Analysis of Article “Is Forgiving Student Loan Debt a Good Idea?”

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The Time magazine article “Is Forgiving Student Loan Debt a Good Idea?” by Kayla Webley is about a proposal which urges our government to forgive all college graduates’ debt in the United States. Her proposal is pushing for an efficient fiscal stimulus within our government. Author Kayla Webley challenges and examines the benefits and fairness that this proposal claims to have. Although Webley’s essay includes weak points such as not providing a clear – cut claim or solution, it is ultimately effective because she successfully offers multiple viewpoints allowing the reader to come to their own conclusion.

The central claim in Webley’s essay is that forgiving student loan debt in a single instant bailout is not only a radical and unfeasible proposal, it does not provide an extensive resolution. In the beginning of Webley’s essay, readers are introduced to the idea of her proposal. She states that online petitions are encouraging the government to pardon student loan debt. A popular petition by Robert Applebaum in 2009, was adopted by some members of the Occupy Wall – Street movement. Applebaum had an idea to stimulate the economy, which became interesting to a lot of people. He brainstormed the idea that the government should offer a onetime only bailout of student loan debt.

Webley begins to examine the reasoning behind this proposal: college graduates have a huge impact on the economy; they buy homes and cars; they create businesses, and etc. Having the burden of debt as a college graduate will weaken the intent of them contributing to our economy. On the contrary, being unburdened of this debt will stimulate the economy by letting graduates having more money to spend. Webley explains how this proposal would be awfully expensive, while using expert testimony to justify this not being a useful solution.

Experts in which Kayla Webley uses in her essay report that most graduates are competent in paying their debt and that there is only a trivial number of those holding six – figure debt often portrayed in the media. According to Webley, this only accounts for a small percentage of the vast majority of graduates. Furthermore, she explains the preexisting programs in place to help people repay their student loan debt. There is also a vast amount of concern surrounding this proposal. One of the main concerns that supporters have is the idea of fairness. Supporters feel that it is not reasonable that they are not able to get a bailout from their student debt while affluent businesses do. Webley goes on to question how “fair” this proposal really is. She poses the question of if it is fair for taxpayers to have to pay off students’ debt?

Webley succeeds in the way she approaches her audience throughout her essay. She immediately wants to get the reader to see the side that she takes. The introduction of her essay begins by giving the college graduate’s side of the argument before she gives her own. Webley’s thesis is ultimately given at the end of her essay which is subtle and somewhat misleading. It was most likely done this way for two vital reasons. The first being that Webley wants her readers to feel that she was giving both sides of the argument fairly. Secondly, she doesn’t want to give the impression that she is indifferent to the students and their circumstances. This is her foremost use of pathos within the essay. It is also possible she took this approach by bringing up the counter evidence which would force readers to an ultimatum which would mirror her own thesis.

Webley takes an interesting approach as she presents the alternative argument. Not only does this help build up her ethos, it also gives the impression that she is confident and fair in her argument. Moreover, Webley’s use of ethos is mainly lacking due to the manner in which she goes about her evidence. A lot of numbers and statistics are just thrown in, leaving the reader questioning her credibility. She does however prove to be compelling with her use of appeal to logos and pathos. In order to construct a better argument, she sparsely uses pathos in two important sections.

Initially, Webley shows sympathy for the graduates’ situations by correlating herself when she states, “It’s easy to see (from a human standpoint) why forgiving student debt holds some appeal” (Webley 130). Likewise, she never mocks the supporters or Robert Applebaum of the proposal. The ethos within the essay was primarily weakened by the fact that Webley scarcely stated her sources. In her essay, Webley called upon the testimony of “experts” Justin Wolfers and Mark Kantrowitz. Both are writers for blogs and different Web sites. It was interesting that these writers were considered for this topic due to the fact that neither of them are experts on the topics mentioned. It is also evident that Webley neglects to voice where her statistical information came from. The audience can be misled or confused when this major source is omitted from the essay.

Nevertheless, Webley’s argument is maintained with the immense use of appeal to logos and pathos. She is able to catch the eye of readers just with her title: “Is Forgiving Student Loan Debt a Good Idea?” This topic usually has a pre-conceived notion and standpoint for most people in the world. This title works so brilliantly on Webley’s part because it allows a look into what the essay will cover. In the second paragraph of Webley’s article, she utilizes words such as “heart wrenching,” “shackled,” “Unemployment, worthless majors, low paying jobs” (Webley 130).

The diction used by Webley strongly shows the use of pathos. Applying these emotional terms to students with loan debt immediately creates sympathy in the audience because of the picture that Webley paints. Readers’ heart strings are tugged even more when she compares Applebaum’s bailout proposal to the bailouts that bank and auto industries collect. “The thinking goes, if ‘fat cat’ bankers and auto makers got a bailout, why not college graduates?” (Webley 130). There is a negative connotation with the term “fat cat” comparing the two situations with greedy rich people. This is cleverly done by Webley in the sense of creating this fire instilled in the audience. She makes readers feel this sympathy for college graduates, and then urges them to want to fix the unjust situation.

Using logics to impress her audience, she also brings up another logical fallacy Ad hominem. Webley could simple state Applebaum’s idea however, she attacks him by correlating his personal debt to his petition. She explains “feeling shackled by an estimated $88,000 in student loan debt, Robert Applebaum started the petition […] movement adopted the battle cry” (Webley 130). By highlighting this, she is hopeful in persuading the audience that his idea of forgiving debt is more personally based then factual. Additionally, she makes a generalization that every graduate is the “type of people society needs” that would help improve it (Webley 130). By emphasizing the unburdening of students by taking away their loans, the Either-or logical fallacy is oversimplified.

Being a journalist, Kayla Webley’s main job is to show neutrality between different ideas. She does this by maintaining the fact that the solution Applebaum proposed, has no long term pay off, and is not an effective solution to cover up the bigger issue. The solution lies in the reconstruction of the fundamental core of the current financial model of the United States and higher education’s financing. Despite having a few weak points, author Kayla Webley is successful in persuading her audience by offering multiple viewpoints. Looking forward, education will withstand its high honor and expensive privilege.

Cite this paper

Analysis of Article “Is Forgiving Student Loan Debt a Good Idea?”. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/analysis-of-article-is-forgiving-student-loan-debt-a-good-idea/

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