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Monday, May 4, 2009

Our necessary future

Our necessary future
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 378

The lead article in today's Washington Post is about the Obama administration's proposal to transform the financial aid program for higher education. This one is of equal, if not greater, importance to health care, the wars, and whatever else presents in the daily news. For my own part, I rank higher education, or more specifically, paying for higher education, the biggest problem of the bunch. Yes, I'm an egghead that way.

The Obama initiative changes the Pell Grant program to an entitlement program similar to Medicare and Social Security. We are in no position to waste the talent of our youth, especially as an effort to economize in our present. At one time, we led the world in education, and I suspect we still do, almost, and I've seen countless foreign students come here, seeking something they could not find at home.

While all this progresses at all due state speed, I watch a gifted young man pursue his dream. He wants to be a pilot. Not just any pilot, but the pilot, the one who flies the space shuttle, whatever that is when he is of age. I'm thinking an episode or two from Star Trek.

He needs $200,000 to pay for the basic education he needs. And to think I nearly choked over the $10,000 I owed when I graduated. Either way, it's a house mortgage for the either of us, the only difference being some 40 years.

There is the question of government or private interest in the loans. I see no question here. This is not place for investor greed. The important question here is how we posit the country, if not the world, for the future, and such is not a matter of who made what return last quarter.

I see no greater wrong for a state to commit than the destruction of a young man's dream. All he wants is to fly, and he agrees to do so in the defense of my ability to shop at Food Lion. In return, all he expects is a fair living, and let's understand that his plane could go down and end my world at a moment's notice.

Our future, his life, is worth our investment.

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