Student debt is a public-policy issue that will keep on giving—giving problems to the Democrats, who created it, and the opportunity of a lifetime to Republicans, if they have the wit to seize it.
The total student-loan debt is huge, an estimated $1 trillion. Average debt per borrower in 2012 was $24,800. Of the trillion dollars, about $758.5 billion is owed to the federal government. The rest is owed to private lenders.
There are three problems with the student loans, two of which receive some coverage, but one of which is never mentioned by the left-wing press—and that’s where the opportunity for Republicans lies.
The first problem is that the loans encourage students to spend years at an institution from which many of them will derive no benefit, for three reasons.
The first reason is the nature of the curriculum at too many modern universities, where there is likely to be a department of Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, offering courses like Kings, Queens & Queers, or Cross-Dressing in 19th Century Literature (the latter, obviously, is a graduate course).
The second reason is that the nature of work is changing. In a recent column in theWall Street Journal, William Galston referred to three Canadian economists whose research calls into question the proposition that a college education is the key to a young person’s future. The theory is that information technology tends to make whatever is learned in college, if not the graduates themselves, less valuable. As any parent of a 12-year-old knows, you don’t need a college education to do complex tasks on a computer.
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