by Lindsie Wagner
Just over 70 percent of May 2011 Whitworth graduates relied on federal loans to pay for at least part of their education, according to a September article in The Whitworthian.
Many current students also rely on loans for a Whitworth education. I am one of them. I graduated high school with a 3.97 GPA and high SAT scores, and still couldn’t find enough finances to cover my educational expenses. Like many other students, I had to turn to the government for support in the form of loans.
The election of Ron Paul in 2012 would put that entire system at risk. He would have it that I — and the many other Whitworth students who cannot afford to foot their educational bills — not go to school.
Paul wants to work to make sure that federal financial aid — especially loans — is no longer available for college students.
His “Plan to Restore America” includes the elimination of the federal Department of Education, the very institution that granted the financial aid that made it possible for 70 percent of last year’s graduating class to finish their degrees.
And the Department of Education isn’t the only federal department that Paul seeks to destroy. He also includes in his restoration plan intent to eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior.
As one can imagine, each of these departments provides important services for the American people.
The HUD, for example, provides the necessary services to ensure that low-income families have a place to call home through the development of multi-family homes and rental subsidies.
Another department on Paul’s chopping block is the Department of Commerce, which focuses on job creation, and economic sustenance and growth. With the national unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, would it really be a smart move to elect a president who intends to cut job creation services?
This is all a very simplified analysis of the issues in Paul’s plan. One could perhaps argue that the departments of education, housing, energy, commerce and interior aren’t really doing their duties — that the Department of Commerce, for example, hasn’t done much to create jobs.
Or one could argue that those departments are doing their duties in financially irresponsible ways — that the Department of Education, for example, shouldn’t be giving out loans because, to put it in Paul’s language, “education isn’t a right.”
But the piece of Paul’s “Plan to Restore America” that doesn’t need simplification is the number of people who would be left unemployed by Paul’s clean sweep.
The Department of Education employs roughly 5,000 people. The Department of Commerce employs nearly 44,000. The Department of the Interior employs just over 71,000. The Department of Housing and Urban Development employs just over 10,000. The Department of Energy employs roughly 16,000 — not to mention the nearly 100,000 people they contract.
That’s a lot of numbers, but doing the math tells us that Paul hopes to fire around 146,000 employees from federal departments, plus roughly 100,000 contractors.
Paul has also proposed eliminating the Transportation Security Administration, which would leave an additional 58,000 people unemployed.
Not only is Paul’s plan dangerous in its potential for service and employment elimination, it is also dangerous in its historical and political implications.
Paul hopes to restore the United States to its constitutional roots. This plan: small government without concern for the consequences.
But what Paul seems to fail to realize is that society and this country have evolved. One cannot simply apply 1789 simplicity to 2013 complexity. To attempt this is to ignore history.
Amendments have passed. Movements have changed our ethics. The value of the dollar has been altered. Wars have been waged and lessons learned.
This country has encountered problems, come upon solutions, and sometimes it has been wrong.
Regardless, I would venture to say that the United States is a more intelligent and whole nation now than it was when the Constitution became effective, for what institution has ever been its most complete at its birth?
That is not to say that changes should not continue to be made. They must. But Paul’s fantasy of building a legal time machine and sticking all 312 million American citizens in it is not viable.
In 2011, we need institutions like the Department of Education because we live in a society in which education is the key to economic stability.
In 2011, we need the Department of Housing and Urban Development because it is no longer acceptable to allow our nation’s citizens to live in sub-standard housing or on the streets.
In 2011, we need the TSA because we know that attacks on our country like 9/11 are possible, and we need a way to prevent them.
We also need the three other departments that Paul plans to eliminate, the federal jobs that Paul plans to crush, and — most of all — a president who is capable of taking on the realities of 2013.