To The Daily Sun,
On July 23, a Prospect Mountain senior, Gabe Varney, penned a useful and well-put complaint about the current state of American higher education. Gabe bemoaned the current state Republican Party and their habit of denying funding for higher education to our New Hampshire students. In response, on the 25th, Mr. Tony Boutin replied with a condescending attack on Mr. Varney, accusing Gabe of having "an entitlement attitude" for expecting "welfare" in the form of college aid. As a fellow incoming senior, myself at Kingswood Regional High School, I felt compelled and qualified to respond.
Mr. Boutin, are you aware that we live in the richest country in the world in the most culturally, economically and technologically developed time in human history? We have greater resources than any human population has ever had at its disposal, and we have 21st century needs that demand 21st century workers. These workers, whether in technology, science, mathematics, or in any number of other fields, need college education to make the wheels of our society turn. And to get that college education, most will need grants, affordable loans and aid. You bemoan that system as "entitlement" and "welfare," complaining that it means "giving you money someone else worked hard for."
In this modern age, can't we finally accept that one of the basic responsibilities of society is that the successful make some sort of contribution to assuring that the education of our youngest and least able to pay is guaranteed?
First, you define providing aid to students as "welfare." In your strictly-economic, black-and-white viewpoint, isn't it really a successful investment? Think about it. We give students the means, through economic aid, to an education, and then they repay it many times over with the increased lifetime tax contributions their greater income will bring in. What's more, they contribute on a far higher level than the strictly economic with their increased contribution to society and brighter, more experienced perspective on life they'll bring to the world.
You complain that in order for America's less-privileged students to get their education, the rich and upper class will need to pay a little bit more taxes. Really, so what? In order for the masses to get education, there must be government funding, and yeah, that means taxes.
What was the first thing to allow the masses in America a college education? The GI Bill, which was funded at a time when the top marginal tax rate was over 80 percent. Now, sure, we have lower taxes, but we can still afford as a culture to send Gabe and me and millions of other working- and middle-class teens to college. Before the government began helping students get to school, college education was only for the rich. We've got to a point where the poor and middle class can somewhat, with hardship, afford higher education. We need to move forward on this, not backward.
If you ask me, I believe America should adopt the Finnish system of education. We should fund every interested student's education, given that they're qualified to go to school, and meet their needs while they're there so that as many students as possible can graduate. But at least, we need to free ourselves of the Sam Cataldos and Jeb Bradleys who deny our youth the funding they need.
I think that education is absolutely vital to society, much more so than the preservation of the low tax rates the rich so currently enjoy. And, if you ask me, to deny my generation this "welfare," this needed infusion of financial lifeblood into the future backbone of our economy, is to starve the future of its vigor for frankly stupid ideological purposes. It's time to expand aid to students, not reduce it.