Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Money is like Oxygen- Without it, its hard to survive

National student loan debt has surpassed one trillion dollars, topping credit card debt for the first time (ever!) and new calls for a student debt bailout.  Marriage and birthrates are falling, and the average age people tie the knot is inching ever upward. Looks like to me like the thing that is ruining families has nothing to do with our rights to reproduce, adopt or marry... it comes right back to MONEY.

People aren't getting married because they dont want to saddle the one they love with their school debt, or worse yet, they know that if they do get married then things are going to become even tighter and harder to survive.

Conversatives constantly bring up protecting the traditional family when they are arguing against homosexuals marrying or adopting, but it looks like the thing that is really threatening the traditional family is the expense of a good education.

The traditional family is usually considered a married male/female couple with of 2.5 kids. This is not a cheap institution, even considering variations across economies and penny-pinching. First there’s the American Home which costs upwards of $200,000, the $15,000 per year cost of raising one child, families are expensive.

Student debt is not making any of these expenses any more bearable. People are starting to have to chose between family and education, and thanks to the brow beating we've gotten all our lives about the importance of a college education the average person does not believe that they can support a family if they dont have the college education which, unfortunately, comes with the debt.
Its a vicious cycle.

This debt has accelerated an already changing attitude regarding marriage and the family. The marriage rate for American adults has dwindled below the 50% mark, with the average age of marriage reaching a peak of 26.5 years old for women and 28.5 for men. These numbers, while stark, are nothing compared to statistics regarding birthrate.

Birthrates have hit their lowest since the 1940s but this time it isnt because all the men are over seas fighting the Germans. It's because the average person understands how expensive raising a child can be, most want to give their child what they had and then some. Thus, since the average single couple is barely able to sustain themselves let alone someone who wouldnt be bringing in an income... children get put on the back burner.

Fewer children will probably be unavoidable with debt levels like these. With both parents having college degrees and debts of excess of $100,000, both incomes will be necessary simply to survive. The debt levels are necessitating the return of graduates to their parents. With loan repayments eating up as much as 60% or 70% of a graduate’s paycheck, this leaves little left for rent, even with a partner. Once food, transportation, clothing and incidentals are factored in, to say nothing of luxuries like cable or a cell phone, something has to give.

This arrangement postpones a couple’s entrance into adulthood and a family life, yet as with exploding debt levels, there may not be any other option. This is a defining moment for those who support the traditional independent family, if debt levels like this are allowed to continue, the family as we know it will die. Instead of a married man and woman raising kids on their own, it will be two cohabitators raising kids, or possibly just pets, in their parent’s homes. As a lesser of two evils, students should be bailed out, with a few changes in funding policy.

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