The abrupt ending to last week’s column, in which I addressed the topic of student loans, was purposeful.
I was hoping some of you would let me know your thoughts. Happily, you did not disappoint me.
I don’t offer an opinion here often, but on this particular subject I didn’t try to hide my feelings. I had recently read an opinion piece by a young man who has student loan indebtedness of more than $200,000 and now has an annual income of less than $50,000.
He is proposing the government step in and erase all such indebtedness and then make college free. By this I was dumbfounded.
After I described the writer’s position and offered up mine, I stopped there and asked for your comments, and specifically asked you to let me know if you thought I was missing something. In other words, I wanted to know if any of you agreed with the author of the piece I had read.
I heard from a number of you and although you had different takes on it, none of you had sympathy for the writer I referenced.
My first response came before 8 a.m. last Monday from a reader who believes student loans are largely to blame for the out-of-control costs of higher education.
“If people quit paying these ridiculous prices with money they don’t have, the supply and demand would regulate the price,” she wrote.
I have suspected the same thing, but didn’t quite know how to articulate it. I think it’s comparable to exorbitant health care costs being due the assumption that the paying party is a deep-pocketed insurance company. (That’s another rant for another day, but tell a health care provider you’ll be paying cash for a procedure, and you won’t be submitting an insurance claim, and see how the situation changes).
And speaking of health care, another reader has a relative in medical school who is borrowing for “education as well as everyday living.” With tongue planted in cheek, she said how nice it would be for the government to pick up the tab, while knowing “we all would be paying” if that were to happen.
I told her, as I had previously stated, that I’m not opposed to borrowing money for education. A future doctor, however, is much more likely to have repayment ability than the guy who borrowed 200-grand for a bachelor’s and graduate degree and now makes $4,000 per month.
One reader pointed out that “higher education is not mandatory” and “this person made the decision to borrow the money and get the education.”
He stated, simply, that he needs to “pay up.”
All of you who took time to comment agreed that “government” is just another word for “you and me.” We would all be paying if all the indebtedness were to be erased, and you were clear you don’t want that.
I was surprised nobody mentioned the option of community college or technical school, which are now offered free to graduating seniors in Tennessee. Imagine the savings, especially for many who graduate from high school not yet knowing their choice of a career.
Even in states where tuition must be paid, community college almost always costs less than a four-year institution and is a great way to get basic education requirements out of the way. There are often night or weekend classes for those who are working. And even if a person were to borrow money for it, the amount borrowed would be substantially less.
I’ll give this topic a rest for now, but I’m still open to opposing views. And I promise equal time.
Goodbye for now
My wife and I recently noticed with regret the closure of the Brentwood Market and Deli on Franklin Road, which was our nearest convenience store. Because I tend to take on responsibilities that are not necessarily mine, I feel some guilt over this, similar to what I felt when Ruby Tuesday’s closed a couple of years ago.
The nearby establishment gave me a sense of security, knowing it was less than a five-minute drive away if I needed it. Alas, I took it for granted and have not darkened the door for several years.
And I never took advantage of their lunch offerings which were said to be delicious. Because the parking lot was small, at midday it was not uncommon to see the trucks of local workers parked, with flashers blinking, in the turn lane on Franklin Road as they ran in for some of the legendary fried chicken.
According to a story in the Home Page about the property’s zoning, there’s a possibility the store could reopen. So I’m hoping this is a “see you later” rather than a goodbye, with my pledge to be a better patron if it comes back.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.