Monday, May 14, 2012


Graduates of the University of Alabama's class of 2011--photo by Butch Dill--AP
In the richest country in the world our college graduation gift to the bright and energetic is an average debt burden of $23,000.  That’s for those that make it through in 4 years.  55% still don’t make it after 6 years of studies and mounting debt.  Only 30% of our young people go and graduate from college, less than in most developed nations.  And that’s up 4% from 12 years ago when war-based financial crisis has made going to college an alternative “job” in itself.   Joining the military has become an increasing choice of post graduation “employment” in recent years.   Those who can’t afford college, and can’t find a job are part of the “economic draft” that has become a major factor in military recruitment for the never-to-end War on Terrorism.

Instead of promising our graduates the possibility of changing the world, we saddle them with a heavy promissory notes ball and chain.  From the 5-13-12 NYT A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College, we have these quotes.
With more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in this country, crippling debt is no longer confined… Now nearly everyone pursuing a bachelor’s degree is borrowing.
If the trends continue through 2016, the average cost of a public college will have more than doubled in just 15 years, according to the Department of Education.
In the article it draws a parallel to the housing bubble blowout—we now have an education debt bubble.

What a discouraging defamation of the inaugural challenge President Kennedy made to young people of our nation 52 years ago.  Is it now, “Ask not what you can do for your country, but how to repay your bankers?”  This worldwide vision of Peace Corps motivated service to God and country is replaced by personal financial worries.  There was an “urban legend” in the early 70’s of a session between Nixon, who hated the young anti-war protesters, and his strategists Haldeman & Ehrlichman, in which he pleaded for a way to neutralize them.  They came up with a plan for big college debt.  Simplistic, and I have never been able to find confirmation, but the monetary stumbling block to more young critical creative endeavors, certainly has occurred.

y the first week in July, Congress must act, or the rate on student loans will double from 3.4 to 6.8%, compounding the problem.  Democrats want to pay for the ongoing low rate by requiring more wealthy individuals to pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes; Republicans want it to come from cutting out preventative health care services from Obamacare {further weakening a program which now has expanded coverage for college age kids}.  This is the same Congress that struggles mightily to tip the balance  of mandated 50/50 budget cuts onto the backs of social programs, further increasing the military industry’s share.  Republicans controlling the House are eying big cuts to food stamps as they piece together legislation to trim $261 billion from the federal budget over the next decade, hoping to forestall major Pentagon cutbacks.  – from Food Stamp Cuts Eyed By House GOP ToForestall Defense Cutbacks, 4-17-12 Huffington Post.

I’d call these Congressional functionaries for Wall Street profiteers and military industries not Democrats or Republicans, but Scribes and Pharisees.  Listen to Jesus’ admonition.  “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.  ….  They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."  Mt 23: 13, 4

The less onerous Democratic plan to pay for college debt relief with some slight increase in the wealthiest tax obligations was “defeated” by a positive 52 to 45 vote on May 8, 2012 {8 votes shy of the new standard “super majorities” necessary to get anything done in Congress these days}.   Stay tuned to your media outlets to see if in the eventual vote we might have some small initial conversion, from honoring the dollar power speculation of corporate wealth, towards renewed possibility for our young adults’ dedication to national community service.
When will we free our young people from bondage to a failed war economy, a system that favors only the few at the top?  Come Lord Jesus, fill the hearts of your faithful, rich and poor, with the Pentecost fire of your love.   Fill us with the wisdom from above.

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Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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