By Kayleen Bengtson and Matthew Jackson
Do you “feel the Bern?” Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders has maintained surprisingly strong ratings throughout the campaign trail. With several recent Democratic primary victories in the Midwest, Sanders continues to build momentum and gain new supporters.
The majority of Sanders’ campaign momentum has come from college-aged millenials. Sanders is promising to work for assisting graduates with high student loan debt, even promoting the idea of tuition free college. This enthusiasm is strangely high from 20-somethings who often lack interest in elections. What Sanders offers is a different perspective, a promise for a new society that this generation may thrive in. The issue that Sanders may face, however, is the integration of his strategy into a capitalist system. Sanders believes in a highly regulated and heavily taxed enterprise, parallel to that of socialist nations.
Sanders seeks to make tuition free for all public universities. Considering the fact that student loans in the United States are currently in the trillions his goal of relieving much of that burden is spot on. This would provide a temporary “fix” to student loan debt. However, this would lead to a much larger long-term dilemma.
One issue with this solution being, the effect it may have on institutions such as our very own Asbury University. Providing free tuition for public universities would undoubtedly diminish the value of private liberal arts institutions. Even more than this, it would have a large impact on the quality of professors available at public institutions who would lose money as a result of free tuition.
Kevin James of usnews.com writes “many free college proponents would likely point out that by providing aid directly to institutions, the government can actually exert more direct control over how they operate.” He continues on to say that “Sanders’ bill would require institutions to reduce their reliance on adjunct professors. But are such top-down controls really likely to create the dynamic and innovative system that we need? By trying to dictate innovation from Washington, such a proposal is more likely to create a system that is rigid, bureaucratic and unresponsive to the changing needs of students and the economy over time.”
Free education sounds like the perfect solution but remember the truth that nothing in life is free. In reality, you will still be paying for education but in a different section of your income. Rather than paying out of pocket, your annual taxes will be increased to compensate for your “free” education.
Regardless of your political standings, this proposal greatly affects us as believers. Yes, we are called to love and extend a helping hand to those in need. And let’s be honest, “free” education would help a lot of people in need. Deuteronomy 15:11 says “for there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” However, our ability to carry out this commandment and honor the Lord through charitable donations and tithing is hindered when disposable income is sufficiently decreased.
Take a moment to ponder how a 30% tax obligation increase would look like for you and your family. According to Jordan Meyer’s “American Spend More on Taxes Than on Food, Clothing, and Shelter,” “Americans will pay about $4.8 trillion in taxes this year, which is more than they’ll spend on food, clothing and housing combined.” Rather than freely blessing through financial giving towards the betterment of someone else’s life we would feel the need to pinch and hoard money.