Wall Street as cause and beneficiary of skyrocketing university tuition

I agree. I was amplifying your comment.

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Forgive me… the caffeine I had twelve hours ago seems to have run its course. :slight_smile:


Only one quibble with the logic here. As a faculty member at a public university, I can assure you that faculty salaries have very little to do with the exploding costs of running universities–and that’s without accounting for the skyrocketing number of low-paid, often benefit-less adjunct faculty who are increasingly carrying the burden of teaching.

And I would agree that even the explosion of administrative positions isn’t by itself, or even as a line-item, particularly responsible for those costs.

I would argue, however, that many of the goons who are filling the ranks of bloated administration aren’t trained as educators, or really even interested in education at all. They come from the worlds of, wait for it…. finance and business, where the kind of “problem” you’re identifying in this argument is exactly what’s supposed to happen. One of the things public universities do poorly is generate profit–the fact that they’re non-profit institutions notwithstanding–so finding a way for them to pay for somebody is natural to these folks.


University people pretty much screwed themselves out of the public money.
In the past University was a more nebulous public good, like getting a degree so you could do research or just making the country better ect… If you just wanted to support your family you could have a factory job or something like that and make enough money to be actually ok.

But in the last 20-30 years its been all about how you have to have a university degree to get any decent job and make big money.
Other people see that promotion and wonder why they should support spending tax money on something just so some privileged people can get higher paying jobs.

That’s so wrong I need to make a list:

A) State funded universities have always put a strong emphasis on career path degrees. They tend to have large engineering, education, business, and healthcare degree programs. They also tend to have degree programs specifically tailored to regional industry. Forestry and fisheries departments are in places with forests and fish. Agriculture departments are in farming regions, etc. Never has nebulous good been the primary mission.

B) Universities did not break the unions or de-industrialize the US (well, OK, maybe the University of Chicago did, but it is private).

C) Public support for funding universities is high. Its just that public support for “me not paying taxes” is even higher.

D) A very large fraction of reliable middle class voters received very low cost public university educations. Their ‘why should I pay’ arguments are particularly absurd.


We live in a country where many apparently feel they have the right to decide what they should and shouldn’t have to be taxed for. Most of those making that noise are interested in cutting funding for poverty programs that help some minorities, not having to pay for someone else’s birth control, etc. In other words, a bunch of reactionary wingers whining about garbage. Lefties like me abhor war and would like it if our taxes did not go towards funding war and carnage. But we realize that we live in a democracy and not everything can be the way we want it. So please don’t suggest that universities are somehow to blame for the rise of stupid individualism and garbage policies in this country.


In California, the real response to the cuts was to alter the proportions of various student populations based on the amount they pay in tuition. I checked and reported the numbers at one point to people, when students in the UC system were picketing, and I’m truly sorry I don’t have a quick link.

The populations were: in-state (IS), out-of-state (OS), and foreign (F) students. IS students pay the lowest rates, and when federal cuts were made, it became less profitable to have large IS populations (even though the UC system is a state school system, they’re supposed to provide university support in California). OS students pay more, but not as much as F.

Basically, over several years in the UC system, the populations were manipulated to provide the greatest return. For several years, IS student populations at most UC schools were kept constant. At the same time, slight proportional increases to OS populations and greater increases to F were made.

These aren’t the actual numbers, but this is how it worked:

(Years 1-4)
IS 100, IS 100, IS 100, IS 100
OS 40, OS 45, OS 50, OS 55
F 10, F 20, F 30, F 40

So that’s it. While there are still fewer F and OS students than IS students, the balance has changed dramatically. What once was a school with half as many OS and F students as IS students, in just four years is changed so the populations are near equal. That means it’s less likely that IS student needs will be heard - especially when they aren’t the big spending students.

There wasn’t a lack of interest or applications from local students for these state-system schools receiving federal funding. In fact, many schools in the UC system (like USC, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkley) are so popular that gaining a spot there is highly competitive. This was a deliberate manipulation to raise funds.


If states want to defund higher ed, they really need to let go of the requirements to force institutions to charge different rates to students based on residency. That system made sense when public fund were the major source of funds, but notsomuch in the current funding climate.

I used up all my Likes for today already : (

Anyway, your shit-hot post deserves more than me clicking a like button. High five!

…Say, here’s a thought - given the diminishing likelihood of a degree leading to an income capable of paying off the associated loan, and the fact that even tertiary-level education is rife with brainwash and indoctrination, just maybe, attitudes to tertiary education might begin to shift sometime soon…

Maybe folks will give up on the increasingly empty promise of university bootstrapping them out of poverty, and further, realise that the concept of education doesn’t have to be a baby thrown out with the bathwater, and by the way, what’s this intertron thingy over here; it seems to have slightly more than just cats on it. Hmm.

I would really like to see a generation of unprecedentedly empowered autodidacts emerge from the ashes of this turd sandwich.

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Oh man, you remind me of my very relevant favorite inequality stat.

If the income distribution today were what it was in 1970 median family income in the US would be $90,000 a year instead of $50,000.

College would look a lot more affordable if all the income gains for decades had not flowed to the top 0.1%, and people would need fewer and shorter loans to pay for it even if tuition had gone up exactly as it did.


The worst thing to note about the UC numbers was that this pattern applied to almost all the schools - if they were popular. Only the schools that were less popular were allowed to have a growth in IS student numbers — they were in areas that people from OS and F were far less interested in attending school. Where the OS and F numbers, as well as campuses, were small overall - populations were allowed to grow in a balanced fashion.

How far to the left do you have to get before this sounds like a bad thing?

Uhm. I think Ygret meant to imply that people feel they have the right to decide individually, rather than collectively, what they should and shouldn’t be taxed for. Only anarchists would believe that, because in such a system rational actors would pay only taxes from which they directly benefit, and would profit by eliminating all functions from government.

Some days, I think we’re headed in that direction. If government departments need to show an economic return (“user fees” rather than taxes), then why not support the civil court system by auctioning decisions to the highest bidder, support the criminal justice system by fees to the acquitted (the convicted have no money!), and support the legislature by charging for favorable legislation? Oh wait, we already do the last.

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To be fair (public university faculty here, also), we do need to keep track of pensions and benefits, and not merely wages when accounting for faculty costs: faculty benefits are very often stellar. Agree with you on the administrators, though.

In the context of our conversation, which you rudely ripped away with your selective quote, it is a bad thing. If every nincompoop and shitkicker got to decide what they’re not willing to pay for with “their” taxes you can kiss not just your republican form of government but your cohesive nation goodbye.

I personally feel that “my” taxes shouldn’t pay for war, only honest to goodness, non-preemptive defense. I think that’s a good thing. But what about other Americans who want “their” taxes to pay for aggressive war, yet think paying for public schools, poverty programs, healthcare, etc. is a terrible idea. How do we maintain an even moderately coherent state that way? If your argument is that we should fully and directly democratize the payment and routing of tax moneys towards the goals we support as individuals then I’ll say why stop there and lets have total direct democracy, because without funding laws mean dick. I’m all for it. But at some point consensus will not go our way and what happens then? What’s your solution for group action, or are we all libertarian islands unto ourselves?


Yes, thank you kenny. Even with anarchy, which doesn’t really mean no political organization, it generally means only local organization, there will still be communal decision making and there will still be those unhappy with specific decisions. At some point we have to submit to the collective will to be part of a society. If we don’t want that there’s some homesteading property in upper Saskatchewan going for pretty cheap I hear.

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There’s a Greg Egan novel where each publicly-funded Government department has their taxes allocated by individuals according to their whims (and the subsequent advertising budget of said Depts.). A dystopian novel, obviously.


That’s not very imaginative. Yes, one could have a viable system where people are still forced to pay taxes but have options to earmark what they pay to the areas or functions they value. It would simply be an expansion of the current option on federal tax returns to fund the presidential campaign fund. Liberals would be more likely to fund redistribution programs and conservatives defense programs, and no one would be likely to fund corporatist bailouts which would be no loss.

That sounds awful.

Well, why do you think so?