Stealing from Ourselves
In the 2005 movie, Cinderella Man, Russell Crow plays Jim Braddock, a struggling Depression-era boxer whose family is thrown into poverty by the hard economic times of the 1930’s. When his eldest son, Jay steals a salami to help feed his starving family, Jim forces him to return the salami and apologize to the butcher. He tells Jay, “Just because things ain’t easy, doesn’t give you an excuse to take what isn’t yours. That’s stealing, right. And we don’t steal. No matter what happens, we don’t steal. Not ever. You got me.” Jim could have easily turned a blind eye to his son’s theft, rationalizing keeping the salami was best for his starving family. But by returning it, Jim gained more than what he gave back. He earned back his character and his integrity which makes the lives he is trying to save worth living.
Eventually, Jim reluctantly decides to take some government relief money to help his family survive the Depression, but then after his boxing career has been resurrected, there is a classic scene where Jim goes back to the relief office and returns the $323.60 of relief money, he had received to feed his family. Even though, he took government relief during his family’s financial hardship, he never forgot what he owed, and paid it back as soon as he could. Once again, by giving back material things, he gained something of more importance, his integrity, his self-respect. That used to be the character of our nation. We used to be a country that valued self-sufficiency, that saw taking charity and government hand-outs as an insult, that paid back their debts. But not anymore.
Last week, Joe Biden signed an executive order forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt to millions of people. But the $300 billion needed to pay for this scheme is not free. Someone pays, someone always pays. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Biden did not cancel $300 billion of student loan debt, he simply transferred $300 billion of debt from private college educated people to every taxpayer. Even if taxes are not raised to pay for this giveaway, everyone else will still pay. If the government merely allows the national debt to grow to pay for it, the taxpayer will have to pay for our obligation on that increased debt. If the government prints more money to pay for this student loan debt, everyone will pay through the increased inflation. Allowing other people pay back your debts is essentially stealing, and stealing is wrong which was the lesson that Jim Braddock taught his young son at the butcher shop, but elite Universities have failed to teach college educated adults in their woke classrooms.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona argued for this program saying, "for too many people, student loan debt has hindered their ability to achieve their dreams—including buying a home, starting a business, or providing for their family.” But how did we get to the point where citizens are drowning in student loan debt? In 1993, Bill Clinton signed into law the expansion of the guaranteed student loan program, which not only significantly increased a student’s ability to borrow more and more money to pay for college tuition, but gave the government say into what is taught at these schools.
In response, colleges have dramatically increased tuition over the last 25 years because they knew that students would be able to borrow all that extra money. The guaranteed student loan program eliminated the hard choice of prospective students to either come out of pocket for tuition or forgo college, and colleges took advantage of that to enrich themselves. Right now, Universities like Harvard have an endowment of over $40 billion which is greater than some small countries’ GDP, and schools like Harvard are still charging almost $80,000 a year in tuition which saddles many of their graduates with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Joe Biden’s executive order is essentially bailing out the Universities like Harvard. And that is where the grift is. Over 90% of college professors and administrators are Democrat voters, so when Democrats hold office, they pass legislation that enriches their voters and the liberal institutions they work for; and in return for all that extra government money, the college employees donate to Democrat politicians to get re-elected so they will continue to fund and bail out the liberal Universities.
This is very similar to what the Democrats do with the public-school teachers’ unions. The teachers’ unions compel their members to pay dues which are cobbled together and donated to Democrat politicians which gets them elected. And the Democrat politicians then negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the teachers’ unions who just made large contributions to their re-election campaigns. So, at the negotiating table, instead of representing the taxpayer, the politicians end up representing themselves and the teachers’ unions with whom they are negotiating. The more tax money the Democrat politicians can legislate to the teachers and their unions, the more of that money will be funneled back to them in the form campaign contributions. Essentially, Democrat politicians are using the teachers’ unions to launder tax dollars back to themselves.
Not coincidentally, this student loan forgiveness scheme is being implemented less than three months prior to the midterm elections in which the Democrats are projected to lose big. So, Joe Biden is doing what Democrats have always done with government sponsored education, manipulating the system to win elections. He essentially is paying $10,000 to college educated people to vote for Democrats. If a mid-level staffer of a local mayor was caught secretly paying $10 to citizens to vote for their candidate, that person would be thrown in jail. But the President United States has just brazenly offered $10,000 to everybody who has a student loan to go vote for Democrats this November. The shame of this is not what Joe Biden is doing, the shame is that he’s getting away with it. We no longer have a government based on principles, on laws, on the democratic process. All of that is a mere façade to disguise the massive corruption underneath the surface.
The diabolical part of this whole loan forgiveness scheme is that, for the first year and a half of his administration, Joe Biden has put into place policies which have completely destroyed our economy, sent us into a recession, has driven inflation through the roof, and has made the voters’ personal financial situation one of the most important issues this November. And now Biden is riding in on a white horse just prior to the election, tossing $10,000 checks to all the people whose financial fortunes he spent the last year and a half crushing, and those people will vote Democrat because of it.
The student loan bailout plan is another government handout that is slowly leading America to socialism. It is like a drug. How do drug dealers get their clients addicted? They give them free drugs until the addiction kicks in, and then they start charging the addict through the nose for the drugs because they know addicts will do anything to get the drugs. And that’s how it works; the government gives people free stuff until the people become dependent on the government, and then the government has you. They own you like the dealer owns the addict.
The people taking the student loan bailouts are not getting something for themselves, they are giving away something of themselves. They are giving away their autonomy, their self-sufficiency, their freedom, their integrity, their character. This student loan cancellation program is like the first dose of the heroine the government is offering. It feels really good, and it appears harmless, but we’re going to wake up one day, completely strung out on a lifetime of government handouts to the point where we hardly recognize our true selves anymore.
More and more American citizens are becoming more reliant on government, and the government is more reliant on campaign donations from people receiving government handouts. People have become so dependent on government, that not only do they willingly take government handouts, but they devise ways to swindle money from the government by exploiting programs they don’t qualify for. We saw this with Covid relief which accrued an estimated $163 billion of fraud from millions of people fleecing the government and their fellow taxpayer.
There was a time in this country when people had too much self-respect to accept charity or handouts, and too much integrity not to not pay their debts, but nowadays, our society has almost completely abandoned that ethos. The basic lessons that we were taught, that Jim Braddock stood for, not stealing, paying back what you owe, and self-sufficiency are rarely taught or adhered to these days. Instead, those lessons have been replaced by a greedy selfishness of a people willing to trade away their character and integrity to avoid any and all pain, and hardship. And they fail to realize that it is within the pain and hardship of life where our character is forged, and our life derives true meaning.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.