After a two week end-of-summer vacation, John Oliver returned with a very timely edition of “Last Week Tonight.”
The British host, who comes from a land of largely subsidized university educations, took aim at the insidious evils of student debt and for-profit colleges in the U.S., which are sucking the life and economic hopes of the next generation of Americans.
“Essentially, student debt is like HPV,” Oliver said, uncoiling another one of his amazing similes. “If you go to college, you’re almost certainly going to get it, and if you do, it will follow you for the rest of your life.”
As Oliver pointed out, the horrible situation is a product of pernicious private businesses and misplaced governmental priorities.
In the case of the latter, he noted that states have slashed funding for education by 23 percent since 2007 (you can look at his segment on militarized police forces if you want to know what they have been spending on). Those cuts have forced state schools to raise their tuition, and thus required students to take out bigger loans. Meanwhile, the federal government, in a somewhat misguided attempt to make college more accessible, has guaranteed the loans that have come back to haunt so many students.
Even worse are the for-profit colleges, which feed on the working class like vultures. Fun fact: They represent a third of the country’s student loans, despite having only 13 percent of the country’s students.
Of course, for all of the great points raised in the segment, the thing people will remember most about this 16 minutes of populist rhetoric will be the fact that President Lyndon Johnson had trouble finding pants that would not strangle his balls and bunghole (his words).