Image Credits: Campus Reform

Free! Take one!

Free college, free healthcare, free handouts. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Politicians are constantly promising free things on the campaign trail. As a college graduate sitting on enough debt to buy a brand new SUV, I understand how appealing free things sound. Is this really achievable though?

We hear in the media how other countries offer free education to their citizens. I did some digging to find out how true those accusations are. When I researched “countries with free college,” I honestly was shocked to find that despite “free college” in Europe, the United States has the highest enrollment in secondary education in the world. I also found that there is no real correlation with free college and the number of people who graduate from college. The United States is in the top three countries to have the highest number of college graduates ages 24-34.

How are “free” things financially supported? There is no such thing as a free lunch. I took a look at a socialist country’s tax rate. Germany, one of the countries that offers free college, has a 47% tax rate. For every $1 you make, you would have to give 47 cents to the government. That, my friends, is not freedom. It gets even worse; Denmark has a 55% tax rate. A biweekly paycheck from a $100,000 salary would be $3,846. If that paycheck were taxed at 55% that check would go from $3,846 to $1,731, meaning over $2,115 per check is government tax! $2,115 per check could pay a nice chunk of a student loan every month as well as a nice apartment. Let me get this straight…I go to college, work my butt off to get good grades to keep my scholarship, work a part time job to pay utilities and rent, then once I graduate I have to give over half of my check to the government for them to decide what is best for me? How is that fair?

We also are constantly hearing about “redistributing the wealth.” Let’s use Belgium as an example. Belgium has a 52% tax rate, but their GDP per capita (average income per person), is $37,800 per year compared to $49,800 in the U.S. (U.S. tax rate 39.60%). Also, Sweden with a tax rate of 56.9% has a $40,900 GDP per capita. There isn’t correlation between higher taxes and higher average income per person. The ideas of taxing Wall Street have been thrown around too. Let me remind everyone that the same Wall Street that everyone hates on is the same Wall Street that everyday middle class Americans invest their retirement savings in. Your 401K is invested in the stock market on Wall Street…I’ll save that for another article, though. Any way you look at it, the middle class will still pay for “free college.”

All in all, as nice as it would be to not have any student loans right now and driving a fully loaded SUV, I’m not willing to give up over 55% of my income to the government for them to spend and redistribute for me. Let’s vote with our brains in November and realize that these proposed “solutions” have many more consequences.

Tax Rate GDP per Capita % of College Degree ages 24-34
United States 39.60% $49,800 43%
Denmark 55.4% $37,800 39%
Finland 51.50% $36,300 39%
Sweden 56.9% $40,900 43%
Norway 39% $55,400 47%
Ireland 47% $41,300 42%
Canada 29% $43,100 57%
Belgium 52% $37,800 35%
France 50% $35,700 43%
Germany 47% $39,500 28%