Dear Senator Cotton:

One of the most recent national events which amplified the chasm between political party affiliations in the U.S. was the August 24, 2022 announcement by President Biden of a plan to wipe out significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of low- and moderate-income Americans.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark) was on the rapid response team to counter the Biden announcement, saying:

There is no such thing as student loan forgiveness—this is a bailout, paid for by the large majority of Americans who never went to college or who responsibly paid off their debts. President Biden’s plan ignores the true culprit: bloated, self-serving colleges. I’ll be introducing a bill to hold these colleges accountable for debt, lower tuition, support non-college career paths, and save the taxpayers billions.”


Cotton’s comments strike me as purely partisan, at best, and likely incendiary and divisive.

Meanwhile, some on the ultra-progressive side have dismissed this initiative as ‘too little, too late’’, while others on the far right have said, ‘It’s just not fair to those who sacrificed to pay off their student loans; and to those who are more deeply in debt”.

I must confess:  I’m not convinced that broad-based blanket cancellation of student loan debt is an optimum solution to the real problem at hand.  But, based on current conditions in the world of student loans, it’s probably a necessary step toward creating a new paradigm for educating the future workforce in America.

My personal preference is to look at a problem not just at the surface, but right down to root causes.
[i.e., ‘I don’t like this situation. How can it be fixed?’].

So:  What is the real problem, and where do the root causes lie?

I am sympathetic with Sen. Cotton’s sentiment: ‘this plan ignores the true culprit: bloated, self-serving colleges’.

What Sen. Cotton fails to mention is that – beginning in the late 1950’s, and codified by the passage of the federal Vocational Education Act of 1963 — our elected officials created and sustained an environment which enabled an acrimonious socio-economic division between:

  • those who go to college to earn a 4-year degree, intending to pursue a ‘white collar’ career;
  • those who pursue the training, experience and credentials needed to become a ‘blue-collar’ professional (electrician; plumber; carpenter; auto mechanic; machinist; etc.); and today
  • those who opt into a ‘new-collar’ career in a middle-skill job which requires some tech skills, but not a 4-year degree. Some examples include: I-T support; coding; cyber security; and developing web applications.

Passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 marked an expanded view of the value of ‘occupational education’ and the various pathways along career ladders in a wide variety of occupations which would likely lead participants to family wage jobs and careers. Missing from the 1996 legislation was a roadmap to help parents understand, encourage and support their children to pursue their dreams and passions within the framework of economic and financial reality.

Many parents continued to encourage their children to attend a 4-year college to pursue a college diploma in any major, including Art History; Religious Studies; Philosophy; Music Studies; Sociology; Archaeology; English Literature; Film; and myriad other fields, rather than pursue a potentially lucrative vocational education.

College degrees are important and admirable, yet they can result in credentials not valuable or important to employers.  From a potential income perspective, some majors are terrible for those who need to borrow – and subsequently repay — loans for tuition and ancillary college expenses.

Some simple interventions which might help transform our currently broken student loan system:

  1. Mandatory Financial and Economic Education: A critical and logical step to enhance Student Loan Debt Relief is to mandate successful completion of a comprehensive financial and economic education program prior to any student loan borrowings;
  2. Develop an income rating system informed by U.S. Department of Labor projections on salaries and future job openings which would limit the amount of eligible student debt based on major. (See addendum).
  3. Realistic oversight of private colleges and private lenders: The Financial Crisis of 2007 opened our eyes to private and unregulated ‘shadow bankers’ which originated predatory mortgage loans.  There is current evidence that our student loan crisis has been enabled by similar private, lightly regulated lenders which prey on uninformed borrowers, frequently those who are first generation college students and/or those who are enrolled in for-profit colleges.

Dear Senator Cotton: We have identified a few ideas which we think deserve deep and thorough investigation, hopefully leading to appropriate regulatory oversight: a truly honest and valuable use of your time and position.  Instead of offering partisan, incendiary and divisive commentary which serves no useful purpose at all, you are invited to use any and all of these ideas to embark on a positive and affirmative journey to make durable and favorable changes to our entire post-secondary system.

September 2022 Fallout From Philadelphia

President Joe Biden addressed our nation on September 1 to express his deep concerns that American equality and democracy are under assault. He said, “There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None ever.”

“Too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal… There’s no question the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to democracy… Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic”.

Many of us have been concerned about this very issue for several years now.

We have witnessed firsthand some alarming dangerous attitudes and behaviors by far-right “MAGA” radical groups beginning around 2016.

One of the shibboleths of the current MAGA movement occurred on June 1, 2020

when then-President Trump orchestrated a near-riot in Washington, D.C.  After walking from the White House, across Lafayette Square, to St. John’s Church, he staged a photo-op with a Bible in front of the Church, inspiring those who prefer fear, hate and anarchy to reject honest debate.

These most recent alarming attitudes and dangerous behaviors have much in common with:

  • The second “Red Scare” which began in 1947, and reached its peak between 1950-54 under the leadership of U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy;
  • A period of extreme antisemitism which emerged in the 1930’s, inspired by Father Charles Coughlin (and others) who spread various conspiracy theories, creating a robust underground movement which spread fear that Jews were working for the destruction or replacement of white Americans and Christianity in the U.S., together with (false) allegations which accused “the Jews” of dominating Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, of causing the Great Depression, and of dragging the United States into World War II.
  • The ‘race riots’ of the late 1960’s, which included Birmingham (1963); Harlem (1964); Watts (1965); Chicago (1966); Newark (1967); MLK, Jr. Riots, 125 cities (1968); and the list goes on and on….
  • Post 9/11/01, we witnessed an irrational groundswell of anti-Muslim sentiment.  The al-Qaida terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon represent a very rare and extremist sect of Islam. Despite that reality, many Muslims, as well as other Arab Americans, became the targets of anger, racism and hate crimes, continuing to this day.

Biden’s recent remarks ring true.  He loudly and clearly reminded us that not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans.

Look back to the early 1930’s when Father Charles Coughlin’s radio show was extraordinarily popular, with a weekly audience estimated to be around 30 Million. His theme centered on an isolationist, anti-Semitic and conspiratorial viewpoint that resonated with many listeners at that time.

Yet, we know that not all Catholics were Isolationist or anti-Semitic.  Sound familiar?

The Big Question remains: Who or what is creating false narratives today? Who is spreading hate speech, nurturing and encouraging intolerance in the U.S., empowering the narcissistic blamers who feel marginalized to go off on a compound rage comprised and triggered by:  anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and an unidentifiable myriad of other perceived irritations?

Think of the last time you attended an orchestra performance.  The orchestra Conductor led and guided the various sections to complement each other resulting in a rich and complex sound which was pleasing to the audience.

Now, imagine if that orchestra performance was infiltrated by some musicians who refused to allow the conductor to lead.

Within the wind section, the brass instruments would play out of sync with the woodwinds.

Although the string musicians are mostly in harmony, the harpist occasionally takes his lead from the woodwinds, creating periods of discord.

The percussion instruments are off in a zone of their own, just doing what they want, totally out of touch with the conductor or any of the other musical sections, angry that they aren’t in charge.

  • Although relatively small in number, the renegade percussion section has sufficient noise to create complete and destructive cacophony, driving off the audience as well as the other musicians.

A recent report from AdWeek (TVNewser) shows Fox News – in particular, Tucker Carlson at 8 PM – leading the networks in viewership in both total viewers, and in the coveted 25-54 Demographic.

Translation:  Tucker is a money machine.  Advertisers are begging to support his daily hour of glory.

The Wednesday, August 31, 2022 Tucker Carlson show on Fox News began with a review of negative allegations against Joe Biden, including: a sly attack on son Hunter; recall of Joe showering with his daughter Ashley when she was a child; and how his wife currently knows he has Dementia.

Then, a rather long diatribe on the eve of Biden’s 80th birthday and how this is a sign of incompetence; that Joe is fixated on trivial and meaningless issues such as climate change, diversity and trans rights; that he is devoid of any ‘vision’; purely a partisan seeking advantage in the upcoming elections, leading into further emphasis on the negative aspects of Biden’s age.

Carlson continued with more passion, focusing in on recent Biden public commentary related to those individuals in America who have crossed the line into realm of ‘semi-Fascism’. Mr. Carlson managed to inject a critique blasting Biden saying he is, “…the same politician who had the FBI raid the home of the man who is running against him in the next election”.

Carlson segued into a commentary on the White House Press Office. Says Carlson, “… would have been better (for the Press Office to say) that Biden had a stroke, apologize and then move on.”  Carlson further denigrated the intelligence, experience and abilities of the White House communications team, stating, “Biden’s history-making publicist, the single dumbest person to ever hold that job, explained that her boss had spoken intentionally and with precision” then reinforcing the notion that Biden had made a blanket statement that Republicans are Fascists.

Those who may be interested in watching and listening to the entire broadcast are directed here: https://www.fox.com/watch/46d7f725b815fd5a7c10e1a1128558a3/

Meanwhile, enough Walrus commentary on the Tucker Carlson show of August 31.

Tucker is just one of many catalysts working on a base of angry white Christian men, keeping them stirred up by constantly reminding them that external forces have conspired to disenfranchise them.

Joined by his colleagues at Fox News, NewsMax, OAN, various podcasts and conspiracy driven social media groups, they continue to use Donald Trump as their demagogue by echoing and amplifying the ranting and raving of the Monarch of MAGA Americans toward an inevitable second Civil War.