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ASPIRE Act not practical for US

The Daily Aztec (San Diego State University)
By Sabrina Norris-Turin
October 12, 2009

The U.S.' recent economic recession has called on the nation's lawmakers to push boundaries and come up with new ways to get us out of the current financial crisis. The most frequent response has been budget cuts.

We are affected by cuts everywhere, which is why talks of the America Saving for Personal Investment, Retirement, and Education Act are confusing in this economic state.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would give every newborn in the U.S. a $500 trust fund that would remain untouched until they turn 18 years old. This program's goal is to help children learn how to plan for their financial futures and to start saving early for a college education, a home or retirement.

"Having an asset has the potential to change the way people think and plan for their future, and sometimes those effects can be generated just from small asset holdings," Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, said.

Giving every child in our country a stipend for being born sounds like a nice idea, but spending $3 billion a year in our nation's bleak economic depression makes no sense.

After implementing this program would cost the U.S. almost $38 billion.

Michael Sherraden, a professor at the University of Michigan, suggests starting individual savings accounts for lower-income people can lead them to feel more confident about the future.

Sadly, kids aren't going to be feeling very confident if they are waiting in line for food stamps with their parents on street corners -- which is what will happen if this bill passes.

It makes no sense at all for Congress to pass a bill that isn't going to benefit our generation's children for the next 20 years, while there are millions of people currently suffering in the U.S. from a recession.

It's important to teach children how to plan ahead and save money starting at a young age. But there are bigger issues we need to be focusing on before we give every child a bonus check.

This is the kind of bill that could potentially be passed when the U.S. gets back on its feet, and even then, $500 for every newborn seems a little pointless.

With Social Security withering away, our parents are going to be lucky if they even get a check at all. We should be trying to salvage the Social Security program rather than reinstating a new, less beneficial one.

Besides that, the ASPIRE Act raises more potentially controversial matters that have to do with immigration. If only legal citizens born in the U.S. get the trust fund, then illegal immigration may increase. It will cause more immigrants to cross illegally into the U.S. because of the hope and promise that their child will get a check if born in the U.S.

The ASPIRE Act doesn't give incentive to reduce population either. With our planet slowly starving off its natural resources, the last thing we need is a reason for people to have more kids.

The ASPIRE Act is naive in every way. We can't expect to pull a nation out of the worst economic downturn it has ever experienced when time and significant amounts of money are being wasted on pointless bills that hinder any chance of a way out.

You find me an 18-year-old who isn't going to blow their trust fund money on a sound system or a MacBook Pro, and I'll let you have the ASPIRE Act.

--Sabrina Norris-Turin is a political science senior.

(c) 2009 The Daily Aztec (San Diego State University)

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