Nothing’s free and there’s no forgiveness.

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AP Photo/John Locher

We’re about to enter the last lap of 2019 which means that the 2020 election looms large. Before you know it, we’ll be covering the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary.

Unlike 2016, when it was an open race for both parties, the 2020 primary season will be an all-Democrat show. Donald Trump will be watching and waiting between now and sometime next summer, when a Democratic Party nominee is finally settled upon. In these next ten months or so, our national politics are going to turn even more sharply left.

It is a fact of politics that during the primaries, one must play to the base in order to win a spot on the general election ballot. The base of the Democratic Party has gone far left and the candidates are all following.

One example of this lurch to the left is front and center in the minds of parents all across the country who are, at this very moment, packing their 18-year old sons and daughters off to college. In the midst of buying duvet comforters and other dorm room accoutrements, anxious parents are lying awake at night trying to figure out how they’re going to come up with tuition money in the next four years that could otherwise afford them a very nice middle-class home in most communities.

Bernie Sanders has an easy answer. Bernie says that a college education is a “fundamental right.” None of his rivals seriously disagrees. Thus, for the next year and a half we’re going to hear about “free” college and college loan “forgiveness.”

Both are terrifically bad ideas.

Let’s start with loan forgiveness. It’s no such thing. That student loan was funded by the U.S. Treasury via tax receipts, with the proceeds going to a state or private university. The check has been cashed.

“Forgiving” the loan simply means that instead of it being repaid by the student who used the money to obtain a comparative literature degree from a snobby, richly-endowed private university, the owner of that successful, wage-paying, tax-paying auto repair shop down the street – who chose to skip college – now pays it.

As to “free” college; again, there’s no such thing. Someone has to pay. So back we go again to that auto repair shop owner.

When at the point of consumption a good or service is “free,” the discipline of consumer price sensitivity is removed. Absent that discipline, colleges have no incentive to control their expenses. As a result, the cost of college, already unconscionably high, explodes. Such is the moral hazard attendant to anything that appears to the consumer to be “free.”

It’s a fact that “free” anything via the conduit of government is simply the assertion of a presumptive right by one group of people to the fruits of the labor and time of another group of people. It’s an economic model that fails every time it’s tried.

But economic facts don’t often stop Democrats. And they surely won’t stop this group of Democrats.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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5 Responses

  1. Darrell Durham says:

    Paul, you have written another excellent column that points to the problems we face in 2020 (and beyond). I recently read an archived article pointing out the differences between the USPS and Fed-Ex/UPS. Most problems with the post office were due to being run by none other than the federal government. The same thing has occurred with higher education. The tenet that EVERYONE deserves a college education and that it should be FREE is wrong in lots of ways. Many students barely survive high school. To suggest that they MUST attend college and go into staggering amounts of debt doing so sets them up for failure. And as you point out, tuition wouldn’t BE so high if not for the push for college for all students. Some jobs that need to be filled don’t require a college education, nor can the employer afford a college-educated employee. The free enterprise system allows for these things to work themselves out. But, as you also point out, most of this is lost when talking to this current crop of candidates. My girlfriend was ready to vote for Hillary when we met. Thankfully I was able to shine some light in her eyes. She had never really been exposed to the right side (no pun intended!), having been raised a Democrat. Now she is a NASCAR-loving, gun-toting, Trump-loving, card-carrying Republican. So there IS hope! We just have to spread the word.

  2. Darrell Durham says:

    I did not go to college for several reasons. I couldn’t afford it and didn’t want to finance it. My father was a mechanic, and I decided to follow in his footsteps, deeming a COLLEGE education unnecessary. I do not regret my decision. Im not rich but I’m happy. My education continues to this day, however. I attend the School of Hard Knocks. My father taught me everything he knew to prepare me for life, most of which isnt taught in ANY classroom. That is a fundamental failure in our society. The left says everyone deserves a college education, when what everyone deserves is a MOTHER and FATHER to actually RAISE them instead of expecting someone else to do it.

  3. Ron Eagleman says:

    Congratulations to Darrell and anyone who can convince the left that the policies they promote only lead to misery and death. This is not an overstatement, and can be easily proven with just a minimal amount of research into world history. As I see it, the major problem we face in the 2020 election cycle is the entitlement generation becoming such a significant part of the electorate. These are many of those who were given participation trophies, and were reassured that 2 and 2 equal 5 if that is the answer that they wanted it to be. Make no mistake, the white-haired, grandfatherly appearing politician whose photo Paul uses in the headline of his essay, is a hard-core Socialist. His SANTA CLAUS platform is the standard pitch that the leftist use to attract votes from those who feel entitled. After these entitlements wreck the economy, they happily step in to provide a government solution for basic needs. The leaders live like kings, but the citizens chase garbage trucks to find enough to eat! Where do you think the “benevolent” politicians will get the money to pay for the “wish list” of all these wide-eyed children for their Christmas presents? Yes, confiscatory taxes will be a part of the plan, but a key part of this program is something no one wants to mention. They cannot wait to get their hands on the hard-earned retirement plans of the American people. Of course, even that will not be enough, but the wrecking ball has accomplished its purpose! While I am perched on my soap box:…….. universal health care is the dream of Socialists/Communists, as when this is controlled, all other freedoms can be voided. The citizenry will be very obedient to turn in their firearms or anything else that these autocrats determine is a health risk. Complete obedience of the masses IS the objective! Now I feel much better. Thanks Paul for allowing me a place to vent.

  4. FREE college???
    Hell no!
    Charge ‘em what Trump University charged!

    • C M Solomon says:

      Your perpetual anti-Trump comments are starting to look like an incurable obsession with a heavy bias towards ignoring your precious and heroic Democrats whose astronomical flaws you totally ignore and dismiss.

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