Keynesian-leaning economist and columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman opined in a recent piece that advising students who are exploring college options not to attend institutions beyond their economic means by taking on massive student loan debt is anti-intellectual.
Krugman writes that members of the Republican Party harbor hostility to education which is “embodied in the personas” of GOP Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Referencing recent statements made by the candidates wherein Santorum referred to colleges as “indoctrination mills” and Romney advised a student to shop around for colleges with good programs rather than simply attending the most expensive, Krugman writes:
Wow. So much for America’s tradition of providing student aid. And Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous and destructive than you may be aware, given what’s been happening lately to American higher education.
For the past couple of generations, choosing a less expensive school has generally meant going to a public university rather than a private university. But these days, public higher education is very much under siege, facing even harsher budget cuts than the rest of the public sector. Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise; in California, support is down by 20 percent.
Krugman goes on to suggest that by putting less importance on government-funded college tuition assistance, Republicans will hold back less affluent and minority children and are taking a step away from an American tradition.
The National Inflation Association, which released the film “The College Conspiracy” in 2011, argues a case very opposite Krugman’s, saying that college is the largest scam in U.S. history. One NIA press release says:
If 70.1% of high school graduates enroll in a college or university, how does a college degree give you an advantage over the rest of the population? Back in the early 1960s, Americans didn’t need to go to college. We were a creditor nation with a strong manufacturing base. With an unemployment rate of only 5%, jobs were available to almost everybody. Less than 50% of American high school graduates enrolled into college. For those who did attend college and graduate with a degree, it was actually something special that made you stand out from the rest of the field, because not everybody had one.
American college tuition inflation has been out of control for the past decade. During the financial crisis of late-2008/early-2009, almost all goods and services in America at least temporarily declined in price. The only service in America that continued to rise in price throughout the financial crisis, besides health care, was college education. Despite real unemployment in America reaching 22%, students were brainwashed into believing that if they were lucky enough to be blessed with the privilege to get half a million dollars into debt to obtain a college degree, they will be on a path to riches and have a guaranteed successful career; whereas those who don’t attend college are destined to be failures in life.
View a portion of the NIA film below: