Mark, I think the poem would be more effective if it focused on (1) the notion of sticking two ant-like, hardworking brothers with paying more for college than did a grasshopper-like one who didn't work as hard in college or afterwards to pay up himself, and/or (2) the ethics of saddling future ant-like generations with paying off the educational loans of current grasshoppers.
Instead, by bringing in two brothers who didn't go to college at all, the poem seems to try to make a case that government investment in higher education should be treated exactly the same as paying off people's car loans, just for the sake of fairness. Also, the hero veteran has access to G.I. Bill support if he wants to go to college; if he doesn't take advantage of that opportunity, then giving him a federal handout anyway just for the sake of fairness really would be "money for nothing." I'm reminded of the grumbling about unfair generosity in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
, although of course the federal government is not God.
Do you agree that helping to make a college education more affordable is different from paying off a car loan for someone, because having an educated populace benefits society and industry/commerce, and higher education dramatically increases people's earning power (leading to a lifetime of higher income tax payments than otherwise)? The latter is the premise behind having federal loans for education in the first place.
If you want to see the difference an educated populace makes in a society's economic and political health, just compare Costa Rica with its less stable Central American neighbors. But Costa Rica puts a greater share of federal money for education directly into the educational system, rather than helping students pay back loans to and from banks, as the U.S. does, thus costing the federal government more money while enriching private financial institutions.
But I digress. Bottom line: the brothers who didn't go to college are utterly irrelevant in a poem about paying for college.
and calculate how much each brother will get.
And tally what windfall each brother will get.
Will he get money? The answer is no.
Will he receive money? The answer is no.
Brayden paid everything, the whole enchilada.
He worked all through school, and thus will get nada.
Brayden paid up for the whole enchilada.
He worked all through college, and thus will get nada.
Hayden’s a fry cook, working the grill.
Hayden skipped college to sweat at the grill.
Jayden, an Army vet and a war hero,
Jayden, a corporal hailed as a hero,
As people begin to accept this fine offer,
less money flows into the government’s coffer.
Actually, more money flows out of the government's coffer
would be more accurate. I don't think you're advocating higher taxes, which is how money flows in.
I wonder who these shadowy, dastardly "Feds" are. Generally I've only heard "the Feds" in reference to the I.R.S. or to U.S. Attorneys or the F.B.I., not in reference to politicians. If you mean the members of the House of Representatives, who have the power of the purse, you should say so. Even saying "the pols" or "the Dems" rather than "the Feds" would be clearer.
Cutting the last stanza would give the poem a more powerful ending.