Let the wealthiest take one for the team

BY KATIE KUNTZ | JUNE 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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Here's a seemingly noncontroversial topic: student-loan rates. Keeping the federal rates on student loans low purportedly has bipartisan support: Republicans and Democrats both want lower rates. Libertarians would prefer that the government not loan money at all, and so they would support lower rates if it was the market-based solution.

However, government is necessarily involved in making education accessible to all those who have earned their spot on campus, and because our education is likely to benefit those around us who may otherwise not contribute to our education, it's reasonable and appropriate that government money should support schools and lower student-loan rates.

Because we have limited resources, anything that makes life a little easier or less expensive in one area requires that life gets a little tougher or more expensive in another area.

That being said, all we need to do is decide which part of our economy could handle slightly higher costs so that student-loan rates won't increase. Republicans suggest that other social-welfare programs are the things to cut, and Democrats think that perhaps the wealthiest in the nation could handle an increase in their taxes.

Students are poor — hopefully, the economy will grow by the time we graduate so that we may one day become rich enough to pay for our loans and also have some cool stuff on the side.

Until that time, we have to face the facts. If you are going to college and are expected to graduate with more than $20,000 in debt, as many of us are, you'll need to pay attention this time around.

Big-government spending and social-welfare programs are not the same thing. Big-government spending goes to such things as supporting defense contractors, shareholders of large corporate defense firms, mega-rich agricultural businesses, and bondholders on our enormous debts.

Smaller government spending programs pay teachers, keep veterans and elderly people from becoming homeless, allow those of us who can't afford health care to still be treated when sick or hurt, and provide safe places for women and children who have suffered abuse. They allow people who don't make enough money to provide food for all the members in their family.

Social-welfare programs allow those in our country who are doing the worst economically to at least have some basic resources that are central to our American culture: food, shelter, medicine, and education. If we're going to cut government spending, cut it big, not small.

Furthermore, there are a limited number of people in this country who hold approximately 40 percent of our wealth, and about 1 in every 100 people are going to be right around five times richer than the "average American."

What I mean is that in 2011, the average income for an American based on our GDP per capita was approximately $47,000, according to a report published by World Bank. This, of course, does not at all account for the distribution of wealth, which is widening more and more. Democrats want to increase taxes on just the 1 percent of us who are making at least $250,000 a year.

In the end, we all hate seeing what we earned taken out of our paychecks and that anything we want to buy is actually 7 percent more than what it's marked on the shelf. Basically, we hate taxes, and we especially hate increasing taxes. But we still want roads, police officers, a military, teachers, and lower student-loan rates. So remember — you want your loan rates down and I want a functioning society.

Let the wealthiest in our nation take this one for the team, and if you're still against raising taxes, choose fewer awesome weapons and a few more awesome books.

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