Such a plan is preposterous. Doubling down on the same bailout mentality that has engendered a massive amount of public anger with respect to the banking system is a fool’s errand. It’s bad enough the government spent $700 billion of borrowed money on that monstrosity, even if it was a necessary evil. Government has no business subsidizing irresponsible behavior, especially when it is rationalized as two wrongs making a right. Furthermore, why should those Americans who wanted to go to college but didn’t, because they couldn’t afford it, underwrite the expenses of those who simply want to renege on their responsibilities?
The problem of runaway tuition costs should be attacked at the other end. For example, a study of 198 leading public and private universities produced by the Goldwater Institute reveals that in 2007 “nearly 39 percent of all full-time employees at these universities were engaged in administration, an increase of 39 percent from the number of administrators per 100 students in 1993. Only 29 percent of full-time employees were engaged in instruction, research and service, an increase of 18 percent since 1993.” In other words, the number of bureaucrats has increased twice as fast as the number of teachers.
The Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald offers further insight into this phenomenon, noting that “rising tuitions funnel straight into the preposterously unnecessary diversity bureaucracy and the rest of the burgeoning student-services infrastructure, as well as into the salaries of professors who teach one course a semester, the arms race of ever more sybaritic dorms and social centers, and the absolute monarchies of the football and basketball programs.”
Bloated bureaucracies and high-end amenities don’t translate into better educational experiences. A study led by New York University sociologist Richard Arum of 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009, revealed that 45 percent of students “made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college.” After four years, 36 percent “showed no significant gains in these so-called ‘higher order’ thinking skills.”
The fallback position for those touting college at virtually any price is the idea that college graduates make far more money than non-graduates, high school graduates and high school drop-outs. Yet “College Conspiracy,” a film being released on May 15th, will reportedly debunk many of those myths, the most prominent of which is college graduates earn $1 million more over a lifetime than high school graduates. The film notes that that statistic fails to factor in some important variables: most Americans take 6 years to finish 4 years worth of college; tuition at private colleges is increasing at a rate 5.5 percent rate of inflation; and General Equivalency Diplomas (GED) unfairly skew down the earnings potential of regular high-school graduates.
Furthermore, Gerald Celente, editor of The Trends Journal who appears in the film, contends colleges are handing out “degrees in worthlessness.” He cites social studies, philosophy, art history, women’s studies, minority studies, foreign affairs, public administration, corporate management, and marketing as the most conspicuous wastes of time and money.
Yet even if one assumes such a film has its own axe to grind, one thing is certain: math doesn’t lie. If college tuition, aided and abetted by government subsidies, continues to almost triple relative to family income, at some point the amount of debt incurred to obtain a college degree will surpass the additional income one may derive from it. Considering that any attempt to reign in government’s role in facilitating these runaway costs is inevitably characterized as “depriving needy students of critically needed funds,” the trend is likely to continue.
Or at least it will until the bubble pops, exactly like the government-abetted housing bubble did. Are Americans ready for another trillion dollar bailout precipitated by irresponsible government? American are furious with “greedy” bankers. What about greedy college administrators and professors?
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