Op/Ed: To End Unnecessary Student Loans, Use Free Market to Help Education

By Robert Taylor of PolicyMic.com*

The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City almost two months ago, and the movement has spawned protests in 70 cities and 600 communities across the country and the globe. Protesters have generally expressed frustration and anger over income inequality, unemployment, student loans, and other issues, and it has been millennials who have appeared at the forefront of the movement.

Young people’s participation in the movement makes sense. Only 55% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were employed last year, the lowest since World War II. In the last decade, the incomes of Americans between 25 and 34 have dropped by 12%. And barely 14% of 20-somethings are optimistic about the future.

The protests have drawn opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, but these critiques fail to address the root of the problem by ignoring the damaging effects of interventionist government economic policies in education for young Americans.

Under the guise of providing education, both Democrats and Republicans have encouraged the expansion of easy credit, federal student loan guarantees, and subsidized university education, resulting in the exact opposite of what they were intended to do; costs have skyrocketed, while the quality of education has gone down.

Instead of “reform,” a drastically new approach is needed in education that is based on individual liberty and the free market. Instead of paying property taxes to fund their education, families and individuals should have the freedom to choose their path in the assortment and competitive prices that the market provides.

Since the creation of the GI Bill in 1944, the federal government has encouraged millions of people, through the combination of loans and subsidies, to go into debt in order to attend college. The Federal Reserve made the borrowing easy with interest rates below market levels, and federal institutions guaranteed the loans. In the same way that the housing sector was distorted by a Fed-induced boom that eventually burst in 2008, this has similarly created an education bubble. Now about two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans, and the average college student graduates $25,000 in debt. Tuition has risen by 900% since 1978. Combine these factors with a stagnant economy, and it is no wonder the “Occupy” protests are spreading through this country and around the world.

Thanks to government subsidies, many graduates hold “cheap” degrees that have little market demand. Because of this, over one-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that even don’t require a degree, like waiters, cashiers, and janitors. Without the pricing mechanism of the free market to guide the education sector, colleges lack the proper incentives to prepare students for the future. As Michael Ellsberg argues in the New York Times, “American academia is good at producing writers, literary critics, and historians. It is also good at producing professionals with degrees. But we don’t have a shortage of lawyers and professors. America has a shortage of job creators. And the people who create jobs aren’t traditional professionals, but start-up entrepreneurs.”

The alternative to this lies in the free market. Without government subsidies and loans, multiple years of college would be only for scientists, engineers, and doctors who need certification and intensive training. The rest of the education sector would provide trade schools and institutions with courses aimed at providing people with practical and marketable skills and talents. Any loans or assistance would be completely voluntary, thus keeping costs low. A free market in education allocates resources in order to build entrepreneurs, wealth, jobs, and prosperity in order to attract future customers (students) and build their reputation. No longer would students have to bear the burden of debt that many OWS protesters claim they carry.

This means we need an end to federal student loans, grants, and subsidies. The competition of the market would bring costs way down, decentralize education, and allow much more diversity to a system that for too long has been dominated by a failing one-size-fits-all policy.

The problems fueling the frustration of the protesters will no doubt continue long after the protesters disperse. The best possible solutions to the protests lie in the expansion of individual liberty and the free market.

PolicyMic.com is a unique platform to host the highest-quality discussion online. Targeted to engage millennials in current events, the site uses game-like technology to incentivize users to participate in discussions more actively and comment more thoughtfully than on other sites across the web.

Acclaimed environmentalist and author of "Apocalypse Never" Michael Shellenberger joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to warn us about the true goals and effects of climate alarmism: It's become a "secular religion" that lowers standards of living in developed countries, holds developing countries back, and has environmental progress "exactly wrong."

Michael is a Time "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He has been called a "environmental guru," "climate guru," "North America's leading public intellectual on clean energy," and "high priest" of the environmental humanist movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed more than 5 million times. But when Michael penned a stunning article in Forbes saying, "On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize for the Climate Scare", the article was pulled just a few hours later. (Read more here.)

On the show, Micheal talked about how environmental alarmism has overtaken scientific fact, leading to a number of unfortunate consequences. He said one of the problems is that rich nations are blocking poor nations from being able to industrialize. Instead, they are seeking to make poverty sustainable, rather than to make poverty history.

"As a cultural anthropologist, I've been traveling to poorer countries and interviewing small farmers for over 30 years. And, obviously there are a lot of causes why countries are poor, but there's no reason we should be helping them to stay poor," Michael said. "A few years ago, there was a movement to make poverty history ... [but] it got taken over by the climate alarmist movement, which has been focused on depriving poor countries, not just of fossil fuels they need to develop, but also the large hydroelectric dams."

He offered the example of the Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Congo has been denied the resources needed to build large hydroelectric dams, which are absolutely essential to pull people out of poverty. And one of the main groups preventing poor countries from the gaining financing they need to to build dams is based in Berkeley, California — a city that gets its electricity from hydroelectric dams.

"It's just unconscionable ... there are major groups, including the Sierra Club, that support efforts to deprive poor countries of energy. And, honestly, they've taken over the World Bank [which] used to fund the basics of development: roads, electricity, sewage systems, flood control, dams," Micheal said.

"Environmentalism, apocalyptic environmentalism in particular, has become the dominant religion of supposedly secular people in the West. So, you know, it's people at the United Nations. It's people that are in very powerful positions who are trying to impose 'nature's order' on societies," he continued. "And, of course, the problem is that nobody can figure out what nature is, and what it's not. That's not a particular good basis for organizing your economy."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to explain why he agrees with Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Baucham, who recently drew national attention when his sermon titled "Ethnic Gnosticism" resurfaced online, said the phrase has been trademarked by a dangerous, violent, Marxist movement that doesn't care about black lives except to use them as political pawns.

"We have to separate this movement from the issues," Baucham warned. "I know that [Black Lives Matter] is a phrase that is part of an organization. It is a trademark phrase. And it's a phrase designed to use black people.

"That phrase dehumanizes black people, because it makes them pawns in a game that has nothing whatsoever to do with black people and their dignity. And has everything to do with a divisive agenda that is bigger than black people. That's why I'm not going to use that phrase, because I love black people. I love being black."

Baucham warned that Black Lives Matter -- a radical Marxist movement -- is using black people and communities to push a dangerous and divisive narrative. He encouraged Americans to educate themselves on the organization's agenda and belief statement.

"This movement is dangerous. This movement is vicious. And this movement uses black people," he emphasized. "And so if I'm really concerned about issues in the black community -- and I am -- then I have to refuse, and I have to repudiate that organization. Because they stand against that for which I am advocating."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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We're going to be doing an amazing broadcast on Thursday, July 2nd, and we will be broadcasting a really important moment. It is restoring truth. It is restoring our history. It is asking to you make a covenant with God. The covenant that was made by the Pilgrims. And it's giving you a road map of things that we can do, to be able to come back home, together.

All of us.

And it's never been more important. Join us live from the Standing Rock Ranch on Blaze TV, YouTube and Facebook at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday July, 2nd and restore the hope in you.

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On last week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck revealed where the Black Lives Matter organization really gets its funding, and the dark money trail leading to a cast of familiar characters. Shortly after the program aired, one of BLM's fiscal sponsors, Thousand Currents, took down its board of directors page, which featured one of these shady characters:

Ex-Marxist professor and author of "Beyond Woke," Michael Rectenwald, joined Glenn Beck on the TV show to fill us in on the suspicious change he discovered on the Thousand Currents webpage and the Communist terrorists who is now helping run the organization. (Fortunately, the internet is forever, so it is still possible to view the board of directors page by looking at a web archive from the WayBack Machine.)

Rectenwald revealed the shocking life history of Thousand Currents' vice chair of the board, Susan Rosenberg, who spent 16 years in federal prison for her part in a series of increasingly violent acts of terrorism, including bombing the U.S. Capitol building, bombing an FBI building, and targeting police for assassination.

"Their whole campaign was one of unbelievably vicious, murderous cop killings, assassinations, and bombings," explained Rectenwald of Rosenberg's terror group known as the May 19th Communist Organization or M19.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


Glenn's full investigation into the dark origins of the funding behind Black Lives Matter is available for BlazeTV subscribers. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

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