“Forgiving” Student Loans

First off, let’s get one thing straight.  Unless a loan is owed to you personally, that you personally are on the hook for it not being paid, then you cannot “forgive” a loan.  You can only transfer it to someone else, someone who didn’t agree to be on the hook for it in the first place.

The claim is made that we should pay for these folks’ “college education” and pass their student loans on to people who did not agree to be burdened by said loans because the education is valuable and these people, with their college degrees provide value to the community.

If that were true there would be no “student loan crisis” because, if they really were adding value, they would be paid that value and…

Be. Able. To. Pay. Their. Own. Loans.

Oh, sure, there would be some few who ended up behind the eight ball, as it were. Guessing wrong on what future job prospects would be like and that sort of thing. It happens. But it would be the exception and not the rule because generally speaking in free exchange resources tend to go toward their most valued use (as determined by the choices of society at large).

The late Jerry Pournelle, back in one of the essays collected in “A Step Farther Out” noted who made the decision on which college departments and career fields got the most funding: entering freshmen. Whatever degree field they signed up for, that’s where the funding went.

In short, the people least qualified to make such a decision were making it.

If we must have government funded higher education (arguments can be made both ways on that) then would it not make more sense to make some kind of estimate of how many “X” (engineers, doctors, teachers, sociologists, pharmacists, what have you) we expect to need and divvy up the funding that way? Not to say I would trust the government to make such a determination (neither on competence nor on ethical grounds), but in principle it would be far superior to letting people with essentially zero life experience determine it for us.

4 thoughts on ““Forgiving” Student Loans”

  1. Considering the types of degrees that some people are “purchasing”, it makes no sense to go deeply in debt to purchase them.

    Let alone, government paying for such insane degrees. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe the government should simply let the colleges know they’re on the hook for those loans. That might get the administrators to be more choosy about what degrees they’re willing to loan money to finance.

    We’ll pay for your engineering degree, but if you want a degree in Lesbian Southpaw Poetry Studies, pay for it yourself.


  3. — Unless a loan is owed to you personally, that you personally are on the hook for it not being paid, then you cannot “forgive” a loan. —

    The late Joseph Sobran once framed it in a particularly striking way: Imagine that Smith is describing to Davis a wrong that Jones did to him — and Davis replies: “That’s alright. I freely forgive Jones for what he did to you.” Whose authority has Davis arrogated?

    And by the way, there’s this:

    “No state…shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.” [Constitution, Article I, Section 10]

    The federal government plainly doesn’t feel bound by that proscription. Can you say “moral hazard?”


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