There seems to be endless elasticity of demand for degrees from elite American colleges. There undoubtedly are people who would gladly pay $100,000 a year for the privilege of seeing Junior get his sheepskin from Harvard or Yale. As a result, there is no effective incentive for such schools to really try to control costs. Why make cuts that will anger faculty and staff when tuition increases can be implemented without meaningful opposition? Hiking tuition is simply the path of least resistance.
Interestingly, although politicians often talk about how important it is to try to make college affordable, they always do so in the context of government-backed loans to pay the tuitions and related costs set by the educational institutions. In contrast, they never criticize college administrators for failing to control costs. Colleges and universities have worked out a pretty sweet deal — they get lots of research funding and grant money from federal and state governments, and those governments then guarantee loans, at favorable interest rates, to help students pay the constantly increasing price tab for tuition and room and board.
Kish and I are now in our fifth year of paying college tuition costs, and the annual tuition increase notices come with the same certain regularity as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. In reality, the ever-increasing cost of a higher education will not be reined in until the law of supply and demand once again comes to apply to the process of getting a college diploma, and that day still appears to be a long way off.
I’m happy to see that some Columbus community development organizations have come out against Issue 3. Although organizations in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo have endorsed the proposal, Columbus groups have criticized Issue 3 — correctly, I think — as an obvious effort to line the pockets of special interests and to preclude state or local regulation of casinos by establishing them through a constitutional amendment. I hope Columbus voters are paying attention.
I’ve previously criticized President Obama for proposed a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, and others, who will not be increasing a cost of living increase in their benefits this year due to the lack of measured inflation. I’m disappointed, but frankly not surprised, to see that Republicans also appear to be going along with the proposal. They just want to pay for it from existing “stimulus” funds, rather than new borrowing. In the interests of even-handedness, then, I make this post to criticize congressional Republicans, as well as President Obama and congressional Democrats, for their profligate ways. Republican leaders may talk tough about fiscal responsibility and reining in spending, but when the time comes to stand up for that principle, in a way that might cost them some political capital, they are no more resolute than the most big-spending liberal — but are a heck of a lot more hypocritical.
American taxpayers should despair about the irresponsible individuals running our national government. The bailout bills and stimulus bill were like the crack cocaine of spending legislation: once members of Congress and the Administration saw how easy it was to enact massive, rushed, poorly vetted spending bills, their solution to every economic problem, and every political problem, is to enact legislation that shovels money that the federal government doesn’t have to individuals and entities who don’t really need it. With all due respect to senior citizens, they are, as a group, no more in need as a result of this recession than any other demographic group. There is simply no reason to spend $14 billion to give them an additional $250 — other than to curry political favor with a group that votes.
They say all politics is local, and the current condition of our neighborhood reflects that reality. Brightly colored political yard signs dot the landscape, and fliers are frequently found on our doorstep. In this off-year election in New Albany, Ohio, we will be choosing among candidates for school board, village council, and trustee, as well as voting on statewide issues.
The issues in these local elections are basic and gut-level. Do we like the performance of our schools or think that we need to change course? Are our taxes too high? Are we happy with our neighborhoods and local development plans? The population which decides this issue is limited, and if you can convince enough of your neighbors to vote as you want you can effect real changes in policy. The election handouts reflect the intensity of the candidates’ positions, with lots of boldfaced statements and exclamation points. And, as you learn something about the candidates, you also learn something about your neighbors who display their yard signs.