The failure of secondary education means that a college degree is roughly the equivalent of what a high school diploma was a generation ago. Consequently, college instruction is not necessarily higher education; in many cases, it’s remedial, with universities having to teach freshmen basics they should have learned in ninth grade. Employers know that, which is why even the most menial of jobs now requires a college degree — spawning lower-tier state universities that are essentially seat-selling operations.Her conclusion: "Throwing money at schools that don’t need it to spend on students who don’t deserve it defines government waste." Cato's Neal McCluskey concurs. At Phi Beta Cons, George Leef concurs in part and dissents in part.
Yeah, let's have a depression to tame the positional arms races. Great idea. Since the positional arms race that Oma and Opa are underwriting reflects access-assessment-remediation-retention at the seat-selling operations, the simplest fix involves strengthening the academic environment at the land grants and the mid-majors, which isn't that hard to do.
I don't disagree, but there is another factor that I think should be considered — the rising wealth in the country. There is a huge amount of wealth owned by older Americans. The sellers of luxury cars, glamorous jewelry, posh condos and similar things have been charging more for their goods, too. They know how to separate rich people from their money. Colleges and universities also know how to play that game. Grandparents with big estates don't hesitate to write out the checks so Johnny and Suzy can get their degrees. My guess is that we would see tuition rising even if it weren't for federal subsidies, although not as rapidly and widely perhaps.
The bursting of the real estate asset bubble will make a lot of wealthy people significantly less wealthy. That should do much more to slow down the rise in tuition than anything the politicians could cook up.