"The Rooster Bar", by John Grisham


This novel is essentually the story of a group of young law students and their quest to deal with crushing student loan debt.  The story is somewhat slow to develop and it took me a while to see where the theme was going.  I would not rate this as one of Mr. Grisham's most entertaining books.  But the author's theme is substative.

I think that John Grisham has shined a light on a very important problem in these here United States of America.  That is - Federal Government interference in higher education.  Specifically the Student Loan Program.  The result of this interference is sky rocketing college costs.  The Constitution does not give the Feds the right to meddle with college education in any way.

So how did the Federal Student Loan Program get created?  I jumped onto the internet to get an answer.  One of the better resources that I have found is Ed Central.  The federal government began guaranteeing student loans in 1965.  And it has grown and greatly morphed since then (what a shock).

So how is the program doing today?  According to Wikpedia, student loan debt has been growing rapidly since 2006, and is now nearly $1.4 trillion, roughly 7.5% GDP.   Approximately 43 million have student loans, with an average balance of $30,000.  Schools are free to jack up tuition and costs because students can easily get loans that are guranteed by the government.  And the ignorant students are strongly encouraged to invest in their future.  Well not all investments are good.  The Feds in essence have created a Student Loan Scam.  So Houston, we do have a problem.

So what is the solution to this problem?  How about getting the Federal Government out of the Student Loan Program!  But the poor students will not be able to pay for school if the government does not help them.  Or so we are told.

To answer the preceeding question, let me ask another question.  How can today's students possibly afford computers and cell phones?  Back in the 1970's (when I was in High School), HP Calculators were it.  They where very cool (powerful) and very expensive ($100).  Only the wealthy could afford them.  Personal computers did not exist at that time, nor did cell phones.  Fast forward to today and all children (Middle School and on up) have a cell phone with gigabytes of memory.  The Computer Industry is not regulated.  It is thus run by the Free Market.  And look at the result.  Lots of computing power and connectivity easily afforded by the masses.

So why don't we unleash the Free Market on College Tuition?  Make the schools answerable to the students.  If College Costs are too high, then students will not be able to afford them and this lack of demand will drive costs down.  This is Econ 101.  You know that entry level Business class that is offered in every college.

So in conclusion, the author has done a public service by highlighting a big problem in higher education - Student Loan Debt.  I hope that this fictional work can motivate actual progress in solving this problem.