Mississippi To Cut Off Own Nose To Spite The 0.06% Of Students Who Major In Gender Studies
While every other state so far has decided that student loan debt relief will not be subject to state taxes (just as it will not be subject to federal taxes), the state of Mississippi — so often an outlier — has decided to buck that trend, announcing on Wednesday that all canceled student loan debt would be treated as taxable income. Why? Are they hoping to encourage college graduates to leave the state in droves? Maybe! But also Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has been very angry at Joe Biden for cancelling some student loan debt, so that could have something to do with it as well.
Why, he's so angry that he could not bring himself to say President Joe Biden's name yesterday while thanking "White House" for sending emergency relief to the state's largest city, which is completely without water! Or we assume that's why he couldn't. We'd hate to think he was just petty.
On social media last week, Reeves suggested that forgiving student loan debt was proof that the Democratic Party hates "working people," because student loan forgiveness means that Good Hard-working Americans like "welders, plumbers, laborers, & other Mississippians (black, white, Hispanic, etc.) will be forced to pay off the debts of Harvard doctorate degree gender studies majors living in California."
\u201cToday Biden will announce that welders, plumbers, laborers, & other Mississippians (black, white, Hispanic, etc.) will be forced to pay off the debts of Harvard doctorate degree gender studies majors living in California.\n\nWhy does the Democrat Party hate working people so much?\u201d— Governor Tate Reeves (@Governor Tate Reeves) 1661355500
Fun fact! In the year 2020, out of 2,012,854 bachelor's degrees awarded, there were only 1,383 in Women's Studies (0.06 percent) , and only 7,724 (0.35 percent) degrees awarded in the broader category of "area, ethnic, cultural, gender, and group studies." There were a total of 164 masters degrees awarded in Women's Studies and only 26 doctoral degrees in the subject. Harvard, for the record, does not offer a PhD in Women's Studies.
Gov. Reeves and other Republicans have been using the terror of "YOUR money going to undeserving gender studies majors who probably think they're better than you" in order to undermine an initiative that will help almost everyone in this country, whether or not they have student loan debt to pay off. Since at least Reagan's "welfare queens," the Right has been able to starve this country of things we need with the magic of "Yeah, but this will also help this one sort of person that you probably find very objectionable, so wouldn't it be better to just not do it at all?"
I'm not very big on the "makers and takers" narrative, but in terms of federal aid per resident, Mississippi ranks sixth in the nation at $6,880. California, on the other hand, where this evil person with a PhD in Gender Studies from Harvard's non-existent gender studies doctoral program lives, ranks 10th ... on the list of states that get the least amount of federal funding, with $12 per resident.
The reason this does matter in this instance is that Mississippi is not doing too well. Clearly! There is a major teacher shortage in the state, with 17 percent of teachers leaving their school districts last year, at a time when the state was already short 3,000 teachers. In order to be a teacher in Mississippi, one "must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved educator preparation program at an accredited university." The average pay for teachers in Mississippi is $46,843, the lowest in the country and well below both the national average of $64,133, and while they recently received a "pay bump" of about $5,000 a year ... that still doesn't match even the regional average of $55,205.
There really isn't a lot of incentive for people to teach in Mississippi to begin with, and while no one goes into teaching trying to be rich, it might be easier to make the decision to teach in a state like Mississippi without student loans hanging over one's head.
The same goes for doctors. The state has the lowest numbers of doctors per patient in the country. Doctors also have student loans to pay off. So do nurses, certified medical assistants, the people who administer your mom's EKG, and ... yes ... tradespeople. Trade school graduates have an average $10,000 of student debt. Why do we insist on oppressing them by giving them money to learn their trades???
By taxing the relief as income, the state is sending a message that it perhaps would be better for them to go to another state that wouldn't penalize them for accepting it, which, quite frankly, is irresponsible.
Mississippi needs college educated residents to live and work there, to provide services to people, to educate them and heal them when they are sick, they need them to earn money and spend it on plumbers and welders — who, again, also have trade school debt! — or to buy things at local businesses and pay taxes in order to fund things like pay increases for teachers. It's the circle of life, and it moves us all.
If the state government wants income tax money, the absolute last thing they should do is anything that is going to dissuade college educated people from coming there or staying there. They should, quite frankly, be thrilled by student loan debt relief because maybe it means that fewer people will say, "You know, I'd love to stay in Mississippi, but I just don't make enough here to pay off my student debt."
But hey! Maybe it's worth it to really stick it to that one California resident with a degree from Harvard's non-existent gender studies doctoral program. At the end of the day, who cares if your kids can read or go to the doctor so long as this one imaginary person is miffed?
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse