Will They Never Get the Message?

Will They Never Get the Message?

© David Burton 2013

Gitmo and College Costs

     Two recent articles in the Boston Herald caught my attention. The first was a story about President Obama’s renewed call to close the Guantanamo Bay prison that holds Islamic terrorists (Ref. 1) and the second was a story on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed legislation to reduce the interest rates on college students’ loans. (Ref. 2) My reactions after reading the articles was Will they never get the message?

Closing Guantanamo Bay:

     The Boston Herald article about the recent announcement that President Obama is reversing himself and now intends to honor his 2008 presidential campaign pledge to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that holds terrorists captured in the ongoing war against Islamic fundamentalism contains the following:

     “Gird your loins, America, President Obama intends to empty out Guantanamo Bay and send scores of suspected Muslim terror operatives back to their jihadist-coddling native countries. Goaded by anti-war activists and soft-on-terror attorneys, . . . Obama announced last Thursday that he’ll lift a ban on sending up to 90 Yemeni detainees home and will initiate other stalled transfers out of the compound.
     “This radical appeasement of Obama’s left flank is a surefire recipe for more Benghazis, more USS Coles and more innocent lives at risk. [Emphasis mine]
     “A little more than three years ago, the White House assured Americans that it would not release Yemeni detainees back to their al-Qaeda-infested land. In January 2010, international press reported that at least a dozen former Guantanamo Bay prisoners had rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen.
         - - -
     “Which side are Obama and his lawyers on, anyway?
     “The office of the Director of National Intelligence reports that 27.9 percent of the 599 former detainees released from Guantanamo were either confirmed or suspected of later engaging in jihadist attacks. [Emphasis mine]
         - - -
     “How much more American blood and treasure will this reckless, feckless game of jihadi catch-and-release cost?” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 1)

     There are hundreds or more of internet blogs, petitions, pleadings, etc. urging the president to release the Guantanamo Bay prisoners and to close the prison. Typical is that from the leading advocate of bleeding-heart liberals, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU has put out the following message and petition on the internet on behalf of the murdering terrorists being held in Guantanamo. Never mind the hundreds of thousands who have been killed, mutilated, enslaved and subjugated by these criminals and their radical co-religionists throughout the world. To the ACLU and the other bleeding hearts, these victims are irrelevant. Only their perceived violations of the prisoners’ so-called civil rights matter. How dare we Americans keep these butchers imprisoned? How dare we keep these killers from committing new acts of terror?

There is a serious human rights crisis brewing at the prison at Guantánamo Bay. A hunger strike that began in early February has spread to include the vast majority of the prison population, according to attorneys representing some of the strikers. At least eleven are being forced fed, a practice universally considered cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and one that violates international medical ethics standards. The situation at Guantánamo is dire.

Tell President Obama the time to close Gitmo is now. Enough is enough.

     And here’s the petition for you to sign and send to the President:

Dear President Obama,

I am calling on you to keep your promise to close Gitmo. In the last few months, the majority of the prison population at Guantánamo Bay has been on hunger strike, protesting the mistreatment of prisoners who have been detained without charge or trial, with no end in sight, for nearly a decade.

President Obama, I am calling on you to take immediate steps to avert the human rights crisis, including authorizing the secretary of defense to use existing certification procedures to repatriate and resettle abroad all prisoners who have been cleared for release.

Your Name

     - - - Ref. 3

     What the ACLU and its minions do not understand is the fact that there is indeed “a serious human rights crisis”, but it is not Gitmo, it is radical fundamental Islam that is waging an unholy war against the rest of the civilized world. The number of inmates at Gitmo pales in comparison to number of victims of these inhuman killers of innocent civilians around the globe. The ACLU would better serve the people in the name of their organization and the rest of the world by advocating for the victims of these criminals and against the fundamentalist Islamists that are conducting this brutal war of murder, rape, terror, mutilation and subjugation.

     While no vacation retreat, Guantanamo is no hell-hole. The majority of Guantánamo detainees live in communal facilities where they can eat, pray and exercise together. In the United States, these same men would most likely be held in military detention — confined to their cells 22 hours a day and prohibited from engaging in group activities, including communal prayer.

     In previous wars, nations have always exercised the right to capture the enemy and then hold them until the end of the conflict. The same basic principle ought to apply here in terms of America’s right to capture the enemy and hold them.

     “Today, . . . the detention center at Guantanamo appears less likely than ever to close. There are 166 people currently imprisoned, down from a high of 684 in 2003. But those who remain are likely to do so indefinitely. Effectively banned from the continental U.S. by Congress, disowned by their home countries and unwelcome pretty much everywhere else, they have no place to go.
     “In addition to the seven Guantanamo detainees currently facing charges -- including the five charged in relation to the 9/11 attacks -- 24 may face charges in the future. Three current detainees have already been convicted in military tribunals: one was sentenced to life in prison, one is scheduled to be released pending testimony in another case and one has had his sentencing delayed for four years.
     “Of the rest, however, the U.S. has designated 86 detainees for release but can't actually set them free. Thirty are from Yemen, and the U.S. won't send them back there while it remains a hotbed of terrorism. No country is willing to accept the others. And it's a political nonstarter to release them into the U.S.
        - - -
     “In 2010, Obama's Guantanamo Task Force determined that another 46 were ‘too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution.’ And so they remain stuck here, in limbo.
        - - -
     “The truth is that nobody is really in a hurry to close Guantanamo. - - -
     “As a result, the vague idea of indefinite detention is looking more specifically like life in prison, at least for those detainees who are not sentenced to death by the military commissions. And with the youngest detainee still in his 20s, Guantanamo could conceivably remain open for decades to come. (Ref. 4)

      The reemergence of Obama’s campaign promise of 2008 to close Gitmo looks more and more like just another political move to placate the far-left element of his bleeding heart liberal supporters. It may also be a move to divert attention from the problems created by Benghazi, the IRS, and the accessing of newsmen’s phone records. Hopefully, this latest political gambit will not succeed. Realistically, closing Gitmo would do more harm than good. Instead, we should keep these terrorist murderers in POW camps until the war with radical Islam is won – which, in reality, won’t be in any of their lifetimes – Hooray! They can and should be held under rules of war that allow detention without charge for the duration of hostilities. Closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison and the release of the POWs being held there should only come with the end of the war on terror which is unlikely to occur within your or my lifetime.

Reducing College Loan Interest:

     The second Boston Herald article, about newly elected Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introducing a bill to lower the interest rates on federally subsidized higher education loans contains the following:

     “. . . U. S. Sen. Warren, in her first piece of legislation, just proposed a bill to lower interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans from 3.4 percent to 0.75 percent. They’re scheduled to double to 6.8 percent in July, further ‘hammering,’ as Warren puts it, the perpetually ‘hammered’ middle class. Anti-bank crusader Warren argues that those wily banks already can get loans at less than 1 percent. Why not students too?
     “And that’s a swell question as well.
     “What’s not swell is grim reality. Warren’s discount rate would only apply to new borrowers. For {only} one year. [Emphasis mine] More depressing: Even if Warren’s bill passes . . . it’s a teeny drop in the ocean of student debt. [Emphasis mine]

        - - -
     “- - - This college-cost mess just gets worse and worse. Our do-nothing Congress has done nothing. Meanwhile colleges keep competing for those few kids who can pay. . . . {These colleges} look less like learning institutions and more like spas with snazzy gyms and a la carte restaurants . . .
        - - -
     “Experts . . . blame bloated administrative staffs and skyrocketing professor salaries for why college costs are up 1,000 percent in 30 years. . . . Harvard Law School . . . paid Warren $350,000 a year.
        - - -
     “So if Elizabeth Warren wants to cast herself as a warrior for that ‘hammered’ middle class, then she needs to go at the people who are really hammering them.
     “And that’s her old pals back in academia.” (Ref. 2)

     The real reason that a college education costs so much is because colleges charge too much. Student loan interest is truly just a drop in the bucket of total college costs. The effort to contain or reduce the cost of a higher education by keeping student loan interest low while college costs continue to rise is an exercise in futility, if not outright stupidity. The proposed Warren legislation is nothing more than a political ploy, pandering to the masses and an attempt to prevent meaningful measures being taken that would actually reduce the cost of a college education.

     If a student or family took out student loans totaling $250,000 with a payback period of 10 years, the difference in interest payments between an interest rate of 3.4% and one of 0.75% would only amount to 15% of the loan cost. In other words, the direct cost of college would be $250,000 and the amount saved in reduced interest costs would only be about $36,000. It would be far better if Congress focused on reducing the $250,000 cost of the college education rather than on reducing the $47,000 interest cost. By the way, will an interest rate of 0.75% cover the government’s and bank’s costs of administering an education loan or will it be so low as to discourage the banks from making higher education loans? Will the eventual result be a complete takeover of college loans by the government – yet another step on the road to bigger government and socialism?

     The reason that these higher education costs continue to spiral out of control is largely the result of the government guaranteeing a continuous supply of customers (students) and an ever-increasing amount of money to the colleges (government grants, loan guarantees, and government financing). “Over the past three decades, college tuition has increased at more than double the rate of inflation.(Ref. 5) While this is debt for students and their parents, it is revenue for colleges and universities. It is also manna from heaven for the academic egg-heads in their ivory towers that preach the gospel of leftist progressivism.

     Colleges and universities are anything but stupid. They realize that they can make lots more money by enrolling more students, knowing that the federal government would pick up the tab, and the federal government would guarantee student loans, even if the student defaulted on paying back his or her student loan. In other words, the college or university can’t lose. Thus, colleges and universities can and do raise their prices without fear of pricing themselves out of the marketplace. No matter what they charge, Uncle Sam will pay the bill. “Schools know that students have access to tens of billions of dollars in grants and loans, … and they raise tuition because the aid lets them do it.” (Ref. 5)

     “The presidents of the universities, the senior officials, the key faculty do not get rewarded by being efficient, by teaching more students for the same amount of money or whatever, by using buildings efficiently, six, seven days a week, et cetera. There's no incentive in that for them.
     “So, there's no great compulsion to reduce costs, and yet spending more money often has rewards. It can help improve your rankings in the magazine rankings that go on by magazines like US News or Forbes. And it is actually beneficial to colleges, or at least it's perceived to be beneficial to colleges, to spend more money: nicer facilities for students so you attract more students, better students, whatever, lower teaching loads for faculty so that they're happy and content and not likely to cause a lot of problems.
     “So the job of a university president is to raise a lot of money, tons of money, and distribute it, and not too much attention is placed on lowering the cost to the consumer.” (Ref. 6)

     Here in Massachusetts, a report from the “New England Center for Investigative Reporting reminds us of the core mission of Massachusetts colleges and universities: to make money for education bureaucrats.
     “’Over the last 25 years the universities’ enrollments have collectively grown by 26 percent, while the ranks of full-time administrators have risen 75 percent, not only at private universities but also at some public ones,’ the center reports. During the same 25-year period tuition at four-year universities nationwide has increased at an inflation-adjusted 85 percent, federal figures show.
         “{At Suffolk University in Boston} the number of administrators grew by more than 900 percent according to federal reports, while the student population grew around 10 percent. Suffolk contests those numbers claiming their bureaucracy only grew by 313 percent.” (Ref. 7) Why worry about costs when Uncle Sam will guarantee that you get reimbursed for every penny spent? Why worry about market resistance to the outrageous cost of a college education when the government is telling everyone that they need to get a college education – not to do so would be positively un-American?

     In truth, the government is the cause of the high cost of a college education. The reason for this is the same as the reason that caused the collapse of the housing market in 2008 - government insistence that everyone, irrespective of financial considerations, had a God-given right to own their own home. The government backed up their insistence by forcing banks and other lending institutions to approve mortgages for many who had no means of repaying the mortgage loans. The same situation exists with respect to a college education. Our government has told the public that everyone is entitled to a college education. Our politicians declare that it’s a national obligation to go to college – irrespective of whether or not that individual is realistically qualified to go to college. At the same time, the government has set up loan and grant programs to ensure that the colleges and universities in this country have every incentive to enroll more and more students at ever increasing costs. After all, the government is providing the money, or, at least guaranteeing that loans to students will be repaid. The more students the colleges admit and the more colleges charge, the more money they receive and the greater their profits. Colleges have no incentive to reduce or contain costs and our college-age youth are repeatedly told by our politicians that they all are entitled to a college education – no matter whether they can afford it; no matter whether they are really qualified for it; and no matter whether they would be better off financially in the long run without the college education. In higher education, as in housing and health care, the push to give something to everyone by entitlement, whether or not they need it, can afford it, or are qualified for it, has driven up the cost. The cost of a college education is being driven by entitlement and the lack of true competition and a free market.

     “For decades, American politicians have waxed passionate on the need to put college within every family’s reach. To ensure that anyone who wants to go to college will be able to foot the bill, Washington has showered hundreds of billions of dollars into student aid of all kinds – grants and loans, subsidized work-study jobs, tax credits, and deductions. Today, that shower has become a monsoon. . . . government outlays intended to hold down the price of a college degree have ballooned, in inflation-adjusted dollars, from $29.6 billion in 1985 to $139.7 billion in 2010.” (Ref. 8)

     So, while the costs of higher education have risen astronomically, Senator Warren wants to reduce an already low loan interest rate of 3.4% (which constitutes but a small portion of higher education expenses) while ignoring the real problem of a government supported, bloated, out-of-control, and still-rising college cost structure. In essence, she’s worried about a pin-prick to the finger while the patient is bleeding to death from a hemorrhaging artery.


  1. Don’t play catch-and-release jihadis with Gitmo, Michelle Malkin, Boston Herald, Page 9, 28 May 2013.
  2. Hammer away at real college excess, Margery Eagan, Boston Herald, Page 9, 28 May 2013.
  3. President Obama: Close Gitmo now, ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/secure/sem-president-obama-close-gitmo-now?ms=gad_SEM_Search-GuantanamoBay_guantanamo%20bay_24938548582, Accessed 28 May 2013.
  4. Obama's Guantanamo Is Never Going To Close, So Everyone Might As Well Get Comfortable, Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post: Politics, 21 February 2013.
  5. Why is college so expensive?, Paul Kix, Boston Sunday Globe, Pages K1 and K3, 25 March 2012.
  6. Does A College Education Have To Cost So Much?, Talk of the Nation, NPR Radio: http://www.npr.org/11/12/14/143718677/does-a-college-education-have-to-cost-so-much,
    14 December 2011 (Accessed 26 March 12).
  7. Colleges get ‘A’ in hiking costs, Michael Graham, Boston Herald, Page 17, 29 May 2013.
  8. The government’s college money pit, Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, Page K9, 29 April 2012.


  30 May 2013 {Article 164; Politics_27}    
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