Go ahead and cancel student loan debt. No one said life was fair. | RUBEN NAVARETTE JR.
Life is unfair.
Such was the observation of President John F. Kennedy who, at a press conference in March 1962, taught Americans the way of the world. Asked about army reservists called up to serve in Vietnam after they had “served their time” stationed in West Berlin, Kennedy didn’t mince words.
“There are always inequalities in life,” he said. “Some men are killed in a war and some men are injured, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in Antarctica, and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very difficult in the military, or in personal life, to ensure complete equality. Life is unfair.”
I’m with Jack, who was indeed on the right track.
I accept that life is unfair. I do not victimize. Blame it on my culture. Like most Mexican Americans, I was raised not to complain about perceived injustices. I was taught to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to turn your dreams into reality.
So take heart, America. You won’t be billed for reparations from Mexican Americans for the sacking of southwestern Mexico in 1848 – part of the land grab known as the Mexican-American War.
This “live and let live” business can be tricky. Our fellow Americans – and America itself – should not be left behind for centuries of theft, oppression, racism, discrimination and other unfair treatment.
Of course, Mexican Americans have been victimized throughout history. They always are. It is up to us simply not to think like victims.
This sets us apart from many Americans, who revere the altar of victimhood. They complain that it’s unfair, and it’s unfair. Everyone is sure that everyone else is piggybacking on Easy Street. For some, the big graft is the Biden administration’s decision to forgive student loan debt for hundreds of thousands of borrowers.
The US Department of Education recently canceled student loan debt for 40,000 people. The ministry is also providing credit to help another 3.6 million people repay their loans under a plan designed to help low-income borrowers and government workers.
Meanwhile, the administration also recently announced that it has forgiven $7 billion in federal student loan debt for as many as 350,000 disabled borrowers.
Last year, the administration wrote off more than $17 billion in debt for 725,000 borrowers.
One argument in favor of loan forgiveness is that many of the estimated 43 million people who borrowed money to go to school were not told by lenders that they could qualify for a loan. debt relief if, for example, they did not earn enough after graduation.
“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “But it certainly felt that way for borrowers locked in on the debt relief they’re eligible for.”
Then there is politics. The president is trying to keep a campaign promise — or at least making a weak attempt. In the 2020 presidential election, Biden called for the cancellation of $10,000 in student loan debt for each borrower. The projected tab: more than 400 billion dollars. The administration promised dollars, but delivered money.
Yet many Americans are unconvinced. Those who invested in funding their education complain that any mass loan forgiveness program would not be “fair” to those who paid their own student debt.
I understand the complaint. I borrowed money to go to college and college, and paid it all back, even though it wasn’t easy. But that’s not why I think it’s a bad idea for the federal government to write off student debt. Why make a free lunch the first lesson someone learns after graduating from college? It will only hurt.
At the same time, I’m not persuaded that the strongest argument against paying off student debt is that it’s unfair. So what? JFK was right. Life is unfair. The sooner people accept this fact, the better.
For a moment I thought, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I imagined what it would be like to jump on the national train of victimization. I made a list of all the different ways life has been unfair to me – starting with the fact that I wasn’t born a Kennedy.
After a few minutes, I crumpled up the list. It was a waste of time and energy. Much like our national pastime of complaining about injustice.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is [email protected] His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through all podcast apps.