A challenge persistently given to Morehouse College students during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, by the late distinguished economics professor Dr. E.B. Williams, has particular relevance and pertinence during these troubling and traumatic economic times in America. The legendary professor would regularly encourage Morehouse students to “get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.”
Without doubt, this simplistic idiomatic financial challenge resulted in eventual long-term economic security and prosperity for many Morehouse graduates over the years. Now during these desperate financial times, the task of “sitting on the can has been made virtually impossible for many Morehouse men and other matriculating and graduating American college students.
Data from a New York Times newspaper feature column series on college debt suggest that college students are not only struggling with the rising cost of college but are also experiencing the adverse effects of a devastated economy, deliberately tolerated and condoned by politicians for nefarious and contemptible reasons. As the deadlocked U.S. Congress continues to stall, so do the lives of millions of college students and families struggling with more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt throughout the country.
It would be illogical to expect students and recent graduates to “get all they can” when many are facing bankruptcies under the crushing weight of student loan pay-offs, as they cope with long-term debts of $25,000 and upward. Some economists estimate that 35 percent of college graduates are facing long-term unemployment along with millions of other American workers 25 and older, victims of an economic system nearing total collapse. Unfortunately, many students are probably asking, “Were those four years worth the effort?”
More than 15 million young people have become eligible to vote since the 2008 election. Despite this increase, there have been voting restrictions, such as denying college students attending private schools the use of school picture IDs as certification to vote for an alleged lack of uniform information on them. Such voting barriers and others should not, in any way, deter students from voting.
Many students feel that their votes don’t matter or make a difference. However, history confirms many elections being decided by a handful of votes. Such could be the case in the reportedly too-close-to-call upcoming 2012 presidential election.
Perhaps, if college students would heed the sensible, simplistic financial advice of the late distinguished Morehouse economics professor Dr. E.B. Williams and exercise their right to vote, they might be more able to “can all you (they) can get, and sit on the can” in the future.
Richard Harris is a graduate of Morehouse College. He is a Griffin native and lives in Rex.