Tuesday, August 20, 2013


 I graduated high school in 1970. As a male, you had two choices back then- army or college. The Vietnam war was still raging and my draft lottery # was 33. I picked higher education. I hated the regimental, institutionalization of secondary school, but the prospect of having my head shaved and dropped into the middle of some jungle, half a world away, while being handed an AR-15 and ordered to kill someone....well the choice seemed obvious. I put three years in at three different colleges, dropping out when Nixon ordered the end to the draft. Four years of marriage and the work-a-day world led me right back to college. This time I loved it. Nothing like work and a wife to turn you into a scholar.
   I was lucky enough to go to school at a time in U.S. history when loans and grants were readily available, and tuition was affordable. Those days are long gone. I took out a guaranteed student loan for $5,000 in 1979. It's called "guaranteed" because the government WILL get it's money back (with interest) eventually. Of course I did not readily subscribe to this. When I got a phone call from a collection agency I would curse and scream at them with such vehemence that the calls would cease. I'm sure there was a little red star next to my name. My philosophy was that until I made money in my field (art), I was not obligated to pay back my loan. Twenty years went by.  In 1999 I actually did an art project that made me some money. My $5,000 loan had ballooned to $15,000. I made a deal with the collection agency and paid $9,000. Done and done.
    Like I said, this was a long time ago. I've been saying for years that college education is no longer worth what they are charging. Hell, if it wasn't a safe haven from the draft, it was barely worth it back then. Just add zeros now days. It's obscene what a higher education now costs. It's the top heavy hiring of fat-salaried administrators and the "glamming" up of campuses with sushi bars and rock climbing walls that is driving the price up. If it was faculty salaries I wouldn't have any problem with this. Ask any teacher what they make. It's not teacher salaries. And ultimately it is the bottomless pit of government loan money that allows this to continue. To saddle an 18 year old with a debt comparable to buying your first house is criminal. Parents have little choice. The rich will always send Buffy and Bimmy to school. Not so much the working poor and middle class. Actually the dirt poor have a better chance getting a free ride. But it's only if their spawn is brilliant that they will benefit. The dumb poor don't have a chance.
   Finally the media is waking up to the education bubble, realizing that this upward spiraling in tuition and limitless loans can not be withstood forever. I'm sure it's editors and reporters facing their little darlings going off to school that has created the interest, and flurry of articles.. "How much do you want?" they groan into their iphones, as mom sews "Chloe" into the underwear. Wake up America! These days, ignorance may just be bliss.    


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