Increasingly the Left is portraying women as being oppressed unless the government pays for all sorts of things. It not only hobbles women, it insults them.
Stephen R. Jaffe is running for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in California’s 12th district. He’s a Democrat and civil rights attorney. Last week, he tweeted out:
You can't call yourself a feminist if you don't support tuition-free college for all.
— Stephen R. Jaffe (@Jaffe4Congress) June 30, 2017
Let’s repeat that: Student loans are a tax on women.
No, no they are not.
No loan is a tax on women. A loan is a voluntary contract entered into by two individuals – in this case the federal government and a student – by which the lender and the borrower come to an agreement on how funds will be distributed and paid back. Student loans are no more a tax on women than my mortgage is a “tax on women.”
Jaffe’s comments show the need for two major avenues of reform. The first: educational finance reform. If student loans are a “tax on women”, why is Jaffe lobbying for free tuition rather than, say, the ability of students to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy? While not an ideal situation, bankruptcy carries with it financial consequences for several years that puts some responsibility on the borrower instead of only the taxpayers stuck footing the bill.
It’s clear that the free flow of student loan money has led to an inflation in tuition rates and the cost of education. USAToday cited a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that showed a relationship between increased student loan availability and awarding and rising tuition costs. Such almost limitless funding allows students to go to college to study majors that do not provide a good return on investment. One of the best things that can be done to stem the flow of money, the astronomical rise in student loan debt (currently $1.29 trillion dollars and increasing $3,500 every second), and rising tuition costs would be to limit government financial aid to certain majors and fields of study. Want to be a nurse? An engineer? You will be granted student loans. Want a degree in womyn’s studies or social justice? You’re on your own. This will not only encourage students to make prudent decisions about going to college and selecting a major, but will force institutions of higher learning to rethink how they charge tuition and the programs they offer. Let them compete in a marketplace of ideas.
Like the housing bubble, the student loan bubble is set to burst. As more students take on debts for education they cannot repay after graduation, the rate of default will surely increase. It’s likely that the collapse of the student loan program will send shockwaves through the annals of higher education, and schools will be faced with making dramatic cuts to staff and courses they offer anyway. The wise move is to make these changes now, before they are painful, rather than after the worst happens.
The second is a reform in the way the Democrat party views women. Whether it’s the birth control we use, the tampons we buy, or the degree we pursue, Jaffe exemplifies the fact that a significant portion of the Democrat party views women as incapable of providing for and making decisions for ourselves, without the help of the government. We “need” government to pay for our contraception, we “need” government to mandate we get equal pay (even though the wage gap myth has been repeatedly, thoroughly debunked) and now we “need” government to save us from student loan debt…a choice many women freely make, even if many make it poorly.
AEI lists the highest paying college majors and breaks down both the average salary of post-graduation careers in the first five years as well as the percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders who are male. The top ten majors are computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, information technology, civil engineering, statistics, nursing, and management information systems. Of those ten majors – with five-year salaries ranging from $58,000 to $70,000 – nine have far more male than female Bachelor’s degree holders. Only nursing has a significant minority of male graduates at 15.6%. Conversely, of the ten lowest salaried professions on the list – communications, chemistry, music, education, anthropology, liberal arts, psychology, sociology, social work, and biology – only one field, chemistry, has mostly male Bachelor’s degree holders. The rest are either overwhelmingly female or close to a 50-50 split. The average salary of those professions ranges from $41,250 to $44,190 in the first five years.
For comparison, the average yearly cost for an in-state school is $24,610 for a public school and $49,320 for a private school, according to the College Board. For a four-year degree, one faces a student loan debt burden of at least $98,440.
Women are choosing professions that do not translate into lucrative careers, while taking on large burdens of student loan debt. At the same time, more women are pursuing degrees than men. Women often choose careers with more flexibility to allow them time at home and with their families, especially if they have children. This is what explains the supposed wage gap (something else the government must protect us from!) and why women choose degrees in those fields.
If women want the government to keep laws off their bodies, how does demanding the government pay for not only our bodies but our brains accomplish that? It’s an impossibility, and one that the left refuses to believe will play out in reality. But when government makes the payments, government ultimately gets to decide what you do. You are ceding massive amounts of liberty and freedom to a monolith that doesn’t see you as an individual, but a cog in a machine.
Jaffe’s comments are the soft sexism of low expectations. They paint women as helpless victims, forced into tremendous amounts of debt to prepare for low-paying jobs. And the only way to “save” these women is for the government to help them. If women cannot be expected to pay for their own birth control or education, what can we be expected to pay for? And how can women clamor for freedom when they allow themselves to be chained economically to the government?