Home > Economy, Education, Government > Occupy Wall Street Focusing on the Wrong Target

Occupy Wall Street Focusing on the Wrong Target

For the majority of Americans, the key to lasting success is education.  Higher education is the springboard to professional life in a competitive field, and the rewards of higher education are well documented.  College graduates earn approximately $27,000 more in starting salaries than High School graduates, who earn only $26,000 on average.  By comparison, High School drop outs earn on average only $17,000.  The path to success does not come cheaply however.  The average annual cost of education in a public University or College is $21,447, a 5.4% increase from 2010 to 2011.  Annual cost in a private college is nearly double — a whopping $42,224.

The cost of tuition and fees has outstripped inflation, which in 2011 was 3%, and makes no appearance of abating anytime soon.  College graduates enter the work force with massive debt levels, that can take upwards of 20 years or more to re-pay.  A friend graduated from Pharmacy school a decade ago with $117,000 in college debt and won’t complete paying off her debt until 2016.  On top of a mortgage, car payments, and a budding family, the debt has caused considerable impact to her family.  I worked with her husband for a number of years and he shared with me numerous times the monthly struggles they went through to stay current, despite the fact he also earned the average salary in his field himself.  They basically had two mortgage payments to make monthly, two car payments, and until two years ago, only one child.  And their story is the story of millions of families across the country, where families struggle through the formative years of younger age and don’t begin to reach economic freedom until their 40’s.  If even then.

Recent years have been more difficult for those families, as economic setbacks have impacted virtually everyone.  Hard choices have had to be made by all, whether by choice or whether that choice was made for them.  Businesses have likewise had to tighten their belts as any great economic impact to the American people necessarily effects business as well.  But not so Academia.  At a time when there has been massive economic impact to families and business, academia continued to let out the belt as its done for years.  America’s Universities and Colleges continued to act independent of market forces, which is the clearest sign that something is broken and needs to be looked at more closely.

And this is where I blame Occupy Wall Street, who collectively self profess to be the country’s not so silent majority.  To be certain, Occupy Wall Street has beat the drum of affordable education, but in true socialist fashion called upon government to fully subsidize higher education rather than to ask government to better regulate it.  When it is precisely the amount of education aid that is flowing into Academia that is propelling the ever increasing rate of tuition and fees.  There’s been no downward economic force to control the cost of tuition and fees, and asking the government to wholly subsidize the cost of higher education for all American’s would only worsen the situation.  Throwing more money at Academia would do nothing but increase the rate of tuition gain year over year.

Occupy Wall Street, true to form, collectively has been focusing on the wrong target in their attempt to “re-right” our capitalist system.  A capitalist system, I might add, that propelled this country into the greatest economic force this world has ever seen.  When the key to success is Higher Education, Occupy Wall Street should instead focus their energies on Academia.  Perhaps then they would actually be an engine for good, instead of an example of how we perhaps coddle our children too much.

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