill this week to cancel all student loan debt and make college free.
Inside the Magazine: June 25
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Critics were quick to make the usual arguments against the socialization of higher education and massive loan bailouts, citing the regressive nature of government handouts to the well-off educated class and the negative unintended consequences free college would certainly have.
Of course they’re all right, but I’d like to make a different point — debt holders just don’t deserve a bailout. College is way too expensive, but nonetheless, most young people who are buried in student loans or struggling to pay off their debt only have themselves to blame.
The average student is now graduating with $30,000 in debt, no small sum. But frankly, a college degree is worth it, as it increases lifetime earnings by millions. And the median monthly payment is just $222. If you can’t afford that, as a college graduate, it’s probably your own fault.
The starting salary for an accounting major is nearly $54,000, while many engineering students bring in north of $55,000 after graduation. This is more than enough to cover a $220 a month payment. If you chose to major in gender studies, French, or anything similarly impractical, it’s your own fault that you’re stuck with a lower starting salary and might struggle to make payments. That’s unfortunate, but it’s no justification for shirking your responsibility to pay back what you owe or asking taxpayers to bear the burden of your mistakes.
Yet when Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders are selling their socialist bailout, they’re quick to use sympathetic examples of young people buried in $100,000 in debt or even more. But while there are unique situations and exceptions for sure, most people who find themselves buried in hundreds of thousands in student loan debt have their own decisions to blame. Racking up that much debt is almost always a choice. They chose expensive dream schools, knowing the cost well ahead of time. To bail them out at taxpayer expense is to punish people who made responsible decisions and encourage recklessness from future generations.
We must remember that while the cost of college has soared to outrageous levels and must be addressed, an affordable path to a college degree still exists. Almost anyone can go to a community college for two years to obtain an associate degree, with the average annual cost just $3,300, a sum easily payable through part-time work. After two years, one can transfer to a flagship state university and even if you have to borrow every dime for the final two years of your undergraduate education (which is unlikely), you’d still graduate with a manageable amount of debt. Major in something like business or STEM and you’ll likely have no trouble meeting student loan payments.
It’s absolutely fine for students to choose to forgo this path and instead attend their dream school. But it’s outrageous to imply that you shouldn’t be responsible for your debts after making that decision.
Of course, I have sympathy for the young people out there who truly are struggling to afford their education through no fault of their own. But to the millions of borrowers who’ve made terrible decisions, don’t ask for a bailout — it’s your own damn fault.
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)
When the U.S. launched cyberstrikes at Iran's missile control systems in response to an Iranian shoot-down of a U.S. drone near the Gulf of Oman, it surprised pundits. Donald Trump was widely expected by the press to bomb something in return.
The political left was unprepared for the possibility that Trump would not run true to their stereotype. The Gulf of Oman was already being compared to the Gulf of Tonkin. "From the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 to the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, maritime incidents, shrouded in the fog of uncertainty, have lured the United States into wars on foreign shoals." Members of Congress had already geared up in anticipation to block the war that was sure to come. "As the prospect of a confrontation with Iran continues to rise, an increasing number of members of Congress have a new objective: ensuring President Trump does not launch a war without their approval."
But he didn't bomb anything biological.
Even though the Washington Post sources called the strike "a long-in-the-making cyberattack that took down Iranian missile control computers," it still caught conventional wisdom by surprise. Just as the Battle of the Coral Sea was the first naval engagement conducted beyond the visual range of opposing fleets, the recent exchange of strikes marks the first public battle between two nations in which only automata died. Pundits just didn't know what to make of it. However, matters are unlikely to end there. TheNew York Times speculated it would eventually stray into more intuitive territory which could:
[I]nclude a wide range of activities such as additional cyberattacks, clandestine operations aimed at disabling boats used by Iranians to conduct shipping attacks, and covert operations inside Iran aimed at fomenting more unrest. The United States might also look for ways to divide or undermine the effectiveness of Iranian proxy groups....
One former American military commander said there was a range of options that the Pentagon and the C.I.A. could pursue that could keep Iran off balance but that would not have “crystal-clear attribution” to the United States. An American operation that was not publicly announced could still deter further action by Tehran, if Iran understood what United States operatives had done, the former officer said. The types of responses the United States could undertake are broad if the United States was willing to use the same tactics that Iran has mastered, said Sean McFate, a professor at the National Defense University and the author of “The New Rules of War.”
“If we want to fight back, do it in the shadows,” he said.
Mr. McFate said the United States could put a bounty on Iran’s paramilitary and proxy forces. That would create an incentive for mercenary forces to take on Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies.
It will not be a game. That only robotic agents have perished so far does not mean the end of war, only a change of its forms. The effects of virtual conflict are real, the economic cost stupendous. A successful cyberattack inflicts considerable financial damage on the target, rendering vital equipment inoperable. It costs money to diagnose the damage, patch it and test the fix. Before the system can be restored it would be necessary to ensure there was no residual malware. Although Iran has denied any damage to its missiles, the unbridled fury of their public response indirectly confirms they are hurt. Reuters reports: "Trump signed an executive order imposing ... sanctions, which U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said would lock billions of dollars more in Iranian assets."
Standard responses have been disoriented by this unfamiliar nonkinetic type of conflict. For example, "Trump was asked by a reporter what, if any, exit strategy he may have if he decides to attack Iran in response to any action that may warrant it from the U.S. military. Trump responded that he wasn’t thinking about any exit strategy because he didn’t believe he needed one."
“You’re not going to need an exit strategy,” Trump answered, with at least one person laughing in response. “I don’t need exit strategies.”
Users on the social media site Twitter, upon hearing Trump’s answer to the question, expressed bewilderment and outrage.
Some disbelieved that Trump understood what the term meant in the first place
Yet in fairness, what can "exit strategy" mean when there are no troops to withdraw, none having been committed in the first place? The great thing about WW2-style warfare was that everybody knew where they stood. You were a civilian or you wore a uniform. Wars began when they were declared. They ended when enemies surrendered when one political system prevailed over another.
After the War in Iraq proved too inconvenient, politicians have sought ways to invisibly fight it at the edges, with people we don't want to talk about using solutions we'd rather not discuss. The familiar tropes of Hollywood war movies have therefore been replaced by a strategy that views the destruction of billions of dollars in economic value as more effective than sinking a dozen Iran patrol boats and drowning a few hundred sailors.
The problem is that in contrast to the straightforward brutalities of old-school war, this approach may result in a stalemate. Indeed the real weakness of the new Trump Strategy is not that it lacks an exit but that it lacks an entry. As Tanya Goudsouzian pointed out in Le Monde, it has proved extremely difficult to effect regime change using "war by other means" alone. "Over the years, the preferred US weapon has been economic and financial sanctions. When used against North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and others, they succeeded only in punishing economies and people."
So far hybrid warfare has proved capable of devastating their countries but not toppling their leaders. Despite ration lines in Cuba, a Venezuelan economy so bad even Russian arms dealers are wary of selling to them, a North Korea heading for another starvation winter, the brutal regimes in these countries rule in perfect safety, willing if necessary to stay in power to the death of their last wretched citizen. Reuters paints the haunting picture of towns in a socialist Venezuela reduced to a "primitive isolation" that may well be the eventual fate of Iran.
From the peaks of the Andes to Venezuela’s sweltering southern savannahs, the collapse of basic services including power, telephone and internet has left many towns struggling to survive. ... Residents rarely travel to nearby cities, due to a lack of public transportation, growing fuel shortages and the prohibitive cost of consumer goods. ... The United Nations says 4 million citizens have fled Venezuela, 3.3 million of them since 2015.
And still Maduro remains, sustained by the unlimited repression of a country now too weak to even free itself. If the past is any guide, there will no more Gulf of Tonkins nor toppling of Saddam statues. Instead of regime change and occupation, there will be a system of isolation and perpetual quarantine, where countries like Iran and Cuba are contained in a kind of limbo, confirmed in their malice but relatively impotent save for the unfortunate who stray into their grasp. Their hulks may still be there in 50 years.
Welcome to the world where open warfare has been abolished and secret warfare never ends.
I’m behind in a roundup of important signs and signals of the crisis engulfing our colleges and universities right now, but there’s one story out this week that deserves flagging for immediate attention:
A college education is still considered a pathway to higher lifetime earnings and gainful employment for Americans. Nevertheless, two-thirds of employees report having regrets when it comes to their advanced degrees, according to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents this past spring that was released Tuesday.
The story emphasizes student loan debt as the primary driver of this regret. But the story arguably “buries the lede,” which you find when you delve deeper into the survey results:
Most satisfied: Those with science, technology, engineering and math majors, who are typically more likely to enjoy higher salaries, reported more satisfaction with their college degrees. About 42% of engineering grads and 35% of computer science grads said they had no regrets.
Most regrets: Humanities majors, who are least likely to earn higher pay post-graduation, were most likely to regret their college education. About 75% of humanities majors said they regretted their college education. About 73% of graduates who studied social sciences, physical and life sciences, and art also said the same.
I’ve thought for a long time that even the most dense radical professor in the humanities and social sciences would understand that the administrative bloat—especially of the “office of diversity and inclusion” that is now mandatory in every college—is partly responsible for the soaring cost of higher ed, which in turn depresses student interest in taking their courses. But even self-interest can’t penetrate the herd mentality of the campus left. Maybe as more colleges shut their doors (inevitable over the next 10 years) they’ll start to figure it out.
Yes, of course, it might help if so many humanities courses weren’t teaching complete crap, but that’s subject for another day. And this all fits in with my theme that major universities are slowly undergoing a de facto divorce, with the STEM fields and economics cutting themselves loose from the humanities and social sciences into, in effect, two universities—one which will thrive, and the other slowly withering and dying.
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
On Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden published an op-ed in the Miami Herald slamming the Trump administration for "morally bankrupt" policies regarding Latin America and presenting his immigration agenda as an example of "America's values." Ironically, he blamed the Trump administration for immigration actions that took place while Biden was vice president and blatantly lied about others.
"Under Trump, there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages, tear-gassing asylum seekers, ripping children from their mothers’ arms — actions that subvert American values and erode our ability to lead on the global stage," Biden wrote. "At a time when the challenges we face demand a united, regional response, Trump repeatedly invokes racist invective to describe anyone south of the Rio Grande, including calling migrants 'animals.'"
Many of these "horrifying scenes" more accurately describe the government under Barack Obama, rather than under Donald Trump.
The Obama administration used tear gas against immigrants 126 times, according to FactCheck.org. The Obama administration also separated families at the border, refusing to place children in detention centers with their parents. Democrats have demonized these policies, conveniently forgetting that Democratic presidents have also used them.
Biden's claim that Trump used the term "animals" in a racist fashion to demonize "anyone south of the Rio Grande" is perhaps the worst lie of all. Trump called the vile murderers and rapists of the international gang MS-13 "animals." The New York Times led other media outlets in concocting a fake news narrative that Trump's dehumanizing comment referred vaguely to illegal immigrants, rather than to members of the horrific gang.
Many Democrats parroted the fake news, however, suggesting that Trump's comments referred to asylum seekers, rather than MS-13 gang members. PolitiFact exposed this horrific lie, but it seems Joe Biden wasn't paying attention.
Later in his article, Biden claimed that Trump is a threat to "the international coalition of more than 50 countries that recognize Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela." Yet Trump's administration was the very first to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate leader, assembling the very coalition that he supposedly threatens.
Worse, Biden gladly met with Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro four years ago. The Obama administration blocked sanctions against Maduro's government.
It’s clear Trump is only interested in using his policies to assault the dignity of the Hispanic community and scare voters to turn out on Election Day, while not addressing the real challenges facing our hemisphere.
Finally, Biden attacked the idea of Trump's wall on the southern border with Mexico. Such a wall "won't stop the flow of illegal narcotics or human trafficking, both of which come primarily through legal ports of entry. Nor will it stop asylum seekers fleeing the most desperate conditions imaginable and who have the right to have their cases heard."
Yet in 2006, he supported a border fence because "people are driving across that border with TONS, TONS, hear me, TONS of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin & it's all coming up through corrupt Mexico."
Biden: “I believe the fence is needed…[because] people are driving across that border with TONS, TONS, hear me, TONS of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin & it's all coming up through corrupt Mexico.”
In a debate with Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden said, "the reason I voted for the fence was that was the only alternative that was there, and I voted for the fence related to drugs. You can — a fence will stop 20 kilos of cocaine coming through that fence. It will not stop someone climbing over it or around it."
If Trump's immigration policies are "morally bankrupt," how much more were Obama's! Why didn't Joe Biden chide his former boss for such horrific policies out of step with "America's values?" Why didn't Joe Biden resign as Obama's vice president in protest?
Americans should see through Biden's sermonizing on immigration, and look beyond his newfound platitudes. This article is nothing but a cheap shot at Trump, spreading lies and fake news and blaming the sitting president for acts committed by his predecessor.