To best explain this, I will need to break things down into five parts. The first is the universities. The second is some brief information about the economy. The third is something called Quantitative Easing. The forth is an idea I will call Quantitative Easing for the population. Lastly, I will come back and talk about universities, because that is such a complicated screw up.
1. Universities cost too much. Their costs continue to rise, far outpacing the rise of inflation. There are several theories about why this is happening. My opinion is that schools have become to heavy with top and middle management. And, perhaps they have been burdened with enough rules and checks that getting rid of bad performers becomes too difficult. It is much easier to hire your bad employees off to a different department who doesn’t know any better. I think it is Okay to have some worry-sweat in a job, wondering if you are going to lose it.
2. The economy needs to have money in the hands of the “lower classes” (a term I really don’t like). When more money is in the hands of more people they spend more of it in their daily lives. There is more money floating around increasing the velocity of the economy, which creates jobs, improves wages, etc.
3. During the financial collapse of 2008-2009 the economy lost money. How much? Some estimates are 3 trillion dollars disappeared (maybe more). Technically, that money didn’t disappear as it never really existed. It was pretend money that banks acted on, and the economy went crazy. But that money never existed. So, when the crash came everyone wanted to know why it took so long to get the economy back to where it was… well, you can never get back to never-never land, because it was never there in the first place. It was a lie.
In an attempt to get the economy moving again the U.S. government did several things. One was TARP, which gave the banks money. They paid that money back with interest. Another thing the government did was called Quantitative Easing.
Quantitative Easing meant that the U.S. government printed off large amounts of money and gave it away to financial institution. How much? 80 Billion. A month. Let me say that again. The U.S. Government printed off and gave away 80 billion a month. How did we pay for it? We didn’t. That didn’t come out of taxes. It was printed and given away for free! 80 Billion a month.
The idea behind Quantitative Easing was that those institutions would use that 80 Billion / month free money on projects and loans that would be injected into the economy and therefore increase the velocity of the economy and create jobs and stuff. It would save main street. It’s like giving a kid $5 and telling him to go buy his sister some candy.
It didn’t really happen. Those financial institutions kept most of that free money and did other things with it. Some money was put away in case of another collapse. Some was sent into that fabrication called the Wall Street Market. Some went to bonuses and pay increases. Needless to say, the little sister got nothing. The economy dragged itself to a holding place and of the few jobs that still exist, most are not high paying.
4. Quantitative Easing for the population. Here we are back at the idea of free education. How much will it cost? I hear it could cost as much as 60 Billion a year.
60 Billion a year! I hear people ask, “How are we going to pay for it?” My answer is, “Let’s Not!” We printed off and gave away 80 Billion a month before. We did that for two years, BTW.
Let’s do something similar for education. Let’s print off and give away 60 Billion dollars for education. If we did that for 20 years it would still be cheaper than what we gave away to the banks and financial institutions. It’s a lie to say we can’t do that. Once you shatter the idea that there are rules we have to follow, we can do what ever we want.
PLUS! Free education would do a lot for the economy, for a few simple reasons. Mostly, those people getting out of college won’t have staggering debt. They will have tons of extra money when they are young and can take chances on ideas and jobs. They will be able to invest in their own lives and innovation. They will directly inject that money not spent on loans right into the economy and that will boost it immediately. Jobs will be created which will mean that wages will increase.
5. Universities cost too much. What’s to keep them from just raising tuition and keeping all the money? Things need to get figured out. And not all universities will want, or be able, to get that free-education money. Places like Harvard, where tuition is probably closer to 30 k per semester, will not be able to take advantage of such a program, probably.
Those institutions that do wish to get the money for free education will probably have to meet certain requirements, such as a percentage of their tuition goes directly to educational resources; professors, facilities, and the like. Less money would then go to bloat, like useless middle management, vice presidents and poor performing secretaries and administrators. The bad performers will need to improve or find another job.
That’s how I see free college as being a requirement for a booming economy.
On a last related note. Tenure is supposed to put professors above politics, but it fails to do that. The tenure system has become the tool of internal politics. For example, if you are having sex with a person of power you can most certainly earn tenure.
I believe a tenured professorship should be an option and not a requirement. When it happens, it should be based on external factors as primary focus (to be included with internal metrics). For example, if a certain percentage of your salary is derived from outside sources for the years leading up to the decision of tenure (grants and other funding) that should go a long way toward establishing a value to the outside world. The considerations of publications should use a measurement focused on impact factors of the journals published in. Publishing in the journal of insignificant results should not be acceptable. A blind third party investigation should be included in this part, with a private firm taking the lead if the field is considered too small. Lastly, losing tenure should be a touch easier. Sign-offs from every administrative level above the faculty member (including the president of the university) should be enough. If all your bosses hate you, it’s time to get out. And, I’m Okay with paying people to leave. The costs of an awful person go far beyond the monetary costs.