“Let’s not mince words,” economist Anthony Orlando says. “Student loans are killing people. People need to understand just how big a problem we’re talking about: Americans owe more in student loans than on all their credit cards combined.”

Orlando, the author of Letter to the One Percent, suggests that, for American society to build its best future, we should consider forgiving substantial amounts of the student debt racked up by recent college graduates—and to find new ways to lower the debt burden for current and future college students.

Start your lives over. Everyone is forgiven, no matter what. –Rumi

Lenient bankruptcy laws are a quintessentially American way of offering its citizens the bright light of a new start. “The latest research shows that bankruptcy protection makes life better for people,” says Orlando, a public policy researcher at the University of Southern California and a lecturer in theCollege of Business and Economics at California State University, Los Angeles. “They earn more money, they’re less likely to lose their house, and they live longer. Debt relief saves lives.”

Consider too how General Motors, American Airlines and Eastman Kodakused bankruptcy in recent years for the purpose of new beginnings, as did entrepreneurs like Henry Ford (twice) Milton Hershey and Walt Disney in early stages of their empire building. Second chances offer incredible power…

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