Quote of the Day:

College has somehow become so unaffordable and remote that more and more people are attending.

–Nick Gillespie at Reason.com


Most 2020 Democratic candidates favor free college with Senator Elizabeth Warren leading the way with an announced plan. This is presented as the moral way to respond to the educational needs of the rising generation. The moral certitude is glaringly obvious.

Not so fast, says Nick Gillespie in a must-read article. Gillespie raises interesting questions about the morality of making college free, and about Senator Warren's plan in particular. He writes:

. . . Warren's plan doesn't just misrepresent the impact of student loans on the individual level and the historically high availability of access to higher education; it's one more step toward an America where the people who benefit from something get somebody else to pay for it. Above and beyond any financial considerations, that's a bad attitude to inculcate.

Who would pay for Warren's debt forgiveness and free college? Well, "the rich" of course.

Warren has a plan for an "Ultra-Millionaire Tax" on the 75,000 richest households in the U.S., who would thus become the people who paid for the free education of strangers.

Just one problem: Most European countries that have mandated similar taxes have given them up.

Such taxes don't raise nearly as much money as their supporters claim they will. (I have a sinking feeling that progressives have another plan to raise money that they just haven't yet shared with us.)

Gillespie argues that the Warren plan is just the latest example of the push for government to provide things that people can provide for themselves. He raises a key question:  

But there's also a moral argument to be made here: Why shouldn't we expect people who can pay for their own education, health care, and retirement to do so? And why shouldn't we expect people who benefit from something to fund all or most of their activity?

Gillespie makes an argument that we exaggerate the toll of college debt:

And despite claims that "we're crushing an entire generation with student-loan debt," the typical undergrad borrower is doing fine. About 70 percent of the Class of 2018 graduated with some debt, and their median monthly payment is $222. The overall amount of student debt is gigantic—about $1.5 trillion—but when you break it down to what the typical borrower is actually on the hook for, the picture changes dramatically.

I graduated from college in the days when you could do it without going into debt.

I started my career on an alternative newspaper in New Orleans. I could not have done that if $222 had come out of the monthly paycheck I relied upon to pay rent and keep me in the red beans and rice upon which I mostly relied for sustenance.

But Gillespie has a point on this:

If college students have skin in their own game, they'll think more seriously about going to college in the first place and be more motivated to be serious and to finish. Also, one reason why tuition hikes have outpaced the general rate of inflation is that government-guaranteed student loans have helped to goose the costs.

We need to get government out of the loan business, and we need to come up with alternatives for the expensive universities.

Only if students have skin in the game will we do this..