An essay on free education:
Joe’s 18 year old son is excited about free education. Jeff, a senior in high school, has his own job, and has been saving for college, but Joe (Jeff’s dad), just got laid off from his job. So, Jeff’s worried about affording tuition.
“Dad,” Jeff exclaimed, “This will be the first presidential election I will be able to vote in.”
“Oh,” dad asked, “have you decided who will get your vote?”
“Of course, Bernie Sanders! He’s promising affordable tuition and says a college education should be free,” Jeff replied.
“How about we go grab some ice cream,” Joe said to his son, and they headed out the door to the car.
On the drive to the ice cream parlor, Jeff and his dad talked about the car needing new tires, dad’s being tired of sending out resumes and the cute girl Jeff saw at school. Soon, they arrived at the mall, parked the car, and made their way to the ice cream parlor.
“May I take your order?” asked the waitress soon after the sat their menus down.
“I’ll have the double-banana split,” Jeff said with a look of defiance prepared to take on the gigantic sundae.
Joe shook his head, “No”, as if to say, “Nothing for me.”
“Dad? You aren’t eating?” Jeff said with surprise in his voice.
“Nope, you’re on your own. You have a job. You can pay for your own sundae and I’ll just sit here,” said Joe in a disappointing voice.
Soon, Jeff’s sundae arrived and before he could take his first bite, Joe reached over and scooped a huge spoonful Jeff’s sundae. Another spoonful went from Joe’s lips to the ice cream and back, and another, soon another and before long, Joe had consumed most of Jeff’s sundae.
“Hey, dad! I thought you said you weren’t having any,” Jeff grumbled.
“Well, I changed my mind since it’s free,” Joe smiled.
“What? It’s not free, you said I am picking up the tab because you’re not eating,” Jeff protested.
“I didn’t say I wasn’t eating, but you’re the one with all of the money, so it is only right that you pay,” Joe explained to his son.
“But, that’s not fair,” said Jeff still in protest.
“Why not? I’m out of work, I don’t have a job, and you have more than enough ice cream there to feed me too,” Joe firmly stated.
“I’m still hungry, and I don’t make THAT much money, so are you going to buy me another sundae?” Jeff whined.
“No, son. I’m giving you a free education,” Joe said with a wink.
Sitting quietly, ponder what had just happened, Jeff looked at his dad and said, “I think I see what you’re trying to do.”
“You do, son? Explain it to me,” Joe requested of Jeff.
“I have money, you don’t, but you got to enjoy my ice cream at my expense,” Jeff said.
Joe responded, “In part, yes, but there is more to it than that.
“You see, that so-called free education will be paid for by someone. In this case, Bernie Sanders is proposing a tax on the gains from the sale of stocks and bonds. ”
Interrupting, Jeff inserted, “Yes, but only rich people can afford to play the stock market.”
Explaining to Jeff, Joe said, “That’s not so. Many people profit from the stock market without even knowing it. For example, that job I was just laid off from had a 401K plan. That’s a voluntary retirement plan that I have been paying money in to it so you don’t have to take care of mom and me when we get old. That 401K can make or lose money. Given how the market has been the last 8 years, it has been really hard for it to make money. If Bernie Sander’s plan goes in to effect, it will even be harder for it to make money.”
“How so, Dad?” Jeff’s interest was peaked.
“Let’s say my 401K is making about 5% interest a year. That’s not a lot, but if that interest gets taxed, it is making even less than 5%, and if every change has a fee, I might not make anything on my 401K. In fact, my 401K manager says I might even lose money,” Joe said with a furrowed brow.
“Why would you pay in to it then?” Jeff asked, and added, “Sounds like you’d be better off without a 401K.”
“It may come to that if Sanders’ plan goes through,” Joe added, “and let’s hope it doesn’t.
“But there’s more to it than just 401Ks. Corporate retirement plans rely on that money too. A lot of companies no longer offer pensions, and if this plan goes through, fewer will. In addition to 401Ks, retirement plans, there are also IRAs, and Certificates of Deposit. All of these draw upon the performance of stocks and bonds, and to tax stocks and bonds is to reduce the amount people make from these safer investment options,” Joe concluded.
“How does that effect me, Dad? I’m not anywhere close to retiring,” Jeff asks.
“Well, someday you’ll be 60, 65, 70 years old and you’ll be tired of working and your body will need a break. You’ll want to enjoy your retirement,” Joe explains when Jeff interrupts.
“Yeah, like playing golf every day,” Jeff smiles.
“Yeah, like playing golf every day… if you can afford it,” Joe continues, “Besides taxing the gains on stocks and bonds, I can guarantee you there will be other taxes to pay the large debt. Currently, there are hidden taxes you don’t see on your pay stub. You may only have 20% being withheld right now, but mom and I pay property taxes, there are excise taxes on the tires on your car, gasoline, and more. And, when something is paid for with tax dollars, it is like a loan. It’s a loan that you, the taxpayer must repay. You will repay it through higher costs of food, clothing and other necessities, even though you don’t see the “tax”. Some corporation is paying that tax.”
“Wow, Dad, that sounds serious,” Jeff says with concern.
“It is serious son, and that is why I want you to take voting seriously,” Joe says with a look of pride in his son.
“Of course,” Jeff says with awry grin on his face, “you wouldn’t know if I voted for Bernie or not.”
“Son, it’s your future. It is you who will have to live with the decisions you make comes November. I probably won’t be alive while you’re still paying of Bernie’s debt, and it is you and your children and grandchildren who will pay,” Joe began to explain, “My parents were among the most prosperous generation, and it is unfortunate that the New Deal debts are now wreaking havoc on this nation.”
“I heard about that in my U.S. Civic’s class,” Jeff said, “but I’m not exactly sure what you mean.”
“Because of the New Deal we have the Federal welfare program,” Joe explains. “It sounded great in the late 1930s, but today, much of our tax dollars goes to support people who can work, but won’t work.”
“Oh, you mean like the…,” Jeff starts to say.
Joe cutting him off, “Yes, I think I know who you’re going to mention, but let’s not gossip about them.”
“But, dad, he’s on welfare and comes into the restaurant and order prime rib all of the time,” Jeff says raising his voice a tad, and continues, “and here you and mom are, working your butts off and you can’t afford to eat out that often.”
“Son, I think you’re starting to see the dilemma of what happens when the government provides free stuff,” Joe says point-blank.
“Okay, Dad. You’ve made your point,” Jeff says, but not in a defeated tone, “I’m going to order another sundae, but this time, I’m ordering it to-go, and I’m taking it home and eating it in my bedroom and you’re not getting any!”
Having taught his son to be giving and caring, Joe decided to let this one ride. His son learned a valuable lesson, and for that, he deserves to keep what he earned.