Countering Sanders's College Scheme
Bernie Sanders proposes to give at taxpayers' expense a free college education to every young American. While learning is important to America, learning at a set age period and learning in the dreary institution of academia are terrible ideas. Rather than simply reject the Sanders Plan (and the Hillary Plan along the same lines), conservatives ought to offer more attractive alternatives and ought to include all Americans.
Instead of transferring wealth from taxpayers to colleges, which are top-heavy with administration and overpaid, underworked professors, why not pay any American of any age before retirement for passing proficiency tests equivalent to college degrees in useful areas like science, math, computer science, and languages?
This stipend could be very attractive, even if it were significantly less than what a college degree in that subject might cost. All Americans, whether working or at home, could have a strong incentive to actually learn, and the education process could be by whatever means is most effective. This would also encourage lifelong learning, which is really what our nation needs to be competitive in global commerce.
Not only should conservatives be proposing this low-cost, individual-driven method of education, but conservatives ought to be insisting that any college graduate who has earned that degree with student loans must also take the same standardized proficiency examination to verify that he has actually learned in college what the college promised him, his parents, and the taxpayers he would learn.
Conservatives ought to be making the case that the old-fashioned, traditional college education is hopelessly out of date and wildly expensive. It is, in fact, simply a bundle of lazy and rich folks taking money out of the pockets not only of taxpayers, but also of the hapless students trapped in this ugly system and the parents of those students. Every time Bernie or Hillary brings some story of a student or parent with horrific student loan debt, conservatives ought to be treating academia as an avaricious and monopolistic big business, feasting on the meager resources of the middle class and the poor.
Why not, in fact, require that any university that has students with federal aid or receives federal assistance reduce hourly tuition costs to 1990 levels? This would require fat-cat academia to lose a little weight, but so what? The cost of tuition has exploded over the last several decades. In real dollars, adjusted for inflation, the tuition cost per year at public institutions has roughly doubled since 1990. When inflation is not factored into the rise in cost, then the cost of tuition at public institutions has almost tripled since 1990.
Requiring that any institution that receives, directly or indirectly, federal aid bring tuition costs back to 1990 levels would cut the cost of college almost in half, even when inflation is factored into the costs. Why are conservatives not arguing for this sort of cost containment? Academia is, essentially, a vast wasteland of aging leftists and crazy radicals.
While the left whines about how much college costs have risen for the poor and middle class, conservatives ought to be making the case that college costs ought not to be rising dramatically faster than the average wages of ordinary Americans. The left is always eager to find victimizers to go with victims, but not in the case of college costs (just as the left never finds that federal civil services compensation costs are too high).
The reason is clear: academia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the left. Here cadres are trained in extreme ideology even if they learn little else. Here coerced student fees are used to advance every part of the left's agenda. Here politicians on the left can find a cushy retirement doing little real work, offering little real value, and luxuriating in manufactured honor.
Why in the world are conservatives giving these people a free pass? Here is an issue in which conservatives can win at every level. We can force colleges to reduce fat to a minimum and make professors actually teach. We can provide a path of non-traditional and non-institutional education that will make lifelong education attractive and possible for ordinary Americans. And we can force the left into defending the indefensible, which is the academic racket in modern America.