Friday, March 06, 2009

The Lifeguard Wept: Redux

Cartooniste Is My Conscience...

and the comments relative to my thoughts on government involvement in higher education were realistic, thoughtful, and not entirely unreasonable. Of course, I say this because Cartooniste is one of the few people I know that has spent as many years in post-graduate study as The Lifeguard. (The difference, however, may be that The Lifeguard managed something like ten years of post-secondary education without much more than a Camry worth of debt.)

I would, however, note three things that were running through my head when I wrote the aforementioned post:

First, I had just finished my third (or, was it fourth?) martini. I was not unlike a Kennedy on a "fact-finding" mission. Hell, the only thing missing was a bridge, a campaign worker, and an Oldsmobile.

Second, The Lifeguard believes that universities are going to be faced with Hobson's Choice in the very near future (and, shame on me for not mentioning it in the original post). The Harvards, MITs, and the like are soon going to be faced with taxes being levied on their endowments. In the bleak economic times facing America, the several states are going to turn to the only people with shitloads of money: churches and colleges.

In order to avoid giving fifteen or twenty percent of their endowment's growth to feed the beast, these schools will (or should) offer to spread the wealth (in return for favourable tax treatment). And, frankly, this suggestion goes along with Cartooniste's view on the purpose of the endowment (stabilising the college, whatever the Hell that means). Really, what could be more stabilising than getting kids through college without loads of debt? Plus, those kids will later donate money to the school, thus replenishing the endowment's principal.

Oh, and I don't know a single law school professor worth $200,000.00; but, if that is what they indeed get paid, it is only because they have a better union than history, classics, or English professors. And, think about it. Presidents Clinton and Obama were law professors (right out of law school), and certainly did not make $200,000.00 a year. (Even though Cartooniste thinks that they are two of the smartest people ever. Ever.)

Finally, I agree that secondary education needs to be improved. Remedial courses belong in high school, not college. If Junior needs remedial English at Harvard, maybe he shouldn't be at Harvard. In fact, one of the worst things to ever happen was the universal belief that everyone had to go to college. Really, kids with no aptitude for higher education should be given the encouragement to find other opportunities for happiness, such as trade schools, two-year colleges, or the military (or other service to this country).

Additionally, when students are applying to college, everyone wants to go to Harvard; but, not everyone can go to Harvard. Therefore, high school students should be directed to colleges that are appropriate based upon their aptitude, economic background, and ability to finish that which they start (i.e., college).

I note, as an aside, that when the University of California stopped using racial preferences, fewer minorities attended UC-Berkeley (for example); but, the numbers of minorities graduating from other, less prestigious, campuses (campi?) increased.

Anyway, my point in this exercise was that there are things that Congress (and government) do well, others (such as education and the economy) that they do not. Sort of like me wanting to go to Harvard.

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