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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Free Market Can Deliver Free College: Remember paying your broker $200 a trade? Higher education is at that stage today.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced colleges to shift to online learning, often with disastrous results. Students are no fools and many of them are suing for a discount. They have realized what higher education is loath to admit: Instruction is not what they, their parents and the American taxpayer are paying full price for.

The most common discount on offer appears to be a 10% tuition reduction, but some students are pushing for far more. They claim that nonacademic activities, from school plays and concerts to networking and parties, represent a lot more than 10% of the price tag of college. Such discounts imply that students are still getting 90% of the value of higher education (about $45,000 worth, on average) from their Zoom lectures, but much of the educational content has become widely available for free. Students and parents can’t be faulted for suspecting that an online education should cost next to nothing.

At some institutions, it already does. Primarily online Southern New Hampshire University recently announced a free first year for incoming students in light of the pandemic. California-based National University—which offers an array of online classes—cut tuition by up to 25% for full-time students and says that new scholarships will make enrollment nearly free for Pell Grant-eligible students.

Insight into the future of higher education may come from an unlikely source: the brokerage industry. Like higher ed, stock trading is a highly regulated field with massive barriers to change. Recall the stereotypical stockbrokers of the 1980s: Tom Wolfe’s “Masters of the Universe” or Merrill Lynch’s “Thundering Herd.” For years, the traditional brokerage industry was considered too difficult to replicate with technology. How could the internet replace a white-shoe adviser who not only took trade orders but also answered the phone, offered personal advice and took part in estate planning and other higher-order wealth-management tasks?

The mighty were felled quicker than expected. Over 30 years, technology reduced the cost of trading a stock from hundreds of dollars to virtually zero. . . .

Higher ed is where the brokerage business was in the late 1990s: poised for transformation. Even before the pandemic, momentum was building in the education market away from high-cost operators and toward low-cost ones. Southern New Hampshire University and Western Governors University, nonprofits that charge less than $10,000 a year in tuition, have already become some of the largest and fastest-growing institutions in the country. They each serve more than 100,000 students by using online delivery and competency-based instruction to drive down costs dramatically without sacrificing quality.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen — with a boost from the pandemic.

IT’S FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND, SO IT’S TIME FOR ANOTHER UBER-WOKE PR STUNT FROM NIKE: Last year, the Betsy Ross flag was cancelled by Nike during the Fourth of July holiday season, as a sneak preview of our current summer of leftist discontent. Now it’s time for Nike to generate PR by another major cancellation: “Nike removes Redskins name, apparel from its website,” NBC reports. (Which also helps to deflect Nike from this unfortunate fact: “Nike Called Out for Low Wages in Asia Amid Colin Kaepernick Ad Promotion,” Newsweek reported in September of 2018:

“The share of production costs of Nike and Adidas shoes that ends up in a worker’s pocket is now a staggering 30 percent less than in the early 1990s (2.5 percent in 2017 for Nike shoes compared with 4 percent in 1995),” the organization said, Reuters reported. According to CCC, the company has transferred much of its manufacturing to Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam as wages have increased in China.

More pressure is being put on the Redskins team owner Dan Snyder by FedEx: “Stadium sponsor FedEx asks Redskins to change nickname,” ESPN adds.  Today, the team issued a statement that they will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name,” which means a change is possibly on the way. Yesterday, one wag on Twitter suggested an excellent choice to allow Synder to thumb his nose at Nike: “The Washington Uighers.”

At his Lid blog, Jeff Dunetz has a list of suggestions for more replacement names, including this possibility: “How about taking a number? After all, the 49ers have a long history of winning football. Why not call the team the ‘Washington 26 Trillion,’ after the national debt? Nah, that won’t work because then the team will have to change what they are called every few weeks.”

Of course, as Stephen Miller tweets, erasing the Redskins’ name means erasing a bit of black history: “The first African American QB to win a Super Bowl did it with the Washington Redskins. Have fun guys!”

Also in National Wokeball News: “NFL plans to play Black national anthem before Week 1 games this season,” the New York Post reports. As Twitchy adds, “Judging by the comments, we weren’t the only ones who didn’t know that ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is ‘traditionally known’ as the black national anthem, but NFL viewers will be getting familiar with it, as the league intends to play it before ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before Week 1 games this season.”

According to CBS, Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, donated a paltry $2,700 to Chris Christie’s stillborn presidential bid in 2016. This fall’s NFL season is shaping up to be a much larger in-kind contribution to the Trump 2020 campaign.

OUR HEROIC FIREFIGHTERS WHO DON’T TAKE SIDES: Trump-bashing the theme in 4 of 5 awards given by White House press corps.

Related: Trump Didn’t Ruin the Media, Obama Did. “Obama was the first indicator that the media would simply refuse to cover stories they didn’t like about a politician they did. The media covered Clinton’s Chinagate and Travelgate. But they refused to cover the IRS scandal with the same level of vim as they would have under Bush; they downplayed the Obama administration’s involvement in the botched ‘Fast and Furious’ gun operation scandal; and members of the mainstream media openly mocked the right’s anger over the administration’s manipulation of the 2012 Benghazi terror attack. Obama had to be protected at all costs, including the cost of the media’s credibility. Meanwhile, the media savaged 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Flashback: New Status Anxiety Fuels Trump Derangement.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Higher Education At The Covid-19 Crossroads.

The Covid-19 pandemic is placing many universities under extreme budget pressure, owing to the loss of high-margin international students. And, if schools cannot open on campus this fall, many may be forced to discount their tuition to students. Some observers think it likely that many universities will be forced to close, as a result of these pressures.

The longer term picture is not much better. Higher education costs have been rising at an unsustainable rate for decades. Tuition at four year private schools now runs above $40,000 per year, while tuition at public universities runs above $15,000 per year, not including living costs. Public universities were free in the 1960s, and tuition at UC Berkeley ran about $500 per semester as recently as the late 1970s. “Working your way through college” was quite feasible in those days, with a 10 hour per week job and a summer job. No more. The rate of increase has been much higher than inflation, and has even been higher than medical inflation in the US, which is really saying something. The Covid-19 pandemic is merely accelerating a reckoning in higher education, a reckoning that has been coming for quite some time.

I agree.


Plus, yes:

Related: Trump Didn’t Ruin the Media, Obama Did. “Obama was the first indicator that the media would simply refuse to cover stories they didn’t like about a politician they did. The media covered Clinton’s Chinagate and Travelgate. But they refused to cover the IRS scandal with the same level of vim as they would have under Bush; they downplayed the Obama administration’s involvement in the botched “Fast and Furious” gun operation scandal; and members of the mainstream media openly mocked the right’s anger over the administration’s manipulation of the 2012 Benghazi terror attack. Obama had to be protected at all costs, including the cost of the media’s credibility. Meanwhile, the media savaged 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Flashback: New Status Anxiety Fuels Trump Derangement.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Colleges Face 15%-20% Drop In Enrollment; S&P Lowers Credit Rating Of 25% Of Colleges. “For many schools, the pandemic is exposing flaws in their own business models. Even before the virus hit, many colleges and universities were running on razor-thin margins.” That’s weird, given the skyrocketing tuition costs. But Vice Chancellors for Diversity and Inclusion don’t come cheap, and neither do their staffs.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Colleges nationwide cut costs with hundreds of layoffs, furloughs.

DISPATCHES FROM GROUND ZERO OF THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Oberlin to lay off 108 employees, save $2 million per year. 

Oberlin College planning to lay off 108 employees in its dining services and custodial departments in order to obtain vendor-provided contract services is a symptom of the college’s effort to cut costs as it faces deficit spending, the college announced Tuesday.
The effort will save the college an estimated $2 million per year, it announced Tuesday.

* * * * * * * *

Oberlin College said on its website that the cuts announced Tuesday are entirely unrelated to the more than $31.5 million judgment it owes Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family after losing the court case. Both the college and the Gibsons have appealed elements of the case to the 9th District Court of Appeals in Akron.

“This effort is completely independent of the Gibson judgment and is directly connected to the need to support Oberlin’s mission and improve the college’s operating budget as identified by President Ambar in her first few months on campus,” the college stated in a “frequently asked questions” document attached to Tuesday’s announcement. “The Gibson’s matter is now on appeal and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Found via Small Dead Animals, which adds this tweet from Jonathan Kay of Quillette: 

LAWRENCE PERSON: Wokeness vs. The Working Class. “The hard left has made it clear that they despise, absolutely despise members of the working class, or even anyone without a college degree. They especially hate that ordinary people resist their Social Justice Warrior ‘wokeness,’ and refuse to let transsexual madness and victimhood identity politics get shoved down their throats. The woke can’t hide their naked contempt for those inbred redneck freaks of JesusLand, even when it costs them elections. And their self-imposed reality bubbles prevent them from realizing just how unpopular and distasteful their attitudes and policies have become to ordinary people.”

THERE ARE MAGIC WORDS OF POWER THAT MAY NOT BE SPOKEN BY THE UNCONSECRATED WITHOUT SEVERE PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES: Another ‘N word’-in-context incident costs a university employee her job. “I understand that this was a free speech event […] but her example was upsetting!” Maybe you need to learn how to be upset, child. Honestly, these students are idiots who lack the capacity to be in college, and they’re matched by their administrators.


A few years ago, when I was on my university’s Graduate Council, a new course proposal came to us from our College of Education. The proposal referred to the different learning styles of students, something that struck me as odd — I remembered having heard years before that the learning-styles theory had been discredited. Trusting my colleagues’ expertise, I kept my mouth shut and, assuming that learning styles must have been rehabilitated by new research, voted to pass the proposal.

I later polled the education majors in one of my history classes: Not only did they know about learning styles, they all knew the acronym “VARK,” which stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic — the four alleged learning styles. The theory, it seemed, was alive and well.

Then I sought out the supporting research. Instead, I quickly came across a New York Times article on the curious persistence of learning styles — curious because of widespread evidence debunking the theory (The Atlantic has since published a similar piece). Despite all this, learning styles still apparently pervade colleges of education. A 2014 article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience on the topic of “neuromyths” found that over 90 percent of teachers it surveyed believed in learning styles. . . .

Evidence shows that virtually anyone can learn to read if they are taught to associate letters with particular sounds (phonics) and that trying to teach students to read using the whole language approach works poorly. Still, colleges of education continue to resist phonics. . . .

There are real costs to these inertial, anti-scientific ways. Researchers warn that trying to accommodate students’ beliefs about their own learning styles may actually make it harder for them to learn. The fact that fewer than 40 percent of American eighth graders are proficient readers is partially attributable to educators’ dogged opposition to phonics. . . .

No doubt there are useful things we could learn from the high schools and they from us, but what’s wandering in from the sidewalk may be the worst aspects of the high school, not the best. Instead of the enthusiasm of the robotics team and the Latin club, it’s the top-down administration and the stifling, centralized approach to curriculum and pedagogy that seem to be trying to get their noses under the tent.

Ed school graduates now occupy a growing role in academic administration, especially at lower-tier schools, and they are bringing an ed-school mentality with them.

In three words, ignorant, mediocre, authoritarianism.

COLORADO: Department of Transportation in Total Disarray. “CDOT Executive Director: Shoshana Lew, a history major in college, became the head of CDOT at age 35 with no engineering or construction management experience due to political connections in Washington, D.C.”

The convergence of two events has turned CDOT upside down. The first was the Orwellian named “Keep Jobs in Colorado Act of 2013.” Previously under CRS Sec. 24-92-109 all public projects in excess of $50,000 had to be “awarded by competitive bid.” The drawbacks to this method include occasional “bid rigging” by competing contractors. In addition, so-called “change orders” can drive up costs of a competitively bid project. But overall this method, which was used for decades by CDOT, was the least subjective and generally viewed fairest method to have projects completed at the lowest cost.

The 2013 act substituted the “lowest bid” method with the so-called “best value” model in which bids come in as either (1) Design Build; or (2) Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC). While these techniques have various theoretical advantages, especially for unique highly complex projects, including potentially cutting down the time to complete a project, it is a highly subjective selection process with the opportunity for corruption massively increased. To prevent cronyism and exorbitant cost increases, it requires high expertise and absolute diligence on the part of CDOT. What CDOT got was the exact opposite.

Lew’s primary qualification, according to insiders, was her close relationship to Michelle Obama who called the newly elected governor for a favor — find a job for Shoshana Lew. Lew is the daughter of President Obama’s Chief of Staff and later Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew.

In a word: Democrats.

COME BACK MESSRS. STERLING AND COOPER, ALL IS FORGIVEN: ‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork:

For Mr. Neumann and the investors, the premise has always been that the market would look at We as more than real estate. The high valuation—twice that of United Airlines Holdings Inc. —has enabled the company to continue to raise money to fund new desks and offices and keep growing, even as losses persisted.

He has created a distinct culture in his mold. T-shirts and signs sport slogans such as “hustle harder” and “Thank God it’s Monday.” Employees are often big company boosters, creating a work-hard, play-hard office, with a millennial hipster vibe.

Alcohol has been a big part of the culture, particularly in We’s first half-decade. Mr. Neumann has told people he likes how it brings people together, and tequila, his favorite, flows freely. Executive retreats sport numerous cases of Don Julio 1942, with a retail price of more than $110 a bottle, and pours sometimes start in the morning.

A few weeks after Mr. Neumann fired 7% of the staff in 2016, he somberly addressed the issue at an evening all-hands meeting at headquarters, telling attendees the move was tough but necessary to cut costs, and the company would be better because of it.

Then employees carrying trays of plastic shot glasses filled with tequila came into the room, followed by toasts and drinks.

Soon after, Darryl McDaniels of hip-hop group Run-DMC entered the room, embraced Mr. Neumann and played a set for the staff. Workers danced to the 1980s hit “It’s Tricky” as the tequila trays made more rounds; some others, still focused on the firings, say they were stunned and confused.

That college frat-boy feel carries over to the actual WeWorks facilities, which (at least going by the Fort Worth location) feels more Friends and The Big Bang Theory than Mad Men. I don’t think Diana West wrote The Death of the Grown-Up as a how-to guide for business.

ROBERT REICH IN THE GRAUNIAD: There is no ‘right’ v ‘left’: it is Trump and the oligarchs against the rest.

Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super rich, Wall Street and big corporations.

So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?

I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted.

In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.

The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing.

This isn’t the first time that Robert Reich has rejected your reality and substituted his own. Exit quote: “I claim no higher truth than my own perceptions. This is how I lived it.”


If we want to solve the very real problem of excessive student-loan debt, college costs need to be brought under control. A 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute identified “administrative bloat” as a leading reason for higher costs. The study found that many American universities now have more salaried administrators than teaching faculty.

Another way to approach costs is to remove the incentives for universities to accept government-subsidized student-loan money regardless of a student’s prospects of graduation or gainful employment. Under the current setup, incentives run the other way: Schools get their money up front via student loans; if students are unable to pay the loans back, the burden falls on taxpayers (if the loan was “guaranteed” by the federal government), and the students themselves, while the schools get off scot-free.

A serious student-loan fix would change this incentive. First, federal aid could be capped, perhaps at a national average, or simply indexed to the consumer-price index, making it harder for schools to raise tuition willy-nilly. Second, schools that receive subsidized loan money could be left on the hook for a percentage of the loan balance if students default. I would favor allowing students who can’t pay to discharge their loan balances in bankruptcy after a reasonable time—say, five to seven years, maybe even 10—with the institutions that got the money being liable to the guarantors (i.e., the taxpayers) for, say, 10% or 20% of the balance.

You can bet that under this kind of a rule, universities would be much more careful about encouraging students to take on significant debt unless they are fully committed first to graduating, and second to a realistic career path that would enable them to service that debt over time. At the very least, schools would be more likely to warn students of the risks.

Even thinking about the impact of such a “skin in the game” rule for colleges helps to illustrate the irresponsible—even, in Elizabeth Warren’s words, “immoral”—way that colleges up to now have dealt with costs and with debt. If lawmakers were serious about helping students pay for college, Congress would be considering more than simply continuing low interest rates on ever-higher student-loan balances.

Still true.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Busting the college-industrial complex.

Yet even as reformers have pushed to remove a variety of barriers to employment, the biggest and most significant barrier to employment in American life — the use of the college degree as a default hiring device — has gone blithely unremarked. Indeed, even as reformers target employment obstacles for felons and florists, the pervasive use of college-degree requirements, despite its dubious legality and profound costs, has bizarrely escaped serious consideration.

At its best, higher education can be a powerful engine of opportunity and socioeconomic advancement. And that’s the way it’s almost universally described — at least in college brochures, think-tank reports, campaign stump speeches, and legacy media. Nevertheless, for too many Americans, the truth is that post-secondary education is principally a toll: an ever-more-expensive, increasingly mandatory, two-, four-, or, more accurately, six-year pit stop on the way to remuneration.

Which is profitable for the toll-takers.

AND STILL DO NOTHING TO REDUCE COSTS: Bernie’s College Debt Plan Would Erase Debt, Even for the Wealthy, By Taxing Investments.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Diversity makes college more expensive, economics professor argues.

Why has the price of college increased so rapidly in the past 30 years?

Among the many theories proffered by scholars and researchers at a Cato Institute event Wednesday, one jumped out: Diversity is expensive.

“Students today are more expensive to educate” than past generations, said Douglas Webber, an economics professor at Temple University who identifies as politically progressive.

They are “much more diverse” than the “traditional demographic” that paid relatively little for their educations, he said. Thus, college costs and tuitions are apt to increase as schools transition away from educating monolithic student bodies.



In a speech on the topic of “radical fat liberation” jointly sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies Department and the Center for Equity and Inclusion (what else?) at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, the prodigiously overweight Sonalee Rashatwar, a self-proclaimed Fat Sex Therapist, compared fitness trainers to Nazis, defined child dieting as sexual assault, attributed the Christchurch shooting to ‘thin” white supremacism, and condemned science as “fataphobic” for “promoting the idea that certain bodies are fit, able and desirable.” She wonders, rhetorically, “is it my fatness that causes my high blood pressure, or is it my experience of weight stigma?” She goes on to blame the Reagan administration for having refused to provide “social supports that also help me to subsidize my food costs.” Believe it! We have entirely transcended the realm of reason, sanity and common sense, and tossed the concept of personal responsibility into the cultural dumpster.

Found via David Thompson, who has many more links from the education apocalypse.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Enrollment Shortfalls Spread to More Colleges.

A broad swath of private colleges across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions are expected to miss their enrollment goals for the fall semester. That growing trend now includes some institutions that have rarely, if ever, had to worry about filling classes.

Bucknell University, for example, expects that its freshman class this fall will be about 2 percent smaller than planned, or a total of roughly 960 students, said William T. Conley, its vice president for enrollment management. . . .

“I do get the sense that more than a handful of highly selective colleges missed their enrollment targets this year,” said Robert Massa, who still talks with enrollment professionals across the country after a 45-year career in financial aid and admissions. He retired from Drew University in February.

Ithaca College, which enrolls nearly 5,500 undergraduates, is larger and less selective than Bucknell, admitting about 70 percent of its undergraduate applicants. But the college, in upstate New York, will have some 175 fewer freshmen and $4.6 million less in tuition revenue than planned, said its president, Shirley M. Collado.

Several other college officials and higher-education consultants confirmed that they are seeing enrollment problems at numerous institutions.

The reasons for the enrollment shortfalls, said Massa and others, are complex and tied to several factors. Those include the declining number of high-school students across the regions, families’ increasing sensitivity to tuition and other costs, questions about the overall value of a college degree, and the ease with which students can apply to and consider multiple colleges.

If only there had been some sort of warning. It’s telling, though, that the idea of increasing sensitivity to costs, and of questions about the value of a college degree, now get matter-of-fact treatment, where these ideas were controversial not long ago.

EVER NOTICE THAT STUDENTS WHO SPEND THEIR TIME ON SJW PROTESTS TEND TO BE THE STUDENTS IN NEED OF SPENDING MORE TIME ON THEIR EDUCATION?: Consider this gobbleygook from students at Williams College protesting the potential adoption of the pro-free speech Chicago Principles:

In their rebuttal, the students, who called themselves the Coalition Against Racist Education Now, or CARE, wrote that the faculty petition “prioritizes the protection of ideas over the protection of people  [because ideas come from animals? plants?] and fails to recognize that behind every idea is a person with a particular subjectivity [what?]. Our beliefs, and the consequences of our actions, are choices we make [umm, no, many consequences of our actions are unintended and unpredictable]. Any claim to the ‘protection of ideas’ that is not founded in the insurance [assurance?] of people’s safety [you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means] poses a real threat — one which targets most pointedly marginalized people. An ideology of free speech absolutism that prioritizes ideas over people [again: because ideas come from animals? plants?], giving ‘deeply offensive’ language a platform at this institution, will inevitably imperil marginalized students.”

A greater threat to these students’ future than the imagined threat from having the occasional “offensive” (read: conservative?) speaker on campus is that they are going to one of the best colleges in the United States, where tuition costs almost $57k  a year plus room and board, and yet can’t competently write and edit several sentences of argument.


HMM: California must invest in workforce to meet housing goals.

Even under the rosiest of regulatory scenarios, California’s residential construction industry needs at least 200,000 new workers to produce enough new housing to improve affordability.

But it is struggling to compete for them. Industry leaders often claim it’s because “Young people don’t want to get their hands dirty;” “Parents are pushing college instead of vocational training;” or because “Schools have abandoned shop classes.”

Actually, research shows that the seeds for today’s housing construction labor shortage were planted by the homebuilding industry itself — more than three decades ago.

The last time California produced housing on a scale that state leaders say is needed to boost affordability today was the 1970s. During those years, residential and non-residential construction wage rates were equal. Builders routinely employed apprentices and made binding commitments — often through collective bargaining — to fund skilled trade apprenticeship programs.

During the 1980s, homebuilders refused to renew collective bargaining agreements and began replacing higher skilled crews with lower skilled workers. As land and regulatory costs grew, contractors relied on a strong supply of young men without a college degree and a growing pool of immigrant laborers to offset these burdens by working for less.

Construction labor productivity began to shrink alongside these shifts, but it has taken decades for annual deficits in housing supply to reach a crisis point. Today, we need to double our housing production just to tread water. To boost affordability, we need to produce even more. Either scenario demands more workers.

In the meantime, where will they live?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Many Private Colleges Are In Trouble. “But the real challenge facing many colleges and universities at the moment is that their business model is fundamentally broken. ‘Business model’ isn’t a popular phrase in higher education, either, but all colleges have one. When we use the term, we are referring to the revenue that an institution must take in to support the resources and processes it uses to deliver on its value proposition. Many colleges and universities are increasingly unable to bring in enough revenue to cover their costs.”

If only there had been some kind of warning.

VICTORY GIRLS: Varsity Blues Cheating Scandal Is A Desperate Elites Tale. “While the rest of us honorable schmucks were paying for college board prep tests (my son wouldn’t go) or at least begging our little cherubs to get a good night’s sleep prior to the test (nope to that one, too), these elitists, who are so much better than we are, schemed with a weasel named William Singer to phony up the test scores for the college boards, create phony elite athlete profiles and get their kids into college as athletes or just plain bribe college officials. And, then as if these elitists didn’t disdain us enough, they claimed the costs as charitable contributions on their tax returns. You cannot make this excrement up.”

They call it a meritocracy, but it’s more of a kakistocracy.

Related: Don Lemon: College Admissions Scandal Shows Why Trump’s Message of a Rigged System Resonated With People. Yes, even Don Lemon.

ALL IS PROCEEDING AS I HAVE FORESEEN: White House Might Put Colleges on the Hook for Student Loans: Executive order under consideration would require schools to take financial stake when students don’t repay.

The White House is weighing a measure that would require colleges and universities to take a financial stake in their students’ ability to repay government loans, an effort that could squeeze loan availability to students and reduce defaults.

For several months, Trump administration officials have been discussing enacting such a mechanism or making a push for one in Congress as part of a broader effort to combat rising college costs.

In the administration’s budget proposal released Monday, officials made brief mention of a “request to create an educational finance system that requires postsecondary institutions that accept taxpayer funds to have skin in the game through a student loan risk-sharing program.”

Such a proposal could be included in a coming executive order addressing higher education, several officials said.

You heard it here first. Though remember this? Senate Democrats push for colleges to have “skin in the game” on student loan defaults. “In a call with reporters, Senators Richard Durbin of Illlinois, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts highlighted a package of new and existing proposals aimed at reducing the burden of student debt. Durbin acknowledged that the senators had had ‘limited success’ in getting Republican support for the measures, but said they will be a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda in the Senate in 2014. One of the more controversial new proposals, to be introduced by Reed, would require colleges with high student loan default rates to pay a penalty to the government that is proportional to the defaulted debt.”

So Trump can honestly say this is an idea with bipartisan support.

Flashback: “Up until now, the loan guarantees have meant that colleges, like the writers of subprime mortgages a few years ago, got their money up front, with any problems in payment falling on someone else. Make defaults expensive to colleges, and they’ll become much more careful about how much they lend and what kinds of programs they offer.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade:’ Mitch Daniels, America’s most innovative university president, tells how he’s kept tuition from rising and how acquiring Kaplan University will expand educational access.

Mr. Daniels, 69, is the most innovative university president in America. Like his counterparts at other schools, he believes higher education has been “a competitive advantage” for the U.S.—“a nice little export industry, if you add up all the dollars that come here to purchase the education of students from other places.” He regards the rumbling in Washington about curbing visas for foreign students to be “very shortsighted.” But he also thinks American higher education has grown fat and complacent. He’s making inventive, even radical changes in the way his institution finances itself and imparts an education.

Mr. Daniels kicks off our conversation with a morality tale: “I’ll speak to an audience of businesspeople and say: Here’s the racket that you should have gone into. You’re selling something, a college diploma, that’s deemed a necessity. And you have total pricing power.” Better than that: “When you raise your prices, you not only don’t lose customers, you may actually attract new ones.”

For lack of objective measures, “people associate the sticker price with quality: ‘If school A costs more than B, I guess it’s a better school.’ ” A third-party payer, the government, funds it all, so that “the customer—that is, the student and the family—feels insulated against the cost. A perfect formula for complacency.” The parallels with health care, he observes, are “smack on.”

Mr. Daniels takes a different approach. In 2001-03, he ran the White House budget office for President George W. Bush, who dubbed him “The Blade” for his cost-cutting skills. Mr. Daniels brought his paring knife to Purdue. Examples of his efficiencies include replacing full-time dining-hall employees with student workers, scrapping the vast fleet of university-owned buses in favor of a private contractor, and saving $61 million on capital projects through what the university calls “innovative construction management.”

His most eye-catching achievement has been to keep costs down for students. By graduation day in 2020, tuition won’t have risen in eight years. “We’re able to say,” he says, “that the total cost in nominal dollars of going to Purdue will be less in 2020 than it was in 2012.”

Mr. Daniels says widespread adoption of Purdue’s “affordability campaign” would improve higher education. “Everybody is worried,” he says, furrowing his brow. “What are we at? A trillion and a half of student debt, twice as much as the total credit-card debt. It’s a social and economic problem.” He offers up a list of life’s milestones that people delay because of college debt: “marriage, household formation, child raising, homeownership, business-start formation—all of these things are being pressed down by college debt.” The “obvious first step,” Mr. Daniels replies, “is don’t charge so darn much in the first place.”

I dunno, if that kind of thinking catches on, it could threaten the whole feedlot.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: How Many Colleges Will Go Under? Will Yours Be One?

The pessimism of the rating agencies seems justified. Total higher education enrollments in the U.S. have been falling for the last seven years, particularly concerning for the majority of institutions dependent on tuition fees for much of their operating funds. Most current college freshmen were born in or near the year 2000. The number of births in 2005 or even 2009 (potential students a few years from now) was less than it was in 1990. The lifetime fertility rate of American women is at a record low of around 1.8, well below the level needed to avoid long-term population decline in the absence of large-scale immigration. Moreover, anti-immigration attitudes and toughening visa requirements do not bode well for large increases in foreign-born students.

Even more ominous, the prevailing view that “a college education is vital if you are going to be at least modestly successful financially” seems to be changing as the media tells us about former college students suffering from mountains of student loan debt, or students who are underemployed working as baristas or retail sales clerks at wages no higher than what high school graduates make. And the public is impacted by stories of welders making six-digit salaries, or about the desperate need for drivers of long-distance trucks. Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” is viewed as a positive role model. The earnings advantage associated with a college degree has been stagnant for years, even as college costs continue to rise.

If only someone had warned them about this.

IT’S LIKE SOME KIND OF EDUCATION APOCALYPSE OR SOMETHING: Harvard Study: 20% Of College Students Consider Suicide; 9% Attempt It.

You’d think that there would be more skepticism of an industry that costs so incredibly much, and then drives many of its customers to contemplate, or attempt, suicide.


So, to summarize: in the past fifty years, education costs have doubled, college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by about fifty percent. US health care costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost about eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries.

I worry that people don’t appreciate how weird this is. I didn’t appreciate it for a long time. I guess I just figured that Grandpa used to talk about how back in his day movie tickets only cost a nickel; that was just the way of the world. But all of the numbers above are inflation-adjusted. These things have dectupled in cost even after you adjust for movies costing a nickel in Grandpa’s day. They have really, genuinely dectupled in cost, no economic trickery involved.

And this is especially strange because we expect that improving technology and globalization ought to cut costs.

Read the whole thing. Related item here.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Sad State Of Higher Education.

The state of the American university remains precarious for several reasons. College costs and student debt have reached a level beyond which they cannot keep rising indefinitely. Colleges keep expanding their use of badly paid adjunct professors hired after only a perfunctory look at their credentials. These adjuncts increased from about 13 percent of the faculty in 1988 to about 51 percent in 2011; in 2011 another 29 percent were instructors not eligible for tenure, and only 21 percent were tenured professors.

Meanwhile, a growing number of courses are available on the Internet, many for free, raising the question of why students should pay as much as $4,000 for a classroom course when they can take a better course for much less or for nothing. At the same time, many American voters, state legislators, and governors who have a low opinion of professors and their ideas are becoming still more reluctant to subsidize higher education through taxes. Between 1987 and 2012, state and local spending on higher education per full-time student fell by 30.6 percent in constant dollars, while tuition at state and local institutions rose by 100.5 percent.

Read the whole thing.

GET WOKE, GO BROKE: Fallout: University of Missouri struggles with $50 million shortfall, reduced enrollment after racial protests. “College students who decided not to attend University of Missouri said that the environment created by the protests, as well as high costs and unfavorable funding options, caused them to turn to other schools.”

Said one student: “Students were afraid to walk on campus because of the threat of shootings on yikyak [a now-defunct anonymous messaging app]. I walked through marches at least once a week and many of those people didn’t even know why they were protesting beyond wanting equal treatment which I remember them saying they wanted a special curve just for black students.”

All this damage, just to appease a small, unrepresentative minority of students and faculty who by their nature will never actually be satisfied.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, “RAPE CULTURE IS REAL” EDITION: Marymount University settles Title IX lawsuit where adjudicator suggested men enjoy being sexually violated.

Marymount University saw the writing on the wall in March, when a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit by a student it suspended for two years for alleged sexual assault.

It reached a confidential settlement last week with “John Doe,” who also reached a confidential settlement with his accuser and defendant “Jane Roe.” Each party will bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Catholic university in Virginia was looking at a very unpleasant trial scenario, based on Judge T.S. Ellis’s findings against it.

Doe raised credible evidence that Prof. Donald Lavanty, the Title IX adjudicator, held “certain gendered beliefs” against men in sexual-misconduct disputes, suggesting they “always enjoy sexual contact even when that contact is not consensual.”

Lavanty had reacted in disbelief when a male student in another sexual-misconduct case, who had reported himself the victim of unwanted female touching, said he was not aroused by it. The professor pressed on: “Not at all?”



Yet as they consolidate control, California Democrats must face some profound contradictions, as the Marxists would say. The gentry—tech oligarchs, real estate speculators, and venture capitalists—stand comfortably with the left on symbolic race, gender, and environmental issues. But these party bankrollers could be hard-pressed if they face the prospect of higher taxes to pay for a state single-payer health-care system, massive housing subsidies, and Governor Brown’s choo-choo, not to mention the state’s ever-soaring pension costs. As Amazon is learning in Seattle, progressive politicos have figured out where to find the biggest piles of cash. Aggressive taxation of tech companies is already becoming a trend in Silicon Valley.

A stronger, motivated grass-roots Left could constitute the greatest immediate challenge to Governor Newsom. Many Californians, particularly millennials and minorities, face a lack of high-wage jobs, soaring rents, and essentially insurmountable barriers to homeownership. A majority of Californians, according to some surveys, express dissatisfaction with the state’s bifurcated economy. The disappearance of upward mobility makes these voters susceptible to embracing such things as rent control, higher minimum wages, free college, and free health care. They will support ever higher taxes on businesses and on generally white, affluent Californians. The call for new spending will become more problematic once the state comes back to earth from its Silicon Valley and real-estate inflation highs, which for now keep the operating budget in the black.

At some point, Newsom and the Democratic nomenklatura will have to deal with pervasive conditions of diminished opportunity, racial polarization, and fiscal weakness. When these realities eventually impinge, the state’s progressive rulers may find themselves on the defensive, and—if confronted with a plausible opposition—vulnerable, at long last.

Read the whole thing.

SCIENCE! CUNY Lists ‘Zim,’ ‘Ver,’ ‘Eeirself’ as ‘Gender Pronouns.’

$27,423 a year (for in-state residents) seems like an awful lot of money to learn made-up nonsense words.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT EDITION: Administrative Bloat On Campuses Isn’t Just Expensive, It’s Stifling.

Graeber observes that, in the 20-year period from 1985 to 2005, the number of administrators increased at universities by 85 percent while the number of students and faculty increased by only 50 percent. In that same period, the number of administrative staff ballooned by a staggering 240 percent.

Graeber attributes this condition to “managerial feudalism,” and the label has not been misapplied. The aristocracy he describes is barely distinguishable from seigneury. Department heads and faculty deans are beneficiaries of a modern form of Manorialism. After all, what is a lordship without vassals? As Graeber outlines, reputation demands that every administrative staffer of sufficient rank retain at least four or five subordinates. “Office workers are typically kept on even if they are doing literally nothing, lest somebody’s prestige suffer,” Graeber wrote.

Payroll costs are expensive. It is no coincidence that in nearly the same period that Graber identifies as the point at which university administrative staff began to expand exponentially the cost of achieving a higher education exploded. Between 1985 and 2011, the cost of a four-year degree increased by 498 percent while consumer inflation rose by just over 100 percent. American incomes have only just about kept pace with inflation in that same timeframe, so the cost of college has for many become a prohibitive expense even if it is increasingly a necessary one.

If only someone had warned about this.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, MANDATORY-INFLATING EDITION: New Mexico considers forcing students to apply for college. “Two state legislators in New Mexico are looking to make high school students submit a college application in order to graduate. Students who do not wish to file an application–which costs $25 at the University of New Mexico–would have to document alternative post-graduation plans, such as an internship or military service.”

Remember, kids, you belong to the state, not to yourselves.

“GOT STUDENT DEBT? You’re not alone, but maybe it means you really didn’t graduate from college.” Harvard’s Kennedy School is telling a graduate (and the world) that he really isn’t a graduate until he pays off his tuition. Appealing to “fundamental principles of equity” (a legal phrase even more vague than Due Process) the graduate in question, entertainment industry veteran Stephen Powell, alleges in a defamation claim that:

“Harvard conferred an MPA degree on him in 1994, and is now suing Harvard seeking an order that Harvard be stopped from denying that he is a graduate of the Kennedy School,” states a December 22 court filing by Harvard. “However, Powell never paid Harvard for any of the costs of obtaining an MPA degree, and indeed deliberately avoided paying Harvard for the costs of that degree. Fundamental principles of equity dictate that Powell cannot claim entitlement to a degree without paying for it.”

This just doesn’t sound right, unless Harvard is admitting that they do not provide, you know, an education, but merely a piece of paper.

MICHAEL BARONE: Real target of Republican tax bills: Feds, eds, and meds bloat.

The Republican tax bills do indeed reduce revenues to the “feds,” with surprisingly small rate cuts for high earners and by cutting the corporate rate from 35 to 20 percent. The current rate, highest in the world, had to be lowered sooner or later, as most liberal economists (and Barack Obama) have long admitted.

And it is hard to take seriously those moaning about increased budget deficits from those unwilling to reform entitlements, which includes all Democrats and many Republicans, notably President Trump.

The critics have more of an argument when it comes to eds and meds. But there’s a counterargument there as well. The tax bills push against the counterproductive government policies that have been pushing up education and health care costs, to the detriment of the consumers thereof.

The tax bills impose a new 1.4 percent tax on the investment income of endowments of very wealthy colleges and universities. They would eliminate deductions for student loans and tax tuition waivers for graduate students.

These institutions have been coasting on their reputation for excellence and as havens of free thought, even as they impose speech codes, conduct kangaroo courts on sexual assault charges and allow humanities and social science departments to be dominated by “postmodern” agitprop and gibberish.

Student loans impoverish many students, especially dropouts, while the money they pump into universities produces administrative bloat, to the point that there are more administrators than teachers in higher education today. Government subsidies produce an oversupply of Ph.D.s, whose theses go unread and whose job prospects are dismal.

Yep. Somebody should write a book on that problem.

WHEN YOUR ACTIONS ARE CHARACTERIZED BY A BIZARRE MIXTURE OF FRIVOLITY AND VICIOUSNESS, PEOPLE LOSE RESPECT FOR YOU: Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds. “The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases. Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.”

If only someone had warned them.

WHY ARE LEFTY-DOMINATED COMPANIES SUCH CESSPITS OF RUTHLESS EXPLOITATION? To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now.

Ms. Evans was a full-time employee of Kodak. She received more than four weeks of paid vacation per year, reimbursement of some tuition costs to go to college part time, and a bonus payment every March. When the facility she cleaned was shut down, the company found another job for her: cutting film.

Ms. Ramos is an employee of a contractor that Apple uses to keep its facilities clean. She hasn’t taken a vacation in years, because she can’t afford the lost wages. Going back to school is similarly out of reach. There are certainly no bonuses, nor even a remote possibility of being transferred to some other role at Apple.


MICHELLE MALKIN: The crisis in America’s crime labs.

Law journals and scientific publications are filled with similar horror stories that have spread from the New York City medical examiner’s office and Nassau County, N.Y.’s police department forensic evidence bureau to the crime labs of West Virginia, Harris County, Texas, North Carolina and jurisdictions in nearly 20 other states.

It’s the wrongfully prosecuted and convicted who suffer the heaviest deprivations — and taxpayers who must foot the astronomical bill for all the costs and damages incurred by crime lab corruptocrats and their enablers.

As I’ve been chronicling in my newspaper columns and investigative reports, many state crime labs and police departments are particularly ill-equipped and inadequately trained to interpret DNA evidence, especially “touch” or “trace” DNA — minute amounts of DNA of unknown origin often transferred through incidental contact — which has resulted in monstrous miscarriages of justice against innocent people.

The aura of infallibility conferred on crime lab analysts by “CSI”-style TV shows exacerbates the problem when juries place undue weight on indeterminate DNA evidence of little to no probative value. Just last week, North Carolina’s Mark Carver, who was convicted of murdering a college student based on dubious touch DNA that was likely the result of investigators’ contamination, won a new court date for a hearing that may set him free.

Costly errors and gross misconduct will continue as long as politicized prosecutors operate with a “win at all costs” agenda and stubbornly refuse to admit their failures.

Read the whole thing.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: “The University of Washington, Tacoma’s Writing Center now instructs students that expecting proper grammar from others perpetuates racism and ‘unjust language structures.’”

For out of state students, the annual total cost to attend the University of Washington, Tacoma is $50,037. Parents and students, choose where to spend your money wisely.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: To Save Public Higher Education, Defang Public Sector Unions.

In the New York Times last week, David Leonhardt denounced “the assault on colleges—and the American Dream” by state legislatures across the country that are gradually reducing their investments in public higher education. These cuts, Leonhardt says, undermine social mobility by forcing state colleges to pass over low-income students and enroll less economically diverse freshman classes. While there are reasonable objections to the way colleges spend the money they do have, the trend Leonhardt describes is indeed a cause for concern.

But why do public university budgets keep getting the ax? It’s not (at least not primarily) about the selfishness of wealthy taxpayers. The real answer is more inconvenient for the Democratic coalition: Namely, that exploding public pension costs are putting tremendous pressure on state budgets, and higher education is the softest political target for the belt-tightening needed to make up for it. . . .

So long as public sector unions have a powerful grip on state legislatures, and so long as they can extract inviolable pension commitments (and paper over the magnitude of these promises by assuming unrealistic rates of return) discretionary programs without guaranteed funding carveouts will continue to be squeezed. You won’t hear many progressive activists making this case, but the single best avenue for ensuring that public colleges are fully funded is to roll back collective bargaining rights for unionized public employees so that pension obligations can be put on a sustainable path.

Or at least, you won’t hear many progressive activists making this case anytime soon.

But in the long-run, the contradiction between state-level Democrats’ loyalty to public sector unions and their desire to expand social welfare programs of various kinds will become increasingly hard to conceal.

But you can bet they’ll try to conceal it as long as they can.

HIGHER EDUCATION IMPLOSION UPDATE: What I Saw at Evergreen State College.

Evergreen education is based on holism. All credits are holistically integrated into one course. For example, as an Evergreen graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (1985-89), I took a 32-credit course my freshman year entitled “Political Ecology” that was two quarters long. While it was largely a nonstop attack on Christianity and capitalism for helping precipitate the ecological crisis of modern times, all of the credits were divided among ecological studies, agricultural studies, Native American studies, geography, evolutionary biology, and creative writing, among other credits. In the spring, I took a course called “Thinking Straight” (16 credits) that consisted of credits in philosophy, English, creative writing, and logic. My favorite course at Evergreen was “The Classical World,” which lasted my entire sophomore year (48 credits). We began with the early Greeks in the fall and ended with early Christianity in the spring, reading through much of St. Augustine’s City of God.

My junior year was given over to “Political Economy” (32 credits) in the fall and winter, followed up by “Race, Class, and Gender” (16 credits) in the spring. Such a year presaged many of the political convulsions now rocking America, with no small thanks to the Obama administration – but all of which is still rooted in the hippie radicalism of the ’60s, not to mention all of the social upheaval in Europe dating back to the 1800s that was largely a very German affair. The content of these particular courses was loaded with a blending of socialism, Marxism, fascism, and postmodernism taught by true believers.

While one of the professors seemed to enjoy his popularity with female students, another was actively involved in fomenting lunatic student protests against the college administration. One particular memory stands out in sharp relief: at lunchtime on one beautiful spring day – while watching the student protest proceed – one wise Native American student said something along these lines, which I have never forgotten: “You know, we can all try to do good things to help bring about a better world by protesting the unfair and evil things we see around us, but the problem with all this is that people like that professor over there will be running things.”

This is precisely the crossroads that Evergreen has arrived at now, only worse, as the more fascist elements of liberalism so-called are now dominating the school.

A year at Evergreen costs about $37,770 for nonresidents.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Cal State Can’t Explain Why It Needs So Many Bureaucrats.

The California State University system has increased its hiring of managers at a steeper rate than its hiring of other employees over the past 10 years, according to a new state audit.

And in a report on the audit released on Thursday, the state auditor, Elaine M. Howle, wrote that the system could not sufficiently explain why it needed all the new managers, including deans, head coaches, and vice presidents, among other positions. […]

The audit also found that the system’s 23 campuses did not have policies for periodically comparing their spending levels or reviewing their budget limits.


In other words, administrators have been hiring more administrators for make-work positions and giving each other raises without sufficient accountability in a self-perpetuating cycle of bureaucratic decay that is sadly endemic to academia at large.

These findings should give pause to those who think that larger and larger state subsidies are the answer to higher education’s woes. Much of the public money spent on “free college” schemes championed by left-wing populists would end up being pocketed by the ever-expanding bureaucratic class of student services directors, Title IX coordinators, and HR managers, raising costs while steadily diluting quality.

But they all vote and donate Democratic, and organize protests, etc. to boot.

MICHAEL BARONE: Advice to Democrats: Don’t let California vote early in 2020.

What will it mean for Democrats if California votes right after Iowa and New Hampshire? For one thing, it will require Democratic candidates, who constantly inveigh against the evils of money in politics, to raise very large amounts of money up front.

That’s probably the only way they’ll be able to get their messages across to California’s 5 million-plus Democratic voters. Trying to organize the state precinct by precinct sounds impossible. Another likelihood is that California’s public employee unions will become the kingmakers. This will help Democrats if you think they need a candidate who backs hugely higher government spending; not so much if you don’t.

To appeal to Hispanic voters, Democratic candidates will have an incentive to get very close to an open borders and amnesty immigration policy, which may not help in other states. As for appealing to white non-college voters, the group which arguably defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, California won’t be much help; there aren’t very many of them in the state. High taxes and high housing costs have driven hundreds of thousands of non-affluent whites to leave California. . . .

California Democrats argue that California, with its huge size, should have more clout in determining the Democratic nomination. That’s a reasonable enough assertion. But you can’t argue, these days, that California is typical of the nation demographically or politically, as it was from the 1940s to the 1990s.

California’s electorate, according to, is 26 percent non-college white, compared to 42 percent nationally. California is 6 percent black, compared to 13 percent nationally. California is 24 percent Hispanic compared to 13 percent nationally. California is 14 percent Asian compared to 5 percent nationally.

You get the idea. The only group which is similar-size in this state and the nation is college-educated whites: 29 percent of California, 31 percent of the nation. But evidence suggests—take a look at those San Francisco Bay Area election returns—that California’s college-educated whites are much more left-wing than the rest of the nation’s.

And so is California, of course.

If California goes early, we might get Bernie as the nominee this time!

QUESTION ASKED: What are the True Costs of New York’s ‘Free’ College Education?

I’m not sure it matters. Whenever costs are socialized and benefits are privatized, there is usually a constituency loud and engaged enough to keep a program going in perpetuity, regardless of the expense.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Federal Government’s Student-Loan Fraud. “President Obama had a great idea back in 2010: nationalize the student loan program, and its problems would soon go away. It didn’t happen. Instead, more people are refusing to pay their student loans than ever before. . . . By taking over the student loan program, Obama in essence politicized it. Last year on the campaign hustings, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders repeatedly talked about making college ‘free.’ That is, they want to socialize the costs, but privatize the benefits, of a college education. Still surprised people aren’t paying their loans?”

SCOTT ADAMS: Income Inequality:

What happened is that candidate Trump persuaded us that immigration was a big problem. And in so doing, he pushed the issue of income inequality off the page. Do you remember the last time you saw CNN obsessing about income inequality? I thought it was the public’s biggest issue two years ago. Did it just sort of stop being one?

No, President Trump is in our heads. He told us what our priorities were and we accepted it, even if we hated his plans. Some people think is it a priority to get tougher on immigration, some think the opposite. But we all agree the issue is important.

If you had asked me in 2014 to list my country’s top 10 problems, immigration would not have been on the list. Now it’s usually at the top of the news. Trump did that. And by doing it he showed us a level of leadership that I have never seen in my lifetime. Even if you don’t like where he is leading us.

But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.

I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.

Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.

The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.

Well, it’s not how Bernie Sanders would do it. Which means it has a chance of working.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Pew: How Governments Support Higher Education Through The Tax Code. “The federal government and the states each invested more than $70 billion in higher education-related spending programs, excluding loans, in academic year 2014, the latest year for which data are available. But that figure, as substantial as it is, does not paint a full picture of federal and state investments in higher education. It excludes the billions of dollars that the federal government and the 41 states plus the District of Columbia that levy personal income taxes provide to students and their families through tax expenditures—such as credits for tuition and college savings incentives—to help offset postsecondary costs.”


DeVos’s department is also deeply involved in higher education, but the issues are different. What roils higher education are problems such as excessive costs, lack of intellectual diversity, faltering academic quality, federal overregulation, and threats to free speech and due process. DeVos must appoint a deputy undersecretary for higher education who will address those issues capably and with respect for individual freedom.

I recommend Richard Vedder for that job. Vedder is an emeritus economics professor at Ohio University, an accomplished and prolific writer on higher education issues, and a genial provocateur who will stand up against political correctness.

Vedder has a solid pedigree in higher education analysis—even though he was an academic economist for nearly 40 years before plunging into the study of higher education. His 2004 book, Going Broke by Degree, was prescient; it was the start of a wave of trade books undermining the assumption that all is well in our colleges and universities.

Soon, he was appointed to the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which issued a report in 2006 that severely criticized higher education. Named for Margaret Spellings, the education secretary under George W. Bush who authorized it, the commission sounded an alarm. It cited “a lack of clear, reliable information about the cost and quality of postsecondary institutions” and found a “remarkable absence of accountability mechanisms.” Its message was tough enough to win opposition from both the university establishment and the Left.

Vedder was more libertarian than most of the commission, but he got along with the other members, probably because he listens to what others say and because he has an engaging sense of humor.

Which will be needed when dealing with Higher Ed.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Starving the Beast Prompts Choleric Call to Fatten a Sacred Cow.

Starving the Beast is a dark and brooding documentary that paints public higher education as being in a death struggle with diabolical, shadowy right-wing figures who want to slash funding.

In North Carolina, however, more than $3.8 billion was allocated to the UNC system and community colleges combined in 2016—a 4.8 percent increase over the previous year, and a 1.6 percent increase over a five-year period, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Higher education appropriations for the UNC system alone total roughly $2.8 billion and account for 13 percent of the overall state budget. Also, a tuition freeze was recently put in place, and student fee increases were capped at 3 percent.

North Carolina is ranked fourth in the nation in various studies in terms of state higher education funding, and fifth in the lowest share of total costs for individuals or families.

And despite Nichol’s claim that there is a conscious effort to financially disenfranchise minority students, the state, among other things, has passed the “N.C. Promise” tuition plan to cut tuition costs by $500 per semester beginning in fall 2018 for in-state, undergraduate students at UNC Pembroke and Elizabeth City State University—two historically minority institutions—as well as Western Carolina University.

Across the country, higher education is accessible to more students than ever, regardless of their socioeconomic status or race. Over the years, as access has expanded, so has higher education funding. Writing for the Atlantic, Paul Campos found that overall state spending increased by an inflation-adjusted 48 percent over the past 35 years, and overall government spending per student is “greater than ever before.”

Nevertheless, Starving the Beast plays off the contention that there is a battle to disrupt and reform America’s public universities through budget cuts and a “very toxic ideology” of consumerism and the use of cost-cutting technology.

Well, no, but that would be nice. Higher education is ripe for reform.


What are the elements of the model legislation?

First, it creates an official university policy that strongly affirms the importance of free expression. Any restrictive speech codes would be nullified.

Second, campuses would be declared open to anyone invited by members of the campus community. The legislation bars administrators from excluding speakers, no matter how controversial, from whom members of the campus community wish to hear.

Third, the legislation establishes a system of disciplinary sanctions for anyone who interferes with the free-speech rights of others. Importantly, the disciplinary system would include due rights protections (e.g., right to confront the witnesses accusing them) for those brought before it, unlike the typical college disciplinary system in sexual harassment cases, for example.

Fourth, the legislation allows persons whose free-speech rights have been infringed by the university, and who sue the university in response, to recover court costs and attorney’s fees if they prevail.

Fifth, the legislation affirms the principle that universities, at the official institutional level, must remain neutral on issues of public controversy. It thus frees professors and students from pressure to support an official position, thereby encouraging the widest possible range of opinion and dialogue within the university.

Sixth, it requires that students be informed of their institution’s official policy on free expression. Freshman orientation would stress the importance of free speech and the disciplinary rules that back up the institution’s commitment to it.

Seventh, it authorizes a special subcommittee of the university board of trustees to issue a yearly report to the public, the trustees, the governor, and the legislature on the administrative handling of free-speech issues. This mechanism would likely deter administrators from restricting free speech, lest they be reported by the trustees to the legislature that controls the purse strings.

Read the whole thing.

REASON: The Case Against Hamilton: The hit Broadway musical was all that was wrong with 2016, and will likely be wrong with 2017, too.

On first take, I thought it sounded a bit like a University of Iowa freshman—the kind who only listens to “real hip-hop”—attempting his first mixtape. One of my Twitter followers corrected me, however. It’s closer to a Braintree elementary school making a rap song for parents’ night. The latter description hints not merely at the simple, formulaic quality of the material, but also the cloying, bourgeois quality of it all. From the reference to “ten-dollar Founding Father without a father” to “when the British taxed our tea we got frisky,” the whole affair sounds more like something made by precocious children than a professional composer.

We have Lin-Manuel Miranda to blame for this cultural atrocity, a scion of a psychologist and an advisor to New York mayor Ed Koch, who attended the same elementary and high school as Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Sure, he got bullied by Immortal Technique in school, but how much street cred is that really worth? After this he attended Wesleyan University, a top-10-ranked school that costs $65,000 a year, according to Forbes, before making his mark writing jingles for noted prostitute-enthusiast Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 campaign. The original version of Hamilton debuted at a Vassar College workshop. All this is, of course, an attempt to firmly establish Miranda’s street cred, which is unassailable.

Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was?

Of course, shit music and feels-over-reals weren’t the whole problem with America in 2016—and they aren’t the biggest deal facing us in 2017, either. No, the worst thing about this present moment in time is the smugness with which zillionaires and their sycophants on the coasts piss all over anyone who does actual work for a living.

That’s not just one of the main reasons that Trump won the election. That attitude makes for garbage art.

Read the whole thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, COST-HIDING EDITION: How University Costs Keep Rising Despite Tuition Freezes: Ballooning fees are leaving some students feeling nickel-and-dimed.

At a time when public anger is laser-focused on tuition charges that are rising three times faster than inflation, something less well understood has actually been largely responsible for pushing up the cost of college: fees.

Think tuition is high? Now add fees for student activities, fees for athletics, fees for building maintenance, fees for libraries—even fees for graduation, the bills for which often arrive just as students and their families thought they were finally done paying for their higher education.

All are frustratingly piled on top of a long list of expenses beyond tuition that many people never plan for or expect, or that can’t be covered by financial aid—sometimes forcing them to take out more and more loans, or quit college altogether.

“It was, like, what is this?” Ann Roach remembered thinking as she kept getting billed for fees when her oldest son went to the University of Dayton. “It’s like buying a car. You think you have a price, and then they tell you, ‘Here’s a conveyance fee, or here’s a fee for $200 to put the license plates on.’ Nobody told us about these.”

Fees nationwide continue to increase even faster than tuition—often covering the same things but letting institutions claim tuition hikes are slowing. Now, however, in response to anger from parents and students, and pressure from legislatures, or for marketing reasons in a time when they’re struggling to attract applicants, a few universities and colleges are pledging to make them more predictable or even drop them altogether. And the resulting decline in borrowing and dropout rates on those campuses suggest the significant toll that fees were taking on their students.

They are a lot like car salesmen, when you get right down to it. Well, except that cars have gotten steadily better over the past several decades, whereas the quality of higher education has actually declined.

HIGHER EDUCATION REFORM: For University Endowments, There’s No Time like the Present.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump argued that requiring wealthy universities to spend more of their endowment funds on tuition aid would reduce students’ financial burdens.

Whether implementing that idea—which has floated around Congress since 2008—would lower college costs on the whole is doubtful. And, in my view, the federal government is already meddling too much in university policies.

Nevertheless, Trump raised an important issue when he discussed endowment spending at a campaign stop in September. Universities, by hoarding their donations, may not be serving the best interests of students and benefactors.

To unpack this issue, I would like to ask a fundamental question: why do universities have endowments, anyway?

A few years ago Vance Fried, an Oklahoma State University professor of entrepreneurship, addressed that question and found few satisfactory answers.

He concluded that there are just two legitimate reasons for a university endowment—a school needs a “rainy day” fund (within reason; not a fund worth billions of dollars), and sometimes donors want their gifts to produce income in perpetuity.

But otherwise an endowment, which spends only a small percentage of its income each year, accomplishes less for a university’s mission than would making investments in education today—through scholarships, tuition reductions, research, or hiring professors. Currently, many endowments hold back millions—and at some elite schools, billions—of dollars for the future. . . .

President-elect Trump and analysts such as Fried are not alone in their belief that endowments should provide more immediate payoffs. Earlier this year, Senator Orrin Hatch and U.S. Representatives Kevin Brady and Peter J. Roskam, citing the apparent disconnect between schools’ having large endowments and tuition increases “far in excess of inflation,” asked 56 well-off colleges for details about their endowments. The responses, while often elaborate, revealed only vague justifications for them.

There are a lot of potential reforms here. Cap university presidents’ pay at the level of a Supreme Court Justice, cap tuition at schools receiving federal aid, require schools to spend at least 5% of their endowment per year on student assistance, limit the ratio of administrators to full-time teaching faculty: The possibilities are mind-boggling.

ANDY KESSLER: The president-elect should back a new GI bill for online courses.

How about a modern version of the GI Bill, but for everyone. I propose the Re-Hi Bill of 2017. If you’re unemployed, you get a voucher or tax credit for education. No, I’m not going all Bernie Sanders on you, with “free” public college adding billions to the national debt. Instead, there’s a twist: These programs would be online only, drastically lowering costs. . . .

No application essays. No Education Department messing with course selection. No teachers union. No degrees. Instead, only a computer or tablet—and successful completion produces a certificate. The right combination of certificates puts you on a list to be hired for all sorts of jobs: computer-support specialist, outside electrician, freight-stock worker, sonographer, radiation therapist, actuary. The list goes on.

And why not let private companies—think IBM, Ford, Pfizer, Amazon and others—come up with an online curriculum that they would hire from? Yes, the devil is in the details. Quality controls would help keep standards high. Fraud could be resolved using smartphone fingerprint recognition. LinkedIn would handle certificates and provide a searchable database for qualified workers.

The Trump administration has promised to spend billions on infrastructure, but that doesn’t provide new skills, and it takes forever to find the shovels. Online education for retraining skills can start tomorrow morning, and for relatively cheap. Even 15 million workers spending $500 a year on a few courses comes to less than $8 billion.

Somebody should write a book on this sort of thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Harvey Silverglate: Babson College Dropped Ball in Post-Election Incident.

The shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later mentality that has gripped our college campuses, currently basking — or wallowing — in a so-called diversity and inclusion phase, has visited Babson College, where members of the administration and faculty worked themselves into a lather over an incident of racial harassment that, it turns out, the most elementary investigation would have demonstrated never occurred.

This puts Babson, President Kerry Healey, and a number of administrators and faculty members into the uncomfortable position of having failed to adhere to an academic obligation — first determine the facts, then draw conclusions, and only then open your mouth. . . .

Healey was joined by Dean of Students Lawrence Ward, and some 200 members of Babson’s faculty — none of whom apparently had bothered to look for evidence before condemning Rand-Ricciardi and Tomasso and effectively labeling them racists and homophobes. It was a classic example of the justice meted out by the infamous character Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland,” who pronounced sentences — “off with their heads” — before the inconvenience of a trial.

Remember, higher education is supposed to be valuable because it teaches critical thinking.

Related: Legal advocacy group says Babson’s actions a ‘serious concern.’

A national legal advocacy group that’s successfully sued colleges for violating students’ free speech and due process rights is putting Babson College on notice that it’s monitoring the discipline of two students who waved a Donald Trump flag on the Wellesley College campus the day after the presidential election.

The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is delivering a letter to Babson today, said Ari Cohn, FIRE’s senior program officer for legal and public advocacy. He said the Babson case is “of serious concern” to FIRE.

“Because these students are going to face harassment and disorderly conduct charges simply for pre-existing support of a candidate, without anything more than that, the college’s promises of freedom of expression are essentially meaningless,” Cohn said.

Annual cost of attending Babson College: $58,692.

Flashback: ‘Tolerant’ educators exile Trump voters from campus.


The lawyer for one of two Babson College students investigated on unsubstantiated racism allegations stemming from their celebration of Donald Trump’s election is demanding an apology and threatening a defamation lawsuit after the school lifted its campus ban on the pair yesterday.

Babson Dean of Students Lawrence Ward informed students Parker Rand-Ricciardi and Edward Tomasso by letter yesterday that the school is “removing any interim restrictions on your access to campus.” The letter cites the “formal conclusion of the investigation phase of the College’s Community Standards process” as the reason for the lifting of a ban imposed shortly after the Nov. 9 incident.

Rand-Ricciardi and Tomasso were accused in social media posts of shouting racial and homophobic slurs while driving in a Chevy Silverado flying a Trump flag through the Wellesley College campus on the day after the election, which were unsupported by Babson’s investigation, according to a letter by Rand-Ricciardi’s lawyer.

Attorney Jeffrey Robbins wrote to Babson’s lawyers yesterday saying the college’s handling of the incident “badly defamed” his client, and that Babson is “liable to Parker for the tort of defamation and, it would appear, for violations of the Massachusetts Civil Rights statute under the common law, for the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

Robbins is calling for the college to retract statements its officials made impugning the pair, offer a public apology and withdraw internal charges of harassment and disorderly conduct.

Robbins’ letter cites excerpts from Babson and Wellesley campus police reviews that found the pair yelled only “Trump 2016” and “Make America Great Again” from a truck they drove onto the Wellesley campus, but no witnesses corroborated the claims that they spit at two students, uttered slurs or purposefully drove to a building popular with black students.

Um, “purposefully drove to a building popular with black students?” Anyway, note the lesson here: Lawyer up, and punch back twice as hard. Also, the parents must be wondering why they sent their sons to Babson if this is the kind of treatment they face. Because you know the school would have given women or minorities the benefit of the doubt.

Alumni, parents, and students need to push back against this sort of behavior — as does the Department of Education once the Trump Administration is in place.

Annual cost of attending Babson College: $58,692.

Related: Trend seen in colleges muzzling political speech.

“We see over and over campuses doing a terrible job of investigating supposed offenses, and we also repeatedly see them investigating things that don’t sound like offenses at all,” said Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for free-speech rights and due process for students accused by colleges of civil rights violations.

FIRE has successfully advocated for students at odds with campus disciplinary boards, including helping a Texas student sue and reach a settlement with Blinn College this year after she was told she needed special permission to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus.

“I think they are concerned about the school’s public relations,” Shibley said about overzealous college administrators. “I think they are concerned about looking like they care about all of their students. Which is good, but that also means they have to care about the students who are being accused. That doesn’t go in only one direction.”

You know, if you’re looking for a year-end charitable donation, donating to FIRE is a good idea.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, TRUMP DERANGEMENT EDITION: Lawyer: Students were caught up in Babson College ‘witch hunt’ following Donald Trump win; Attorney says college report clears students of using racist, homophobic slurs. But Babson is still pursuing a double-secret investigation, apparently. Plus:

“(Babson) cannot properly punish Parker for celebrating an election, however unwelcome that celebration or how people ‘experienced’ it. We are talking about fundamental First Amendment rights here; a college should be the very last place that indulges, let alone actively promotes, a witch hunt against students for celebrating the election of a President who disappointed groups demanding retribution regard as abhorrent.

“During that discussion, one of you said that you understood my point because you ‘wrote my thesis on the right of Nazis to march in Skokie.’ Respectfully, that is not what we are talking about here, and that such a comparison could be drawn by a Babson official indicates that something is severely out of control at Babson, and elsewhere, when it comes to this matter,” Robbins wrote.

Alumni, parents, and students need to push back against this sort of behavior — as does the Department of Education once the Trump Administration is in place.

Annual cost of attending Babson College: $58,692.


The Claremont Independent has learned that a concerned individual has lodged a complaint with the IRS in response to Pomona College’s promotion and funding of an anti-Trump rally.

As the Independent reported this week, Pomona College’s Draper Center for Community Partnerships may have run afoul of federal non-profit regulations by reimbursing transportation costs to and from a rally against Donald Trump in Los Angeles on November 9th. Draper Center staff also promoted the event on Facebook and organized bus transportation for students who wished to attend.

As a 501(c)(3) educational institution, Pomona College is prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity with tax-exempt dollars. If an investigation is launched, it could lead to the revocation of Pomona College’s tax-exempt status, among other possible sanctions.

In a statement to the Independent, the office of Pomona College President David Oxtoby acknowledged the College’s financial commitment to the rallies but stressed that it did not constitute political activity.

Uh huh. See, this is another reason why colleges shouldn’t take sides. And I suspect that there will be a lot more of those marginalized conservative students taking them to task on this.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Here’s how the impending ObamaCare disaster affects you.

Insured through work? The law forces employers to provide a one-size-fits-all benefits package costing much more than pre-ObamaCare coverage. The law also imposes a slew of new taxes. No surprise, employers are offsetting these costs by raising deductibles and reducing family coverage. In 2017, many companies will eliminate insurance for spouses.

Working part-time? Hundreds of thousands of workers have had their hours cut because ObamaCare requires employers to cover full-time employees, meaning those working 30 hours a week or more. Ironically, colleges, where Democrats outnumber Republicans, are major culprits, slashing hours for adjuncts and student workers to evade providing insurance.

Job-hunting? ObamaCare dampens the job market. In New York, 17 percent of service companies and 21 percent of manufacturers are reducing their workforces to stay below 50 full-time workers and dodge the employer mandate, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

Sixty-five or older? ObamaCare awards bonus points to hospitals that spend the least per senior. Researchers found that at 231 hospitals getting bonuses for low spending, seniors died needlessly because of inadequate care. For example, seniors having heart attacks were forced to wait too long for angioplasties and died before they could get the procedure.

More at the link.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: More law schools are covering bar review costs: Is it improving pass rates?

Out of law schools who have July 2016 bar results for first-time test takers, many saw their pass rate percentages drop.

And of the schools that saw pass rates rise, some are increasingly covering partial or entire bar review costs for graduates.

Mike Sims, president of the test prep group BARBRI Bar Review, told that ABA Journal that more than 30 law schools now pay for their students’ bar review. According to the business’s website, courses cost between $2,595 and $3,995, depending on when someone enrolls.

“I beg for money from alumni and say it’s a great investment, because otherwise these people will keep failing,” says Lawrence W. Moore, interim dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

The school’s first-time test-taker pass rate for July 2016 was 76.69 percent; last year it was 71.53 percent.

The commercial bar-prep classes do help — if students apply themselves.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Young America, You’re Getting Screwed.

Bob Kerrey:

Clinton is pushing 70. Trump just passed it. Both have substantial amounts of non-employment income to supplement their Social Security benefits. Neither have any personal concern about the Social Security trustees’ report warning that the so-called trust fund for the Old Age and Survivors program will be depleted in 18 years.

Congress is in the same privileged condition. The average age of senators and House members is 62 and 57 years, respectively. They will have congressional pensions to supplement their Social Security. And thanks to the lucrative revolving door to the private sector, it is unlikely that they, like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will be personally impacted by the dire predictions of the report.

However, for every American under the age of 50—especially the growing numbers whose only source of retirement income will be Social Security—the trustees’ report is very bad news. The “Do Nothing Plan” supported by nearly every member of Congress and the presidential candidates contains a large cut in benefits or a comparably large increase in taxes. And every year support for the “Do Nothing Plan” is sustained, the burden on young Americans grows.

As I noted above, the “second screwing” of young Americans costs them more than $10,000 per year. And if you exclude government employees that number is almost $20,000 a year about the total average amount of college debt.

Very few younger Americans understand just how much has been taken from them, or just how much they already owe for services which will they will likely never receive.

When they finally do understand, the political eruption may make 2016 seem tame.

THEY BREAK YOUR LEG, THEN HAND YOU A CRUTCH AND EXPECT YOU TO BE GRATEFUL: Did landmark laws from Congress enable high drug prices? “Lawmakers are venting outrage over high prescription drug costs, but lawmakers and presidents of both parties may have set the stage for the startling prices that have consumers on edge. As the proverb says: Physician, heal thyself. In the last 13 years, Congress passed major legislation that expanded taxpayer-financed coverage for prescription drugs but lacked explicit mechanisms for dealing with costs, instead relying mainly on market forces. Lawmakers look like unwitting enablers in the eyes of some experts.”

Yes, who could have imagined that uncontrolled subsidies could lead to huge price increases as sellers try to capture as much of the subsidy as they can? Next you’ll be telling us that happens with college tuition!

JOEL KOTKIN: California For Whom?

California has been bleeding people to other states for more than two decades. Even after the state’s “comeback,” net domestic out-migration since 2010 has exceeded 250,000. Moreover, the latest Internal Revenue Service migration data, for 2013-2014, does not support the view that those who leave are so dominated by the flight of younger and poorer people.

Of course, younger people tend to move more than older people, and people seeking better job opportunities are more likely to move than those who have made it. But, according to the IRS, nearly 60,000 more Californians left the state than moved in between 2013 and 2014. In each of the seven income categories and each of the five age categories, the IRS found that California lost net domestic migrants.

Nor, viewed over the long term, is California getting smarter than its rivals. Since 2000, California’s cache of 25- to 34-year-olds with college, postgraduate and professional degrees grew by 36 percent, below the national average of 42 percent, and Texas’ 47 percent. If we look at metropolitan regions, the growth of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees since 2000 has been more than 1.5 to nearly 3 times as fast in Houston and Austin as in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Even New York, with its high costs, is doing better.

In fact, the only large California metropolitan area which has seen anything like Texas’ growth has been the most unlikely – the Inland Empire. The coastal areas, so alluring to the media and venture capitalists, are losing out in terms of growing their educated workforces, most likely a product of high housing prices and, outside of the Bay Area, weak high-wage job growth.

The location of migrants tells us something about where the allure of California remains the strongest and where it has been supplanted. Almost all of the leading states sending net migrants here are also high-tax, high-regulation places that have been losing domestic migrants for years – New York, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. In contrast, the net outflow has been largely to lower-cost states, notably Texas, as well as neighboring Western states, all of which have lower housing prices.

You could revitalize California by making it as easy to get a building permit as it is to vote. I remember talking to the Investor’s Business Daily folks a few years ago — they were headquartered in Marina Del Rey, a lovely place but one where they were constantly visited by inspectors, tax people, etc., all posing problems. When they opened an office in Texas, the state and local government people were all “tell us if we can help you.” Very different experience.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: 2 extra years in college could cost you almost $300,000.

Taking an extra year or two to complete a bachelor’s degree is common these days, but that additional time could cost a student nearly $300,000, according to a new study by NerdWallet.

NerdWallet examined how much one or two “victory laps,” as extra years are sometimes jokingly called, would cost students by factoring in:

Real costs: Out-of-pocket tuition plus interest paid on student loans over a 10-year standard repayment period.

Opportunity costs: Lost entry-level income and forgone retirement savings.

Just more evidence of how higher education, often sold as promoting economic mobility and equality, can do just the opposite.


Republicans and Democrats have offered two distinct approaches to the student loan crisis. GOP lawmakers have proposed introducing more competition in the higher education sector by breaking the federal monopoly on college accreditation, with the idea that this could shake up the market and lower costs. Democrats have focused on expanding federal subsidies, either by forgiving and refinancing loans, or, in the case of Bernie Sanders, by eliminating tuition altogether.

We generally think the GOP approach is closer to the mark. Colleges really are saddled with regulatory costs, and the cartel-like accreditation process blocks innovative new higher education models from emerging. Meanwhile, further greasing the student loan spigot is likely to drive up tuition even further, and give more relief to upper-middle class students than to poor ones.

But Democrats and Republicans alike ought to be able to agree on a third approach to reducing student loan default rates: Forcing colleges to take on some of the risk associated with their students’ borrowing. . . .

To be sure, a number of specifics need to be hammered out—most importantly, the share of student loan debt colleges would be accountable for. But it’s easy to see how a version of this proposal could win backers on both sides of the aisle. For Democrats, the policy gives debt relief to students in default. For Republicans, it would help slow the growth of tuition without draining federal coffers. . . .

Thanks to misguided federal loan and accreditation policies, low-quality colleges have increasingly been able to get fat at the federal government’s expense without giving students the skills they need to make their education worth it. Time to force colleges to put some of their own money down on this risky operation.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

ASHE SCHOW: You’ve heard of Trump University — but what about ‘Clinton University?’

Move over Trump University, because Hillary Clinton has her own fraud scandal involving higher education.

While there has been much focus on Trump University and the lawsuit against it (and Donald Trump’s despicable comments about the judge handling the case), very little has been written about Laureate Education and its ties to the Clintons.

Laureate is a for-profit online college that received an unusually large amount of money from the U.S. State Department. This happened while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and after her husband Bill was named “honorary chancellor,” a position that paid him $16.5 million over five years. His role included giving speeches around the world and lending his name to attract prospective students.

During the time, when Bill was acting as honorary chancellor, the U.S. State Department, under Secretary Clinton, gave Laureate Education a whopping $55 million in grants. . . .

Like Trump University, Laureate Education has also been sued for fraud. Its Walden University Online subsidiary allegedly “worked like a scam designed to bilk students of tens of thousands of dollars for degrees,” according to liberal professor Jonathan Turley, who recently documented the organization’s ties to the Clintons. “Students alleged that they were repeatedly delayed and given added costs as they tried to secure degrees, leaving them deeply in debt. Sound familiar?


IVY LEAGUE RACISM UPDATE: The “Asian Problem” Won’t Go Away:

“The Asian problem” continues to be a thorn in the side of the diversity bureaucracy that runs America’s elite college campuses. The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest efforts by Asian-Americans to convince the authorities that affirmative action—at least as currently practiced—is essentially a repackaged form of anti-Asian discrimination, the successor to academia’s infamous anti-Jewish bias of the early-to-mid 20th century. . . .

This conflict will probably persist as long as affirmative action does (and with Justice Scalia’s passing, it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will deal the body-blow to racial preferences that many admissions offices feared) because affirmative action partisans don’t have a clear or consistent answer to the Asian students’ concerns. Is affirmative action designed to give a boost to groups of people who have faced discrimination in the United States? Surely this applies to Asians as much as Hispanics. Is affirmative action designed to increase ethnic diversity? It’s unclear why Asian-Americans contribute less to the diversity project than other racial minorities. Is the apparent bias against academically qualified Asian applicants simply the result of a neutral “holistic” process that evaluates students on the basis of nebulous character traits? That is, of course, the precise justification Ivy League schools used to cap Jewish enrollment.
The core problem, as Dennis Safran has pointed out, is that the logic of affirmative action that applied in “the essentially biracial society of the 1970s” has become strained to the point of breaking in “the multiracial America of 2016,” where the number of identity groups with claims to marginalized status has multiplied, and where class status increasingly rivals racial status as a determinant of academic and professional success.

In the long run, however, the vituperative wars about the role of race in admissions probably distract from more important injustices in the higher education system. Prohibitive tuition costs—driven up by federal regulations, short-sighted student loan programs, and, to some extent, and campus diversity bureaucracies—probably present more of an obstacle to the Ivory Tower than race-based admissions policies for the vast majority of students. And degrees from the Ivy League still carry far too much cultural cachet, delivering special opportunities to their graduates not because of their talents but because of their access to elite social networks.

Sadly, true. Related: Asians Get The Ivy League’s Jewish Treatment.

BURLINGTON COLLEGE FEELS THE BERN! BREAKING: Burlington College Closes Due To “Crushing Weight of Debt” Acquired By Jane Sanders. And note the confluence of players and events:

Burlington College announced today that it will close on May 27 after it found itself unable to recover from “the crushing weight of the debt” incurred under Jane O’Meara Sanders, the college’s former president and wife of Bernie Sanders.

At the end of 2010, Ms. Sanders took out $10 million in loans on behalf of Burlington College to purchase a 32-acre swathe of land from the Roman Catholic diocese, which put the land up for sale to help cover the costs of a $17 million sexual-abuse settlement.

Mark Steyn, Theodore Darlymple, Rod Dreher et al, your next columns just wrote themselves.

IF I WERE A REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS, I’D PROPOSE THIS: Is Taxing Harvard, Yale And Stanford The Answer To Rising College Costs?

PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: State legislator to sue the federal government.

A Georgia lawmaker is suing the federal government on behalf of taxpayers for what he calls “illegal and unconstitutional directives” from the Education Department.

Republican State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, who chairs the influential Georgia House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, filed the lawsuit along with his wife, alleging the federal government violated the Administrative Procedure Act when they issued a “guidance document” that included onerous new regulations for schools to follow. If schools fail to abide by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ ever-changing guidance, they risk losing federal funding.

Ehrhart has been a vocal critic of the Department’s “Dear Colleague” letters, which began forcing colleges to spend more and more money to adjudicate felonies in 2011. In January, Ehrhart told school administrators: “If you don’t protect the students of this state with due process, don’t come looking for money.” It was the strongest statement yet on the issue from a legislator.

In his lawsuit, Ehrhart claims the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter imposed “unnecessary costs and expenses that flow directly to both Federal and Georgia Taxpayers, including Plaintiffs, under the threat of Federal funding being revoked for the schools’ failure to comply.”

Stay tuned.

THE NEW REPUBLIC IS WORRIED: The Rise of “Bias Response Teams” on Campus: Colleges across America are creating shadowy groups to handle complaints. Will they end up muzzling students instead? “Instead?” That’s the whole point:

Bias incident reporting is not unique to Emory. More than 100 colleges and universities have Bias Response Teams, which aim to foster “a safe and inclusive environment” by providing “advocacy and support to anyone on campus who has experienced, or been a witness of, an incident of bias or discrimination.” These teams have multiple missions, including educational “prevention,” investigating alleged bias incidents, disciplining offenders, and organizing “coping events” after such incidents. Depending on the campus, these teams are known as BRTs, BARTs, BERTs or BIRTs. Students and faculty occasionally serve on BRTs, but they are largely composed of administrators, with sizable representation from Residential Life and Dean of Students offices. As committees with unelected members that meet behind closed doors, they lack both transparency and accountability.

Lacking transparency and accountability is also the point. So is providing self-important roles for all those administrators who are driving up college costs.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Scripps students protest Madeleine Albright as speaker because she’s a ‘white feminist.’

Of course, if Rutgers in 2014 is any indication, the screaming campus garbage babies* at Scripps would probably scream even louder if Condi Rice was a speaker. Or if someone simply wrote the wrong name in chalk on a sidewalk.

Each year of reverse therapy sessions at Scripps, where ordinary kids are given Clockwork Orange-style Ludovico Treatments that leave them with hair-trigger sensitivities to new ideas and speakers costs their parents $47,378.

* Classical reference.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: If You Major in STEM, It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go to College.

We’ve written before about how selective colleges function to perpetuate privilege, giving students access to exclusive resources, opportunities and networks that are unavailable to students who are just as bright but couldn’t impress an admissions committee at age 17—or who, for financial or personal reasons, didn’t want to go to a elite school. In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the economists Erica Eide and Michael Himler, who have tallied earnings data for students across colleges and across different majors, offer an important qualification to his phenomenon: it only seems to apply to students who earn liberal arts degrees. Students with similar characteristics who major in STEM fields earn roughly the same wherever they go to college. . . .

There are many interesting nuances to their findings not captured in the above excerpt, so read the whole thing. In the meantime, two preliminary points seem worth making:
First, the fact that STEM majors who go to inexpensive low-or-mid-tier schools do just as well, income-wise, as their counterparts who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an Ivy League education, suggests that there is plenty of room for cost-saving in these programs. Universities are starting to take advantage of this: Perhaps the most successful MOOC degree program to date is Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree in computer science, which costs 80 percent less than its in-person counterpart. Elite liberal arts colleges tout the value of face-to-face learning in a small classroom setting, and, indeed, this may be valuable to many students. But Eide and Himler’s findings suggest that, for scientists and engineers, such an experience doesn’t actually change students’ job prospects. At a time when college costs keep going up, and middle and working class families keep getting squeezed, these data highlight the need to find more efficient ways to deliver knowledge at lower cost.

Second, the fact that there is such a dramatic difference between the earnings liberal arts majors from top colleges and students with similar abilities from lesser-ranked colleges suggests that the privilege-reinforcing effect of elite education discussed above can be very real. Not only is this unfair, it points to economic inefficiencies: If colleges are relying on the prestige of liberal arts students’ degrees, rather than their actual skills and knowledge, to make hiring decisions, they are probably selling themselves short. That’s one reason we proposed a system of national exams to allow students from, say, West Texas State to compete on equal footing in the job market with students from Princeton. One reason the incomes for STEM majors are comparable across schools is that many technology companies have essentially figured out how to do this for engineers. Companies that hire philosophy majors would do well to also start thinking along those lines.

All is proceeding as I have foretold.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Goldman Sachs: Higher Ed Ripe for Disruption.

A Goldman Sachs investment research report issued last month paints a very grim picture of the state of American higher education (h/t Bryan Alexander). The bottom line: “returns on a college education are falling,” and quickly.
According to a striking graph included in the report, the average “wage premium” from going to a four-year college (that is, the difference in incomes between college graduates and high school graduates) and college tuition (including room and board) rose in tandem throughout the 1990s. Then, starting in about 2002, something changed—the wage premium growth started growing more slowly, even as tuition kept rising as fast as ever.

This disconnect, Goldman notes, is not a problem for all classes of colleges. It appears that the top institutions (as ranked by SAT scores) are still delivering good returns, while the returns for schools in the bottom half, and especially the bottom quarter, are falling off steeply. This can’t go on forever. If costs continue to exceed returns, the bubble will burst eventually—even if Washington keeps subsidizing it.

Do tell.

LET THEM REAP WHAT THEY HAVE SOWN: A West Virginia college divests its remaining conservatives.  A conservatarian academic discusses his experience at a financially ailing, ideologically intolerant college:

Why would a cash-strapped liberal arts college in West Virginia turn its nose up at $1 million in grants? University officials wouldn’t say it explicitly, but the reason couldn’t be more obvious: the money came from classically liberal and libertarian foundations. Even in a fiscal crisis, that simply would not do.

Last academic year, faculty and staff at West Liberty University (WLU) went on the ideological warpath to oust its center-right president simply because he was politically right of center. The public fallout of their acrimonious demands plunged the university into an enrollment and budgetary shortfall as the staff and faculty aired their disdain in public. Turned off by vitriolic statements about their overburdened life, parents sent their kids to other schools and major donors began to withhold funds. . . .

In September, administrators informed me the college was eliminating the entire political science major, and, as a result, my services were no longer needed. When I inquired how they arrived at such a decision, they fumbled an answer, citing a lack of majors in the program. However, several other programs on campus have fewer students.

When I offered to help offset some of the departmental costs from the nearly $1 million in grants I secured, the administration balked. So, there must have been another reason they wanted to terminate my contract. My position on campus did not fit their ideological biases. As a result, I had to go.

I taught one of the few classes on campus that was dedicated to the classical liberal arts. It was, in part, funded by the generous grants from BB&T, Koch, and the Institute of Humane Studies at George Mason University. It also funded grants and scholarships for promising students to offset the cost of books and tuition. The sole purpose of the grants was to expose students to the ideas of free markets, liberty, and equality rightly understood. . . .

Parents should be questioning whether to send their sons and daughters to institutions that are long on indoctrination and short on the ideas of freedom and liberty.

These are deeply unserious and vapid times in higher education. Unfortunately, the ideological intolerance at WLU is no different than that we see on many other campuses in the nation.

Yep. Smart parents (and students) are beginning to vote with their feet/tuition dollars. Schools like this one–that lack the “prestige” factor–will soon pay the price for their intolerance. 

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Lessons In College Costs For Clinton & Sanders.

But even if we assume that higher education really is too expensive, we face a second conceptual difficulty: Subsidies may not make college significantly cheaper. Although the relationship between the level of aid available to students and the level of tuition has been controversial, this study released in July by economists at the New York Fed is persuasive. The authors found fairly robust effects, with an increase of 60 to 70 cents in tuition for each dollar increase of subsidized student loans. The effect was stronger at private colleges than at public schools, and, among private colleges, was least pronounced at those accepting the smallest proportion of applicants. As these tend to be the schools with the largest endowments, the effect is not entirely surprising.

The Clinton and Sanders plans are aimed principally at public colleges, where out-of-state tuition already rises with the size of Pell grants. One reason in-state tuition doesn’t capture the subsidies is political pressure from residents. So maybe the flood of new federal money would have no effect. On the other hand, given the growing need to compete with the wealthier schools in the educational “arms race of spending” — for example, to hire or retain top faculty — there’s a fair chance that we’d see some significant increases.

Of course it’s possible (some would say likely) that the web of regulations accompanying the grants under both programs would include implicit price controls. I’m no fan of this idea, but lots of smart people think I should be.

Finally there’s the Scottish experience. In 2001, Scotland began the process of abolishing tuition, a goal essentially accomplished in 2008. In a recent Vox article, Libby Nelson pointed to research showing, among other things, that although the change led to an increase in applications, the children of the poor still attend college at relatively low rates. In other words, what has been holding them back might not be the cost.

Read the whole thing.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: College Presidents Grovel To Pampered Radicals At Mediocre, Absurdly Costly Private Schools:

The pampered students at America’s embarrassingly expensive second-rate liberal arts colleges are now attempting their own versions of the passionate protests over poop swastikas and reported racial abuse at the University of Missouri and the alleged slurs of “You filthy white piece of shit!” at Dartmouth College. Presidents at the schools are delighted to catch the flak.

At Occidental College in Los Angeles, a group called Oxy United for Black Liberation has pretended to occupy a campus building and issued a list of 14 demands, which includes “the immediate removal” of school president Jonathan Veitch and “mandatory” racial re-education workshops for all professors and employees.

* * * * * * *

The total cost of tuition, fees and room and board for a single year at Occidental is $63,194. That’s about 220 percent of the American per capita income of $28,155.

As Oscar Wilde famously said, “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.” And no one would accuse Kurt Schlichter of having a heart of stone, either — which is why he is encouraging us to “Let’s All Laugh As Liberalism Commits Ritual Suicide On Campus:”

It’s beautiful how this conflict divides the liberals between the establishment and the students, and how it further subdivides two of their main establishment constituencies, academics and mainstream media journalists. For too long, both of these groups of hapless losers have been able to pretend to support free speech. Well, suckers, now it’s getting real. The little monsters you spawned don’t much like free-speech, and they want you to shut up too, not just us conservatives. Being academics and journalists, and therefore presumptively without spines, most of you guys will submit. A few of you won’t, and it will weaken your coalition when some number of your members walk away because they just can’t swallow your catering to these Junior Red Guards.

Conservatives should be loving this fight. We’re sitting on the sidelines and watching our enemies beat each other to a fussy pulp. This is a classic wedge issue because it splits our enemy apart like Abe Lincoln split rails. Yeah, there’s another dead white cis-het male reference you Mizzou morons won’t get.

“So, fellow freedom lovers, grab a bag of popcorn and a tumbler of scotch, because this is only going to get better and better.” Read the whole thing.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: So You’re Getting a Ph.D.: Welcome to the worst job market in America.

As late as 1970, more than two-thirds of faculty positions at U.S. colleges and universities were tenure-line, but now the percentages are reversed, with 1 million out of the estimated 1.5 million Americans teaching college these days classified as “contingent” faculty, the overwhelming majority of them working part-time. Parents who have shelled out or borrowed the more than $60,000 per year that it can now cost to attend an elite private college may be shocked to learn that their young Jayden or Sophia isn’t actually being taught by the Nobel Prize-winners advertised on the faculty but by shabbily attired nomads with ancient clattering cars who are wondering how to get the phone bill paid. Some adjuncts have successfully unionized. In 2013 adjuncts at the University of Oregon won the right to a boost in base pay, regular raises, health insurance, and the ability to qualify for multiyear contracts. That still didn’t erase—and perhaps set in stone—their second-class faculty status, and they still would earn tens of thousands of dollars less than the greenest assistant professor.

Explanations for this two-tier phenomenon abound. Marc Bousquet, now an associate professor of film and media at Emory University, contended, in his 2008 book, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation, that the problem was the “corporatization” of the university. Bousquet argued that formerly high-minded academia figured out that it was actually a business. Like the rest of American businesses during the 1980s and 1990s, Bousquet argued, universities adopted outsourcing as their most profitable economic model, transforming their historic teaching mission into a form of low-wage, gig-economy service employment in which the majority of the instructors, like Uber drivers, are responsible for their own overhead.

An alternative and less class-warfare-driven theory came from Benjamin Ginsberg, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. In his 2011 book, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, Ginsberg targeted administrative bloat as the culprit for the massive shrinkage in tenure-line faculty from the 1970s onward, even as college tuition costs were rising exponentially. He pointed out, for example, that between 1998 and 2008, America’s colleges increased their spending on administration by 36 percent while boosting their spending on instruction by only 22 percent. In an adaptation of his book for the Washington Monthly Ginsberg wrote: “As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school.”

To conservative critics of academia, the shrinkage of tenure-line faculty may seem to be a good thing: fewer “tenured radicals” shoving their Marxist-derived ideologies down the throats of hapless undergraduates. After all, some 63 percent of college professors define themselves as either “liberal” or “far left,” compared with only 12 percent who place themselves on the right, according to a 2012 survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. . . .

As Kelsky—but almost nobody who is actually still inside academia—points out, there’s an elephant in this clamorous room of underemployed scholars. It’s the fact that from a supply-and-demand standpoint, graduate schools are simply turning out way too many Ph.D.s for the academic market to bear, depressing their wages accordingly. It’s a similar crisis to the glut of new attorneys that law schools were churning out in recent years even as law jobs paying enough to cover sky-high law school debt were disappearing. The law market seems to have corrected itself, with law school enrollments steadily plunging since 2011. That collapse hasn’t happened with graduate schools. Indeed, throughout the 2000s and beyond, new enrollments in master’s and doctoral programs of every kind continued to climb, even in the arts and humanities, where the job pickings are slimmest.

If only someone had warned them.

END COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Victor Davis Hanson writes:

The truth is that the university is a dysfunctional institution. Free speech no longer exists. Trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and safe zones have created a climate of fear and bullying on campus. Affirmative action criteria emulate the abhorrent ‘one-drop’ rule of the Old Confederacy. Campus identity is defined by race and gender, but never class.  Annual hikes in tuition exceed the rate of inflation. Faculty are paid widely asymmetrical compensation for instruction of the identical class, depending on archaic institutions like tenure and seniority. Non-teaching personnel have soared. Graduate PhD programs have proliferated, even as jobs for their graduates have shrunk. Undergraduate university graduation rates have declined. College graduates are assumed to earn high paying jobs; but the dismal rate of bachelor degrees translating into employment commensurate with staggering college costs and student loan debt would prompt federal investigations of fraud and false adverting in any other institution.

At the center of such chaos and contradiction, sits college football — the most hypocritical of all university institutions. It may have survived past liberal criticism that it was a veritable money-making and exploitative industry, run amok and immune from the campus laws that govern faculty and students. But it should not survive present liberal demands for racial diversity, proportional representation due to disparate impact, and zero-tolerance for sexual assault.

Related: Carl Cannon of Real Clear Politics on “Riding the Academic Tiger.”



Keeping multiple generations under one roof has its costs, which are well (perhaps excessively) documented in mid-century novels. But it also has its compensations, emotional and economic. More family members means more people around to take care of you if something goes wrong, more economic stability for the household. It also means that the money that you’re not spending on four walls and a set of appliances can be put to some other use, such as going to college.

When the “kids back in the basement” story first surfaced after the financial crisis, it was the subject of much hand-wringing by kids and parents alike. But we may simply be rediscovering the benefits that our grandparents already understood.

My grandmother had a lot of family under one roof until well after my mother was born. She loved her nuclear-family-in-the-suburbs life, as sterile and isolating as it supposedly was.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Regulatory Goose Chase Degrading America.

American colleges are diverting more and more money away from serving students and instead using their funds to develop a massive D.C. lobbying force. . . .

Federal mandates impose huge costs on colleges, just as they do on other industries, and federal subsidies (student loan programs as well as direct funding for colleges) are a crucial source of colleges’ incomes. It’s small wonder then that as the federal government becomes increasingly vital to their financial health, colleges devote an growing portion of their resources toward influencing federal officials. The result, of course, is the kind of regulatory capture we see in so many federal programs, where industries organize to ensure that the regulators serve their interests rather than the needs of the public.
And, of course, regulatory capture exists side-by-side with expensive regulatory compliance, which colleges can’t avoid. Despite the lobbying by higher ed institutions, there are many ways that federal involvement in higher education forces colleges to divert attention from what ought to be their core mission and apply it instead to regulatory compliance. According to one study, colleges spend $27 billion dollars annually complying with a whole range of regulations, including those issued by thought-policing Title IX bureaucracies and all the other well-paid bureaucrats (whose numbers continue to grow).

And all of that in turn makes the colleges even more dependent on federal subsidies than ever, so they hire more lobbyists to get more power over legislation and implementation. In industry after industry, this kind of wild goose chase consumes more and more of America’s energy, attention, and money every year—leeching the vitality out of our system, degrading the performance of key institutions, and making government less effective even as it keeps getting bigger.

How long it will continue and how much more damage it will do is anybody’s guess. But ultimately U.S. policy is going to have to undertake a serious change of direction, or the country will slowly strangle itself.

The higher ed sector is hugely dysfunctional, and heading for a reset. Be warned.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: What We’re Buying With $1 Trillion+ in Student Loans:

You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is certifiable. College is too expensive, so have the government make it easier to finance — then keep shifting more and more of the cost burden to the government, without doing anything about the underlying cost inflation that is making it necessary for government to get into the finance business.

Obviously, this can’t go on indefinitely. The income-based-repayment programs are relatively new, so the government hasn’t yet been handed the bill for the loan forgiveness that will be necessary as we give people payment rates that are often less than the interest on the loan. But when the government gets that bill, people are going to notice that this is a costly business.

Over decades, the government has restructured the educational system to make it look more like the health-care system, with the costs paid by third parties while the service is consumed by individuals who have no incentive to think about price. The effects are predictable for both. . . .

Does college actually make people much more economically productive? Yes, yes, I know: People who go to college earn substantially more than people who don’t, and that earnings premium has been increasing in recent decades. But what, exactly, do they learn in college that makes them so much more productive? In certain technical professions, the answer is obvious; engineers and nurses do need to master the rudiments of their trade before they are unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

But that doesn’t describe the whole higher educational system. It doesn’t even seem to describe the majority of college degrees. Administrators defending the value of degrees in “business” or liberal arts rely on nebulous claims that they are teaching students “how to think.” However, they provide little objective evidence that these programs impart thinking skills worth tens of thousands of dollars.

There’s at least some evidence that a lot of the benefit of a college degree comes not from what you learn in college, but from signaling to employers that you are the kind of conscientious, hardworking student who can get into college and stick with it long enough to get a degree. In other words, much of what we do in school is not learn anything in particular, but obtain a credential that certifies us as good potential employees.

Do tell. If you understand the federal student aid system as a means for transferring money from taxpayers to an industry that’s basically a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, it makes more sense.

SCOTT SHACKFORD: What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About Germany’s “Free” College:

Anyway, you won’t see any discussion in Sanders commentary about why college prices have exploded far above and beyond increases in the consumer price index or even the costs of healthcare. There will be no discussion of how subsidies and administrative bloat have massively driven up prices and eliminated any incentives for colleges to restrain costs. It’s just a thing that happened. . . .

ince Sanders left out any analysis of why college is so expensive, it’s worth exploring what exactly Sanders has left out when he invokes Germany’s college system. Note that Sanders has said “A college degree is the new high school diploma”? That attitude is exactly backwards from how Germany approaches higher education. Germany does not have a work environment that demands a college degree for every well-paying career. The apprenticeship program that Sanders bemoans having lost in America is well intact in Germany. Many careers that require college degrees in America do not require college degrees in Germany.

Even with the free tuition, Germany actually has a lower college enrollment rate than many other Western countries, including the United States (check out World Bank data here). Actually, America has a higher rate of college enrollment than all of the countries Sanders lists except for Finland.

Oh, also: America has a higher college graduation rate than Germany, too. And a greater percentage of young Americans have college degrees compared to every country on Sanders’ list except for Norway and Ireland.

Instead, Germany has a very robust vocational education track that partners businesses and the government to provide apprenticeships, so the government (and citizenry) is not paying the full burden for the students’ training, though Germany is still covering classroom costs.

It is also a highly regulated, centrally controlled, and very inflexible system that probably won’t fly in the United States. . . .

It’s certainly easy to see how a guy who thinks we have too many types of deodorant would not grasp that flexibility and innovation could be lost as a result of standardizing college the way we have public education. It’s also possible Sanders wouldn’t even grasp that this is a problem.

Indeed. Maybe he should do some remedial reading.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Freshman residency rules sometimes force students to pay prohibitive costs. “Room and board at private four-year universities costs an average of $9,678, an expense that has gone up 47 percent in the past decade, according to the College Board. At public four-year colleges, the average price is $9,130 and has increased 58 percent in the past 10 years. In a nine-month academic year, that works out to $1,014.44 a month for what is in many cases a shared room and communal dining, well above the median asking rent of $803 a month recorded by the Census Bureau.” Yep. It’s just another way to gouge people.

NCAA BAN ON PAYING COLLEGE ATHLETES VIOLATES FEDERAL ANTITRUST LAW:  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today that the NCAA’s ban on any pay for basketball or football players in Division I schools violates federal antitrust law.

Ruling that the Supreme Court has not settled the issue, and setting the stage for the Court to do so, a federal appeals court declared on Wednesday that the main college sports organization’s total ban on any pay for students who play football or basketball at major schools is illegal under federal antitrust law.  But, it also ruled by a divided vote that those athletes should not be paid even one dollar more than what it costs them to attend college while they are there.  It voided a judge’s order that they get paid $5,000 for each year of play, after they have left the campus.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case that applies only to so-called Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association — that is, the big-time programs — and only for basketball and football players at that level.   But it creates a conflict with other federal appeals courts on an issue that the NCAA has long treated as vital to the very existence of college football as a game for amateurs, not professionals.

The NCAA has vigorously defended its “amateur athlete” view every time it has been challenged by student athletes who sought compensation, and it has long held the view that its rules are totally exempt from antitrust law — an exemption it traces to a 1984 Supreme Court decision dealing with television rights for college football games.  The Ninth Circuit disagreed with that argument Wednesday.

The organization has strong reasons for taking the issue on to the Supreme Court, to defend a view of amateurism that it has held for perhaps ninety-four years and that it has reinforced with strict rules against athlete compensation for sixty-seven years.  (The NCAA’s amateurism view gained significantly earlier this year, when the National Labor Relations Board found it had no authority to rule on a plea by Northwestern University football players that they should have a legal right under federal labor law to join a union to bargain for pay and other benefits related to their sports careers in college.  That decision could not be appealed.)

It is not clear at this point whether the new Ninth Circuit decision will have a major impact on the finances of college football, if that ruling stands.  The NCAA, under a policy that the Ninth Circuit said the organization would otherwise be free to change, has already allowed athletes to get football and basketball scholarships that not only cover the basics of tuition and books (so-called “grant-in-aid” packages), but at a level that would cover the entire cost of their attendance.  The Ninth Circuit ruling would simply require the NCAA to continue compensation at that full level, as a legal duty.

The full Ninth Circuit opinion is available here.

BLACK LIVES MATTER, EXCEPT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: William McGurn observes in the Wall Street Journal:

When Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York in 2013, he came in riding two progressive narratives.

The grand narrative was his “Tale of Two Cities,” a New York where elites grow rich while millions of others are left struggling for basics. Running through this tale was the subtheme of race, especially of young African-Americans being unfairly deprived of their rights. So when the #BlackLivesMatter movement exploded in New York last year, Mr. de Blasio naturally embraced it. . . .

Today, however, the mayor is finding that his progressive measures are being turned against him. For nowhere in New York is the divide between haves and have-nots—or between black and white—as stark as it is on equal access to a decent education. It is this divide the pro-charter Families for Excellent Schools will highlight on Wednesday as mothers and fathers march across the Brooklyn Bridge to demand “school equality,” i.e., great schools for all children.

In the run up to this march, the group has released a powerful new TV ad designed to drive home the human costs of the existing inequality by showing a white boy and an African-American boy on their way to school. As the camera follows the white child, a narrator says, “Because he lives in a wealthy neighborhood, this 6-year-old will attend a good school.” It points out he’ll “likely go on to college.”

The black child is also walking to school. “Because he lives in a poor neighborhood, this 6-year-old will be forced into a failing school,” says the narrator. The narrator adds this child will probably never make it to college.

“Mayor de Blasio,” the ad ends, “stop forcing kids into failing schools. Half a million kids need new schools now.”

One measure of the ad’s power is how vehemently the mayor’s black allies have denounced it. “Racist to the core,” charged Bertha Lewis, an activist who ran the left-wing community organizing group Acorn until it was disbanded. Likewise the head of the state’s NAACP, Hazel Dukes, who calls the ad “an insult to our communities.”

To the progressive left, advocating for better education for minority students is “racist.” Because, you know, #BlackLivesMatter, but one shouldn’t actually try to do anything about it, other than march in the streets, hold signs, get on TV, and condemn white people as racist– well, at least white people who aren’t Democrats.

When will black Democrats wake up and realize they’re being played? Democrats’ policies–including a ridiculous refusal to give parents meaningful educational options other than failed public schools (that resemble prisons more than schools)–are antithetical to the interests of most blacks. But hey, those conservatives are all just whiteys who can’t be trusted, so whatever they propose must be racist in some way, right?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: With Website to Research Colleges, Obama Abandons Ranking System.

President Obama on Saturday abandoned his two-year effort to have the government create a system that explicitly rates the quality of the nation’s colleges and universities, a plan that was bitterly opposed by presidents at many of those institutions.

Under the original idea, announced by Mr. Obama with fanfare in 2013, all of the nation’s 7,000 institutions of higher education would have been assigned a ranking by the government, with the aim of publicly shaming low-rated schools that saddle students with high debt and poor earning potential.

Instead, the White House on Saturday unveiled a website that does not attempt to rate schools with any kind of grade, but provides information to prospective students and their parents about annual costs, graduation rates and salaries after graduation.

On the one hand, this is probably a better approach. On the other, this change is almost certainly because the higher education industry is a key core constituency for the Democrats. And, one suspects, a key source of six-figure speaking fees in Obama’s post-presidency.

USA TODAY: Making college more expensive: Democrats’ proposals do little to rein in costs. “A better idea would be to take a magnifying glass to exactly why college costs have skyrocketed at three times the overall inflation rate since 1980. As with health care, the answer involves what happens when bills are paid with other people’s money.”


USA TODAY: Federal aid drives up college tuition. “The more federal grant money that’s made available, the higher the college tuition will go. High college costs are partly the federal government’s fault.”

Do tell.

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR REPUBLICAN PLANS TO CUT COLLEGE COSTS, you might want to check out Marco Rubio’s.

RON FOURNIER ON HILLARY: The Queen of Paradox and Her Crumbling Stone Wall.

For once, Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed to be a decent candidate. Taking aim at weak spots in the GOP lines, she attacked Jeb Bush on women’s health, Marco Rubio on abortion, Scott Walker on college costs, and Donald Trump on sexism.

Then the stone wall crumbled around the Queen of Paradox: Hillary Clinton, both a political colossus and a catastrophe. We learned Tuesday night:

—She will give the FBI a private, illicit server that housed her official email during her four years as secretary of State, including thousands that she covertly deleted.

—Her attorney will give agents a thumb drive containing copies of the self-selected emails she returned to the State Department after discovery of the rogue server.

—A top intelligence official reviewing just a handful of those emails told Congress that top-secret information had been contained in two emails that passed across the server.

Where do I start? How about with the Clinton campaign’s ridiculous suggestion that coughing up the server and email were voluntary acts. We know that’s bunk—because Clinton herself said she wouldn’t surrender the people’s records without a fight.

Well, she lies a lot.

IT’S ONLY MONEY: Hillary Clinton Proposes Debt-Free Tuition at Public Colleges: Plan, which would cost $350 billion over 10 years, is way for Democratic front-runner to woo young voters and provides ammunition against surging Bernie Sanders.

It’s a vote-buying scheme that also rewards the higher education industry, perhaps the Democratic Party’s largest source of donations and foot soldiers.

That said, notice this, where she adopts some proposals that I’ve been pushing for quite a while:

In another bipartisan signal, Mrs. Clinton also is calling for colleges to be held liable for aid when their students default on loans, an idea that has gained traction among members of both parties as a way to control costs. . . .

In addition, public universities would be required to spend the new money on instruction and learning, as opposed to administration or the student experience, such as building new athletic facilities. To address concerns that universities could game that requirement through creative accounting, new rules would ensure a certain portion of total spending is directed to instruction, officials said. States and colleges would be encouraged to come up with innovative cost savings, such as offering more online classes.

This addresses a common concern from members of both parties that if the government gives schools more student aid without reforms, the cost of education will simply rise. . . .

Hillary, you magnificent bastard, you read my book! I don’t think she really means to follow through with this, but hypocrisy is the tribute, yada yada.

Nonetheless, Dan Mitchell’s critique is on-point: Hillary Clinton’s Plan To Increase The Cost Of College.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Republican Rubio calls U.S. higher education system ‘cartel,’ urges overhaul.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio on Tuesday called for an overhaul of the U.S. higher education system, saying colleges were operating as a “cartel” and were not meeting the needs of students or the economy.

“We do not need timid tweaks to the old system. We need a holistic overhaul,” Rubio said in a policy speech in Chicago. “We need to change how we provide degrees, how those degrees are accessed, how much that access costs, how those costs are paid, and even how those payments are determined.”

Well, he’s right.

CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY: “It’s the new religion, and it’s the new home of the entire liberal agenda,” Katherine Kersten writes in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune of all places:

The Church of Sustainability derives many of its major themes from Judeo-Christianity. It teaches that the Earth — once a pristine Eden — is now fallen and polluted because of human sinfulness, and that an apocalyptic Judgment Day looms unless mankind repents. Absolution and salvation are possible if humans heed the enlightened saints and prophets who warn us of impending doom.

As sustainability spreads beyond the campus, we increasingly see it touted in coffee shops, celebrated by major corporations and embraced by urban planners. For example, it’s the ideology driving “Thrive MSP 2040,” the Metropolitan Council’s new 30-year plan for development in the Twin Cities region, with its pervasive themes of top-down planning and rule by “experts.”

It’s ironic that college campuses are home base for the sustainability movement. For higher education is among the least sustainable of our contemporary institutions. Colleges and universities are caught in a death spiral of rising costs and declining benefits. Nevertheless, they obsess about recyclable napkins, solar panels and fossil-fuel divestment, and pour $3.2 billion annually — frequently without assessing effectiveness — into achieving their dreams of sustainability, according to the NAS.

Hey, I know somebody’s who’s written a bunch of books about that! But it’s not all that ironic that colleges are obsessed with “sustainability” even as they’re dying as institutions themselves. It tends to occur wherever the left congregates. Here in California, over half the residents seem to act like kids living in a giant dorm. As Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote, Sacramento can’t be bothered to address the myriad real-world issues tearing the state apart at the seams. It has a state-wide drought, despite bordering an ocean, because desalinization plants give environmentalists the vapors. Its roads and schools are some of the worst in the nation. But the state’s politicians sure are obsessed with fantasies such as high-speed rail, aren’t they? As Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote in an article titled “Goodnight, California,” it’s as if Sacramento is telling voters, “I am too bewildered by your premodern challenges, so I will take psychological refuge in my postmodern fantasies.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: We’re hearing the “tuition results from subsidy cuts” line again, so a reminder:

ONCE upon a time in America, baby boomers paid for college with the money they made from their summer jobs. Then, over the course of the next few decades, public funding for higher education was slashed. These radical cuts forced universities to raise tuition year after year, which in turn forced the millennial generation to take on crushing educational debt loads, and everyone lived unhappily ever after.

This is the story college administrators like to tell when they’re asked to explain why, over the past 35 years, college tuition at public universities has nearly quadrupled, to $9,139 in 2014 dollars. It is a fairy tale in the worst sense, in that it is not merely false, but rather almost the inverse of the truth. . . .

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

Some of this increased spending in education has been driven by a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college. While the college-age population has not increased since the tail end of the baby boom, the percentage of the population enrolled in college has risen significantly, especially in the last 20 years. Enrollment in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs has increased by almost 50 percent since 1995. As a consequence, while state legislative appropriations for higher education have risen much faster than inflation, total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990. (Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)

As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.

For example, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in 1980, my parents were paying more than double the resident tuition that undergraduates had been charged in 1960, again in inflation-adjusted terms. And of course tuition has kept rising far faster than inflation in the years since: Resident tuition at Michigan this year is, in today’s dollars, nearly four times higher than it was in 1980.

State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000.

It is disingenuous to call a large increase in public spending a “cut,” as some university administrators do, because a huge programmatic expansion features somewhat lower per capita subsidies. Suppose that since 1990 the government had doubled the number of military bases, while spending slightly less per base. A claim that funding for military bases was down, even though in fact such funding had nearly doubled, would properly be met with derision.

The real problem is that all colleges are competing with the Ivy League (schools that are funded COMPLETELY differently from most colleges…

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

Yes. Federal funding should cap the percentage of administrators at 50% of full-time teaching faculty.

ANOTHER OBAMACARE LIE:  Along with “if you like your doctor/health plan, you can keep your doctor/health plan,” and “premiums will fall by $2500 per year,” one of the biggest lies promulgated by Obamacare supporters was that expanding health insurance will reduce costs by reducing expensive emergency care use.

According to a new survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians, three in four emergency room doctors said patient visits have increased since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

The notion that expanding health insurance would reduce ER visits was always silly, as evidenced by RomneyCare.