A brief follow-up to my piece this morning about New York State set to pass a bill in the state budget for free college tuition under conditions. I didn't remotely expect everyone to think that that's a good thing, and figured some would even hate. Among the latter, I figured would be a good friend of mine who lives in New York.
My friend is a terrific guy with whom I've been pals for almost 30 years. We differ so profoundly on politics though that we have a tacit agreement to not discuss it. He's deeply far-right conservative, and I haven't yet gotten around to asking if he actually voted for Trump. I'm sure he hates Hillary Clinton, though don't know if that was enough to get him to vote for the Republican nominee, or sit out the election or vote third party. I suspect he voted for Trump.
Anyway, he sent me the following email. It's brief, and the subject line suggests he might send a longer one later, but didn't have the time now. My reply is underneath, and I'm sure he'll answer back. My expect my next answer will be very simple, that I know he's well-aware we disagree on politics down to our fingernails, and will leave it at that.
Here's what he sent --
just saw the tweet about NY college tuition - horse hockey is more like it
Of course it comes from taxpayers. That’s where most societal and all governmental benefits originate from. But a) it is expected to pass the Republican Senate, so I hope it’s not painted falsely as a “damn liberal” giveaway. And b) history has shown that there are economic and social benefits to having an educated populace and workforce.
If someone gets offered a nice job out of state, there is absolutely nothing stopping him or her from taking it – but they simply have to pay back the money as a loan…the same as all education loans that exists right now. Yet in the scenario being suggested here, it’s about having gotten a good job, so (with a good job) you have the new income to start to pay the loan back. And if one doesn’t like those conditions...then you don’t take the scholarship! It’s not forced on anyone. Not a bad deal – a loan for helping get a job and better future.
(It's also worth noting that many, if not most college loans can be in the $60,000-120,000. This NY State loan, however, would only be $17,000-27,000. With a "nice job," and limited expenses particularly without having a family, that could perhaps be paid off fully in a very reasonable period of time, perhaps even -- on the low end -- in as little as four years, rather than being in school debt for decades.)
To clarify, most college is four years, not five. And most college grads don’t tend to get Really Great Job Offers right away – anywhere, let alone out-of-state. But if someone does get a great job offer elsewhere two years after graduating, then you only pay back the loan for those remaining two years, not all four. Honestly, as much as I expected any far-right conservative to hate the bill, I’d have thought the one part that would be liked is this requirement, since it allows the state a return on its investment by not only getting an educated workforce and educated society, but the state also receives taxes back from any jobs its grads get. If a grad can immediately take their state education elsewhere, the state gets nothing. Honestly, though, I’m fine with it being either way. Neither strike me as a big problem.
Ultimately, my observation is that most people like free, taxpayer-funded public education for grade school and high school. It was one of the cores of helping build the American middle-class and separate America from the rest of the world. A gap that has plummeted. This is no different in concept but extends that core belief.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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