What’s Missing from the Student Loan Forgiveness Debate? — The Dark History

A right-wing desire to cut state budgets and quell dissent eventually buried forty-three million Americans in debt

Mitchell Peterson


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The student debt forgiveness debate has reached a fever pitch. The Biden Administration rather unexpectedly announced last week that they’d be keeping with their campaign promise of helping out Americans struggling to repay their college loans. As with most things Democratic Party, more could be done, but it’s a broadly popular move that will help millions and millions of Americans.

The right is obviously screaming their objections while in the mainstream media mayhem ‘fairness’ is getting a lot of the focus. It’s an argument that is strangely missing from the national conversation on other key pieces of legislation.

The US can bail out banks while ten million Americans lose their homes, let CEOs of derelict mega-firms take tax-payer-funded golden parachutes despite losses, and PPP loans handed out during COVID can be forgiven with little argument over the ‘fairness’ of the policy.

But give real working Americans who struggle with insane debt burdens from higher education some relief? That requires the talking heads to passionately debate the ethical ramifications.

Any policy in the good ‘ole USA that directly helps people immediately triggers this response. It’s always the famous, ‘if we just help people, they’re going to expect their government to help them.’ What a horrific moral hazard.

An element that isn’t getting enough attention is the history of this debt. American universities didn’t always drown their graduates in high-interest mortgage-sized loans that would need to be repaid.

The US used to have a functioning system like Europe that was funded by states. What the hell happened? And why?

The Intercept had an important piece that should be required reading. There’s a reason the US education system moved towards a ‘bury them in debt’ model. And like the degradation of all things in my home country, the right-wing response to the 1960s played a major role.



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.