Generally higher tax rates after WWII made public goods like affordable education and necessary public works a possibility. The post-war GI Bill sent many to college who would never have been able to afford it without public support. These public goods benefited everyone, including the wealthy 1% and corporations.
Our current tax structure favors the wealthy and makes these former public goods unavailable or punishing to achieve.
One result of the wealth/taxing imbalance in our country is the decision to make individual debt a means of paying the common good of having an educated populace. This was always a bad idea, made worse by predatory lenders, inflexible interest rates and crippling repayment plans. As others have noted, the ones benefiting from this outrage are not our students.
Substituting private debt for public financing was a huge mistake and was a conscious change in policy to cripple universities and create an entire generation preoccupied with their debt status. The unanticipated outcome was universities jacked up tuition past the annual cost of living to compensate.
Saying people caught up in this national debt scam should “man up” and pay back their debt is nonsense. It’s an Alice in Wonderland craziness. The nonsense is that our children are put in life-long debt peonage while billionaires launch themselves in their penis rockets into outer space. Student debtors need to “man up” to pay back loans to attend college they never should have needed. The super-wealthy “man up” by going up to the Kármán line with the tax dollars they avoid paying.
Previous generations who now dismiss student debt forbearance benefitted from larger public funding to get their own degrees. The question going forward is should we continue to punish this debtor generation for that mistaken policy change?
Debt forgiveness is the best option, though a national debt strike is also a good idea. Then raise tax rates on wealthy individuals and corporations, return to former methods of PUBLIC financing of higher education and we’re out of this viscous cycle.