The College Tractate
The Second Tractate of the Nausea Manifesto
Education in America is turning into a disaster. As part of a larger education renewal, I propose that college education should be free for all American citizens.
A newly published study called "Losing Ground," by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, states that lower to middle American families are not keeping up with the ability to pay for college education.
It is also a fact that the children of middle to lower income families find it hard to move out of that income bracket without a college education. This begins an ever increasing cycle of substandard educated adults and poverty.
The reason I find this disturbing is because it reflects issues I was discussing in 1999 during my draft campaign.
I think this is indicative of the Bush 2.0 admin cutting off funds for educating pediatricians. Is it me or does anyone else realize that the LESS people you have working in one field, the higher the prices for those goods and services become?
So what solutions are there for increasing access to higher education?
I think the best solution is to educate all Americans to the college level. The biggest knee-jerk reaction I get for this idea is "Why should I pay for someone else's college education?" The reason is simple. We should pay for college education for the same reason we pay for third grade education.
If free college education was part of a dramatic education overhaul, the payoff could be seen in about 10-12 years. Below are the tangible and fiscal benefits of having a college educated populace.
• College graduates have lower healthcare costs
• College graduates have lower substance abuse rates
• College graduates create more jobs
• College graduates tend to create longer lasting marriages
• College graduates PAY MORE TAXES
• College graduates commit less crime
• College graduates start more businesses
• College graduates give more to charity
• College graduates vote more often
• College graduates use less government subsidies (food stamps, welfare, etc)
• College graduates have fewer children
• College graduates invest more
• College graduates have higher home ownership
• College graduates have lower debt to income ratios
• College graduates tend to lead happier lives
• College graduates donate more to charity
• College graduates earn on average $1 million more during their lifetimes
Clearly the benefits outweigh the costs. The state of North Carolina's constitution stipulates for college education to be inexpensive, but still the state legislature keeps increasing rates above and beyond the rate of inflation or the average state income.
During the last 20 years, the cost of college should have diminished compared to inflation AND average income. Instead, the increased cost of college education has increased at a higher rate, thus outstripping the ability for middle income parents to pay for college.
The burden is much more dramatic for single parents and giving your children a college education if you are in the lower income bracket is an impossibility. To make this situation even more dramatic, the expansion of facilities for college education has not kept pace with the increases in population. Even with a lower reproduction rate, building of educational infrastructure has falling off in the last 20 years.
So why did the decline become so steep 20 years ago? What was the pivotal event? The Reagan administration slashed spending on college grants. Previous to this, just about anyone who wanted to go to college could, the only bar were your grades. Now the major block to education is not grades, but dollar bills. When college grants were slashed, students began seeing long term debt to pay for school.
Over the years, the grants that were left were highly restrictive. I had a small grant via the State of North Carolina and with that grant came stipulations that made it impossible to continue education. The grant only covered books and tuition for two years at a four year school. Fees and other things now demanded by colleges were not covered, including a $170 parking permit for off-campus residents. However, the grant was rendered useless because the legislature stipulated that I could not work more than 20 hours per week and I could not make more than $200 per week in pre-tax income. If I got other scholarships, grants or loans, I would need to pay back my original grant. With the above grant program, I could not pay for rent, automotive needs, healthcare, and food.
So much for robust, equal access to education.
There is ONE downside to funding college education for all students. The only loser in this scenario is government. College graduates explore the ideas of a candidate more so than no-college graduates. College graduates also tend to vote on issues instead of blindly voting for the candidate with the better marketing campaign.
With a better educated population, it becomes harder for government to remove civil rights, fund unpopular agendas or sustain policies that promote poverty.
With all things, I always try to come up solutions to the problems I highlight. However this one is easy as it pays for itself in 10-12 years via a dramatic decrease in government expenditures on healthcare, poverty programs, prison expenditures, and a increase in gross tax receipts due to higher incomes.
Storm Bear Williams
The Nausea Manifesto
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