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Should college / university tuition be free or very low cost in the U.S.?
in Politics

By searsear 104 Pts edited March 14

The U.S. K - 12 education standard has endured from the previous millennium. Some say just a few generations ago a high school education was enough to be a productive adult, to have a career, own a home, etc.

 BUT !!

It's a new millennium. And there are jobs going unfilled simply because there are no qualified applicants / candidates.

Is the obsolete K - 12 standard due for a 3rd millennium upgrade?

If so, what should the new standard be? K - 14? Is an Associate's degree enough?

Or should citizens be able to attend tuition free, as long as they get acceptable grades, all the way through doctorate level, if they wish?

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  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 1595 Pts
    They should, and they can. There is an extensive national/state fellowship system allowing the best students to study tuition-free and receive a decent stipend. In addition, many universities themselves waive the fees for the most talented applicants.

    Now, if you are asking whether I should support someone's education with my taxes without my consent, the answer is "no". Robin Hoods are outlawed in pretty much all parts of the world, and for a good reason - and the government "collecting" money for the "greater good" is nothing more than a glorified and more structured version of Robin Hood.

    That said, the education definitely should cost less than it does in the US nowadays. And the best way to lower the costs is to stop trying to control the education by zillions regulations, open up the education market for private investments and allow education companies to compete with each other.

    At the same time, the world is moving towards the prevalence of self-education. You can learn pretty much everything nowadays by just taking cheap, often free, online courses. If you want to work as a programmer, you can learn a few languages and basic theory by yourself, and then you are good to work at Google or a similar organisation.

    There are exceptions, of course. Working in science, I cannot see how one can get into this field on their own. There are too many things to learn before you can produce a quality research, and while some people probably can learn all of this without any external guidance, for us, simple mortals, this is not the case. I do not think the mass education market will die in certain fields such as physics or mathematics.
    But the overall trend is rapid decentralization of the education market, and I will not be surprised if in 50-100 years traditional universities will die out completely, and the majority of the education will be done online or via self-learning.
  • searsear 104 Pts
    "whether I should support someone's education with my taxes without my consent, the answer is "no". " MC
    Thanks for making this sharp point.
    But let us not overlook the two-sided $coin.

    CERTAINLY it costs the tax payer to implement such plan.

     BUT !!

    Once the tuition is paid, the student / graduate is likely to earn more, and will thus pay more $income $tax.
    Some analysts claim the G.I. Bill education benefit pays for itself, and benefits both veterans, and the nation as a whole.

    So why not increase the benefit to all, for all?

    But we should note, that may inadvertently reduce the incentive for U.S. military volunteers. Some may join and serve as a means to later obtain a college education. If such education becomes available to all, will our military become inadequately staffed?
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 1595 Pts

    The issue here is not whether it benefits me or someone else in the end, in my eyes. The issue is me being required to give up my property without my consent. Even if in the end doing so benefits me, I do not think that benefit warrants such a blatant violation of my individual freedoms. In the end, I see freedom as much more healthy for the society as a whole, than any material benefits that could be received in exchange for it: both historical and economical sciences teach us that in the long run it tends to not be worth it.

    People will benefit much more from the private education being let to run its course. As competition grows, the prices will necessarily drop. Everyone will be able to afford decent education, which will be of much higher quality than any governmental bureaucratic machine could ever achieve.

    Of course, the wealthier people will generally have access to a higher quality education. But that is just the reality of life: who has more resources, has more choices. What we should focus on is what will allow people to collect more resources, so they have more choices - not on giving them those choices directly at the expense of their freedoms.

    There is a great Chinese pronoun describing this idea: "Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day. Give him a fishing pole, and you will feed him for life." The government tends to be pretty good at hooking people up on getting a steady supply of fish, but in doing so it makes them dependent on that fish supply, making it incredibly hard to become self-sufficient. Yet self-sufficiency is at the core of any truly prosperous, stable and progressive society.
  • searsear 104 Pts

            "The issue is me being required to give up my property without my consent." MC
        I agree with your point about self-sufficiency. It's the same argument I make AGAINST Social Security, etc.

        BUT !!

        We can use that argument both against, and for "free" higher education. It is in fact metaphorically teaching the man to fish.
        Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.
        Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
            "The issue is me being required to give up my property without my consent." MC
    Do you suppose that same argument was made when the original school taxes in the U.S. were imposed?

    I suspect it's a net positive. U.S. civilization as we know it wouldn't couldn't exist if our countrymen weren't educated.
    Would we educate ourselves, without government schools? Some might.
    But it's not impossible for me to imagine a broad under-educated class, possibly including illiteracy.

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