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For President, Mitt Romney

Today, America’s college students are left to wonder whether they will be able to find a job once they graduate, but also whether they will be the first generation of Americans to inherit a weaker nation than the one their parents did. Their concerns are far from unfounded, as the unemployment rate for those under 25 has climbed to 16.4 percent, and employment for young adults is at its lowest level since record keeping began in 1948. Furthermore, over 50 percent of college graduates under 25 find themselves out of work. Even with a generation of young people more educated and talented than ever, our nation now finds itself in a state of malaise after four years of failed policies from President Barack Obama. We here at the Fordham Gazette feel that those elected to public office, regardless of their political party, are charged with the duty to leave America better than they found it. The president has failed to fulfill this obligation, particularly in regards to young people, and that is why we are unable in good conscience to endorse him for a second term as President of the United States.

Our nation can do far better than the state of malaise she currently finds herself in. We feel that Mitt Romney is uniquely qualified to lead America back into the state of prosperity that will ensure her best days are ahead of her, and not behind her. Romney has committed himself to championing the cause of small business, which employ the vast majority of Americans, and are the source of most jobs for young people coming out of colleges and universities. By reducing a corporate tax burden that is the highest in the developed world, Romney’s five point plan will help small businesses to allocate more funds towards hiring talented young people and expanding their businesses. In addition, Romney has also pledged to cap federal spending at twenty percent of the economy, which will lower the immoral debt burden currently being placed on young people. During the Obama administration, the average federal debt burden placed upon a Fordham University student has increased by $9,925 per year to a staggering $52,000 per person. By lowering the debt burden placed on our young people through cuts to wasteful government programs and championing the cause of small business and the private sector, Mitt Romney will once again make businesses excited about hiring young people again.

Most importantly, Mitt Romney has led a life that all Americans can celebrate and coalesce around, as his record includes bringing back the Salt Lake City Olympics back from failure into a sterling celebration that brought a healing nation together in the days after 9/11. He has donated tens of millions of dollars to his church, serving as a missionary and bishop to his church even in the midst of a busy business and home life. Most importantly, Romney has displayed a fervent passion in public service, giving up a blossoming private sector career that had the potential to make him into a billionaire to instead serve as CEO of the Salt Lake Olympics and then as Governor of Massachusetts. When you bring this passion together with his record of accomplishments in the public and private sector, Mitt Romney will once again make America into a shining city on a hill. America deserves better than failed economic policies and campaign rhetoric that labels America by their income bracket and aims to divide us into percents. Instead, she deserves leadership that will bring us together as one people, prospering in a revitalized economy where all who seek to work hard and further themselves can succeed. We know Mitt Romney will provide that leadership.

Joseph Campagna,
on behalf of the Fordham Gazette editorial staff

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October 19, 2012 · 5:33 pm

How Students Will Foot the Bill for Obama’s Mistakes

By Kevin Carney, FCRH ’15

As college students at Fordham, each and every one of us possesses a unique responsibility to be among the future leaders of our country. Through the various different careers we each pursue, the economy and our financial futures all depend on the decisions that we make now. As the federal deficit escalates to higher levels than it has ever reached, millions of people are left unemployed, while those with jobs must surrender their hard earned money to high taxes, hesitant to have any confidence in spending their money.

To understand why we are in this seemingly never-ending position, we must go to the root of the problem, which is big government. Big government accounts for the irresponsible spending of money that we don’t have. Almost half of every dollar that the American federal government spends is borrowed, burdening future taxpayers and wage-earners. If politicians don’t realize the grave mistakes they have made, it will be too late for us to turn the economy around.

Another problem with big government is what it does with all of this money it borrows and collects in tax. Government programs, such as Obamacare, will cost the American taxpayers billions and have no origin in what the Constitution allows the government to do. The founders created this country on the principle that the government works for us, not the other way around. They believed in their fellow man, knowing that hard work and a great degree of freedom are two important ingredients in the recipe to create a great nation.

As government programs and handouts expand and become more numerous, people have less incentive to work hard or prosper. While there are too many economic issues to address in which politicians differ, one thing has always been historically true: letting the marketplace react by itself and few government regulations strongly benefit the economy. Also, raising taxes is fundamentally un-American and is exactly what the fathers of this country fought a revolution over. Any economist knows that lowering taxes across all tax brackets will lead to more job creation. Think about it, the more money that is retained by business owners will be spent on expansion and economic growth instead of taxes. President Obama has led us down a path that is comprised of legislation and ideas contrary to all of the things I have mentioned. While he actively claims to have created over a million new jobs, the unemployment is still unacceptably high, and that doesn’t include the people that have given up looking for work. If you factor in those Americans, you are looking at a much higher percentage.

College graduates, which we will all soon become, have similar stark statistics. 25% cannot find a job, while another quarter are “underworking”, or not working up to their potential. Before you go into the voting booth this November, don’t ask your self the question “Who would it be cooler to vote for?”, ask yourself, “Who would it be smarter to vote for?”.

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Why I Support Mitt Romney

By Alex Kryvoruka, FCRH ‘16

America has undergone many economic and political downturns since Obama took office a short four years ago.  Under Obama, our economy is in one of the worst recessions since the great depression and the U.S. National Debt recently crossed the $16 trillion mark and there is no plan in sight to end this runaway spending.  As a college student, many of these economic issues influenced which box I checked when I mailed in my absentee ballot on Friday.

Thankfully, there is still time to fix the nation’s debt problem. As of now, our national debt comprises 103% of our nation’s tax base (our GDP/income).  This may sound outrageous, but compared to Japan, whose debt is at 219% of their tax base, it is not irreparable. But our current path towards even greater spending is not wise nor is increasing taxes sensible in depressed economic times.  But time is running out and, in the absence of leadership, there is no political will to halt our spending. We cannot, nor can President Obama expect that the Federal Reserve will continue to bail us out. Do Americans understand the importance of this issue to our nation’s future? Under Bush, the debt doubled to $10 Trillion and Obama has done nothing short of expediting the process by adding another $6 trillion chunk in only four years! Do Americans realize that we need some backbone in a President to lead positive, impactful fiscal changes? Will Obama change this irresponsibility in his next four years or do we start over with Romney?

I replied by checking the little box that said Mitt Romney.

Among the sea of worried college students, a lot of these important issues can hit us hard.  High unemployment, the cost of education rising, and the possibility of loans getting harder and more expensive to acquire makes me queasy.  The possibility of not getting a job and facing larger loan payments is something a college student could encounter. These are some of the reasons why I voted for change.

The main issue is that Obama doesn’t know how to lead Congress. He had four years to reach a compromise on the deficit and taxes but he had resolved nothing. America needs a strong leader more than ever; and at this point, I think a businessman will do the trick. Romney has a great track record for turning businesses around and achieving results. He supports the role of small businesses, favors large tax cuts, promotes unrestricted business activity, and low interest rates. With the current House membership likely to remain Republican, give Romney a chance to reach a negotiated compromise with the House and the Senate to begin to solve our fiscal woes. Four more years of a stagnate economy and an increasing debt is not the remedy for an economy continuing to tread water. His successful career as a businessman also parallels his success as a governor.  The risk, though, is whether or not he can lead our country out of its current position.

We should take the chance. Like all fields of business and politics, when selecting a new leader you always risk the chance of selecting someone who isn’t fit for the job. However, we should give Romney the chance. Obama has failed countless times as a leader in resuscitating our economy and solving our debt crisis. He promised to address these two problems when he arrived in office and has failed to address either.  Though he has finally stopped blaming others for our sputtering economy, is there any realistic prospect that Obama will meet with any greater success in a second term? Give Romney a chance to break the legislative logjam and exercise the kind of economic leadership not seen since FDR. Sure, Romney will face obstacles, but we are allowed to replace failed leaders. We need to take the chance in order to get out of the large hole he created.

At the time Obama took office, he promised to enact a stimulus package to keep unemployment below 8%, yet unemployment has remained above 8% for nearly 45 months, or his entire first term.  At a press conference he replied when asked about his failed promise by joking, “shovel ready wasn’t as shovel ready as we had expected,” but the joke is on us. His job council hasn’t met in eight months while he’s played over a 100 rounds of golf. On a one-on-one exclusive on the Today Show, Obama stated, “If the economy isn’t turned around during my first term – I will be held accountable.” Well Mr. President, your time is up and you should be held to your word.

Obama’s record exemplifies failed leadership and broken promises and his campaign has been an attempt to escape that record.  In one of Romney’s speeches he stated, “Thomas Paine once stated lead, follow, or get out of the way. Well, Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it’s time for you to get out of the way.” Obama stated three years ago that if he didn’t turn the economy around and solve the deficit crisis, then he would be facing a one-term proposition. I think it’s time to collect now. Last week, I placed my faith in Mitt Romney, a man with a track record of leading successfully in the corporate and political arena.  Romney has proven himself to be a successful businessman and leader; and our country needs both. And in saying so I believe I am putting my faith someone who will truly turn things around. I think Romney will roll up his sleeves and become the leader we need during these times of economic and political stress.  Four more years of Obama will dig us even deeper into a disastrous financial hole.

Give Romney a chance – there’s no reason to anticipate that Obama will do any better come a second term. It’s not hard for Romney to do a better job in Washington.

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Giving the Soldiers “A Cup of Joe”

By Matt Calabrese,  GSB ‘15

I was eight years old when Al-Qaeda attacked our country.  At the time, I never really grasped what the consequences of these actions really meant.  In the blink of an eye, we lost over 3000 Americans as a result of the deadliest terrorist attack this country has ever seen.  We were at war.   However, we did what Americans do best: we got back up and showed our enemy that we could never be beat.  As we began to recover from this premeditated attack, America’s bravest were getting ready to ship overseas and protect our freedom.

Growing up on Long Island, I remember everyone tying yellow ribbons around their trees and cars to signify that they support our troops.  I also remember every news station showing images of families across the country saying good bye to their loved ones as they boarded planes headed to Afghanistan and Iraq.  It was amazing to see the amount of pride in one’s country being shared by every American.

However, after 11 years of war, this patriotism and support has seemed to fade away.  Today, yellow ribbons are a rarity, and the top news story is about football referees messing up a major call.  It’s obvious that this war is no longer a major focus of the American people, and this is upsetting. Americans continue to enlist to support this cause, while others return for multiple tours.  As I have grown older, I have developed a tremendous respect for our men and women in uniform.  Our military is made up entirely of volunteers willing to sacrifice their lives in order to support a cause that is bigger than them.  Anyone who is willing to put a uniform on and sacrifice their life for this country is an amazing individual.  Because of this, I find it extremely important to keep supporting our troops to show that we still do recognize their efforts.  As civilians, we can show support in many ways.  We can display an American Flag or a yellow ribbon, but we can also donate to the various charities that support deployed troops and troops that have returned to civilian life.

Recently, I have found an amazing charity called “Cup of Joe for a Joe” by Green Beans Coffee.  Through this charity, Americans can simply donate cups of coffee to our soldiers overseas.  With every cup you donate, you get to send a small note to each soldier that receives your coffee.

Picture this:  a soldier returns back to base after a full day of operations and he/she is greeted with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a caring note to them.  However, the cool part is that the soldiers can respond to you!  You know when someone does something nice for you and you can’t help but smile and be thankful?  This charity is exactly that for soldiers.  Unlike most charities where you donate money and you never know exactly how it’s being used, this charity is simpler.  You buy an inexpensive cup of coffee that gets delivered directly to a soldier.  This simple charity is amazing and it’s a great way to show our soldiers that we are thinking about them.

If you are interested in donating you can visit the Green Beans Coffee site.  One cup of coffee can make any soldier’s day.

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Fordham Republicans vs. Democrats: First Debate of the Year!!!

The leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and the sweater vests are coming out. Yep, its fall, and for Fordham’s politically inclined, its two months away from election season. While the two presidential candidates have to wait one more week to debate each other, the Fordham College Republicans and College Democrats went at it on September 26th in front of a standing-room-only Flom Auditorium. The topics for this kickoff debate included the Middle East, a hypothetical Republican presidency, taxes and the budget, and immigration. In case you weren’t there, here is the full debate:

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First in All the Wrong Things

By John McKenna, FCRH ’14

The news that Fordham was #1 in a Princeton Review survey for worst food in the country was not a shock to the many people that have to eat at the marketplace every single day. Now though, we have another thing we’re #1 in: most expensive room and board in the country.

A recent US News & World Report listed Fordham as having the most expensive housing for any school in America, hitting nearly $15,000 per year, well above the $9,000 average for other schools. It might not be so bad if we had great living accommodations to match, but unfortunately that is not the case. Walsh Hall, an apartment-style dorm for upperclassmen, doesn’t even have air conditioning in all the rooms, and it is home to elevators famous for breaking down with students inside them, as happened last year. Surely, if students are forking over nearly $1,500 per month (assuming a student spends 10 months on campus) to live in these buildings, the least Fordham could do is give all students air-conditioning and reliable elevators.

On top of that, you also have one of the strictest guest pass policies a college can have, where fines can pile up even if your guest is one-minute late on the sign-out sheet, as well the hoops one has to jump through if a friend or relative wants to stay over (this was highlighted in a February blog-post). It is much easier to have guests over at other schools, and definitely easier to bring people over from the other dorm rooms, so why does Fordham make it so difficult? Are they worried that we can’t handle ourselves without a rigorous sign-in mechanism, and anarchy would rule? I doubt it.

The rankings for food and housing don’t come as a surprise to many students who eat on Arthur Ave or Fordham Road, or who go to parties and visit friends living on the nearby streets like Hoffman or Crotona. Houses and apartments off campus are significantly better furnished, and come with basic amenities like air conditioning, decent kitchens, and you don’t need to go through the numerous hoops and hurdles just to have people over. And its nearly $500 cheaper per month for that privilege!

As for the food concerns, I was stunned by one issue of The Ram where the Student Culinary Council blamed the students for the bad review. In it, Sama Habib, president of the SCC, attributes the ranking to “a simple bullying situation where the people who do have a problem with [the food on campus] just roar louder than the people who don’t.”  Listen, we pay nearly $2,000 per semester for meal plans that half the students are forced to buy, and we are getting served food that not only makes some of us feel not-so-good after eating, it received poor health marks two years ago for cleanliness. Fordham and Sodexo both know that they are near the culinary hotbed of Arthur Ave, and there are two new delis on Fordham Road that are immensely popular with students and locals. It should be obvious that we are going to look at the food through the lens of its competition, but its Fordham’s job to justify the price of the meal plans by serving us food that we can at least be happy about eating. It isn’t like Fordham is strapped for cash or anything.

Fr. McShane always likes to tout his school’s academic tradition, and it is a very good one, as the banner hanging outside McGinley proves, but the reality is that these kinds of ratings hurt the university’s reputation with prospective students, and should be looked at with the same diligence and determination as finding the next great professor. Students go to colleges to better their lives, but where they will sleep and what they will eat are just as important. It’s time Fordham learns that and fixes it if we are to take our place next to NYU and Columbia as an elite school.

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America Needs Family Businesses

By Joseph Campagna GSB ’15

Countless numbers of Fordham University students have been afforded the opportunity to attend college thanks to the tireless work ethic of parents and grandparents who started their own businesses with the hope to provide their children with a more prosperous life than their own. Family owned and operated businesses have given millions of Americans, and their families, the chance to realize the American Dream and obtain financial freedom. They’ve also become an intricate part of who we are as a country.

While we vigorously debate the merits and truth of sweeping statements about our country, none of us can deny the sweeping truth that America is a nation of family businesses. Family businesses comprise 90% of American business enterprises, and employ 62% of American workers. More importantly, the family business has been a vehicle for Americans of all kinds to learn the values that make our nation great: creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and hard work. Even as a nation more culturally and polarized than ever before, there are still great facets of our society that bring us together. Family owned businesses are one of those facets.

That is why it was so disappointing to see President Barack Obama tell business owners “you didn’t build that.” Supporters of the president immediately dismissed his comments as a gaffe, but the president’s record tells a different story. During the president’s three years in office, he has signed into law health care legislation that will levy obscene taxes and penalties onto family owned businesses, in addition to advocating for increases in the estate and social security tax, both of which will drive family businesses into bankruptcy or sale. In addition to consistently implementing public policy that hurts family owned businesses, the president has also vilified many of their owners as “members of the one percent” who do not “pay their fair burden in taxes.”

President Obama could not be more wrong. America’s family owned businesses donate billions of dollars a year to local charities, sustain charitable organizations such as local Kiwanis and Rotary chapters that save countless lives, and provide second chance and new opportunity to those in our society struggling by offering them employment and a steady paycheck. Our family businesses are so much more than businesses, but instead instrumental parts of the communities they call him.

Ronald Reagan once said that “miracles are made” at America’s family owned businesses, and he could not be more correct. By attacking and vilifying free enterprise, President Obama fails to realize that he is attacking the very fabric of who we are. Our free enterprise system largely consists of family owned businesses, and it is these businesses that shape so many of us into who we are today. He is attacking the owner of your local pizzeria, your local supermarket, your local hardware store, your local beauty salon, and countless other family owned businesses that you frequent on a daily basis.

Whether your local family owned business employs ten people or ten thousand people, every single one of the owners of these businesses or their employees wakes up in the morning with the same goal for the day: to provide opportunities for their children better than the ones they were provided while also providing goods and services that make the lives of those in their communities easier.

That’s something worth celebrating, not demonizing.

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Meanwhile in Michigan

By John McKenna FCRH ’14

In the Midwest, there is a state, long dominated by Democrats and unions. This is a state that has seen public unions receive lavish benefits and pensions, while the state’s coffers have become barren. In 2010, a Republican governor and a new Republican legislature came in and promised to challenge Big Labor’s grip, and turn a multi-billion dollar deficit into a surplus, while helping cities regain control over their finances. This would include altering union contracts and demanding more input from public employees, which the unions despise, and naturally would revolt against.

Welcome to Michigan.

What’s that? You thought I was taking about Wisconsin? Well, Wisconsin has definitely been grabbing national headlines, but there is another battle in its neighbor to the east that could be just as nasty. Here in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder has taken a tough stance in his bid to erase his state’s $2 billion deficit, and Big Labor and their Democrat allies don’t like it. Like Governor Walker in Wisconsin, Snyder went right after the public labor unions who wrung Michigan dry over the past decade, while the state succumbed to record unemployment, corruption, and hopelessness. His big legislative achievement was Public Act 4, which enables him to appoint emergency financial managers to take over local budgets that are in crisis, and restore them to sound fiscal footing. Similar to Act 10 in Wisconsin, this would give more power to cities and towns, so budgets can be better managed, and labor contracts can be negotiated with the fiscal restraints in mind. So far, 45 emergency managers have been prepared, and are in cities like Flint, Pontiac, Ecorce, and Benton Harbor, as well as the Detroit Public School system, which are now on the mend thanks to these emergency managers. Many of these emergency managers are private businessmen, who have experience making tough, money-saving decisions.

However, this is Michigan, a state that has long been dominated by Big Labor, and Big Labor is not going to back down without a fight. Just like in Wisconsin, the reaction has been swift and brutal, with unions and Democrats pulling together a petition to terminate Act 4 by ballot, which got 203,000 signatures but was blocked due to a filing error, which will be challenged in court. If this makes the November ballot, Act 4 would be immediately suspended, similar to SB5 in Ohio, a collective bargaining bill that was defeated at the ballot box last November before it could be implemented. This would be seen as a victory for Big Labor if they can successfully get the bill on the ballot and have it tossed. This would be a hollow victory, though, considering how massive layoffs became the norm for Ohio’s public workers after the bill failed.

While unions try to claim that this is just another scheme by Republicans across the nation to destroy labor needlessly, civil rights “activists”, if you can call them that anymore, like Jesse Jackson, are even going so far as to say that Act 4 is racist, considering how many of the cities under emergency management are almost half-African American. One minister even went so far as to say Rick Snyder is trying to put blacks “back on the plantation”. It’s just another page in the long list of attacks and smears that some on the left use to denigrate conservative reformers looking out for the citizens of the nation, especially when it brings in a mythical race war where it isn’t even relevant.

While Act 4 is an extreme piece of legislation, and one that is politically gutsy, Michigan is an extreme case. Ever since the 1970’s, Michigan has been in slow decline, mostly due to the decline of the auto industry. When GM went belly-up in 2009, Michigan’s unemployment rate climbed to 14.2%, the highest in the country. Governor Snyder also inherited a $2 billion deficit from his predecessor, progressive darling Jennifer Granholm, and cities like Detroit losing population, business, and money. Detroit has not gone under emergency management, instead choosing a path of self-managed fiscal austerity overseen by Lansing, which in exchange gave Detroit a $137 million bailout to keep it from going bankrupt. This doesn’t help the fact that Detroit has the highest taxes in the state, and is hobbled by $12 billion in debts and unpaid for obligations, mostly to labor (that’s 33 times the net worth of the city’s assets). This is the scenario facing many Michigan cities who have given Lansing control of their funds, but Detroit’s decline from a vibrant city to a near ghost town is the starkest, and the clearest example of how corrupt governments and massive debt can bring a civilization to its knees.

Act 4 isn’t even that extreme of a bill. It is a stronger version of Act 72, which was passed by a Democratic governor in 1990, allowing for the emergency management system to be formed. So it makes it even stranger that Democrats would go after it with such vigor, when it was a Democrat idea to begin with. It’s actually a good piece of legislation because it empowers localities to manage their funds independent of state help in the future, and helps them with contract negotiations that they wouldn’t have the strength to fight, given the advantages Big Labor has in Michigan. It’s another example of Midwestern politicians realizing that the decades of labor power have resulted in deficits and hard times for the taxpayers, as well as more evidence of courageous Republican governors risking their political capital to try and save their beloved states, especially in the declining Midwest.

So let us hope, for the sake of Michigan, for the sake of Wisconsin, for the sake of America, that these governors win their battles against the bullying and intimidation of Big Labor. The fate of millions of Americans lies in their success.

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On the Protest Against John Brennan as the 2012 Commencement Speaker

The Fordham University College Republicans strongly support an intellectually rigorous, lively, and passionate debate among all members of the Fordham community on the intelligence gathering practices employed by the Bush administration in the post 9/11 era. With these methods now being brought to the forefront by those opposed to Fordham’s selection of John O. Brennan as its commencement speaker, we have found the ensuing discussion on their merits, or lack thereof, to be fruitful and thought-provoking.

That is why we are so disappointed and saddened by the direction that this discussion has taken. While we strongly encourage passionate debate on these practices, which include enhanced interrogation methods, we also feel compelled to question the indecent and hateful rhetoric that seeks to denigrate the United States and its citizens. We feel that the assertions being made by a number of those engaged in this debate, especially those seeking to justify the tragic September 11th attacks and the motives behind them, to have no place at an esteemed university such as Fordham. By simply visiting the “Action Against Brennan on Graduation,” one can find comments such as that 9/11 was “retaliation to a greater, initial wrong.” “rather it was an attempt to counter a greater injustice done by the folks over here at America,” “just because America was attacked on its own soil doesn’t make this event any more tragic than the 9/11s and atrocities that American and Israel commit against innocents,” as well as comments that seek to demagogue and vilify Fordham ROTC students.

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We feel sufficiently compelled by these comments to ask for Michael Pappas and Sogand Ahmadi Afkari, the administrators of the Facebook event for the protest against John O. Brennan at commencement, to come out and formally condemn the indecent and hateful rhetoric on their page.  Furthermore, we also feel compelled, as politically engaged voices on Fordham’s campus, that the dialogue on torture and water boarding be a respectful one that refrains from hateful and indecent rhetoric. Most importantly, though, we ask the protestors to not stomp on what the most important goal of Saturday’s commencement ceremonies are: to show our appreciation and thanks for the many accomplishments of the Class of 2012.

Regards,

Theodore Conrad- President

Emily Harman- Vice President

Joseph Campagna- Treasurer

John Mantia- Secretary

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Degrees of Debt

By John Mantia, GSB ’13

What am I paying for?

This is a question I ask myself constantly, be it at the gym, a concert, speech or restaurant. Lately, I find myself asking this question as I sit in classes at college. I recall my days in high school; tuition at St. Louis University High, a private, Jesuit, Catholic school in St. Louis was about $11,000, near the average for what public schools pay per student, and within the mid range for private schools in the Midwest. My school week consisted of over 30 hours of class with 5 or 6 different courses on topics ranging from Theology and Calculus to Mandarin Chinese.  Paired with this was 2 to 3 hours of homework a night. For well over 8 months out of the year, school, along with whatever extracurricular I had, filled my life. Yet somehow I still had time to be social and get decent grades.

At Fordham University, my current university, an average school week is 16 hours. Many times my peers have days off. Yet, even though we spend far less time in the classroom than in high school, the tuition here is well over $40,000 and approaching $50,000.  Here again, I have to ask what am I paying for?

Before we go any further, it’s worthwhile to analyze some of the costs of college. For a private college, the median annual tuition is roughly $40,000. If students on average take 16 credit hours of class per semester, that’s 32 credit hours per year, which comes out to a cost per credit hour of $1250. If the average course is 4 credits, then the cost per course is $5000. If, going further, the average course meets twice a week, and an average semester has about 17 weeks, that’s 34 class periods per semester per course. So $5000 over 34 sessions comes out to a cost per session of about $147. An average class lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes, so about $117 per hour spent in a class period.

The goal of any University is to educate students and prepare them for the “real world” by providing them the skills and tools to be effective workers and aware citizens. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, colleges must cultivate in their students the essential critical thinking tools, which solve problems, question the status quo, and move the world forward. But as I sat through my classes, particularly in freshmen and sophomore year, I found myself bored. The topics were often dull, and I found that I learned far more by watching videos on YouTube for free or reading a book than I did sitting in a class I paid $147 for. Why spend two years taking 4 language classes to fill a language requirement, spending over $20,000, when I could purchase Rosetta Stone, and learn nearly any language in 6 months for just $1,000?

The Internet has knocked down nearly all the barriers to higher learning that exist, and colleges have failed to realize that their business model is fundamentally changing.  Students are not buying the education, but rather the degree, the piece of paper that says they are certified in a certain field from a certain institution. But are these pieces of paper really worth upwards of $200,000? Especially for degrees in fields like social services or visual design, which, while important, seldom generate the incomes which make such a price worth the investment. A copy of Adobe Digital Editor and a well structured online tutorial would be far more valuable to a design student than a year spent going over basic computer functionality.  The Internet and computers has blown the lid off many traditional methods of education, yet the universities and employers still use the degree system to sort the best job candidates.

The worrying part about these costs is how rapidly they have and are getting worse.

The cost of college has gone up faster than nearly anything in the economy, more than food prices, energy, technology and even healthcare. Since 1982, tuition has increased roughly 9% per year.  There are few investments in the world with that kind of long-term high rate of return. Yet is the quality of a college education improving at the same 9% a year? Has a basic calculus course really changed that much in 30 years?

The key driver, more so than demand, comes from the relationship that higher education institutions and lobbyists have with the government. Year after year, Congress, the President, and university administrators, claim to have our best interests in mind as they lobby and pass legislation for more grants, guaranteed subsidized loans, and student aid programs. Yet the same universities, which lobby the government to intervene and “help students” by making more money available, simultaneously raise tuition, negating the effect any increases in grants or aid would have. However, while zeroing out the effects of the programs, the absolute effect on the cost of education is punishing. As colleges raise their tuition further and further, students must take on more and more debt. As students decry the cost of college, their administrators claim to help them, by sending throngs to lobby Washington D.C to finance more programs. Congress bows to the political pressure, increases the grants, and the same administrators at colleges who were suppose sympathetic to the plight of students then raise tuition. Students then have to take on more debt, and the process repeats. The fact that the government guarantees students loans and continually raises their grant allocations provides an irresistible incentive to colleges to raise their prices.

It has even gotten to the point where student loan debt is outpacing credit card debt.

The average student at a private college graduates with over $18,000 in debt, many with levels much higher.

Student loans also have a unique feature of non-severability. This is the key reason why the student loan bubble is different than the housing or tech bubbles of the past. With most other kinds of debt, if the debtor declares bankruptcy, the creditor loses out on a good chunk of their investment. The debtor pays back a fraction of the debt previously owed, and has their credit score severely impacted for a certain length of time. Bankruptcy is an important part of how the American economy works and allows people to recover from mistakes. However, student loan debt is different. Even if the student declares bankruptcy, the debt still follows them, regardless of how miserable their income level may be.

But what is to be done? The president has called for extending the low rates of interest for student loans, which will compel more students to go to college and only prolong the problem. The political problem on this issue is immense, for what politician could be against “helping students”? Few things go up forever, and programs on unsustainable paths either are reformed externally, internally or collapse all together. The student loan bubble is on that unsustainable path. The likely outcome will be the emergence of online schools/curriculum focused on specific tasks. Peter Thiel the founder of PayPal, offers entrepreneurial students $100,000 to not go to college and pursue business paths. Large corporations like GE, Exxon or Bank Of America, seeing the opportunity to influence young minds, might open up training programs and schools of their own. 1 or 2 year intensive programs on specific areas of study to prepare students for the real world issues and problem they will face while giving them valuable hands on experience. As these new forms of competition emerge, the top heavy, bureaucratic universities will become flatter organizations. With this will come the elimination of waste and superfluous departments, returning the focus to the student-professor centric relationship which is the essential instrument of higher learning.

The present generation will be a generation defined by debt. Debt from student loans, of course, but also the growing entitlement costs of our federal state and local governments. Rather than create a culture of dependency, I think this will create a culture of strong independence and dedication to fiscal responsibility. The vast, technological knowledge and intuitiveness which our generation possesses will allow us to use the tools we have now in ways as yet unimagined.

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