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Mad as hell

By William A. Brenner
June 19, 2013

I am mad as hell for the graduates of 2013. I live in the country, the rural area of New York and I have attended several graduation parties: parties for smart, ambitious, multi-talented, cultured and outstanding athletic students—all with high averages.

Most all of them and their fellow graduates are planning to attend local State University of New York (SUNY) colleges, or second-rate colleges below their intellectual abilities. I think their high SAT scores, dreams and challenges indicate they should be given the opportunity for greater educational challenges. (This is not to criticize SUNY schools.)

Why? Because their ordinary middle class hard-working family can’t afford the money to pay today’s increased tuition. (This includes families with misfortunes.) Also, because it is downright stupid and crazy to take out a student loan or a family bank loan or mortgage which they can never, if ever, pay back.

The attitude, and common-sense philosophy of middle- and lower-class families is, “Let’s go to a cheaper, local school for two years, and then we’ll see what happens.” At least our graduate won’t be burdened with a $40,000 debt without a prospective good job, a big outstanding loan, lousy credit, inability to financially get married, have children, obtain a mortgage to buy a home, and have a lien against their income tax refunds.

Would it be better to join the army for an education and risk getting killed?

This is not what I and my parents got sick worrying about years ago when I graduated high school, college and professional graduate school.

What are those high-falutin’ commencement speakers talking to the graduates about? “Don’t get discouraged—get up and fight.”

Why are we spending billions of dollars on foreign wars, military products, foreign aid to win friends and influence, and for utter political bull?

As every foreigner knew who immigrated or escaped to America in the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s and 1940s (most of whom couldn’t speak much English), our only chance, wealth and future legacy was our newborn children’s education and opportunity.

I am mad as hell for my grandchildren and the graduates of 2013. They, and the educational core of New York and others, need help and assistance now.

One solution would be to either forgive outstanding student loans, or have the government assume student related loans, or, at least, cut them some slack.

[William A. Brenner is a graduate of Tri-Valley Central School, class of ‘58; St. Lawrence University, class of ‘62; New York University School of Law, class of ‘65.]