Why Free-College Schemes Won’t Fly

In their newest attempt at mass bribery, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and his fellow socialists are now loudly touting their plans to erase $1.6 trillion in college debt and make college free for everyone. It’s just the latest “plank” in the 2020 Democratic platform of “Free Everything for Everyone Until We Run out of Other Peoples’ Money.”

There is so much wrong with the idea it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps we should start with the “free” aspect of it. At least Breadline Bernie is being semi-honest when he says he’ll fund his plans by taxing Wall Street—as in someone gets taxed to pay for the “free.” Do people not understand that they might get “free college” and then pay more in taxes for the rest of their lives in order to pay for that “free?”

But one of the fundamental problems with the whole scheme can be summed up in this question no one asked at the Democratic debates this week: Why are taxpayers even involved at all?

Put another way: Why should taxpayers be victims of the fraudulent behavior of the colleges and universities? This is between the kids and the colleges; the taxpayers have nothing to do with it.

If Bernie and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are so concerned about college debt, they should demand student reparations from the colleges and the universities sitting on endowments of hundreds of billions of dollars and then actually address the real problem: the fact that most colleges and universities are charities, getting significant tax breaks while then accepting government loans that incentivize price inflation.

The higher education establishment borders somewhere between the neighborhoods of collusion and fraud; collusion between the colleges and government to create easy loans and price inflation, gouging the sucker kids and parents, and fraud with the colleges saddling students with sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for worthless degrees that don’t get them jobs in the real world.

Seriously, in what world does it make sense to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree in something like women’s studies, especially in light of what’s coming our way with automation? And to be blunt, most 18 year olds should not be empowered to make life decisions with six figures on the line.

It’s time to re-examine the entire process by which student loans work, but also to take a hard look at nonprofits which offer services we are pleased to call “education.” How do they compare to other nonprofits that offer services?

The majority of our hospitals are nonprofits, and an even greater majority of our colleges and universities are. Up until recently with Trump’s executive order regarding pricing transparency for healthcare providers, there has been little attempt to demand hospitals be transparent about what their real costs are. When a nonprofit offering services reaches a certain level or incoming revenue, perhaps there needs to be a trigger point where they are no longer considered charities and convert to S-corps or C-corps.

In the meantime, President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin should change the tax regulations governing nonprofits that offer services and insist that such organizations that make $20 million or more in annual revenues need to disclose the exact costs and prices of everything. That would shine a light on what real costs are, increase competition, and expose the price gouging taking place. Because let’s face it, that is what is taking place. While our leaders have been asleep at the wheel, healthcare costs and higher education costs have exploded, leaving us in this situation.

As is typical of the infantile socialists, however, their response is not to deal with the root issues.

Of course, Bernie and company would never force colleges to pay reparations out of their own endowments: why damage the indoctrination centers of higher learning that are producing so many mush-minded followers for them? No, instead, they imagine it’s far better to use middle class taxpayers as their ATM to further themselves politically.

Let’s face it: with everything they are proposing right now, from Medicare for All and the Green New Deal to free college and to universal basic income, it’s not really about solving real problems. It can’t be. None of their ideas are based in reality. All of the Democrats’ talk about free this and that boils down to stealing someone else’s money and giving it to others in hopes of winning votes and consolidating political power.

But they have a problem: there’s more than one way to get “woke.”

Taxpayers—especially the middle-income earners—have gotten very woke. They are sick of the abuse that has been heaped upon them. While most of the Left and mainstream media are still befuddled why a brash billionaire who’d never run for office before won in 2016, it’s really not that hard to understand. The taxpayers and workers of this country have been abused, have been sold out by immoral leadership in both parties. They are tired of a government they fund not working for them and not prioritizing their interests.

So if the lefties and “democratic socialists” want to continue pushing crazy ideas like taxpayer-funded “free college,” I say to them: knock yourselves out. All you’re doing is putting the taxpayers’ and workers’ seething resentment on steroids . . . and  just in time for the 2020 elections.

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Photo Credit: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.

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