Thursday, July 5, 2012

My letter to Congressman John Kline re: H.R. 4170

Lately I've been doing my small part in the political process by putting my name on various petitions, and communicating my opinion to Federal and State representatives. This invitation came to my inbox via signon.org.

There's a bill before Congress now, H.R. 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. The amount of debt that students are taking on is staggering. The fact that they're allowed to assume as much debt as they do needs scrutiny; doesn't this remind one of the subprime mortgage fiasco? In any case, these students will be defaulting on their loans in massive numbers, because the burdens of debt are unaffordable. The fundamental problem is that state universities have become too expensive for students from low-to-middle income families. Another problem are the commercial colleges that are in many cases a ripoff.

Here's what I wrote to the Chairman of the House "Education and the Workforce" committee:
Chairman Kline,

Please hold hearings on H.R. 4170 as soon as possible. The amount of student college debt held by recent graduates is a scandal in a prosperous country like ours, and doubly scandalous when compared to many European and Asian countries.

We Americans need to do more to support our smart and ambitious students. A democracy without educated citizens cannot stand. The rate of increase in tuition costs at state universities presents an insurmountable burden for students from low-to-middle income families. If we want to keep the American dream alive, we must make college affordable and accessible to motivated students.

Please move forward with the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, which should have strong bipartisan support. Compare the cost to the very expensive and nearly pointless wars we have recently engaged in, and we should see clearly by that comparison how we can pursue the public good with sensible economic policies that support education and the lives of working people. We should be talking more about supporting the public good, and affordable quality education should be at the forefront of that discussion.

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