When Everyone Has a Bachelor’s, No One Has a Bachelor’s
What the Student Loan Bubble and the Free Speech Bubble Have in Common
I’ll be talking about campus free Speech, the higher education bubble, and credential inflation on Life!Line with Craig Roberts, tonight @ 5pm PACIFIC. Tune in live at the KFAX website, or on 1100AM in the SF Bay Area.
The Bubble: How Higher Ed Became America’s Most Over-Valued Product
Offensive ideas are a social resource. www.bobzadek.com
The signs of a bubble in higher education are now too obvious to ignore, but we can expect that high-paid college administrators will continue to shout the lies about free college being a right for all. This is just one of the new orthodoxies that you aren’t allowed to question — unless you are standing in the minuscule “free speech zones” located behind the campus incinerators.
Thankfully, groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (theFIRE.org) are fighting back against repressive speech codes and other others on students’ First Amendment rights.
Now, even Trump has joined the battle by announcing an executive order that will deny federal funding to colleges that restrict free speech.
I’ll discuss why I’m conflicted about this policy with Craig, but here’s the short version:
On the one hand, free speech is a core liberty. On the other hand, Trump’s tactic of making grants conditional on some action by private universities further erodes the federalist principles on which our country is built.
In my last book, Power to the States, Senator James Buckley and I discussed how big juicy grants with strings attached have been used as the backdoor to enforce federal standards like speed limits across all 50 states. In my latest book, Brookings fellow R. Shep Melnick describes how the Obama administration used the threat of withdrawing federal funds to enforce uniform sexual harassment codes and transgender rules across college campuses.
Today, Trump appears to be using these powers for good, but in doing so he is cementing the Cult of the Presidency and consolidating even more power in the central government. Tomorrow these same powers could be used to silence conservatives and other dissenting voices on campus.
He has also been talking about forgiving some student loan debt, while capping total debt and making colleges eat some of the losses of their students who defaulted. This may be a start, but the best of all world’s would be removing all federal incentives for students to pile up debt to fund a marginally-useful education. Bryan Caplan, one of the featured interviews in my book, has written a book called The Case Against Higher Education and an article on The Case Against Student Loans. The argument is similar in both:
“What’s the harm of creating limitless educational opportunities? …[T]he more college degrees multiply, the less they mean to employers. Researchers call this “credential inflation.” Credential inflation explains why so many of today’s young people need a college degree to get the same job their parents got with a high school diploma.” — Bryan Caplan
I expect things will get worse before they get better, but hopefully these ideas will begin to go mainstream before the bubble gets any bigger.
Listen live and call in to speak with me and Craig from 5–5:30pm PDT, on 1100AM, or stream live here: