February 8th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

My View: Why not a right to a college education?

Courtesy Lester Spence By Lester Spence, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Lester K. Spence is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His first book Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics was published in June 2011, and was one of the first books to empirically examine the political effect of hip-hop on black communities.

While in my office, preparing for the new semester, I had the opportunity to watch the president’s speech on college affordability delivered at the University of Michigan. I was interested in the speech in part because I am a political scientist, in part because I am a college professor, and in part because I am an alumnus of the University of Michigan.

But most importantly I was interested in the speech because my oldest daughter will be leaving for college in just seven short months. And although being a Johns Hopkins college professor has its benefits (Hopkins gives a generous tuition benefit applicable to any college in the nation) I still worry about my daughter and her four younger brothers and sisters. In his speech President Obama focused on three components designed to ease the burden of middle-class families—reducing interest on college student loans, maintaining the tuition tax credit, and creating incentives to make universities lower their costs.

Now I understand for some politics is the art of the possible. He proposes these things knowing that as hard as it will be to pass them legislatively, these things are at least possible to get past both houses of Congress. (It isn’t likely, particularly during an election year, but it’s possible.)

But for me, politics isn’t just about the art of the possible—about what we can pass in the here and now. Politics is about expanding and extending that art, about pushing the borders to create space for even more change in the future.

How can we do that here?

What if, instead of proposing policies geared towards individual middle-class tax-payers that revolved around the assumption that higher education was an individual’s responsibility, the president instead proposed policies geared towards embedding higher education as an individual right. What if, instead of getting a tax write-off after you’ve already paid your son/daughter’s tuition, you instead didn’t have to worry about education because the government would pay for it?

It’s socialism!

It’s too expensive!

I want to take the socialism critique first. The reality is that even here we routinely spend a significant amount of our government’s resources on subsidies, on what tea party supporters might call “socialist policies.” For instance, in 2009 the government spent almost $86 billion on home ownership subsidies in the form of the mortgage interest deduction, subsidizing the home purchases of almost 35 million citizens. In 2010 the government spent almost $104 billion.

Furthermore, as the president noted in the State of the Union address, the federal government routinely spends billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, helping them research and develop new products, helping them build new plants, helping them train new workers. If we wouldn’t think of these policies as socialist, why should we necessarily consider a policy to pay for college tuition socialist?

The second critique is a bit more thoughtful. If tuition and fees are too expensive for parents, wouldn’t placing this burden on the government be exorbitantly expensive, too expensive to even consider?

As of 2004 it would have cost approximately $30 billion to pay for the tuition and fees of everyone currently attending a public college, whether that college be four-year like the University of Michigan, or two-year, like neighboring Washtenaw Community College. Even if we double that figure now due to inflation, we’re still talking about spending less money on college tuition for every student able to get into college, than we routinely do to subsidize home purchases.

Such a policy for me is a no-brainer. It significantly reduces the financial burden on parents and on students. No longer would a father and mother have to consider taking a second mortgage on their home or perhaps a second job to put their child through school. No longer would three college roommates have to have eight jobs between them (as my roommates and myself did in 1990). President Obama didn’t mention working class or poor parents at all - no longer would college be out of reach for much of the 99%.

This policy is politically impossible in the current climate.

But then again, so was Social Security at one point. So was the GI Bill.

So was the Civil Rights Act.

If we can’t even talk about such a policy as a possibility aloud now, then when?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lester Spence.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Policy • Voices
soundoff (928 Responses)
  1. Bonnie

    Democrats scare the hell out of me. The government doesn't pay for anything.
    It's not 'Obama money' you ignorant fool.
    Taxpayers pay for everything. I'm a taxpayer and I will not pay for your college education.

    February 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • 4JULY1776

      Bonnie: All great points you make, and I totally agree!

      I like when this guy (a college professor) says: "I still worry about my daughter and her four younger brothers and sisters."

      Well, Professor, did you ever think about how you might provide for your children before you went ahead and made 5 babies?!

      Or didn't that thought ever occur to you, Professor?!

      February 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Jake

      Odds are Bonnie, that you as a taxpayer receive more benefits in the way of roads, benefits from scientific advancements, and personal security (y'now Cops, Militaries, etc. are worth much more when you consider the deterrence). Residential and personal taxpayers are subsidized at local and state levels by corporations. The Federal Government as we all know takes out serious credit and receives most income from a decreasing number of individuals for reasons that is beyond my point. So while Democrats may scare the hell out of you, maybe you should price out what you get in return for measley tax dollars and decide if its worth less than the big macs you'd probably by with a little extra pocket change.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
      • 4JULY1776

        Jake, I think you're totally missing the point....

        We don't mind being taxed for things like the Interstate Highway System or the U.S. Army & Navy. Those are the clear responsibilities of the federal government to run.

        What we don't like is seeing our money taken by force and handed out to another private citizen....someone who should be paying his/her own bills, not reaching in our pockets.

        That's the key difference.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Guest

      I'm a taxpayer, and i won't pay for your local highway!

      The point is: an educated citizenry is something from which we all – as Americans, as a culture – benefit, just like we all benefit collectively from roads, national defense, and hundreds of other things that are public goods.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
      • DC

        I cannot seeing adding to an already out of control deficit, unless... If the expense of paying for college was less than ... NOT – welfare, lesser jobs and tax revenues, criminal activity, ... No study could ever reasonably prove this one way or the other. One thing is for certain, those who do not finish school should not get assistance, of any type - this should be a loan (possibly converted into a loan). Also, Obama made the wrong decision to erase obligations after 15 years. If you agree to a loan for college, you owe that money. The taxpayers have loaned a trillion dollars to students, much of which will not get paid back. That is not right, unless we get back to point one - providing college for all at no or less cost since lack of college costs more. Unproveable, so let's act responsibly and pay our bills.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  2. Aaron Rose

    I think this article misses a key and incredibly central point that the author does not even acknowledge. So, he is suggesting the government pay for everybody's college,right? So....how does the government get the money to do this? By TAXING people. Nothing is truly free- there are no free lunches. The author obviously has absolutely no idea of how the government would get the money to pay for this. It is not as if people don't pay for college anymore- they pay for themselves, AND other people. Taxes will need to be dramatically raised, and this clearly impacts the people who the author says his policy would allegedly benefit. This is a total ridicilous and pathetic article.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  3. john

    end the drug war and use their funding for education!

    February 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • rickshawboi

      Keepin' it short: Rich elite have teabaggers 'PAVLOV'd', i.e. DUMBed out, so the WANNABE(wannabe rich, that is) teabaggers want to share their misery by preventing free college, and thereby prevent it being more obvious that teabaggers have trouble rubbing their 2 brain cells together enough to compete.....

      February 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
      • Mike

        Sorry but your comment was completely incoherent and after reading I couldn't even figure out what the heck you were trying to say.
        Maybe proofread your posts next time and at least make them make sense, instead of coming off as some diatribe against the Tea Party. Because all I got from your post is that you don't like the Tea Party. Nothing more.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
      • David

        Speaking of two brain cells, I think you better use the one you have left to go find the other that ran away LOL!

        February 11, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  4. rj

    If you kept it in your pants, and didn't have 5 children, you probably could afford to help your kids goto school without your generous benefit.

    The problem right now is that many college graduates (and those without degrees) are already unemployed: keep it in your pants and eventually the generations of kids graduating college will be fewer and fewer and there would be jobs available that pay well, and if you teach your kids responsibility (instead of going out and buying a 55" flat screen at 18 years old, and 20" rims on their cars), then perhaps they'll save their money and be able to afford THEIR children's educations.

    Look back 40 years – there was no want for jobs, there was no student loan crisis and there wasn't all these people crying about it. Also look back at the population – much smaller, only 40 years ago. Keep it in your pants and you won't have 5 kids fighting for food and clothes and you can save money.

    Dude, you're not one to have a soap box, you're contributing to the problems of this country by voluntarily over-populating.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Populator

      RJ your a goof. I have four children. I'd have many more if I thought I could properly support them. I don't have a big screen TV, or even a flat sceen TV. I also have a one of my children preparing to go to college next year and I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to pay for it. Not that I think it's the govts responsibility to send my kids to college. I want all my children to have an opportunity to have a college education and I will make whatever sacrifices I have to to make sure it happens. Just as I have made sacrifices to to experience the love happiness of having my children in my life. If you look a children as a overpopulation burden, then you live a sad, lonely life!

      February 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
      • 4JULY1776

        Populator....you said you would do whatever you had to to make sure your children get a college education.

        That's wonderful! I'm sure nobody posting here has any problem with that!

        The problem is guys like this college professor who doesn't think in terms of doing whatever it takes to provide for his kids, but instead thinks in terms of.....hey, how can I get U.S. taxpayers to provide for the children I brought into this world? If the professor believed in individual responsibility as you clearly do....then we wouldn't have ever seen this ridiculous article on CNN.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Mike

        Your children do have the opportunity. They live in the U.S.A. There is nothing keeping them from enrolling in, and attending a college. Many people do it every year who have no money. They work while going to school and take advantage of any grant or loan option that is available to them.
        It would be different if you were told your kids couldn't go to college because they were colored, Asian, Jewish, not tall enough, too fat, or something completely irrelevent to attaining a degree. But they're not.
        All that is needed is the will. If you have it then the opportunity is there for you.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Guest

      RJ: dear god! The solution is so simple! You're amazing!

      February 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Luigi

      Being a professor, he probably doesn't have to pay tuition for his children (if they have enough sense to attend JH).

      Regardless, how about attacking the author's points instead of the author. I didn't like Osama bin Laden but if he said 2+2=4, I'd have enough sense to not argue with him.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  5. bob smith

    One more thing, the liberal lie about competing with the highly technical world for jobs is a straw man....we are competing with uneducated peasants for manufacturing jobs not with highly developed countries for technology we already are the worlds leaders in that....thanks in part to our military and the inventions that the DOD has produced that have changed the civilian world. The best scientists in the world work here and come here to work because they can have the best quality of life in the USA and everyone knows it.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  6. johnkouts

    The Government should absolutely not pay for college education. As a recent graduate, Ive seen, and done my share of partying and the like at college. It cost me. And it was a valuable lesson about value and responsibility. I paid back every dollar of my parents that I wasted, and when I went back to school, took it very seriously...Can you immagine footing college toution for someone who is going to fail out after 3 semesters due to their irresponsibility...and this person is a complete stranger?!

    February 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • david conner

      Agree completely. Most college freshmen waste lots of time and money drinking, partying, romancing, etc. and as a taxpayer why should I subsidize such behavior? If you are paying for something yourself, you tend to be more responsible, less wasteful. Nanny Government is not what makes us mature adult citizens, but rather it makes us more dependent on government handouts.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • ES

      In other countries where college education is free, it is not free for everyone. There are a lot of strings attached as to who is accepted, how many courses you have to take, you have to pass them all and in a given semester, no retaking. You wouldn't be able to party and still complete the work unless you are very very very smart. And you get that smart just by doing a lot of hard work earlier, so may be you can party a little now.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Mike

      Yeah, next thing you know we'll be giving welfare recipients the approval to spend their welfare checks at strip clubs and casinos.

      Oops, too late.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • 4JULY1776

      Exactly! If college were free, EVERYBODY would go! Then when 50% of them failed out, taxpayers would be left with the billion dollar tab. It's amazing that with a $15 trillion deficit, people are still trying to think up ways to spend MORE money. Shouldn't we all be trying to think up ways to economize and pay off our current debts? Or is that a crazy idea?

      February 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  7. bob smith

    Here is another idea, How about we give everyone internet access for free and then make all the best teachers and professors upload all their lectures and courses online for free to anyone. If you need more help then you can pay TA
    s to tutor you, if you dont need take the final exam and if passed you get the credits.

    Lets face it, information is everywhere not only in the classroom and a very good education can be self administered if the pupil has the will and basic skill to read and comprehend the material.

    Then again, we wouldn't need football teams, teacher lounges, professors sabaticles and huge campuses with huge workforces that employ the same people they supposedly educate...and yes we also could not brainwash and propagandize young minds quite as effectively and that is all this article is propaganda for the young marxists of america

    February 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Mala

      Bob Smith: You are correct. With technology, there really is no need for professors or a 'traditional' college classroom. I'm currently taking part-time course on-line in statistics. I find the on-line text and exercises more beneficial then the on-line live lecture from the professor. Most students don't even attend the on-line 'live' lecture.

      There was a recent article about a Stanford professor who also believes that education should be more accessible. He actually left his post at Stanford to start is own on-line global university where students can participate in 'Standford' level courses at a fraction of the cost. With technology, there is absolutely no reason that education costs aren't 'decreasing'.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • David

      That sounds like Liberty. Not sure i agree with the Government funding something like that. I think a personal initiative would be better.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  8. M. J. M.

    Why not adopt the Austrailian way of paying for collage. It's administered by the government thru the banking system. If you qualify for and attend collage or univercity you don't worry about school financing because it's already there. And when you graduate and start working your employer deducts 2% from your before tax income till your education is paid for. And it's something you can't welch on. If your working , your paying.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Mala

      Thanks M.J.M for a great contribution. It sounds like Australia's system makes sense.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • zack

      That would be OUTSTANDING. Win for those who say college should be funded, and win for those who scream socialism at every opportunity.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jo Ann

      I love that idea! Students who go to college, and benefit from the higher salaries that often result, should be assuming at least some of the costs.Rather than make them pay in advance (when they often don't have the funds), they can pay it forward. My only reservation is that we don't want to give students incentives to major in something only for the money, because the loan can be paid off faster – then we will have a glut of engineers and no teachers or social workers. Maybe we could have some kind of partial loan forgiveness for people in high-need, low pay careers.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  9. 1ofTheFallen

    What ever happened to the idea of being an adult that is capable of working their way through college? I know its tough because that's exactly what I did. I worked 40 hours at retail stores in the evenings and went to college in the morning. I worked 7 days a week either at work or on college assignments. I had to borrow extra from Uncle Sam and paid it back once I graduated with a degree in Computer Science. I did not make the mistake that so many do by going to a very private university and earn a degree that would be low demand and low paying.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. urmomlol

    If you want the taxpayers to fund your college education, there's already a way: join the military.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • ES

      What is I don't support US involvement in the other countries affairs? i don't think it such a great deal to push people into military service which they might be suited for or not just so that they get free education. There should be other options.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
      • 4JULY1776

        ES....there already ARE other options....you can work and pay for your own schooling, or take out loans and pay them back after you graduate. That's what I did, along with millions of others. So what's the problem? Oh, I see....some people don't like that part about paying back loans and would prefer to have taxpayers saddled with the bill instead...guys like this professor!

        February 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  11. guyzer

    Here's why, Mr. Spence .... Liberals and Govt. screw up everything they touch.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. ahatfl

    Asking for more tax dollars is not going to work well for you. As a business owner I'm at the end of being generous to the "under served" element in this country. I will be forced to pay health insurance, forced to pay unemployment insurance, forced to pay car insurance, force to pay mortgage insurance, forced, forced, forced...... Enough is enough, unless this country is going to turn around and force you to buy American I see no equity. If your forced to spend your hard earned dollar to support the businesses you want to bankrupt then I'll sign on.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  13. R

    One thing that irks me is that some companies require a certain degree AND experience, but you can't get experience without someone giving you a chance, first. I guess you just have to find that one place where they are willing to train you so that you will be a valuable asset to them, or perhaps start out with an internship. Ugh. And don't even get me started on having to bail out people who live beyond their means.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  14. Redelement

    What Mr. Spence is really saying is that he doesn't want to save in order to pay for his own 5 kids' college education. Or ask his kids to get a job and earn the money for the own college education. He wants the government to tax away the money that I saved to pay for my 5 kid's education. How about I keep the right to keep moochers like Mr. Spence out of my pocket?

    February 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Kevin Clark

      Maybe Mr. Spence should just teach for free then or better yet home school his kids. What a freakin joke.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jo Ann

      I really don't think that's a fair statement. His children will be able to go to college because of the Johns Hopkins program, not because of a government-sponsored program, so he is not talking about his own children. He is raising the concern for everyone else. When I went to college in the mid-1970s, someone working 20 hours a week at minimum wage would make enough to pay for tuition, fees, books, room and board at my state university. Today, at the same state university, those expenses total nearly $25,000, but someone working 20 hours/week at minimum wage will only make about $7500. Students can start at a community college and transfer, and they can assume loans, but the reality is that the college dream is becoming more and more difficult to achieve.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  15. iceload9

    We have more people attending college than any time in history. What's the benefit? We don't have low unemployment because of it. We don't have a higher standard of living because of it. We don't produce superior products with one or two exceptions, we don't even have a superior education system because of it. Quite frankly higher education has been watered down to be non-beneficial to the country. We should end H1B Visa's and force corporations to pay for training for students they need, instead of importing cheap labor. We should also gear govt benefits to degrees that are deemed needed. We don't need more political science majors we need engineering majors.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • ES

      We should have lese people in colleges and more people in trade. And the colleges also should have higher standards and provide real life skills that make people employable.
      Right now we have too many mediocre college grads with skills that are not in demand such as "communications".

      February 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Chris

      Don't forget the number of "remedial" classes that need to be offered at the college level because students have not learned the basics in high school. If the government has to pay for everyone to attend college, the number of remedial classes will skyrocket! Not everyone should attend college – we will always need plumbers, electricians, tradespeople. Let's face it, if you're a college educated individual with an overflowing toilet you can't fix, your degree isn't worth much!

      February 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  16. annie

    The government, through 'no child left behind' and many other provisions, have already screwed up public education K-12. Now you want to screw up college?!! Let's apply 'no child left behind' to college. Well, it's everyones God given right to get a college degree, so if people are flunking out, it must be the colleges fault! Let's 'improve' colleges so everyone passes, just like K-12. Why are so many students of a certain kind (race, ethnicity, social class) doing poorly in our government colleges? Well clearly, the colleges must be doing something wrong, so let's offer free tutoring to those that are struggling. Before too long, a college degree will be as worthless as a high school diploma.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  17. D. Currie

    Not a good idea. Another persons rights end where the taxes are extracted from my wallet. How about the socialist professors taking paupers pay instead of the extravigant salaries they get to have assistants do most of the teaching anyhow.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  18. Denver

    "My View: Why not a right to a college education?"

    Because only 10% of the population is intelligent enough to benefit from a college education (unless you dumb it down enough and then it doesn't educate those it is suppose to)?

    February 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  19. JR

    For many who are attending a public college, tuition and fees are not the majority of the expenses they incur and the loans they take out. Living expenses for 4 years easily top many tens of thousands of dollars. Are we going to rent everyone a place to live and feed them and pay their car insurance as well? That total would be far greater than $30 billion per year.

    Public colleges are already heavily supported by state tax money. How much is enough? When I was in school (2008), it was around $1800 a semester for full time tuition and fees at my public college. That number is nowhere near the amount it actually costs to educate a student. If the feds covered everything, guess what the states would do? Raise tuition! Why would the states spend their money to save the feds money?

    February 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  20. I HATE GEN-Y

    It is not my responsibility to educate you or your children beyond public high school. Educate yourself and pay for it yourself. Besides, isn't public university and community colleges already addressing the issue? If anything, a move should be made to make public universities cheaper, not to have the government get involved in private university affairs and have all of us pay more in taxes so kids can blow off their studies and not value the worth of an education you pay and earn yourself! We don;t have the culture to accomodate higher education. No one cares. Everyone wants to be a reality tv star and not actually work for a living...and we are gonna sink our money into these young fools who demand everything for free??? What more do you want, a guarantee of employment too? Try EARNING your position in life rather than having it handed to you by the government you sick losers.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Steph

      I truly hope you get treatment for your anger issues. Seriously, I am not making a joke. This level of anger at large groups of people is not healthy.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • bwelter

      Gee, Steph. You're right. It sort of sounds like Gen-Y is angry, doesn't it? Wonder why??

      February 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • bill

      My sentiments exactly.
      I paid for my college way back when & also paid for my 3 sons to attend... when are these socialists like Mr Spence going to understand that the "government" is... me! And I don't want to pay for college for someone else; parents, take responsibility and anti up for your kids.
      How about you take a pay cut, Mr Spence to fund your socialist ideas? As you point out we already have too many government giveaways

      February 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
      • Sean

        Remember, not every parent is able to pay for their kids to go to college. My parents did everything they could for my 2 siblings and I, but unfortunately they couldn't afford to pay put us through college. We are all stuck with taking out a significant amount of debt in order to pay for our education. I'm not supportive of government sponsered college for everyone, but something needs to be done to reign in the skyrocketing cost.

        February 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  21. Sick and tired of giveaways forcibly taken from my wallet

    Free college from the government? It is NOT free, it was taken from all taxpayers so someone could get a free ride. I'm tired of people wanting things given to them. After making me pay for someone else's college, are they going to reimburse me for the expenses I incurred going to college? I doubt it. I worked my way through school, these clowns can do the same thing. Or, join the military and it will be paid for that way. But, DO NOT expect me to pay for your education, that is YOUR responsibility.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  22. Paynomore

    I find it amusing everytime a liberal says "the government pays." Hey genius, the government does not produce anything that produces income. The government merely takes your money and decides how to spend it. Therefore, we will pay for everyone's college education.

    Every day another liberal comes up with another way to spend more tax dollars. I would like to hear one liberal come up with a way to stop spending tax dollars. Do liberal believe in self-sufficiency at all. What happened to the independent, hard working spirit of the people in this country? All we hear now is let us take more from those that are successful and spread it around. What a crock.

    Stop depending on the government! They will not save you, they will not provide for you, they will take your money and spend it on useless things that provide no value to the people who paid the taxes.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Andy

      You might want to stop making sweeping generalizations about this being a liberal issue.

      I am a card carrying liberal and while I believe in the Govt funding public universities, I believe this is wrong, to pay for everyone's education. we all have a right to a base of education (high school), but higher education is self determined.

      So tell me smart ass, how is it you think this is a liberal thing? This is an academic cultural thing. too bad you're so freaking ignorant you can;t see the difference. Moron.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
      • You're the Moron

        Only a liberal doesn't have the brain capacity to recognize their own agenda leanings . . . name one conservative who would even remotely consider that a hardworking individual should pay for the higher education of another able-bodied individual and only a liberal would fail to recognize the valuable life lessons that are taught by paying for your own education.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  23. Bobby Brown

    Mortgage Subsidy............wakeup !!! Its on it's way out. Second homes will be eliminated first. Then caps on the size mortgage that can be deducted. Then that will eventually be phased out. College is not for everyone. My brother in law has two masters degrees and if paying off his bills. He evertually became a Master Plumber and now has his own company and makes more than most of us. College is not for everyone. Most College Students graduate without any sellable skills and have to learn exactly what they will do in Coporate American @ Corporate America's expense. Professor you are worthless and could not make it in the real world of business. Thus you have no value to our Economy as a professional or a blue collar worker. You are a sponge off working people.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  24. agnrodis

    What a misconception about education in "socialist" countries! The education in those countries is free but it is NOT FOR EVERYBODY!!! The exams are really selective and number of accepted students reflect the approximate number of jobs awaiting after graduation. I got into Warsaw University (Poland) where 1 in 5 was accepted, for free of course. And believe me, the education was on a very high level. That is why I easily got a job in one of the top US universities. Another example: in Belgium everybody is accepted to the college but after 1st year only certain number of top scoring students are allowed to continue, others have to leave. Free education for EVERYBODY is a populistic nonsense FREE EDUCATION FOR THE BEST is the way to go. We want the smartest, not the wealthiest to study e.g. medicine, right?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • whatthe2

      The wealthiest can afford private education in grade school through high school. They receive a better education which enriches their thinking abilities and results in higher SAT and entrance exam scores. President Obama received an excellent education at an exculsive private school which eventually enabled him to attend Columbia and Harvard. This is also true for Europe.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  25. IRONMIKE

    YOU WANT OUR COLLEGES AS SCREWED UP AS OUR GOVERNMENT THEN LET THE GOVERNMENT RUN THE COLLEGES. WHEN DO YOU PEOPLE LEARN THAT GOVERNMENT PRODUCES NOTHING AND JUST TAKES YOUR MONEY TO REDISTRIBUTE. IF YOU WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE PAY FOR IT WORK FOR IT BUT AT LEAST EARN YOUR WAY THEN IT WILL MEAN SOMETHING.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • agnrodis

      In Europe many best Universities are run by the governments. It is very sad that Americans are so pessimistic about their own capacity to organize and build something that works...... or are they so brainwashed by GOP that stands only by the private interest and want to destroy everything that is common.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
      • whatthe2

        No, we are just not brainwashed by socialist goverment officials spreading lies that the private sector wants to destroy eveything that is common.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  26. Craig

    Another ridiculous proposition from another man with ideas of making the world into a fairy tale. Why do websites like CNN waste their web space on worthless articles. Also I have never heard of a socialist success story. Am I right?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Steph

      Like Norway?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
      • whatthe2

        Norway is population of 5 million people with rich reserves of oil.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • Steph

        Or Finland? Check out their education rankings and economic stability compared to the US. I'm not saying they have all the answers or that we could do the exact same thing here, but take a minute before you freak out and yell the government is all bad all the time. Also, there are tons of start ups in these countries so they aren't "bad for business" either.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • agnrodis

      Like Germany?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • agnrodis

      Like France?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • agnrodis

      Like Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Australia, even Poland.........yes, the world is a fairytale if you compare it to US.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
      • Lori

        Then go live there. No one is stopping you.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  27. Buster Keaton

    In lieu of making College free why not just have Taxpayers pay for my living right from the start.
    Forget College and all that stuff. Just give me free money for life. After all when working people are
    gone then the freeloaders will disappear and Mother Nature can start from Scratch minus the Human Race
    and the Free Loaders.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  28. Upton

    The government already offers free college if you can't afford it or don't want to pay for it... it is called joining the miliatry. Great way to have you education paid for.

    If college becomes free, people will then complain that it is too costly to get your masters and that should be free. It is a never ending cycle.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Joining the military = free education? You don’t associate any cost with having bullets flying at your head? Or IEDs blowing up your convoy? Or PTSD? Or missing limbs? Or any of the other millions of ways military service impacts the lives of the soldier and every single person who knows him/her, especially their parents, siblings, spouse, and/or children?

      Those questions aren’t intended to be abrasive, just really like to know how none of those "cost" anything. Looks to be far from free if you ask me. Put your life on the line or take out student loans, either way you're more than likely getting killed.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • Upton

        You are paid for your time in the military... i.e. you work and get a paycheck and when your service time is up, you get the GI bill. You are correct... technically it isn't free, but why should ANYTHING be free? This country ISN'T about getting everything for free!!! Why has it become a right to have ANYTHING. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Expect others to do it for you and this country will continue on the path of destruction we are headed.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  29. mike057

    It always interesting getting the views from people who dont work in the private sector. Living on other peoples money.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  30. J

    Education for free?! I want to get my Master's, but the thought of shelling out at least $40k for a piece of paper while working full-time would kill me. The money I make has to go to my bills, which means I won't have much left for college tuition. I think if someone wants to get an education, then they should be able to go with without any constraints. I hear some high school graduates in other countries can get their college education paid for if they have excellent grades. Well, heck! I had excellent college grades and I want to go to grad school! Sign me up!!!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • PIFFER 45

      No.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • 181113

      education should be free. we all benefit from the individuals knowledge and skills. i'm pushing 60 and paid off my student loans about 8 years ago. i have seen both sides but lean toward debtless education.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Upton

      Go to that country if it sounds so good.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • Steph

        Yes, go to Norway or Finland. Both rank higher than the US in education and both provide free college tuition. Both also have stable economies and little debt.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • R

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that colleges do that here, too. I happen to know a few people with whom I graduated that got something called a scholarship (new concept, I know.)

      February 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  31. whatthe2

    Mortgage interest deduction is not a subsidy. The goverment does not write a check to home owners to help pay for their mortgage. Just for the sake of fair play I would forgo my mortgage interest deduction if government workers transfer their pension to a 401-3b.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  32. Dan Bednarik

    Nominate this man for President!! Someone with a meaningful vision.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Chris

      It's a nice vision. It's also completely unrealistic when you actually think about it in any real-world terms.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  33. da spyder

    like a typical liberal, he doesn't think thiings through. if we have college free and available to everyone, it will eventually be a highschool part 2. we will have a whole bunch of garbage colleges with zero standards that take in the failing students because they have to. cutting class, sleeping in class, etc etc. college isnt for everyone.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Lord Hasan

      agreed!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jeremy C

      Exactly. One of the primary reasons college costs have skyrocketed is the fact that the federal gov't already participates heavily in the student loan business. If the feds are giving out money for school, then everyone will get loan money. Schools know this, and know the federal government will pay whatever the schools demand they pay. After all, the feds don't want to look like cheapskates when it comes to making sure Johnny and Suzy getting a good education. Instead of continued government sponsorship of every citizen (and this is what it is), why not simply eliminate many of these subsidies and lower taxes?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  34. MIke

    The professor does a pretty good job of obscuring the facts or only pointing out those facts that help his argument. Of course he does give one indication of why college is so expensive for the rest of . Reduced tuition at any university for those who work in the university system what a deal and who does the professor think pays for all of that. And to think he has five kids the rest of us will help subsidize their tuition. My guess is that the Professor does pretty well for himself but he still gets a nice break regardless.

    So the professor says look we subsidize mortgage why not tuition. There are several things wrong with that first we don't pay 100% of the mortgage payment which is what the professor is suggesting for tuition. Second because the government stupidly pays for one subsidy why should it continue to pay for another. Many economists will tell you that the mortgage subsidy is wrong and partially led to both the boom and the subsequent bust of the housing market.

    Then the professor limits the cost. Only tuition and fees at PUBLIC universities . Doesn't mention room and board or private universities as well. Also tuition does not cover the full cost of a university education states pay a large amount as well . But once the Feds start paying for it the states will pull back and the universities will raise tuition. The Good professor fails to acknowledge one reason that college is so expensive is the skyrocketing costs that a university education now costs. For that the good professor need look no farther than his generous tuition break he will get . No doubt at the expense of those of us who don't get that kind of break

    February 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • please use better grammar

      If you actually bothered to put periods in the right places and punctuate better, people would take your opinion seriously.

      You should have stayed in school.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
      • la by NV

        There you go. A constructive argument. Nice.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  35. JMH

    To MOTHER: OMG, when did they start charging for BOOK RENTALS!?!?! That's practically obscene!!!!! I NEVER had to Rent a book for any of my school work! We got them for free and only payed a fine if we returned them in bad condition?
    JMH

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • whatthe2

      Welcome to 2012. School bus fee, student parking fee, atheletic fee, book rental fee, music fee...

      February 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  36. Lark

    I worked hard on my grades throughout high school and ended up getting my tuition paid for because of it at the University of Kentucky. I focused and studied hard while in college and even obtained my bachelors degree from a 4 year program in 3 years. (I also had a job working near 30 hours a week!) I'm now in grad school again with free tuition because of my hard work during my undergrad. If you work hard you can go to college for free...except for textbooks and living expenses. A lot of the people I saw in college were spending most of their time partying and drinking, skipping classes, and then complaining about failing a class and having to retake it. By creating a system where now they are there for free, this would only increase the amount of time it will take for people to graduate. Why should my taxes increase so people can drink and hang out with friends for 4+ years? Maybe there should be guidelines on receiving government paid tuition that specify that you have to be in the top 25% of your high school class, you or your family are financially incapable of paying for college, and you have to keep a certain GPA while in college to continue to receive free tuition (like most scholarships).

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • choreograph999

      I agree completely. Have a set of requirements similar to obtaining a scholarship and then an individual could get a free college education. Of course people will find ways to cheat the system even then. They always do. But it would still hugely benefit those of us who work very hard and are diligent to our studies. I sadly did not recieve a free undergraduate or graduate education despite straight A's, school club involvement, and a ton of hard work. I would have LOVED a system in which my hard work was given a guaranteed payback.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  37. JW

    If they are just going to give the milk away for free, why did I enlist in the Army, get the GI Bill and College Fund, go to college afterwards?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • whatthe2

      How do you think I feel? I commuted to college every day, worked 25 hours a week and paid for my own tuition. Where's my refund???

      February 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  38. mother

    i don't no where everyone is getting that High school is free. i have 3 kids and book rental is $300 for the school year per child. Plus all the other nickel diming they do during the school year. Junior high was $200 a year. Elementary was $150. Don't seem like alot to some but think of those parents who have more than 1 kid.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • whatthe2

      I have four kids in school currently. When my oldest started school there were no fees. Now we have to pay book rental, bus ($400) per child and sports. It is not just the schools that have imposed fees, trash pick-up is now a fee. The rate we are going I will be paying an increased in taxes for no services. Oh, by the way low income students are exempt from the fees. And public education is not free. As far as I know those teachers and administrators expect to be paid.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
      • JMH

        This is flat out crazy!!! I would bet there is some law being broken here! We were NEVER charged for books or the bus! Those expenses were part of the taxes my family paid. We were only responsible for notebooks, pencils, etc. This is REALLY NUTS!!!

        February 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
      • Upton

        Book rental costs is abusrd... you should have to pay for a bus and sports. Those are additional activities that not all students use. Do you think it is free for other students parents to take them to school... If you think bus rides should be free, do you think parents should be reimbursed for their gas money that it costs to take their kids to school?

        February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Upton

      Stop having more kids than you can AFFORD to have. Not to sound calous, but to just keep popping out kids and then expecting others to cover the costs is abusrd. My parents had 2 kids because that is all the could AFFORD. They would have loved to have had more, but knew to give us the quality of life they thought was necessary, 2 was all they could AFFORD!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  39. ted

    Dark man wants more free stuff!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • choreograph999

      Your comment is innapropriate and racist. As a white woman holding a Master degree, and Bachelor's degree and a high school diploma all with straight A's, I would have LOVED some payback for my hours and hours of hard work and discipline to my studies. I paid for everything myself through jobs and loans. How dare you claim a certain group of people with a certain skin color would be the ones out for monetary assistance more than any other? Shame on you.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
      • whatthe2

        You will receive your payback when you produce something or provide a service that is of value.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  40. Norm

    Insanity. First the problem with college is it is too dam expensive. Kids and parents today borrow huge sums of money and end up owing a fortune after 4 or more years. Then the kid is lucky if he or she can find a job in their field and end up under employeed if they are lucky. The only thing this solution does is shift the financial burden, not get at the real problem, the cost of a secondary education. I started college in 1974 for a total cost of tuition, room and board of $2,500. Explain to me how the cost today can be justified. The increases well exceed inflation since 1974. If the government pays the bill, the tax payer is really paying the bill which means government gets bigger and taxes increase or the Fed's deficit gets dramatically larger.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  41. Jay

    We already have a program that pays 100% of college education plus living expenses. And, the vast majority of citizens automatically become eligible for it when they turn 18. It's called the Post 911 GI Bill. The problem is you have to actually spend a couple years earning the benefit. Therefore, few people care to take advantage of it. I guess most people only seize opportunities handed to them on a silver platter.

    I for one took advantage of the governments generous offer. I have a law degree, a masters degree, and zero student loan debt. The opportunities are there. College is affordable for everyone, if they are willing to work for it.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Amen Jay!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • JRD

      Agreed, the key word is earned. You can earn a college education by saving up for it by working. You can earn a college education by serving in the armed forced, or you can earn a college education by taking loans and agreeing to earn the money to pay them back at a later date.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Rstlne

      People stopped taking advantage of that particular government program in large numbers when they realized that you had to literally risk your life for that benefit; and when it became obvious that thousands were dying before being able to collect. Our government lied to recruits and sent them back into active combat as many times as possible; instead of two tours of duty it became 4 or 5 – or more. As long as you did not have body parts shot or blown off you were able to go back – no matter what your mental health condition may have been.

      I for one do not believe that we must expect people to be willing to die for an education. Perhaps some public service could be expected post-college, but one should not have to risk their life for a good college education.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Chris

        Drama queen – there are plenty of non-combat jobs in the military, so yes, you can do the military route without putting your life at risk. Or, you can choose not to do the military route, and actually WORK to pay for college. But don't complain because the option is available – in many countries military service is not optional, it's manadatory. And MANY kids still take advantage of it, including a number of posters on this blog.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • hello?

      Spoken like a true Roman senator, spend X yrs in our military if you don't die and don't lose a limb etc....we educate you. BTW the world needs another lawyer like I need a hole in my head.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
      • Chris

        #1 – yes, if you're willing to serve your country, which for some who choose combat roles could involve putting your life at risk, the military will house you, feed you, train you and educate you.
        #2 – it's an OPTION. If you don't like it, don;t take it.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
      • Jay

        I spent my military years regulating oil tankers and conducting search and rescue operations in the Alaska. Hard work, but not very dangerous really. The majority of military work isn't all that life threatening. Personnally, I never knew anyone to die or get serious injured. We did save many lives though, not to mention the environment.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Actually Jay

      To correct your statement, the post 9/11 GI Bill only covers in-state tuition and fees at 100% if you qualify for 100%. It also is only 36 months of benefits which most students do not complete their degree in 36 months.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
      • Jay

        You make a horrible argument. The GI-Bill pays 100% of in-state tuition, $1000 a year in book costs, and 100% of school fees. Also, it pays your rent/mortgage and food expenses while you are in college through a very generous living stipend. Any bachelors degree program can be completed in 36 months (that's four years of Spring/Fall semesters). The reason people take longer is because they fail classes or do not take the proper course load (15 hours per semester). To qualify for 100% of the GI Bill you only need to serve three years active duty.

        Furthermore, while in the mlitary the service gives you $4500 (separate from your GI Bill benefits) to goto school. Taking community college or online courses, you can easily knock a year or even two off your degree and then use the extra GI Bill benefit, after your bachelors is completed, to get a masters degree.

        Personnaly, I was able to complete an entire bachelors online during my four years in the military. Then, I used my GI Bill to completely pay for my MA and my JD. I now make six figures a year and have zero student loan debt at the age of 29. This opportunity is available to nearly every U.S. citizen.

        February 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Rob

      I tried to take advantage of that, but I was graciously given asthma as a child by my genes. So I had to earn my free ride 8 years ago with good grades and test scores.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
      • Jay

        That certainly does seem like the better route to take. Unfortunately for me, I was a screw up in high school. Thankfully opportunities like the GI Bill saved me. It is true, not everyone qualifies for the military, but most do. For others, such as yourself, there are other ways to earn a degree. You are proof.

        February 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bob

      I joined the military for the sole purpose of getting the GI Bill. I used the GI Bill to pay for my entire bachelors degree. Of course, I have PTSD thanks to my time in Iraq, so how did I benefit? I would rather have the debt and be able to sleep soundly and not be paranoid. The GI Bill isn't the answer for everyone, Jay.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  42. JRD

    The thing I would question is the value that education has when someone else is paying for it. When I went for my undergrad degree my parents had a certain amount saved, I was able to obtain some scholarships and grants, and a portion was my responsibility (roughly a third each way), when I did my graduate degree I paid for it entirely on my own. What this meant was that a failed class had a direct financial impact on me as there wasn't a magical fint of money from someone else to pay for it. Because of this I chose to apply myself to classes and pass them all.

    I saw other students who were having their education paid for entirely by their parents or scholarships. In several cases that I saw these individuals didn't bear any personal consequence for their actions as the money came from a magical elsewhere. I had one friend who left after freshman year with a 0.085 GPA, his parents were less than pleased and the money stopped flowing. A few years later he came back paying for college with his own money and a GI bill he had earned with service in the Navy. When he returned he no longer skipped classes and graduated.

    When something is given it is often seen as having no value because it was free. When something requires the individual to face consequences or have cost they tend to ascribe value to it.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Brent Durland

      I like the idea of giving help to students as long as they show appreciation for it, perhaps in the form of good grades. I'd rather subsidize education than housing, actually. Give the young the opportunities they need, and then let them take care of themselves.

      The world is getting smarter, and our education experience needs to as well.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • choreograph999

      I agree with you that paying for it yourself gives a strong sense of personal responsibilty and ownership regarding the education in question. But I did that, paid for my undergraduate and grad school myself, got straight A's, and worked very hard both at my studies and at my job. Now I am saddled with school loan debt despite being very careful about how much I borrowed while in school. I have always worked hard, done my best, and played by the rules and I am discouraged that it seems those of us who do this do not get ahead in life, that we rarely are rewarded for our good efforts. Perhaps instead of paying for school as a guaranteed foregone conclusion, the government could forgive all debt for those in the top 20% of their graduating classes. Or some policy like that. People would have to still work hard and do well in school, have to actually apply themselves in order to reap the benefit. As many posters on this blog seem to comment, people would EARN the free education.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  43. Ryan

    Absolutely not! I'd be worried if I had 5 kids to put through college too. Sure, shifting the burden to the Government is a great idea in the author's eyes. Making a college education a 'right' will then reduce the validity (if there is one) in a college education. The basic requirement used to be a high school diploma. You were more qualified for Job X if you had a college education. In today's market, a BA/BS isn't really anything. Once a college educated person is the baseline, what's next? I'll tell you, a Masters, then what, a Doctorate. People need to take personal responsibility, that includes families. Have 5 kids, sure you are going to struggle to pay for college. Have 1-2 kids, plan right and it won't be as hard. GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER! ITS THE PROBLEM!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Danny

      And do we have a cap? Or do we just give it to EVERY KID? Since you have 5 (which was a personal choice) that would mean a heavy cost as opposed to my 2 kids. Do I get a kickback for saving the gov money for only having 2 kids. What if you have 12 kids? WOW that would be a great deal!!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  44. Tom

    Mr. Spence is right on. This type of policy is exactly what this country needs to compete in the global market. We need educated job applicants and workers. How do we pay for it, the narrow minded whine. With educated workers being hired they would the be able to contribute taxes to the revenue side of our budget. You know, the side that never gets mentioned. By paying taxes and not in need of social programs (the spending side of the budget that gets all the attention), the net gain should come close to covering the expenses. And, if necessary, the system could be means tested for those who do not require assistance with education.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Chris

      Means tested. Yes, we know exactly what that means. That our taxes should pay for college educations for people, but only for people that can't afford it on their own. Another undeserved money grab. Take form those who work to have money and give to those who don't. I'll pass on this policy – I'd rather work my butt off and pay for my own kids educations.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  45. MalcolmXcrement

    Amen Brother. The gubmint exists to take money from rich folks and put it all back into the hands of those who hold them out. Free education. Free groceries. Free gas. Free housing. Free everything. Mo' money, mo' money...
    Let the rich folks pay for it all. Why should I have to work for it? That's why we put Obama in office in the first place.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  46. Chris

    We already have free education in this country – it's call high school. If you want our college system to be as big a disaster as our public education system, then let's go with this. Have fun figuring out how much each college should charge for tuition (maybe we can model this after Medicare to make it an unmitigated disaster), or how to decided how much each kid should be given – should some get Harvard money and some get city college money? I'm all for making it easier for kids to attend college, but the comparison between college and mortgage interest is silly. You can offset school expenses vs taxes, same as mortgage interest. You're suggesting we actually BUY them the education – the housing equivalent would be asking the government to buy me a house...

    February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  47. Ed

    I have very mixed feelings about this idea. I understand that an educated workforce is critical to the future of this country. However, I question the idea that a college education is a right to be paid for by the government. I am reminded of when I was a college student in the late 60's, there were a lot of my fellow students who were in college to avoid the draft. Many took very soft (easy) programs which trained them to do nothing. If we open college up to everyone, I see that happening again. Yes, some will study science, technology, engineering and math but many won't; some will go to college because it's free and they won't have to face the prospect of getting a job. How many political science majors do we need, how many lawyers, how many film majors, how many business management majors, etc.? Where will they find jobs in those types of majors? Are we setting up people's expectations for failure? I live in Pennsylvania, the state universities and colleges graduate twice as many teachers each year as there are job openings. Where will we find space to educate these additional people? In the brave new world of cyber education? I understand that not everyone will go to a regular college; some will go to technical schools. I'm reminded of the fly-by-night schools that popped up which were just diploma mills. Many students that come to college now lack the necessary math, english and reading skills to be successful. Will we need to dumb down courses so the graduation rates are OK or invest more heavily in remedial training? What happens when a Bachelor"s degree is the new minimum standard? Will a Master's become the new gateway degree? I would rather see more funding for grants and loans so the ambitious students will have a better chance.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  48. Mary

    If this the granted I want a German style school and university system where the kids they deem stupid and unintelligent become factory workers and the smart ones go to state funded schools and colleges for smart people. Otherwise there is NO WAY I am paying for this idea!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  49. JoJo Deengulberree

    Bleeding-heart liberalism at its best. Robin Hood was not a hero, he was a thief. Keep YOUR hands out of MY pocket, Spence.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • whatthe2

      Robbinhood stole from the government (king) and gave to the poor (taxpayers). Bring back Robbinhood.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  50. Andrew

    If you are a college professor, feel free to teach at no cost so these 'rights' can be guaranteed. Because if you plan to get paid, then the money has to come from somewhere and I think my pocket is just about empty. If your daughter wants an education, I hear (I know) that the US Military has full tuition assistance (because that's how I'm doing it).

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  51. John

    If I weren't diabetic I would have joined up and used the GI Bill to help (obviously not fully) pay. And maybe I'd have died in one of our wars, making the education issue moot.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  52. Mr. Myxlptlkx

    With as much money as is flying around washington these days, YES! Subsidize college. We HAVE to have our younger minds ready to take back our economy and our way of life as it once was, or we are going to end up as a second or third world nation. We make VIRTUALLY NOTHING! Our richest sit on their butts and live off interest from home and foreign investments. Take some of the money (a small fraction, actually) from the military budget, and use THAT.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • East of Eden

      Well said

      February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Ryan

      I'm not sure how many rich people got rich by being lazy and sitting on their butts.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  53. GySgtG

    people, As with healthcare. it is the parents responsibility to take care of their family, not the neighbors or the governments! if your kids don't go to college then YOU FAILED them. you raise your kids and i'll raise mine. i don't want nor desire your socialist idea near my kids. i have produced one doctor, one pilot, and one becoming an engineer. I did so without making someone else pay their way. I take care of my family. If you can’t care for your then that is your problem. Your failure as parents doesn’t mean someone else should be made to pay for your kids education.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Ryan

      Ooh Rah.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Tom

      fantastic response!!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • SLJ

      Gunn's that response is awesome spoken like a true Marine

      February 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  54. Connie Kreps

    I like the idea of making college available to all. I wasn't able to go to school without a government loan, which took years to pay off. The disadvantage to your idea is that it gives a tremendous advantage to the rich, who can already afford to pay. In my opinion, the rich have enough advantages. They don't need any more at the government's expense. Second, a lot of money can be wasted with kids floundering around in school, not really applying themselves. There would have to be built in parameters to make sure that the government, (you and I), get the biggest bang for the bucks!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  55. GeorgeBos95

    Sure, tax the hell out of me to pay for other people's college education. Take it all. After all, I may ahve earned it, but who do I think I am to expect to enjoy any of it.

    But do that, and I'll lay back and work less, make less, and contribute less. In fact, I'll start to do what other people are apparently doing – expecting others to cover my bills. Let the government pay for my kids education, let them provide loan relief to me ... bail my butt out of every bad decision I can ever make.

    But wait ... if I do that, and enough other wage earners and taxpayers do that ... then there won't be enough money to cover those bills. In fact, there isn't enough money to cover the bills now. But why be practical. Let's party like it's 2099, and to hell with paying the tab.

    So keep trying to screw me and take more of my money in taxes, and I'll just become like you.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Mr. Myxlptlkx

      You have to be ONE DUMB sob. Take a whole minute to think how many college-educated people contributed to what you have, what you buy, how you live, what you eat. Do you really want to live ina nation of morons? We're on our way to that, as it is. If people had as much discretionary income as they had THIRTY years ago, more kids would go to college. You fool!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
      • Lori

        We already do live in a nation of morons. That is how this article was written in the first place.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Ian

      I wish I could up-vote this comment.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Ryan

      You go George!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  56. masintenn

    The problems with our system of education aren't limited to the cost of higher education. We provide 13 years of primary education and graduate young adults without the skills to be successful! If they want a good career, they then have to take on 10's of thousands of dollars in debt!

    When kids graduate from high school, they should already have marketable skills that can land them more than an entry level unskilled job.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  57. oubie

    Professor Spence,

    What happens when the people actually paying for everything run out of money? Who will pay for college then?

    Ask the Greeks, if you can get one of them to take a short break from rioting in the streets.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  58. Al

    ROFL!!!!!!!!! Man, don't give the Obamatons any ideas on how to further increase our debt and collapse the economy... lordy folks.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • not really

      I know you are probably trolling, but I'll bite. Since Obama has gotten into office, not only has unemployment dropped but the economy has improved to pre-2008 levels.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
      • Adj77

        You are an idiot!

        February 9, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • zpitts

      ... or any ideals on how to educate people and provide health care for people LORDY!!! Let's talk about the UNFUNDED Bush tax cuts to the wealthy leaving a deficit at a time of recession... That's where our debt is coming from!!! Let's talk about a two front war that MR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has started to end, no to mention doing something in a couple years, killing Osama bin Laden, W couldn't do in 8!!! WHAT... WHAT!! You've been served... log off and go stand in the corner

      February 9, 2012 at 11:03 am |
      • Obamanation

        Hey I just got a job. It's for 26% of what I used to make before I was laid off 21/2 years ago, no Medical or pension. Thanks Obama. hell of a job!

        February 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
      • Dave

        Tax Cuts and UNFUNDED are terms that do not go together.

        February 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  59. Megan

    Yeah – because public education works so well now. Can't you see the legality to follow after this guys' "suggestion" that the government pay for college. I hate to say this, but the government already pays for a chunk of college for people that can't afford it now – it's called Pell Grants. Of course, some people really need this money – but have you ever seen the "refund" line at a college? I've known several people that only go to school for the refund, then they fail the rest of their classes.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Anthony

      I am a 28 year old college student working on my second undergraduate degree. I get excellent grades in class, and work hard outside of school. My Pell grant this year was $750 dollars...that's for 2 semesters. This year, that wouldn't have even covered my books. I go to state school in Florida, which is cheaper than the national average, but I still work 40 hours a week to cover school costs and avoid tens of thousands of dollars of debt. The Pell Grant is nothing but guilt insurance for the national government. The tax subsidies and grants given to billion dollar companies aren't going to save this country...but maybe educating the flock of sheep that remain enthralled by MTV and Jersey Shore can do a bit to progress the social momentum lost on us in the last 20 years...

      February 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • choreograph999

        Brilliant! Well said, sir. Nice to hear some sanity on the issue.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  60. capcity

    Some interesting points in this piece, some of which I agree with. However I'm not sure I'd call all of the "subsidies" subsidies. I have no problem with making a "right" to have a higher education or trade training, but to allow it without the students having to pay it back to the greater good of society is not a good idea. Young people need to be taught that they must work for receiving the benefits from their fellow cistizens, they must be required to pay it back or pay it forward in some way to the greater common good.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  61. Pragmatist

    The moment you make something free, it loses all value and people do not want to pay for it. Look at government sponsored health care as an example. We have people that are willing to spend $400 -$1200 to have their cars fixed but don't want to pay $2000 to have their gallbladder removed.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Rstlne

      Sorry Pragmatist, but I think you have your figures wrong. People are forced to pay for repairs to their car if they want to keep their job! And I do not know of any invasive surgery available anywhere in this country for a mere $2,000. Way back in 1999 my back surgery for one herniated disk cost $13,000! And that was just for the surgery, not for the test pre-surgery.

      And while you might have a point about people not valuing what they receive for free as much as if they had paid for it, society as a whole benefited greatly after we began to provide a free education to everyone through grade 12. Why should we not benefit even more if we as a country agreed to provide a decent post-high school education for everyone who wanted it?

      February 9, 2012 at 10:44 am |
      • Brent Durland

        Yes. Why should post-grade 12 be any different? As long as the students show academic progress, and don't write checks to students.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • zpitts

      a cholesytectomy costs more than $2,000 my friend... and trust me me when that thing gets inflamed you definitely want it taken out...

      February 9, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • not really

      $2000? An Ambulance ride to the hospital alone costs $1250. Surgery being more like $12,000+

      February 9, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  62. Jon Michael

    It is not a question of how much it costs...its a statement of "I don't want to have more of my paycheck taken out so that your child can go to college." Not to mention; college is not for everyone. I paid for my own college, and I am better for it. You and your children can too. I love the argument that states, "Look how much we spend on 'A', it would only cost half that much to pay for 'B'. Have you considered that maybe we should not only NOT fund 'B', but maybe we are spending too much on 'A' as well!

    The government should only use taxpayer money on items that the taxpayer cannot do on their own. This includes the common defense of our nation, interstate highways, and public safety. I can make a strong argument that the fundamentals tought in primary school is a public interest in order to teach kids how to learn (especially if parents are not engaged). After this, and once you are an "adult" ... it is up to you to find your way.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • realitypgh

      And this is why the rest of the world is passing us by, don't you get it? We don't know everything here! We are falling behind everyday. The mantra of this country has become 'I got mine, you get your own'. See how well that works?

      February 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
      • bob_lawbla

        What you don't get is the fact that TOO MANY people in the United States are looking for handouts, in any form or fashion. The work ethic in this country is a jioke and you think that providing free college education is going to be the cure. There is no personal responsibility anymore.

        If I don't have something, it's someone else's fault. I want it because I deserve it. If I need it then the government will provide. One day soon the scales will tip and there will be more people purposefully not working and fewer people working to support them. Then you'll see some real problems.

        February 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • zpitts

      excellent point... you know what, let's only pay for kindergarten and then tell the kid hey, it's up to you now. I think we should start expecting our kids to learn more and do better lets have expectations for them and the expectation is to get an education and go to college or trade school and get a job... or create a job. Let's get career counselors involved and expose kids to as many opportunities as we can... I know, that really sounds like a horrible ideal.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:51 am |
      • Jon Michael

        You are taking my point to an exreme. I stated that I was an advocate for paying for 13 years of school until one becomes an "adult". From that point on, you should be responsible for yourself. Prior to turning 18, it is the role of the public education system to teach a person how to learn. Provide them with the knowledge, tools, and possibly even the desire to seek out more knowledge upon the completion of 12th grade.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  63. BADGUY

    I was trained as an Electrical Engineer. But I attend many military training schools as a pilot in the USAF. I wrote program text books for the Apollo program as well as conducted training classes on complex aircraft/spacecraft equipment. I believe "on-line" training is the wave of the future. Instruction "frames", as we used to call them, can be laid out and tested, much like a computer game. Once this is done, those "frames" need only be reviewed from time to time to insure timeliness as well as functional correctness. One ONLY has to layout the "frame" ONE TIME and the job is done. We don't need to pay for extremely expensive instructors and professors to "replay the same material" over and over again to a sitting class. The inefficiency of doing it that way should be obvious. The instructors have refresh the material (in their own mind) before giving a stand-up class. This has to be done EVERY TIME they conduct a class or they are NOT performing up to their optimum. Also, needless to say, the class in attendance has to spend money and time to GET to the class. A very big waste. On line training is much more productive. It is MUCH easier to conduct "quality control" on the training and ensure its done right EVERY TIME! It is also much, MUCH cheaper. I think the federal government can take the lead. College degrees in Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Chemical Engineering is the place to start. These are courses, I'm sure, the government deems necessary for the progress of our economy and country. Also, these courses should lead to a degree and should be free, with, possibly, a small charge for the cost of conducting "face-to-face" testing. Education is VERY important to our country. The more people that have their brains "trained" through education, the more productive they are and the higher the standard of living will rise in this country.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Eric

      As a fellow engineer, I agree with you. However, many people in the country have the mindset of "doing what they want to do" or "being creative." The generation I am a part of, unfortunately, wants to be the next big pop star or actor. Until society changes, I doubt we will be able to compete globally in the future. This country is obsessed with entertainment and making a few quick dollars. Hard work is a value that has been tossed to the side it seems.

      I'm working on my license and finishing my MS, but the pay isn't what it used to be so engineering really isn't as appealing as it once was either. Doesn't help that the same problem still exists, tuition is too much for many people. I have $$$ in student loans (which I have not missed any payments) and without them I wouldn't have been able to go to school for engineering. My mom is a widow, I didn't qualify for the military, and I had no federal aid. I paid for my living expenses by working, but I needed private loans to cover tuition...

      February 9, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  64. life line 403

    !

    February 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  65. Mark

    The government already pays for college... it's called the military. If you EARN the privilege to go to college by serving in the military, then I can understand having college paid for.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • zpitts

      the military is down sizing dude... not to mention the budget is going to need to shift to pay for all the TBI and double amputees coming back home...

      February 9, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  66. MI again rk

    Peanuts once had a line, "Boy are you stupid, Charlie Brown."
    That's all we need is to pay for kids to go to college and study political science or some other major that has very nebulus benefits to our society. Great. Educate people who can do nothing for business when they are done. Just so they can sit around and come up with other socialist ideas.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • realitypgh

      jerk

      February 9, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Rstlne

      You make a good point, to a point. I see no problem with providing a free education post-high school for everyone who wants one, although with some limitations stipulated as to what studies are provided for. It would be fairly easy to exempt some studies from such a program while still providing the possibility of a good future to most of our citizens.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • zpitts

      quoting peanuts?!? you seriously quoted peanuts to TRY to illustrate a political point? W is that you?!? Trolling on the post borad hunh?? Well, tell Karl Rove NOBODY CARES about his twitter account!!! LOL

      February 9, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Pete

      Excellent Point!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Lori

      Well said.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  67. realitypgh

    My son, an electrical engineer, is working on his PhD in Ireland due to the fact that he can not afford to do it here. We are losing our brightest. The majority of his friends are doing the same in other countries around the world. How far do we have to drop before all of you who are worried we are becoming a 'socialist' country start to live in reality and not in your bigoted little pee brains? Your paranoia is costing all of us our future.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • NonBeliever

      Why aren't YOU paying for your kid's education? I paid for MY kids' college, you pay for your own!!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:06 am |
      • realitypgh

        Let's see, hmmmm, why am I not paying for my kids PhD? How about I can't afford it either.

        February 9, 2012 at 11:16 am |
      • realitypgh

        You are one of the 'I got mine, you get your own' people aren't you? A GOP member too?

        February 9, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  68. Johnnie

    Over the past 20 years or more, politicians found a cheap way to manipulate the cost and standard of American education. The milking of our economic infrastructure, education and the consequence of our economic free fall of banking system is the result of sinful greedy expansion of the lobbying trend that attacked our political system. Many who benefited from government educations subsidy and progressive economy never expected our economy could suddenly plunge into this free fall with massive foreclosures, and high unemployment. Our iconic manufacturing companies was lobbied and given a free exit to move to other countries of cheap labor and exploit in return to export cheap goods to America. We have become our own enemies as result of these hidden exploits that simply became a new political order to be followed as a pattern. Our political regulators exploited our hard work and perseverance and also our pride of patriotism and exploited us to sleep while they safely graze. These are some of the reasons why we the people have suddenly started to talk and awakened. Greed is the result of every fabric of our economic hardship and has become easy to frame it around those attempting to address it. Some of these politicians are still lingering around for more greedy moves and never consider enough is enough and willed not for Term Limits, why, because the conditions allows them to dig deeper to exploit us. America education has enjoyed high standards and benefited many countries in the past and many politicians benefited even from the standards of our public education, why now; greed.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  69. Rstlne

    Thank you Mr. Spence for bringing this up. I have felt for a long time that it would be a good idea for the U.S. government to provide for further education post high-school for citizens. The country has benefited greatly from the choice (around 1900 or so?) to provide an education through grade 12 for everyone. Why should we not benefit now from a decision to provide for post-high school education – either in a 4-year degree or a specialized training program? It has become clear that our society requires post-high school education now to earn a decent living. Why should a decent living be out of reach for more than 50% of Americans?

    We already provide free college education for incarcerated criminals; a fact which has had me steamed for years now, as I could not afford a 4-year college degree. Can we do less for law abiding citizens? SHOULD we do less for law-abiding citizens with potential than we do for convicted criminals?

    February 9, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  70. Ally

    When I was in high school, my parents would not let me work, they said school was my job. The most that I knew about money was an allowance from the chores I did. I do wish I could have had a job in high school, but trust me I'm not blaming my parents for anything, they were doing what they thought was good for me. After high school, right before college, I was totally ignorant to how much anything was. I remember having arguments with my mother on why I could not go to a school out of state in NYC and she told me it's to expensive even though she and my stepfather made enough to not get any grants or help from FAFSA (because my stepfather didn't want to support me, long story), and my real father was disabled and retired (I had/have parents who decided to have kids in their 40s and 50s). I HAD NO IDEA how expensive things were and how to live and how to work. I'm still struggling with this, although now out of college and in a training school...I live super frugal, I don't have a smart phone, or internet at home, or a nice car, I would say the one luxury I have is a loving mother who is still helping me while I find my way (I'm 25 today)...I'm not burdening her, but I'm not helping her...

    What I want to say is that parents, counselors, teachers, mentors, anyone important... children need to know about money, how expensive things are, what it takes to live, what you need to live, how to cut the crap out of your life that you do not need. Teaching about time management helps with this too.

    Also, dream schools are not what they seem. I'm sure it's different from person to person, but I've had friends who went to my dream school in NYC, they are drowning in debt, and they can't really answer when I ask how the education was.

    Also, technical schools are awesome. I'm in one right now, and I must say I'm learning sooooo much more in this than I did in college. Funny thing too, I won't get a piece of paper when I'm done. To be honest, at least with my field, a piece of paper does not help very much.

    I was lucky to find another school in my state that was very inexpensive. If I could do it all over though, I would have gone to the same school, but I think I would have taken a year or two off after high school to get some work experience, or even to have joined the military to help pay for college.

    I don't think college should be a right, K-12 education is already in the dumps, that should be fixed first. That should be priority. I can't believe people are graduating from high school with not knowing how to read. I can't believe K-12 education doesn't teach about money! That actually really angers me! I wish I knew about money before college!!

    Wow, I almost went on a rant there...hope that's okay, just my two cents!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  71. zpitts

    Great ideal... Affording a young man or woman the opportunity to go to school is a great ideal. What a great society we could be. Affordable health care and affordable higher education... So you mean as a country we could be healthier and better educated?!? Dont see a problem with that... I'll volnteer to be the first taxed for such programs

    February 9, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • realitypgh

      Count me in!

      February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • NonBeliever

      Great!!! You can pay my share too, cause I think people should pay for their own kid's education, or if they're too irresponsible to do that, the kid should work his/her way through college.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  72. Murph

    We have a public education system that is free all the way through High School....and look how much waste we have, how it is overwhelmed with high paid administrators while every-day teachers have to bring in pencils for their students!! Offering free college education will do nothing but expand the educational bureaucracy too the point of ridiculous. Get a part-time job and pay your way through school like most of us have done for many years! STOP TRYING TO TURN THIS COUNTRY INTO A SOCIALIST NATION.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • zpitts

      I suppose the kids in public schools should also be janitors, it'll put money in their pockets and teach them in hard work. So we have secondary education that needs to be re-tooled as well. There's also public Univ. that do not suffer the same problems- I went to Georgia State Univ and never had a teacher bring me any pencils... You're arguement is the same tired old bitter GOP rhetoric... BORING!!! Why not pay for college... The money I went to college on was funded by the Georgia Lottery... Let's start a national lottery program to fund going to school...

      February 9, 2012 at 10:04 am |
      • mendonJoe

        Your Georgia State University eductation worked so well, you don't even know how to spell the word "your".

        February 9, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Helen

      Last time I checked public education is not free that's where my property taxes go and they go up every year.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:16 am |
      • zpitts

        Oh god Helen... You have to pay that too!!! Where would like your property taxes to go? I don't know your political affilation here but I can guess you didn't vote for President Obama, maybe I'm wrong- I hope I am. BUT in the mean time consider the fact that you live in a society where we pay txes for certain public services- trash collection, public school, roads, etc... That's a part of the deal. Why not expand that for high school kids to go to colege. I mean God forbid there's actually a gerneation of kids that has something to look forward to after high school like say college. You tell the kids well, to get in you have to take the SAT and you have GPA of say 3.0 and maintain it... We might actually start competing with other countries in math and science...

        February 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
      • zpitts

        mendonJoe

        Your Georgia State University eductation worked so well, you don't even know how to spell the word "your".

        ... that's just rude man!!! I mean if I were standing in front of you in the grocery line would you say that? Probably not... Besides,

        February 9, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Neil Yaprikya

      Public education is not "free". It costs each of us hundreds and even thousands of dollars per year in state and local (real estate) taxes. Even if you're a renter, the taxes for your local schools are built into your monthly rent. My son attended a very well-known, respected yet moderately priced private college prep school for boys for four years. I have paid far more in real estate taxes – the majority of which go to my local public school district – than I ever paid to my son's prep school. And I will continue to pay more and more for my school district as long as I opt to remain a property owner in my town. What we are paying for my son's prestigious private university blows all that away, of course. But it's still worth it, in my book.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  73. Cory Grant Bartholomew

    Why? Because no one has the "right" to benefit from another person's labor - that notion is called "slavery", which we decided was wrong 150 years ago.

    Government-subsidized education, health care, housing, whatever, might be nice benefits to provide if they also benefit the community as a whole. But they are NOT "rights".

    Freedom to speak your mind, protect your life and property, be secure in your home, and travel unmolested ARE "rights".

    National and State government have been steadily been restricting our rights while trying to placate us with benefits.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • zpitts

      Government-subsidized education, health care, housing, whatever, might be nice benefits to provide if they also benefit the community as a whole. But they are NOT "rights".

      I don't see my original post, so forgive me if this shows up twice. education and health care are both rights that greatly benefit the small neighborhood community to the state and beyond. I mean do we love America- do we think America is the greatest country ever? I DO!!! Why do so many people seemingly hate most americans... Someone with HIV/AIDs in the community ia more than likely poor... Don't you want them on antiretrovirals and education of the prevention of the spread, this is what has led to control of the virus over the last several years, federal and state funded Ryan White Clinics...

      February 9, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  74. ncmomof5

    The cost of college or the interest on the loans isn't the real problem here. If there were jobs waiting after college for these graduates to step into then there wouldn't be an issue here on financial burden. I agree that it sounds like a good idea to let the govt foot the bill for a college education because right now they subsidize so many broken areas of our society, why not this one too. Our educational system is flawed from the ground up through the ivy leaves. We should fix that first. Think about all the subsidies that our govt dishes out then forces on us as a society trying to give us the false sense of security, like "if they are backing it, it must be a good idea." Like the dietary guidelines, what a joke!!! I say stay out of it Washington til you fix it.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  75. utahsang

    I think Lester Spence should pay for my college tuition. I just want to see how generous he is with his own money.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Tax payer

      All taxpayers contribute. Do you really want a society where only the rich get an education?

      February 9, 2012 at 10:32 am |
      • zpitts

        OMG!!! A fair minded moderate human being!!!

        February 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • zpitts

      He wouldn't pay for your personal education but it sounds like he supports paying taxes for universal higher education which may in turn help

      February 9, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  76. jimmie castello

    The future of this country is in the hearts and minds of our children...not in the current political climate...none of the current ruling classes are going to fix our problems...it's going to take a new generation...and they've already been born...the most that we can do is to give them everything they need to succeed! we are already dinosaurs...and our lingering victorian ideas are obsolete.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  77. Marc

    Why should we pay for degrees we don't need? If you want to major in (Angry)Women's Study you should pay for it!!

    February 9, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Tax payer

      Who decides what degrees we "need"?

      February 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
      • william shatner

        the free market...

        February 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  78. BennyBlanco

    While I would love to be free of my considerable student debt I would have to say that this is a ridiculous idea. Overburdening our already overtaxed population with the responsibility of affording the "right" of pursuing a higher education is foolish. Higher Education guarantees nothing. The fact that we have grown into the notion that everyone SHOULD go to college is ridiculous.

    High school counselors need to educate students on the possibilities and benefits of learning a trade and becoming a skilled laborer. Do you know what pipe fitters can make in a year? Plumbers? Nawwww kid, go get that History degree! The History industry is recession proof... right?

    As a wise man once told me. "Not everybody can be doctors and lawyers, the world needs ditch diggers too."

    I don't want to pay to have highly educated ditch diggers.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • MPathyNE1

      I don't think he's saying that everyone will be forced to go to college (i.e. the ditch diggers can skip college if that's what they want).

      February 9, 2012 at 9:46 am |
      • BennyBlanco

        No he is only saying that people who have no business going to college should be able to do so without taking any financial responsibility for the decision. So the taxpayers get to spend 40-80k sending them, to college so that they can get out and become waiters.

        Its about personal responsibility. Going to college is a choice. If you choose to attend you should have to pay your own way.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • utahsang

      A lot of people who went to college only to come out with a degree in political science would love to have the same income a journeyman plumber has .

      February 9, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Rstlne

      So you do not want to pay for "highly educated ditch diggers?" Do you care of the people digging your ditches can afford to have a roof over their head or food in their stomach? It would seem from your comment that you feel that those who become ditch diggers have absolutely no business breeding, so no worries about whether or not they could afford to have children!

      I though your comment was right on target until that last sentence. This country benefited significantly after it became law that all children had the right to a free public education through grade 12. Why do you think it would be different if everyone had the right to a college degree or specialized trade training? I'm sure the arguments over the costs of such a law were pretty much the same all those decades ago.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am |
      • BennyBlanco

        There is nothing wrong with working with your hands. I am tired of the stigma attached to people who choose not to go to college. I have many friends who either didn't really want to go to college or had no idea why the were going to college, that went just because they didn't want to be a "loser." Most of those friends are working jobs (if they are lucky) that they doesn't at all require a college education.

        So I believe in upward mobility but I also believe in personal choices. I want people to carefully decide to pursue higher education. Not just do it because it is the thing to do. College should not just be an extension of public high school. If you take away the personal responsibility of paying for higher education then you take away the incentive to carefully evaluate that personal decision.

        I know many people making better money than I who never attended a day of college. And I am employed as a licensed attorney.

        As for affording children. The same reasoning applies.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Adrienne

      While I agree that college is not for everyone, countries such as France, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, as well as the UK allow students to attend college either free or at a reduced rate. This is possible in the US, but it requires that the government to be willing to invest in the future. The cost of education is more expensive in the US than in many other countries and the US is losing some of its best academic talent to schools overseas where one can graduate with lower student loan debt. While it may seem that everyone can go to college today, the cost is prohibitive for many, including those who are intelligent enough to do well and succeed in college. The author pointed out that subsidizing home purchases woud cost more than subsidizing education and frankly the housing market is in a slump and many people are not buying houses, Why not invest money into our educational system which would not only help many students to invest in the future of the US, but also would reduce crime as well.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Tax payer

      Glad to hear you enjoy digging ditches. I hope you enjoy a long "career" and are physically capable after say 40 years of doing it.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  79. ES

    I went through an education in my home country (Russia) where college was free but there were requirements to comply with:
    1, pass entrance exams – more stringent the better school was
    2. get a passing grade on all the classses every semester and finish in 5 years. If you can't get a pssing grade, you are out and have to reapply next year.
    Now, in most-USSR Russia there are free spots for about 30% ( top grades) and the rest have to pay the full price if they want the education.

    if you don't conotrol the quality of the applicantr this way there will be too many people going to college (since it is free) who cannot handle the studies and who will not be employable afterwards and a burden on society.
    Those who didn't qualify for college where channled into trade schools (also free) for 2-4 years to obtain a prefession.

    Obviously, Russia (USSR) is a totalitarian state. In the US I see an issue with implementing restrictions approach since a lot of people will claim they are unfairly denied the education. This is the case in Germany where already in 8th grade or so kids are separate into college and non-college material. And those who miss the cut often feel resentment.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  80. Bill

    You should pay for your first degree, but if your job is outsourced the government should tax business and have them pay the full tab to retrain you, corporations would be less likely to outsource if they had to bear the financial responsibility for destroying the lives of their workers.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • utahsang

      Nobody owes you a job! It is up to you to make yourself valuable and if you are dissatisfied with your job then leave nobody can make you stay at a job you don't like take control of your life.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  81. Melissa

    Frankly, I think instead of having the government and society pay for a college tuition that parents and school leaders start being honest with high school students. It is practical in some instances to go to a community college for two years at 1/2 the cost or make the decision to go to a college with less tuition. Too many times people push for students to go to the BEST school in the state or country at the expense of the student when they graduate, and in most cases the BEST school doesn't mean you'll graduate with a job.

    If you go to an expensive college and major in a subject that has no correlation to getting a job when you graduate, then I shouldn't have to pay for your poor decision. Go to community college for the first two years for 1/2 the cost and then continue onto a moderately priced college YES one that you can actually pay back the loans after you graduate. Also be practical and pick a major that will land you a JOB. 75% of the time you actually learn more in the job....so pick a major that will get your foot in the door.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Otro

      So I should forego my Dreams for a major that will land me a Job... now I know why job satisfaction sucks.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  82. Jim

    It was not until about 1900 that every child was required to attend high school. Before then kids got some schooling (essentially elementary school) and then went to work. Now100 years later, I agree that it is about time to increase this level of academic requirement, especially if one believes that investing in the education of our young is good for the country. Should local, state, or federal government pay for this ? That would be a good debate, but the intention to increase our investments in our society's education should not be.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  83. jack

    GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE GIVE THOSE WHO NEEDY PEOPLE WHO KIDS CAN NOT AFFORD COLLAGE. THERE IS SO MANY FAMILY KIDS HAVE TALENT BUT THEY CANT AFFORD HIGHER EDUCTION. EDUCTION IS BASE OF COUNTRY FOUNDATION. IF YOUR FOUNDATION IS STRONG YOUR COUNTRY GOING TO STRONG. EVEN MASTER PROGRAM NEED TO PROVIDE MONEY NEEDY STUDENT. OUR COUNTRY GAVE BILLIONS MUSLIM COUNTRY WHY WE DO NOT PROVIDE THAT NEEDY PEOPLE THAT MONEY. CONGRESS ALSO CUT THEIR SALARY SAVE MONEY AND LET GIVE HOPE FOR OUR CHILDREN. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    February 9, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • SD

      Thanks Jack by illustrating your point through poor spelling, grammar and caps lock. Surprisingly enough, this does more to prove your point of providing money to educate students than a well constructed response.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
      • Mark

        Poor spelling, grammar, and keyboarding are all things that should be learned well before college. Therefore, this proves nothing except possibly a broken education system that is in place currently. Higher education is not about spelling, grammar, and whether you use all caps or not.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  84. The_Mick

    Our government should pay for college, but it should also pay for carpentry, auto repair, etc. training to provide enough high-skilled people in those fields -there's a big shortage of trained auto repairmen now because No Child Left Behind is killing vo-tech. And there should be a limited number of slots for various majors. Right now, we probably graduated 5x the psychology majors as there are jobs but only 1/4 the chemists and other high-math-requiring majors. The higher average pay would return the education costs with dividends by higher tax collections and less time collecting welfare, food stamps, SCHIP health insurance and free school lunches, Medicaid, etc.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  85. bill

    Why don't we just give everyone a college diploma when they turn 21. This would cost nothing. We are already giving many high school students a passing grade even though they rarely make it to class, never do homework and can't read. It would be absurd to suggest that the students save their money and work part time to help pay for a college degree.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  86. Petra Bolanishk

    I grew up in socialist country (Ukraine), but that is not why I argue against 'university for everyone'. Instead think about this: if all citizens are afforded the right to college (paid for by U.S.A.) then the U.S.A. can and should require ALL of those citizens to serve the government (civilian service, military service, et cetra) for a period of time; say 1 year mandatory after graduation. Your president Kennedy said ask what you can do for your country not what it can do for you. Mr. Lester Spence should address that point before saying 'right of college is no brainer' because it is also a no brainer to argue those who take from the government this free university should give back to their country in the end.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • msp

      Totally agree. Today all we ask is what you should give me. If the author is worrying about paying for his 4 children's college, just wait education is a right to everyone. He will be paying for 10 rather than his own 4. That will really give him something to worry about.

      Education and health care are not rights. However the society has an interest in an educated and healthy work force. There is a huge difference between a right and an interest. Individuals has a responsibility to themselves and their families but individuals should also has a compassion for their neighbors. Far be it for anyone to dare suggest that my individuality be limited, that I cannot express myself any way I want to. The flip side of the same coin is that you can't expect anyone else to foot the bill for your expression.

      If you desire the government to pay for all education. Then it is only fair that the one who pays the bills calls the shots. The government should then have a right to tell you what to study, where the study and what to do after your study. That is only fair. Much like the GI Bill, you work for the military, risk your life for them and in return they pay for your education. It would be fair that for every year that the government pay for your education, it gets back a year of free service, And the government should be able to tell you what to study based on what kind of position it needs filled and tell you where in the world to report to duty, just like the military. Oh wait. I don't like the flip side. But for those who do, we already have the program in place.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • capcity

      AGREE! Good points, no one should get a "free ride", pay it back/pay it forward.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  87. PantyRaid

    The Government would never pay for your education because they want you to be in debt. They want you to be a dependent to them and a slave to your loans. As long as you're dependent on Government, you will vote accordingly and they will win.

    How many folks out there collecting welfare going to vote for Obama again? How many seniors voted for Medicare D when Bu$h was in office?

    February 9, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Twiz123

      Yep. Look to California if need to hammer home your point. They vote on every tax pending measure separately from tax revenue measures. Not surprising they always vote "FOR" building the new park and upgrade their schools and things but then vote "AGAINST" every measure to pay for it. "WE" the voters have created the disaster that the country has become and whether people want to talk about it or not, when the California trend is the norm across the country...which it is quickly becoming...we are in for some real trouble. My wife and I, as are many, are looking at what country we are going to be moving to in our retirement years because this place could be very different in another 15-20 years...different bad not different good.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:44 am |
      • Joe

        Ireland is my retirement destination.

        February 9, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  88. Twiz123

    BECAUSE IT IS SOCIALISM. All of the programs you mentioned to counter the concept of socialism were enacted to incentivize people to do things that benefit the US. INCENTIVIZE is the key word there not GIVE IT AWAY. However I personally would like to get rid of all the programs you mentioned...tax deductions and loop holes are the very problem with our tax system, hell just lower the tax rated a few percent and get rid of the deductions and I would be happy every year in April when I can prepare my own taxes because the system would be so much easier. Back to the point...where do you stop? What doesn't become free? I mean I would almost side with you on college and trade schools but we already give away too much money in unsupervised or poorly supervised systems all over the US. I challenge you to name a single federal department or federal program that isn't the cause of millions and often billions of wasted money due to poor management...thats MY MONEY...OUR MONEY. I agree we are well on our way with all of the programs we already have but that doesn't make it a good idea to go further. Being irresponsible a little doesn't make being irresponsible a lot any better.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • BADGUY

      I've worked in BOTH the private and the public sector. The 'working stiff" is pretty much the same in both systems. The only REAL difference is in the guy at the top. In the Public sector, the guy at the top is a high ranking military officer or a high level GS. He makes "good" money but not "outrageously good" money. In the Private Sector, the guy at the top spends most of his time figuring out how to raise his income at the expense of his stock holders, his bankers, his employees and the managers below him. The Private Sector has no bragging rights on "productivity"!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:11 am |
      • twiz1

        That may be true but the stock holder and the consumer both get the individual choice as to whether or not they buy or sell that stock and whether or not to buy the product sold by that company. I as an individual do not get to choose whether or not to pay my taxes to support a bad product or a bad program. To your credit I agree that most CEO's are overpaid with the exception of CEO's that CREATE the product and are founders of the company...Bill Gates, Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace) and others like them deserve all the riches that come with the creation of a company. Why we need to pay the CEO of General Electric millions of dollars is definitely up for debate...although I have been put in my place by smart people on that topic as well but I will stick to my stance that its usually too much money.

        Ultimately the difference is a bad company with a bad a bad CEO and a product eventually goes out of business. In the public sector (especially at the federal program level) they just raise taxes...that is ABSOLUTELY NOT THE SAME as a private company.

        February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  89. amy

    It amazes me how little Americans value education, as proven by so many comments here. And it is insane to have people saddled with a quarter million dollar debt before their 22nd birthday.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Twiz123

      Amy I have an idea...GO TO A CHEAPER SCHOOL! I am an executive of a 500 person company making TONS of money. I went to a mediocre state college that cost me for four years less than 25% of what I make in a year now. YOU chose to go to an expensive school why should I HAVE TO PAY for your decision?!?!?!?

      February 9, 2012 at 8:36 am |
      • amy

        Even "cheap" state schools can cost over a 100k for a 4 year degree now. And "mediocre" is not what one should I aspire to, or settle for, in education. Or anything else for that matter.

        February 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Thomas

      Also consider "working your way through college". Many of us did.

      No one has a "right' to just go to school full time and have nothing else to worry about. Many people worked full time jobs and got their degree. It is not easy nor fun.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:48 am |
      • amy

        Fordham University is close to 70 grand a year. Exactly how is an 18 year old supposed to be able to earn enough to pay tuition? Again, if we valued education more as a society, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

        February 9, 2012 at 8:50 am |
      • Twiz123

        Exactly...I aspire to have the best as well...I want a Farrari...can I afford a Ferrari...well actually I can but to my point I do NOT own a Ferrari. Because while it may be a much better car it doesn't benefit my financial aspirations. So I value my financial portfolio more than a car. You clearly value a larger piece of paper than mine more than your finances. I am not criticizing you for that decision just don't ask me to pay for your larger piece of paper. I just checked my schools tuition and its $40k a year...so I was wrong its WAY less than 25% of what I make a year...with bonus included almost less than 10% of what I make in a year. So if you like your big expensive school who am I to criticize you...just go get a jub and expect to pay that off over the next 25 years. Mine was paid for the day I graduated...

        February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
      • Twiz123

        Oh my god I totally misread my school's tuition...$2000 a semester for 12 hours and $2000 for room and board a semester. SO all in including room and board for a 4 year degree is under $40,000 at my alma mater...and yet for that modest fee I make in the mid six figures....I could pay off my four years of college including room and board sometime in my third or fourth week of work in ONE YEAR. hahahahaaha When you graduate Amy come interview with me...although I don't know if I could hire you since we review people's credit reports in our decision making process!!!!! hahahahaha

        February 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
      • amy

        Ok Twix, so even your "cheap" and "mediocre" college would saddle someone with 160 thousand dollars of debt. Thanks for proving my point.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
      • amy

        Oh honey. 😦 The more you sit on the computer at 9:30 in the morning bragging about how much money you make, the more I know you are sitting at home hoping your unemployment doesn't run out.

        February 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
      • Twiz123

        Not at home...at work...rolling in the dough. hahahahaahahahaha We are looking for interns right now...$10/hr...

        February 9, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • NonBeliever

      If you value education you're willing to WORK for it, not expect it as a handout from those who HAVE worked for it. The author of this article is just another liberal nitwit who thinks "the taxpayers should provide". Here's a thought. He should only have had the number of kids that he could provide for INCLUDING their college education. Five kids?!?!? What, they didn't know what was causing them?? Don't breed 'em if you can't feed (and educate!) 'em. Where do these gimme people think money comes from? Oh wait, like the idiot in the White House, they think we should just borrow some more from China and not worry about debt. College costs are the responsibility of the parents, period. If they're unwilling to fulfill their responsibility, the kids will just have to work their way through college, period. Grants should be eliminated, taxpayers should be bearing NONE of the burden for college educations. GET OFF YOUR BUTTS AND WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT OR DO WITHOUT!
      .

      February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am |
      • realitypgh

        Now that I see your whole message, I am sorry that I wasted my time in responding to you at all!

        February 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • msp

      TO the contrary, Americans value education but not hard work. If you have not been asleep at the helm in the past 12 years of your K-12 education, you would have gotten in a good school for a lot less money. There is always money for the excellent. If you are mediocre, why are you looking for an excellent school in the first place? You can't expect a great school for cheap when you are dime in a dozen.

      This is not Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  90. GySgtG

    people, As with healthcare. it is the parents responsibility to take care of their family, not the neighbors or the governments! if your kids don't go to college then YOU FAILED them.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • duh

      what an assinine comment! If you were able to do that for your kid(s) then good for you. I hope your kids appreciate it and are not spoiled. Not everyone is is always able to make enough money required to send a child or two or three to college. Could be for a lot of factors out of their control like medical condition with bills, laid off... I did not go to college initially because I didn't want to put the financial burden on my parents. I went into the military, and took college courses when time and finances permitted (yes we still pay a portion). I know I appreciate what I have now more because I earned it. To call a parent a failure just because of not being able to send a kid to college is just BS. What are the parents of kids who go to college and go on to become wall street crooks or politicians?? A successful parent is one who instills good moral and ethical values that stick.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Dano

      Your wrong. It take a community to raise a child. This is why we are failing as a society. The parents are important but everyone needs to be invested in our youth.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
      • GySgtG

        you raise your kids and i'll raise mine. i don't want nor desire your socialist idea near my kids. i have produced one doctor, one pilot, and one becoming an engineer. I did so without making someone else pay their way. I take care of my family. If you can’t care for your then that is your problem.

        February 9, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  91. Matt

    I think this could be a great idea if the free money is for degrees that the country needs. We need more engineers not lawyers. We need people that create ideas and build things. Not history or anyother liberal arts degrees. If the leadership would look at what we are short of i.e. science and math. Put out there pay for degrees that can be of use to ALL of use. Theater majors can wait.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Twiz123

      Ok now this is an idea I can get behind because we also need so freaking doctors pretty bad. This goes back to my original post. Subsidizing things we need to create incentives for people to do things we want them to do is NOT socialism its just a good business practice. Good idea.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:39 am |
      • honesthoward

        It's articles like this that make me thankful Democrats don't have control of the House. Where would the federal govt social justice end?

        February 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
      • Matt

        Kill two birds with one stone. You want to be a doctor – great! We the people will pay for that degree, BUT, You have to work for a VA or Government hospital for six years after and all the people that need health care can go to these hospitals for free. Works for me!

        February 9, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Mas

      Yeah liberal arts sucks they don't make anything -look at that violin maker he's selling them for 55000 dollars thats nothing just should be thrown down the toilet LIBERAL ARTS SUCKS cause they don't make anything useful like Cabinet makers and wood carversand architects.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:36 am |
      • Matt

        That guy is one in a million. Can't make them now. The government will take the wood. "See Gibson"

        February 9, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  92. DetroitMan

    Okay, so the author proposes that the Federal Government spend $30 to $60 billion per year to send people to college. Where does the money come from? It's nice to say that it's possible. It is true that the proposed amount is much less than we spend on some other things. But it is still a huge amount of money, and the author doesn't even have one suggestion about where to get it from. Somebody has to be taxed, and history shows that the middle class will most likely get stuck with the bill. So this isn't really free education. We'll just write our checks to Fed instead of a university.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Matt

      Kid tax? If you have a kid, pay a small tax now (from birth to eighteen) then you don't have to come up with ten's of thousands later. I don't understand why we (as a country) spend billions of dollars every year on kids (school,food at school, transportation, after school programs, sports, Rec. centers etc.) and then give people that have kids money back at the end of the year.... ???. Take the tax deduction away for having a kid and put that money towards education..?

      February 9, 2012 at 8:27 am |
      • NonBeliever

        I have long wondered at the "logic" that gives people tax breaks for breeding. If you have children you use more resources, more services, more of everything. Therefore you should pay MORE taxes than those who don't have children. We are long past the time when increasing the population was a good idea. Instead of children being a tax deduction, they should mean a higher tax rate. Let's have breeders "pay their fair share".

        February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
      • Matt

        In VA. I pay a property tax on my car. This is to pay for the cost of roads etc. that my cars uses. A kid tax could pay for the cost of raiseing that kid i.e. schools etc.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:01 am |
      • Lori

        Awesome idea!

        February 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  93. Jeff

    Let's just have the government pay for everything. They can gas up my car, buy my groceries, pay my rent, and cover my copay if I get sick. If we don't have enough money, we'll just tax more rich people, or better yet - print up more cash. Let the good times roll!

    February 9, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Common Sense

      Looks like you have enough already Jeff, maybe you need to share some of it and help your fellow man.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  94. hey

    Its amazing that this is even talked about now. This is America and we work for everything we get, but the gov't has increased so much now that people freely talk about things like this. This is what happens in the old Soviet Union, China, and Nazi Germany and other socialist countries. The state will be making plans for everyone. Alarms should be going off all over this land.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  95. Andrew

    Think of the economic benefits of a very highly educated and skilled young population not saddled with enormous student loan debt.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Thomas

      If every person gets a college degree, who will work the jobs which do not require a college degree?

      As a society, we need workers at all levels. We also have to admit that not every single person is cut out for college.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:10 am |
      • Matt

        There are no jobs for either. The foreign exchange kids get the jobs.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Common Sense

      A great idea, but unfortunately it only benefits the majority so it won't happen.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Matt

      I would love to see a young generation that gives a $h1T!!

      February 9, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  96. DumbBO

    We as a society already provide free high school education. Why don't the citizens of Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, etc. avail themselves of this opportunity? Why do we have a dropout rate of 50%?

    Instead of providing free college educations, why don't we concentrate on providing degrees in useful, meaningful skills. The type that actually lead to jobs. Do away with degrees in black studies, humanitarian studies and other topics which do not lead to job opportunities.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Danny

      Damn good point! But let's not let logic get in the way of progress.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Mike Supreme

      What about Black Transgendered Studies? LOL.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  97. Marcus

    If the govt. did pay tuition for U.S. citizens to attend college, you would see a very rapid drop in college tuition. I also believe that the govt. should stabilize and subsidize gasoline prices as well, and stop gouging the residents of the U.S. Every time another nation has an issue, gas prices go up overnight. Whenever that issue is resolved it takes six months for gas prices to drop. I am sick and tired of the failed leadership in this country.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Brian

      Marcus,

      You are simply flat wrong. Has the cost of retirement gone down since SS implementation? What about health care costs? The very reason prices rise are because of government involvement. The reason college tuition is rising so rapidly is not because of costs, but rather the OVERWHELMING amount of money the federal government ALREADY subsidizes in the form of loans. 18 years old and need a 250k loan with no money down and have the gov pay your interest while your in school? SURE Uncle Sam is there for you. Colleges realize that ANYONE can apply for federal aid and in turn jack up their tuition rates. Of course the government isn't smart enough to understand whats going on and their solution, as it is with everything, is to pump more money into it.

      What do you think will happen if the government stopped pumping all this loan money out? Attendance would plummet! But that is EXACTLY what has to happen for prices to drop. The demand for higher education will never go away and thus Universities will be forced to lower their costs. The endowments these Universities hold should cover any short term losses. The government need not apply to fix this problem. Its the same with health care. Have costs gone down yet? Insurance is just like tuition. Doctors don't charge their outrageous prices because thats what it actually costs to look down your throat and tell you that you have a cold. They charge that because they know the insurance companies will pay for it (often times mandated by government regulations). Same with tuition. The Universities charge because they know the government will fork over the loan to someone.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
      • Matt

        You don't have defaults (which cause prices to rise) if you don't have to get a loan in the first place... then you'll see tuition prices receed. Problem is, the lenders insist on making 7%-8% APR which is, in reality, a false calculation because interest is capitalized in most programs... Hopefully this all works out so you can take a free finance/economics class.

        February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Matt

      LOL... I work for the gvernment. Any time they touch anything the price goes up.. Checked your health insurance lately?

      February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  98. spijder

    While anyone can already for free gain college-level knowledge in many subjects via Open Course Ware or OCW (do a websearch, you'll be amazed), this knowledge is not something that one can put on one's resume as it goes untested, unevaluated and unproven by grades and degrees. It still would do us well to have more people more educated even if that education doesn't provide a degree.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Marcus

      Great point, however most companies are now requiring that college degree, regardless of whether or not the individual is qualified for the job. The one with the degree will get the job, while the other one will have to keep looking. It is always a good idea to continually improve ones self in this society.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:00 am |
      • spijder

        With the progression from 'must have high school diploma' to 'must have a bachelors degree' in educational requirements for basic jobs, it may be time to create a college equivelency much like a GED. Since the OCW is already out there the most feasible system may be to build on it with GED style testing. Though saying that one always needs a boss only stunts innovation, industry creation and stagnates job growth as new businesses create more jobs than those existing ever could.

        February 9, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  99. Jeff of Peoria

    There is always somebody looking for a hand-out. We pay for grade school and high so you can get into college. Imagine what college costs would be if we did this.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • S.Jones

      you must work for the government...

      February 9, 2012 at 8:02 am |
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