[Warning Will Robinson: Political thought follows.]
I watched with interest as Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the conclusion of Monday night's DNC. Passionate he is! And I admire him for that passion. It's clear that in his heart Sen. Sanders cares about the issues that matter most to him and, I would guess, most Democrats.
But passion plus a less than well-thought out solution does not equal wisdom, or even common sense.
As I listened to him proclaim he and Candidate Clinton have worked together to come up with a plan to make college education at all state colleges and universities tuition free my simpleton mind began to think it through. And my conclusion was it would be disastrous.
1. Free? Nothing's free. Somebody has to pay. Education is expensive. And the payments would necessarily (because they are state owned schools) come from higher taxes. Much higher taxes. The state has no other source of income. And who pays those higher taxes? You, me (if you're working and have income) and (the killer is) those students once they enter the labor force.
In France, where state universities are free, the income tax rate stands at 50.3%. Sure, that covers other benefits such as universal health care, too. But the fact is that graduates might not be saddled with enormous student loans (but they'll still have to somehow pay for room and board), but the trade off is being saddled with higher taxes. Either way, the idea of "free education" is a myth.
2. The proposal is a federal government takeover of state institutions. "You states can have your universities, but Washington, DC will dictate how they will be financed." Thus, the federal government continues to confiscate from the states, and that, in my mind is a dangerous thing. We are a union of sovereign states for a purpose: to prevent the federal government from taking too much power. Remember the USSR?
3. This would spell the end of private colleges and universities, which are among our best. If a student can go free to the state university, why consider a private institution that is so expensive. In fact, only the elite rich would be able to afford private education. Scholarship monies would be drastically withered away due to the cost to taxpayers for public education, drying up the donations that make so many scholarships possible.
4. #3 would also kill off those colleges, universities and seminaries that train church leaders. In some ways that might be a good thing, driving the churches to train future leaders "in house".
5. The end of private universities and colleges must also include the elimination of thousands of jobs in those schools, creating greater unemployment and increasing poverty and dependence on the state.
6. The higher taxes needed to fund the "free education" will take away income from families already struggling to keep financially afloat. They will either be forced to find second and third jobs, or drop below the poverty line putting them on government assistance.
7. I'm sure that the solution to #6 will be to get the bulk of the tax income to finance "free" education from "the 1%" and corporations. Less profits will then translate into fewer jobs and lessened productivity.
8. And there's the old axiom that if you work for something or pay for it you'll have a greater appreciation for it. You'll see it as an investment, not as a gift. Giving out freebies has never resulted in greater prosperity, either for the individual or the state.
While free anything is a wonderful thought, it's a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. Those who understand the ethic of working for what you have understand that. Unfortunately it appears Clinton and Sanders do not. And that would be disastrous for our nation.
I don't want to feel that bern.