In the 1400s when I took my undergraduate degree in English and music, things were different. Adjunct teachers were pretty rare, and full professors taught most of my classes. Of course, I attended a medium sized state school specializing in education. There were no “studies” departments or classes, and while many professors were clearly leftists, they had not yet allowed their political ideology to determine their every waking thought and action. Social Justice had not yet taken over leftist hearts and minds.
There were a few professional students, people taking degree after degree because they had no idea who they were or wanted to be, or feared reality. However, most students were there to earn a degree with which they could earn a living. Interestingly, even then, colleges were cutting back on tenured staff, and newly minted doctorates had a hell of a time finding a tenure track position. Most simply couldn’t.
With that in mind, let’s visit two of the Democrat frontrunners and their ideas for improving higher education and society in general. Forbes reports:
[Bernie “all you have is ours”] Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, will offer legislation today that is the most ambitious plan yet to address the nation’s student loan debt. As first reported by the Washington Post, Sanders’ plan will have no eligibility criteria and will be available to the nation’s approximately 45 million student loan borrowers of both federal student loans and private student loans. [skip]
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders proposed to make college tuition-free and debt-free. In 2016, he introduced legislation – the College For All Act – that would make public colleges tuition-free for students.
Sanders’ main point:
Four-year public colleges and community colleges should be free – including tuition and fees – for everyone.
And who is going to pay for this?
Sanders will fund his student loan forgiveness plan through a new tax on financial transactions, which he expects could raise more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The tax plan will include a 0.5% fee on all stock trades, a 0.1% fee on all bond trades and a 0.005% fee on all derivatives trades.
Ah. It’s the usual “soak the evil rich” plan. Sanders himself is among the evil rich, but that’s different because shut up. And what about Elizabeth Warren, no slouch in the pandering department?
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced legislation earlier this month to cancel student loan debt for more than 95% of borrowers, and would entirely cancel student loan debt for more than 75% of Americans with student loan debt. Warren believes that her plan would reduce the wealth gap in America and provide an economic stimulus to the middle class to increase home purchases and help start small businesses. [skip]
Warren’s campaign proposal included an Ultra-Millionaire Tax that would include a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families in the U.S. who have at least $50 million in net worth.
There it is again: soak the evil rich. Warren too is a multimillionaire, but shut up you racist!
How much money do the evil rich have anyway, and what would happen if we taxed them at 100%? The invaluable Bill Whittle, in a classic video, answered that question.
How did we get to the point that any presidential candidate would be making such proposals? As usual, Democrats are responsible.
For decades, our colleges and universities have become, unashamedly, propaganda and education arms of Leftism, Inc. They no longer pretend to be anything else. They have, in essence, become educational versions of labor unions, reaping benefits and support–cash, favorable laws, labor rulings, etc.–from Democrats, and in return, they indoctrinate rather than educate, turning out innumerable new Democrat voters, a classic and corrupt quid pro quo.
As Democrats made decisions of all kinds favorable to the expansion of the leftist university, the universities took maximum advantage, but not by expanding educational offerings… I take that back. They did expand offerings, in “studies” departments and majors. Black studies, gay studies, lesbian studies, feminist studies, Black lesbian feminist studies, every trendy grievance one might imagine suddenly became scholarly, and three things simultaneously happened:
1) Tenured positions for traditional academic disciplines began to disappear. When tenured professors retired, their positions were abolished, or if they were replaced, it was by non-tenured adjunct faculty, part-timers paid a pittance regardless of their academic credentials, with no benefits, no future, whatever. I know many good people with doctorates that to this day are making little more than minimum wage teaching their disciplines, with no job security and no hope of a pension.
2) Some tenured positions were given to “studies” professors, people who previously would be overemployed asking “you want fries with that?”
3) Administrative positions, particularly in “diversity and inclusion,” social justice, and other Leftist pursuits exploded, in many colleges, outnumbering actual tenured professors.
Such administrators are pricey, and tuition rates have continued to rise to usurious levels. Since colleges made themselves prohibitively expensive, they needed a new source of suckers–er, students–and found them by encouraging, with the help of Democrats, people who had no business attending college.
The brilliant Charles Murray has noted that it requires an IQ of 115 to successfully do actual college level work. This works out to between 10% to 15% of the population. Since that number is far too small to keep colleges and their diversity administrations afloat, colleges long ago began accepting people who in the 1400s, would never have been accepted. It was considered unethical to admit people that would fail, taking their money, leaving them in debt, with no hope of paying it back. Of course, such ethical sense has long been a quaint relic of a forgotten past.
Because the legions of unprepared students could not possibly pass a Freshman level course, colleges established remedial high schools, requiring these unfortunates to take high school level courses at full tuition for no credit, adding at least an extra year to an undergraduate degree they cynically knew most would never complete. Additionally, colleges have continued to dumb down what college-level curriculum remains, dramatically devaluing their degrees.
And then came Barack Obama, who promoted the idea that everyone must attend college, for their own good and for the welfare of the nation. I’ll note only that he nationalized the student loan industry, which had the immediate effect of eliminating all competition, further encouraging colleges to admit anyone, and raise tuition rates even more. For political advantage, government began lending money to people who were fabulously bad risks, and in some cases, to people whose families were so wealthy, they didn’t need loans..
The result–and I know I’m skipping sufficient argument to fill multiple books, and generalizing; this is only a single article–was legions of people who should never have attended college. Mostly, they took out enormous loans, struggled through a year or two, earned few credits and no degree, and left the fantasy leftist world of higher education with no money, crushing debt, and no means to pay it off. Which is where Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and a plethora of other Democrat presidential hopefuls–and many other Democrats congresstwerps–come in.
Sanders, etc., can propose such legislation only because Government owns the student loan market. The current national debt is well over $22 trillion dollars, so what’s another $1.7 trillion or so? Heck, a trillion is the new billion! I’ll list just a few reasons why student loan debt forgiveness is an insanely bad idea. I’m sure you, gentle readers, can add many of your own, and I encourage you to do just that in the comments.
*It’s wrong, immoral. That should be enough, but of course, it’s not, so read on.
*It’s fundamentally unfair to people who honor their debts, and in so doing make our economic system possible. It discourages responsible behavior and undermines the values that make America possible.
*It, like virtually everything socialists embrace, ignores human nature. What costs us nothing, we esteem too little. Honest college professors are now in the position of being ruled by unruly, dim-witted students. Imagine how badly special snowflakes will behave when they believe–because government has told them so–they’re entitled to everything, including a college degree of their choice.
*It’s nothing more than political payback–the crudest pandering–for votes, but once people understand they can expect payouts on that level, their demands will be never-ending and eternally escalating. It will help turn America into a nation of takers rather than producers. As people that have been paying attention know, it is possible for countries to run out of money. In such cases, there aren’t enough zoo animals to feed college students, to say nothing of the rest of the population. Besides, I’m fond of toilet paper.
*It will not cost a mere $17 trillion. Such sums are always grossly underestimated, and Democrats will attach additional trillions to any such bill for all manner of social justice “priorities.”
*As Bill Whittle pointed out, taking 100% of the money of the rich is a one-time, single year pony trick. Thereafter, they’ll either flee the country, taking their billions to other more welcoming nations, or work out ways to make their money invisible to government. They’re going to make less money–they can afford it–which means fewer jobs, which means fewer taxes, which means misery for everyone, which is what makes people like Sanders happy. People scrabbling for daily survival are so much easier to control.
*Free college for all would have the effect of giving the federal government almost complete control of “higher” education, including curriculum and every facet of the lives of anyone involved. Under such a system, college degrees would be worth even less than they are now, and that’s getting into negative numbers.
*If college is free, colleges are going to raise tuition even more, which will come not from the rich–as Whittle pointed out, there aren’t enough of them and they don’t have enough money–but from the government, which will increase the symbiotic relationship between colleges and government, making both even more leftist, elitist and corrupt. Take this link to a related article by the brilliant Thomas Sowell.
*”Free” means out of the pockets of the middle class, where most of the money always is. That’s where government gets all its money; it’s our money until they steal it. To put it as simply as possible, when it costs more on Wall Street, there will be less financial activity, which means fewer jobs and less money in the economy, which means higher taxes–much higher taxes–on the people that actually pay taxes. That’s you and me, gentle readers.
*A variety of sources claim virtually all future jobs will require a college degree, but this is nonsense. College degrees are valuable because of their relative rarity, and because the knowledge graduates accumulated by means of earning those degrees has value. When everyone has a degree, particularly in disciplines that provide no value for employers, wages for college degree holders will plummet, and the wages of people with useful skills will rise. Employers will hire people that can actually do things, who are reliable and not self-important, entitled slackers, regardless of degree status, further devaluing degrees. This trend is already well underway.
Finally, gentle readers, it’s an insanely bad idea, because it’s not necessary, and if common sense is to matter, we just can’t afford it. The people we’re talking about willingly took on this debt. Surely, some were foolish to do so, but government can’t be in the business of healing the foolish decisions of foolish people. Yes, government shouldn’t be in the business of encouraging people to do dumb things and making it easy for them, but you get the point.
For most, their level of debt is that of a new car. True, some have loans at the $100 thousand dollar level or more, but if they choose disciplines that cannot provide jobs capable of paying back such debt, that’s a level of foolishness we can’t afford to subsidize. Is someone that ran up Ferrari level debt because they chose to attend an “elite” college more worthy of a gift from taxpayers than someone who chose to attend a less woke college? Perhaps we can give such people longer to pay back their loans–as in pay back every cent plus the interest they agreed to pay–but not to the point that people making bad decisions learn nothing from them. Not to the point that the pockets of all are picked for the convenience of prospective Democrat voters.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of how much government, and how little liberty, we want. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want much more government, which inevitably means much less liberty. In November of 2020, we’ll see which Americans prefer, providing massive vote fraud allows an honest election.