Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rand Paul, went completely off his rocker during a radio interview with Iowa’s Jeff Angelos. During his interview the Libertarian-lite senator warned America’s youth of the dangers of a free college education, by comparing it to free heroin.
“The main thing I would say is that nothing’s free,” Paul said. “If someone offers you something for free, treat it as if they’re offering you heroin and think about the repercussions of what is free and what is a drug, an addicting drug like heroin and the ramifications of that. There’s nothing free. It just means somebody else is gonna pay for it, you don’t see them. So the plumber, the welder, the carpenter, the people who don’t go to college are being asked to pay for your education.”
Rand Paul is obviously desperately grasping for attention with this outrageous metaphor. Free college is exactly nothing like heroin. Millions of young people in this country are drowning in debt, and the Republican Party has no interest in helping them succeed in life. On top of that, if we implemented the plan as, say, Bernie Sanders envisions it, the money for it would come from taxing Wall Street transactions.
As the student debt crisis spirals out of control, millions of young men and women are financially ruined before they even have a chance to begin their lives. This financial hardship has led to suicides that few people are talking about. In 2007, after racking up more than a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt and being unable to find a job in his field, Jason Yoder took his own life. More than 65 studies worldwide have found a strong correlation between debt and depression which can lead to suicide.
The American Association of Suicidology said:
“Economic strain and personal financial crises have been well documented as precipitating events in individual deaths by suicide.”
So, in reality we can conclude that a free college education would actually be much healthier than Rand Paul’s plans.
Furthermore, Paul’s claim that “the plumber, the welder, the carpenter” who didn’t go to college are going to be forced to pay for your college education is as wrong as his heroin comparison. President Obama has expressed his desire to offer free community college and trade school education to students who maintain a certain GPA. The skilled-workers that Paul is referring to are called “skilled” because they had to go to school and obtain a license to practice their profession. Those workers are EXACTLY the students who would benefit from a free education.
Rand Paul is just like the rest of the Republican party who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. He claims that he doesn’t support the plan to make college free, because he is “fiscally responsible” or whatever other spin he puts on, but that isn’t the reality at all. It’s no coincidence that the GOP is fighting to change the content of history and science books in public schools and to defund public schools and turn them into for-profit voucher programs. Studies prove that the less education a person has, the more likely they are to vote for right-wing candidates. That’s the real reason Republicans like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and the rest of the party do not support free college education — and it’s exactly why it is so important that we continue to fight for it.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.