Now that a Biden administration is a real possibility, Republicans should hang their heads in shame for missing the opportunity to do something serious about higher education. “Higher education” belongs in quotes because it’s a meaningless term. Higher than what? The answer is: higher than you.
What Silent Joe — called “Silent Joe” because he failed to condemn the massive rioting that disrupted this country and destroyed the lives of so many inner-city poor people — plans to do is forgive or reduce the loans of many students. He cares about college. He told us years ago that he was the first member of his family to go to college — and it was much less expensive then.
This column has considered forgiving student debt six times, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The columns made two points: forgiving student loans is a populist issue, which is likely to entice the kids into voting for the hands that fed them — and why shouldn’t those hands be Republican? And as part of the deal, the flow of “federal” funds to institutions of higher education should be cut off or at least substantially curtailed.
And if the Republicans didn’t do it, the Democrats would. And now they probably will.
For most kids, getting a student loan is a trap, a lousy investment, a bad deal, a scam: a bad decision.
Now Democrats, led by Silent Joe, plan to relieve students of their bad decision pain. And the public — including those folks who didn’t vote for Silent Joe, many of whom didn’t go to college — will bear the burden of bailing them out.
And get nothing for it except the likelihood that all those kids will vote next time for Silent Joe’s successor.
The plan proposed in the six columns had a quid pro quo. If you’ve forgotten what that is, call Congressman Schiff’s office (Tel: 202-225-4176).
The quid was the forgiving of student loans (in whole or part, for some or many of the debtors). The quo was canceling, or dramatically reducing, aid to institutions of “higher education.”
We could even feel sorry for the kids, victims of predatory lending, misled by their elders (“betters”?) into hocking their futures, forced to live in their parents’ basements (those lucky enough to have parents with basements) and perhaps casting off the yoke just in time to co-sign their kids’ student loan papers.
And where did all the money go? To the “higher education” scamming institutions, which raised tuition to suck up all that fresh cash.
So, there is some justification for looking after those unwise enough to have incurred the debt, unwise enough to have fallen into the student debt trap. But why on Earth make the public pay without attempting to claw back some of the funds from the scam beneficiaries, the institutions of “higher education?”
Because there’s no way to get those funds back.
But there certainly is a way to make sure no more funds go to those institutions, and that was the point of the six columns.
Aid to higher education should be eliminated as the quo for forgiving student loans. But with Silent Joe in the White House, that will never happen.
However, if Republicans retain a majority in the Senate, and perhaps even if they don’t, they might be able to make a deal: go along with the loan forgiveness program if and only if a sum (a gigantic sum in layman’s terms but not even rising to a rounding error in Washington terms) — say, $10 million a year — is set aside to be awarded to the top fifty students whose higher education took place entirely online — with “top” being defined, at least at first, as equal to the median score of Ivy League graduates. (We would need an objective, non-woke testing service to determine who was the best.) Each would get $200,000, which is the price of four years at Harvard. Currently, each of the thirty-two Rhodes Scholars selected annually receives about $250,000.
That would not have as dramatic or immediate effect on the institutions of higher education that cutting off their “federal” funds would have. It would be more of a slow solvent than an Exocet missile. But it would encourage a trend that the Chinese Flu has started: keeping impressionable young people out of the clutches of left-wing, woke, radicalizing professors in the government-education complex — where, studies amply show, they learn almost nothing of value. All most of them get is a credential, and we should, and can, find better and cheaper ways to provide that credential.
We could even call the recipients “Biden Scholars” in honor of the new president, who told us once that he was the first in his family to go to college. Well, maybe not.
Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.
Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.