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Picture the United States Without Student Debt


Picture the United States Without Student Debt

Richard Eskow

Picture the United States without student debt. It’s a country with a larger, more vibrant economy than the one we have today. It’s a country where more than a million people, including many people who never went to college, have jobs they would not otherwise have.

A new report from Bard College’s Levy Economics Institute concludes that this bold idea – cancelling all outstanding student debt – would help the entire economy and create more than a million jobs.


It is well past time to do this. I love the folks my age who demonize students, saying “Why just you work your way through school?” Because it’s impossible, that’s why!

The folks who thought it a good idea to treat our youth like commodities to be mined instead of minds to be refined have basically eaten their seed corn. And they’ll find that out very, very soon.


Love, Love, Love the title: “Imagine” can be used in so many ways. Imagine if we hadn’t invaded Afghanistan or Iraq, Imagine if over million of people did not loose their homes in 2008/09, Imagine, I could go on and on.
Who has financially gained from student debt? Banksters, Debt Collectors, Fraudulent Colleges, Trump University? who else benefited from the trickle down.
We the people guaranty these outrageously high loans so we have to pay the banksters and debt collectors when students fail.


and it might happen when you get rid of the banks that run this place. short of that, I suppose I’ll look forward to the next installment of, “the world I can have in my dreams”.

there’s not going to be a jubilee or any other form of relief so long as this corruption is allowed to remain in place.


10’s of thousands of people have proved that wrong.


Rebuttal time.

  1. What is the plan to pay for this $1.5 trillion hole? I didn’t see one explanation for that in this article, which is inexcusable.

Everyone has a free choice whether to attend or not attend college, knowing exactly how much it will cost. It should not be my responsibility to be taxed out of my hard-earned money so that someone who chose a low-paying occupation after previously choosing an ill-advised major in college can have their poor personal decisions paid for by me. Attending college is an economic choice, no matter the cost of tuition.

  1. You pay to receive an education under the premise that you will make more after school than you paid to prepare for it. Like any other investment, there are risks. The individual should always assume those risks. But when you repudiate all of the debt, you eliminate the incentive to make smart decisions. Receiving a sociology degree for $50,000 doesn’t make sense if you plan to choose a job that can’t afford to pay off the tuition. But if you make a sociology degree free, then you’ve eliminated the incentive to choose a better degree. You also eliminate the pricing mechanism completely that would result in different prices for different degrees. Prices are incentives when you let them work freely.

  2. The reason we have rising tuition and debt in higher education is simply an Economics 101 problem: subsidization. We subsidize tuition with below-market interest rates and provide guarantees on the debt. So schools return the favor by raising tuition to account for the subsidy. For those choosing a worthless degree in other departments and never taking an economics course, they may not know this. But you’d learn about subsidies in the first 3 weeks of an Economics 101 course. It’s exactly why healthcare costs and higher education tuition have been rising so high above inflation.

  3. The answer to the problem, unfortunately, is that you ultimately need to eliminate the subsidies. This will temporarily result in less people attending college, but the inflated tuition rates will soon subside, making college more affordable again. And the incentives will be in place to either attend college, or a technical college, or a community college, or any other option, based on the true price that you pay for each option. You would have less people attending a standard 4 year college, but more people getting more for their money, just like any other industry that isn’t so heavily subsidized.


Gosh, why don’t I just refuse to pay for everything I’ve bought?

No one is made to go to college, no one is forced to go into debt for school. It is a personal choice, and choices have consequences. Maybe before you got the degree in ( fill in the blank with any non-STEM degree), you should have thought whether or not you could make a living with it.

Also, remember, as has been pointed out before - the primary reason that loans have grown so much is that colleges have raised tuition at more than 2x the rate of inflation for more than 25 years. Additionally, over that same time, the administrator:student ratio has increased dramatically (while the teacher:student ratio has remained relatively flat).


"The answer to the problem, unfortunately, is that you ultimately need to eliminate the subsidies."
Do you mean like the “subsidies” we the tax payers pay to corporations without hesitation? I prefer calling it corporate welfare but I digress. I will gladly funnel that same money to end student debt. I am pretty sure the rewards for doing so will far outweigh the business as usual giveaway happening right now. We have become a despicable country making the already wealthy richer ( the recent “tax giveaway” an example) on the backs of the rest of us. Your rhetoric is embarrassing. How much was it that congress voted to hand over to the already inflated DOD recently? I’ll bet that money could have been earmarked to eliminate student debt. It is really just a matter of what our priorities are. From your comments I guess you come from a blame-the-victim standpoint.


I would say be grateful you are able to pay for everything you’ve bought. As a society, we have encouraged people to better themselves through further education. The problem is that we’ve been robbing them by not making education a priority. Our priorities are to the corporate cow. (no offense to real cows)


I would also like to picture the US with improved medicare for all. Think how that will ripple out for the well being of all of us. Removing student debt, medicare for all… both doable if we have the will.


Getting a education isn’t about making a living with it except in countries where education is not affordable otherwise. Education is about education and most advanced countries, excepting the dysfunctional US oligarchy, have realized that they are much better off with an educated public than an ignorant, uneducated Trump voting public.


you probably should, if you had the sense the good lord gave a shoe lace.

being the good reactionary that you are, you would think you’d at least be familiar with the basics of banking theory–the kind that stretches back to the first mercantile banks centuries ago: risk is a two way street, and the lender assumes the risk of the loan.

But nope! You want all the risk of the loan to be born by the borrower, while the lender gets every conceivable guarantee of profit possible (like a brigade of laws preventing legitimate bankruptcies of student debt).

It’s your heroes the rich that game this system–not a bunch of sad sack students whose heads were filled with stardust tales about the great job market up ahead for degrees! I fell for it, too, many years ago.

But the rich can over-buy yachts and discharge unpayable debts as a matter of routine. While the rest of us are placed into involuntary indenture for the remainder of our days. I reject your world.


DO you have an example of ““subsidies” we the tax payers pay to corporations without hesitation” (keeping in mind that a corporation paying less than the stated tax rate for any reason is not something taxpayers “pay”?


You seem to be jumping around a bit in your response. But to keep it simple, one bad subsidy doesn’t make another one ok. I’m against all of the subsidies you listed. Ones to “business” are just as pernicious as ones to prospective college students, resulting in perverse incentives, lack of competition, and unintended consequences. In the same way, you can’t (correctly) disparage oil subsidies while at the same time support renewable energy subsidies.


Drone, if you’d read prior posts I’ve made on the subject, rather than simply engaging in name calling, you would see that I have repeatedly advocated that student loans be discharged in bankruptcy. If that were the case, lenders would be far more discriminating in writing them, and the majority of the defaults very likely wouldn’t have occurred in the first place. By the same token, people who never pursued post-secondary education would not be burdened with paying for people who want to get degrees that reflect their lifestyle aspirations rather than giving them a viable career.

But nope! It’s easier for you to erect a strawman so you can feel good.


By the same token, in most countries, not everyone is “entitled” to a university education. For example, in Germany, which provides free college - only 28% receive those degrees.

If you want to pursue your education - by all means feel free to do so. Just don’t expect everyone else to pick up the cost of your degree.