There are two parts of the US economy that have spiraling out of control costs–the health and higher education systems. I propose that these systems experience runaway costs for the same fundamental reason, that they are “high demand markets”. High demand markets differ from other kinds of markets in an important way, and once we understand that health and education are markets of this variety, it becomes much easier to devise and understand the potential efficacy of policy solutions in both areas.
I recently heard someone compare the modern student experience in the United States to indentured service. This comparison seems hyperbolic on first analysis, but I want to take it seriously. To what extent, if any, is the process of taking out student loans or working unpaid internships similar to the experience of poor 18th century opportunity-seekers in the United States?
Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana, one-time speculative presidential candidate, and current president of Purdue University has been accused of attempting to use his office to influence the ideological content of Indiana’s classrooms so as to silence dissenting opinions. Specifically, he is accused of attempting to prevent schools from using A People’s History of the United Statesby Howard Zinn, a deceased academic. Daniels did indeed attempt to prevent the book from being taught in schools, as he freely admits–was this morally permissible of him?
In the state of Oregon a new mechanism for funding university studies has been proposed. The scheme is called “Pay It Forward“. The idea is that instead of charging students tuition to go to universities, the state will fund their education and then extract payment after the degree is finished as a percentage of their income. For a student with a bachelor’s degree, the expected repayment would be 3% of income for the following 20 years. This presents a very different alternative to the university funding system presently in force throughout the United States, so let’s dissect it. Would Pay It Forward make Oregon’s university system better than it presently is? Is it the ideal alternative, and if not, in what respects does it differ from that ideal?
Yesterday, the supreme court announced a non-decision decision on the issue of affirmative action by universities. The ruling itself makes no significant difference to the status quo, but it got me thinking about the issue. As regular readers know, I think economic and social mobility is very important. For this reason, I am opposed to affirmative action.