You might think the Evil Fraternal Twins, Hopey-Changey and The Bane Capitalist, would have something profound and reassuring to say about the most pressing problem facing America's young people—they are hopelessly mired in a post-industrial toxic waste dump of student loan debt and have little hope of paying that debt off anytime soon, if ever.
But according to the Huffington Post's Chris Kirkum, Obama, Romney Glossed Over Trillion-Dollar Student Loan Debt in the second debate.
It was the opening question in Tuesday night's long-awaited presidential debate sequel: A 20-year-old college student wanted to know how he would fare in the job market after graduation.
"What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?" asked first-time voter Jeremy Epstein.
The question has an added urgency in today's economy, now that student borrowers are graduating with an average of more than $25,000 in debt — a 20 percent increase from five years before.
Yet there was hardly any discussion of the nation's burgeoning student loan debt Tuesday night, as President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made only passing references to the rising costs of college and the increased burdens on graduates entering the workforce.
Both candidates largely focused on creating more jobs as a solution to the problem: for Romney, "I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve"; and for Obama, "The most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country, but not just jobs, good-paying jobs, ones that can support a family."
But with college costs increasing at a rate that consistently outpaces inflation, many graduates know that simply getting a job isn't enough to keep up with loan payments.
"It's an easy answer to say 'If we create jobs, obviously you'll have money and you can pay off your loans,'" said Kate Tromble, director of legislative affairs at the Education Trust. "But I think it's bigger than that. When you're talking about a trillion dollars in debt, you're talking about something more than just a poor economy."
That's right! — It's an easy answer to say if we create jobs ... yadda, yadda, yadda. But of course neither Evil Twin wants to talk about income; it's all about Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
Neither candidate seems to care what kind of jobs those are and what they pay. Hmmm ... that's strange. That's what we might expect to hear if this country were run by unfettered capitalist elites hell bent on paying slave wages to obedient but highly productive workers... But No! That couldn't be right, could it?
So if you've landed that waitress job you've always wanted, and you're in debt up to your eyeballs, the future surely looks bright! Here's a conversation I had with a new waitress at my local drinking establishment on Saturday night. She looked to be about 24, maybe 25 years old. I like to get to know the new girls, call them by name, ask after them when I see them next, etc.
Me: So, are you in school?
Her: No, no, I graduated. [some talk about what she majored in]
Me: I'm sorry to ask you, but I write about student debt on my blog. Can you tell me how much debt you have?
Her: 50,000 dollars.
Me: @#%&*! That's a lot of debt!
Her: I try not to think about it.
Me: I'll bet you don't!
Let's cut to the chase. Neither Hopey-Changey nor The Bane Capitalist has the slightest interest in reforming or—God Forbid!—forgving student loan debt to help our enslaved young people out. These posers are all about the status quo. And at this point, there are so many vested interests profiting from student loan debt, not least our sacrosanct 4-year colleges and universities, that doing something substantive to alleviate the impossible burden we've placed on our young people is out of the question. That's the heart of the matter.
There's no dearth of evidence demonstrating that the student debt atrocity is getting worse and worse. You might look at Peter Coy's Student Loans: Debt for Life (September 18, 2012). That's a good one if you enjoy a smash-up, butt-ugly train wreck. You might look at the Pew Research Center's A Record One-in-Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt (September 26, 2012). That's another good one if you crave additional details about just how fucked up The Greatest Country On Earth has become.
I sometimes get flack because of my use of profane language. Dave, you're a smart guy, an articulate guy. Why do you feel compelled to undercut important messages by saying this country is "fucked up"? I'll tell you why. It's because so many situations in the United States have become obscenities. Student debt is a case in point. And if you're trying to describe obscenities, you've got to use a few. The problem I worry about is that people insist we talk reasonably about situations which have moved far beyond reasoned talk.
Finishing up, we have this large infographic from College At-Home (here). Peruse it at your leisure. As you do so, bear in mind that a country which sells its young people down the river is not a country worth having.