I saw this Tweet from Congressman Dan Crenshaw:

He is, of course, 100% right.

Why should a guy with a high school diploma working on a DOT road crew pay taxes to cover the education of a sociology major who is just going to berate him for his “Men Working” sign?

But there is a much bigger criticism of the free college movement that I have not seen from anybody else yet.

There is an issue that has been studied in the field of economics for almost two hundred years and was discussed by ancient Greek and Roman philosophers before that.

It is the Tragedy of the Commons.  In its strictest sense, the Tragedy of the Commons says that people will abuse or misuse a common resource.  This first entered the field of economics when William Forster Lloyd noticed that farmers would overgraze on public pastures but not on private ones.

The bigger picture of the Tragedy of the Commons is that people do not respect what they do not own or pay for from the fruits of their labor.

It has been shown that poor people who do not receive food benefits budget their food purchases better and buy better food.  Those who receive food benefits budget poorly and buy more junk food.  Simply for the reason that they are spending money that they didn’t work for.

We see the same issue in public or subsidized housing.  That falls into disrepair and dilapidation quickly, because the natural incentive to take care of what you work for vanishes.

So what happens when we extend the Tragedy of the Commons to the public college or university system?

How quickly will it be abused?  Predictions are not hard to make.

The flunk out rate will go up as kids who lose interest stop attending class.  The number of kids who change majors frequently or fail to matriculate in a field will go up.  The number of economically useless niche majors will multiply.

Free public colleges will complete their transformation into daycares where kids go for four, five, or six years after high school.  Any outside incentive that kids have to earn a degree and get a good job will evaporate.

That leaves only those who are self-motivated to achieve and stuck in a devalued institution.

The other economic law of note, the Law of Unintended Consequences, will kick in and the only institutions with degrees that have any value will be private institutions that are not free.

This will further segregate society as the kids who can’t afford private schools but are motivated find themselves lumped in with the academic overgrazers and are unable to get jobs because a public college degree will be worth as much as a public high school diploma, i.e., senior burger-flipper.

The natural laws of economics – those derived by watching how people behave in the real world – are just as unavoidable as the natural laws of science.

Free public college will destroy the public college and university system quickly and as effectively as public housing is turned into slums, and for exactly the same reason.

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By J. Kb

13 thoughts on “He’s right, but there’s an even bigger issue here”
  1. “The number of economically useless niche majors will multiply.”

    That, right there is the main problem. If I do not have to pay for it, I will get a degree in a field that I think is fun, not one that will make me money.

    “Free” (taxpayer funded) college is not necessarily a bad idea, but there needs to be some serious entrance requirements, and the degree needs to be in a field that will benefit the taxpayers in the long run. Some of the nations that offer free college do have entrance requirements, and it is only for selected fields. (Not going to provide a citation for that, as it is anecdotal at best.)

    The biggest proof of Tragedy of the Commons is the all-you-can eat restaurants. The amount of waste in those is ridiculous. And, why is that? Because if the meatloaf looks good, you will grab two or three pieces. And, if on the first bite, you realize it is awful, all three pieces will get tossed. On the other hand, a conventional restaurant will order a more reasonable portion, and eat it because he paid for it.

  2. As one who has student loans to his name.

    Fuck. No.

    I’m on track to pay it off, why should we incentivize people with free higher education. Higher education is the first true adult decision one undertakes and you are a fool for not understanding what you’ve signed up for.

    1. The one and only good thing I could say about this is at least community colleges often also teach trades.

      The real solution is not pushing people through the useless pipeline that is the current college system. It needs overall not everyone needs college and when you do go it shouldn’t befilled with two years of unrelated shit to your major that you may have no interest in taking. That will lower the cost so much it would be absurd.

      Second highschool in general needs help. The one an only class I took in highy that was anything like a college course was bio AP. Most honors classes I took and every “college prep” level course we’re no where near what was required to teach me what an actual college class in a technical subject was like. We need to be honest and say AP and honors is for college practice all other class levels are for getting through highschool only.

      Third few 18 year olds have any concept of what taking 100k or even 30k in loans is goig to mean to them after graduation especially once you’ve already started and you are essentially captive to needing to get something, anything for your money. The answer is not make me pay for it for you but do things to lower the cost doing thingsl iek cutting out the bullshit, being honest that if you take a bullshit degree you are gonna earn bullshit money, and adding competition by promoting trade schools and removing the idiodic dependence corporations have on wanting people to have some sort of degree as a qualification.

      I can rant and rave all day…

  3. The stupidest one I’ve seen is comparing it to some high end electronic device when new and expensive compared to later when it’s common and cheaper. Also thrown in w/ the ‘selfish’ and ‘everything will be better’ arguments.

    I’m sorry. Rewarding financial irresponsibility won’t help anyone .

  4. Logically, if everyone gets free tuition, it won’t be long before degrees are being awarded like Cracker Jack’s prizes, and about as useful. After all, the flow of money will depend on graduation rate. It’s one thing if your shiny new degree is in Trans-gender Amphibian Studies, after all who are you going harm (except for the suckers who paid for it). However, if your chintzy participation degree is in engineering, or medicine, people will die. How long before the SJWs demand that just because someone can’t understand calculus or chemistry doesn’t mean that they should be denied a PE or a medical license? After all I’m sure you could fabricate a case that minorities are less capable at math and science due to racism.

    1. How long before the SJWs demand that just because someone can’t understand calculus or chemistry doesn’t mean that they should be denied a PE or a medical license?
      We’re already there.

  5. Not much has been said about the “free public college” — the “public” part. A possible interpretation is that Bernie and his fellow travelers want to destroy private colleges. From a communist point of view that makes sense, because private colleges are less thoroughly under the national government’s thumb than public colleges. (Nearly all still are to a significant extent; the exception is the two or three that refuse to take federal funds of any kind and thus are not subject to government dictates. Hillsdale College is a shining example.)

    1. As with everything else the “progressives” support, it is about gaining control over another aspect of the normal person’s life.

  6. Echoing Jusuchin’s comment, my student loans were a 10-year term. We did the fiscally-responsible thing — sold the second car (eliminating its monthly payment) and cut back some other discretionary expenses to make room in the budget, paid a bit over the “required” payment amount, and applied most of our tax returns as extra payments — and cleared them in 6 1/2 years.

    Every penny repaid, in full, well before the loans matured.

    It was hard, but getting out from under the debt as quickly as possible was a huge priority of ours. It helped that I earned a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, a degree both useful and valuable, and which immediately qualified me for better jobs and promotions (with better pay, which also helped us pay the loans back quickly).

    But back to the point, we chose responsibility. Now, under the Democrats’ ideas we will be punished for it, by being forced to pay for others’ useless or unfinished degrees.

    No. And not just no: F@#K NO!

    Pay your own way. We are living proof that it’s possible.

  7. Well written and exactly right! I wish this could be published in all our country’s newspapers. Or better yet, on tv, since many of the people who need to understand this won’t be reading newspapers.

  8. Adulting is not woke, dontchaknow. SMH

    I didn’t cosign any of THEIR loans, so I am not paying a freaking dime for THEIR choices. I didn’t force any of these leeches to borrow money to get a worthless degree, so kiss my ass progtards.
    And Bernie-bro, Fauxahontas and Occassional Cortex can go piss up a rope.

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