It’s hard to blame young people for being cynical about politics. Like every generation before us, Californians in their 20s and 30s were promised a better world. Instead, we’re getting a planet that may be damaged beyond repair, stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, a rigged education system that has put a lifetime of debt on our backs, rising taxes without transparency or accountability, and a democracy that seems less and less responsive to the needs of the people.
The current generation of political leaders has shown a total disregard for what was left to us and what we’ll leave to our kids. We need a new generation of leadership, called to serve because we don’t have the baggage of past political fights, but we have the excitement and optimism to find real solutions.
Take one of the biggest issues impacting young Americans: student loans.
Think credit card debt is a big problem? Americans owe almost twice as much—$1.31 trillion—in student loans. Instead of putting their full economic potential to work in the economy, college graduates spend decades servicing the cost of an education that is two or three times more expensive than their parents’. Every President since Ronald Reagan tried to put that money back into the economy to stimulate growth for everyone — not just Wall Street investors who profit from student loans. Yet, somehow we have new laws proposed today that only make loans less affordable.
We need immediate and severe action on the predatory lending practices that trap college students, and we need to require strict limits on interest rates. We should also be strategic about forgiving the debt of students who pursue careers in our national interest.
We can encourage innovation, small business startups, and public service by forgiving the debt of the highest performing higher education students or trade-specific certificate recipients. Graduates who dedicate themselves to teaching in underserved schools or working in nonprofit organizations deserve a break. And we should encourage young people to pursue careers in industries like renewable energy that make us a stronger country.
If you have better ideas, we want to hear them. Let’s meet up, or drop us a line on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.