Bill Whittle: The Road to Hell

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But those good intentions do not cause the harm; they prevent us from seeing it. In his latest Firewall, Bill Whittle shows how little things – student loans; the Path to Heck – can go as dreadfully wrong from good intentions as the genuine horrors on the real Road to Hell.


Hi everybody. I’m Bill Whittle and this is the Firewall.

Well, they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? As if the good intentions CREATE the road to hell? I think that has the causality – good intentions lead to bad outcomes – completely backwards, and we’ll come back to that at the end – don’t you worry.

So let’s stay away from the emotional horror of the Gulags and Death Camps on the road to actual hell and so to make the point, let’s keep things manageable – let’s start by seeing how the path to heck is paved with good intentions.

Now one thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that education is a Good Thing. Appropriate education – appropriate to what the individual hopes to do with their lives – is about mental, emotional and spiritual growth, not to mention refining and improving our human capital in the workplace.

That’s about as good as a good intention can get.


In 2000, student loans accounted for almost 3% of all consumer debt, but by 2012 that number had climbed to 10% – that’s one trillion: ONE THOUSAND BILLION DOLLARS in debt owed by the youngest working Americans.

One of the unforeseen – but completely foreseeable – consequences of opening up and federally guaranteeing student loans (what a great intention!) has been to place a trillion dollars of guaranteed real money on the table for colleges and universities to feed upon, and that’s why the cost per credit of a college education has far outstripped the rate of inflation. Colleges are charging more and more money for the same education, because that new money is available, and it’s guaranteed.

Now presumably, we take out a student loan to help us get a job. But what the latest in-depth study shows


– don’t take my word for it; they have math for God’s sake – is that relatively small increases in student loan debt in fact causes a relatively large DESTRUCTION of new jobs – not the creation of them, as your good intentions would lead you to expect.

What these impenetrable squiggles  – I mean, what these concise and easy-to-understand mathematic symbols show us, based on the latest, real-world data – is that a student debt increase of one standard deviation, which in this case is about 4%, has a catastrophic impact on not just those students' personal economic future, but on the entire economy. Researchers have discovered that by raising the growth of student debt by one standard deviation – from roughly four percent to roughly eight percent – kills dead 25% of new, small business start-ups.

Why? Well because small businesses with 1-4 employees – which make up 99% of total businesses, 60% of private sector new jobs and fully half of the total US private sector economy – depend on personal credit to get started.

A national increase in 4% of student loan debt takes off the table the available credit needed to start 25% of the total new small businesses in America. Even those students who didn’t major in Medieval Renaissance Poetry but rather something they thought would help them make it in the real world of economic reality, owe so much money that they no longer are able to get the commercial loans they need to start their own small businesses once they graduate. The good intentions of getting an education in order to get a job has cost them the ability to get a job, because credit once available to start a business is no longer avail due to their outstanding debt load.

I said earlier that I think we have the causality arrow backwards when we say the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions. You see, it’s not that our good intentions CREATE the road to hell. It’s that our good intentions BLIND US to the fact that we are doing real harm, not the good we intended, and this is why leftist progressivism fails not only on the path to heck – as with student loans – but on the road to actual hell.

Government-controlled health care leads to rationed health care. Government-owned housing projects are petri dishes of crime and neglect. Government-funded EBT cards create entire generations of dependency and despair.

And when you get to the end of it, you find that the so-called good intentions of a classless world of perfect income equality leads to secret police, Gulags, punitive starvation, corruption, despair, inhumanity and the alcoholism needed to kill the guilt and fear of no less than 100 million murders by well-intentioned exterminators on the glorious, Socialist Road to hell.

All of these catastrophes – from student loans to the executions at secret police headquarters -- are not CAUSED by the good intentions of the left. They grow from the laws of unintended consequences, and the irreparable fault line in human nature that the left refuses to accept. No, it’s good intentions of these so-called progressives that provides the internal fig leaf that allow them to perpetually look into their rosy glow of their noble hearts, and not out at the actual damage, and actual ruin, and eventually the actual horror that these leftist policies – however well intentioned – really inflict on real people in the real world.