Tuesday, August 30, 2016
This week in my classes I handed out a sheet of paper to all 105 of my fall students as they walked into class on day one. They were asked to indicate whom they would vote for in the 2016 presidential election. They were given five choices - Hillary, Donald, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and a write in candidate. Then, they were asked to identify one specific policy proposal from the candidate of their choice and fully explain why they believed this policy would benefit the United States.
First, the result of the poll:
Hillary Clinton - 52 votes (49.5%)
Donald Trump - 19 votes (18%)
Gary Johnson - 19 votes (18%)
Jill Stein - 1 vote
I was a bit surprised by the number of students who even knew about the Libertarian candidate - and hopefully followers of this blog will find some hope in this result - but what I was really interested in was why they supported the person they picked.
Of course, for Donald Trump, all 19 students mentioned kicking illegal immigrants out, or building a wall near Mexico.
It was the Hillary crowd that gave these answers. As always, everything within quotation marks is a real student response, unedited for grammar or spelling.
Here, America, is what young people like about Hillary Clinton...
" I believe in gender and race equality so, I believe that Hillary Clinton has been enforcing them."
"Taxing the upper class more, because they can afford it and the wealthy can get around taxes."
"I don't know any of the policies that Hillary Clinton has proposed, but I do know that she is a Democrat and for me that is a big enough reason to vote for her, if I could."
"The reason why I choose her is more about sympathy. I can't vote here, so I don't pay much attention on either ones."
"She is married to Bill Clinton, so if she needs any help, he can help her."
"A fair tax system would benefit the United States because it would mean equality among the classes. The wealthy, middle class and the poor would pay according to what they are able to. There would be no disagreements among the people."
"One policy I agree with is attempting to equals all social classes"
"health care policy if you cannot afford it, it provides you with health care, there are a lot of places where people could not afford to be taken care of. Yes this is not so good for the other people that could pay for it, not fair, because they end up paying for it, but that's just how it is."
"To be perfectly honest, I'd vote for Gary Johnson, but since that would be a wasted vote since not many people would even pay attention to him, I'd vote for Hillary Clinton instead."
"Exit taxes for national companies that have factories out of the U.S. Since there are so many American companies that move to China, for example, or other countries that have cheaper labor, the exit taxes would be a way to charge these companies."
"The one policy I mostly agree with that Hillary Clinton proposed is probably - if I'm not wrong - fixing the educational system and make tuitons more affordable and decrease the college debt that many students face right after graduating. It was a not so bad idea making the in state tuiton free for the state residents."
"Besides a free energy movement promoting solar, wind and other renewables energy sources, a general assumption that Bill would have direct contact to the source, could improve all policy's set but "free" energy could relieve dependence on foreign energy.
I have a lot of work to do....
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
The following is my August 15, 2016 column in The Dallas Morning News
This month I turned in grades for my summer classes. The moment that task was completed I had officially wrapped up 25 years in America's system of higher education.
During that quarter-century, I have observed countless proposals from Washington, D.C., to the hallways of my institution to make college education more "accessible" for millions of struggling American families. The latest idea —straight out of the Bernie Sanders-created Democratic platform — has Hillary Clinton proposing "free" college tuition for a large swath of America's middle- and lower-income families.
This idea is loaded with several unintended consequences that will make the recipients of this federal gift regret the moment it passed.
1. Her plan would create an artificial increase in the demand for college classes at community colleges and public universities. Community colleges, which are open-enrollment institutions, would be inundated with students seeking seats. This would lead to massive shortages, unless states approve huge budget (and tax) increases to fully fund the expansion of buildings and hiring of new faculty that would have to take place.
Universities, facing a similar demand push, would simply raise the price of admission, meaning higher grade-point averages, SAT and ACT scores would be used to weed out students who have responded to the allure of free tuition. This greater selectivity would put even more pressure on public universities, which already are facing challenges in having a racially and culturally diverse student population.
2. Potentially millions of young people who have no business attending college would waste their time -- and taxpayer dollars -- seeking degrees they will not obtain. It is a simple fact that not everyone is capable of surviving the demands of multitudinous college majors. Free tuition would dupe young people into a sense of belonging, only to find that their work ethic, intelligence and aptitude are not up to the rigors of advanced education.
This brings us to another economic fact: Ill-prepared students who rush off to college could have allocated their time and resources to second-best choices such as internships, vocational training or other certification programs to become skilled workers in fields that are already in critically short supply -- and often pay more than college graduates earn. Clinton's plan only exacerbates those shortages in blue-collar trades by decreasing the available supply of candidates for those programs.
3. Her program also would lead to downward compression on salaries for students who do obtain college degrees. Simply put, if you have an artificial increase in college and university enrollment, you will have an artificial increase in the number of people who eventually receive degrees. Ask yourself what will happen if, say, the supply of humanities or English majors increases? Of course, salaries will have to fall as surpluses emerge in those professions.
Furthermore, possessing a college degree would now be less illustrious in the eyes of many employers (as it already is), and the four-year degree would be less valuable. This would force more students to turn to graduate school -- and more debt since Clinton is not giving that away for free (yet).
4. Then there is the problem facing college educators who would now teach millions of educational welfare recipients. We already see a growing trend toward millennial entitlement thinking. If President Clinton gives these folks free tuition, many of them are going to treat college like they do public high school. Does anyone really want America's colleges and universities to be regarded the same way we regard our high schools?
Free K-12 education is of the same quality as many other free goods -- poor, at best. Paying for college makes people value their education more.
5. Finally, there is the small matter of the United States Constitution. In 1794, James Madison said, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress, of extending on objects of benevolence the money of their constituents."
Since Clinton would have to swear to defend the Constitution, I would like to send her my pocket copy, which provides no measure for taking away taxpayer dollars to pay for the education of college kids. Simply put, our Founders recognized that in order to make tuition free for one person, an act of plunder had to be committed on a taxpayer.
Which leaves me with my recommendation to parents of college-age kids:
Pay for your own creation.