Fresh out of college and full of ideals, young Americans are finding that, in this economy, the American Dream comes at a steep cost. Just ask Michelle Holshue:
At 30 years old, Holshue exemplifies a key tenet of the American dream: exceeding one’s parents’ education and income.
“My dad never finished high school,” she says. “So in that sense, I am doing better than my parents did.”
Holshue’s father is a school bus driver, and her mother, a teacher. At this early stage in her career, Holshue is already making more money than her parents make after decades of working.
Even so, all her credentials came at a cost. Holshue’s student loans for her bachelor’s and nursing degrees total $140,000.
“I think at last count there was something like 20 different loans,” she says, paging through a thick binder of loan statements.
Holshue says she’s in debt more than her parents ever were when they bought their house. In fact, her monthly student loan payment of $1,100 is nearly as much as her rent.
“The first of the month, I might have $100 to live on for two weeks. Which doesn’t even pay my transportation cost,” Holshue says.
Holshue’s story, broadcast by NPR and linked to at Instapundit, is unfortunately far from the exception for many Americans, especially those leaving college to enter the workforce. Recent graduates needn’t wait long before their idealism is saddled by debt and their career aspirations, once the exemplar of the much-lauded American Dream, become something more nightmarish.
The question remains: How can we solve the debt problem for future generations? Thus far, the Obama administration’s answer has been an enormous increase of the national debt and the passing of health care legislation that will raise taxes on 3 million middle class Americans. This amounts to a widespread suffocation of economic opportunity. Continued policies along this lines will force coming generations to confront the debt of their forebears and strain not to build a better future but to recompense the mistakes of the past.