Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I never thought I'd ever type these following words

I disagree with Gary Becker.

I believe that subsidies are responsible for hyperinflation in college education consumer costs.

Just like we end up paying multiples* for other subsidized goods and services, such as sugar, corn, healthcare, and real estate in Manhattan.

For example top Canadian universities charge half of the top U.S. schools' rates, and I don't think that McGill or Waterloo, just a couple lakes over from Becker, are merely half as good as U. Chicago (despite the assumption that Canada also subsidizes its college sector).

I think the esteemed Becker is human, like everyone else who wants more competition and less subsidies in every other industry save his own. Those who advocate for "green jobs", greater entitlement programs, agricultural subsidies pretty much make the same arguments that Becker is making in his pro-education subsidy piece. I'd guess I'd agree more with whatever James Buchanan might say in countering Becker's opinion.

But this is a tricky subject. While I am a big believer in school vouchers (patterned after the less distortive food stamps program) for K-12 education, I think that we are minting more college grads than we have college-grad jobs. I've told my wife that only one of our three children needs to go to college. Unsurprisingly, my more educated spouse completely disagrees. Maybe if she had gotten a Ph.D in econ instead of a J.D. ...

The trouble for me is, which kid? Can't 'favor' one kid over the others.

So I guess a bachelor's degree is an expensive option (to grad school, to higher employment, to meeting hotter mates, whatev).

*Prices over what the rest of the world pays.

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