When people of my generation went to college, a good education cost next to nothing. We were free to think, explore, take some time off, and find our way. Young people today are being sent out into the world with crushing debt from student loans and are held back from fully participating in our society as a result.
In my new film, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, I invaded countries that have the stuff Americans really need. Like Italy, where factory workers enjoy two-hour lunches and eight weeks of vacation. And Finland, where they don’t have standardized tests or homework, yet they have the BEST education system in the world. And, Slovenia where attending a university is free. That’s right, free. Even for Americans.
In Slovenia, there is no such thing as a student loan. When you graduate from college, you are free to get the kind of job you want- or get no job at all. Go see the world. Explore what you’d like to do with your life. Fall in love- or out! Find yourself. There’s no student loan to start paying off. No credit card companies are allowed to sign you up on campus for 23% interest, so you are NOT in debt- the world is yours!
It’s really not such as strange idea. There are dozens of countries that don’t send their university graduates into the world with crippling debt. I remember that’s what it was like for me and my friends in the 70s. At 21, we didn’t have ridiculous loans to pay off – we had Eurail Passes! College for us in the U.S. was free or nearly free! What happened?
Free education helped us build an empowered middle class and drive upward mobility for the poor – quintessentially the American idea that we can recapture if we give student a life without student debt. Thousands of you have already told me what is possible without student debt, and I want you to help me echo their message of optimism.
Let’s start by giving young people a chance. Instead of putting them in a debtor’s prison, let’s send them off with the best free education policy in the world, giving them a real shot at the American dream. We have so many problems to solve, both globally and at home, but I am fully confident that without student debt there is hope for young Americans.
We’re not asking for much, just what we see our friends overseas enjoying: affordable or free higher education for all.
Michael Moore is a filmmaker, his latest film, Where to Invade Next hits theaters on Friday, February 12th.