This is a guest opinion column
while the Supreme Court hears Discussion While challenging Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, the public discourse remains fixated on the concept of fairness. And like the lawyers on the case, both sides of the civil debate have resorted to whataboutism to make their arguments. What about those people who worked two jobs to pay off their student loans? what about that Paycheck Protection Program Debt Cancellation? What about those who didn’t go to college? What about the bank bailout of 2009? What about trade school students? What About Corporate Tax Breaks? What about my mortgage? And so on. each of these are valid points, but as i have argued beforeWhataboutism deflects attention from the issue.
The plan has three components, and two are designed to address the underlying problem of student debt in higher education (see description Here, However, the pushback has focused on 10K or 20K loan cancellations. it will affect profit 43 million people, but the cost will be shared by the taxpayers. upside down tragedy of the commons, is it fair? No, but public policy isn’t meant to be fair. The goal is equality—not equality.
The fact is that some people get something and others don’t. This happens all the time. Remember when high-risk people first had access to the COVID vaccine? It wasn’t fair, it was justified. An informed decision was taken to help a particular group of people. Do ‘all lives matter’? Absolutely. But as we’ve come to realize, some lives deserve special attention at certain times. Likewise, all loans matter (the ones you repaid, the ones you decided not to take, the ones you were unable to get), but student loans warrant unique consideration. In this moment,
And it highlights perhaps the most important point: Public policy is not a zero-sum game. Policymakers can make more, and citizens have a voice in that decision through their vote. That’s how democracy works (minus the filibuster). Elected officials make policies. Citizens decide if they like those policies, and if more than 50% do, that officer [should] get re-elected. If that number falls below 50%, that official is voted out, and new officials make new policies. The cycle repeats so that most of the population is generally satisfied with the current policy. From the US Congressman to the student council president, the goal is the same: give the people what they want. sixty percent Some types of Americans support student loan forgiveness, so the argument that “he just did it to get more votes” or “he just did it to make people like him” isn’t an argument at all. Those were transparent intentions.
The student loan dilemma is knotty – it can’t be solved without solving a number of other institutional problems. There are flaws in this new scheme, but it is a targeted effort to help those in need. What’s more, the plan is designed unevenly Help people of color do more racial wealth gap, Do other people need help? Absolutely. Maybe the next policy could address blue collar worker incentives or commuters with auto loans. There is no policy quota. Every whataboutery deserves close scrutiny, budget scrutiny, public dialogue and possibly public policy.
Colin Gabler is Associate Professor of Marketing at Auburn University and Fulbright Scholar. His research and writing examines the role of marketing and psychology in developing public-policy and addressing social justice issues.