5 Ways Wall Street Is Putting the Squeeze on American Students
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The damage to our educational infrastructure is growing, according to Catherine Rampell's chilling report in the New York Times. As state funding has dwindled, public colleges have raised tuition and are now resorting to even more desperate measures — cutting training for jobs the economy needs most.
She describes how badly needed engineering and nursing school facilities are being cut to the bone even though these two fields are begging for trained college graduates. At the same time, Rampell reports that state higher education tuitions are rising, programs are being cut and students are stumbling out of college under a mountain of debt. As she correctly points out, the economic health of our society is based on our investments in education.
Economists have found that higher education benefits communities even more than it benefits the individual receiving the degree. Studies show that an educated populace leads to faster economic growth and benefits the poorest workers the most. Much of the post-World War II economic boom, for example, has been attributed to increased college enrollment courtesy of the GI Bill.
But if this is so obviously true, why are we cutting back on higher education?
The answer, not mentioned in her excellent article, is painfully obvious: Wall Street is the cause of those dwindling funds and is presently fighting to make sure those dollars are not restored any time soon. Here’s how:
1. The crash of Wall Street’s casino is causing the collapse of state and local revenues. Before financial amnesia sets in we must continually remind ourselves that the economy crashed because of Wall Street’s reckless gambling.
Through a series of “financial innovations,” Wall Street turned toxic mortgages into AAA-rated securities and thereby puffed up an unsustainable housing bubble, and milked it dry.
As it was collapsing, Wall Street also found ways to bet against the bubble and make billions more.
Wall Street then opened the public vault and helped itself to trillions of dollars of bail-out funds and low-interest loans.
Along the way the financial system froze, which in turn crippled the real economy sending more than 8 million workers to the unemployment lines.
State taxes crashed and college budgets were slashed, and they still haven’t recovered.
Big government didn’t cause this crash, nor did fiat money or leaving the gold standard (sorry, Ron Paul). It wasn’t the fault of poor people or even reckless home buyers. No, this crash was born and bred on Wall Street.
2. Wall Street is lobbying hard to shift the national conversation to debt reduction and away from higher taxes on the financial elite.
In a saner and fairer world, Wall Street would be paying for the damage it caused. The super-rich and their financial transactions would be taxed to close state and local budget deficits caused by Wall Street greed. It’s a no-brainer demand for anyone who wants America to thrive. The development of a highly educated workforce is the best and only way back to a full-employment economy.
But Wall Street understands that if the Occupiers continue to frame the debate, we might actually get legislation that forces the super-rich to pay up. So Wall Street is doing all it can to shift the debate back to deficits. They and their political flunkies warn us each day that we’ll soon become the next Greece unless we tighten our government-bloated belts. Their lapdog rating agencies are attacking the soundness of US government bonds to spread the fear of spiraling debt. It’s a full-scale assault to reduce funds for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and public education. And even the Democrats are not immune.