Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Universities

Could Corbyn Cancel All the Student Debt? Yes–But He Has to Bend a Rule

There was a row this week in the UK over Labour’s plan for the university system. Individual Labour politicians have in the past talked about doing something about student debt, but this week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn distanced himself from outright debt relief:

What I said was we would deal with it by trying to reduce the burden of it, we never said we would completely abolish because we were unaware of the size of it at that time.

Some in the British press are trying to portray this as a U-turn, but the Labour manifesto did not itself make any firm pledges on debt relief. It promised to eliminate tuition fees, but the debt issue was left to one side:

The average student now graduates from university, and starts their working life, with debts of £44,000. Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.

Corbyn indicated this prior to the election–Labour was still trying to figure out the debt issue:

Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden. I don’t have the simple answer for it yet – I don’t think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly; we had two weeks to prepare all this – but I’m very well aware of that problem. And I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.

So instead of playing he-said he-said, let’s take a look at what Labour could do about student debt and see if we can help Corbyn figure it out.

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Simon Sinek Doesn’t Understand Millennials

I’ve seen another viral video about Millennials doing the rounds. This one features Simon Sinek, a 43 year old who has leveraged a BA in cultural anthropology into a lucrative writing, speaking, and consulting career. Sinek, like so many others, attempts to explain what’s wrong with Millennials. His theory is persuasively presented, but nonetheless makes a series of basic mistakes.

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How ISAs Allow Rich People to Exploit College Students

A friend of mine at Purdue University recently informed me that under the leadership of former Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), Purdue has become the first major American university to offer Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) to students as a new alternative to traditional student loans. ISAs are exploitative and morally disgusting. Here’s why.

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Democracy Discriminates Against the Young

Young people overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders in this election, but many of them are not showing up. He crushed the demographic in Massachusetts, but still lost the state narrowly:

Young voters are just not keeping up with older folks:

This has been true for a long time–Millennials did not invent low youth voter turnout:

Many people see figures like this and their knee-jerk response is to scold young people for failing to show up, often attributing it to the laziness or lack of civic virtue of the current crop of young people. But as we see above, young people have been less active in politics since long before Millennials came on the scene. There are larger reasons why young people tend to feel disenfranchised by democratic politics–it’s because the system discriminates against them.

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Tax Credits and How to Fix the House of Lords

In Britain, the House of Lords recently impeded an attempt by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative government to cut tax credits for working families as part of its austerity program. The average beneficiary family stood to lose £1,300 (about $2,000) a year, often on incomes of £20,000 or less. It effectively would have amounted to a 5% to 10% income cut for 3.3 million of Britain’s poorest families. This would have inflicted terrible and unnecessary suffering on these families and it would have damaged consumer spending and harmed Britain’s economy. It is a wonderful thing that the House of Lords blocked these cuts. It illustrates just how important it is to have another legislative house with the power to curb the excesses of the House of Commons. Yet because the members of the House of Lords are chosen on an anachronistic and often arbitrary basis, it cannot be trusted with the power it would need to mount a broader, more serious opposition to austerity. So how do we fix that?

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