As a student struggling with costs and debt I thought I’d take a look at the “change” Obama proposes to deal with the skyrocketing costs of higher education and the problem of student debt.
I looked at his website for answers. Talk about wading through pablum! Well, he doesn’t propose to deal with debt as far as I can see. Debt is key. When you enter the job market already in debt by tens of thousands you’re much less likely to make demands, to fight for better conditions or change jobs when your situation is untenable. The “free laborer” is no longer free from the outset. The capitalists like it this way’ it’s hell on workers. Debt relief isn’t mentioned by Obama and wont be.
So let’s get on to what he says he will do. He offers two things for higher education. The first is a $4000 tax credit for higher education. He doesn’t say whether this is a one time credit or not. But $4000 is chicken feed. It’s money after the fact, meaning you have spend the money to get the refund.
My university is a big state university. The kind imagined to be the place where workers could get an education. Tuition has been raised by over 10% in the last two years (and wages in that period?) to around $300 a credit hour. More for higher level classes plus books and fees means a minimum of nine grand a year.
There is no stipend and the work-study program has been defunded to be meaningless for most students. With the minimal requirements for a human being to live, even a college student, combined with tuition it ends up being aroun $20,000 a year. $4000 bucks wouldn’t even pay for the ramen noodles that you’ll be eating. Will it help students? It will just about make the tuition hikes of the last several years. Will it ensure that students who couldn’t go to college get a chance? No way.
His other big “change” Obama proposes to “streamline the loan application process”. Here’s the key. No help with the loans, no cap on tuition, no curbing of predatory lending practices, but he’ll making filling out the forms to get into debt easier. Thanks!
Hundreds of thousands of workers are out of jobs and need new skills. Millions of young workers are been denied even the possibility of an education. The change thing is all bullshit. You know what would be real change? How about a candidate who says that access to education will no longer be the purview of wealth?
Obama thinks capitalism holds the answers to capitalism’s problems (in as much as he’s even though about the problems of capitalism). It doesn’t. Why should education, like health, be determined by wealth? It shouldn’t. Free public education, including a stipend to live on, and admissions open to anyone who want to learn at any level would be real change. That would level the currently class riven playing field a bit. In the US it may very well require the overthrow of capitalism. Perish the thought.