Obama and Elizabeth Warren’s Big Lie About Student Debt

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Elizabeth_Warren

photo credit: Tim Pierce

On Monday, two millionaires showed off their latest inequality talking points as Obama used Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill to bash congressional Republicans.

“If you’re a big oil company, they’ll go to bat for you,” Obama sneered. “If you’re a student, good luck.”

Good luck indeed. Warren’s bill cynically piggybacks on a lower interest rate plan from last year that the House passed 392 to 31. The Republicans, who only care about oil companies, unlike Obama who doled out billions in Green Energy loans to the companies of his donors, voted for it almost en masse.

Unlike it, Warren’s bill isn’t really about student loans and isn’t meant to pass. Like her Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, it’s political theater by a lifelong fraud who began her career as a fake Indian, was a fake Republican and is now a fake Socialist. It would be easier to find a garden spot on Mars than a single honest moment in the career of Elizabeth Ann Herring.

Warren’s bill is cynical manufactured outrage trying to link two unconnected things, supposed tax breaks for the rich to student loans, so that her equally corrupt colleagues can hold on to their fiefdom in the Senate by dragging out the overexploited youth vote for the midterm elections.

Elizabeth Warren, a tenured celebrity professor who jumped into politics, and Barack Obama, an untenured law school instructor, who made it big in politics, know exactly why student loan debt is so high and why their measures do nothing to address its real causes.

Harvard Law paid Warren $350,000 to teach a single course. When Scott Brown brought it up during a debate about student loans, she protested. “I want to talk about the issues. Senator Brown wants to launch attacks.”

But Warren’s outrageous compensation is the issue. Harvard pays the adjuncts who teach many of its undergraduate classes an average of $11,037. Elizabeth Warren, who likes comparing the salary of a company’s employees to its CEO’s, isn’t comparing the $429,981 that Harvard paid her before she ran for office to an adjunct’s salary. And unlike a CEO, all Warren did was show up for a little bit and then go back to her real business as a lawyer and government consultant.

The untenured Obama was making a more modest $69,287 for teaching three courses. He was politically connected, but had yet to become a celebrity. After leaving the White House, he can expect to easily pull down a small fortune for showing up to teach a brief seminar at any college.

The price of celebrity professors is paid for by student loans. The successful celebrity professors go on to a career in politics condemning Republicans for not caring enough about student loans.

But while it’s easy to blame Warren’s ridiculous salary for the student loan problem, we didn’t get to a trillion in student loan debt because of her or Clinton’s former Labor Secretary turned inequality campaigner Robert Reich who pulls in $235,791 a year from a public university at UC-Berkeley to teach a course on “Wealth and Poverty” making him one of the highest paid state employees.

The tenured celebrity professor who doesn’t teach and gets paid is the 1 percent and the adjunct that teaches, but is unlikely to ever get tenure or a decent paycheck, is the 99 percent. But just as national inequality did not happen because a few CEOs receive huge salaries, student loan debt didn’t spin out of control because of a few celebrity Socialist 1 percent professors.

The problem is always in the middle. In both the national economy and the campus, the biggest driver of inequality is bureaucracy.

The classic campus was top heavy with professors and light on administrators. The modern campus has more bureaucrats than professors. The average ratio is two administrators to one full-time faculty member. In the 1960s it used to be two faculty members to one administrator.

The rise of college administrators was driven by government regulations. The more colleges depended on the government to maintain their industry, the more they catered to government. The modern university isn’t run by donors, by student demand or even by its endless ranks of administrators. Like most government subsidized industries, it is run by the government.

Normal businesses have a profit motive for controlling the growth of their internal bureaucracy. The profit motive of universities lies in expanding their bureaucracy to better interact with their government masters. The very business of student loans increases the size of university administrations even while the cost of that administration increases the size of student loans.

In universities, as in their government templates, bureaucracy, regulation and spending feed off each other. Regulation results in more bureaucracy and more bureaucracy results in more regulation until the system can no longer fulfill its default function.

That state was already reached long ago in the most broken public school systems.

In Newark’s broken school system there is an administrator to every six students. The institutions of higher learning with their swollen administrator ratios are following that same model. The administrators of every indebted, overbureaucratized and overpriced college know that just as in the Newark school system, the bill will eventually be passed to taxpayers.

Like the allied financial institutions feeding off the debt they create, they are too big to fail.

Colleges keep spending money irresponsibly because they can always make it up by raising tuition rates. And they can always raise tuition rates because students have no choice but to pay. And when millions of students need something, the government will eventually supply it.

College degrees have become mandatory, even for jobs that lack any skill-based reasons for requiring them, turning colleges into very expensive high schools. Politicians and college presidents speak glowingly of the increased job prospects and salaries for college graduates. They neglect to mention that this is often not due to any academic magic, but to a job market in which employers save time and weed out the unemployable by hiring college graduates.

After educational “reforms” devalued many high school diplomas, colleges became expensive four year filters that save employers the trouble of going through resumes. College graduates earn higher salaries because their fortune in student loan debt tells employers that they can read, write and show up on time. And that their pile of debt will force them to work at a job they hate.

Increasing college enrollments devalue the exclusivity of a college degree. When the college diploma becomes as poor of a predictor of literacy and job skills as the high school diploma, it will also become worthless. The devaluation of college diplomas is already leading some employers to unnecessarily demand graduate degrees.

Colleges have been able to get away with wildly irresponsible spending and tuition increases because student loans continue to be subsidized in one form or another. The ping pong ball bounces between private lenders and the government with plenty of money to be made by those in the loop from the boom and bust cycle of privatizing and subsidizing loans, deregulating and regulating, while piously lecturing about inequality, ‘corporatization’ and tax breaks for the rich.

Higher education is too big to fail and so is the student loan industry. As long as students are forced to attend college by the reform movements that destroyed public education standards, and are busy destroying the educational standards of higher education, their attendance will have to be subsidized. Americans will be forced to make bigger and bigger “investments” in the success of the next generation when they are really investing in corrupt and dysfunctional bureaucracies.

It’s a race that no one except the institutions peddling sheepskin, celebrity professors and courses on income inequality taught by millionaires can win.

Completing high school used to be a way that a poor boy could get a job. Now it’s college. Tomorrow it’s graduate school. This system doesn’t benefit him and it doesn’t create equality. Instead it rewards the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Robert Reich with generous salaries for occasionally coming in to speak about inequality and it rewards even more generously the bureaucrats who make the system impermeable to real reform and change.

The only way to reduce the trillion-dollar mountain of debt is by reforming higher education.

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  • Hank Rearden

    The next step is that higher education will be replaced by online education. Do we need 1,000 professors each teaching the same course? In industry there are one or two, maybe sometimes three leaders. That is all we need for microeconomics, circuit theory, history of Europe, Chemistry 101, etc. And video is better than in person because you can stop the video and go back and reexamine the point just made. Taking notes while somebody is talking is actually a very inferior way to transfer knowledge.

    Very amusing that the academy, which imagines itself as the soul of equality, hosed students by raising tuition over the last generation to consume the money they could access in loans. Government cash destroyed the market for higher education. The university as we know it is a white elephant.

    • WW4

      Yes and no. Studies show an actual teacher interfacing with students in person is still a more effective way to teach. But I’d agree that the big lecture-type course could well be replaced. It’s why so many opt for community college rather than pay for two years of those big lecture type classes.

      • Judahlevi

        Most college professors do not “interface” very often with students so the possible advantage is slight.

        The same college professors and universities who denounce capitalism and materialism have greedily pushed for higher salaries and benefits. If they had not done this, students would not have the crushing debt they do.

        Easy government money has stimulated the higher education market and caused it to grow faster than the rate of inflation for many years. The primary reason for high student debt is easy student loans and greed by professors and universities.

    • truebearing

      Yes, but it is a helluva tool for indoctrination.

    • Judahlevi

      I absolutely agree that online higher education has the potential to dramatically reduce the excessive costs of brick and mortar schools and America-hating professors. It is more objective, you don’t get the politically biased speeches with every subject, and may be tailored with software to respond to the weaknesses of each individual student.

      No professor can monitor each student’s progress individually in real time. Software can.

      Elizabeth Warren, if she was really interested in students, would have accepted $30,000 a year for teaching one class instead of $350,000 a year. As Greenfield writes, she is part of the problem.

      • bigjulie

        There is one BIG drawback to on-line higher education…the student must at least have the capability to read and understand what is on the screen! High schools are already busy graduating functional illiterates and these “graduates’ would be the main source of students for on-line education…but if they cannot read at a normal rate and further, do not understand very much of what they read, it’s a dead end endeavor.

        • Judahlevi

          I agree that they need to know how to read, but this can also be taught online. Most colleges have remedial training for high school graduates because they are not ready for university level work. A remedial course in reading and comprehension may be necessary for many students.

          It does bring up another obstacle, and that is the self discipline to learn online. One could make the argument, however, that students also need self discipline to learn in a classroom setting.

          • bigjulie

            Your second point is the one I really meant to make and you are absolutely correct! It took me 7 years to obtain a 4 year bachelor’s degree. I was majoring in Chemistry, but had to take a BS in “General Studies” because, by the time I had enough hours to graduate, I could not afford to take a year off from work to spend “in residence” for a BS in Chemistry ( which my University required) due to also fathering 4 children who, like their Father, really enjoyed eating regularly. I got a brutal introduction to the art of “self discipline” but if anybody needed self-discipline, it was ME! Fortunately, the synthetic rubber plant I was working for as a lab technician hired me as a chemist the day after I graduated, so no harm, no foul! Within a year I moved into technical sales and ultimately onto straight commission, made more money than I thought God had… and never looked back!

    • BagLady

      Taking notes while somebody is talking is actually a very inferior way to transfer knowledge. ”

      You are talking about lectures which yes, could be replaced by overheads or online ‘experts’. However, discussion is an extremely important factor in university life and for this you need tutors not pen-pushers..

  • DogmaelJones1

    “College degrees have become mandatory, even for jobs that lack any skill-based reasons for requiring them, turning colleges into very expensive high schools.” Much of this problem can be rooted in the U.S.’s GI Bill, which paid for or provided drastically reduced college tuition to returning soldiers after WWII, because our regulated economy could not absorb veterans quickly enough. Had to keep them busy and distracted. Countless GI graduates, when they did return to the private sector and became successful in some measure (usually not related to their college education), developed the policy that potential employees should have a college degree that would somehow be a measure of their stability and commitment to their jobs. Over a few generations, that policy became an unquestionable mark of maturity, until today, as Greenfield notes above, one can’t get a job as a K-Mart bagger or landscaping employee without proof of one’s employability, that is, a college education. The only way to reduce the trillion-dollar mountain of debt is by reforming higher education.” Actually, the solution is to get the government out of education, entirely, with no exceptions.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      True, but it’s also because employers, especially today, see a High School diploma as worthless. They get illiterate job applications from HS grads that wouldn’t have passed for elementary school grads.

      Now they’re getting these kind of applications from College grads. Colleges are graduating functional illiterates. So employers react by raising the entry barriers.

      • DogmaelJones1

        Agreed. And the U.S. isn’t alone in the educated ignorance racket. I once met a couple of French exchange students and played Leno’s “Man in the Street” with them, and asked them if in their literature studies, they studied Victor Hugo or Edmond Rostand. “Who?” These were teenagers.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          not post-colonial enough

    • WW4

      We were fine with “government in education” for many years and I don’t think anyone could argue that the GI Bill wasn’t a good thing. That said you make a point about how we’ve come to regard college, socially. To this day, people persist in thinking going to college is about getting trained for a job. No. College is about developing critical thinking skills and leadership as citizens.

      As such, college is not meant for everybody. But it has come to play that role of being all things to all people. We’ve been sold two bills of goods: 1. College is necessary and for everybody; 2. Globalization.

      In Germany, they teach 19 year olds how to build BMWs. How much are we doing the same? What is wrong with training an 18 year old disinterested in school how to run machines? That should be a point of pride and a source of real income. Maybe that kid matures and decides to go to college 10 years later–that’s a motivated student. Maybe his employer helps pay tuition. Such an arrangement makes college a real added value, rather than a hoop to jump through perfunctorily.

      Instead he plays video games, drinks beer, and manages to get a degree in marketing or psych or something.

      It also makes business sense but requires a shift in thinking and policy.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        “What is wrong with training an 18 year old disinterested in school how
        to run machines? That should be a point of pride and a source of real
        income.”

        We should be doing that, but the people running the system don’t think it’s worthwhile. Instead they’re obsessed with preparing everyone for a “knowledge economy”

        • DogmaelJones1

          This is a rhetorical question, but, knowledge of what?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            knowledge of how to answer phones at a call center while following a script on the computer

            … mainly

            But throw in something about 3D printers and it’s a stump speech.

          • Wolfthatknowsall

            For the folks who get the job at a call center, an Indian accent might help. It’s pretty easy to learn. All you have to do is watch The Big Bang Theory or Simpsons reruns to nail it.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            As the dollar keeps dropping and the job market stagnates, it’s become easier to pay Americans.

            Indians aren’t all that fond of call centers anymore.

      • DogmaelJones1

        You can’t deny that the GI Bill was a ploy not only to placate disgruntled GI’s (whom I have nothing against) who might have emulated Coxy’s Army from the 1920′s, but also because the government didn’t want to relinquish the wartime economic controls and knew that an unemployment problem among returning (and surviving GI’s) would create a crisis it didn’t feel capable of handling. Most of the controls were eventually lifted (resulting in the booming 1950′s) because the government had no more credible excuses to continue them. It wasn’t as polished in telling lies as the government is now. And the news media (or press or radio) wasn’t then an ancillary propaganda arm of the government as it is now.

      • hiernonymous

        There’s a lot of truth in what you say. I lived in Germany nearly 8 years, and their three-branch education system has a lot to recommend it.

        What I see as the primary counter-argument is that such a system requires that one essentially be tracked as university-bound, white collar, or vo-tech, at a very young age (it used to be at 12 years old, not sure if that’s still the case). Once one was tracked, it became very difficult to switch tracks. Opponents of such a system argue that 12 is way too early to cut off access to university education to whole segments of the population.

        I don’t think it’s an easy decision. I think the German model does serve those who are not academically-minded much better than does ours. On the other hand, our university system, for all of its well-publicized problems, is still superior to Germany’s. The main argument I’ve heard in favor of the U.S. system is that it works. That is, for all the handwringing about science scores and kids playing video games and the increasing unpreparedness of high school graduates for the rigors of undergraduate education, the U.S. is still the world’s center of education and innovation. Of course, the fact that it’s so today doesn’t mean it will always be so.

        One criticism of our model I hear a great deal of is that the bachelor’s has replaced the diploma as the baseline entry into the job market, and at great – and highly inflated – expense. As the father of a rising sophomore in college, I can sympathize with every point you made and I question the value I’m getting for the amount of money I am shelling out.

        • WW4

          As far as that hand-wringing over the quality of our education system, there are a lot of things that skew it. This is not politically-correct, but if you compare, say, Americans of European descent with their European counterparts, we do fare quite well. I think our (pre-college) education system has had to deal with massive social upheaval and demographic change particularly in that last half of the 20th century. In some way, it’s to our credit we do as well as we do, for as wide a swath of the world’s cultures that pass through our school doors.

          Tracking, you rightly point out, is the “downside” to my comparison to Germany and other Euro models. I would rather things took a more “elective” bent, and I would posit a re-imagining of just high school’s purpose in light of what we know about human development and learning styles. As the bones grow and hormones surge, put them to physical work! Let kids learn some shop skills (small engines, house framing, machining, woodworking, printing, etc.). Let at least one semester be geared toward community service–6 weeks of half-days installing a playground, community garden, park shelter–whatever.

          Somewhere in there, let families decide whether the student wants to stick with more traditional academics or delve into more practical skills. There has to be a way to do it where everyone is essentially college-prepped, but exposed to alternatives, as well.

          Most importantly, that such alternatives are something of which to be proud, because there’s paid work waiting for the student who goes that route.

      • Douglas J. Bender

        It took me 10 years to finish college. I took 2 1/2 years off to pass the time as a Concrete Worker. Then, for a few years I went part-time, while working in some factories. I am now qualified to solve Differential Equations while pouring concrete.

      • Wolfthatknowsall

        “In Germany, they teach 19 year olds how to build BMWs.”

        Our local high school did away with the building trades program. Our kids will be building a life on welfare …

  • Hard Little Machine

    I have yet to hear a coherent explanation why someone who applied for, was accepted, took out loans for and proceeded to complete the curriculum for any given degree deserves a handout. And at what point does that person deserve this handout? In year 2 of their graduate art history degree? In year 3 of their $65,000/yr BA program at Sarah Lawrence?

    • bigjulie

      There is still a sizeable contingent who honestly believe that, “It’s not what you get your degree in…it’s WHERE you get that degree!” So, if the degree is a BA in Ethnic Studies, but it was obtained from Sarah Lawrence, guess what? They are standing in unemployment lines along with BAs in the same subjects from East Podunk Community College, but they cannot figure out, “why”!!

      • Wolfthatknowsall

        Julie, my degrees were all in philosophy. But I knew that I had to get a Ph.D., to have a chance of earning a living. That’s what I did, but it was touch-and-go, for a while. If I had it to do all over again, I would have studied engineering.

        By the way, I did get an Associate’s Degree from a community college, and a Bachelor’s Degree from a state college. But to work in Philosophy, I had to have that Ph.D., so I worked hard to get into an Ivy League school, which always gives someone an edge.

        When teaching, I advised all the philosophy majors to change their majors. It would be nothing short of a miracle for them to get work in their major field of study.

        • bigjulie

          Wolf…in the 7 years it took me to get a bachelor’s degree (working full-time to help support my family) I had to take a number of classes for the “hours” I needed to get a useful GI Bill check. All those classes, most of which were in Philosophy and Psychology, have over the decades, stood me in much greater stead than my major classes (Chemistry) One class I had was called “Great Book Colloquium” and was taught by Dr. Constantin Xenakis, who I will never forget. It was taught at night, and we had to leave finished test papers in the desk drawer in the room where the class was held. One student got a 0 because he did not turn in a test. He protested loudly claiming that he did, indeed, turn in a finished paper. Everyone else’s paper was there! I will never forget how he looked that student in the eye and, in heavily Greek-accented English he said, “You want to convince me that you are telling the truth when I KNOW everybody lies?” Our current government never let’s me forget Dr. Xenakis’s words!

  • WhiteHunter

    Excellent, Daniel–as always. Two points:

    1. From what I’ve seen and see every day, today’s average “college” graduate has a much less sure grasp (if any at all) of even basic knowledge and skills (like U.S. and world history; English vocabulary, grammar, and composition; geography; and arithmetic–never mind “math,” like basic algebra or elementary geometry– than the average 17- or 18-year-old high school graduate of 50 years ago. At the same time, today’s “college” graduate is absolutely and arrogantly certain in his ignorance that his attitudes, viewpoint, politics, and opinions are the only true and proper ones, and the only ones that should be heard, seriously considered, and acted upon as a basis for government policy.

    2. The most important thing a young person can be taught and learn is what used to be called Responsibility, which among other things is the understanding and acceptance that his decisions and actions DO have consequences–sometimes very painful, bad ones –for HIMSELF. And that HE should be forced to pay the price for them, instead of sloughing them off onto others who had no hand in his bad choices or irresponsible behavior.

    These bad decisions and painful consequences include things like disdainfully rejecting and ridiculing conventional values and the accumulated wisdom of more than 2,000 years of Western (not Islamic or Third-World) civilization; reckless fornication resulting in pregnancy and preventable but incurable diseases like AIDS; drug addiction; and a mountain of student loan debt.

    So I have no sympathy at all for a young person who graduates from four years of partying and canvassing for Obama with his or her B.A. in LGBT Studies and can’t find a job to start making even minimal payments on his $200,000 student loan because he or she enthusiastically believed and supported Obama and now faces the grim reality of what Marxism and all of Obama’s and the Left’s other policies have done to the economy and the country.

    Face the music, kids–you DID build this mess for yourselves, so don’t demand to be excused from obligations you freely incurred. Don’t expect the rest of us pay the price for the damage you’ve done to yourselves–and to us. In other words, GROW UP and accept Reality, however ugly and inconvenient it is for you.

    • De Doc

      And more importantly many of these spoiled kids simply don’t know the value of money, can’t live within their means, and are angry at the repayment commitment for loans that they knowingly took on themselves.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        They’re also handed credit cards and loans they don’t understand by those same colleges. Meanwhile they may never have had a job or worked for a living.

        They’re immature because they grew up in a society that insists on telling them they should be children even when they’re in their twenties, but then unexpectedly treats them like adults.

        The results will never be good

        • truebearing

          And they are all winners, and are entitled to whatever they want.
          An alarming number of these kids can’t write a coherent sentence. They have been conned by the “education” industry from day one.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Writing coherent sentences is so two hundred years ago. And requiring has a disproportionate impact.

          • truebearing

            Yes, coherence is oppression.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            It’s European and masculine.

          • Douglas J. Bender

            Isn’t there some African-American university debate team that has intentionally abandoned logic and argumentation for the finer points of insult and emotionalism, or something?

    • truebearing

      Good points.

      And if you hire one of today’s graduates for a job as a poop-scooper, and they will expect a company car and an expense account.

      A number of years ago I published a newspaper. I hired a college grad from the UW-Madison as an advertising salesperson. Her father owned a successful ad agency, so I thought she might have good instincts. She presented herself fairly well. I needed someone fast, so I hired her, hoping her major in advertising/marketing would help her be successful. She came up to my office after the first day and started crying. I assumed someone had been rude to her, as does happen to salespeople. No, it wasn’t that. She tearfully admitted that she had no idea what she was doing, had no skills, and was completely intimidated. She wanted to quit. I suggested she start out in retail sales and try to gradually build up some experience, but it wasn’t so much experience as it was toughness that she needed. Her expectations were wildly unrealistic. She thought all she had to do is walk through the door and business owners would lavish ad money on her. I asked her if she had had any practical sales training in scholl and she said: “No, just a bunch theory.”

      I’ll bet any amount of money her professors had none either and none of them could sell water during a drought.

    • Judahlevi

      I agree that no sympathy should be extended to students who willingly took on debt and partied during the four years, but that is not the political agenda of the Democrats.

      They buy votes with tax dollars. They will use the over $1 trillion in student debt to cater to young voters by saying only they can solve it (even though they caused it). Their plan will be to use tax dollars from hard-working Americans to forgive as much of the debt as possible thereby getting another secure Democrat voter for years.

      Throwing tax dollars at the voter groups they wish to buy is their modus operandi.

    • bigjulie

      The visitation of reality is the most valuable part of these student’s education. Unfortunately, many reel for years trying to figure out what went wrong.

  • Lassiefaire

    A provision in Obamacare makes the government the lender of student loans rendering students in debt as indentured servants to the state.

  • guest

    It’s amazing, not surprising I guess, that people can’t see how education went downhill fast as soon as the government got involved.

    We get illiterate HS grads with government schools and no one can figure it out.

    The government SHOULDN’T care about student loans.

    Here again we have the leftists twisted, inverted, sense of morality.

    You’ll know things have changed and are on the way back when we start finding known leftists beaten to death in alley ways, no clues found.

    Good bye, good riddance.

  • kilfincelt

    I agree with most of Daniel’s points; however, I would like to add that many public universities have had to raise tuition because of lack of support from their state governments and the need to stay competitive with other universities both public and private if they wish to become or remain a top tier school. My uncle was a Dean at a top tier state school and I saw what went on.

    I also agree with WhiteHunter that the most important thing that a young person can learn is responsibility. Unfortunately, due to liberal professors in institutions of higher learning and liberal judges in the legal system, the reasonable man standard which is found in the law and used to be based on personal responsibility has now been eroded. As a result, personal responsibility, be it in the legal system or elsewhere, has now taken a back to seat to the blame game.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      people who don’t believe that individuals should have rights don’t believe in personal responsibility

  • WW4

    Mr Greenfield starts the article by attacking Warren’s wealth (class warfare is OK, now?) and using Harvard as an example (it’s Harvard, its private, it has endowments, it can easily raise funds, it can afford celeb profs, it can basically do what it wants).

    But then he continues by getting to the root(s) of the problems, for which I say kudos. Like everything education-related, top heavy administration is always a huge culprit–along with distortions created by loan subsidization.

    Other distortions include the bizarre relationship between the academy and what are essentially semi-professional athletic departments. There are other distortions because academia is not really meant to be run like a business. No doubt there is waste, but it is likely administrative expenses (travel, conferences, seminars, training, etc) rather than some academic department–many of which fight for scraps.

    Ironically, the university system was healthiest when tax dollars paid for a larger percentage. In the old days, tuition was way cheaper and students required fewer perks.

    Part of what exacerbated the expense of college was natural causes: many of these universities were built largely in the 50s and 60s. So 20 years ago, they began falling apart en masse due to age, and after much cost-saving, piecemeal patching. In a lot of cases, administrations decided to build new rather than replace old, and so began a kind of arms race to market their schools by having the latest fitness center, coffeeshop, or whatever. Not to mention actual technological advances that have taken place in the last two decades.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      The construction boom had little to do with the decline of buildings. There are 200 year old buildings that are usable. It happened because colleges were developing increasingly ridiculous fields of study, appealing to the egos of donors, and as you’ve said, trying to compete with each other through pointless construction resulting in frightening debt levels.

    • bigjulie

      “Class” warfare?? Warren has consistently demonstrated that she has no “class”!

    • Gislef

      If Ms. Warren wants to earn wealth by making it from people who want to pay it to her at a reasonable non-monopolistic price, more power to her.

      When she shows up to make buco bucks and students and their parents are forced to go into debt to pay it, just to have a shot at getting into the job market, not so much.

  • xkn

    The best way to obliterate the house of cards would be to make educational loans dischargable in bankruptcy court, like any other loans. And, of course, not allow discharged loans to be put on the back of taxpayers like it was a case of housing loans. That would clear the mess instantly. Bring education prices to where they belong, and create accountability in offering the loans. Between housing bubble, education bubble and health-care bubble (note all three are
    basic necessities, so they knew exactly what to financialize!) the life in the USA would become a slavery for all but few faux Pocahontas et al.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Ah but they can’t do that because if edu loans can be discharged in bankruptcy court, they’ll start actually becoming market rate and lenders and students will deal in an undistorted market.

  • Daniel Greenfield

    and worse literature

  • truebearing

    The education system, from kindergarten to grad school, has been hijacked by the Left for the purpose of indoctrination. Naturally, being the hypocrites that they are, they are making themselves wealthy while they indoctrinate the students on the evils of competition and capitalism, but that is the pay-off for furthering the Left’s totalitarian agenda. Money is no object because they want to crash the economy anyway, so they encourage criminal greed. It’s how the Left gives incentives. It’s their version of a bonus.

  • fpm

    Most of the tuition went to unnecessary and useless and destructive progressive government promoted agendas as well as staffs’ union pension and benefits, that’s why tuition advances a lot faster than inflation does.

  • Shadowwind

    That’s why I’m going to community college now, and eventually transferring to major in Chemical Engineering. Of course, I’m sacrificing the chance to pay $10,000+ extra to be lectured by SJWs, but I think I’ll manage.

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      A nephew of mine just graduated from college, with a degree in Accounting. He … and you don’t hear this, very often … worked his way through school and doesn’t owe a cent of student loan money. We celebrated his graduation, last night, and he’s already got several job offers.

  • CDM

    As far as having a college degree as a prerequisite for most jobs, I think that is not a new thing. If I remember, that was also the case when I was in college during the late 70′s.

    When I was going for my engineering degree, my yearly private school tuition was around $4,000 a year. Coincidentally, that was what I paid for my first car, a used 76 VW Scirocco. Now, my son is going for his engineering degree and one year’s tuition is around $36,000, close to the price of a brand new BMW 3-series. I will say this though, his school is at least trying to give that money’s worth.

    What changed? I believe it’s the system of subsidies, loans and tax breaks that drove this inflation. More money available towards something means less incentive to hold prices down. More money means you can do more things, new buildings, better facilities, more administrators.

    Federal regulations haven’t helped either. That means more administrators and coordinators. Especially when the feds started to use statistical disparities to find “discrimination” instead of actual discrimination.

    Title IX has been a disaster for men’s athletics, especially in the minor sports that cost colleges money, but don’t make any. Is it so hard to understand why young men in their prime physical condition, with all the hormones that implies, would want to go out for sports and that most women of the same age group would not be interested?

    Yet, if the numbers don’t line up, the feds come down on you for “discrimination”. The solution, get rid of some sports so that you can keep the moneymakers, like basketball and football. I’ve even heard of women getting shanghai’d onto sport teams and even phantom women’s teams, where the students didn’t even know they were on a team.

  • alligatortears

    I’m 40 with an associates degree I earned as a penniless single mother, at a for profit business school. The credits were only accepted by the local university. Most of the people there were minorities with low income. We were given pell grant and federal student loans. 2 years after I earned the degree with a 4.0 average, the school declared bankruptcy. The local university no longer accepted the credits for me to continue building my degree. And the highest paying job I could get was a minimum wage receptionist job at a law office. Most loans like mine have ballooned over twice the principle, even without going into default. When you have a many bad loans growing into bigger debt, for this many people – how do you reckon that student loan relief is merely about overpaid professors? Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s plenty of directions to point fingers. But it doesn’t resolve the matter to discount the impact of student loans like mine, compared to a struggling doctor or lawyer who have larger amounts owed. At least their degree is worth something. I’ve got a worthless piece of deadend paper AND debt I have never earned enough to shrink. I pay, it grows.

    • knightsman

      You failed to do prudent research on the value of that degree emphasis. Example= 2yr R.N. is $75000/year after 2 years experience. The healthcare fields would have been a much better choice.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Student loan relief doesn’t fix the problem. Your own example shows it. You were screwed over by a system designed to do just that. Loan relief just lets the system keep on doing it to others.

  • Andy_Lewis

    No, Elizabeth Warren isn’t lying, you are. Please stop.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      care to back that up with facts?

      • Andy_Lewis

        How ’bout you show an actual lie she actually told – preferably about student loans?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          So that’s a ‘no’

          • Andy_Lewis

            Can’t refute a case you never made in the first place.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            So we’re in the rubber/glue phase of this exchange.

    • hiernonymous

      He can’t stop. Do you understand what a Shillman Fellow is?

  • Ayebaw

    This article certainly has its points, but I have to ask–what’s wrong with decreasing student loan debt? Why shoot down the bill? Yes, it doesn’t fix the whole problem, but it would have helped, at least a little. Yes, the colleges themselves are in desperate need of reform in other areas, but why are decreasing overhead costs and decreasing student loan debt being treated as mutually exclusive issues? Why can’t we just do both?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      because it’s not a bill about student loan debt, it’s a way for Warren to promote herself with a bill that won’t pass

  • physicsnut

    on c-span this morning they had someone from StudentDebtCrisis.org
    which says that College is a “RIGHT”
    and of course, debt should be forgiven.
    There is zero analysis of how this mess developed, even
    thought Ric Edelman explained it in 3 minutes.

    They sound just like the nitwits who think HealthCare is a Right.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      everything the left wants is a right

  • seewithyourowneyes

    Tell it!

  • Douglas J. Bender

    “But while it’s easy to blame Warren’s ridiculous salary for the student
    loan problem, we didn’t get to a trillion in student loan debt because
    of her or Clinton’s former Labor Secretary turned inequality campaigner
    Robert Reich who pulls in $235,791 a year from a public university at
    UC-Berkeley to teach a course on ‘Wealth and Poverty’ making him one of
    the highest paid state employees.”

    I have a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. I am willing to help Mr. Reich with his heavy load by teaching the “Poverty” portion of his “Wealth and Poverty” course at Berkeley. I will even accept a measly 1/4th of what he is paid for the course.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      if only you had a Clinton connection

  • BagLady

    You can earn fortunes and go anywhere in the world as a master craftsman. What a shame our kids were all pushed towards the stuffy office. They saw no need for plumbers and carpenters in the new throw-away world. Why would you fix your washing machine when you can pop out and buy a new model on your credit card? Ditto old TV.

    In Britain there used to be many technical colleges that taught manual skills. There was a system of ‘serving your time’ as an underpaid apprentice. Only the top 1% academic achievers went to university paid for either by wealthy parents or a government grant.

    What to do though when unemployment figures are skyrocketing? Get more people into higher education to skew the figures. Lower the standards required for entry. Dumb down the exams. Cheat. Suddenly the universities were over-run by poorly educated wannabes and, since the fees for foreigners is higher than locals, the English language suddenly became an issue. Standards dropped. Student loans were introduced (and rarely paid back). Government grants disappeared and bit by bit the private sector took over. My university doubled its intake in two years without increasing the teaching staff. Lecturers’ pay was so low that they had to moonlight to make ends meet. All to the detriment of the students. The Dean spent $100,000 for a makeover on his office.

    As you say, graduates face a bleak future with half their adult life taken up with repaying a loan for a degree that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    What matters is where you went to uni and when it comes to getting a good job, it’s who you know. Just like it’s always been.

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Now, this is something that we can agree on …

    • Daniel Greenfield

      It was a class issue. A politician who talks about a knowledge economy is a visionary. A politician who talks about trade schools must hate the poor.

  • Wolfthatknowsall

    I know a man who who finished a four-year education, taking student loans, the whole distance. I warned him against that, but he did it, anyway.

    He worked about ten years, in his field, when he became disabled with a seizure disorder that no medication could control. Two to three grand-mal seizures, per week, and up to seventy petit-mal seizures, per day, was the norm. He went onto SSD.

    His SSD amounted to about $650, in the beginning. Gradually, over the years, the it crept up to his current amount of $822, per month. Since his wife left him, this is his only income.

    Throughout this period, one collection agency after another went after him, for the student loans. He would get his doctor to sign statements that he was permanently disabled, and would never be able to work. Usually, after two or three days, he would receive notice that he had been turned down. Then, within a week, another agency would go after him.

    Then, Obama took office …

    The Feds garnished his SSD, and he now makes $750 per month, and will for the rest of his life. Not a single cent of balance is touched, per year. Only interest …

    How would any of us like to live on $750, per month? Food stamps? He gets $8 per month on his LINK card … no wife, no kids, white, and so on. He lives in a crime-ridden Section 8 housing project, which takes $274 per month from him, for rent in a tiny, squalid single-bedroom apartment. I regularly help with with groceries and medications, and sometimes drive him to medical appointments.

    The moral of the story is that Student Loans are a trap. And if you have them, my advice to you is: Don’t get sick.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      They are a trap. A lot of the financial sector is built on entrapment and students are the perfect target.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    I don’t know how Mr. Greenfield knows all this, but he is spot on. I have spent the better part of the last 50 years in education. I don’t disagree with one statement in this article. I was teaching at Kingsborough Community College as an adjunct for 1-1/2 years (2012-2013) in Brooklyn, NY. Any student who has graduated from high school in NYC is automatically admitted. The entering students are tested and 80% are found to need remediation in Math and/or English. They hire many young Ph.D.’s to teach these remediation classes. Right. You got it. Ph.D.’s to teach the semi-literate. They are hired as full-time adjuncts. That means they are not on a tenure track towards permanent employment (and higher salaries). P/T Adjuncts receive about $65/hr. Full-time adjuncts receive somewhat more. They have young Ph.D.s teaching as P/T at three or four different local colleges just to get a minimal wage (not enough to raise a family). Further, students are admitted from the dumbed-down high schools with their dumbed-down diplomas. On one day, I passed rooms in the library where a tutor was tutoring in math. In one room, the student was being taught how to solve for X as in 5X + 3X=15 (9th grade work). In another room, a student was being taught how to multiply fractions (jr. high school work).
    As though this were not sufficiently pathetic, this adjunct was assigned to teach high school students at the college who, at the same time as they were going to receive their high school diplomas, also receive their associate’s degree (community college). They began taking “college courses” (sic) during the summer after 8th grade. Upon finishing this “Early College” program, they would be eligible to enter the City University of New York (CUNY) in their junior year! In order to do this, they would need a C+ in the courses where they wished to transfer in their credits. Needless to say, pressure was put upon me to give all students a C+, and to affirm this grade as early as April even though the term ended in June. As far as failing goes, I was told that if an F were given by me (or any of their teachers) it would be changed to W (withdrawal) at the end so they would not have the stigma of failure on their transcript. As a final note in this long comment, the students told me that in all their high school work, and in their two years of presumed college work, they had never written a research paper requiring footnotes! And yet, they were hoping and expecting to be successful JUNIORS the following year at CUNY. It’s an abyss.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      this is why CUNY has become so filled with illiterates

      • Jeff Ludwig

        Thank you again for stating so clearly a truth that is systematically avoided. Nobody at the college spoke about it. I was telling someone thoughts along these lines while waiting for use of the faculty copy machine, and a dignified chap said to me, “You better be careful, even the walls have ears.” Yes, the truth will set us free.
        At the high school level some people discuss the illiteracy that you have revealed. They have pretty much succeeded in getting rid of older teachers who remember when there was more literacy. The young ones just assume that the context in which they are operating “is education.” Tolerating semi-literacy or illiteracy has now been changed to mean “caring about kids.” This shift in perception is part of the pervasive mind control (we are now beyond mere political correctness). I find cultic manipulations of the people working in our schools, as well as parents and students, similar to those described in the writings of Richard Ofshe and Margaret Singer (they are experts in cults who have described how both intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of personality/consciousness are manipulated by cult leaders).

        • Daniel Greenfield

          They’ll just redefine literacy into some student-centered paradigm in which the students are literate because they know what they are interested in the instructors are the illiterate ones.

  • rocky Fjord

    Seems like a hatchet job. If Harvard wanted to give her a bit of help, so what?
    This writer seems to think that only money interests are worthy of supporting politicians, don’t let any ideas be supported! The democracy of interests has led us down the primrose path … to decadence. We need good ideas that can take hold and effect change, if we are to reclaim this so called democracy.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Calling Elizabeth Warren’s job at Harvard a hatchet job seems kind of racist.

      So what?

      Warren whines about CEO pay and income inequality and yet she doesn’t talk about her role in student loan debt.

    • Gislef

      Who paid for Harvard to give her a bit of help?

  • Daniel Greenfield

    This class of graduates is why we have stupid memes.

  • Jay P

    Why can’t we put College courses on YouTube and allow anyone to learn? Obviously you don’t want a University of YouTube surgeon doing open heart surgery on your spouse, but, a course on Liturature, Philosophy, History, Math or Art could easily be taught for a very small amount.

  • ron44

    filling her pockets on us..the whole damn bunch has been doing it since his first day in office..where did you think a lot of the stimulus went,,not to help us,,