Free Markets, Free People

Elitism driving “free” college proposal by Obama?

The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :

Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.

In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):

What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?

Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.

Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?

McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:

1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?

2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?

3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?

4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?

As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves.  However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4.  Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.

Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?

I thought I did.


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45 Responses to Elitism driving “free” college proposal by Obama?

  • The collarary to that is an unspoken contempt of those careers that don’t involve (much) college. As if people who can fix cars, electricity or plumbing are somehow lower than desk job workers.

    And *gasp* they can even make a good living! What a thought!

    • No, I have it on good authority from my sons, graduated 10 years ago now, that if they didn’t go to college they would end up sleeping in refrigerator boxes under some rail road bridge.
      At least that’s what their High School teachers were telling them.

      I occasionally invite them up to the house for dinner, one of them has expanded to a fabulous 2 box home when the wife and I replaced the frig in the kitchen.

      • When I was a bartender in Mass. I overheard one of my customers say to his friend that his son’s future was ruined if he couldn’t get into Holy Cross. Another school just wouldn’t do, and no college at all was just unthinkable. Amazing how invisible we peons can be.

  • Well, not to mention all those people currently paying for the special little snow-flakes to go to college who’s own kids didn’t go, or didn’t go themselves who’ll pay out the taxes to do this.

    Who knows, maybe it will reduce the number of times I have to listen to commercials about people who owe the IRS 10’s of thousands of dollars in back taxes but can’t pay and get a special deal that I don’t recall being offered to me to pay pennies on the dollar to settle with the IRS (because I DON’T owe tens of thousands in back taxes and pony up every year as required).
    I figure some of those 10’s of thousands that don’t get paid to Uncle, maybe got used to send Buffy and Scooter to the right college, right?
    Now they can send Buffy and Scooter to the community college gratis and take that money and pay their taxes!

    Gratis, you see, it’ll be free, that education.


    Cuz this is Merica and it’s just criminal that our kids don’t get free internet, free education and free medical insurance, a free Obama Phone.
    While we’re at it, let’s toss in a new free Camaro or something so they don’t have to walk, that’ll help GM out too.
    Free food would be nice, no?
    How about if we provide everyone with a house?
    And a nice government job.

    Sweet man!

    Can I go back to community college free? I can get the degree in history that I never got because I got silly and followed a course of study that would get me a job instead.
    I’m tired of working, I want to become a student again and this time I don’t want to go to college AND work at the same time.
    Thanks Obama!

    • I’ve always said that it’s just not right to send children to these palaces that are used for public education (back in the 70’s my local school district built a Middle School, dubbed the “Taj Mahal”, with hallways wider than the class rooms were deep; there’s a law that says they can’t any more). Any way, when they graduate, they expect to go on to even more palaces in college.

      Eventually, they graduate and are thrust into the “real world” where people work in dirty offices or garages with outdated technology and poor ventilation.

      It must be a real downer.

      I can remember having these great mainframe computers in college. It took 15 years before I had access to a computer nearly as powerful again.

    • Its my understanding that those ads are frauds.

      • Define Fraud – The IRS does have “Offer in compromise” which, after wading through the usual gobbledeegook, appears to imply they’ll settle for less if you meet certain criteria.

        If you mean the guys who advertise you will be sitting by the pool at your half million dollar home smiling and sipping Mai Tai’s when it’s done might be painting a rosier picture than they should, perhaps so.

  • This community college proposal (even before we actually get the community college proposal) is DOA, and most folks know it is.

    First, this is the latest in “Free Pony” politics. Everybody wants a free pony, but they know it’s cheap to get, but it costs and costs to keep it.
    I’ve seen one reference to the idea that Obama wants to dump this on the states to pay for it. Damn, it’s a “Free Pony” from Uncle Obama.

    What next .. a monorail ?

  • Well duh, SERIOUSLY…The Atlantic nails it

    what we didn’t know was it is our job to –
    “make two-year institutions more economically and racially integrated—something that should be applauded.”

    What was I thinking?

    And see, it’s FREE – “Under the new program, the federal government would chip in three-quarters of the costs, while states would cover the balance.”
    The Federal government is going to reduce it’s profit margin on…..
    whatever it is they’re selling…

    and dedicate it to education! The state governments too!
    Think of all those new Democrats from Honduras who can benefit from this! Think of the teacher’s unions!

    Some boo birds are concerned about ‘the rich’ cashing in on this deal though –
    “Should we really be giving those kids free tuition when their families can pay?””
    Right, because, you know, families won’t be paying for it, right?
    No, through the magic of liberal progressive thinking the money will appear and no one will have tax increases.

    Maybe Richard Khalenburg can trot on back to school and learn some basic economics, just for giggles.
    It’ll be free won’t it?

    • I guess Obama needs slots for all those folks in his Administration who will be out of work in two years.

    • “make two-year institutions more economically and racially integrated”

      I guess that means we will need bussing for some *community* colleges.

  • I’ll say it again…

    Learn directional drilling technology. Learn geo-imaging technology. Get into oil field sales. Learn to weld, work in sheet metal, or repair aircraft…especially avionics.

    Stay clear of the professions unless that is where your joy is.

  • Let’s just make everything “free.” Since they’re already handing out free phones and contraception pills, the Rubicon is firmly in the rear-view mirror. There’s no basis for denying anyone anything for “free.”

    • Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier if they just handed out PhDs ?

      • Sure, but that hardly seems the goal. The only angle I can figure here is that since CC is already very affordable to most middle class, and Pell Grants already make CC free for the genuinely needy is there’s an immigration angle — out of state tuition. Is this a stealthy approach to giving illegal aliens and recent imigrants free stuff? ‘wouldn’t put it past him.

  • Tfirst of all, let’s recognize that this has little if any chance of actually becoming enacted, absent his waving the one over this whole thing, particularly giving me makeup in Congress and he’s going to be dealing with him the next two years.

    his ideology may in fact be idiotic, but the man is not completely absent gray matter. He must know, that this isn’t going to fly. So why is he doing it?

    the answer to that becomes clear when we consider that most educators and most people who are involved in the education game at whatever level R government employees. One could argue that he’s growing governments, but again it comes down to his inability to get the job done, and make that wet dream of his reality. So again, the question, why is he doing it?

    he’s doing it because of the outcome of the last election. He knows very well that the Democrats are in trouble. He still not quite sure why, but he knows the first thing that he has to do is shore up his base.

    in reality, Obama is pandering to that large group of government employees, that large group of Democrat voters, knowing that he’s never actually going to be able to produce anything of the like of what is promising. Political brilliance. At the core, it’s all the fault of course, but notice how the educated fall Hook Line sinker rod real fisherman and half the coast over it.

    • One big reason it won’t fly is that too many of us are well…TOO well…acquainted with our “free” government monopoly schools and their effluent…er…products.

    • He knows very well that the Democrats are in trouble.

      What gave you that idea ? In the days after the Election, Obama was out saying that while a 1/3rd of the populace voted for Republicans, 2/3rd didn’t .. as if they would have voted for Democrats if they had gotten off their fat arses. History says they would have most like broken roughly 50-50.

      • Should we ask why the 2/3’s of lazy fat assed Democrats who didn’t vote didn’t vote?

        Nah, I guess he doesn’t worry that people who’s reading material consists of “twist to open” are going to ask that question.

        • Why ask? Obama already knows why — he hears them, even though they said nothing. And no, it’s not just that he’s hearing what he wants to hear, so stop saying that!

  • I’d like to see the details to see if there’s an age specification in there.

  • In a refreshingly powerful and direct statement, Venezuela’s bishops Monday blamed “Marxist socialism” and “communism” by name for the horrors and chaos gripping their country, according to a story in El Universal.

    The bishops said the long lines of people trying to buy food and other basic necessities and the constant rise in prices are the result of the government’s decision to “impose a political-economic system of socialist, Marxist or communist,” which is “totalitarian and centralist” and “undermines the freedom and rights of individuals and associations.”

    The Venezuelan bishops specifically stated that the private sector was critical for the well being of the country. The document, read by Monsignor Diego Padron in Spanish, said the country needs “a new entrepreneurial spirit with audacity and creativity.”

    Hey, Erp… How’d you like those bishops…???

    See, Collectivism RUINS every time it’s tried. Here, there, everywhere. And it hurts the very people it pretends to champion.

  • Funding Community College is not about elitism.

    Underemployment is the lifeblood of the Democrats now. Why not pump more people out on the market than the market needs. Creates unemployment and depresses wages. The Unemployed likely vote Democrat at a high rate since they see them as the Sugar Daddy Party. Unemployed and Underemployed with poor wages feel disenfranchised are more likely to support “don’t call it socialist” socialist policies.

    Being an electrician or plumber is a practical way and unskilled person can improve their and their family’s lot in life. By killing wages in those jobs it promotes a void in the wage gradiant. They are breaking the path in which you can better your lot in life by applying yourself. Removing a sense of mobility and overlap in different income levels, they are fertilizing the ground for class warfare.

    • Yep. Previously, an unemployed person would vote the bums out of office. But now, they will be worried about losing their EBT, SSI, whatever.

      And being a student allows you to get around some restrictions for support, too.

      • That’s why I like the use of the word ‘Student’.
        It’s a happy cheery word, which gives everyone visions of young freshly scrubbed kids with their books tucked under their arms heading off to happy classes.
        A word that gives you the vision of Mrs Cleaver handing you your brown bag lunch as you head out the door for another day in academentia.

        As opposed to ‘student’ which actually defines a 38 year old guy who decides he wants to go back to college and finish up his general courses or go to college for the first time after busting his ass as a car mechanic or A/C repairman or, etc…..or a 38 year old woman who got married right after high school, raised a couple of kids to near adult and now wants to go to college.

        I want to know under this spiffy plan if the two I just theorized are ‘disposable’ because they’re not ‘students’ in the minds of some, person or collection of persons, in Washington.

    • Funding Community College is not about elitism.

      I can’t think of anything less elite than community college.
      Don’t get me wrong, I would suggest community college to any young person who doesn’t have a clue what they want to be when the grow up. Why waste a bunch of money at an elite school on something you might abandon ? But beyond that, while the education may be close to anything the elites can throw at you (especially if you’re majoring in TV).

      • From the other perspective, People who go to community college don’t garner any significant quantum of respect from Obama and his set over an unskilled worker. Really they wouldn’t. In fact most English speaking countries outside the US only use the term University to describe a University lest there be an icky and insulting confusion with a Community College.

      • What happened to the good old majors –
        Beer Drinking
        Skirt chasing
        chemical experimentation

        TV? That was a minor.
        Maybe because at the time we only had 3 VHF channels and 6 watchable UHF channels available to us.
        And the only video game available was PONG, unless you went to the student center where you could get a minor in “Combat”.
        Though the comp-sci majors could play Star Trek (on an ASR-33 teletype….hudgepudgehudgepudgehudgepudgeDING!)

        Damn kids! Get off my lawn!

        • Though the comp-sci majors could play Star Trek (on an ASR-33 teletype….

          Which drove home the concept of an infinite loop when it got into the “Attempt to break contact” “Contact not broken” “Klingon attempt to break contact” “Contact not broken” infinite cycle.

  • Overlooked, since the proposition is to make CC free and universal, and CC is just a re-do of HS, why not kick the CC ciriculum down to the HS? Save money be eliminating the redundancy.

    • There are those who assert that if we no longer dumbed ourselves down to morons we wouldn’t have remedial needs in college and a college degree wouldn’t be needed to flip hamburgers.

      • …AND if the elite didn’t lard the requisites with PC bullshit, you could finish in LESS THAN 4 years, instead of the NOW-standard five years.

        • and hadn’t nerfed the actually useful courses so Buffy and Skippy and Pajamay could feel good about themselves.

      • The rub is that after Griggs vs. Duke, employers were left with a lot fewer screening tools to keep out those too stupid to even flip burgers. So while a lot of “arbitrary barriers” to employment were broken in the name of anti-Racism, one that was conveniently left un-touched by the government was the college degree, the chief supplier of those being the government itself. Convenient, no?

  • Well there’s one more thing under attack. Non-community community college. Truely private self-funded learning institutions like Phoenix University and and others that are more focused on what you learn at community college. also distance learning programs like, etc.. They want to nip those in the bud. Since they aren’t dependant on government loans, the government doesn’t have its hooks in them.

    Their operating costs are also telling. Don’t want people to make uncomfortable comparisons.

  • Late to his thread, life is getting back to normal.

    The value of education is the value one is willing to pursue, actively, its intrinsic benefit. In my nuclear family of 6 we have 7 undergrad degrees, 5 masters, and 1 PhD. My father, the PhD always told me his professional degrees were more important. Our family has 4 of those. After excelling at Trivial Pursuits in the mid 80’s – that BA-History worked well, as did working for 8 years in the construction trades – I had saved up enough to pay for another degree, and a professional license, that has served me well. My mother’s 2 masters were largely vanity. My sister’s MBA is not nearly as lucrative as her CPA. My brother, the oldest took damn near 20 years to earn his first degree, and while he uses what he learned, his job is well outside the confines of his degree.

    A long preface I know, but history is important. Reminded by Mark Levin’s Ameritopia, “civilized” societies are plagued with scholars, accredited smarty-pants, that learn every thing they think important from books, and nothing from life. Plato recognized the folly of trying to impose utopia upon an ever flawed human kind. Unfortunately countless others think differently.

    From Hegal, Heideggar to Marx, took up by parlor progressive, culminating in the election of Woodrow Wilson, these dreams of utopia have festered in academia. FDR foolishly implemented some of these pie-in-the-sky dreams so that he could win re-election. The stark reality of a fully committed fascist state – Nazi Germany – nominally disabused him of academic fantasies.

    But western academia conveniently forgets all this. They are, after all, the vanguard. They know best. Just send more of you malleable minds to our… academies, and we can change the world.

    Started slow, from Plato, gaining strength but still closet-bound centuries, progressives slowly yet conclusively took hold of crucial positions., the professorship of our esteemed universities. Woodrow Wilson, and Karl Marx are damn proud.

    Thus instead of listening to Mike Rowe’s advice why do you think the White House is trying to get even more attendees to even more expensive colleges for ever lessing meaningful jobs?

    Well that’s what those super smart-pants with bow-ties and Cherokee heritage tell us.

    Of course, if their house of cards fall… their are out of a billions.

    And these are the folks promising harmony, equity, and…

    whirled peas. []