Would you like your college education to be free? Sure, who wouldn't? Well, the people of Tunisia and Egypt are learning that whenever the government supplies something, it is never really "free."There's no shortage of work in North Africa; a shortage of opportunities to deploy the human capital higher education led young people to believe they were developing, whether because of rigidities in the ruling class, civil society given to corruption rather than transparency, or the legacies of Islamic rigidity means ambition collides, harshly, with reality.
We, in America, might not be as far away from the problems of Tunisia and Egypt as some may be inclined to think.The saving grace, at least during periods of economic expansion, is that employers complain there are insufficient skilled workers to fill their more demanding positions (there are gains from trade for somebody to exploit, including employers that recognize the labor-leisure tradeoff), and that complaint maps in some approximate way into excess demand for institutions that maintain a semblance of academic standards. Apparently, although college may be the new high school in the United States, the post suggests that college is the new junior high in Egypt and Tunisia.