Bernie Sanders's Free College Tuition Problem
Bernie Sanders is running for president of the United States proclaiming that under his presidency, all Americans will have the opportunity to attend public college for free. There's only one fly in the ointment of this free college proposal: today in Illinois, half of the public college and university tuition goes not toward education, but toward pensions for college professors who no longer work.
So in order for Sanders to make college free, someone, other than students, has to pick up the huge cost of the retired professors' pensions. He has said nothing about eliminating this cost by forcing public university professors to save for their own retirements. Sanders is in an awkward situation. He has to gain the support of young voters by criticizing the high cost of college but can't acknowledge that his party not only depends on this money, but established this quid pro quo setup.
The Illinois Policy Institute has reported that the huge pension plans, which are unfair, economically unjust, and exploitative of the middle class, are responsible for half the tuition cost of a public university education in Illinois. In 2006, just 20% of tuition went to pay pensions. Now pensions are the main driver of tuition increases. It is unfair for students to fund the luxury pension plans of professors who didn't have to save for their own.
And of course, Illinois is not the only state that pays its public college and university professors one-percenter salaries. California's education system actually pays higher salaries to professors. Khalil Tadsch earns $2.3 million a year at the UCLA Medical center, and 40 others earn salaries of between one million and this $2.3 million. Medical school tuition is $95K a year and more.
The watchdog website Transparent California has exposed the exploitation of the middle class through progressive/socialist Democrat policies in that state as well.
It is interesting to consider what Bernie Sanders and his party gain from allowing these high professor salaries and pensions. The major public include the SEIU, AFCSME, the National Education Association, and the American Federal of Teachers. These unions are four of the six biggest national campaign donors of the past 20 years, and they give 99% of their money only to Democrats.
Democrats in Washington reward these union workers in colleges and universities with financial support – not just by financing them through federally guaranteed student loans, but through grants, fellowships, and other big sources of federal funding for university-level research. So while complaining that we need to clean up campaign financing, Bernie Sanders doesn't even mention the financing of higher education, which is responsible for creating student loan debt for middle-class Americans. Student loan debt currently amounts to $1.3 trillion and grows every semester.
The political support that colleges and universities give to the Democratic Party cannot be underestimated. The majority of colleges support liberal federal policies on social programs, racial initiatives, education, and the subsidization of illegal immigration. All of these things benefit Bernie Sanders and his party. These institutions and the people within them are forced in this direction: if they went against liberalism, they would have great difficulty getting hired – and receiving huge pensions.
So by using their influence over the distribution of federal support of higher education, Democrats have purchased a monopoly on the political and campaign donation support of the public-sector unions. Studies show that the great majority of university professors support the progressive/Democrat liberal ideology. Or, in Bernie Sanders's terms, they have rigged the system. Democrats created a rigged system of higher education so they can force students to give money to their campaigns. Bernie Sanders causes high college tuition costs by being part of this rigged system.
This explains why Bernie Sanders will never pull the rug out from under college tuition costs. He would never do anything to cut back on the seven-figure pensions retired college and university professors receive, largely financed by student loans.
So for Bernie Sanders to declare that he will give students free college tuition means only that if he is president, he will have to shift the cost of professors' pensions, as Obama did, to a QE program, Stimulus program, or other form of national debt redistribution. Students at public colleges and universities may be relieved of paying tuition, but that doesn't mean Sanders will cut back on pensions for university professors. He has never mentioned the issue.
While Bernie Sanders complained that Hillary has a quid pro quo issue with Wall Street campaign donations, her Wall Street donation setup is not institutionalized and protected by contracts, as are the pensions of public college professors. The last thing Democrats will do is stop paying for their nationwide propaganda machine channeled through public universities. They will not offend their biggest public union campaign contributors.
Another benefit Democrats get from high professors' salaries and pensions is that the vast majority of college professors promote liberal thinking. This ensures that future voters will prefer to vote for Democrats like Bernie Sanders, who will then, ironically, continue to exploit the middle class to support the Democratic Party machine.
Sanders hopes that young voters aren't savvy enough to realize that once again, the middle class are being destroyed not by a rigged economy, but by a rigged public sector-financed political party. At every level, public pensions are destroying the disposable income of the middle class and poor.
The pensions of these retired professors are not just or equal. They far exceed the amounts people earn in Social Security and they are immune to the ups and downs of the equities market. Tuition at public colleges and universities can be thought of as a tax students are forced to pay in order to fund professors' pensions.
Democrats are responsible for the high cost of public college. Students who now borrow money in Illinois to pay public tuition will have half their monthly student loan payment, for twenty years, go to nothing but the pensions of rich retired professors. This is not true of just Illinois, and it is neither fair nor representative of income equality.
The only cure for this situation is to force all public college and universities instructors, guest lecturers, part-time teachers, and full tenured professors to save for their own retirement. After all, Democrats are all about equal treatment. These educators can join Social Security and Obamacare like everyone else.
College student protesters need to re-paint their safe space signs and protest the "tuition exploitation for pensions" rampant on public campuses today. Michael Moore sure isn't doing it.