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The Rising Cost of Wising Up

Every day seems to bring another executive order, and the latest presidential edict concerns student loans. With a stroke of President Barack Obama’s magic pen the indented need pay no more than 10 percent of whatever monthly income they might be lucky to have, and all those recent graduates who voted for him as part of their embarrassingly idealistic college phase will no doubt be glad for the help. They’re still liable for the entire outrageous cost of their unmarketable degrees, however, and the president’s fix only perpetuates the unsustainable system that got them into that fix.
The cost of a college education has quintupled over the past 30 years, and a brief conversation with a randomly selected recent graduate will demonstrate that the quality of that education has declined just as markedly, but the only solution being offered is to help students stretch out those costs over a lifetime. If Wal-Mart or the Koch brothers or any of the other corporate villains being pillared at almost every college were subjecting their customers to crushing indebtedness with such shoddy practices they’d go out of business or into jail or both, but academia enjoys such status with our college-educated elites that the government intervenes only to help their alma maters continue their price-hiking ways. The administration is seeking to regulate away pesky price competition from the private sector, has nationalized the student loan program to make sure that they’ll keep enough money flowing to accommodate the tuition hikes that inevitably follow the expanding credit, and argued that denying even the most academically ill-prepared youngster an opportunity to go deeply into debt for four years of left-wing indoctrination and a piece of paper that might win a job pouring coffee at some some hipster bistro is somehow anti-intellectual.
Which is not to say that the administration isn’t willing to impose some burdens on academia, such as a new rating system and rules about how colleges are to handle allegations of sexual assault. The same academics who voted overwhelmingly for the president are bristling at the government’s intrusiveness, which they feel is more appropriate to everyone else’s business, but it’s hard to muster any sympathy or even fend off the schadenfreude. The sexual assault rules are a result of academia’s faddish obsession with the “culture of rape” that the feminists insists pervade those green lawns and ivy-covered halls of the average campus, by which they mean the promiscuous “hook-up” culture that has followed academia’s half-century-long assault on traditional Judeo-Christian morality, and it was bound to happen that some governmental do-gooders would sooner or later take their cause seriously. One can only hope the new rules will prevent a rape or two, even if there are already laws against it, which somehow pre-date feminism, but given the rapidly expanding definition of the crime on the modern campus and the lax standard of prove being mandated by the government it might also create a culture of false rape accusations based on hurt feelings rather than actual offenses. Concerns for the rights of the accused are somehow sexist, though, which can only be explained in a high-priced college education.
The new rules might accelerate the trend of fewer men attending college, which could in turn make the high-priced experience somewhat less appealing to many of today’s libidinous women, and thereby hasten the inevitable popping of the higher education bubble. At some point on the cost curve even college students will wise up, and if not their parents surely will. Giving the professors a taste of the governmental regulations they have long championed might improve their thinking, too.

— Bud Norman

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