There is one. It’s a crisis by which I am decidedly unaffected. I will be graduating this spring with a B.A. and zero debt.
I chose my university according to my budget.
I won’t be paying my own (nonexistent) student debt, but with taxes, I will probably be paying yours. Irrespective of that, and despite the fact that I feel I made a decision and that forgiving student debt is unfair because other people made a different one and would not face the consequences of their decision with such a proposal, I would in no way criticize any student who chose an extremely expensive, prestigious school despite inability to afford it. This is because in all rationality I know that, unfortunately, my sentiment that an action to partially or entirely relieve someone of student debt is somehow “unfair” is a result of a false sense of threatened security: as though the more students who are in inconceivable degrees of debt, the more advantage I have in this economy.
That is, of course, untrue. The perception that in order for someone to be financially successful, someone else has to be unsuccessful, is an economically false one. And it’s exactly how people who accumulate their wealth by screwing over other people want me to feel. The reality is that people who can not afford expensive, prestigious schools are people like me. And the best way to ensure that people like me don’t get in the way of people like them is to turn me against myself–is to make me feel that helping you out because you made a different decision, because you didn’t compromise on your educational dreams for money, is somehow unfair. The reality is I don’t actually have an advantage. (Who am I kidding? I’m just like you.) The reality is even if I had an advantage it’s one I would have had unfairly, gained from a system whose premise is to force people like to me to choose between something that is vital to financial security and compromising that security, like a Catch 22. With education. With something that is, according to how our nation functions, supposed to be a civil right. In fact, it’s one that you can’t even opt out of practicing. It’s a civil requirement.
The reality is I graduated high school with all the promise of anyone who would attend an expensive, prestigious school. The reality is my high school English instructor, upon discovering that I would choose not to attend an expensive, prestigious school, insisted, “But Nahida, you’re a thinker,” with a tone of great distress. “There is a difference.”
Yeah, there fucking is a difference. I’m convinced the crap people tell you about how your school is just as good as an Ivy League are either (1) trying to make themselves feel better with delusion or (2) attending an Ivy League with the aforementioned false belief about economic success.
Elizabeth Warren is proposing a bill that give students the same rate as the bankers. (Which in some cases is ZERO PERCENT interest.) Which is like, the most OBVIOUS MOVE IN THE WORLD. The reality is, we have all been screwed over beyond an extent we even realize. By people who do exactly that to make money.
Once upon a time (and I don’t even WHEN!) when someone became wealthy, their community prospered with them. I don’t think that’s ever demonstrably been true, but when bankers and big business are claiming it is and that’s why they should get off on taxes and receive subsidies, you bet I’m sure as fuck going to hold them to that golden standard. And when it’s clearly not happening you bet I’m going to cut off their unearned advantages. Because when that doesn’t happen, it means the people who are accumulating wealth are doing it illegally. They are leaning on the support of your taxes and your labor, and they are not contributing to the prosperity of our civilization in return. You don’t need to gain over someone’s loss–not when you earn your money honesty. You can even forget treating students like bankers. Goddammit, treat bankers like ME.
I’ve heard people tell friends of mine who went to Harvard and Duke and are inconsolably distressed over their debt that they shouldn’t have chosen these schools to begin with. Why the fuck not? They made amazing grades and did amazing things. What doesn’t entitle them to that kind of education? (Say it: class; admit that’s what you want–the poor out of your precious schools.) The perfect debtor is much like the perfect victim: nonexistent.
I didn’t want to go to Duke or Harvard. I would have been living in New York. And I would’ve returned to California, but the experience–living alone somewhere unfamiliar and having to function daily that way–would’ve taught me an invaluable amount of independence.
I didn’t do it for my education because I would have had to pay interest on loans, which is Islamically illegal, but I would in no way criticize any student who chose an extremely expensive, prestigious school despite inability to afford it; I know what it’s like, not in this but elsewhere, to risk all stability to relentlessly pursue a passion.