29.4.14

MERCANTILIST MYTHS PERSIST.

I've long thought it ridiculous that state legislatures in the Midwest fret about developing human capital that relocates.  Michigan politicians apparently don't like developing Illinois's labor force,  although the University of Michigan may be successful enough at recruiting Illinois residents to pay full fare that some Illinois senators are (gasp!) looking at ways of strengthening one of the perpetually-starved state universities so as to keep some ambitious Illinois matriculants in state.  (That hasn't stopped Northern Illinois University from trying its own form of indentured servitude.)  And Wisconsin legislators have grappled with the same problem, although the University of Wisconsin in Madison is so successful at enticing flatlanders into Godzone that the Milwaukee campus now serves more Wisconsin residents.

I welcome a concurring opinion from the dean at Pioneer Valley Community, observing the same mercantilist silliness in New York.
New York City is an amazing place, but it’s not for everyone.  And outside of the NYC area, many of the smaller economies aren’t necessarily thriving.  Forcing someone to remain in a languishing region when they could have landed a productive position in Boston or D.C. or San Francisco doesn’t serve any useful purpose.

It can be difficult for a locality or a state to invest in education only to watch talent leave.  But tying talent down is not the answer.  Pushing other states and localities to invest, too, is.

Higher education should not reinforce provincialism.  I fully agree with reducing the debt burden on college students and new graduates.  But cutting down their futures to what fits within the state lines is not the way to do it.  If a new graduate with a great idea for a startup wants to escape from New York and find fortune in Palo Alto, let her.  And if a nerdy kid from Rochester somehow meets and falls in love with a Jersey Girl, back off.  Surely, somewhere, you can find a real problem to solve.  Maybe you could start with SUNY’s appropriation...
Indeed, because Albany and Binghamton and Buffalo are starting at a disadvantage relative to Ann Arbor or Madison in providing inducements for striving out-of-state students to pay full freight, the financing model that the state flagship campuses are using in the absence of appropriations.

There is one bit of hopeful news ... the partnerships Northern Illinois has been establishing with Chinese universities allow us to explain to the legislators that the state universities, and Caterpillar, run balance of payment surpluses with China.  Wal-Mart and Apple can't say that.  Now, to get some trade and development specialists hired in the economics department.   (I may be taking my pension, but it still matters to me that the right things get done for the right reason.)

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