No such thing as free anything

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Democrat candidates for president are tripping over themselves to offer the most far-left socialist proposals they can in order to get just a little bit more attention than their 20-some rivals. Most Americans would agree that like everything else in life, there is no free lunch, or free college education, as proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and most other Democrat presidential hopefuls.

Sanders, who is a self-described democratic socialist and progressive, is actually an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. He was elected mayor of Burlington, Vt., in 1981 and served eight years before running for the U.S. House of Representatives where he served 16 years. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and reelected in 2012 and 2018.

The 77-year-old Sanders has been in government about half his life and thinks government is the answer to just about everything. His latest proposal would have the government wiping out about $1.6 trillion in student loan debt and tax Wall Street to pay for it. If you are one of millions of Americans who have their money tied up in Wall Street via 401K retirement plans or individual retirement plans, he is talking about taxing your investments.

Taking things a step further, Sanders is proposing free college tuition because it is too expensive for everyone to attend. There are significant benefits to anyone with a college degree, and for society in terms of more skilled and knowledgeable graduates. There are a number of problems with free college tuition for all. First of all, who would pay for it? Since Sanders believes the government can solve any problem, the government would fund the program in the form of higher taxes for all Americans. He believes we would willingly do that. He may be in for a surprise there.

Secondly, what would we do with all the additional college graduates who may have a degree in some obscure subject, but no job openings or opportunities after graduation. This would only contribute to a rising number of unemployed people and would not be very cost effective, to say the least.

A college education would not be as valuable if it was free to everyone. The thinking that a quality education is only for the elite is a myth because there are a number of scholarship opportunities available to those coming from lower class families. There are also community colleges and non-Ivy League colleges that offer quality education. No colleges in South Dakota could be considered to be elite. Educational opportunities abound here.

If there is free college tuition it wouldn’t be valued by students as much as it would be for those who actually worked for it. Many students who attend college do not finish, so free college would not solve our problems. Statistics show that 40 percent of first-time students fail to graduate from four-year programs within six years. What do you want to bet that the rate would be even higher if tuition was free and a degree not as valued?

Most of us realize that wiping out $1.6 trillion in student debt is unrealistic and unfair to those of us who have already paid our dues. Free college tuition is also a bad idea for the same reasons. Hang on to your hats as these issues and reparation payments are bantered about by candidates desperate to say and do anything to get elected.

After all, it isn’t their money or “the government” we are talking about. It is our hard-earned money that we have entrusted our elected officials to spend wisely.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.