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Elizabeth Warren is making the rounds with promise after promise in an attempt to avoid falling into the same news (black) hole as the other endless number of Democrats lining up to be their party's presidential candidate next year.

These days, she attempts to inch just ... a ... little ... closer ... to ... Uncle Bernie Sanders. But in those attempts, she's taking a standard play from Oprah's book, promising everybody free stuff. Look under your seat, and you'll find a free college education!

Not only that, but free health care, too, free government jobs, free what­ev­er-­she'll-think-of-for-the-next-news-cycle. She thinks, unlike Margaret Thatcher, she'll never run out of other people's money.

But this free college idea won't be limited to future students. The senator wants to eliminate most student loan debt for those holding it now. Talking about buying votes.

Here's more from NPR: "Warren proposes that the federal government write off hundreds of billions of dollars in existing student loan debt. The amount of debt that would be eligible for forgiveness would vary by income, but an independent expert analysis submitted as part of her plan suggests that three-quarters of households would see all their federal student loans forgiven."

The government will just write it off. It's like printing money! Which brings to mind that Seinfeld scene in which Kramer tries to convince Jerry to mail his busted stereo, then claim postage insurance to buy a new one. "Jerry, all these big companies, they write off everything," Kramer tries to explain. "You don't even know what a write-off is," the comedian responds. We get the sense the good senator doesn't, either.

There's a big logic problem with all this free stuff. First, somebody has to pay. Eventually. If all this "free" college is just going to be put on the public debt, at the price of at least a trillion dollars, then taxpayers in the coming generation will foot the bill. As long as professors still wish to be paid for their services, college will never be "free."

Second, a less talked-about problem is the unspoken casualty when everything is free: national progress.

One of the beauties of the free market is that competition drives innovation. Bob opens a business that offers a new product. Samantha opens her own business to offer a competing product. Bob re-invents his product and slashes prices to compete. Samantha does the same. Meanwhile, customers are given new products and services at better prices.

If the health-care and education industries are given guaranteed paychecks from Uncle Sam to provide "free" services to millions of Americans, where's the drive to compete? And get better?

Competition and innovation can die with the stagnation that comes with guarantees by the government. Look at history for the best examples. And not ancient history at that.

Third, the whole idea of writing off loans that have already been taken out goes against everything we've been taught about obligation. What message does that send to millennials, and not just millennials, about their word, their bond, their duty? If this latest idea from the Free Lunch crowd gains momentum, will they just "write off" the national debt next? That way surely lies the ruin of the American economy, and maybe the dollar as the world currency.

We the People should look at other solutions for tackling rising education and health-care prices instead of just throwing tax dollars at it. We've never bought into the belief that government makes things cheaper anyway.

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait till it's free."--P.J. O'Rourke. That goes for college, too.

Editorial on 04/25/2019

Print Headline: A casualty of free


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  • limb
    April 25, 2019 at 9:05 a.m.

    You just wrote about how great Tennessee is and how we should emulate. They have free higher ed.

    You got Klobuchar’s words mixed up with Warren. Klobuchar said she “wished she could say look under your seat to find a free education stapled..

    Warren’s proposal is brilliant but you can’t look at good education ideas beyond charter schools for K-12. I guess that’s all an Arkie can hope for; high school graduation.

  • pcrasehotmailcom
    April 25, 2019 at 9:26 a.m.

    So she wants to "write-off" student loan debt? So what about all of the people that actually paid off their student loans? Should the benevolent government then seek those folks out and reimburse them? How far back should we go? To do otherwise would be to punish those that honored their debts and award those that did not.

  • PopMom
    April 25, 2019 at 9:31 a.m.

    We need to get rid of the for-profit sham schools and increase student aid and decrease student loan rates. Medical school should be more heavily subsidized. The insurance industry makes sure that the doctors don't make what they deserve, and we are having to rely more heavily on foreign doctors. We need to put back the Obama tax levels to help with the debt. Warren's idea to tax wealth is not as sound as it seems. We need to keep the estate taxes, but to tax people's wealth would not be as easy as it sounds. For one thing, we do not have enough qualified certified valuation appraisers to actually do the work. Wealth at the top is very difficult to calculate; stocks go up and down and some properties and businesses are difficult to value. Just crank up the income tax rate and capital gains rates at the highest levels. Of course, if you do this too much, people will start leaving the country. We can make college more affordable without the draconian measures Warren describes. Hey, if it is going to be "free", I'll go back to school and get a Masters in Fine Arts.

  • WGT
    April 26, 2019 at 6:52 a.m.

    This is the damndest stupid reasoning I’ve yet heard from this **** for brain “editorialist”. What in the Sam Hill did you get taught in school? (That, is a rhetorical question and summarily over your head.) Boy, you need to go back and get good kind of straightening out from looking a little deeper at what you wants to talk about, fool!

  • Lifelonglearner
    April 26, 2019 at 10:56 p.m.

    It will be a long time before I believe the Federal government cannot afford something after the latest tax cut giveaway which instead of paying for itself, made the deficit and debt even more HUGE than it was before.

  • joebub61yahoocom
    April 28, 2019 at 1:07 p.m.

    What about all the folks that dutifully worked their butts off and paid off their loans. Reparations? Warren is a loon and a proven liar. Pepaw told me I was an Indian.

  • NoUserName
    April 28, 2019 at 1:21 p.m.

    " The insurance industry makes sure that the doctors don't make what they deserve, and we are having to rely more heavily on foreign doctors."
    You understand you're talking about the Federal government, right? Medicare reimbursement rates are the biggest driver of what things cost and how much doctors get paid.
    "increase student aid and decrease student loan rates. '
    Why? I graduated with, oh, $20k or so debt 20 years ago. 2017/2018 average loan debt is $28k. I paid mine off in about 5 years I think. The current average debt is manageable unless you choose your major unwisely or go to a ridiculously expensive school. Not everybody should go to Harvard.