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The Colonel #96 Counting the Cost

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?”

Jesus Christ

Much is being made on both sides of the current administration’s lunatic idea of forgiving student debt. (Guess which side I’m on.) A recent opinion piece in the Washington Examiner, as with so many in the media and government outlets is quick to place blame anywhere but upon the students.

“However, student loan forgiveness doesn't address the root of the problem — colleges charging ridiculous tuition prices.

“In the student loan debt crisis, colleges and universities have escaped the blame they deserve. These institutions charge gargantuan, predatory prices with little justification, mostly just because students have access to the loan money.”

Excuse me but charging gargantuan prices is neither predatory nor without justification. In a free-market economy charging what the market will bear is a sound practice. Have you purchased gasoline lately? As long as customers are willing to pay a premium price there is no rational reason to charge less.

Colleges and universities charge what they will because no one really asks what it costs—they just pay up—because junior’s education can’t be compromised. Well, it can, but parents today don’t have the guts to be seen skimping on education.

But this is not an issue restricted to tuition. It is endemic in much of American life. As long as insurance or Medicare/Medicaid will pay for medication and services, no one really cares what they cost—like a huge buffet they take what they want. So why should Big Pharma or hospitals charge less?

I don’t know much about economics, but I do know that decreased demand results in lower prices. The government has it in its power to dry up the sea of ready cash flowing into American colleges and universities—a sure cure to astronomical prices as attendance falls.

A simple, required co-pay for Medicare would drive recipients from using the Emergency Room for routine healthcare. Equitable charges for doctor’s visits for the insured and uninsured could be had if the insured only asked about the disparity between the two.

Not every high school graduate needs to go to college, or even should go to college. It’s not easy to change, to give up cherished notions, and weigh cost and benefits—count the cost. Jesus’ comment above was part of his explanation about what it took to be his disciple. The cost was high. It was not a decision to be made lightly.

I believe America could use more debt-free twenty-somethings with four years of experience as plumbers, welders, or diesel mechanics than debt-laden graduates with advanced degrees in Gender/Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Art History. The experience, and sense of achievement, derived from working to make your own way in the world without participation trophies is an education in itself. Merit versus entitlement is a lesson in life to which the Woke generation needs to awaken.

When my service days were over, and even with the GI Bill I still couldn’t afford college, at forty I worked a full-time job and attended nursing school while raising four kids. Somehow, I survived. A fellow student once asked how I did it. One of my instructors overheard and answered for me, “You do what you have to do.” Or as a character in Jurassic Park was fond of saying, “life finds a way”.

A government bailout is not the way. You’re not GM or Chrysler, you know.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

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