Free to Learn or Earn…


The President’s “American Jobs Plan” and the follow-up “American Families Plan” carries a 4 trillion dollar price tag.

That’s 4 with 12 zeroes.

Lotsa dollars.

To prove how blase` we’ve become with “numbers”, consider this.

If you spent a dollar each second, it would take you 128,000 YEARS to spend $4 trillion.

(And this won’t impact my taxes?)

That is insane!

Now, if some of that spending package is geared toward the President’s wish, two years of “community college” would be free.

Currently, 17 states in America already offer tuition-free programs to “eligible” students.

Our President thinks these “community college grads” would bring “needed skills” to the nation’s work force.

Back in the day, “community colleges” used to be known as “junior colleges” but that description fell out of favor years ago.

By definition, “community colleges” are 2 year schools that offer “reasonably-priced” education that can be used as a pathway to higher education while some students simply join the work force after two years.

Way back in the late 60’s, when the Earth was still cooling and dinosaurs had just stopped roaming the planet, I decided to attend a “community college” or “trade school” of sorts.

Career Academy School of Famous Broadcasters in Columbus, Ohio offered a roughly 7 month training program.

They had an at-home training program but I attended the school on High Street in the Ohio capitol city.

I earned enough money to pay for my tuition, which I think was in the neighborhood of $2,000…big bucks inn the late 60’s.

To cover the cost, I delivered furniture for Batson’s Furniture in Mansfield, Ohio.

We wore black slacks with short-sleeved white shirts when we delivered.

Charlie Sauder was the delivery van driver and I remember pouring oil into the engine of that smoking beast as we were rolling down the road to our next delivery.

It guzzled oil almost as fast as it gulped gas. This was hard, physical labor, especially when folks bought queen-sized “hide-a-beds’ that needed to go upstairs.

I also learned that a dark brown crayon would cover small nicks in any wood surfaces if we got in into a tight spot.

But I earned enough cash to pay for my schooling.

Former AP was correspondent Robert St. John was listed as the “dean” of the school which also

included Curt Gowdy, Fran Allison and John Cameron Swayze as “faculty” members.

I believe we had more than 80 prospective “famous broadcasters” in our class.

While training for my exciting career on radio and tv broadcasting, I shared a room at the Columbus YMCA with the future “best man” at my wedding (Bruce Fogg) from Norwalk, Connecticut.

We often ate at the Columbus Police Department snack bar and I would buy bags of fresh-roasted salted Planter’s peanuts in the shell from the shop on High Street.

Bruce worked at The Clock restaurant part-time and would come back to the room in the pre-dawn hours, reeking of cooking grease.

Several other Career Academy students stayed at “the Y” and we played a lot of Strat-0-Matic baseball to pass the time.

Someone in our group used to give free haircuts.

Bruce got a shearing in our room and didn’t pick up the clippings.

After stepping over them for two days, I scooped the hair up and put it under the fitted sheet in his bed.

Eventually, Bruce figured out the source of his nocturnal itching but he did clean up the remains of future haircuts much quicker.

While I was attending Career Academy, I was hired to fill a part-time board operator position at WCOL-FM in Columbus.

In those days, AM radio was tops.

FM was relegated to a studio about the size of a broom closet at the end of the hall.

It was an all-religious station.

No contemporary Christian in those days.

We played hymns.

I had a Patti Page page version of the “Old Rugged Cross” on vinyl and that 7 and 1/2 minute track was my “bathroom” song.

Whenever you heard Patti Page playing, John was in the potty.

But I was quite the hero at school because I already had a paying broadcasting job while still in class.

The vast majority of our class was out of broadcasting within a few years of graduating.

I only recall one other classmate, Bob, who ended up with any sort of broadcast-related work and I think he did voice-overs for years.

Still, I wound up with a 50+ year career in radio which I still dabble in part-time even today.

My point in sharing this story is due to the fact that I made my Career Academy School of Famous Broadcasters” schooling work because I paid for it.

If ever there was a time that I didn’t feel like studying, I’d remember delivering those king-sized mattresses and China cabinets for Batson’s Furniture and I’d regain my focus.

Would I have the same drive if my parents had paid my tuition?


But, if the government footed the bill…well…maybe not.

More than getting some training which helped me with my career, I learned something about an investment of time that was accentuated by the reality that I also paid the bill.

My “college debt” is nowhere near what our kids are carrying but that sum of money was pretty significant “back in the day”.

Plus, I made the decision to pursue that training and that’s what bothers me about “free education” or “forgiving college debt”.

Do I have a college degree?


But, I do have a DD-214 that I got for enlisting in the USAF so I could also attend Armed Forces Radio and TV at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis to include with my Career Academy training.

The adjective “free” means “without cost or payment”.

Career Academy schooling plus 3 years, 7 months and 28 days in the USAF equals how much money?

I’m not really sure.

It wasn’t “free”.

But my “investment” is what kept me focused on my career goals.

Would I have done that if everything was free?

Especially $4,000,000,000,000 free?

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