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Instructions

This week we are expanding on our knowledge and understanding of rhetorical analysis and information literacy. With this blog post, we are going to practice these skills we will use in writing our first essay and reflect on how comfortable we are and where we can still improve since we will be using these for our first essay.

First read the attached article (4 screenshots) and analyze

Second: choose one rhetorical technique to analyse (

identify the technique, cite an example, and analyze how it help the author prove his argument)

Third Choose to discuss : the authority of the author, the value of the information, how the information is part of a continuing conversation, and consult the IL Framework to base you evaluation on

Student Debt Cancellation Is Unfair. That Doesn’t Mean Biden Shouldn’t Do It.
A philosopher probes the ethics of a knotty situation.
BY BARRY LAM
MAY 04, 20225:50 AM
A graduation cap is seen upside down on a sidewalk, with change spilling out of it.
Ever since the federal government froze interest on federal student loans and suspended repayment
requirements during the pandemic, progressives have been campaigning for canceling some significant
part of student loan debt, with proposed numbers ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 per borrower. Some
have even advocated for canceling all current student loan debt, amounting to a $1.3 trillion giveback
to disproportionately younger, more educated, higher-earning classes.
Republicans are hoping previous borrowers who have paid off their debt, currently struggling Americans
without college debt, those with significant noneducational debt, and people who push back on the
idea that college is more worthy of support than other things people do after high school will respond
with enough fury at Biden and Democrats that they can ride a wave back to power and to the White
House. In their responses to last week’s renewed talk about the prospect of student debt cancellation,
GOP politicians and pundits are tapping into deep feelings around unfairness in people who do not
stand to benefit from one of the largest acts of debt forgiveness in U.S. history.
Those feelings of resentment and anger have merit. It really is unfair to a great number of people,
past, present, and future, that current student debt holders would benefit from loan forgiveness while
others cannot. But this does not mean Biden shouldn’t proceed. There is a lot more to the wisdom of a
piece of public policy than whether or not it is unfair.
On the face of it, canceling any student debt creates a class of winners, and no class of losers. After
all, nothing happens to those unaffected, except that their local economies may be stimulated as
former college debt holders will likely spend more on goods and services once they are permanently
freed of their monthly debt payments. Perhaps there will be some downstream effects, like there will
be for any addition to the national debt, like the possibility of higher taxes down the road or taxpayer
dollars not being spent on other priorities. It might add to inflation, but most estimates suggest the
impact would be relatively modest. But those effects are going to hit people whose debt has been
canceled, too. They’re also taxpayers and participants in the economy. With some winners, no losers,
and everyone affected similarly by future downstream effects, what is not to like?
But feelings around unfairness run deep in human nature. We know about humans that even if they are
unaffected by a policy, or stand to benefit from it, the fact that their neighbor benefits more without
having done anything to “deserve” it fuels resentment and spite. We’ve long known, for instance, that
in a game of take-it-or-leave it (the ultimatum game), if you and I are two typical people who come
across $100 and I propose that you get $20 and I get $80, you’d rather we both get nothing out of spite
than to have it so I get more than you. This would make no sense if our only goal were self-interest.
Any amount of money is better than no money, so any split should be acceptable. But for humans,
feelings around fairness run deeper than even self-interest. We’d sooner starve of spite than see an
undeserving equal get more. This is also true of other primates. In a fit of rage, monkeys will reject a
passable treat, like a slice of cucumber, if they see their neighbor receiving a coveted treat, like a
grape.
Resentment and spite at those who receive undeserved advantage aren’t just primitive emotions we
should abandon. All philosophically defensible conceptions of fairness account for them. One way some
philosophers understand fairness is as the dishing out of just deserts: giving credit to those who have
earned it, and punishment to those who have done wrong by us. This notion of fairness underlies much
of criminal sentencing, merit raises, and even the assignment of intellectual property to creators. It
seems only fair for money, esteem, benefits, and penalties to follow the degree to which people
“deserve” it, and whether or not people deserve things is intimately tied to how we value what people
do to and for others. Fairness dictates that a person who writes a hit song deserves a royalty for every
stream, or that a perpetrator of a physical assault should get a day in jail for every day their victim is
in the hospital. People who have worked harder for the group deserve a bigger slice of the pie, whereas
a “free rider” deserves none of it.
The other conception of fairness philosophers propose says that those in authority over us should have
a principled stance of treating like cases as like. This is the conception of fairness that accounts for
rage at unequal pay given for equal work, or unequal prison sentences handed out by race, class, or
geography. It may be completely undeserved for anyone to receive any state punishment for marijuana
possession. But that aside, it is even more unfair that a young Black kid in Milwaukee got 10 years for
marijuana possession in 2005 while a white hipster in New York in 2020 gets a fix-it ticket. Similarly,
both professors John and Jane might be underpaid—one source of unfairness. But it is an additional
source of unfairness that professor Jane gets paid 25 percent less than professor John for the same job
at the same rank. This conception of fairness, unlike the first, is essentially comparative, requiring you
to look at two people or two groups of people to assess whether they are being treated by those in
authority as alike when they are in fact alike.
Many people who will not stand to benefit from the proposed student debt cancellation have a claim
that it is an unfair policy, operating with either conception of fairness. There is no sense in which
current student debt holders deserve to have their loans forgiven but past and future debtholders do
not. Unless current student debt holders happen to disproportionately work in professions that benefit
their societies, governments, and communities more than past and future holders, this charge of
unfairness is valid. There is also no sense in which student debt holders deserve more to have their
loans forgiven than medical debt holders, or people who have not debt-financed their educations but
have debt-financed other future-looking activities like small businesses. We can argue about whether
there is something intrinsically valuable to society in having citizens who receive formal but costly
postsecondary education so as to make them especially deserving of debt cancellation. But that kind of
value also holds of many people who decide to start small businesses instead of going to college. And it
most certainly holds of people who must undergo costly medical procedures to stay alive.
The case for debt cancellation’s unfairness is even stronger when comparing different groups for equal
treatment under policy and law. Canceling debt for current student debt holders is treating them
favorably only because they happen to inhabit a time when it is politically advantageous for a president
to forgive this debt. But that is a failure on the part of authority to treat like cases as like. People who
have paid all or a significant portion of their student debt in the past, and people who will be in even
bigger debt in the future under a Trump or DeSantis presidency, face unequal treatment only for having
taken out their loans at an earlier or later time. There are even people now, like the formerly
incarcerated or the undocumented, who have student loan debt that could not be canceled because
they do not have federally backed loans. These groups of people have a claim to unfair treatment by
the powers that be because they are just like current federal loan holders but aren’t given the same
advantage.
And so we can’t dismiss people who complain about unfairness. They are right about that. But desert
and fairness comparisons also pull in the opposite direction. It really is unfair to current student debt
holders that for most of the 20th century, college education was state-funded, grant-funded, and
scholarship-funded, rather than debt-funded by the individual. There is no sense in which students
“back then” deserved a college education more than current ones do. The quality of higher education
and its impact on future earnings are not much different now than in the past, but the price tag and
the resources a young person has at their disposal to pay for it are very different. Most of this is
attributable to severe cuts in state funding of higher education at state schools, where most students
receive their college education, and grant funding not keeping pace with higher education inflation.
The average Pell Grant used to pay for 80 percent of attending a college; now it pays 29 percent. And
remember working to help pay for college? The average college student could pay for tuition alone at
the cheapest state school through six weekly hours of part-time work in 1970. That student would have
to work 28 hours per week for the whole year in 2020—and that doesn’t include the costs of room,
board, books, and transportation.
It is also unfair for student debt to have been the paradigm for financing higher education for the
generations who experienced the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the greatest rise in housing
inflation, wage stagnation, and core inflation in 50 years, during a time when everything else that used
to be taken for granted as something that could be work-funded or state-funded now has to be
debt-funded: higher education, housing, and even health care.
Public policy isn’t only about assessing fairness by comparing one group who benefits with one group
who does not. As unfair as it is for student loan debt to be forgiven but not medical debt, that current
debt is forgiven but not past or future debt, that many relatively well-off professionals with college
degrees will benefit but fewer less well-off wage workers will—it is also unfair for students today to be
forced to debt-finance their education to the degree they must when their parents didn’t have to; for
Wall Street companies, but not students and homeowners, to have their debt and contract obligations
paid for by taxpayer dollars; and for student debt owners to be unable to use bankruptcy to protect
themselves from creditors when other forms of debt can be discharged in that way.
Charges of unfairness around student debt cancellation are legitimate, and not to be written off as
selfish or spiteful. But the wisdom or goodness of a policy cannot be reduced to particular comparisons
of fairness and unfairness. Every change for the better highlights the unfairness with which we’ve
treated people in the past. Every change that benefits someone in a society without also benefiting
someone who is in greater need is a bit of unfairness we must contend with. Almost every policy is
unfair. But public policy has always been about more than fairness.

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