Dave’s Strange and Unusual World

November 12, 2008

One Bill Does It All!

As this is Veteran’s Day, I wanted to talk about an issue that has helped many Veterans, including myself, receive college degrees: The GI Bill.  My question is whether the GI Bill, in addition to good old-fashioned patriotism, will inspire young Americans to join the military under the next administration, since this bill will basically lose its entire value.  In fact, I am willing to bet that the GI Bill is going to lose its appeal to America’s young men and women more quickly than banking stocks, and the military is going to suffer by recruitment numbers drying up.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.

Well, to begin, the incoming administration plans to enact a noble-sounding thing called the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which will “ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds of the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students.”  What do young Americans need to do to earn this great deal?  They simply need to give 100 hours of community service.  Please bear with me as I wipe the tears from my eyes.

First of all, any American can currently attend a college if he or she desires to, though he or she may have to make some sacrifices or work a little bit harder than he or she otherwise would (let’s call this the “free market”).  Currently, the price of college tuition acts as a signal, which filters serious students from students who just need a transition point from home to the real world (though sometimes that line does become blurred).  By removing the price of college, the door to the university is opened to individuals who, in my opinion, may have no business in an academic setting.  I know, someone is going to slam me in the comments section of my blog for saying that some people should not be in college, even though it is true.

So, let’s see…we are going to have people ballooning the attendance of colleges and universities because price signals have been removed (this, of course, is socialist, since the market works to produce an equilibrium between supply of learning and demand of learning).  As we all know, demand for college will exceed the supply of college, leading to a shortage of many things.  For example, there will be a shortage of spaces for college classes at our existing levels, which will mean that it is possible that a serious student will be turned away in order to make way for a student who cares nothing about learning.  Even if all students can somehow cram themselves into the classrooms, the quantity and quality of education (student-to-teacher ratios and interactions) will suffer and the overall value of a college degree will drop.  I can see my readers lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks now.

Currently, as prices act as a signal to the market for learning, so too do degrees act as a signal to the market for jobs.  If we suppose that the American Opportunity Tax Credit becomes a reality, then we can be assured that the competition for qualified jobs will increase, with qualified candidates competing against unqualified candidates.  Employers may be unable to distinguish between the two types of candidates and qualified people may lose out to unqualified people, which may decrease the competitiveness of industries and our country.  Employers will have to resort to signals such as advanced degrees in order to determine if a candidate is qualified or not.  As a result, college degrees will have no value; our country will have created a ‘basic’ schooling system that consists not of twelve grades but of sixteen.

Having Americans spend sixteen years in basic education will mean that most workers who currently enter the job market after twelve basic years of education (and, hence, become productive in their own ways to the economy) will be out of the market for another four years, burdening our society and lessening the resources employed in our society.  It will also mean that those college graduates who would have been productive to our society after sixteen years will now need to spend additional time out of the job market earning advanced degrees in order to prove their competence for the jobs that can be had with a bachelor’s degree today.  These individuals will have to spend more time earning degrees, which will mean that their contributions to the economy will be postponed even longer as well.

Just to note, before you light the effigies of me and hang them in the public common, I don’t believe that having a college degree per se makes one qualified; I do, however, believe that unqualified people, who currently receive price signals, tend to drop out at higher levels from colleges because the price tells them that their time is better spent doing something other than flunking out of a university.  Without this signal, these students may remain in the university and all sorts of havoc may ensue in the marketplace.

So, basically, what the incoming administration plans to do is give the GI Bill (which costs service members 2080 hours a year and a commitment to their country of at least three years) to anyone who will devote a mere 100 hours to the community.  In this scenario, an artificial signal tells our young men and women that military service is of very little value.  One of the biggest benefits to military service will have been taken away and the value of enlistment will be cut by a huge percentage.  So, our military numbers will decline and the value of an education will be erased.  God bless socialism.

Sorry to have written something so depressing on Veteran’s Day, but I needed to vent and let my readers know that the American Opportunity Tax Credit will seriously hamper our military (by reducing recruitment numbers) and our economy (by taking people out of the marketplace for longer periods of time and wasting public funds).  Other than that, I hope that you’ve each had a great Veteran’s Day!

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1 Comment »

  1. Amen! We already have too many unmotivated students in the colleges already. As a college tutor and Teaching Assistant, I get so disgusted by the blatant disrespect that students have for their education. I got my BA from Berea College. For those who don’t know anything about Berea it is a great solution to this “problem.” Berea College is designed to provide a college education to poor appalachian students. Through PRIVATE donations, the college provides all students with a full tuition scholarship, in return the students work part time for the university. As a Teaching Assistant at Berea I saw many students who really cared about there education. Since leaving Berea I have been a TA at two state universities in another state and I’ve also been a part time professor at a community college (which basically serves the nearby bloated state university) and a part time tutor. It is my experience that students who have Mommy and Daddy paying for their education have very little respect for it. If Rich Uncle Sam starts paying for their education I don’t seem them gaining respect for it even if they have to work a measly 100 hours. I had friends at Berea who had to work in food service everyday or making craft brooms for their education (I took weather readings everyday at the same time everyday and called them in to NOAA). I’m all for helping those who are underprivileged (I fell/fall into that category) but lets not just throw money into the streets.
    Another comment I have is that our degrees are already becoming worthless. I’m working on my PhD in physics and I don’t have to do nearly the work that they had to do several decades ago. We are dumbing down our education, just look at how easily Harvard and other “prestigious” universities hand out A’s. It is getting so bad that some American’s got arrested for putting Dr. before their name in Germany because Germany doesn’t recognize American PhD’s. I could ramble on about the sorry state of the student population in the states and the disgustingly bloated state if the American university but I’m tired of talking about it and I want to go home.

    Comment by Andy — November 12, 2008 @ 3:56 am


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