It is no secret the higher education in America is a joke. Our children today put themselves in insane amounts of debt for degree’s that are, in large part, useless. I received my degree in 1995, and quickly realized that all it was good for was entry level jobs that I could have obtained with nothing more then a high school education.
Now sure, things would have been different if I would have gotten a degree in something good like engineering, but I was young, and dumb and thought a degree (in anything) equaled a good job in the field the degree was for.
The truth is, you only really need a good degree for certain fields, and the rest of the degree’s offered by colleges and universities are not their to help you get a job, but instead are only their to help the university raise profits, and help you be more knowledgeable. This might be good if universities were affordable, but they are not.
Most people want a degree so they can get a good job that pays well enough for them to afford a home, and a decent lifestyle. For most of us, however, it cost more to go to college then it would to buy a home, and we spend so long trying to pay off those student loans that we can’t afford the house that we went to college to be able to afford.
So why does college cost so much? In 2016, tuition for one year at Yale costs $47,600.00 . When did the cost of an education get so high? In November of 1965, Yale raised it’s tuition to $1,950 per year. This made Yale the most expensive college in the US (tied with Princeton who raised their tuition to the same amount at the same time.) This was about a 10% increase for Yale. By 1970, the cost had ballooned another 25% to $2,550. By 1980, the cost had more then doubled to $6,210.
What caused these drastic increases in tuition? On November 8th 1965 (just 10 days before Yale raised it’s rates by 10%), President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Higher Education Act of 1965 as part of his “Great Society” domestic agenda. This act guaranteed low cost, government subsidized loans for students, and created a cash windfall for universities.
No longer did universities have to charge affordable rates for tuition in order to keep the halls of academia filled. Thank to government interference, these greedy universities could charge whatever they wanted to, and the government would unquestioningly hand out low cost loans to the young, impressionable students who wanted nothing more then a good education. Once again, we saw the ignorance of a well-intentioned liberal agenda corrupted by greed. We saw a law that was supposed to help educate the country be used to indebt the populace.
It truly is this very naïve idealism that looks to me to be the downfall of our society. People often want to pass laws that on the surface seem like a good idea. However, no one takes the time to see how these laws will really play out in practice.
We have seen this time and time again. When President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Revenue act in 1913, he created an income tax that was only supposed to tax the top 1% of earners in the US. (even in 1913 laws were passed to help the 99% and tax the 1%). The Revenue Act of 1913 stipulated that only people making over $20,000 per year (2010 equivalent of $374,000 per year) would pay tax, and even then it would only be at a rate of 1%.
In 1913, the American public was sold on the idea that the top 1% needed to pay their share. We passed an income tax that was supposed to only affect them, and indeed in 1913 less then 1% of the population had to pay the income tax. 100 years later, 85% of the population is paying a far higher income tax, and we are once again being told that the top 1% need to pay more… We’ve seen this game before.
But back to the original subject. A friend of mine recently tried to put forth the opinion that government cuts were the cause of the decline in the quality of higher education in America. He mentioned UC as a prime example of “death by a million cuts” (I am pretty sure this was supposed to be a reference to Lingchi the infamous Chinese execution method of death by 1,000 cuts.) A quick search into the UC financial reports (easily available online) show The UC system(as a non profit public school) made a net income of almost a million dollars last year. That is after paying over 6 million in salaries, giving out over 4 million in research grants, and donating over half a million to public service projects not to mention the 8 million it put into it’s medical centers. That doesn’t seem like “death by a million cuts” to me. But I get it… Imagine how much more they could do if we were to just give them more of our money…