Care2′s “Yes YOU Can” Challenge has inspired many people to seize the opportunity to make a difference in a cause that matters to them. As someone with significant student loan debt, I was personally very interested in the petition Kevin B. started: Stimulate the Economy — Forgive Student Loans! Kevin’s petition grew out of a Facebook group he started, and it’s sparked a great discussion of ways to alleviate the growing burden of student loan debt facing America’s youth. It’s even attracted the attention of Huffington Post. Kevin explains:
Care2 has allowed me to translate some of this “virtual” support from Facebook into an actionable item that can be referenced and taken to government leaders to show the support for the idea. It has also allowed me a window into the situation of countless thousands who have found resonance with the idea as they have posted their personal stories along with their signature on the petition.
This is not to say that we have received only support. There have been many vocal detractors and some hate mail. Primarily, our detractors see this idea as a “free ride.” However, they could not be more wrong in their characterization.
This idea is based in the history of our nation. In the years following WWII, the union movement as well as government programs, such as the GI Bill, began to focus resources on building a strong middle class. This investment in the middle class led to great prosperity. However, that prosperity has been squandered as government has favored the wealthy few and wealth has become concentrated in the hands of the richest few percent of Americans. (A look at the discrepancy between CEO to average worker salaries from 1950 to 2000 adequately shows the truth of this trend.)
Education has long been the primary vehicle for the middle class to achieve success. Now, with rising education costs, we are seeing the majority of middle class Americans unable to receive higher education without resorting to loans. With predatory lending and falling job prospects, we see a vast majority of these same Americans graduating with wonderful education but insurmountable debt. This debt is the new burden on the middle class that is holding them back. And, as a result, this is holding back the American economy as a whole.
This petition is attempting to put this problem “on the radar.” It is not offering an exact solution or a pre-written policy. It is putting an idea out there and showing that there is a problem to be addressed. I have done this in the hopes of getting people behind a movement that would result in action.
We need to alleviate the burden of loans. I say we need to “forgive” these loans for the good of the country. But, “forgiveness” may include service programs or many other programs that would further benefit the country. We need to use tax dollars to pay off lenders and alleviate this debt so that our middle class can put their education to use in building businesses, providing services, and once again becoming the foundation of the American economy.
This is not a quick fix or a simple solution, but it is a step forward. We will also need to fight in the future for educational reform so this situation cannot happen again. But, I believe we can do so by first moving this idea forward.
Do you agree with Kevin? Add your name to the petition to President Obama today.