Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dean Dad on Higher education

While I was away, I missed this gem by Dean Dad about the argument that college isn't worth it:

The whole enterprise just smells to me like the latest variation on “let’s privatize Social Security” or “let’s replace Medicare with vouchers.” It’s the wealthy and their worshippers sloughing off any social obligation, basically dropping the ladder behind them. If that weren’t the case, if they actually believed what they said, I’d expect to see the best and brightest from Choate and Philips Exeter eschewing college and doing startups or joining the military instead. Um, no.

I had not made this connection but it does seem to be a coherent interpretation of an otherwise puzzling argument. I must admit that I remain mystified with the current interest in the United States with disassembling the social infrastructure. Not only is it in the opposite direction of most countries, but the ones that have tried it seem to end up being bad places to be. Think of Russia, for example.

The real issue, to me, is that the real remedy to these types of escalating prices is the high quality public university system that countries like Canada and states like California have. The University of California is a high quality set of institutions and much less expensive than the alternatives.

Why is this approach not the one that rising prices brings us back to? Okay, we'd have to go back to the brutal taxes of the Reagan or Clinton eras, but I am not convinced that this move would lead to an immediate dystopia.


  1. The University of California might not be a great example of a less expensive alternative:

    "All but one of the California State University campuses are on a new list produced by the U.S. Department of Education showing colleges with the fastest-rising tuition and fees – and those campuses will have to submit reports to the federal government explaining the rapid increase."


  2. The key word there is 'rising.' the UC/Cal State system is still a pretty good deal but it used to be a fantastic bargain.

    California's higher education system is starting to bear the brunt of a broken budget process and an exploding prison population but it is still possible to get a very good education here for a reasonable price, particularly when you look at the rankings of some of the schools you have access to.