You Must Actually Teach the Man to Fish


I frequently get in conversations with conservatives who constantly gripe about government handouts, believing the welfare system is what is wrong with this country.  It is people not wanting to work and expecting government to just bail them out.  When I get in this discussion with Republicans they always bring up the clichéd line “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”, basically saying government handouts will never bring prosperity to people who depend on them.   Now I do not whole-heartily disagree with this and I think it is a wise saying.  However, for the line to actually make sense the man must actually be taught how to fish.  I think it is incredibly hypocritical for Republicans to denounce welfare, and at the same time be anti-education, in both rhetoric and policy.

Mr. Santorum called President Obama a snob because he wanted every person to have access to higher education.  “What?” College graduates on average earn far more than those who do not graduate from college and the unemployment rate for college graduates is 4.2 percent (compared to 8.3 percent for those with only a high school education, and 12.9 percent for those without a high school diploma). Now I know college is not the right option for every person, but it is not snobbish to want every student to become better educated.  Similarly Mitt Romney told a high school student to go to a school that is cheaper and not to expect government to help pay for his loans.

Instead of telling students to settle for a cheaper school why isn’t he encouraging reform to keep tuition rates low and to make college affordable to all students who wish to go on to higher education?  Mr. Romney seems to forget this country was made great because we invested in education.  America started the “high school movement,” which made secondary education standard. It also passed the GI Bill, which led to a generation of college-educated individuals.  Government worked to make education a priority.  In 1979 Pell Grants covered 77 percent of the costs of tuition at public universities that number is now down to 36 percent.  This is due to skyrocketing education costs and one political party that argues we must cut spending at all costs. Is it any wonder America is no longer the pinnacle of education?

Republicans curse those on welfare for not helping themselves while de-funding education and regarding it as snobbish. Education is precisely the means people need to help themselves.  Yet they talk about education as if it was toxic, they want to cut Pell grants, and they scoff at the idea of government intervening to help.  Republicans want to cut both welfare and education; I just don’t see how that will make anyone better?

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