[h/t Missouri Dems]
Rep. Todd Akin is in a primary race to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill for her Senate seat in Missouri. Akin is also a hardcore Americans For Prosperity corporate candidate and all-around not-nice guy. But even for a not-nice corporate guy, this comment of his at a recent debate was so deeply out of touch with reality that it deserves some attention, even from the President.
Here's what he said:
America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in. So first, to answer your question precisely, what the Democrats get rid of the private student loans and take it all over by the government was wrong, it was a lousy bill, and that’s why I voted no. The government needs to get its nose out of the education business.
Please take note of the following facts which Akin doesn't care about but which the rest of us should:
- Education is not a business. It's how civilized countries invest in remaining civilized. I repeat: Education is NOT now, nor should it ever be, a business.
- Federally guaranteed student loans were the brainchild of the Republican God of Economics, Milton Friedman. Friedman argued that there was too much risk to private lenders, therefore:
But whatever the reason, there is clearly here an imperfection of the market that has led to underinvestment in human capital and that justifies government intervention on grounds both of "natural monopoly," insofar as the obstacle to the development of such investment has been administrative costs, and of improving the operation of the market, insofar as it has been simply market frictions and rigidities.
A governmental body could offer to finance or help finance the training of any individual who could meet minimum quality standards by making available not more than a limited sum per year for not more than a specified number of years, provided it was spent on securing training at a recognized institution. The individual would agree in return to pay to the government in each future year x per cent of his earnings in excess of y dollars for each $1,000 that he gets in this way.
Clearly Akin has only paid lip service to the Great God of Privatization Economics, Friedman instead of actually bothering to see what he said about student loans. It was Friedman's idea that found its way into law and birthed federally guaranteed student loans.
The risk on those loans hasn't changed since Friedman's time. On the contrary, it's higher today than it was then because of the tight job market.
- Public education is a core value in this country and has been since the days of the Founding Fathers. In 1785, John Adams wrote: "The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves."
John Adams' words in 1786 seem appropriate to hand back to Akin as proof positive that his highly-esteemed word "liberty" rests on the shoulders of a strong public education system which is not a business, but a societal obligation to preserve liberty:
It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them. You say it is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still say, let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long as we can. A better system of education for the common people might preserve them long from such artificial inequalities as are prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions of right and wrong, virtue and vice.
In a day and age where it takes an outrageous statement to garner attention, politicians seem to be making them on a near-hourly basis. But this one by Akin is a ridiculously narrow and dangerously absurd one, and for that reason alone, he should be ridiculed out of his Congressional seat and his primary bid derailed as soon as possible. You can do it, Missouri.
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