Solving the Student Loan Debt Problem

I have a great new idea: Let’s use the government to help give giant, unsecured loans to one of the dumbest groups in our society — teenagers.

Oh, we already have a trillion dollars of outstanding student loans? Never mind.

Now, I don’t like to use the word “crisis” unless people are actually running around the streets on fire and screaming, but this whole student loan mess is becoming a bit of a problem. Student loans top both credit card and auto loan debt, and student loan debt is all held by an increasingly worthless group: college graduates. We give $100,000 loans to teenagers — people you normally wouldn’t trust with $100 loans — and then they party for four years while majoring in art history and graduate to join an Occupy Wall Street protest to complain about all the debt they have and can’t pay back. If the goal is to create annoying, useless hippies, I’m pretty sure it can be done for much cheaper. This student loan nonsense has to end.

Oh, I know many will object to that. “Making these loans is investing in our children’s education.” But objectively, this has been an absolutely horrible investment lately. Taking the same money we’d put into a college education and instead placing it in a mutual fund would get you a much better return on your money. Plus that won’t eventually scream about the 1% and defecate on a cop car. I mean, just look at how few people can get jobs right out of college these days. Rats trained to pull levers to get food pellets have more useful skills than most of today’s college grads. And the cost of training rats doesn’t grow faster than inflation.

How did we get here? In a sane world, if a teenager walked into a bank and said, “I would like a $50,000 loan to major in modern dance,” the bank manager would call security, who would then pummel the stupid kid, and everyone would end up smarter for it. But what happens instead is that Uncle Sam walks by and says, “I like his moxy. Give him the loan; I’ll guarantee it. And I’ll make sure he can’t ever get out of his stupid choice through bankruptcy.” So they give this giant amount of money to a dumb kid, and then the colleges are waiting outside, saying, “Hey! They’re giving huge loans to moron teenagers; we need to get some of that money!” So we have colleges preying on these gullible saps, increasing costs while their diplomas plummet in value in a complete mockery of our capitalistic system.

And who is the biggest victim in all this? I’d say me. I’m a taxpayer, and I just know that, as usual, I’m going to be expected to pay for things when the government cleans them up… or, as is more likely, makes them worse. Are we going to have a bailout for people with too much student loan debt? I hope not, because as a conservative, I like for actions to have consequences. If we bail out people with student loans, we should at least randomly select some of them to fight to the death for our amusement in the Debt Games.

But I guess I’m not the only victim here. Other victims are actually the stupid kids being tricked into borrowing huge amounts of debt to get worthless diplomas. It’s hard to see them as victims when, like most people, I hate teenagers and want bad things to happen to them. And when I think about the incoherent, angry young adults in OWS, knowing that their futures have been crushed under giant piles of debt they’ll never be able to repay kind of makes me smile. Even so, this collusion between the government, banks, and colleges to take advantage of stupid people needs to stop.

Now, we have minimum ages for buying tobacco and alcohol; why don’t we have those for taking out a student loan? Debt is way more destructive than Jägermeister — to both the individual and society — so why don’t we actually make sure the people deciding to get into it are mature enough to make that decision? I mean, I’m fine with treating an eighteen year old as an adult for the purposes of putting him on trial and locking him up, but let’s be realistic here. Very few of them have any actual useful common sense at that age. So here’s my proposal: You have to be at least thirty years old to get a student loan. That way, when someone agrees to go into debt to get a college education, they might actually have some idea of what money is and what debt means. And having had to make a living without a college education, by age thirty they’ll hopefully understand what they need higher education for and get a functional degree instead of majoring in something like philosophy (and it’s kind of ironic, because if you major in philosophy, you obviously do need more training in how to think).

If a person doesn’t want to wait until age thirty to go to college, he’ll have to save up money and pay for it himself. The point is, people are going to have to learn to be useful individuals and then go to college. No longer will it be this extension of adolescence you go into right out of high school.  And if being a useful individual is too much for someone, he can just go straight to being a useless hippy without the unnecessary college step. He’ll at least be a debt-free hippie. That will give him less need to complain, but hippies are pretty good at finding new things to whine about.