Tyranny

The article I found on tyranny doesn’t straight out define what tyranny is. They use examples from the current government which allows you to use context clues so you can come up with your own definition of tyranny. The one example they used was President Trump’s abuse of power in efforts to accomplish a one hundred seventy-five mile long wall on the border of Mexico. The article clearly shows how he used tyranny by blocking Congress’s power to check the president, often referred to as checks and balances.  After Congress declined to give money to President Trump signed into law, the legislation that denied him the funds he sought and then spent the money regardless of their appeal[1]. The example on President Trump allowed me to create a definition of tyranny; a form of government in which the leader uses excessive power to gain control of all of the state’s resources. Once I read through the article I looked up the definition of tyranny to see how correctly the term was used in the article. According constitution.org, the definition of tyranny is the lack of legitimacy, in which power becomes increasingly oppressive[2] . The article did a fair job explaining what tyranny was by providing examples from not only current day but events that occurred in the U.S. decades ago. I do not believe that President Trump is a one hundred percent tyrant but according to the article there are some acts that show oppressive power being used. The reason why the article is not one hundred percent correct is because tyranny is a very extreme behavior that usually represents the worst kids of acts by leaders, prime ministers or presidents. Of course, president’s act of dismissing Congresses power to build a wall isn’t the most extreme kind of tyranny the world will see. When I see the word tyrant I think of people like Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Kim Jong II. I believe media plays a large role in how most people image the definition of tyranny. Often times the news will minimize the acts of our presidents, just so we carry a good reputation to the world. News stations may exaggerate situations of other states involving there leaders. I don’t think this articles definition of tyranny would equal the one of ancient times. I believe this primarily because back in ancient times the definition of tyranny would be a lot more extreme, similar to the cases of Hitler or Stalin. Back in ancient time’s tyranny was seen more as a response to deficiencies in battles or corruption throughout the states government.

Dakare Coston

Word Count: 469


[1] Napolitano, Andrew P. “The Temptation of Tyranny.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 4 Sept. 2019, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/4/temptation-tyranny/.

[2] “Principles of Tyranny.” Constitution Society: Everything Needed to Decide Constitutional Issues, http://www.constitution.org/tyr/prin_tyr.htm. 

Modern Tyranny Tested

The ancient definition of tyranny differs tremendously from the modern definition of tyranny. The ancient definition, which originates in Greece, was used for a person who comes to power in an unorthodox way. Traditionally, power would be passed on through lineage or an election, but tyranny described a ruler who came to power through an unconventional way. The old definition of a tyrant did not limit the ruler to being disliked and cruel. The word tyrant could be used to describe a good or bad ruler. The modern definition of tyrant refers to a person in position of unlimited power. The modern tyrant has no power restraints, and typically has their own agenda as the priority of the nation. The modern tyrant rules in a cruel manner and is disliked by the people under him.

            The article I analyzed, titled “Some Tyrants are Bad and Some are Worse,” states that there are three different types of tyranny. The first type of tyrant is most similar to the modern definition of tyranny. The article describes these tyrants as people who control their country like their own private property. The person of power uses the country’s assets to complete their personal goals.

            The second type of tyrant is a person who contains the same power as the ordinary tyrant, but uses it in attempt to better off the people under them. Although this tyrant makes it seem like they have the people’s interest in mind, the tyrant is ultimately doing this to gain fame and glory. This type of tyrant is not similar to the modern nor ancient tyrant.

            The last tyrant the article describes is a tyrant who gains power in attempt to make an idealistic community. This means that the tyrant wants to grow a community with a specific type of people. This ruler also uses his power to actively exclude people that do not fit the model for their community. A modern example of this tyranny that the article uses is Al Qaeda. They believe every person should live a certain way, and believe in certain things, and are willing to exterminate people who differ.

            The article’s views of tyranny are all used correctly in this context because they have been seen before in history or are currently happening. As far as the modern definition of tyranny, which describes a tyrant as cruel and unlimited in powers most closely relates to the first definition written in the article. These tyrants both rule for themselves and use the people under them to complete their personal goals. In terms of the ancient definition of tyranny, which refers to a person who rises to power in an unorthodox way, could relate to all of these examples. The article did not mention how these tyrants would come to power, but rather how they ruled. The ancient definition did not limit a tyrant to only ruling poorly, but stated that they could actually be good leaders. The second tyrant mentioned in the article has the most potential to be like an ancient tyrant. The second tyrant in the article has the good intentions to be a good leader, but also has some pride issues that could lead him to being a bad leader.

Word count: 531

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-05/tyrants-are-bad-and-some-are-worse

Seisachtheia for Students

            An ancient Athenian reformer named Solon instituted a series of reforms known as Seisachtheia, translated to “shaking off the burdens.” Originally, anyone who could not repay their debts had to forfeit their land and become a serf. They became serfs and had to give a majority of their produce to the creditors. The culture was so harsh were even forced into slavery or sell their children. People were even forced into exile for fear of their creditors. When Solon was elected as the Archon, he put the Seisachtheia into effect. The purpose of this was to free all the debtors and return the land to the original holders. He also outlawed exchanging person freedoms in exchange for debt (Britannica). Solon’s goal was to create more equality in Athens, using the catch phrase, “equality breeds no strife” (Plutarch life of Solon).   This reform worked for a short period of time, but eventually ended poorly. The creditors did not receive any compensation and were furious, while the poor people could no longer borrow land that they needed. This reform angered Athens as a whole and Solon lost his power. This incident can be directly compared to topics today, and I believe that it would have a similar outcome now as it did centuries ago.

            Democratic Presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had similar values in their recent campaigns. They wanted to make college free, absolving students of their debt. Making school free seems smart on paper. It is expensive, so who wouldn’t want to receive a higher education for free? Also, these candidates would potentially grasp support from younger people or parents with large families. However I truly believe it would end similar to Solon’s Seisachtheia.

            First off, how would school be paid for? Taxes would have to increase significantly in order to pay for school. This would anger a lot of citizens that don’t want to pay taxes. Banks would also be effected because they would not be able to make money giving out student loans. This is very similar to the rich creditors that did not receive compensation for their loans. Another problem would be that people could get complacent. If college is free, why should they have to work hard for a scholarship to lighten the load? Students would also not be afraid to lose their scholarship or even fail out because they wouldn’t feel as though that is money they are losing. This negatively impacts the recipients because it gives them less incentive to work hard and succeed. This goal of free school is similar to Solon’s Seisachtheia, and would end poorly just as Seisachtheia did.

            Even if there are some positives, the thought of shaking off burdens and free school seem like good ideas at first that would please the general population. However when put into effect, they are logistical nightmares. There are too many moving parts that inevitably would just have negative effects on those that are supposed to be benefiting.  

-Dalton Jackson

-Word count: 505

https://www.britannica.com/topic/seisachtheia

What the Past Shows Us

People often say that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Often times this is the truth. The past is an invaluable way of learning how to do things in the future. With a culture and planet that is constantly evolving it is obvious how with each step into furthering our world we run in to situations that have happen millions of times over the years. One that is evident, especially in our 2020 elections is the problem with student loans. The issue with student loans and the path that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking with it is very similar to the stance of Solon in the seisachteia. I believe the good that Bernie Sanders is trying to do will have the same outcome of Solon’s program.

            Solon’s ideas became evident during a time stasis. This was a time of civil strife, internal discord, and moral wrong doings. During this time Solon came up with, “reform law, known as the seisachtheia, or “shaking-off the burdens,” cancelled all debts, freed the hektēmoroi, destroyed the horoi, and restored land to its constitutional holders. Solon also prohibited the mortgaging of land or of personal freedom on account of debt.”(Cite). Even though, Solon was attempting to do good to the people that were in debt it did the exact opposite. The people that Solon was attempting to help were honestly worse off. They were unable to receive loans from the rich because the rich believed they would not be paid back.  Solon’s laws went against that infrastructure that was there for millions of years and it back fired against the people he was trying to help.

Bernie Sanders is one of the 2020 presidential candidates that has promised a lot to college students. College debt has been a serious issue amongst college students, precisely. College students are forced to take out massive loans in order to attend many colleges and often times find themselves unable to pay them off. As of June 24th, 2019, Bernie Sanders plans to, “cancel all $1.6 trillion of U.S. student loan debt “ as well as,” Four-year public colleges and community colleges should be free – including tuition and fees – for everyone.” According to Forbes. I believe that colleges will never and should never be free. I believe that if colleges become free they will lose the prestige that each carry’s. As well, cancelling debts to all student loans will do the exact thing is did in Solon’s case. Schools will go into debt and lose funding for sports teams and students that go there. Also, colleges are going to be less likely to accept people from lower financial backgrounds because they will not risk not getting paid. People in lower classes will now be even at a bigger disadvantage with the cancelling of debts.

Solon’s reforms proved to no good for the people that he was specifically trying to help. It is evident that history repeats itself and is important to learn from mistakes of the past. Bernie Sanders is attempting to a very similar thing to what Solon did over two thousand years ago. Bernie’s attempt to good for people in student loan debt will follow the same path of the people that Solon tried to relieve of debt. It is important to learn from the past in order to grow in the future.

Citations:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/06/24/student-loans-bernie-sanders/#323cf71c3fc2

https://www.britannica.com/topic/property-legal-concept

By: Ryan Magnuson

Word Count: 534

Seisachtheia for Students?

The promises given by Senator Sanders and Senator Warren to excuse all of those who have student debt and free them of this financial burden are similar to Solon’s seisachtheia. Solon’s reforms freed everyone of debt. Those is slavery due to debt were freed, and all land was given back to their constitutional owner. Sanders and Warren are running on a platform that would eliminate over 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of debt and would excuse over 44 million Americans from their contractual agreements. While this sounds good and I believe that the cost of higher education should be affordable for all who want to achieve it, we must learn from history. Solon wrote, “Extravagant hopes in me, but now they are angry and look askance, as if I were their enemy.” (Plutarch Life of Solon, 2.16) All though his heart was in the right place, forgiving over 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of debt would only add to our increasing deficit and ultimately affect the college institutions ability to function. 

Right now in the US, one of the most common debt areas is student loans. Being in debt post-graduation puts the student behind the eight-ball. Most students who are in debt struggle to pay for day-to-day necessities like rent, groceries and car payments. Over half of the jobs that make over $35,000 a year require a four year degree, but also require experience in the field in order to receive the position. This makes it very difficult for those who are fresh out of college to apply their education. If they were living debt free, they might be able to apply for internships that would give them the required experience but since they must make hefty loan payments, they are forced to settle for low paying jobs in order to make ends meet, thus they fail to further their careers. 

My personal solution for this is to create a program that allows students fresh from high school to apply for a new government program. This program does not have a name yet but it entails that the student must serve in either the military or the Peace Corps for two years and then the government will pay for their education. The law would allow them to apply for colleges directly out of high school and the college must honor their acceptance. Other solutions to the debt crisis is to make community colleges free in every state. Once they obtain their degree, the government will pay for their tuition at their respective state colleges. This would allow students to receive their Associates Degree, save money by living at home, and also allows them to get an internship that would give them the necessary experience they need in order to get a job once they complete their four year degree. 

If we copy Solon’s reforms and just free everyone of debt, the economic repercussions would be unimaginable. I believe that if we just fix the current system and allow for more opportunity and different routes, the problem will fix itself. 

TJ Salu

Word Count: 512

Thune, Sen. John, and Sen. Mark Warner. “How Congress Can Ease Americans’ $1.5 Trillion Student Debt.” Time. Time, August 27, 2019. https://time.com/5662626/student-loans-repayment/.

Tyranny & Totalitarianism (Democracy and Empire): Is Hitler considered a Tyrant?

The ancient use of tyranny differs greatly from the modern use of tyranny. The pre-modern definition of a tyrant is someone who came to power in a non-hereditary way and has absolute power. In modern times, the definition of tyrant has dramatically changed to a cruel or oppressive ruler. Someone who was good at first, then gradually became corrupted. Not only is the meaning of tyranny different, the use of tyranny now describes more of a totalitarianism more than ancient use of tyranny. In other words, using philosophy to control all areas of human life is more prevalent now than ever before. 

According to SpeakEasy, “The worst tyrannies of all time have happened in just the last century, and they’ve all been totalitarian tyrannies.” One of the most common tyrannies is that of Adolf Hitler. Hitler first started as a dominant speaker, was voted as Chairman of the party, and took total control. Hitler gained support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and advocating anti-communism, pan-germanism, and antisemitism, using Nazi Propaganda. Due to his tyranny, the public were afraid for their lives and therefore, did not speak up against him or his policies. He abused his power in order to control and manipulate everyone around him.  

According to Tyrants and Dictators, after gaining power Hitler “transformed the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. Adolf Hitler started World War II and initiated the Holocaust causing milions of Jews to be murdered. According to Reference, “He was responsible for the deaths of millions, including soldiers in the war and civilians killed in Nazi concentration camps.” Adolf Hitler’s hostile foreign policy and racially driven ideology concluded in the deaths of millions of Jews and others. This validates Hitler’s tyranny because not only did he rule by himself, he did not allow other people to have a voice as the public or even in the government. 

Using this crucial moment in history, the term “tyrant” is used correctly. Adolf Hitler murdered six million Jews, he did not allow fair elections, and he invaded countries that did not want war. 

Overall, both the ancient term and the modern term represents Hitler’s claim to power. To support the ancient use, Hitler came of power by acquiring it, not from inheritance. Also, to support the modern use, he over used his power in order to dominate and murder millions of people. However, if we are to look at the bigger picture, it is more apparent that the rule of Hitler is depicted more from the modern term due to his cruelty and savagery, than the ancient term.

Along with the post rise of democracy, the circumstances of Hitler’s rule is similar to totalitarianism. Tyranny and totalitarianism are very alike. Hitler essentially ran a totalitarian system due to absolute oversight of the government and the people. A totalitarian government does not permit individual freedom, the ruler has complete control, and opposition is prohibited. His government ran, facilitated, and enforced his entire power. This resulted in all basic human rights deprived such as freedom of speech and freedom of expression. This allowed Adolf Hitler’s government to influence and regulate opinions and actions by way of propaganda, threats, and deceitful information. 

Tyranny holds a rooted significance in ancient and modern rulers. It has both positive and negative connotations and may very well be used in either way. Today, we are naturally informed that a tyrant is negative and is looked down upon. Adolf Hitler’s use of power was tyranny and unanimously, without doubt a corrupt but successful leader.

⎯⎯⎯ Kolbi-Monet Green

Word Count: 600

What it Means to be a Tyrant

In modern day society, the word tyrant scares most people.  If a country is said to be ruled by a tyrant then it probably means that he or she is a very harsh ruler who will not step down as a leader.  If they were elected, it is most likely assumed that it was not a fair election or violence was used to gain power. Today, people view the word tyrant very negatively; usually a picture of a vile man with a mustache comes to mind or a toxic emperor. For example, even the definition in the modern (post-ride of democracy) of tyranny when you look it up on google is “a cruel and oppressive leader.”

The ancient (pre-democratic) definition of tyrant is a non-hereditary ruler. During this time, the word tyranny did not mean the person under rule was necessarily bad or corrupt.  It was strictly someone who did not come to power through inheritance. During this time, they were either elected or attempted to gain power through trickery or violence. For example, Peisistratos had three separate attempts at trying to become a tyrant of ancient Athens.  In the article, “Herodotus on the Athenian Tyrants” it goes into great detail about Peisistratos and the stories behind all his attempts to rule. It explains how resilient he was: “with his mind set on tyranny.” Whether the tyrants were looking to be ruler to better society or not, many would go to extreme ways to get the position. 

In the article, The Field Guide to Tyranny by Adam Gopnik it uses the word “dictator” interchangeably with the word tyrant. The article was written a month ago and is a perfect example of the word’s connotation today compared to ancient times. The author brings up the names Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, and even Julius Caesar as examples of tyrants.  He says,”Dictatorship has, in one sense, been the default condition of humanity. The basic governmental setup since the dawn of civilization could be summarized, simply, as taking orders from the boss. Big chiefs, almost invariably male, tell their underlings what to do, and they do it, or they are killed.” The word tyrant has come to the point where it is seen as interchangeable with dictator because the vast history of tyrants who have ruled post-rise of democracy have fit the description.  If a country is not democratic today it is most of the time assumed that it is some variation of a dictatorship or a socialist country, which further explains why many rulers get put into that group. 

Although the ancient definition of tyranny does not mean that the tyrant had to be evil, it was still very common during the time. The tyrant, Perainder and many others committed unspeakable acts as rulers.  They left lasting impacts on the world that lead to how the word is interpreted today. In The Field Guide to Tyranny it goes on to say, “For centuries, students learned Latin by memorizing the writing of the great Roman tyrant and republic-ending ogre Julius Caesar.” Julius Caesar and many ancient leaders used their charisma and strong platforms to brainwash people to follow their ways and therefore leave their mark on the world. Although the definition was different at the time, ancient tyrants did still play a large part in why the definition has changed over time.

– Ellie Canalichio

Word count:  562

Herodotus on the Athenian Tyrants

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/23/the-field-guide-to-tyranny

The Road to Tyranny

Shifts in cultures and time periods can often cause confusion and misinterpretations of words or concepts.  In modern society, the idea of tyrannical government is a prominent example of this change in interpretation over time.  The modern connotation of a tyrant is an authoritarian individual who leads a nation with force, ruthless policies, and little consideration for the people entrusted to them.  However, the current definition of tyranny is generally used correctly in terms of modern context, even if its transition from ancient Greek civilization has changed its meaning. 

Historically, in ancient Greek civilization, a tyrant was anyone who came to power in a non-hereditary manner.  Originally, these tyrants were generally accepted as legitimate rulers who made genuine reforms and allowed Greek democracy to flourish.  However, over time, the idea of tyranny became tainted into the definition of tyranny that is accepted in modern times. Since the rise of modern  democracy, a tyrant has been viewed as oppressive and corrupted in many aspects. The contrast between pre-democratic tyranny and post-demcractic tyranny is apparent, exhibiting that the modern version of tyranny is accurate in context.

The success of tyranny is seen through many rulers in Athenian government.  Solon’s non-hereditary rule was characterized by cancellation of debt, a movement towards democracy, and a greater representation of both noble factions and common factions of people (Spodek 141).  Furthermore, “Peisistratus fostered economic growth through loans to small farmers, export promotion programs, road construction; and public works” (Spodek 141). It is clear that the work done by these tyrants was favorable and fostered Athens as a great and prosperous city-state.

However, Athenian tyranny eventually grew into the form of tyranny that is known to the modern world.  According to Herodotus, Peisistratus’s son, Hippias, was notably a cruel tyrant who lead by force and imposed harsh and unfair regulations on the Athenian people (The Histories).  Furthermore, the interpretation of Herodotus’s views on tyranny display that the Athenian people were actually relieved to be free of a tyrannical form of oversight after Hippias’ rule. It was around the time of Hippias that the term tyrant transitioned from a description of a benevolent ruler to a description of a cruel ruler, as used in modern times.

Given the historical context of the transition of the term tyranny throughout history, many characterizations of modern tyrants are justified.  One example is seen through the current persecution and oppression of the people of Hong Kong. The pro-democratic people of Hong Kong are facing mass arrests and harsh military force from the Chinese government. Joshua Wong states “beyond the barricades we long to see a Hong Kong free from tyranny and a puppet government” (The Economist).  The totalitarianism that the people of Hong Kong are experiencing violates many of their basic human rights, demonstrating further that tyranny is not what it once was. Many of the injustices that the people of Hong Kong are currently facing directly support that transition of the term tyranny that ensued in the midst of the development of Athens.  

It is clear that the current understanding of tyranny is different than the ancient understanding of tyranny.  Although tyranny has lost much of its historical context over time, the current use of the word is aligned with many so called modern tyrannical rulers.  The current use of “tyranny” is valid and contextualized, despite many historical discrepancies. 

—Xavier Evans

Word Count: 524 (Excluding quotations)

Spodek: Chapter 5: Dawn of the Empires, Pg. 141

“The Histories:” Herodotus on Athenian Tyrants 

https://www.economist.com/open-future/2019/08/31/we-long-to-see-a-hong-kong-free-from-tyranny

Orange Tyrant?

The Article I chose for this blog is about the words of a reporter named Carl Bernstein.  He was a reporter who helped uncover some of Nixon’s crimes during Watergate, and he decided to way in on the current situation in the Senate regarding the impeachment hearings.  Using some fiery language, he described the Republican held Senate as a “Cult of Trump” and said, “The Senate of the United States, through the Republican leadership and membership, has now joined hands with a tyrant.”  Rather radical language has been used to describe Trump since his election in 2016 from ‘literally hitler’ to ‘fascist scum’.  The democrats have also been promising impeachment since about the same time, geared on by their base, and this is what has come to fruition in the Congress.  Impeachment over alleged abuses of power in dealings with Ukraine has passed the House and now is being discussed on the floor of the Senate. If all charges are proven true, this would show Trump to be a corrupt, repugnant president.  The article continues by describing the slim chances of the Senate calling for witnesses and slams Republicans as co conspirators in the President’s crimes. It also describes how the Republicans that Democrats were hoping to get to vote for more witnesses are unlikely to reach across the aisle.  In as partisan a process as this impeachment has been, both sides are very unwilling to listen to each other.

However, the word tyrant in this case may be misplaced.  In modern vernacular tyrant has come to mean cruel and oppressive uses of government authority, usual to the general population. Trump’s actions in this case are not tyrannical.  His dealings with Ukraine are not actively oppressing the American people. Even taking this at the worst face, that it’s a scheme to better his reelection odds, this specific action would not be tyrannical.  That kind of corrupt act can support tyranny, but keeping oneself in office is not in and of itself tyranny. Policy aimed at the American people is what could be classified as tyranny. For example, Putin rigging elections in his favor would be considered corrupt, but when he silences dissidents, his actions are tyrannical.  Therefore, the action being talked about in the article is not tyrannical.

Now if we were to look at the ancient definition of tyranny, Trump in this case is still not a tyrant.  Being a tyrant requires one to interrupt a royal line. A ruling family, monarchs, has to be usurped to fit the classical definition of tyranny.  By the ancient definition, there can be both cruel and benevolent tyrants. Kind kings and kind tyrants were only separated by how they got power and by what justification they derived the right to rule.  For modern examples, one need look no further than Russia. When Lenin overthrew Tsar Nicholas II he became a classical tyrant. Another example is when William of Orange took the English throne during the Glorious Revolution.  He overthrew a monarchy, making him a classical tyrant. This kind of specific overthrow is impossible in a democratic republic, therefore no United States president will ever be a classical tyrant.  

Word Count- 504

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/cult-of-trump-carl-bernstein-trashes-senate-republicans-who-joined-hands-with-a-tyrant

Debt Reduction

Student debt has risen to 1.6 trillion dollars in the US. College graduates spend years, sometimes decades, repaying loans. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two leading democratic presidential candidates, have proposed two variations of a student debt forgiveness plan each promises to implement if elected. These plans are designed more to gain votes than to solve the systemic issue of the rising cost to attend college. I will outline each plan, relate them to Solon’s ancient plan of seisachtheia, and make my concluding arguments. 

Bernie Sanders’s plan is very simple. He would use a new tax on stock trades to cancel all 1.6 Trillion dollars of student debt. Elizabeth Warren’s plan includes graded support, with lower income individuals receiving more benefit. She would place a new tax of at least two cents on every dollar of a family’s net worth over 50 million dollars and three cents on every dollar above 1 billion dollars. 

Proponents of the student debt cancellation plan claim that doing so would decrease the racial wealth gap, increase GDP, and decrease unemployment. Some even say that the plan does not go far enough, with more attention needed to address living costs, make graduate education free, and ban private or for-profit colleges.

Shortly after 600 B.C.E, Solon was elected chief magistrate in Athens and made it his main priority to free the peasants, or hektēmoroi, from the debt that made them practically slaves. He followed through with his plan, but the consequences of his actions were unintended and largely negative. (Plutarch Life of Solon) The newly freed peasants were forbidden to sell themselves in return for land or agricultural supplies, and they had no other method of securing loans. Two decades of anarchy and a revolution followed, until Peisistratus came to power and restored order in 561 BCE.

Solon’s seisachtheia, translated as “shaking-off the burdens,” was well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed. The current debt reduction plans are also fundamentally flawed. If the federal government bails out students from their loans, future students will feel entitled (and rightfully so) to have their debt erased by the government. Additionally, universities will feel no pressure to keep costs low if they know the government will step in to pay the costs. When the federal government can no longer pay the cost of another generation’s student debt, the problem will only be heightened. The solution to the rising cost of post-secondary education does not lie in a federal government bailout. A one-time cancellation of debt will do nothing more than absolve individuals of their personal responsibility, infuriate future generations, and introduce higher costs in higher education. 

John Brooks, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said “We have fairly robust and generous loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment programs.” (NPR) There are already systems in place that are designed specifically to benefit people in the type of predicament intended by the proposed debt cancellation plan. They work. However, they are not well understood by policymakers or borrowers. If students utilize more of the resources already available to them, they can find solutions to their problems. In the future, governments may have a role to play in reeling in the extreme increase in higher education costs in the United States over the past several decades. Education is essential for a democratic government to function properly, and it should be accessible to individuals regardless of their socio-economic background. 

Proposing to cancel all outstanding student debt sounds really good. However, it will not have the intended effect. It will likely have the opposite effect, one that is already seen in government contracts for construction and military equipment. Once the federal government steps in to write checks, firms have very little incentive to keep prices low. Young adults who stand to immediately benefit from their debts being cancelled have a very high incentive to vote for the candidates promising to do so. Young, educated Americans tend to vote democrat and a debt cancellation policy is a very effective way to pander to them.

— Jon Dollahite

Word Count: 666

Sources 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/land-reform/History-of-land-reform#ref320298

https://www.sofi.com/blog/sanders-vs-warren-student-loan-forgiveness-plans/

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/24/bernie-sanders-2020-student-loan-debt-forgiveness-plan-1296863

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/10/738506646/student-debt-forgiveness-sounds-good-what-might-happen-if-the-government-did-it

https://www.demos.org/research/less-debt-more-equity-lowering-student-debt-while-closing-black-white-wealth-gap

https://www.forbes.com/sites/wesleywhistle/2020/01/29/three-problems-with-bernie-sanderss-student-debt-cancellation/#2e0f3e903542

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