Colleges are full of it: Behind the three-decade scheme to raise tuition, bankrupt generations, and hypnotize the media | Salon | June 2014
Over the last 30-odd years we have essentially privatized higher ed. In saying this I’m not referencing the defunding of our State U’s (an explanation for the tuition spiral, by the way, that doesn’t get nearly enough journalistic attention). And I am aware that a good chunk of our institutions of higher ed have been private all along. What has changed is that they aren’t “our” institutions of higher ed anymore. Maybe they never were, but not too long ago it was possible to think of them—from Milton Friedman’s University of Chicago all the way down to Michele Bachmann’s Winona State University—as serving some sort of public function. Whether founded by the grace of Rockefeller or by Act of the Minnesota Legislature, they manufactured good citizens; they taught us scientific farming techniques; hell, they built the atomic bomb and created the Internet. This is why our government subsidized (and still subsidizes) them with grants and earmarks and tax abatements and preferential treatment of every description. But the other part of the bargain doesn’t work the way it used to anymore. Everyone in the age of inequality knows that the purpose of a college education isn’t to benefit the nation; it’s to give the private individual a shot at achieving a High Net Worth.