In 2016 Donald Trump Had Some Interesting Ideas of His Own About the Student Debt Crisis

(Leisa Thompson/The Ann Arbor News via AP, File)

Well, the Democrats are once again pandering to that mass of angry young Americans who—though perfectly capable of signing a student loan application—sadly lacked the wherewithal to acquire any skills commanding a large enough salary to comfortably pay off the inexorable debt.


Gaslighting America into thinking Joe Biden is president-elect does, after all, mean generating a fair amount of enthusiasm for the corrupt old bully.

And since the young and hip aren’t known for flocking to doddering old men in the final stages of senile dementia, it appears the plan is to buy them off with the prospect of some student debt forgiveness in return for going along with the risible fantasy that multinational media corporations rather than the electoral college get to decide November’s election.

The voice of enraged conservative opinion, of course, bristles in response:

Damn entitled kids! They take out loans to waste time studying art history or feminism or some other useless subject. But, when it’s time to pay up, they want somebody else to foot the bill! Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your own decisions and keeping your commitments! Why on earth should my tax dollars be used to bail out irresponsible young adults who make decisions any sane person could have told them were nuts?

As is usually the case, the voice of enraged conservative opinion has a point.

But, as is less often true, it doesn’t quite encompass the whole story.

For 13 years, I was a professor in one of those useless disciplines. And, while I don’t really believe that the classic texts in philosophy are at all useless, the so-called “education” our undergraduates receive in them almost always certainly is.

Nowadays, if you’re a professor at an even half-way prestigious place, you ‘re unlikely to average more than ten hours a week in front of a classroom. You don’t regard teaching as your real job — you do way too little of it for that to even be possible! Teaching, on the contrary, is an unpleasant necessity that gets in the way of what you regard as your real life’s work: “research.”

For a lot of people, the phrase “academic research” probably calls to mind beneficent technological advancements like microwave ovens and computers. But, even the vast majority of scientific research has no practical value. It’s mostly, at best, the accumulation of tiny facts that will never affect anyone outside a handful of aficionados.


Even in the sciences, academic research is mostly academic.

We’ve known for a while now that its also mostly worthless garbage.

Way back in 2005, a Stanford prof named John Ioannidis decided to look at how reliable the research coming out of our university science departments really is. Given the tens of billions of dollars that gets poured in annually and the lack of any corresponding authority looking out for waste and fraud to see that it’s punished, it should surprise no one that Ioannidis’ landmark paper on the subject wound up with the title:

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

Since then, Ioannidis’s findings have been repeatedly verified.

And we’re not just talking recherché stuff that doesn’t matter here.

In 2012, a researcher in the Hematology and Oncology department of the biotech firm Amgen reported that his team had tried to confirm 53 “landmark” papers pointing to potential new treatments.

Only six held up to scrutiny.

That means almost 90% of the drugs being touted didn’t really work.

The previous year researchers at Bayer HealthCare in Germany “collected data from 67 projects, most of them (47) from the field of oncology” and found that only 20 to 25 percent could be validated.

The shockingly sad state of academic research is probably why literally no one has any interest in at least 99 percent of it apart from the authors.

So, without students to force to read their work, the evident pointlessness of academic research might become evidently pointed even to the researchers themselves.

But though the students do play a crucial role in the higher education scam, educating them most certainly does not.


Indeed, any attempt to do so will earn you undying hostility from most humanities majors, causing decreased enrollments, which might ultimately result in you and your colleagues having to get real jobs, pay for your own computers and vacations, and, heaven forbid, do some work during the summer months and December.

And, since academics are typically born not out of any love for their discipline but, rather, out of hatred of real work, universities no longer educate students, they appease them.

Unlike my colleagues, however, I just couldn’t get comfortable running into our alumni working the checkout scanner at the local Whole Foods or Starbucks. It’s not that I disdain working people. Far from it; my father spent almost his entire working life slicing lunch meet behind the counter at a supermarket deli.

But knowing that my students were going into massive debt while getting neither an education nor any chance at a job that would allow them to comfortably pay it off was a little tough to bear.

So, absolutely alone among my colleagues, I tried to convince students who weren’t learning anything except poor work habits and bad hygiene —that is to say, the vast majority of humanities majors—to take some time off. And, though I didn’t scare them by adopting the voice of enraged conservative opinion, I did give them its reasonable take on the error of their ways.

The responses I typically got, however, made me question whether these kids really are entirely to blame for the debt they’re drowning in.

For what the voice of enraged conservative opinion may not realize is that many of them didn’t have any particularly strong desire to be in college. The majority were enrolled only because every single person in their lives had insisted the alternative was unthinkable.

For as long as most could remember, he or she had been consistently and adamantly told that any 18-year-old who works for a living instead of continuing in school is a low-class loser… an object of alternating pity and scorn.


Sadly, the worst offenders were usually the parents, more concerned with what the neighbors will think than the deleterious effect crippling debt and four years doing lackluster work in a useless major was bound to have on their kids.

I once earned the undying enmity of a business acquaintance by trying to convince his son he was better off waiting tables for a few years and starting college later with some clear goal in mind than majoring in theater at some third-rate institution that had cribbed its admission criteria from the base of the statue of liberty. His father, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less if the kid wasted time and got into debt.

The important thing was to not have to live with the embarrassment of the neighbors knowing he had a 20-year-old son who was gainfully employed.

There’d be zero chance of any bank lending an 18-year-old kid money to pursue a degree in theater or philosophy if the government didn’t use its monopoly on force to guarantee repayment. If you can’t pay your credit card bill, the worst Citibank can do when it’s all said and done is ruin your credit. But, if you don’t pay off your student loans, the state lets your creditors garnish up to 15% of your disposable income… even if you earn minimum wage and need every penny just to get by.

So, like it or not, the government is complicit in the student loan crisis. And, unfortunately, when the government decides to hold a profligate dance, we the people wind up footing the fiddler’s bill.

But don’t descend into a bitter panic yet. For, it turns out that there are reasonable ways to address the problem that don’t require pumping more of your tax dollars into the reprehensible scam known as “higher education.”

Though back in 2016, Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to emphasize student debt, few are aware that Donald Trump did in fact have his own ideas on the subject. Ideas that, moreover, placed the burden squarely on the shoulders of those who deserve it most: the universities who make big bucks encouraging students to drown themselves in debt.


And make no mistake, despite their non-profit status, universities are big businesses just as much as Coca Cola and Microsoft.

Like any big business, they invest in market research, branding, and advertisement in order to get folks who don’t really need their product to go broke spending money on it anyway. For their pains, the average private-college president these days is paid around 600,000 dollars a year, with around 60 of them making over a million. Average Provosts salaries at research institutions approach 200,000 dollars; average Dean salaries approach 150,000.

As to faculty, at a public school like UCLA, the lowest yearly salary an associate professor (the rank which ordinarily carries tenure) can make is around 75,000 dollars. And, believe me, I was on UCLA’s faculty for 8 years and no senior faculty I knew made anything close to that lowest possible figure.

Six-figure senior faculty salaries were the norm. That mightn’t seem like a lot to some, but we only taught four courses a year, each course running only 10 weeks with, at most, 4 hours of classroom time per course each week. That comes to a yearly average of less than 3 hours of teaching per week. Nice work, especially if you can get it at a six-figure salary along with a five-figure un-taxed research budget to pay for computer equipment and vacations, which, in academic jargon, oddly enough, are called conferences.

“Non-profit,” in this context, as in most, turns out to be a bit of Orwellian newspeak. What it really means is that the profits are taken as salary rather than out of the business.

American Colleges’ non-profit status is just another part of the higher education scam.

Candidate Trump’s idea back in 2016 was to make the universities that profit from the higher education scam bear some of the cost of the crippling debt they knowingly inflict on their charges. And, in fact, there is an obvious and easy way to force American colleges to – as Trump’s then advisor Sam Clovis succinctly put it – “have some skin in the game.”


American colleges long ago abrogated their mission of educating students, replacing education with a toxic mix of maturity-killing coddling and mindless indoctrination. And they’ve shamelessly made enormous sums of money enticing students into paying for the privilege by mortgaging any chance of a happy future.

So why not impose draconian taxes on university endowments and other holdings to pay off the loans all those students got conned into taking out only to fund the lavish lifestyles of academics who neither work hard nor produce anything of value?

Trust me, the students I ran into trying to pay off massive amounts of debt while working at Starbucks have no love for their almae matres. There’s nothing quite like having a few hundred bucks a month deducted from the paltry paycheck you earn working 40-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year to breed resentment against the pampered and useless academics whose pocket it winds up in.

And, of course, taxing the enormous wealth many of our universities have would not only provide a just way of helping the victims of their predatory business practices. It would also give these rightfully angry students something dear to the hearts of all the downtrodden—sweet revenge—and, hence, would certainly earn a little millennial love.

It’s time to face the fact that American colleges and universities have, with government complicity, become predatory businesses, no better than phony televangelists – the one falsely promises salvation, the other, education.

Indeed, the phony televangelist is arguably less the scoundrel since his victims tend to be elderly and, hence, at least have had some chance at a fulfilling adult life before he robs them of any decent future.

Making the higher education establishment foot the bill for their rapacious perfidy would also hamper their ability to indoctrinate. The predatory business practices fund the indoctrination; cripple the former and the latter falls as well.

So once the smoke has cleared and—like Jeb Bush’s consummate political skill, Hillary Clinton’s lock on the electoral college, the Access Hollywood tape, the 25th Amendment, pudgy little whistleblower Alexander Vindman’s smoking gun testimony, and those walls of Robert Mueller that were forever closing in—the media’s attempt to gaslight us into overlooking Biden’s cheating fails and androgynous Gender Studies majors across the country are once again on their knees screaming to the heavens at the prospect of another four years with Donald Trump as their president, perhaps he ought to make tackling the student loan crisis a priority in his second term.


All president Trump needs to do is remember candidate Trump’s prescient idea that those who make enormous profits saddling our kids with crippling debt and give back nothing in return ought to be the ones to pay its price.

After all, even androgynous Gender Studies majors aren’t immune to the beguiling power of a nice chunk of change.

So who knows, Trump might even earn a little love from a few of his most better enemies as well as whittling Harvard and the other major thorns in America’s side down to a more manageable size while also exacting some justice for the monstrous scam they’ve been running.


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