Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Community College

The State of the Union wrapped itself up this past Tuesday. I once again felt like the only seventeen year old girl who was diligently waiting for the biggest political speech of the year (aside from presidential inauguration speeches but those only happen once in a blue moon).

For those of you living outside of the U.S. or those of you who failed your high school civics class, The State of the Union (or SOTU as I'll be referring to it to save my hand from cramping) is a speech given by the president typically on the second Tuesday of January every year. It's required by our Constitution that the president give this speech to congress periodically (which we've interpreted as annually). It's basically a big awkward dinner party without the dinner. Congress comes together for a night joint session, and politicians try to make small talk in the suits their wives picked out for them. Like I said, it's a real treat.

Usually the president takes this as a time to inform Congress (and in this day and age the American people as it is televised) on what he plans/hopes/dreams on accomplishing in the coming year as he'll need Congress' cooperation to get it done. After the speech, a rebuttal then comes from the party that is not in power—presidentially speaking. For example, our president is Democrat so the rebuttal came from the Republicans. It's usually a really awkward speech where a person with too much make-up reads off a teleprompter with beady eyes. I'll say it again, it's a real treat.

Enough civics talk for everyone though, let's get to the point. President Obama listed a lot of things he wanted done during the hour and a half speech: a raise in minimum wage, universal child care (I'll be writing a post on that one soon), an end to ISIS, transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, I could go on and on, but what really stood out to me was the backlash following his announcement of free community college.

First off, this shouldn't have been news to anyone. He had already began putting this initiative in motion a few weeks prior, but I guess the bandwagon Republicans who only follow news if it comes via Twitter just now realized this plan.

Republicans are known to be harshly against any sort of social reform program such as free community college. This is the party that wants to cut spending on food stamps, free health care, and any other sort of welfare program because they are in the mindset that they're all just "free handouts" to people who are too lazy to work (which is a huge stereotype); there are people out there who work two to three jobs and still rely on food stamps to feed their kids, it's just that some do not understand that not everyone is a millionaire.

Anyway, free community college. Conservatives are griping because their precious tax dollars are once again going to go to another social program that could, you know, help our economy, give millions of people an opportunity they might never could have had, get better jobs, etc., etc.

It's kind of ironic that a party that is so against the welfare system does not support a system that could help millions of Americans become independent and no longer rely on the welfare programs Republicans hate. Think about it:  They'll have access to better jobs + higher wages which will equal less need for food stamps, free health insurance, etc.

The biggest complaint Republicans seem to be having is they wonder how we will pay for such a program. The obvious answer seems to be tax dollars, but if people picked up a newspaper every once and a while, they would notice that that's not exactly always the case.

President Obama has been looking at Tennessee Promise, a program that provides two years of tuition free community college. Tennessee is the first state to ever initiate this sort of program. The best part is, no tax payer money is being used to fund the program — the education lottery will actually be providing the monetary needs.

That then begs the question, if this could be funded by the education lottery — not tax dollars — why would anyone be against this? A program that could boost our economy, create less dependence on social welfare programs, establish opportunities for millions of Americans, and I could go on and on and on.

As someone who one day hopes free college is in our nation's future, I can only hope this measure gets passed. I can only hope that people realize affordable/free education is a huge stimulus to our economy. I can only hope that this program won't be seen as another "hand-out" to the part of our society that isn't as fortunate.

Have a fabulous day.


  1. I think this sounds like a good idea free community will a lot of people who don't go to college coz they can't afford it.Some people are just against everything someone else has to say..they're too stupid and selfish to see beyond themselves..What are food stamps??
    Obama will be coming to India soon people here are so excited all the media ready to spy on the him trying to get a scoop before anyone else..people will be turn up to welcome him etc :P

    1. Haha, it always fascinates me how excited countries get when President Obama visits them. Food stamps are generally cards (imagine a credit card) issued by the government to low income families. There's a set amount of money on the card depending on the household's income and how many people they are providing for. The card is then used to buy food for the household. There are items they can and cannot buy (for example, you can't buy liquor, beer, tobacco, etc. with food stamps). It's essentially a way for low income families to be able to buy groceries.

    2. Oh we have a similar kind of card here although it's not much of a card than a paper it's called "Ration Card" helps poor people to buy food and stuff at lower price than in market..but there are separate shops and quality isn't too good for this card holder..usually the shop seller does black business of the low price food and make money instead of helping people >.<"

    3. That is quite unfortunate that the system is taken advantage of. We have what's called SNAP Fraud (SNAP is just another term for food stamps) where people sell their SNAP benefits for cash. The statistics on this is varying though, as those in favor of SNAP report the statistic as low and those against the SNAP program report the statistic as high.

  2. Man, two decades ago the Dutch would have done anything to make this happen. I can't believe the Republicans are so against it.
    On the same day as this speech, the Dutch politicians decided that they scholarship they provide to every college student will no longer exist after this year. We're doing the complete opposite of what Obama wants to do. In ten years US citizens will be happy if this plan gets through, whereas the Dutch won't be able to study and see their country go down the drain...

    1. I'm so sorry to hear this. Many times it is easy to feel helpless in the world of politics, especially when something you want to see happen or an already existing program gets cut. It is in my hopes that your country begins to focus on education again.