Here’s my philosophy on government policy in a nutshell: There is no problem created by government that government cannot make much worse. And what government proposes to fix in society, it only makes more broken.
I suppose there might be some exceptions, but those will be few and far between. Too often, government policies purporting to “solve” problems end up doing little more than reshuffling the misery – if not actually making things worse.
One of my favorite books on public policy is “The Tragedy of American Compassion” by Marvin Olasky. In it, he tracks the problems created when government seeks – compassionately – to alleviate people’s misery.
This is a gross oversimplification, but in essence, he finds that government just makes it worse.
The so-called “War On Poverty” has trapped generations of people in poverty. The “War On Drugs” has made the scourge of illicit drugs worse than ever.
When the federal government proposes to “solve” a problem, it does so by spending money on bureaucracies and bureaucrats. It starts funding studies and launching pilot programs.
The net effect is to create a new class of people – those bureaucrats, that agency, those recipients of grant money – all dependent on the problem not getting better.
Indeed, since they are spending other people’s money, those bureaucracies have an incentive to keep the problem alive – almost fixing it, almost solving it, almost alleviating it. Almost.
And so, with that in mind, I greeted the recent news that President Joe Biden was going to be forgive the federal student loan debt of certain politically desirable population groups. Make no mistake: the burden of student loans is heavy, but it is a burden created by Democrats and big-government Republicans.
For two decades, people have been encouraged – even shamed – into getting increasingly worthless degrees unrelated to their skills, passions, or interests. These are degrees that have no use in the marketplace.
Under such conditions, and when offered seemingly free money to pursue the much-vaunted bachelor’s degree and delay their entry into adulthood, high schoolers respond. Due to that response, the “demand” is artificially driven up for products of questionable moral and fiscal value.
As parents, we tolerate grammar and secondary schools preaching the “value” of having a college degree over being a productive and happy person. Because, of course, none of us want to dispute the person with a master’s degree or seemingly discourage our kids from becoming astronauts.
Meanwhile, this artificial demand has encouraged colleges and universities to jack up prices. That, in turn, has made the student loan debt all the worse.
In truth, the relationship between universities and the federal government in the student loan debt scam is exactly the same as the hustler and the plant in Three-card Monte. And in that analogy, you are the mark.
So now, like an arsonist who works for the fire department, Joe Biden has a “solution”…
That solution, of course, is to transfer the burden of the student loan debt to everyone else.
Meanwhile, student loans for worthless degrees are still available, with universities charging ever higher tuitions. And a whole new generation sees those debts socialized.
I’ll say it again: There is no problem created by government that government cannot make much worse.