A better bailout

There can be no doubt that we have entered a period of economic crisis and turmoil unlike any that has been seen in generations. Unfolding before our eyes is a period of spiraling unemployment, profound and widespread mismanagement of industries critical to our nation’s health and now a crisis within the world of our nation’s universities that could cripple our ability to keep pace with the rest of the world. It is no secret that UVM has fallen victim to the financial downturn that is now gripping our nation. A sudden and massive budget shortfall of some $22 million has seized the University and is threatening its ability to function in current form. UVM is not alone. A diverse mixture of colleges all across this land are suffering from similar crises – prompting, in some cases, the leaders of those universities to take pay cuts and other measures to stem the bleeding flow of capital. On top of this, tightening credit markets mean that it is becoming more and more difficult – in many cases impossible – for students to take out loans to fund their education and help pay to run the colleges that educate their peers. Further, many of these students have been taken advantage of by predatory lending practices – not unlike those made famous in the sub-prime lending industry – that are leading to unheard-of and, frankly, unfair interest rate levels.Add a crippled job market and we have before us a powerful, acidic mixture threatening to burn a hole right through our nation’s future. If ever there were a case for the government to intervene – here it is. The value of a young, educated workforce cannot be underestimated. In fact, times such as these demand the infusion of new ideas and energy if they are to be overcome. Remember, this is not a simple, cyclical downturn, but an event which has dismantled the reigning economic philosophy of the past 30 years. It is foolish at this point to think that we can avert catastrophe and have time to brace ourselves for financial hardship and begin looking to the less immediate future. Rather than helping to prop up a network of failed policies found in the industrial and financial sectors of this country, our money should be spent ensuring that our collective future is well-educated, competitive and invigorated with the kind of fresh blood that will nurse this country back to health if we let it.