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Make Universities Accountable for Predatory Student Loan Abuse

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The Biden administration is still talking about delivering on the President’s promise to relieve student loan debt for many Americans. There is continuing discussion on how much debt should be forgiven, how to pay for it, and whether it is fair to all those who have diligently and painfully worked to already pay off their own student loans. After all, if you’re going to eliminate student debt to buy votes, why just limit it to student debt?

Unfortunately for Biden, according to numerous sources including National Review, the executive branch has no generalized power to forgive any amount of student debt. Even Nancy Pelosi confirmed simply that “the president can’t do it. That’s not even a discussion.” The Department of Education came to the same verdict, determining that the executive branch “does not have the statutory authority to cancel, compromise, discharge, or forgive, on a blanket or mass basis, principal balances of student loans, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof.”

Of course, even if he had the authority, forgiving student debt doesn’t make the debt go away. Reality has a way of breaking into such “freeloading” dreams. It’s pay me now, or somebody else pay me later. But why should some future taxpayer pay off anyone else’s student debt?

Whatever happened to wise warnings of “student beware.” When you get an education and agree to pay the tuition, you ought to realize that you must at some point pay for that education. You signed on the bottom line. Face your real-world responsibilities. Hopefully, you picked a degree major that will ensure a career capable of paying off your loans. Students clearly have some responsibility, but what about the universities that took advantage of the money coming from those loans?

After all, there is ample evidence that student tuitions exploded far faster than inflation when government funds became readily available for student loans. Complaints of excessive tuition increases by students trapped in their programs tended to be met with a less than caring response—pound sand!

Since 2008, the tuition cost or a four-year college degree has increased nearly 25%. In that same period, student debt has doubled, increasing by 107%. 2015 study found that a dollar of subsidized student loans results in a published tuition increase of 58 cents at a typical university, An NBER paper suggests that changes to federal student loans are more than sufficient to explain tuition increases at private nonprofit colleges. And a 2014 study found that for-profit colleges eligible for federal student aid charged tuition 78% higher than that of similar but aid-ineligible institutions.

In short, there is no doubt that tuition was rising faster than the inflation level. Evidence has been clear for decades. In 1987, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett argued that “increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities to raise their tuition, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Bennett pointed out in 1987 that federal student aid had risen 57 percent since 1980, while inflation had been 26 percent. A 2020 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office brought the numbers up to date: “Between 1995 and 2017, the balance of outstanding federal student loan debt increased more than sevenfold, from $187 billion to $1.4 trillion (in 2017 dollars).” What is the lesson? The more federal aid to students is available colleges raise tuition more. Salaries rise and bureaucracies expand. There are more courses, more dorms, dining halls, lavish recreational centers, and more money for endowments.

Far too many students find that once they begin their education, their schools raise the tuition at such a high rate that their debt explodes. The university builds their endowment, and the “trapped” student is compelled to finish what they started at a cost they did not expect to have to pay. In such a situation, should not the university be responsible for any increased cost above the increase in cost of living during the same time? It’s time for universities to take responsibility for their share of student debt.

The universities that benefited from these loans should have a part in footing the bill. That means universities that raked in millions to inflate endowments should be holding the bag for those who can’t afford to pay their loans. With universities holding hundreds of billions of dollars in tax-free endowments, any government program to relieve student debt should be completely dependent on taxing those university endowments.

It’s time to counter the Democrats’ vote-buying scheme by making lasting changes to the student loan process. That means putting universities on the hook for their predatory behavior. That will go much further than a temporary payoff that does nothing to solve what is causing the problem.

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Dr. Terry Paulson is a PhD psychologist and author of The Optimism Advantage, They Shoot Managers Don't They, Speak Like a Pro, Meditations for the Trail, and The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have. Since founding Paulson and Associates, Inc. in Agoura Hills, CA, Dr. Paulson has presented to such companies as IBM, 3M, Kaiser, Nationwide, SONY, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and hundreds of hospitals, government agencies, and associations. Dr. Paulson is a past president of both the Global Speakers Federation and the National Speakers Association. He’s been inducted into NSA’s CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor given to less than 230 speakers worldwide. Dr. Paulson is a long-time conservative Republican who has spoken to numerous Republican groups. He currently is a regular op-ed columnist for townhall.com and politicrossing.com. Terry brings knowledge, tasteful humor, and a passion for conservative principles to every presentation. Dr. Paulson graduated with honors from UCLA and received his PhD in psychology and an MA in theology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA.



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Business

Justice, not ‘Social’ Justice, Improves Society

If we ignore existing laws simply in favor of what we want, society will soon break down

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Thomas Jefferson wrote that, “The most sacred of the duties of government is to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.” The hallowed duty to fulfill the promise of justice for all remains, or ideally should remain, as the guiding ideal for the people we elect to government.

A friend of mine recently commented that the ‘social’ justice movement in America is alive and well, and that great things have been happening. However, when you put any word in front of the word ‘justice,’ the true meaning of justice is altered. Social justice is some group’s attempt at righting what they consider to be wrong.

I asked my friend for an example of social justice and was told that power lines being installed near poor neighborhoods instead of wealthier neighborhoods was a prime example. I then explained that that was not an issue related to ‘social’ justice but to justice itself.

Express Lanes for Redress

This is not 1860, or 1960. Today, many avenues exist for illuminating any issue of merit. Locally, there are zoning boards in every municipality, city councils usually with members on the left and the right, town hall meetings, public forums, newspapers, local television stations – a variety of entities that can be brought to bear to examine an issue and to forge some type of equitable redress if needed.

To be sure, no form of political government is anywhere near perfect or even equitable, much of the time. Democracy is difficult, but all other forms of government are worse.

In a democracy, or representative republic, such as we have in the U.S., you can’t go off half-cocked and do exactly what you want because you think that a particular law is bad. You have to work to change the law, to change policies, to address inequities within the framework of democracy, and within the bound of the justice system.

A Sanctuary for Whom?

Consider the phenomenon of sanctuary cities. For a sanctuary city to exist, one has to have a mayor, an alderman, city council members,  and other committee members, including those whose were elected as well as as appointed, to believe that what they’re espousing is right, while ignoring what has been passed into law. This ruling class thus usurps that which a majority of citizens rely upon each day.

A sanctuary city, by definition, is a city that is breaking the law. The Left will rationalize that ‘social’ justice requires breaking the law and that not all laws are good laws. True: not all laws are good laws. Laws, nevertheless, were passed as a result of a process in place for tens if not hundreds of years.

If laws routinely discriminate against one segment of the population versus another, then by all means work to change the law. When you insert catchphrases into the mix, such as ‘social’ justice, what that actually means is that you have another viewpoint of an issue. Further, you deem that your view and your actions are more meritorious than whatever came before them.

Vigilantism isn’t Pretty

Years ago, by exhibiting such behavior, you would be called a vigilante. Vigilantes are a self-appointed group who engage in policy enforcement without having legal authority, usually because they deem the legal agencies to be inadequate.

We dwell in a society where the media is distinctly liberal, and even leftist – as we have witnessed with big tech, the big TV networks, nearly all newspapers, and, unfortunately, a variety of government agencies. Thus, those advocating for ‘social’ justice have the wind at their backs. Yet, they violate the rights, and votes, of half the population and perhaps much more.

Welcome to My Two Cents

Any one of us could offer a long list of social issues that we’d like to change. If we decide, willy-nilly, to start ignoring existing laws in favor of what we want, how long will it take before society breaks down completely? Taking the law into your own hands is the essence of what it means to be a vigilante. Vigilante-dominated societies are not healthy. Many of their residents live in constant fear.

Taking the law into your own hands is an ill-advised shortcut to seeking what you want without working through the system, however imperfect the system might be. This country, any country, does not need more vigilantism.

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Education

Texas School District Says Enough is Enough

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Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

BREAKING: The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in North Texas voted last night to:

1) Ban the teaching of critical race theory. 

2) Wait until students are in the fifth grade to teach them sexual orientation and gender identity. 

3) Ban boys from playing in girls’ sports.

4) Encourage the use of pronouns that align with student’s biological gender and require them to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their biological gender.

5) Require that library materials be posted online and readily available for review by parents.

6) Not teach The New York Times “1619 Project”.

7) Implement a strict process for reviewing library books, so as to allow To Kill A Mockingbird and disallow Daddy, Papa, and Me and others.

It seems nearly incomprehensible that a school district would have to vote on measures like these. In fact, to many thoughtful Americans, it seems utterly Orwellian. How can truths about gender and the proper use of pronouns suddenly seem controversial rather than commonsensical?

Why does it seem radical to return power to parents and reaffirm biological reality? Or to keep boys from dominating girls in sports? Or to let students read revisionist history and propaganda about their nation on their own time? Why teach something that cannot withstand even the lightest objective criticism? 

Perhaps the school district’s 4-3 vote is a sign that there’s hope, that the pendulum has reached its arc and is beginning to move back toward truth and reality. Maybe the radicals are on the run.

No matter what, kudos to North Texas educators for pushing back against the absurdity and reaffirming responsible education.

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