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A Commencement Address for the Most Indebted Class Ever


A Commencement Address for the Most Indebted Class Ever

Chuck Collins

Congratulations, college graduates! As you enter the next phase of life, you and your parents should be proud of your achievements.

But, I’m sorry to say, they’ve come at a price: The system is trying to squeeze you harder than any previous generation.

Many baby boomers, perhaps including your parents, benefited from a time when higher education was seen as a shared social responsibility. Between 1945 and 1975, tens of millions of them graduated from college with little or no debt.


C’mon, Mr. Collins… While you make the excellent case that the cessation of Estate Taxes shifts the costs of a secondary education to states and their inhabitants; this is NOT true:

“In effect, we’re shifting tax obligations away from multi-millionaires and onto states and middle-income taxpayers.”

WE didn’t make that shift. Entities funded by ALEC and the Koch Brothers managed that feat.

I was one of those who graduated in l976… with no debt, either. State Universities cost very little back then (and there were good scholarships, too).

The greatest irony to this whole boondoggle is that the kids graduating with the most debt face the most barren job market possible. With so many Middle Income jobs shipped overseas and others automated (or done by imported Immigrants), the chances of paying off these “super loans” are poor, indeed.

Perhaps if this issue were framed as “Loans that are too big to fail,” banks might write them down the way WE taxpayers were FORCED to write down the banks’ massive bad debts!


My sister is saddled with a $76,000 student loan debt and pays $300/mo even though she is on workman’s compensation after a severe back injury on the job. Forbearances just add interest to the principle causing the original debt to increase. The Republican presidents from Raygun to GWB successfully did all in their power to undermine the GI bill. privatize student loans, reduce Pell Grants, and coerce parents into taking out loans to make up for what tuition and fees were not covered by the student’s loans (many dipping into their home equity and we know the results of that). My son is saddled with $20,000 in student loans and has no undergraduate degree to show for that “investment” as he could no longer afford to continue. And Siouxrose 11, you are absolutely right about these students “facing the most barren job market possible.” My son cannot make his monthly student loan payment and his credit has suffered as a result, which in turn limits the job market for him as employers see a poor credit rating and he loses out.

Yet we spend TRILLION$$$ on endless war and pour money into the DoD bottomless pit without hesitation by Congress and the pres. There is no sanity when it comes to the lust for profit at the expense of the people.


I read a stat that something like 50 percent of people from the age 18-29 still live at home with their parents in the USA and this number growing along with the age range going higher. After rent and health care costs ,coupled with all this debt, there not a whole lot left over .

This is not limited to the USA. While the numbers differ in each country the number of people in their early 20’s living at home with their parents climbs in Canada, the UK and Australia and any nation that has followed the neoliberal agenda.


A report from the UK


from Canada.

Note in Canada the number was 26 percent in 1981 and now 42 percent.

Now we have a person who claimed in another topic that there no inflation in the west and he used as his evidence the official government stats and suggested that the means by which they now measure this is accurate as people “substitute” a less expensive good for a more expensive one. Adults living at home with their parents is another example of that subsitution.


Thank you sir, well stated.


I guess my son, who just graduated from college, is one of the lucky ones. He only owes $25,000.

And silly me, I thought I would finally be off the hook for his monthly dorm rent, but instead those funds will go towards his college loan until he finds a job, because we co-signed it, and our credit is on the line. Retirement recedes further into the distance.

It’s an endless cycle, adult children can’t get jobs and older folks aren’t retiring as they are forced into supporting their adult children. But older folks need to retire to free up jobs, and so it goes.

What are they drinking up in Washington State? I want some. Between stopping the Coal trains, the current ballot initiative in support of the We the People Amendment and their funding mechanism for education, it appears the people are being heard.


Chuck Collins could have mentioned Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been campaigning on abolishing student debt entirely. She discusses it and other issues in this week’s Black Agenda Radio:

She said her plan would not depend on Congress cooperating, she could do it with presidential power alone. And she’s talking about abolishing existing debt, not just refinancing it.


I, too support my son by paying his phone bill and buying his groceries online. As he lives and works on the other side of the state, he does not live with me. I have delayed my retirement until such time he can fully make it on his own. When I became a parent, I entered into a lifelong commitment and willingly sacrifice to keep him fed and provide any and all support I can. He works two and sometimes three jobs to pay his rent and utilities, which are very high where he lives.


Would that elected officials with high integrity and a steadfast and true sense of caring and compassion for their constituents, all life, and the planet such as Senator Sanders and Ms. Stein, our nation, our children, and all creatures would be assured of secure, healthy, happy futures. Equality would not be a goal but a REALITY.


This article limits its discussion to rich people versus poor people and their taxes. The two fundamental problems with our tax structure, however, are corporate tax dodging and how much of taxes go to our bloated military. I read an article 3 years ago that explained how corporations are sheltering over $90 billion overseas in various tax shelters. I’m sure that number is higher now. Furthermore, conservative estimates are that 50 cents out of every tax dollar is going towards the U.S. military, our immoral wars, and the unnecessary military bases we have in over 100 countries. This is madness, of course.


Thanks for the info. I read that thread and you are so right.


From the article: “In effect, we’re shifting tax obligations away from multi-millionaires and onto states and middle-income taxpayers.”

Given the rage and resentment provoked by the unfairness of the tax system, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that tax obligations are being shifted “away from multi-millionaires and onto states and middle-finger taxpayers.”


An article that writes of the hardship of post-secondary education indebtedness, followed by an indictment of too-low taxation of wealthy-persons, particularly of their estates.
– Several commenters complained about how much the USA spends on military and associated foreign policy. As usual overstating how much is spent.

I won’t spend time on much of that. I note:

  • that c. 2000 I was shown the dorm living arrangements for a co-worker’s daughter. Those arrangements were much more comfortable than what I myself had lived in 20 years earlier.
  • that post-secondary education is indeed bureaucratically bloated, just as bad as the military. It serves only the talented less-than-half of the student population, and many jobs don’t really require a college education. Quite a few high school grads should aim for what they can realistically get a job doing, and get a tech school education.
    – A mass repudiation of student debt could in concept be a ‘good thing’, persuading lenders to lend much less willingly.
    – (A few weeks ago a plumber told me that he has work 7 days a week. He hadn’t originally trained to be a plumber.)
  • that what people are describing, just like Europe, of a ‘no jobs in the future’ future, is a good reason to not have kids. Europe’s birthrate has correspondingly gone down, and is now below replacement rate.
    – There are Greens active on this forum who believe that a smaller USA, and world, population would be a good thing.