Last month, students in South Africa took to the streets to rage against rising prices. As the #FeesMustFall movement gained steam, I asked on this blog why Millennials over here in the states don’t rise up and protest against tuition increases and predatory student loans. This week, we appear to have the answer this from some American Millennials, the Million Student March. To put it mildly, this is not the response that I hoped for. I believe that this dubious movement will not endear the greater public to their cause and will undermine the future credibility of Millennials as a generational cohort on the political stage.
As I’ve said before, it’s time for young Americans to get angry. But what changes do the architects behind the Million Student March hope to bring about? Their position is explained at their website StudentMarch.org:
A Day of Action on November 12th.
Tuition-Free Public College
Cancellation of All Student Debt
A $15 Minimum Wage for All Campus Workers
The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education. We need change, and change starts in the streets when the people demand it. With students, college graduates, and workers united we can build a movement capable of winning debt-free college for all and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers!
Let’s take a look at their simplistic and child-like demands and break down what would need to be done to achieve them.
Tuition-Free Public College- It’s easy to see why Millennials would wish for tuition-free college, they are dealing with historic financial commitments to student loan repayment. The government will still chase them down to pay for these debts even in their old age. Even worse, financial problems, exacerbated by student loans, Social Security and stagnant wages are causing them chronic stress. I get it, believe me, and I understand why young Americans are slowly becoming angry… But demanding college for free is absolutely ridiculous. No matter how many students take to the streets, this is never going to happen.
Now, the instant rebuttal to my ‘this is never going to happen’ assertion will be that there already is tuition-free public college at the national level in a populous nation. Germany runs an entirely tuition-free system. Germany’s college system is so darn free that students from other countries can attend classes there at no cost. But ‘free to students’ doesn’t mean ‘free’ from all costs entirely; somebody needs to pay for staff salaries, benefits, facilities costs, scholarships, grants, support personnel, etc. In Germany, that somebody is the taxpayer. The result? German workers are taxed at a rate that would make most Americans cringe.
But hey, when you’re financially scraping by as a college student, the temptation is to believe that it should be someone else’s problem. And spreading your problem out on the hundreds of millions of taxpayers seems like an easy enough solution. Until you realize that we workers have our own financial problems to deal with. Surprise, Socialist-leaning Millennials! Most American workers do not want to shoulder the burden of paying back a debt that you decided to take on. But if you really still hold the opinion that everyone else should have to pay for your collegiate career, then take solace in the fact that in your warped scenario, you too would be paying for ‘someone else’s problem’ as soon as you join the workforce.
Cancellation of All Student Debt- This reminds me of that kid’s Christmas wish list where he wished for a new flat-screen television, a limo with a driver and 1,000,000 pieces of shrimp. I can imagine that the fool who dreamed up this ‘demand’ is about as wishful and naive as that child was when he wrote that list. Believe it or not, delusional young Americans who support this march, there are economic consequences to this idea that reach far beyond you getting rid of your student debt. Do you think that the same federal government that currently chases down the elderly to pay back their old student loans will allow your student loans to vanish, unpaid?
What about the millions of Americans who never attended college? Do you think that because they are free of student loan debt that they will be happy to pay off yours? What about the millions of Americans who in the past, have taken on an extra job, gone without necessities, joined the military and/or busted their tail to pay off their student debt off? Do you really think that they’re interested in paying your debt off too?
While I understand that every young American generation has in some way been described as “me-first,” supporters of the Million Student March sure seem to fall right in line with the current generational stereotype of Millennials as narcissistic, thin-skinned and Charmin-soft.
A $15 Minimum Wage for All Campus Workers – After reading the first two ‘demands’ I really was hoping that the third one would be last one would be something similarly naive like “Peace Throughout The Land”, “Free Chipotle Year Round With Student ID” or “Put Lady Gaga in Charge of the Department of Education.” So while this demand is the least ridiculous of the three… it won’t happen either. Raising the minimum wage for “all campus workers” means different campus types in different states. There is no magic wand that can be waved that will force all state and private institutions to pay a $15 minimum wage short of raising the federal minimum wage to more than double it’s current hourly rate. Forcing such a pay raise would be disastrous to businesses and workers. Seattle is already dealing with the unexpected negative consequences of forcing a $15 minimum wage.
The fools who initiated this “movement” are unbelievably naive, from their child-like demands, to their lack of any kind of plan whatsoever to meet said demands. The Million Student March is shaping up as a polar vortex of Special Snowflakes who want you and I to pay for debt that they incurred.
Look, I understand, better than most people that Millennials have a right to be very angry right now. I am devoting all of my spare time toward fighting for younger Americans financial well-being through my movement to opt-out of Social Security. But demanding that I, by virtue of the fact that I am an American worker, should be obligated to pay back your college tuition bill is not the way to go about initiating change, if Millennials ever want to be taken seriously.
-R.J. Renza, Jr.
Please take a moment and sign the National Petition to Opt-Out of Social Security. The more signatures we gather, the more pressure we place on Congress and our political leaders.August marked the release of my first e-book “How Are You Not Angry Yet: How Social Security is Destroying the Futures, Finances and Hopes of Generations X,Y and Z and How We Can Put and End to it.” “Angry Yet” breaks down the complex topic of Social Security into a way that most Americans can easily understand and find entertaining and is available on Amazon right here.