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The dream deferred

Long Story Short

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Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loans. Yes, with a dozen zeros.

For our story that begins here, I spoke to two locals about their debt, and how it has hurt their futures both financially and personally. I also read and heard quite a few descriptions of the debt situation. You'd think "a tax on the poor that transfers money to the rich" might be the most incendiary, but it's not. That honor goes to "involuntary debt slavery" (although that comes from a source that you won't find in any Wall Street Journal article — one of my college roommates).

So why is this happening?

Apparently, our economy isn't stratified enough. Never mind that never in the history of the world has any country had a wealth gap as large as ours. Minorities, the poor and military personnel, who depend on student loans more than anyone else, still dream of joining a strong middle class. Isn't that the American dream: an honest day's pay for an honest day's work?

Well, with the unemployment rate at 30 percent for young people without higher-ed degrees, college has become part of the dream.

That's not necessarily bad, but with student debt in the situation it's in, maybe George Carlin was right. Maybe it's the American dream because you'd have to be asleep to believe in it. As a young professional with loans of my own, I can only hope not.

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