Follow The Money
As the fallout from the hard stop of the economic machine challenges Wall Street and exchanges around the world, the inevitable downturn of the stock market means the loss of a lifetime’s savings for many people.
There will always be the fat cats that are too big to fail. They probably won’t read this.
For some of us, accumulating monetary wealth seems highly unlikely. We are smacked down by the debt we carry from the decision to obtain a diploma.
When the amount in the 401K is equal to or less than the student loan debt, the balance sheet dictates that we will never get ahead.
I won’t argue for total loan forgiveness. There is no free ride. And I guess every student understands more or less that the money to fund his or her education is a loan.
But in exchange for the opportunity to attend lectures, access information, get exposure to some thought experiments and to learn, you get a lifetime of shifting interest rates and absurd terms of repayment?
We have to ask ourselves as a country — why are we burdening the young with all of this debt? Are they getting ahead? Really?
And when you get out of school to start working and paying into the big pot of tax collection, why don’t you have some say where that money gets spent?
I’m here to contribute to society. I just don’t recall anyone asking me if I wanted to support a massive flying hunk of metal in the sky, all in the name of research.
I actually don’t want to do that. The space race is a fabrication. And that is just one example.
A shit-ton of money is flying around out there. Our money.
Defining a Shit-Ton
If you are like most people, the amount of money being moved around in the global economy is not very…graspable.
I heard an anecdote from musician David Crosby regarding the ability to grasp large numbers: A journalist asked him what it was like to play at Woodstock in front of 400,000 people. He told her that he looked at the crowd and thought to himself, “One, two, three, four…MANY.”
Even when Carl Sagan spoke about the number of stars in the sky on the TV series COSMOS he would famously talk about “billions and billions” of stars.
And you probably know that there are a shit-ton of stars up there, even if you never watched COSMOS.
Most of us don’t count that high. Our anchor to the reality of the numbers gets lost in those discussions, because we generally think about money in terms of thousands, not trillions.
Still, we can see that the student debt number is less great than the amount suddenly flowing into the pandemic.
We do understand the simple concept of money moving around at the whim of government officials.
We see them bailing people out. Everyday. With our money.
Where the Money Goes
Watching the tax dollars roll around out there makes me realize one thing: The student debt crisis is a problem, and we can solve the problem.
We CAN afford to help alleviate the burden of student debt — we just CHOOSE to spend the money elsewhere:
- Let’s bail out banks,
- and the airlines,
- and send billions in aid to other countries;
- let’s spend $100 billion on a space station,
- and let’s spend billions more to build a useless border wall…
Let’s take the tax dollars collected from people who don’t screw up, and use it bail out the people who have made really risky, bad financial choices.
We ought to bail out the people who haven’t gotten a chance to make any choices yet, other than going to college.
How can we fund oil rich countries before we take care of our own people?
This is a legitimate question, and I admit my ignorance. Bernie Sanders may have been too radical — but reforms are needed. Priorities need to get straightened out.
We’re gonna start from scratch on so many aspects of life as we rebuild after COVID-19. Can’t we give the kids a chance?
Thanks to Nathan Adlam for the inspiration.