The Value of Education…
Education is something that is very sacred to me. I also believe that if you ask nearly anyone that you know if they value education, the answer would be “yes”. So what’s the problem? We all value education….right? The problem is that we have completely and totally underfunded education from pre-school to post-secondary. It truly speaks volumes about what our policy makers value…and that is money.
We make it nearly impossible for students graduating from high school to get any kind of post-secondary education. Instead, we channel our taxpayer dollars into big banks and to the American War Machine (you know, so we can fight that war on terror??). Ellen Brown’s blog, War of Debt, discusses the issue of post-secondary funding and Elizabeth Warren’s bill to reduce student loan debt loads. An excerpt from the article…
Students are considered risky investments because they don’t own valuable assets against which the debt can be collected. But this argument overlooks the fact that these young trainees are assets themselves. They represent an investment in “human capital” that can pay for itself many times over, if properly supported and developed. This was demonstrated in the 1940s with the G.I. Bill, which provided free technical training and educational support for nearly 16 million returning servicemen, along with government-subsidized loans and unemployment benefits. The outlay not only paid for itself but returned a substantial profit to the government and significant stimulus to the economy. It made higher education accessible to all and created a nation of homeowners, new technology, new products, and new companies, with the Veterans Administration guaranteeing an estimated 53,000 business loans. Economists have determined that for every 1944 dollar invested, the country received approximately $7 in return, through increased economic productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenues.
Similarly in the 1930s and 1940s, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation funded the New Deal and World War II and wound up turning a profit, without drawing on taxpayer funds. It’s an initial capitalization was only $500 million; yet the RFC eventually lent out $50 billion – the equivalent of about $500 billion today. It raised money by issuing debentures, a form of bond. It got all of this money back, made a profit for the government, and left a legacy of roads, bridges, dams, post offices, universities, electrical power, mortgages, farms, and much more that the country did not have before.
In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, in which higher education would be provided by the government for free; and in the progressive 1960s, tuition actually was free or nearly free at state universities. Some countries provide nearly-free higher education today. In Norway, Denmark, France and Sweden, the cost of college is less than 3% of median income, as compared to 51% in the U.S.
Education is clearly an investment that pays off over time. So why do we have to continue to watch the rich get richer? This should be a topic that people are vigorously protesting. Sadly, it falls under the umbrella of apathy that is covering the entire nation. Education funding (or lack thereof) is one of the biggest factors contributing to the inequality in America today. My hope is that Elizabeth Warren sheds enough light on this subject to wake up the American people. Education may be the last hope that we have in resisting the corporate takeover over the world.