Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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College costs and Kerry’s misery index

Rich Lowry considers John Kerry’s ill-defined "misery index" with regard to college tuition. Kerry maintains that "George Bush is pricing thousands of young people right out of the American dream." Not so, Lowry maintains: "It is positively raining college aid, meaning students are in a tight competition with the elderly over who can be more pampered by government." And then this unpalatable truth:

"The game for universities is obvious — hike official tuition rates ever higher. Then everyone thinks students cannot afford college and plies them with more aid, which ends up lining the pockets of the schools. It’s one of the great scams of our time, and Kerry has been happy to play along by hyping nominal tuition increases and promising yet more aid. He is the dream candidate of greedy college administrators.

The problem isn’t that students hungry for knowledge are being frozen out from college, but the opposite. Marginal students take their generous aid and go to colleges that don’t teach them. Eighty percent of universities aren’t selective, e.g. more or less happy to accept anyone who shows up with a check. Only 37 percent of first-time freshmen graduate in four years, and only 60 percent graduate in six years. Universities are happy to take money from unprepared students and fail them right back out, or dumb down their standards to stay on the government-aid gravy train."

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Never mind that Bush and Clinton share similarities in the unemployment/inflation index. "President Bush is an economic genius on par with the great Bill Clinton (Bush’s index is 8.7 percent, Clinton’s was 8.5 percent in 1996)." Kerry has probably read Krugman’s book, The Age of Diminishing Expectations This book was written during Clinton’s reign and if Kerry agreed with Krugman then but didn’t voice it because belief in the Clinton economy was advantageous, nevertheless its arguments if they were applicable then are applicable now.

Ironically Krugman argues that even increased spending on education hasn’t translated into increased productivity. perhaps this is due in part to what Lowry talks about. I would think that it is. Nevertheless if Kerry is to make any sense by talking about a Misery Index, he should make it on the grounds of a productivity increase.

As a side note, I don’t endorse Krugman, but it would seem sensible for a Democrat to do so.

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