A few weeks ago, Obama proposed a plan to make the first two years of college free or more affordable for students. Everywhere you looked on the internet, people were posting comments along the lines of, “Sure, but how much are my taxes going to pay for this?” Well, here’s the real math that you need to consider:
If the “War on Drugs” isn’t actually just a war on poverty, making education free and affordable should be our country’s number one priority. Giving people a chance to further their education, or in this case with Obama’s proposal, possibly even get an Associate’s degree in a useful area to get a decent job, would be one of the quickest ways to get young adults, and even older adults off the street, off of drugs, and eliminate a significant amount of drug-related crime. Hell, we could eliminate some homelessness while we’re at it. Do you know how much it costs taxpayers when a homeless person is hospitalized for an accident or overdoses? Considering the frequency, and the fact that those people go right back out onto the streets, it costs much, much more than sending students to community colleges. And, at the end of the day, if you’re willing to pay millions of tax dollars to imprison drug users who harm no one but themselves in most cases, then why not give, even happily give, your tax dollars to students who will contribute to a more productive, wealthier society?
Our country boomed when education was affordable, and students coming out of school with little to no debt are assets to our economy. More grads might actually qualify for small business loans to create their own opportunities, which would boost local economies and create opportunities for even more people. We would have a huge increase in skilled, qualified individuals who want to work. More people would be able to spend their disposable income on houses, cars, local restaurants and shops, and even on health and life insurance, which on their own would have more businesses to sell coverage to. Ultimately, working people spend money. And really, isn’t that what it’s allegedly all about? The 1% are not our sole job creators– in most cases, they sit on money that never goes back into the economy and will even be put into other countries’ economies for cheaper labor when they do create jobs before it’s ever put into our own. Having a strong middle class creates jobs (see: history), and free and affordable education creates a strong middle class.
The heightened state of paranoia that we’ve been living in is exactly what has created scarcity, it’s not the other way around. And, to say that anyone has chosen poverty is to ignore the fact that it’s no longer possible, as it was in the 1950s until even as late as the 1980s, to work as a cashier at a grocery store and get by raising a family. Until everyone has access to affordable or free education, it’s unfair to say that anyone has chosen to be poor or unsuccessful. If we changed nothing other than making education affordable or free, all of the other areas that this country falls short in would see a relatively immediate boom as mentioned before. And really, wouldn’t it be nice to live in cities where fewer people are on the streets? Where fewer people turn to drugs and alcohol and crime? To give more brilliant minds the opportunity to create things that could potentially one day make our lives even easier? Easy access to education alone would achieve these things. Still think it’s not in your best interest to send people to school with your tax dollars? Well, it’s simple: it’s in your best interest to consider everyone else’s best interests, and free and affordable education is our ticket to a whole new America.