Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Not ObamaEd?

I see that a number of young political analysts have jumped on board with the Honorable Elizabeth Warren, and are advocating that banks should stop robbing young people and give them extremely low interest loans so they can afford to go to the colleges of their choice and not be burdened with a lifetime of debt for the choices they made.  I think this is a wonderful idea, but it does not go to the central problem, and it seems reasonable if you are going to advocate for making college as debt free as possible, the root cause should be addressed as well.  Therefore, I propose that our government nationalize all institutions of higher learning and treat them as a national resource, it could be called ObamaEd.

This way we can control the cost of education by making sure all colleges charge exactly the same amount.  To accomplish this we could implement a number of financial changes that would keep academic growth tied to the rate of inflation, unlike today where the cost of college increased 498.49% between 1985 and 2011 (for comparison the consumer price index for the same time increased 114.85%).  As an added benefit the professors would be unionized so tenure would no longer be an issue, and they would all be on a government pay scale so we could standardize and control salaries like we do in other government service.  Of course the existing college endowments would be unnecessary since the Government would now fund colleges like it does the other Departments so those funds could be confiscated and returned to the treasury where it can be used to fund other social programs.

But wait, you ask what would happen to Ivy League schools and their elite instruction?  Well there are two ideas that come immediately to mind.  The first is elitism runs counter to the social imperatives they have been teaching so I would think they would be among the first to want to conform.  But assuming, for some inexplicable reason, they felt a continued need to be special, I think the courts could establish some form of discriminatory bias that would insure only the right people get accepted.  I know that using something like an SAT score to put you in a college based on academic ability is far to judgmental so that couldn’t be used, but surely some smart person with the right credentials should be able to come up with an brilliant idea that would make everyone happy.

Perhaps we could have a college draft?  It could work either way!  We could have all the colleges get a random number and the winning college gets to choose what students they want first, the last college gets whoever is left.  Or all the students born on a certain day get to choose first and so on for 366 more choices.  Of course some concession would have to be made to insure the correct diversity levels are maintained, I’ve not yet worked that one out.

Finally, with this change, College Football would no longer be necessary to provide scholarships to poor, but athletically gifted, future NFL stars.  It could be set up as a pay for play enterprise, just like so many schools get caught doing now.  Perhaps student athletes could get bumped up in their draft picks as a means of insuring they go to the semi-pro team, school of their choice.

The only real down side I see is that based on the experience the Government has with running colleges (i.e. the Service Academies) we can expect to spend a lot of money insuring the students are prepared for the future, but at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?  Making sure everyone goes to college if they want, and not have to worry about the choices they made.

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