This plan is adding four more years to what we routinely cover with public funding (not private, for profit funding). Bernie Sander’s plan is an investment in our citizens and is actually the first, and most important step in addressing our vast income inequality and the cycle of poverty in which many Americans are mired.
Bernie Sanders plan to publicly fund college tuition isn’t some radical, socialist plan. It is merely an expansion of what we already have had and the vast majority of Americans would consider a basic Right and that is tax payer funded education for K – 12.
The folks who oppose this plan keep harping on the higher taxes it would entail. But people are ALREADY paying for school (or they are choosing not to go because of the expense). They are taking out loans from financial institutions that are for profit, so that extra cost is built in on top of the actual tuition cost. These loans can handicap their ability to invest later on. Make it impossible to buy a home or save for retirement.
Publicly supported education means that the entire society invests in the current generation of students. They do not end up with crippling loans and can begin to build wealth right out of school. Since this is tax supported, the wealthiest Americans make the larger investment while the poor may actually truly be going to school for free. This is the single most important element in breaking the cycle of poverty and starting to address our vast income inequality.
It’s not as if we don’t already do this. We have publicly supported education K – 12. What Bernie is proposing is at the state and local level being able to expand that to include 4 years of college level education. So we would have K – BA publicly supported. I would also include vocational schools in this program as there is a huge need for skilled workers in many areas.
So, what we are talking about is shifting where the costs for school get covered. Right now we have an extremely unequal system in which everyone incurs the same costs (this isn’t really true because the rich send their kids to elite schools, but let’s assume kids going to the same school) attending a certain community college. The wealthier kids may have parents that can pay for all or most and they graduate with no debt and begin to build wealth. The poor kids graduate and the early years of their careers are spent paying back that crippling debt. Over the course of their working lives, the folks who started so late investing in their own lives because they started in debt means that their total wealth development over the course of their careers is a fraction of what the debt free kids were able to achieve.
Public support of education would mean that poor kids could attend school and enter the work force on a level playing field with the kids who came from more well off backgrounds. And this isn’t even taking into account that because of the cost issue, many kids simply do not go on to higher education, despite the fact that it is increasingly difficult to find any kind of living wage job if you haven’t been to college.
This is virtually a no brainer. I can understand people opposing this purely on a self interest, class basis. If you are one of the richest Americans, you will be paying proportionally more for this. But, even if you are middle class and your taxes go up to cover this, you will be able to send your kids to college and it will be publicly funded. So you are still better off. Of course there are always the folks that don’t have kids and whine about paying for other people’s kids. To that I say “Suck it up and stop complaining. If these kids get education and decent jobs, maybe you won’t have to be paying for the massive industrial prison system we currently use to keep them in line.” In other words, we are already incurring the costs of NOT doing this.