Massive cost increases and shrinking budgets are not fazing one class of Americans: college students. As older generations continue to lampoon the young, they forget their own generation is made up of hordes of politicians spending the United States toward bankruptcy.
According to O’Donnell and Associates, in 2006, the average college student had less than $800 to spend per month on rent, food, clothing, supplies and a social life. Even assuming a student has a little more per month, $1,000, living is not exactly a walk in the park. Students also do not have the borrowing capacity of the U.S. government.
Students have to make real budgetary decisions on a daily basis. The potential increase in revenue from a new job is offset with decisions regarding school and social life. The decisions students must make on a new job or cutting activities are not exactly desirable, but young adults make the decision and move on with their lives.
Contrast that with politicians who have gone decades since passing a truly sustainable U.S. budget. While students may graduate with about $25,000 to $30,000 in debt, the country owes more than $600,000 per person in debt and entitlements. If politicians want to tax our way out of debt, increases on the rich will ultimately do little to balance the budget. The middle class will have to bear the brunt of new taxes.
On the other hand, there is no way to balance the budget through spending cuts without taking a large chunk out of Medicare, Social Security and the Department of Defense. Sacrifices will have to be made.
Politicians talk all of the time as if they are role models, yet the student next door with a 2.0 GPA is better at economics than the Secretary of the Treasury. Students understand sacrifice, politicians do not.
Students understand the very real world of rising costs for food, tuition and transportation. While most politicians can only pretend they relate to constituents, gas at $4 a gallon is a serious hamper on the younger generation but not to your average senator. Young adults lack America’s credit; so borrowing on essentials is not an option. After the standard collegiate loans, credit for the average college student is very hard to come by.
While college may be all about learning, education has also failed to serve those in office. Past generations heaped on mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages of lower income families and others who could not afford houses. In layman’s terms, they gave money to the person down the hall without the greatest track record.
Usually, most people would learn to not lend questionable individuals money after they default or ask for another loan to pay off the first one. Learning real world lessons about trust and reliability usually happens around the age of 18 to 21 years old. Generations of politicians seemed to miss these tough lessons as the process of questionable home loans continued for decades under both parties. The country paid many times over for this irresponsibility.
Students get it. Even with the partying and skipping class, students understand real world financial issues. In many cases it may be the one thing a student is capable of doing right. Unfortunately, unlike slick speeches, excellent track records with lobbyists or a golf handicap in the single digits, keeping the country solvent matters to the average American.
Students must take a stand against higher debt because it will be the young that will pay for the incompetence of those currently in power. Students understand the feeling of dread when someone who has had way too much to drink tries to get behind the wheel. In this case, until politicians wake up from their debt bender, the entire nation is in the passenger seat.