Let me start with a little background. I am a graduate of a public university with a bachelor’s in Classical Humanities with a strong focus in the development of ancient religions. I am what can be labeled a non-traditional student. This is to say that I completed college outside the traditional phase of going right after high school. I graduated from the university at the age of 35. Now this is not to say that I was unable to attend after high school. I did attend for three years after graduating at the top of my high class and found that I was unable to complete it due to lack of funds.
During my third year, it became clear that my father’s income was considered to be too high for me to qualify for enough financial aid to cover the last year of college. He was still raising three sisters of mine, so he was unable to help. I fell into a hole that nearly ended my dream of finishing my education and the promise of a successful future in the field that I had studied. I was in school and part time jobs didn’t cover the bill of thousands of dollars. So, I was forced to make a change and return to the blue collared life.
After marrying, I looked to whatever job that I could find. I wanted to return to school, but that was a goal that would have to wait. It was a dark time in my life with my spouse as the only light. However, after all of these struggles, I had the fortune of landing a job on a college campus. It was an entry level janitorial position, but it gave me the opportunities that I needed. To sweeten the deal, I learned that tuition was waived as a benefit to my job. I was on my way and after eight years of waiting, I had my chance. I became a part time non-traditional student with the goal of completing my degree. It took me five more years to finish, but I was never so proud to accept that diploma and raise my hand in the air. I had beaten some difficult odds.
Now what does this have to do with my post today? Well, during those years of college, I still had to accept a few student loans to cover fees, books, and a few living expenses. It was necessary and I was willing to take some debt to achieve my American dream. One considers that debt will happen as it is part of the investment for a future in a career that will provide an income that should help pay off that debt. It is like a house loan. You need the debt for a while so you can continue to have a roof over your head. However, the job did not materialize and I returned to the skills that I had acquired during my ten years on the campus. It was enough to find employment to pay the bills, support the family, and attempt to pay down the debt.
Forbearance became my friend after a few years of paying down the debt, but it was only going to put it off while accruing a nice bit of interest for the loan company. Five years ago, the government passed a bill that cut the interest in half. I was feeling that perhaps I was gaining a benefit from the same government that has cut the tax rates of the upper class a few years before.
Now, we are in an election season and this whole matter has come to be a factor for me personally and students who are facing a similar future with their loans. The bill that lowered the interests on student loans will expire this summer and return the rates back to the levels before the bill.
So, my question is this: Am I willing to see my student loan interest increase if the tax cuts for those with incomes over a quarter of a million also return to their former rate as they are schedule to do at the end of this year? In other words, am I willing to pay my part if they are willing to pay their part? At this end of the spectrum, the proposed reason for the cuts on the rates of the higher incomes was that they would be creating jobs and we would all benefit from the trickle down effect. However, in those years, I have seen the jobs fade from this economy and balloon the unemployment to nearly ten percent. I am aware of the spin point and opinions that other factors are involved, but the plain fact is that the trickle down effect is like the precipitation in the desert…sparse and unhelpful to the growth on the ground. That entirely aside, my question still stands.
My answer is simple. Yes. I would take the increase to pay my part, work hard to achieve what I can, and prosper in this country in the hopes that the cuts in tax rates are allowed to expire at the end of the year. Because it is on my shoulders that I hold steady the weight of the country as a civic duty. If I can do it, then it should be something that all citizens of this country can do. A free market society may be the argument, but again, we need to find the balance of the system. It is only then that we will find a success that will allow us to reach our greatest potential.
Time to wake! Step apart from the fringes and join the balancing of our system! Don’t let someone hold up the country alone.