The prevailing wisdom these days is that in order to have a successful, lucrative career, you really need a college degree. Of course, in many cases that is true, and there are many wonderful benefits of going to college, even if you end up not really "using" your degree professionally. That certainly applies to me - if I hadn't gotten my specific degree, I would not have the profession that I do.
Then again, think of all the people who have found tremendous success without a college degree, and I don't just mean Bill Gates. Years ago, I knew a man who started in the mail room at his company and worked his way to executive vice president over a series of years, all without any college at all. Then there are those who are electricians or contractors or air conditioner repairmen, all of whom tend to draw a very good salary and who are often business owners and entrepreneurs. You have to admire that.
College has also changed drastically, and not always for the better. College should open you to new ideas and experiences. You should be able to go to college to read different voices and to encounter concepts and points of view that you might not share, which might even be offensive or challenging to you. College should be a place to push boundaries and make discoveries, and while you still can at many colleges, there are now more and more colleges where this simply is not an option. Whether it's speech codes or campus protests against conservative voices, or students calling homework racist, the world of college simply isn't the same as it was when I went in the 1980s.
And it's too bad, because people work so hard just to get into college, and to get scholarships. Most of us, AOC included, end up having to take out loans to pay for college because it's so expensive these days. It was bad enough back in the 80s, and it's far worse now.
Paying off those loans takes a long time, as we know, and with college so expensive now, paying them off takes even longer because you have to take out a lot more money. So it's understandable that the whole issue of college debt is a big deal. I've been there, and when I finally paid off my student loans a couple of years ago, I really felt like I had accomplished something.
According to THIS article from Business Insider, college tuition has more than doubled since 1985 for many reasons. One reason they point out is that because so many kids take out loans or get scholarships, schools jack up their fees and tuition, to take advantage of so much money coming in. State schools also raise their tuition because many are getting less public money - the school makes up the difference and more by hiking tuition. A UCLA student who is not a California resident can pay up to $65,000 total, whereas in the 1980s, a non-resident paid just under $6000. Interest rates on paying back student loans is anywhere from 3% to almost 10%, and
The reality students these face is a grim one, especially if they want to be a homeowner eventually or start a business or whatever else. For me, most of my loans actually came from grad school. Considering the declining quality of a college education, the polarized atmosphere on many campuses, and the huge price one must pay after it's all over, kids these days really have to think carefully about whether college is worth it. Enrollment is way up now, so it's not like college makes you stand out any more.
That being said, if a person does decide to go to college and take out a loan, they are also taking on a responsibility that must be seen through. Granted, when most of us enter into this agreement, we're eighteen years old and not necessarily in the best mindset to take on such a huge price. Plus, when you're just out of high school, you're so excited to go to college and take on that new experience, all money aside. And then reality hits right after graduation, and if you don't get a high-paying job right out of the gate, you're going to have a problem. And of course, most people in their early to mid twenties don't qualify for high-paying jobs.
Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates for President this year have embraced the idea either of free state college for all or forgiving all student debt for people making under a certain income. On the one hand, that sounds like a great idea, and it would certainly bring much relief to many people who are so heavily burdened by so much debt at such a young age. So I get it.
At the same time, I'm not so sure that's really a great idea, for a lot of reasons. Economically, this would be a total disaster - states would have to raise taxes across the board, as the majority of students attend state colleges. According to THIS article in USA Today, Bernie Sanders' 2017 program would have cost the federal government upwards of $47 billion, and the states would cover the rest. "Free" college, just like "free" health care, isn't really free. Someone has to pay for it, and that's going to be you and me.
Free college or forgiving student debt tells people that they don't have to take that responsibility, that someone else can take up that responsibility for you, despite having entered into a contract. This is where it becomes a character issue. Now, I'm not saying that students whose loans are forgiven have a low character. Rather, politicians who pander to young voters by promising loan forgiveness reinforce the idea that if you can't handle a responsibility, the government will take it on for you. It encourages dependency on government, which can become crippling over a lifetime.
There are some real solutions to the student debt crisis, and that starts with the universities themselves. The tuition at my own alma mater has gone up at least 100% since I graduated. In the 80s, I think the tuition was in the low $20K, whereas now, it's over $50K per year, though the student population has remained the same. What has changed is the facilities, which are much larger and which offer a lot more services to students. More research facilities have also sprung up, and all of that costs money.
According to THIS article, 27% of your money goes toward actual instruction, and 12% goes toward research. 11% go toward health care, and so on for the rest. According to the same article, "between 2000 and 2010, tuition on average increased $3,142 while spending per full-time student increased $3,917." All of these services cost a lot of money, as you can see, so it has to beg the question whether this is money well-spent. It's nice to have luxurious facilities in college - at my alma mater we had housekeeping services, which was nice, but not necessary. Colleges build fancy buildings and recreation centers because it's a great marketing tool, but it also means that the kids have to pay for that. Is that fair?
By the way, this is going on in other countries as well. THIS article from the Guardian discusses a similar situation in the UK, where these wonderful buildings are going up at different colleges, but the bill is then passed on to the kids. Not so wonderful when your tuition gets jacked up for a building you'll never use.
What it comes down to is that as long as colleges keep increasing their spending, just like the government, they're going to pass on the expense to the kids, and that will mean more loans and more debt overall. In fact, according to Susan Dynarski and Forbes, "Of those borrowing under $5,000 for college, 34% end up in default. Those who have $5,000 or less in student loans likely did not complete their degree and are struggling to find employment, while borrowers with graduate degrees and $100,000-plus in debt are desirable job candidates." Thus, when colleges continue to spend more and more money, they are burdening the most vulnerable members of their own population. And free college won't fix that.
I'd also like to see more education about everyday finances when kids are in high school so that when it's time for them to consider student loans and interest rates and where their money actually goes, they can, with their parents, make better decisions that will protect them from being burdened with so much debt at the start of their postgraduate lives. High school kids complain about this a lot, that they're great at Algebra and Calculus, but don't have a clue about taxes or interest or practical financial issues. Advocates of free college might be coming from a good place, but ultimately, the effects would be extraordinarily negative, even destructive.
I titled this article using the word "injustice," and I mean it. Free college, like most welfare programs, do nothing but damage the individual character by disincentivizing responsibility. Just as the War on Poverty created more poverty, despite spending $22 trillion supposedly to end poverty, free college will create dependence on government, along with increased levels of stress and anxiety. We hear a lot about the "safety net" for people who fall through the cracks - the chronically unemployed, the undereducated, the otherwise marginalized people in our society. And while those problems are real and serious, government dependency keeps them down rather than raises them up. Doing that to young people does them a terrible disservice - it is unjust.
Kids deserve a chance in life. Here they are, just starting out, and suddenly they're $50,ooo in debt by age 22 or 23. Maybe they'll pay all of that off and maybe they'll default, thus jeopardizing their credit and their ability to buy a house one day. Kids need knowledge and they need to know the reality of what they're getting into as they choose whether to take on student debt. Many kids choose community college for the first two years, which is a great idea. Yes, these are government-funded schools, but they're much cheaper and more cost-effective, and they give kids a chance to start their college career and maybe work to earn the money they'll need to finish college.
Kids need real choice, not government. That is justice because it affirms their character and it allows them to make smart decisions about their own future, rather than just taking a handout. After all, "free" college, just like "free" healthcare, isn't really free. Someone will end up paying for it, and in fact, once these kids do get jobs, they'll end up paying for all of this free college through their taxes and investments. Why not hold colleges accountable for their spending so that the students only have to pay once for college rather than a lifetime? Rather than spending millions on impressive buildings, colleges could lower their spending so that the kids are getting their money's worth.
Sounds pretty just to me.
I“It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.”
In Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451, Captain Beatty explains to Guy Montag how the society in the novel devolved into a mindless swamp dominated by mass conformity and groupthink. He explains to Montag:
"People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? ...Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Bum the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator."
And of course, in the novel, it's not really about making people happy. It's about shutting people up so that the powers-that-be can assert total control over everyone's lives. It's about the elites maintaining their power without complaints from the humble masses. It's about placating the people, as the Roman emperors did when they gave out wine and grain in order to prevent people from rebelling. It's pandering at its most dangerous.
That could never happen here, right? Isn't that just for sci-fi novels and conspiracy theorists? Just ask conservative pundit Steven Crowder that question. Crowder was recently demonetized by YouTube after complaints by Vox journalist Carlos Maza. Maza, who is gay, complained that Crowder was bullying him - Crowder's defenders say otherwise, that while he did lampoon Maza, it was in the spirit of satire and parody, not homophobia. (you can decide for yourself)
“When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
There's an ugly trend going on right now on social media, not surprisingly as we're heading into the 2020 presidential elections. Here's a growing list of conservative voices either demonetized or banned from various platforms:
Many of the Prager University videos were placed on the restricted list by YouTube, so even though they are still on the platform, many of their videos are not accessible to anyone doing a restricted search - furthermore, many of them have been demonetized. Live Action, a popular pro-life site, was recently listed on Pinterest as porn, and then banned from the platform altogether. “By secretly applying the label of ‘pornography’ to Live Action’s pro-life content, Pinterest demonstrates a concerted effort to sideline a leading pro-life organization the only way they knew how,” according to Lila Rose, Live Action's founder. She asserted that they were targeted by Pinterest, "because our message is so effective at educating millions about the humanity of the preborn child and the injustice of abortion.” ++ To be fair, you can access information about Lila Rose and Live Action on the site, but they can't post themselves.
(by the way, you can also find tons of quotes by the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan on Pinterest, and despite his outrageous and hateful statements, he still has an active Twitter account. Double standard anyone?)
Not only has Facebook banned conservative British pundit Paul Joseph Watson, but Alex Jones' infamous InfoWars has been removed from all social media platforms. At the same time, not only is the left-wing terror group ANTIFA not banned from Twitter, they use the platform to recruit others to start their own chapters so they can continue their destructive and sometimes violent campaign.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
You don't have to be a fan of anyone, right, left, or in the middle, but banning people just for speaking? For saying something you don't like or that's even rude? In my mind, ANTIFA is doing much worse because they are deliberately using Twitter to recruit, and considering what the group does in their "protests," one could argue that they are promoting violence on social media.
So should we ban them? Who decides this? That's the problem, at least in part. YouTube, for example, has taken it on themselves to define hate, but that begs the question, should we ban hate speech at all? Here are some examples of what can get you punished on YouTube:
In the episode, anyone who didn't look a certain way, use certain kinds of words, or think the "right" way immediately lost their social standing, thus being barred from discounts on rent, better car rentals, admittance to certain venues, etc. None of this self-discrimination came from the government, which takes us back to Beatty's quote. There is no constitutional issue when we're dealing with private companies, rather than the government. In a way, fighting against government censorship is in some respects easier to identify because we can measure it against the Constitution. With YouTube or Facebook or Instagram, they don't have to follow those rules. They can in reality make up their own rules, which is exactly what they're doing, and at least for now, conservatives seem to be on the losing end.
In the wake of the 2016 elections, where social media had such influence and where foreign entities tried to sway voters one way or another, big tech has been put on blast, particularly by the Democratic Party. Now you could say that this argument borders on conspiracy theories, but at the same time, it needs to be considered. People like Sargon of Akkad or Joe Rogan or Dave Rubin have been on YouTube for years, but it's only now that they find their channels being demonetized or their videos taken down? Executives at Twitter and YouTube are both on record for their disdain of conservative voices such as Ben Shapiro - in fact, even Vox reports that conservative Twitter employees feel unsafe to voice their opinions in the workplace. ++
If these people are the ones running the show, then conservatives will have to make some big choices. These companies insist that their services are not biased, but of course, the evidence says otherwise, as we see from who is banned and who is not. There are social media alternatives, such as Gab and Bitchute, both of which welcome free speech. But these forums are relatively small. Many have taken to the courts for a resolution, and in fact, a judge in California said last year that Twitter can't just ban people for any reason, arguing that this policy misleads consumers.
For now, conservatives have hunkered down in preparation for the fight ahead, wondering at the same time just how worse the assault against free speech will get before it gets better, and for how long.
There is plenty to dislike about the Kardashian family, from their hyper-sexualized appearance to their numerous plastic surgeries to so many other things. To be sure, Kim K got her start because of a sex tape, and her mother, Kris Jenner, saw fit to take advantage of that, in a sense "turning her out" for profit.
As a Catholic, I also object to Kim's use of IVF and a surrogate for her last two children. Understandably, she had struggled with preclampsia in both her pregnancies, so one could see why she felt reluctant to go through another one. But she wanted more kids, so she saw a surrogate as the best solution. I wish she had used adoption, which other celebrities have done, to their credit. I also object to their celebration of unwed motherhood, which we saw with Kylie (who had her daughter last year) and even with oldest sister Kourtney, who has never married the father of her three kids.
You might think I'm some sort of Kardashian super-fan, but you'd be wrong. I've seen the show a bit, mainly for hair and makeup ideas, and some pretty travel scenes, but that's about it. I'm not one of those folks who is constantly posting about them on social media, and I don't follow any of them on Instagram.
So what are they doing right? A few things, as it happens.
First, they are each other's "ride or die" when it comes to family. While they bicker and argue a lot, and even disrespect each other and say nasty things to each other, they will also back each other up when it comes to family. They will support each other even when they don't necessarily like what their relative is doing, but they do so for the sake of family. You have to admire that.
Second, they have their babies. With all this talk about abortion as such a great, liberating thing for women, the Kardashian girls have their kids, even if they're not in ideal circumstances. Take Khloe for example. During her pregnancy, she learned that her boyfriend had been cheating on her quite a lot - many women would use that as an excuse to abort the pregnancy, or at least to think about it. But Khloe, thankfully, had her daughter (she still didn't marry the father...). Kim and her husband are on their fourth child, and Kourtney has three. Their mother, Kris, had a total of six children, so having lots of kids seems to be part of the family culture.
OK, they also have millions of dollars and tons of people working for them, unlike most of us, so it's a lot easier for them to have plenty of children. Still, their public persona in this regard is incredibly healthy, and it should stand as an inspiration for other families, that it's OK and even beneficial to have a lot of kids.
Third, these are successful women in business, and they work hard for that. If you look carefully at them, you'll see that they are not just "famous for being famous" or "famous for nothing." Despite their shady start (see the part about the sex tape), they moved past that and ultimately have worked incredibly hard to develop a complex business. Granted, some of their business ventures have been epic fails, but at least they tried. Most of us are fine with working for someone else, so it's great to see a group of women taking control of their own financial life and succeeding at it.
Finally, I like the fact that as women, they have defined their own future and made their own choices. I am especially impressed by Kim's current decision to become an attorney. That shows me that, while her start came from a pretty negative situation, she has evolved as a person and sees that she can be more than a pretty face. As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, she has developed the ability to make a bold move with confidence in her own powers, and so far, she seems to be succeeding. She found a way, as a mother of four with a lot of business efforts going at the same time, to find a path toward her goal. Heck, most of us just struggle to get up on time in the morning, so seeing Kim's efforts to improve her life and make a difference for other people is a great thing.
Again, there's plenty to criticize about the Kardashians, but I think that where it counts - family, business, goals, discipline - they have plenty to teach us and to give us some hope that with increased efforts and a healthy dose of ambition, we can find our own purpose and live our own dreams.
MY body, MY choice!
How many times do we hear this from pro-aborts? How many times do they insist that abortion liberates women, gives them power over their reproductive lives? To be pro-woman is to be pro-choice, right?
Maybe not so much.
In fact, I'll go as far as saying that abortion, that is, the pro-abortion movement, HATES women. HATES. Yes. Hates. I don't mean that individual pro-abortion folks actually hate women. Many of them ARE women, so obviously, that's not the case here. In fact, I would even argue that these people actually come from a good place. I don't think they hate babies or children or anything like that. Many pro-abortion people have children.
I'm talking about the movement as a whole, from a basic standpoint, almost an unconscious place. Abortion hates women.
Think of what abortion does, first of all. Not only does it end the life of an innocent human person, but in a violent, brutal manner that would seem out of step in our modern society. When you think about something as horrible as partial-birth abortion, for example, you might think you were hearing about some sort prehistoric barbaric society, not the United States of America, the so-called "civilized" West.
So an innocent child is slaughtered, causing a woman's body to become an execution chamber. Does that sound very pro-woman? Do you really think any woman wants her body to become a place of violence and death? Even if she is pro-abortion? Is that what any woman wants? Yet that is precisely what happens when a doctor (often a man) invades her body with sharp instruments or deadly chemicals, all to snuff the life out of the child within. Does that sound liberating?
Furthermore, abortion supports what the Left might term "heteronormative, cisgender patriarchy." I am 1000% sure that is not remotely the intention - rather, I feel pretty sure that the vast majority (99.99999999% at least) believe that a woman's ability to get an abortion if she wants affirms her power and independence, removing the influence of toxic masculinity from her life, especially in that things which matter the most.
The rhetoric these days is that women "need" abortion, and that making abortion illegal or at least hard to get puts women's lives in danger. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Lena Dunham celebrate abortion as a victory for women, almost a sacrament. How can she manage to survive without abortion? She could die! She could experience trauma without abortion. I don't mean to minimize anything that women facing an unexpected pregnancy experience, and I'm sure that finding oneself in that kind of situation would be extremely difficult. That's when these women need support and compassion, not violence and neglect. Convincing women that they can rely on aborting their pregnancy in order to survive, in reality, weakens her.
I always love the image of Rosie the Riveter, who proudly proclaims "We can do it!" And it's true! Women are strong. We are capable and resilient and resourceful - as difficult as a pregnancy can be for some women, The current mentality regarding abortion, therefore, undermines women's strength and in the long term threatens to make women weak, dependent, and permanently scarred. It encourages women to deny their very femininity, to cause women to be alienated from themselves, from their true power as women.
So what is this power? Is it acting like a badass? Acting like a man? The culture is fighting against the feminine these days, allowing it to be appropriated by men who want to dress like women. And while that's going in one direction, we have a woman playing Captain Marvel and Dr. Who, and a new version of Ghostbusters with a female cast. Yay! Now we've done it! Achieved equality! And all we had to do was act like men! But is that really what female power is about? Again, doesn't that just reinforce heteronormative patriarchy? Can't women assert their power AS WOMEN and not as male stand-ins?
This is where the celebration of abortion falls into the whole anti-woman picture. While not every woman will have a child or even get pregnant, every woman has that potential. Our identity as women revolves around that, which is why a man who feels like a woman can never really be a woman, even if he wants to wear heels and makeup. We are wedded, body and soul, as a whole person, and for women, that union creates a woman's heart that is nurturing, generous, inviting. I think of how a queen is defined in the classic epic Beowulf as one who "weaves peace."
Telling women they need abortion, and then brainwashing women to believe they need abortion is abusive toward women because it violates a woman's nature, to its core. It's important for our society to hold up the individual, regardless of gender, and to ensure that their rights are upheld and that they have equal opportunities for success. Certainly, an unexpected pregnancy can get in the way of that, but there are ways to handle it that respect a woman's body and allow the child to live. Once we can all start to see that, we can push back against the abortion dragon and find a new, better way to live that ensures life, dignity, and self-acceptance for all.
Witty; cunning; crafty
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