Education for the rich | The Jackal

13 Jan 2013

Education for the rich

I've been enjoying Kerre Woodham's articles in the NZ Herald recently, with her straightforward style and obvious Kiwi idealism coming through in spades. However her offering today concerning student loan repayments is as naive as they come:

Well, they can't say they weren't warned.

Actually student loan debtors can, because the changes in law are being made after their contracts with the government were signed. The problem in my opinion is the entire student loans scheme itself, whereby many intelligent young people are now being denied an education because they are poor.

There's also a big difference between people who actively avoid repaying their loans and those who simply cannot afford to make payments. Woodham has unfortunately lumped them all together in her unjust tirade.

The ramifications of inhibiting many generations of New Zealander's from following the Kiwi dream by shackling them to debt at an early age and there being less opportunities to repay that debt have obviously not been considered by Woodham nor the government. Why should they give a fuck, it doesn't effect them or their children after all.

People consistently refusing to pay back their student loans are being targeted by the Government as the IRD increasingly uses legal action and debt collectors to claw back money from the arrogant oiks who have been sticking two fingers to the New Zealand taxpayer.

National isn't just targeting "arrogant oiks" who are actively avoiding repayments... They are also targeting former and present students who have been adversely affected by a lack of jobs that pay enough to survive on.

The phones ran red-hot on talkback this week with the overwhelming majority of people, including those who were diligently paying back their loans, believing it was time that the Government stopped dangling carrots in front of these individuals and started using a stick.

What a load of meaningless tosh! The people who frequent talkback radio are generally bigoted and ageist themselves, so it's little wonder that they support National punishing young students. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Woodham et al. started marching down the street with pithforks and torches chanting about their hatred for young people who simply want an education without paying the earth.

It was pointed out that if you wanted a free education, then access to courses would be restricted; that most of the people who'd attended uni when course costs were free had no access to any sort of living allowance - unless it came from their parents.

They had to work; and that many students today work and study so they don't have to apply for living costs, minimising their loans.

Yes, it's hard work to study and to work part time, but, hello! Welcome to the real world. It's a tiny minority of people who have reneged on their loans, but let's get that $418 million back off them.

There's a contradiction in terms for starters... How can a "tiny minority" of student's cause $418 million in debt? Such a huge brain fade certainly isn't worthy of publication in our main newspaper.

Woodham is obviously reminiscing about the good old days when you could gain a free education, with students who didn't come from upper class families being able to work part time or in the holidays in order to pay their living costs because there were enough well paid jobs around.

Up until recently, students used to have access to a non-repayable living allowance while they were studying. The government scrapped that because they only want rich kids to gain a higher education. That's what this is really all about... Elitism!

That way other people will be able to have the opportunity to get the sort of education that these loan defaulters have enjoyed.

That makes no sense... Making it harder to get a loan in the first place, placing a living allowance on tick and having a harsh regime of punishment if you default on repayments is going to reduce the amount of people attaining an education. Less educated people means a society in decline, and therefore another economic downturn on the horizon if the right wings neoliberal agenda is allowed to continue.

Woodham is unfortunately buying right into National's ageist agenda here whereby students are viewed as some sort of leech on the taxpayer. The fact of the matter is that without students being able to take out loans that might never be repaid, less people will be educated, and any sort of education is better than none.