Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, October 24, 2013


Page 6



Student Loan Repayment Conditions Have Become an Albatross




 (The writer is a retired trial lawyer, an American Board of Trial Advocates member since 1978 and a former professor of torts at five California law schools. He counts 4,000 of his former students among California’s lawyers and judges. He was presiding referee of the Disciplinary Board, later called the State Bar Court. He is a former member of the State Bar Board of Governors—1980 to 1983—and the Judicial Council of California.)

Some of the old truisms have, yes, survived the test of time, and some are actually true.

One of these is that you have to spend money to make money. We pumped millions of dollars into winning WWII, assisted by the resolve of a capable and united nation and aided by the geographical location of two Maginot lines, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. All of this assisted by the British determination and a courageous prime minister who sacrificed an empire to win a war. Since our message was sound, since our war was popular, we then spent a fortune in assistance of our veterans. 

Those were the veterans’ benefits, a payment by a grateful nation. The World War II veterans were paid as was proper by what Tom Brokaw called the Greatest Generation. 

The veterans’ benefits were both immense and proper.  College education was completely paid for.  There was a stipendium of $20 per week for 52 weeks.  Home ownership was guaranteed by both the federal government and the state.  Fourteen million veterans benefited from the payment by a grateful nation.  The result:  Millions of veterans became lawyers, doctors and dentists who enriched this nation for at least a generation.

Then came the Korean conflict. The World War II benefits were sharply curtailed.  The war was less popular and as less compulsory service was required, the huge benefits were reduced.

As Vietnam emerged, its new generation of veterans received nothing.  The United States military had moved to an all-volunteer force in 1973, and there was no need for the many governmental benefits which had created so many doctors, lawyers and dentists who benefited the nation in the 20th century.

Finally, Iraq and Afghanistan, and benefits remained as minimal as those during the Vietnam era. 

Today’s generation of young people is burdened by tremendous expenses.  Education costs have spiraled.  There is no indication that present or future generations will benefit as has the generation just past.  This column is not an appeal to socialism, but a call for revision of our basic values.  Let it become the responsibility of the state.  If you think about it, this is not more than we paid for during World War II and it would not saddle future generations with a life-long debt.  The repayment conditions of student loans have indeed become an albatross which hinders the nation’s future generation from obtaining the benefits which we had in the forties, fifties and sixties.


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