A whole bunch of states are suing Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education for delaying the implementation of a rule to make it easier for student debt to be canceled when a for-profit college is ruled fraudulent.
I have almost nothing to say about this. It isn’t funny. I’d rather see student debt exist nowhere. Higher education should be heavily subsidized the way it used to be in my day. We can go back to that.
The big tech firms that benefit royally by tech educations can certainly foot the bill for those educations. To do so would be good business. It would be an excellent investment. In return for the opportunity to make that investment and as a check on oversupply of engineers and scientists, they can also subsidize English, arts and history majors too.
Seriously, consider how much science labs cost. Picture that wad of money in your mind. Now, with your same mind, picture how much an English laboratory would cost. You would need tweezers to hold the second thought picture. That’s why Google and Amazon and Microsoft shouldn’t whine if we make them fund English educations with their profits. They should take out their tweezers and fork over the money.
As for for-profit colleges, they shouldn’t even exist. Why are we even talking about them? We’re talking about them because support for public universities has vanished.
Do you know why support for public universities has vanished? I will tell you whether you want to know why or not. Around about when I was exiting the public university systems there was a general realization that the word public really had to mean public.
To put it bluntly, you could no longer get away with saying that your state college was public if there were numerous segments of the public who could rarely, if ever, be found on campus outside of a locker room suiting up for a big game.
Once the “public university” had to really mean public, there should have been more political will than ever to keep the funding up and keep higher education affordable. But instead some politicians got the bright idea that if the subsidies were reduced or eliminated, then even if unwelcome classes of people are allowed in, at least they could be chained to debt for life, to make up for all that annoying diversity.
Every now and then I like to compute how much the cost of college has gone up since my days, to show why people should want to crank this atrocity back. Every time I do this calculation the numbers get worse.
This time I find out that in the 46 years since I graduated from the University of Washington there has been 500 percent accumulated inflation, so since I paid $400 a year back then for tuition as a state resident (not counting summers) I should expect that today I’d pay $2,000 per year as a state resident.
In fact, the current cost per quarter is well over that. The cost for a Washington resident annually is more than $10,000.
Students today are getting shafted. They are paying, in real dollars adjusted for inflation, five times what I paid. There’s no reason for that. There’s just as much wealth flowing around and through businesses in this state as there was in my day, and those business benefit from a supply of educated employees and can pay for the benefits they get just like their counterparts did a half century ago.
Speaking of unintended consequences of injustice, all Americans woke up last week to the real possibility that the federal government will force the states to help it create one giant central list of voters including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and party memberships.
Everywhere in the country, for several years, homeless people who use shelters or other public services have been threatened with loss of those services unless they gave up identifying information to government agencies for tracking purposes.
In all this time I have maintained that this system was unjust. I couldn’t get a whole lot of agreement. “It’s the price they should pay for getting those services.”
Americans may eventually get to pay roughly the same price for voting.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his regular humor column, Adventures in Irony.
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