A Wizard’s Advice

“Give with a free hand, but give only of your own” J.R.R. Tolkien

As most people know from the books, if not the movies, the above quote is the wise counsel by the wizard named Gandalf to the Hobbits in the trilogy “Lord of the Rings”. While the books are fantastical fiction, this counsel should be well regarded by not only those in government, but perhaps even more importantly, the American people. It is amazing that many believe that the student debt that Biden forgave simply disappears, as if he is a wizard with magical debt disappearance powers.

The reality of the student debt forgiveness is that it’s actually a transfer of the debt from those that signed the loans to those that did not. It should be obvious that in order for someone to ethically give something away it needs to be their own. The U.S. Department of Education owns the guarantees on about 92% of the 43 million student loans; so by forgiving between $10-20K per loan means an obligation of $395-791B. The lenders are not liable for this obligation as they hold the guarantees, but should this debt forgiveness actually become law, the American taxpayers are.

Constitutionally the government does not have the money to do this without the legislative action of Congress to enact both the law and appropriation required. This in turn requires a source of funding through taxation or loans, which is actually the same thing. The Biden administration seeks to justify the executive action by citing things like The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the HEROES Act of 2003, and various acts related to relief during the pandemic. However, there is nothing in these legislative acts that provides the president an authorization by Congress for this debt forgiveness. Recently Jonathan Turley, a respected constitutional scholar and law professor at George Washington University, stated that “President Biden is something of a constitutional recidivist when it comes to executive overreach. He has been repeatedly found to have violated the Constitution in his unilateral use of executive powers.”

Among Trump’s egregious failures as president was his ignorance of and disregard for the constitution, the rule of law, and basic ethical conduct in general. With Biden we have similar problems but cloaked in his never ending virtue signaling of caring for the welfare of the less fortunate.  However a simple look at the statistics regarding student loans debunks such noble sentiments. Approximately 60% of student loan debt is held by the economic top 40% of households, with the lower 60% having the remaining 40% of student loans. Some of those top households represent students with loans for graduate degrees, many in professional occupations like law and medicine.

One of the largest voting blocks for the Democratic Party are college students and graduates holding these loans. Biden’s behavior is not wizardry but a wanton disregard of ethics by burdening Americans with the cost of benefits for the wealthier of his party’s electoral base. This is the very thing that he and his fellow politicians accuse Republicans doing, who also justify such actions with equally dubious reasoning. It appears that hypocrisy is indeed an occupational requirement in politics.

There is another consequence of this travesty, one that is morally corrosive; loans are freely agreed contracts which should be honored. Both sides should understand the possible consequences of their free choices. Borrowers should repay, even if that requires making sacrifices, and creditors who make bad lending decisions should suffer losses; but the conundrum here is that the borrower is being forgiven the debt, or portion thereof, while the lender is incurring risks insured by a third party through guarantees that become the obligation of those that made no such agreement.

Further reflection requires an explanation as to why this situation is called a student debt crisis to begin with? These loans were voluntarily agreed to; there was no compulsion to do so, just a desire for an education to improve one’s economic wellbeing. The “crisis” occurs if it was not worth the debt because the degree obtained did not provide the employment with an income justifying the investment in the education received. There’s actually more costs that the loan because it means a considerable amount of time in college without working for an income. However that does not mean that others owe you for the choices you made. This is especially true for some of the dubious degrees some students obtained, like Memeology, Egyptology, Sexuality Studies, Popular Culture and a host of other degrees with dubious employment opportunities.

This action by Biden is just another in a history of such actions that erode all sense of individual responsibility. FA Hayek expressed this well in “The Road to Serfdom” when he said “Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our own conscience, is the air in which alone moral sense grows and in which moral values are daily recreated in the free decision of the individual. Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s own conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.”

Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

17 thoughts on “A Wizard’s Advice”

  1. You use the following quote: “President Biden … has been repeatedly found to have violated the Constitution in his unilateral use of executive powers.”
    I have not found that to be true. In fact I have been able to find only one instance of a judge blocking a Biden EO, which was then overturned by a Court of Appeals. So I ask how many of Biden’s 95 EO have been ruled unconstitutional?

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    1. Most are unconstitutional as executive orders are not laws and therefore have no constitutional merit. Only Congress can pass laws. Same is true for Trump’s EOs. The fact that challenges did not make the legal circuit as far as SCOTUS is not what Turley was referring to. We don’t need SCOTUS to tell us that we did not elect a king.

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      1. P.S. This “ Most are unconstitutional as executive orders are not laws and therefore have no constitutional merit. “
        Not true. Administrative orders are not laws and have been found unconstitutional by Courts. The only body that can FIND something unconstitutional.

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    2. “repeatedly found to have violated the Constitution” can only be referring to court decisions. Your suggestion that it is otherwise would make the “found to have” meaningless. If the author felt that they merely violated the constitution, the sentence would have read, “repeatedly … violated the Constitution in his unilateral use of executive powers.” Again, I ask for decisional support for the statement which I have looked for and could not find.

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      1. Apparently you didn’t read the post or my last reply to your comment. Neither references SCOTUS or any court case. Turley is among the highest regarded constitutional scholars in the US, often called to congressional hearings for his valued opinions. He never said, and neither did I, that Biden’s EOs were the subject of any court decision. He stated what he thought of them, and I agreed as I did about Trump’s EOs, and many past presidential decrees, none of which have any place in our constitutional republic. Curious how you found that the absence of a SCOTUS decision in the Bush/Gore contested election was in fact a SCOTUS decision when there never was one, but you not only challenge Turley’s opinion, but insist on a “…decisional support…” as if this is a litigation rather than a civil discourse. It’s as if your partisan sensibilities have been bruised to the point that you need to defend such egregious acts because Biden is a Democrat. It really doesn’t matter what party the president is from if his actions are that of a king.

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      2. Apparently you didn’t understand my comment. As written, his comment without questioned referenced court cases, not necessarily SCOTUS. Only a COURT, can FIND something is unconstitutional, anything else is mere opinion.

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      3. I clearly understood it as I said “Neither references SCOTUS or any court case.” I also said “…but you not only challenge Turley’s opinion…”. It appears that it is you who failed to understand. Anyone can express their opinion, but coming from a renowned constitutional scholar certainly carries far more credibility without the need for case history. Blog posts are for civil discourse, not for litigious arguments.

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      4. Clearly, you’re still not really understanding as neither Turley nor myself are talking about a court’s “FINDING”; again that is an issue of litigation. When it is a court case, it still doesn’t mean that opinions are not valid. Anyone can express their opinions (as long as we still have the 1st Amendment), as we don’t need a court “FINDING” for that. One interpretation of a SCOTUS “FINDING” I found rather cynical but accurate was by Justice Robert H. Jackson who said “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” Actually, clarity is needed regarding EOs; they are constitutional provided they do not seek to create law or alter it and are reserved solely for directives within the executive branch regarding administrative procedures among that branch’s agencies. While Turley is a highly credible constitutional scholar, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the difference between an EO directed within the executive branch for administrative purposes, and one that seeks to unlawfully transfer debt. While this may or may not become a court case, it’s unlikely that Congress will not support the debt forgiveness given the imminent mid-term elections; timing is everything when shopping for votes.

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      5. You used the word “opinion”, but now you say it was a “statement”. In order to voice one’s opinion, you need to state it. You are getting increasingly litigious arguing over a distinction with no difference.

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    1. Actually that originally comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” in his book “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”, which has become a famous anagram “TANSTAAFL”. Yes, very appropriate in this instance.

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      1. “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” (alternatively, “There is no such thing as a free lunch” or other variants) is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing. The acronyms TANSTAAFL, TINSTAAFL, and TNSTAAFL are also used. The phrase was in use by the 1930s, but its first appearance is unknown. The “free lunch” in the saying refers to the formerly common practice in American bars of offering a “free lunch” in order to entice drinking customers. See Wikipedia.

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    2. You should read my comments more carefully, I never said what he said was an opinion. I said to the extent that a declaration that something is unconstitutional comes from something other than a court it is an opinion. He did not say he found it unconstitutional, but that some other entities found the EO unconstitutional and the only entities that can do that are courts. And that is a statement of fact, which I cannot find any support for, nor can you as I am sure you would have if you could.

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      1. You would do well to follow your own advice. Again, a litigious comment making a distinct with even less of a difference. He clearly said both, i.e. that he found it unconstitutional and that others did also. Neither he nor whoever those others are need a court “FINDING” to express an opinion, which are always in the form of statements or they couldn’t be expressed at all. What’s really curious with your comments so far is a complete absence about the actually issue at hand (excluding your response to the free lunch thing), but more like a cross examination in search of a court “FINDING”, as if the existence or absence of that would in anyway render opinions moot. Therein lies an example of polarization, similar to the dismissive attitude of science being settled. The entire point of civil discourse is not to settle an issue as a “FINDING” but to actually “FIND” common ground for understanding, even if the parties disagree. Conversely, litigation is the equivalent of a conflict settled more by precedent than understanding.

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