Originally published on June 28,2019 at www.jwjpdx.org
When I heard that Elizabeth Warren proposed a student debt relief plan that would cancel about 75% of all student debt, I got hopeful. When Bernie Sanders proposed canceling 100% of all student debt, I got excited! If you’re one of the 45 million people in the US with student debt…I imagine you felt the same way.
There are plenty of reasons to support canceling student debt. One commonly cited reason is that it would just be good for the economy. For example, “canceling student debt would lead to a boost in GDP by an average of $86 billion to $108 billion annually over the next 10 years” and “it would reduce the unemployment rate by about 0.3%.”
Improved macroeconomic indicators are great and all, but more money for rich people to gamble on the stock market isn’t what rouses me to action. As a working person who has struggled for two decades to make payments I often couldn’t afford, and who still has tens of thousands of dollars in student debt… a bigger GDP just isn’t what is important to me, or I’d venture to say most working class people, about these proposals.
What is important to working people is the prospect of no longer feeling like we’re constantly drowning! It would mean a vast improvement in quality of life just for its affect on our chronic anxiety issues alone! It would be a breath of fresh air to not feel like the education we dedicated ourselves to was just an expensive mistake!
The extra $400 per month in working families’ pockets would mean we could actually save money for emergencies. We could enjoy more evenings out with friends and families. Maybe we’ll even be able to afford an actual vacation.
It would mean that for the next two or three years we’ll be able to afford the rent, even as it continues to constantly climb up while our wages stay stagnant.
It could mean being able to help my own now adult child pay for college so she doesn’t have to live this student debt nightmare.
Proposals to cancel student debt are important to working people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to make ends meet, and always one mistake away homelessness. But make no mistake, the working class cannot sit back and wait for politicians to throw us a bone. If we do then that might mean waiting around listening to sweet …nothings… for years to come.
Being thrown a life jacket in an ocean of rising debt won’t solve the problem. Solidarity is our life raft, and we have to build it together. Working people must come together and organize. We need to be in the streets, we need to engage in direct action and civil disobedience, go on strike, and build the overwhelming grassroots pressure that it will take to save our ship from drowning in student debt!