Any time a politician wants to pull at the heartstrings, in an effort to pass the latest boondoggle, he or she will inevitably bleat about “the children…the children.” In the area of public education alone, this virtually nonstop whining polemic is responsible for the expenditure of untold billions of dollars, resulting mostly in the creation of surly youth, lacking in basic skills, but boiling over with self-esteem.
In health care, the results have been better, although the over-publicized ranting of the anti-vaccination crowd could undue some of the progress made, along with the actions of the self-esteem for fat kids groups. Of course, many of those who cry the most about “the children” are also the most ardent proponents of abortion. Do it for the children, indeed.
Cutting to the chase here, just how well are we doing for the children? Allow me to look at this from a contrarian point of view. That is, I won’t examine how much we have improved the lot of poor kids, rather I will focus on how much WORSE things are getting for middle class kids.
Arguably, the biggest single scam perpetrated on the American public in the last 50 years is the notion that each and every kid must go to college. This charade started out innocently enough: The colleges wanted more revenue, the unions wanted kids out of the workforce for a few more years, and the Government wanted to encourage all those baby boomers that they too could attend institutions of higher learning, for further indoctrination.
What happened was a gigantic run up in construction of state universities, junior colleges for those that really shouldn’t be there in the first place, and, of course, massive increases in various forms of taxation. However, as the boom cooled off, tuitions were raised and raised, but that was all right since most of the kids had student loans. The loans, in turn, helped ward off sticker shock, and the tuitions climbed ever upward.
This set off a vicious circle whereby higher tuitions spawned higher student loans, which spawned higher tuitions…
As a result, many of “the children”—especially those who attend postgraduate professional schools— enter the real world with crushing debt. Student debt loads of more than $200,000 are not uncommon for graduates of med schools.
No problem, you say, since doctors make so much money. Well…not really. Fine, you say, what about law grads who garner prestige associate positions at fancy law firms? True, with starting salaries well over $100,000 they are able to tackle the debt, but that raises another question.
Consider the case of a recent law grad making $150,000, and working long hours for a prestigious New York City law firm. He will be paying back loans, while trying to find a place to live for less than $4000/month. Transfer this case to Los Angeles. How would you like to be the golden boy or golden girl at a downtown LA firm, again making well over $100,000? Say you’re married to another attorney pulling down about the same.
In light of your debt load, what are your housing prospects? You could buy a starter home in rustic areas near downtown LA, for close to a million bucks—no worry about qualifying for a loan anymore as everything now is “stated income.” Or, you could move a little farther out, accept a nasty commute and spend only about $700,000. You could even go to a crummier neighborhood, and be the sole yuppie surrounded by a virtual tobacco road of oldsters, fortunate to purchase their home before things went out of sight.
Even if you do that, there is a slim chance that you can move up, since all valuation is climbing.
Yes, there IS that little problem of housing. How did it shoot well beyond the range of most people? There are many factors, but here are a few: The rapacious real estate cartel, an appalling property tax burden, expansion of suburb and exurb areas, creating a false notion of “reasonable” commute, and our desperate clinging to pathetically outdated notions of having to be physically present at “the office.”
Some voices are calling for telecommuting, as well as for population to shift away from coastal urban areas. That’s great, but humans have wanted to live in coastal areas since the dawn of time, and I doubt that this will change too quickly.
On the other hand, telecommuting will slash energy expenditures, and lower real estate values, since you no longer have to be THERE anymore. Needless to say, there are powerful interests that don’t want to see this happen. Still, telecommuting is inevitable.
Finally, the cost of living is an outrage. Back in the day, a skilled worker making about $200/week could easily afford a tract home, two cars, and might even have a summer cottage. Take today’s higher salaries, and do the math. You’ll get depressed, I guarantee it.
Who’s to blame? Why, Government, of course, with confiscatory taxation, burdensome regulations, no leadership or vision in any party, and mainly all kinds of other scams to make you pay and pay. Far too many citizens have drunk the Kool-Aid, or are simply in denial.
The politicos say “Do it for the children,” but it manifests as “Do it TO the children.”