On Education

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Obama and College
President Obama wants more control over education, but he doesn't really understand education.

It's scary enough that Obama wants to further violate the Constitution by dictating (either with carrots or sticks) what kids should be learning, as if what Washington or Oregon schools teach -- or when they teach it -- is any of the federal government's business. (And I opposed Bush's "No Child Left Behind" so chill out.) And Obama has said all along that everyone should get some post-K-12 education for at least a year (for the "good of society" to get a "better workforce"), which again, is none of the federal government's business.

But what's really depressingly scary is that Obama either has no clue how higher ed works, or ... perhaps worse, he does, since that would mean he is intentionally manipulating the cost of college upward, probably with the intent of controlling it like he wants to control health care.

Under Obama's plan, students who get "loans" will only have to pay back a small portion of them. Not only does this create a disincentive to get a good job after college (since the more money you make, the more you have to pay back on your loan), but it dramatically increases the actual cost of education, which Obama says is the reason we need to cover the costs in the first place.

The reason why higher ed costs so much, why it's increased dramatically faster than the rate of inflation, is because of government aid, not in spite of it. Obviously, when students don't pay the costs directly, they are more likely to pay a higher price. (This well-known effect happens in health care all the time, too.) You get a government loan: why not pay whatever the school is asking? Especially since, thanks to Obama, you will only pay a fraction of the value of the loan and only over 20 years.

And the college therefore has every incentive to charge as much as they can get government to pay: it uses the extra money to build new buildings and add all sorts of programs that get even more students to want to attend at even higher prices, bringing in even more government dollars.

Many of Obama's allies say they want to end subsidies for large corporations, but that's precisely what our system of student loans is. Never mind the fact that the actual value of a college education has been steadily decreasing.

Washington State and "Ample Provision"

What is the value of a year of college? For my money, a lot less than the $30,000 it costs for many schools. It's a complete ripoff. You can learn as much -- more, really -- for a small fraction of that price, and end up a better (and wealthier) person for it.

Of course, education cannot be measured in dollars. That doesn't stop some people from trying, though: a recent ruling in a court in Washington State claimed that the state had to spend more money on education because it was not fulfilling its constitutional "paramount duty" to make "ample provision" for education.

It should be obvious to everyone who understands any math concepts more advanced than "two dimes and a nickel equal a quarter" that because education cannot be measured in dollars, therefore "ample provision" for that education also cannot be measured in dollars. In other words, you can increase the quality of education without increasing the dollars being spent.

There's no evidence that there is not enough money being spent on education: there's only evidence that the quality of education being provided is insufficient. It is an incredible leap of logic to then say "since the quality of education is bad, therefore we need to spend more money." It assumes something we know, for a fact, is false: that money and education are directly correlated; that more money equals better education, less money worse education, and same money same education. It's nonsense.

And even if more money needed to be spent, one thing that should be pointed out -- and therefore I point it out -- is that anyone who says that Washington State taxes need to be increased to pay for education is lying. Period.

For it to be true, the state must not be funding anything else. The state's "paramount duty" -- the thing it must do first, above all else -- is to make "ample provision" for education. As long as the government is spending money on other programs, it therefore must not need to raise taxes for education: it can (and constitutionally, must) take money from other programs if it needs more for education. It's the other stuff that might "need" more money justifying increased taxes.

Of course, if the voters were told that their taxes were being raised for the state's "Say WA?" ad campaign and art in new buildings, they'd never get the support they needed to raise taxes.

Which is why they lie. slashdot.org

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on February 16, 2010 10:51 PM.

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