The “Entitlement” Nation

The “Entitlement” Nation

© David Burton 2016

Presidents Obama and Carter

Free College for Everyone

     It’s too good to be true – Free college for everyone – and like most thing too good to be true, this one is another con and a lie

     “Nothing in life is free. Someone has to produce ‘free’ education, and unless thre professors will teach for no money, administrators will volunteer their time and contractors will build college buildings pro bono, the direct cost of {a college} education will be substantial.  . . .
     “This why the monetary cost of Hillary Clinton’s ‘free’ college plan is expected to be staggering. Campaign aides have estimated that enabling about 80 percent of Americans to attend public college tuition-free would cost federal taxpayers about $500 billion over 10 years. And the plan would almost certainly involve states greatly expanding their funding. If it ended up requiring, say, a dollar-for-dollar match with federal funds, that’s $1 trillion over 10 years. ”Some ‘free’! [Emphasis mine]
     “But the real cost of free public college would be much deeper. And less obvious, than just the beastly bill.” (Ref. 1)

     These days, getting a college degree is something like motherhood. Who could possibly be against it? Getting it for free would be even better. If all Americans got a college education, everyone would be better financially (a college degree guarantees more pay, doesn’t it?). America would be a world beater with the best educated workers in the world.

     But is all of this true? “The National Assessment of Adult Literacy . . . gives a sense of the increasing hollowness of a degree. In 1992 it found that about 40 percent of adults whose highest degree was a bachelor of arts were proficient in reading prose. By 2003 only 31 percent were. Among people with advanced degrees, proficiency dropped from 51 percent to 41 percent.
     “What’s actually done in college is also illustrative. Researchers . . . have reported that in the early 1960s college students spent 40 hours per week on academic pursuits, versus just 27 hours in 2008. Time spent studying declined from 25 hours per week in 1961 to 13 hours in 2003. They also report that increases in critical thinking skills during college are distressingly small.
     “The labor market, meanwhile, offers clear evidence of a credential glut. According to a 2014 Federal Reserve Bank of New York report, about a third of bachelor’s holders are in jobs not requiring the credential, and the quality of those jobs has been declining since about 2000. Meanwhile, many jobs requiring a degree . . . are currently held by people without degrees, and there’s little evidence the demands of the jobs have changed.
     “Credential inflation may well be why we have seen the earnings for people with degrees largely stagnate over roughly the last 25 years.” (Ref. 1)

     Truth be told, not everyone should be “entitled” to a college education, much less so a “free” college education. Colleges were once for America’s "best and brightest" and college standards reflected that. Instead, today the liberal emphasis has shifted to offering everything to everyone for free. Providing a college education to the least qualified requires that colleges and universities lower their standards to meet the abilities of the least capable. Egalitarian but hardly a policy designed to bring out the best in our population. Instead, it fosters the socialist ideal of everyone being equal. Being equal can only mean dragging the best down to the worst, since those with the lowest qualifications don’t have the capabilities to perform at the level of the best.

     What has been happening is a rapid dumbing-down of American college education. The reason? To keep making more money, college need to attract more students. To do this, they need to dumb down their curricula so less qualified college applicants can be admitted.

     “With regard to a college education and its currently astronomical costs, “{i}t is not those who complete college, however, who pay the highest cost for an ever-faster credential hamster wheel. It is those who enter college but never finish, in many cases because taking on a degree program – rather than just getting specific skills – is not something for which they are sufficiently prepared or motivated.  . . . So millions of people enter college, lose time they could have spent earning money and gaining working experience, and end up with no sheepskin.
     “Just consider current public college completion rates, before far more people are lured in by tuition abolition. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, only 61 percent of students who enter a four-year public college in 2009 had completed a degree by 2015. At community colleges, only 38 percent had completed a credential or certificate within six years. That represents huge productive time lost, and lots of unobtained degrees increasingly necessary to keep up with artificially inflated credentialism.
     “’Free’ college sounds great, but would absolutely not be free. We would all end up paying a painful price.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 1)

No Need to Work

     Another manifestation of our entitlement nation is the fact that many able workers are simply refusing to join the work force. “After 88 consecutive months of the economic expansion that began in June 2009, a smaller percentage of American males in the prime working years (ages 25 to 54) are working than were working near the end of the Great Depression in 1940, when the unemployment rate was above 14 percent.  . . .
     “The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century.  . . .
     “. . . This . . . transformation . . . is largely voluntary. Men who have chosen to not seek work are two and a half times more numerous than men that government statistics count as unemployed because they are seeking jobs.
     “. . . {Our Entitlement Nation} has made it a ‘viable option’ for ‘sturdy men’, who are neither working nor looking for work to choose ‘to sit on the economic sidelines, living off the toil or bounty of others.’ Only about 15 percent of men 25 to 54 who worked not at all in 2014 said they were unemployed because they could not find work.
     “. . . The ‘economically inactive’ have eclipsed the unemployed, as government statistics measure them, as the ‘main category of men without jobs.’
     “. . . government assistance {may not} cause this, but obviously it finances it.  . . .
     “Largely because of government benefits and support by other family members, nonworking men 25 to 54 have household expenditures a third higher than those in the bottom income quintile {bottom 1/5th}. {T}hey ‘appear to be better off than tens of millions of other Americans today, including the millions of single mothers who are either working or seeking work.’ “ (Ref. 2)) Clearly, a very large number of able bodied men have decided that they can live comfortably off the toil and sweat of others. Why work when you can get paid for not working?


  1. The fallacy of ‘free’ college tuition, Neal McCluskey, Boston Herald, Page 15, 1 September 2016.
  2. Men dropping out of the workforce an ‘Invisible Crisis’, George F. Will, Boston Herald, Page 15, 6 October 2016.


  20 October 2016 {Article 267; Govt_67}    
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