When I was a child I had a romantic vision of the future: I would marry a prince, have a nice, medium sized family, and be allowed to dabble in my favorite pursuits of music and writing, but not expected to contribute greatly to the coffers.
Instead, I’ve worked harder than most women in my life – maybe not at the most difficult jobs – but I’ve put in many, many hours away from home and on the job. As for the prince, neither of my husbands were so inclined, even though the first one was a royal pain. (snicker). I did get the nice family, a child of my own that is the apple of my eye, and three stepchildren that I couldn’t have loved better if they had been my own. Life was not perfect, but I was “allowed” to write and perform music, and be myself. I was also given the opportunity to go to college and become more educated than I’d ever wanted to.
You see, I never planned to get a Ph.D. I was content with the master’s degree and a half. But I needed job security, and without a terminal degree in my field, job security is hard to find. I’m a professor and a writer, and a social scientist. So, terminal degree, here I come. Now I have a 100 graduate hours, or more, and that’s a lot. I’ll have a few more by the time my dissertation is finished. And after finishing it, I won’t be allowed to sit on my laurels (there’s that word again, ‘allowed’). I will need to get a job and work as long as I can, so I can make at least a dent in my college loans. Of course, I’m not worried about those loans. They die with you. Nobody will be saddled with them. But during my lifetime, I will have to pay on them. I read an article the other day about the unique plight of senior citizens who decided late in life to return to school and now have student loans, or whose student loans are still unpaid. A bill sponsored in Congress this spring, the Student Loan Fairness Act, would make repayment of student loans 10 percent of a person’s annual discretionary income, for 10 years, with the unpaid balance forgiven. I could live with that. The question is, what is “discretionary income?” Wikipedia (gotta love Wikipedia) states that Discretionary income = Gross income – taxes – all compelled payments (bills). That would be nifty. And I believe fair. People making a great deal of money would pay more – a lot more – and people like me with no real discretionary income – would probably pay a pittance. The upside is, more people would go to school and not worry so much about making a great deal of money when they got out. So we would have more rural doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. People with talent would take up work they love, not the work that makes big bucks. The down side is, the Republicans in Congress will never go for it. They fear a lot of things – like having to pay through their noses for an education – (although the rich are not taking out student loans, actually) and the real fear: a more educated populace who is happy are likely to vote Democratic. And that is something that cannot be allowed to happen. And not on their watch, if they want to stay in office. So the little man and woman suffers, so people who never have to meet us can keep their jobs.
No, it is far better, according to these folks, that we keep the little people miserable, keep them poor, and keep them ignorant. They can fight our wars, and die there with our blessings and profound thanks, and work in our low-income service jobs and listen to us tell them who to vote for. But I don’t think most people who vote Republican feel that way. In fact, I know they don’t. Maybe it is time they wised up and started holding their office holders accountable?
And policies this these? They also mean there is no hope for a romantic, like me. I don’t get the rose garden, the picket fence and the chance to rest, ever, on my laurels.