Growing up in Mid Michigan, my parents taught me the importance of earning my own way. In elementary school, my parents were in Amway and would store some of the products in our basement. When I realized the food we were storing was the same food as what our school was selling, I decided to take matters into my own hands and start selling our product at a lower price than the school.
This was my first business, and instilled in me an entrepreneurial mindset. At 14, I started my second business: a claw machine. That little investment allowed me to buy rental properties as a teenager and helped me pay my way through college.
Growing up, I was never afforded unlimited resources to fund my education. My parents worked hard, and they expected me to work hard too. College was never an option, it was an expectation. But I was also expected to pay my way and put myself through school.
This mindset is missing in today’s generation.
American colleges and universities are raising the cost of tuition because federal and private loan companies are subsidizing the cost of a college education. Lenders have no risk and can lend nearly unlimited amounts. They don’t even take into consideration the type of degree and will loan money for degrees that are unlikely to generate the income necessary to cover the debts.
As it stands today, the United States is riddled with almost $2 trillion in student loan debt. With 43 million Americans held down by student loans, that is an average of around $46,000 in student loan debt for just 12% of the country.
To put that into perspective, credit card debt in the United States has nearly doubled in the past decade and is only half the amount of student loan debt at around $1 trillion dollars.
Student loan debt is an economic mess — much like the 2007 housing bubble — that is being perpetrated by our own government.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled the Biden Administration does not have the authority to provide sweeping student loan relief. What did the White House do? They puffed out their chest and announced they are going to do it anyways; if only they were this firm with our foreign adversaries like China and Russia.
Their new proposal wipes away nearly $120 billion in outstanding federal loans. This would be detrimental to our economy. With already record-high inflation, this would sink our economy and unfairly force the 88% of Americans who do not have federal student loans to pay for the 12% who do.
Here’s a radical thought, why not encourage student loan borrowers to take on additional shifts or a part-time job to pay off their debts? I’m sure small businesses across the country would welcome the additional workers.
Progressives in the House think that all of our economic problems can be solved through government intervention. That’s just not the case, and a majority of Americans agree that the answer to our problems is less government, not more.
The solution is American ingenuity, not American bureaucracy.
Radical progressives, like Hillary Scholten, ran as moderates who were going to stand up to the radical policies of Washington liberals and special interest groups who then got to DC and abandoned the commitments they made. There are alternatives to college that those on the left do not seem to want to address.
Just like the Green New Deal, Democrats in Washington think they can just wave a magic wand, and trillions of dollars will just appear. Instead of bailing out universities and private colleges, we should be fostering an environment of healthy academic competition.
College was never intended for every student. By investing in vocational training at the high school level and encouraging students to follow their own path, we will create a generation that is focused and capable of supporting themselves through the necessary means.
We are in this mess because we initiated an income-based repayment model that discourages recipients from taking accountability for their job choices.
Our government should not be in the business of supporting universities, it should be getting out of the way of innovation and education. Much like with the Green New Deal, if we want to begin tackling record-high inflation and our national debt, we must begin making smart economic decisions that prepare us for the issues of the future, not the consequences of the past.
Michael Markey, is a financial advisor and Republican candidate for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.