Chad Benson grabs a stool for today’s Three Martini Lunch while Jim is away. Today, Chad and Greg briefly discuss the significance of President Trump becoming the first sitting president to address the March for Life. Then they get a kick out of learning that the House impeachment managers are successfully alienating the group of senators they can least afford to lose – GOP moderates. They also richly enjoy watching a dad who scrimped and saved to pay for his daughter’s college education dissect the progressive lunacy of Elizabeth Warren’s college debt forgiveness plan right to her face. And as Democrats and their media allies dig for dirt on a strengthening Bernie Sanders, they brace for a riveting fight over whether Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders was more racially insensitive in the 1970’s.
Free college. Free tuition. Student loan forgiveness. All of these ideas are being pushed by Democratic presidential candidates, but is what looks like a compassionate effort to help college students escape years or decades of crippling debt really just perpetuating a vicious government cycle?
Many candidates are advocating for free tuition at public universities and community colleges. Recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren put forward a plan to forgive student loan debt as an even greater appeal to young voters.
But some experts see some big problems with that.
“First of all, I want my reparations for the tuition that I paid for my kids,” said Gary Wolfram, a professor of economics and public policy at Hillsdale College in Michigan. “If you’re going to forgive everybody else’s debt, then you’ve got to forgive mine too, right?”
Wolfram says the basic economics of debt forgiveness show the idea to be absurd.
“Why would anyone give someone a loan now. If you were a business firm, why would you loan somebody money for higher education because they’re never going to pay it back. It makes no sense at all. It can’t possibly work,” said Wolfram.
But Wolfram is not just picking apart the proposals of Warren and other Democrats. He says there is a problem with the cost of higher education, but government is the cause of this vicious cycle rather than the solution to it.
“It was the government going out and lending lots of money to people without looking to see if they’re going to be able to pay it off,” said Wolfram, noting Uncle Sam does far less due diligence before handing out money than a bank will do before approving a mortgage application.
“The reason you’ve got skyrocketing tuitions, and therefore more and more loans being taken out, it’s because there’s this cycle of the government providing loans to get people to go to college. Then more people are going to college, and it’s driving up the price of college, which [results in] more loans,” explained Wolfram.
Advocates of greater federal intervention in higher education say “free” tuition will take the soaring costs out of the equation. Wolfram says it will be just the opposite. He says sending virtually every high school graduate to college on the taxpayers’ dime will lead to the government intruding even more.
“Why wouldn’t you charge $200,000 a year for tuition because the government’s paying for it? Then the government’s going to say, ‘Oh my gosh. This is incredibly expensive.’ Then they’ll say tuition’s got to be $10,000 a year.
“That won’t be enough to fund all the increase in teachers, etc, that you’re going to need to have all these kids come in. Then the government’s also going to say, ‘Gee, when we’re doing that, we’re going to tell you what has to be in higher education. Here are the classes that you have to offer.
“So you’re going to end up with the Obamacare of higher education,” said Wolfram.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Wolfram explain how the universal push for four-year colleges is leaving massive labor shortages in skilled trades and steering students away from good careers that might fit them far better than another four years in school. He also reveals his approach to making college more affordable – and it looks a lot like the recruiting of college athletes.
Many people are stunned this week after two hugely successful and famous Americans committed suicide, and government statistics show suicide is rising dramatically around the country. What is behind this horrific upswing and what can be done to reverse it?
Fashion legend Kate Spade took her own life, reportedly by hanging, at her New York City apartment. On Friday, famed chef and television host Anthony Bourdain was found dead, also by hanging, in a French hotel room.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is now the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. The research shows that, since 1999, suicide rates are higher in almost every state and in more than half of the states, the increase is more than 30 percent than just 19 years ago.
Dr. Michael Brown is a national radio host and author of “Saving A Sick America.” In his ministry work, Brown says he encounters desperate people on a regular basis. He says the worst thing we can do is express shock and horror at yet another suicide and then do nothing.
Brown says there are no easy answers to explain the surge in suicides, but he believes there are some critical questions to ask.
“We have to ask in what ways have we become more sick as a society. Has the breakdown in family life contributed to things? Has the isolation and loneliness in which people live contributed to things? Have we lost some of our spiritual roots that give us a sense of meaning and purpose and dignity in life as people created in the image of God?” said Brown.
Brown says making personal connections is vital in helping people see there will be brighter days ahead. He says just paying attention to how people are acting and taking the time to interact with them can do a world of good.
“Many times we’re so caught up in our own lives that we don’t stop and observe. Most people, if you take a personal interest in them, they’re willing to stop and talk,” said Brown. “If they’re going into a shell, if they don’t to be themselves, take time out of your schedule and get with them and say, ‘Are you OK? What’s going on?'” said Brown.
He says hope is another powerful tool, both when people have a reason to anticipate the next day and when they don’t.
“With hope you can endure almost anything. But when you lose hope, when the pain is too great to even think of tomorrow, that’s obviously when people are going to consider suicide,” said Brown.
For family members, Brown recommends learning what gestures of love your loved one responds to along the lines of the Christian book “The Five Languages” and then engage with them in those ways.
Brown himself was shooting up drugs as a teenager until he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. He says a relationship with God through Christ is immensely powerful in dealing with depression and other struggles that could lead to suicide.
“The one thing I know for sure is that a vibrant relationship with God through faith in Jesus through the scriptures have saved many people from depression, many people from suicide, but there are Christians who struggle with these issues as well,” said Brown.
He says the forgiveness found in Christ transforms lives.
“When you know that you’re in relationship with God and He loves you, suddenly you have this extraordinary affirmation. My life counts. Guilt can plague and destroy you. When you get rid of the guilt and now you know you’re forgiven and you don’t have to have those nightmares day and night, that’s incredible,” said Brown.
And he says the guilt and despair is replaced by something indescribably wonderful.
“Being in God’s presence when you’re in right relationship with Him brings extraordinary joy. I can’t think of anything that would be an antidote to depression, suicide, hopelessness than pure joy,” said Brown.
The testimonies of persecuted Christians and policy proposals to address the brutality highlighted the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians this week in Washington, and both left religious freedom activists ready to work even harder to protect the right of free religious expression around the world.
Persecution of Christians is on the rise throughout the world, with some experts concluding we’re seeing the worst oppression of believers in recent memory.
“We are definitely seeing an expansion of persecution issues around the world. Pew Center estimates that 79 percent of the world lives in a place that faces high or very high social hostilities and government restrictions on religion and religious expression. That’s true for the persecuted church but it’s also true for all sorts of other places as well,” said 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative Director of Policy Relations Nathan Wineinger.
He says this week’s summit had a two-fold purpose.
“The main focus was on figuring out how people around the world can call leaders to account and make sure that the persecution of Christians is addressed in policy and in practice on the ground,” said Wineinger.
“We (also) heard from people who experienced really horrific moments of persecution. Also people from Iraq and Syria talked about the importance of Christian forgiveness in confronting persecution issues,” said Wineinger.
He says the testimonies of persecuted believers were the most gripping moments of the summit.
“I heard the story about a pastor who had been abducted in Iraq and for nine days was held and tortured, and then after that is finally released. When he gets out, he goes and tells his congregation to forgive the people who had persecuted him and to not take vengeance,” said Wineinger.
He says similar acts of love were also heard.
“It was extremely powerful to hear those people talking about how they’re moving forward, how they’re bringing healing to their communities, about how they’re bringing aid, food and shelter to displaced people. That was really powerful testimony about how to respond to persecution,” said Wineinger.
While the scourge of ISIS in Iraq and Syria dominates headlines related to persecution, Wineinger says there are plenty of other places where persecution is rampant, including countries most Americans rarely think about.
“Sri Lanka faces dozens of situations where churches are attacked or individuals are attacked. That’s a country we don’t hear about very much because it’s a small country but persecution is happening there,” said Wineinger.
The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is calling for some specific steps around the globe, namely for the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to the Lake Chad area of Africa, where Boko Haram is still wreaking havoc on believers.
Here at home, the group is urging President Trump to put forward a nominee to be U.S. ambassador for religious freedom.
“Now that we have a new administration, we need to see that administration maintain that commitment with a highly-qualified individual and they need to put that individual in quickly so that the work of the International Religious Freedom office at the State Department can continue,” said Wineinger.
Wineinger says there is already a dedicated staff in place but it cannot do much until a leader is in place who will not only chart a clear course but also have the ear of the president and secretary of state.
He also says another priority is to implement a new religious freedom training program for foreign service officers that became law last year.
“The Frank R. Wolf International Freedom Act that President Obama signed into law last year requires that foreign service officers take training on the importance of religious freedom and how that composes part of our human rights initiatives. It;s very important that that training be put into place so that foreign service officers have the tool and training they need to be advocates for religious freedom in embassies around the world,” said Wineinger.