Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More Policy

Well. I'm not sure, looking at my last post, whether today's Labour tertiary policy makes me looks prescient or a proper charlie. But when I hit the news of the interest write-off at No Right Turn this afternoon in my half hour of peace while Spongebob Squarepants is on, I had a couple of reactions.

The first was exactly the same very rude word my partner used when I pointed him at it. The second was, if it's true.

I am a natural cynic. And surely, it's been fifteen years and a pretty comprehensive change of personnel. Can't I start trusting the Labour Party again? This particular government has a reputation for doing what it says it will. I don't know how accurate that is because I haven't been sitting here for the last six years with a Labour Party manifesto and a highlighter, but that's the general impression.

So, if I get over the air of 'too good to be true' for a moment, which is a struggle, this is good for us. It's also good for an awful lot of people we know, too. Our debt, which is my partners officially, is pretty much $10 000. Now, we're about six years behind most of our contemporaries because my protracted illness meant my partner was out of the workforce. During that time, interest kept accruing. I was lucky with my education: my family was dirt poor and I got a full allowance, and for the first couple of years of study, 10% fees. That meant the money set aside for my education as part of a bequest actually paid for it. I reached a point where I was asked to do a Masters, and I said no, because another year would have meant getting a loan. Like a number of people from my kind of background, I'm violently allergic to getting into debt.

Our situation isn't as bad as some of our friends, who have loans in excess of 60k. Who have loans pressuring them to go back to work after having children. Because you can hear the interest building up. And like most people our age, we know an awful lot of people who live in Sydney.

So, several points out of this.
  • previous to this, loans deterred some people not so much from study in the first place, but from further study they were capable of, because the weight of debt becomes oppressive.
  • I don't think, given the way loans are structured now, that it'll lead to a huge increase in borrowing. An awful lot of students borrowed without ever thinking about what it was costing them anyway. They treated the money as if it WAS free.
  • it works to decrease the gender inequity with loans. I don't see this as a wimmin's issue per se. With us the primary caregiver dicked over in this fashion was male. But that whole feminism thing is a whole other can of worms I don't have room to open right now.
  • it's demonstrably fairer than National's policy as well as more generous. See point above, and also, the tax rebate is bigger the more you make, ergo the less assistance you need, the more you get. Where people affected by illness and unemployment who don't actually make big bucks out of their degrees catch a break this way. And while Bill English is talking about this giving money to rich people and trying to make my irony filter explode, compared with people the same age, it takes graduates longer to earn more. They sacrifice earning potential to study, and then it takes a while to catch up, which is the period where the interest is building. Not all graduates are rich.
  • National really have just shafted themselves here. How can they argue? They can't say we can't afford it, because they've just spent weeks saying how much money we've got for a tax cut. They called it a bribe. Okay. WTF is a tax cut? And students must be worth targeting because they already tried it.
So yeah, as far as personal benefit goes? This is big. This is us actually looking at the future and thinking, maybe one day we can own our own home. We weren't taking on a mortgage before the loan was gone. And when the loan is gone, we do GET a tax cut, we change tax codes. And we can look at paying it off as we can, knowing that it will actually get smaller, not just get bigger more slowly.

Yeah. This is big. This is me dithering.


Blogger Commie Mutant Traitor said...

It's certainly a step in the right direction, but far, far less than what they should be doing (ie, writing off existing debt, eliminating fees, and providing a universal living allowance for students).

5:32 pm  
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