Monday, February 16, 2009

Follow the Leader

by Daniel Bennett

Johns Hopkins University is the latest school to announce a hiring and salary freeze. This comes as no surprise as colleges across the US react to the downturn in the economy that has resulted in large losses of college endowments and a decline in college affordability for students and their parents. JHU took a step in the right direction by imposing a 5 percent reduction in top administrator pay--a act that should be viewed by the public and college officials as a realistic opportunity to make useful change.

However there is still much to be desired with respect to bringing colleges back to reality at a time when administrative pay is bloated and the number of high ranking college bureaucrats has risen disproportionately to student enrollment. The number of FTE executive-level officials has grown by more then 53 percent over the past 20 years, whereas FTE enrollment only grew by 39 percent.* These trends have contributed to the public outrage over the soaring price of college, along with a plethora of other missteps along the way.

A friend of mine has a newborn little girl and is already thinking about saving for her college education. She was shocked after talking to her financial advisor to find out that the family will need to save over $400 a month for the next 18 years in order to cover the cost of attending the University of Virginia (a Public college) if the current tuition trends continue to rise at the rates that they have over the last decade. This is assuming a 10% annual rate of return on investment. This is ridiculous and something has to give. The current recession is a perfect opportunity to correct many of the failed policies and university mismanagement that have enabled the tuition bubble and allow it to burst, so that the future generation of Americans can afford to earn an education and advance our nation and world economically.

* Figures cited are from ongoing research and represent a sample of 2,784 degree-granting colleges, which represents 55% of degree-granting institutions and 85.5 percent of student enrollment


capeman said...

This is the same Daniel Bennett who a couple of days ago wanted to eliminate all subsidies to public universities. Now he's complaining that the University of Virginia will be charging too much 18 years hence.

You can't have it both ways. If you think eliminating public subsidies is going to make private universities as cheap as the public universities of yore, nuts is the word to describe this.

maxheadroom said...

When I listened to Lansing, Michigan’s Mayor Virg Bernero’s Webcam tirade on Fox News earlier, I could not help but notice the same Rod Blagojevich-esque “It’s everyone else’s damn fault” mantra when the mayor demanded that taxpayers – meaning largely you and I – bail out the automotive industry. His argument centered on “fairness” in trade practices and, well, I seem to be hearing a lot about “fairness” lately.

Unfortunately, when liberal Democrats toss the word “fair” around, they aren’t using it within the context of, say, fair tax. What their intentions are is a matter of equality. Now, I am a simple-minded person. I figure that if “equality” does not exist within the Paradise that is Heaven (Kreeft 1990, 29), then how can I reasonably expect equality to exist within the hell that is human-occupied Earth?

The problem is, liberal-minded Democrats (and liberal–leaning Independents and wayward Republicrats) do not seek “equality” to empower the downtrodden or even the mistreated. No, they want to restrict the successful and responsible as with the Fairness Doctrine. This is, and always has been, their primary objective. How can they achieve this, you innocently ask? By, putting it very mildly, tinkering with our government. The latest variant of this is through endorsing salary caps for corporate executives, which caters to the resentment of Wall Street “fat cats” by the public.

Of course, the obvious problem with Wall Street vis รก vis the current recession is not too much salary. It is too much education. Fox News ran an article today that highlights the breadth of educational experience for those who ran their companies into the ground and now seek your hard-earned dollars to bail out their disastrous policies. I want you to keep this and the fact that liberals preach the value of a university education while you read the remainder of this article.

Supporters of President Barack Obama have always highlighted his Ivy-league education as a panacea for our nation’s problems. He is so much more “intelligent” than the “bumbling fool” that he replaced. Oh, really? When has an Ivy-league education produced anything that could not be retrieved from the library with but a little effort on our part? In fact, the greatest achievements of humankind were accomplished by people with little or no exposure to college at all.

It is the Liberal mind that tries to convince us that college degrees, and from specific universities at that, are required for survival within today’s challenging environment. This is the same asinine mentality that sent the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for one, on a sixty-year losing record in matters of national security. Oh, I am quite certain that the “common folk” within the CIA try their best to succeed, but they are sabotaged by the Ivy-leaguers who created and manage the Agency.

In 1948, the new director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), Frank Wisner, dismissed people with street sense (e.g., FBI agents, ex-cops, etc.) for people that exhibited “a kind of elite within the elite” (Thomas 2006, 99). To deal with our nation’s safety, he specifically recruited veterans of Wall Street and from Ivy-league universities (Thomas 2006, 9). These leaders were overwhelmingly politically liberal Democrats (Thomas 2006, 238) as evidenced by CIA legend Desmond FitzGerald’s desire for the perfect operative as a “Harvard Ph.D. who could handle himself in a bar fight” (Thomas 2006, Caption 8). Judging by history, I assume that FitzGerald hoped his operatives could negotiate their way out of trouble. Myself, I’d prefer a high school dropout who could win bar brawls.

Is it any wonder then that President Obama meets every crisis with the formation of a study group or implementation of a “Czar” to handle the situation? Just like the CIA Ivy-leaguers who consistently got hammered by people who cared less about chivalry our current administration is being broadsided by an otherwise cyclic turn of the economy. Our current problem is nothing less than an economic bar fight and we don’t need any stinkin’ Harvard Ph.D.s to dawdle on the issue. We, you and I who know how to handle ourselves in “bar brawls”, know precisely what’s needed to emerge victorious. We simply need more of our own money kept within our wallets and pocketbooks.

Instead, much like the CIA handling another one of its many failed covert operations, the Ivy-leaguers in Washington have determined the need to throw a $1 Trillion at an otherwise routine problem. Again, like the CIA fiascoes throughout the Third World, Washington’s past policies are what caused this particular crisis in the first place. It began when those in power decided that everyone was equally guaranteed prosperity regardless of our effort. The only thing that we’re “guaranteed” is the opportunity.

So when Mayor Bernero literally had to be told on Fox News that he wasn’t the “Energizer Bunny” and to “calm down”, his presence of mind still seemed trapped in the liberal fantasy that the federal government could, somehow, save America’s ailing automobile industry. As the son of a late-GM/UAW worker and whose 81-year-old mother rests on the laurels of his father’s pension, I am acutely aware of the importance of Michigan’s automobile giants. However, the problem with GM, Ford, and Chrysler has very little to do with Japanese and Korean competition. It has very much to do with bureaucratic obstructionism.

For every job lost by the automotive industry, we can blame no one but the industry itself. They are the ones who kowtowed the unions and engaged in unsustainable benefits packages. The UAW, for one, is crooked, diabolical, and archaic to say the least. They say that they represent the interests of the American worker. Oh, really? During the past election, my God-fearing, pro-Life mother received mailings every day suggesting that the God-hating, pro-Abortion Democratic Party had her best interest at heart. Yeah, right. My mother never fell for their fantasies. As a simple high-school student from a Northern Michigan town whose 2009 population barely exceeds twenty, she is much too educated for their shenanigans.