Why Education Should Be Free

Do you live to work or work to live?

Some people grow up in families where the idea of higher education and relentless study to achieve a degree is instilled as the single most important goal in life. Many who experience this type of childhood conditioning achieve financial success and believe everyone else should follow the same path. They often consider anyone without these ambitions to be lazy, and the idea of being taxed to support programs that benefit the poor seems not only unjust, but to encourage laziness instead. Attitudes like this are what cause some people to become fiscal conservatives who believe the smallest government possible is the way to go.

It is necessary to step back a bit and look at the bigger picture before drawing such conclusions.

First, not everyone believes that spending one's entire youth going to school and then working 60-plus hours a week for the next 40 years is the best way to live.

More important is the fact that not everyone grows up in families that have the financial resources to put all their kids through school. These less fortunate people can often receive grants and student loans in order to achieve an education, but in the end they end up with huge debts which can require decades to repay. In the U.S. student loan debt is nearly a trillion dollars, more than all the credit card debt, largely due to excessive inflation in the cost of education. Student loan debt is exempt from bankruptcy and one can never get out from under it until it is repaid. Debt is a mechanism of prolonged slavery, and any intelligent individual would seek to avoid unnecessary debt in order to avoid such slavery.

Then there is the fact that in our current system having an education is no guarantee of employment. Young people accepting student loans can end up with massive debt while forced to work at low paying jobs, if they can find work at all, and would be better off financially if they hadn't gone to school. Though, of course, the prospects for living a comfortable life without an education in our current system is often bleak. The reality facing young people whose parents can not afford the constantly increasing price of education is often a choice between poverty, slavery to debt, or both.

Those who believe everyone should pay the cost of their own education are the few who do not face this reality of decades, or an entire life, of servitude. They have also been conditioned to believe that working sometimes 60 hours per week or more is a desirable way of life, while not everyone shares this opinion.

Another thing to consider is the fact that not everyone wants or needs a four year university degree. The roof over your head and the bricks that line the walls of your home wouldn't be there if everyone worked in a field of university study. You would be sewing your own clothes and growing your own food without the efforts of people without degrees who make your life possible. Because everyone contributes essential labor they deserve to be paid wages which enable them to live a comfortable life, so the true economic value of higher education is not all that superior to skills in other absolutely necessary occupations. You might want to remember that the next time someone delivers a pizza you didn't have to make from seeds you planted in the ground, cows you milked and animals you fed and slaughtered.

But we also have to acknowledge that sophisticated intellectual skills are a necessary part of a successful society. Higher education requires time and effort, and if unskilled labor paid as much as highly skilled labor, there would be little incentive for people to acquire more complex knowledge.

Some people do not need or desire higher education, but the opportunity to achieve a degree without becoming enslaved by debt should be available to all. Education should be free.

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