The Academy and Other People’s Money (OPM)

[N]ow is probably a good time to reprint – and expand – the list of empirical studies that have, in one way or another, found that schools in large part capture aid money rather than becoming more affordable. The list probably isn’t exhaustive, and there are many limitations that make it impossible to prove that aid fuels inflation, but combined with the logic that you’ll willingly pay more if you have someone else’s money, these studies show that there is very good reason to conclude that aid is counterproductive:

Yes, Aid Fuels Tuition Inflation

Because we don’t have enough overpaid and underworked professors and college administrators teaching our children to love the state and hectoring the rest of us.

No matter how you slice it, the burden of funding the Ivory Tower has grown ever heavier on the backs of taxpaying citizens. Whether one examines taxpayer dollars in total, per enrollee, per degree, or per tax-paying citizen, real spending has gone up.

Unfortunately, financial costs are only part of the story. While the evidence is not conclusive, it appears that the additional spending and the additional students and degrees it has helped to fund do not ultimately constitute a net societal gain. Instead, all the coerced, thirdparty support has likely produced several damaging, unintended consequences: credential inflation, sky-high noncompletion rates, and rampant tuition inflation. In other words, the money taken from taxpayers, in total and on an individual basis, to “invest” in higher education has been on the rise, and it appears to be hurting both taxpayers individually and society as a whole. We have taken money from people who would have used it more efficiently than has the system to which it was given.

How Much Ivory Does This Tower Need? What We Spend on, and Get from, Higher Education

One of my favorite soundbites, when discussing this issue, is that the U.S. spends more per capita than any nation other than Switzerland, but we get very sub-par results for all that money.

According to new data, though, I can no longer make that assertion. I’d like to say it’s because we now get above-average results, but the real reason is because we’ve now surpassed Switzerland to become the biggest spenders on education.

But we still get a crummy return on all that money that is spent.

By Global Standards, the Government Education Bureaucracy Gets the Most Money while Delivering Mediocre Results

Said Brodhead in a news release: “The humanities – languages, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, history and arts criticism – tell our shared story as a culture and help us appreciate our commonalities and differences. The social sciences – including anthropology, archaeology, economics, political science, sociology and psychology – analyze the lives of individuals and societies, revealing patterns of behavior and interpersonal dynamics.”

Who could disagree? The problem is the courses of study listed by Brodhead fit the description of the Humanities over 50 years ago. Today’s liberal arts/humanities curriculum is dominated by the ascendancy of politically motivated “identity” studies designed by emergent radical scholars in the 1960s as ammunition in the culture wars against Western civilization.

Accompanied by techniques such as “critical theory,” “radical deconstruction,” “multiculturalism” (and its enforcement arm, the politically correct thought police) the underlying strategy has been to denigrate and eradicate the success of the Western canon for its complicity in fostering racism, chauvinism, imperialism (from the British empire to the American empire) and later homophobia. Consequently, students are encouraged to take faux coursework sprinkled in the curriculum: Queer Studies, African and African American Studies; Women and Gender Studies; Culture Studies; Sex Studies; Transgender Studies – none of which was mentioned by Brodhead.

The Fall of the Humanities



Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading. Oh, and pay “public servants” what they are worth.

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