Question: Is making higher education available to every American more important to our national interest than letting Wall Street profiteers make a few more billions of dollars each year?
Answer: Of course. Yet, our political leaders — pushed by Wall Street lobbyists — have been making the opposite choice for years. As a result, banksters have loaded students down with a mountain of high-interest loans, rising from just over $2 billion a decade ago to nearly a trillion last year. Worse, the financiers — either banks or government lenders — have become the gatekeepers of advanced education, shutting out thousands of young people wanting to get ahead, but not able to hurdle the formidable financial barrier.
This is enormously costly to America — and completely unnecessary. The smart choice — as we learned from the GI Bill after World War II — would be to make college and professional training free. Universal access to higher education — i.e., free access — produces a very high return on the public’s investment, while also producing widely shared prosperity and a broadly educated citizenry.
Of course, an up-front investment in a smarter, more productive, more democratic civilization is pricey. So where do we get the money to do what America needs? Get it from where it went. Wall Street’s super-rich speculators are now making millions of superfast, robotic financial transactions per second, generating trillions of dollars a year for them — but producing nothing of real value for us, while distorting and endangering markets.
Put a tiny tax on each of those automated gambles by speculators, and more than enough money will come into the public coffers to free up higher ed for all.
For information, check out United States Students Association: www.usstudents.org.