Sunday, August 20, 2017

Student Loans and the Dependent Mentality

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 21:18
This news item was posted in Education category.
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By the Rev. Dr. Joe Renfro

The dependent mentality in America, it can be argued, can be a form of slavery.  It is created by the mental attitude that the government owes college students financial support for their post-secondary education. However, it carries on as these former students then find themselves to be in the bondage of debt to Uncle Sam in order to pay back the financial assistance they have accumulated. It is a form of slavery!

Speaking of slavery, the Quran allows Muslims to take slaves as “booty”, or “’reward” for wars of aggression against any and all non-Muslims. This has led to an enormous number of so called “Holy Wars” called “Jihad”. There is absolutely nothing “holy” about these wars, which are primarily very unholy.  There is nothing “holy” here.  It is the call to plunder, slaughter, rape, subjugate, and rob other human beings of their wealth and produce.  The Islamic holy book allows the taking of slaves as “booty”, or “reward” for wars of aggression against any and all non-Muslims. “Islam” by definition means “surrender and submission”, as Islamic thinking is completely authoritarian, and all this well into a society where the dependent mentality is dominant!  Big brother is not only watching out for you, but he is watching you.

While much has been written concerning the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, surprisingly little attention has been given to the Islamic slave trade across the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.  While the European involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Americas lasted for just over three centuries as the slave traders bought slaves over in Africa to bring them to the Americas, Arab involvement in the slave trade has lasted fourteen centuries, and in some parts of the Muslim world it is still continuing to this day, although the liberal media in America tends to disregard this! It is a sad picture.  Most all the blacks I know rejoice that their ancestors were brought to America, and that they are free today and in much better situations by far than in most in Islamic Africa today!

The message of the Bible does have forgiveness of debts at times, but it also stresses our obligations to avoid debts.  However, the repayment of debts is an obligation, as Ecclesiastes 5:5 directs that is “Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”   Proverbs 22:7 speaks to this that debt enslaves the debtor, as it says: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Failure to repay is considered stealing. Psalm 37: 21 says that “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives.”  There is call to teach children financial responsibility, and I Timothy 5:8 supports this as says: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” These Scriptures call for frugality and responsibility!

By following the directives of Scripture established by our Judeo-Christian foundation and heritage we should see that our nation can come back from our dire situation. Repentance can be national. But to do this Washington must lay aside the greed, envy, corruption, sloth, and lawlessness that is now so much part of it.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 it says: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  So much of our national focus has been to instigate programs and policies that have negated work for large segments of our society.  In America, we need to see our people become productive people as we once were, and not to be pawns dependent on the giving hand of Uncle Sam, a hand that gives by going deeper going in debt himself.

In an article by Julian Berman in Market Watch, January 30, 2016, entitled “Watch student-loan debt grow $2,726 every second”, it is brought out that the outstanding balance of the nation’s student loans is growing by an estimated $2,726.27 every second according to the clock developed for MarketWatch by StartClass, an education data site. Berman also mentions how that “ Skyrocketing college costs, cuts to public funding for higher education, stagnant incomes and the growth in the college-going population are largely to blame for the uptick in outstanding student loans over the past decade. Now, about 40 million Americans are carrying some student loans and about seventy perent of the students graduate college with debt while only thirty-seven percent of borrowers are actually paying down this debt.”  This is a sad picture!

Some ideas about resolving about this problem of student debt have been given by people such as Ben Miller and CJ Libasi from the progressive, Center of American Progress, December 19, 2016.  They note we can see that: “Hundreds of thousands of Americans default on their student loans every year. Many of them never made it to graduation; others found that their degree did not offer a ticket to a decent job. No matter the reason, they face grave consequences. Their debt ends up with a collection agency, which may charge fees as high as 25 percent of the loan balance. Their wages could be garnished; their tax refunds seized. Older borrowers may even lose a portion of their Social Security check.”  It is a sad picture, but one of the solutions made by this liberal think tank is to make the colleges and universities pay part of the unpaid student loans, which become a nightmare of red tape, like most liberal policies.

Another solution other progressives propose is now in congress.  Congressman John K. Delaney, the Democratic Sr. Whip in the House of Representatives, has filled a bill, H.R. 449 that would make student loans dischargeable under bankruptcy. Under current law, student loan debt is treated differently than other forms of debt and cannot be discharged under bankruptcy laws. But with Delaney’s bill students can declare bankruptcy and owe nothing on their loans. To many people this is an emancipation proclamation, freeing the students for the obligations they committed themselves to when they got the loans, and to others it looks like they are reneging on the money they rightly owe.

It can well be argued that our society has created a form of slavery through student loans, however, and developed what can be psychologically classified as a form of mental dependence on the government to not only provide free money under the cloak of student loans, but to forgive it when not paid.  It has been observed that: “Bankruptcy is like the ultimate get out of jail free card. You just get to wipe the slate clean, and even though your credit score and ability to borrow might suffer, you are free from all your previous obligations…If this bill passes Congress, however, hundreds of billions of currently delinquent student loans, potentially as much as $1.4 trillion worth of student loan debt will be extinguished”  (Op. Cit. Allen.) It relieves the ones who got the loans and adds greater burdens to the tax payers!

Many psychological researchers assert that an authoritarian or overprotective parenting style can lead to the development of dependent personality traits in people who are susceptible to the disorder. Couldn’t this mental dependency be what is happening today in America, as Uncle Sam gives those loans freely, and then forgives them, when they aren’t paid or when it charges colleges whenever former students don’t pay.  How gracious Uncle Sam be!  How much more should we not be willing to be follow his dictates, whatever he wishes? Yes, here is the dependent mentality in the process of developing through student loans!

Justin O. Smith in an article from the American Thinker, May 17, 2017 declares that: “Americans have become a wilting, withering mass of weak, needy crybabies who have departed far and away from the strength of back, intellect, and character of America’s Founders, who created a system that none other has ever equaled.  Rather than follow along the path that made America a strong, economically thriving and prosperous nation, many Americans, especially Millennials, pursue petty and paltry pleasures, as would a sloth and a glutton, and claim their slightest whim to be a right… Americans hear a clamor from their progressive countrymen of all rank and file, for wants and desires to be provided through government funds, the taxpayers’ dollars.  Now, not only do many across the nation demand health care as a right, but they also demand a $15-per-hour minimum wage and free university educations.”

Smith also brings out that: “In a study published by the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield detail in the ranks of America’s contemporary poor that eighty percent have air-conditioning, fifty percent own a personal computer and can access the internet, and two thirds have cable TV.  A household receiving $50,000 in welfare benefits is still considered poor if its pre-welfare income falls below the poverty line, even though its members are living, in many respects, better than the middle class of 1964.”  Smith then further mentions that according to Rector and Sheffield, our government has spent 22 trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars fighting poverty since the 1964 introduction of President Johnson’s Great Society.

There is the Parable of the Talents, which we can read about in Matthew 25:14-30, and it is one of the Lord Jesus’ most significant parables regarding work.  It is set in the context of investments. A rich man delegates the management of his wealth to his servants, much as investors in today’s markets do. They were indebted to him. He gave five talents (a large unit of money) to the first servant, two talents to the second, and one talent to the third. Two of the servants earned 100 percent returns by trading with the funds, but the third servant hid the money in the ground and earned nothing. The rich man returned, and he rewarded the two who made money, but severely punishes the servant who did nothing.

The parable’s meaning goes far beyond financial investments, however. God has given each person a wide variety of gifts, and he expects us to employ those gifts in his service. It is not acceptable merely to put those gifts on a closet shelf and ignore them. Like the three servants, we do not have gifts of the same degree. The return God expects of us is commensurate with the gifts we have been given.  If someone gets a student loan it does not have to be seen as a weight about one’s neck, but it can be an asset to move ahead.  It does not have to make an individual a slave to get it paid back, however as it can be a motivation to move ahead and to achieve, because it is a gift that God has provided it even through Uncle Sam.

Talent, the particular talent invested in this parable is money, on the order of a million U.S. dollars in today’s world. In modern English, this fact is obscured as the word talent has come to refer mainly to skills or abilities. But here the talent concerns money. It depicts investing, not hoarding, as a godly thing to do. In the end, the master praises the two trustworthy servants with the words, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave” (Matthew 25:23). In these words, we see that the master cares about the results (“well done”), the methods (“good”), and the motivation (“trustworthy”).

Sometimes people can speak of growth, productivity, and return on investment as if they were unholy to God. But paying your indebtedness is a holy act! “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”  The Bible well says to “Owe no man anything, except to love one another.”   Part of paying back what we borrow is one aspect of love, and in this respect love to our country. Pay back what you borrow, if you can.

Yes, the dependent mentality often does not want to repay the money they borrow.  In America, it can be argued that this student debt can be a form of slavery, even seen from one prospective as way to make people more dependent on the national government. But that is not necessarily the case, for actually,   education should be seen is much more than just preparing for a job.  It should cultivate the development of responsibility and growth in knowledge.  There needs to be some type of adjustment in this student loan crisis, but it should not be one that ignores responsibility and sensitivity to God’s word.

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