For a bunch of folks that sit around, copulate, defecate and expectorate, they sure do have a bunch of lusty, active demands: “Destroy the Greedy Banks!”, “Punish the Eco-Defilers!”, “Give Everyone Money!” the “Occupy” crowd yells incessantly.
But one demand is striking, given that “education” has, for years, been the touchstone as the entree to the American Dream: “Free College Education” the “occupiers” are demanding. Why would a “movement” that eschews the capitalist, materialist vision of America want a college degree, when it seemingly is only a step up the ladder to a bourgeoisie existence?
For a movement completely bereft of coherence, this takes the cake. But, it underscores a very real, very dangerous reality: The entire framework of American higher education is out of economic whack, and we are graduating entire populations unable to pay off the loans they took out to pay for that education. It is weird in the extreme.
The Readers Digest condensed version is this: Student loans, and other forms of publicly financed college tuition assistance has created a massive, mammoth welfare education ghetto that consists not only of the indentured students they graduate, but the vast administrative state created to sustain it.
When my mother attended Michigan State College (-later, Michigan State University) in 1946, it cost $3 per credit hour to attend. The average yearly wage in the United States that year was $2,100. It cost roughly 6% of an average yearly wage to attend, at the in-state rate, Michigan State.
By 1971, twenty-five years later, (-the first year my oldest brother started attending MSU), that tuition rate had increased six fold, to $17 dollars per credit, or about $680 per school year. The average wage in the United States that year was $10,500, so the percentage cost of the tuition, vis-a-vis this wage was still 6%. Even though federally guarenteed Student Loans in the private market had only been available since 1966, costs had begun to spike even at this early date.
Now, forty years later, that $680 yearly tuition has skyrocketed to $35,475; — nearly 84% of the average wage in the United States, which aggregates at $43,550. This is not only obscene, it represent probably the biggest consumer fraud in American history.
That first year my mother attended MSC, there was one administrative position for every 110 teaching positions. The size of the campus was the same size as today, and its total student population was a little under 15,000. It had Jennison Field House, an ice arena, world-class biological labs, student housing, and so on. There were practically no teaching assistants, and most professors taught students. A large minority of these professors were part-time. By the time my brother started attending, there was one administrator overseeing 35 teaching positions. Today, that ratio has ballooned to 1:3.
The reason that 40 years of Democrat party hegemony in Academia has been crucial is because of this: It has become the biggest client-state of government sponsored jobs welfare. There are roughly 14,000 employees at Michigan State (it is the second largest employer behind the State of Michigan in the metro Lansing area); Many of these are full professors of studies that didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago, creating degree programs so obscure as to be unrecognizable to any real-world educational paradigm.
Young folks have been instructed endlessly that the most effective ticket to achieving the American Dream was an advanced education. Perhaps. But not anymore. We need to seriously address the fraud that exists in American Higher Education, and the sheer populations and amounts of edu-crats, teaching assistants, and phony degrees is a place to start.
In this realm, the Pee Party has a legitimate gripe. But, once again, their anger should be focused at the Democrats in Washington and elsewhere.