On May 8, Congressional Republicans managed to defeat a Democratic effort to forestall a nationwide increase in the interest rate charged for many student loans.
Perhaps never before in our country’s history has our nation decided that the best way to grow as a country is to strangle its future by making higher education less affordable in order to keep our wealthiest citizens secure in the special privileges that years of class-based subsidies and tax breaks have made possible. Worse still, our nation seems to feel that family values are strengthened by making it harder to emerge from a state of virtual indentured servitude as our young people pay off onerous student debts.
By shifting the real threat to families from economics to the issue of gay marriage, Republicans and conservative groups imply that they favor families while retaining an economically stratified system of class privilege and militarism.
The United States spends five times as much on its defense budget as the nation with the next highest defense costs, China. In a world where force is daily being shown to be ineffective and ultimately to bankrupt nations, America’s strategy to “shoot its way out of trouble” may amuse future historians of American decline but it doesn’t keep America a world leader with a strong work force nor does it make our country hopeful and joyous, a land of youth and plenty. If Stafford Loan interest rates are allowed to double from the current rate of 3.4 percent in July, we as a nation will only show other nations the contempt we have for our young people and for family values.
The current unemployment rate for those in their 20s — an age when most Americans used to marry and begin their families — is more than 16 percent. Deferring marriage merely increases the number of young adults who are living together often in communal settings or as unmarried couples. Equity formation for most young people is indefinitely delayed as they accept the reality of being exploited by the lending institutions that lend them money at interest rates that few will be able to repay without penalties as the years drift by. It may be as long as 20 years before these young people can again call their lives their own.
What do you call a country that colonizes its own citizens while spending billions in fighting endless wars and strengthening the rule of its disgusting oligarchy? You call it America in the 21st century.