This Sunday’s New York Times has an editorial by Lee Siegel about refusing to repay one’s student loans, as Siegel himself has done. He suggests that if only more people would follow his example, a long sequence of good things would start to happen. At the end of this sequence, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we will find affordable higher education.
The collection agencies retained by the Department of Education would be exposed as the greedy vultures that they are. The government would get out of the loan-making and the loan-enforcement business. Congress might even explore a special, universal education tax that would make higher education affordable.
There would be a national shaming of colleges and universities for charging soaring tuition rates that are reaching lunatic levels. The rapacity of American colleges and universities is turning social mobility, the keystone of American freedom, into a commodified farce.
If people groaning under the weight of student loans simply said, “Enough,” then all the pieties about debt that have become absorbed into all the pieties about higher education might be brought into alignment with reality. Instead of guaranteeing loans, the government would have to guarantee a college education.
Sounds nice. But it might perhaps be a slight bit optimistic.