Student-loan debt in the United States is now $1.48 trillion. That incredible sum is a heavy drag on the economy and a burden on young people. And federal intervention in education is the cause.
It wasn’t always this way.
In June 1965, I began working as a salesman at the Sears store in Knoxville, receiving a ten-cents-per-hour raise over my job as a bag boy at the A&P. At Sears, my wage was $1.25; I was required to wear a suit and tie. I was very proud of that job.
I worked full-time that summer and usually around 20 hours a week after I began my freshman year at the University of Tennessee in late September.
After I had worked at Sears for a full six months, I was called to the office for the first time. I was very concerned. I met David Weaver, who was my age (18), at the escalator. I told him I bet I had “been hit by one of those Hallmark shoppers”—one of the mystery shoppers Sears had at the time. He told me he had just been called by a very angry woman to whom he had sold the wrong color of paint. David said he was scared, and that he had diabetes, and when he got too nervous he passed out. (I can remember that conversation as if it happened yesterday.) Much to our relief, we had been called to the office so management could give us good news: Because we had been working at Sears for six months, they were...