Europe Has Free College. Here’s How It’s Working Out.

Europe Has Free College. Here’s How It’s Working Out.

By Mary Clare Amselem, January 17, 2020

Mary Clare Amselem is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation.

Free college sounds great! Who doesn’t like free stuff?

To make the idea sound even more appealing, advocates continuously cite Europe as an example of success. Many European countries offer their citizens tuition-free higher education, so why can’t America?

The truth is that free college in Europe is no success story. Rather, it should serve as a cautionary tale for the United States.

European-style tuition-free higher education has proved one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt: “Free” college is actually wildly expensive.

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Americans already pay a steep price for our higher education system. Taxpayers—including those who never went to college and never intend to—spend more than $150 billion a year on federal student loans, grants, and other government programs.

The increasingly hefty price tag attached to college tuition reflects the fact that colleges have no incentive to keep their prices low because students can so easily take out massive loans from Washington.

One of the few factors putting any downward pressure on higher education costs is the growing criticism that universities receive for leaving so many students burdened with massive amounts of student loan debt.

Under a fully financed government system, however, universities would receive no such scrutiny. They’d simply pass the bill to Washington and let lawmakers take the heat from unhappy taxpayers.

That cumulative bill would quickly skyrocket. Many European countries that have experimented with “free college” are finding that approach to be simply unaffordable. Germany, for example, saw a 37% increase in the college subsidy cost to taxpayers once public universities removed tuition.

Similarly, England had a free-college policy between the 1960s and the 1990s. Enrollment soared, straining government revenues. Ultimately, England had to lower resources by 39% per student.

Ultimately, England’s free college policy wound up hurting low-income students the most, as schools were forced to cap the number of students admitted.

In fact, according to researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, “the gap in degree attainment between high- and low-income families more than doubled.”

European countries that offer tuition-free higher education also struggle with the issue of completion. Finland, for example, ranks first among all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in terms of subsidies for higher education, with 96% of all higher education funding coming from public sources. However, Finland ranks 25th among OECD countries for degree attainment.

France famously touts its tuition-free university system. Seldom, however, do its boasts note that almost 50% of French students drop out or fail out after just their first year.

It is clear that transferring the entire cost of higher education from students to taxpayers is fraught with unintended consequences.

Countries such as England and Poland actually saw significant increases in higher education quality and access after reinstating private tuition payments in their countries. It appears that there is some value in requiring students to invest in their own education.

Given the increased tax burdens placed on taxpayers (including those who don’t hold degrees), the significant overcrowding, and high dropout rates, European-style free college should largely be considered a public policy failure.

The $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt that Americans owe is certainly a crisis. However, the solution to this problem is not to encourage more students to attend who may later drop out and ask Americans who did not go to college to pay for those who do.

This would fuel inefficient higher education spending and weaken the integrity of our colleges and universities.

The solution, in America as in Europe, is to put individuals rather than governments in charge of higher education financing.

The Comey Coverup Unravels

From WSJ

The Comey Coverup Unravels
The FBI, the CIA and the press all have much to be embarrassed about.

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Jan. 17, 2020 6:37 pm ET

In a curious report on Thursday evening, the New York Times carefully averts its eyes from everything that’s interesting. Even Adam Schiff has acknowledged that James Comey’s actions in 2016 may represent the most important and significant Russian influence on the election. (Hoist your shot glass. This will be the umpteenth time I’ve quoted Mr. Schiff on this matter in this column.)

Surely one of the most consequential pieces of intelligence ever received by U.S. agencies was, as we now learn, received in early 2016 from a Dutch counterpart. This is the dubious Russian intelligence that set off Mr. Comey’s multiple interventions in the last presidential race, culminating in an improper act that may have inadvertently elected Donald Trump. Even at the time Mr. Comey’s FBI colleagues considered the intelligence, which indicated questionable actions by the Justice Department to fix the Hillary email investigation, to be false, possibly a Russian plant.

The Times adds the unsurprising revelation that Mr. Comey himself is suspected in the illegal leak that, in early 2017, alerted the media to this untold aspect of his 2016 actions, before the matter disappeared again behind a veil of official secrecy. Yet bizarrely, the paper plays down its scoop, suggesting that any inquiry into a “years-old” leak now can only be a political hit job by an “ambitious” Justice Department attorney seeking to please President Trump.

First of all, I doubt this subject pleases Mr. Trump—it re-raises the question of whether his election was an accident caused by Mr. Comey. Second, the information is obviously important. The scandal hiding in plain sight is our intelligence establishment’s misuse of its authority to muck around in the 2016 election.

As a bonus, I’m going to suggest the FBI’s own pursuit of the collusion will-o’-the-wisp may have been occasioned by its hope of finding that the same fabricated Russian intelligence was in the hands of the Trump campaign, providing an ex post justification for Mr. Comey’s actions that he desperately would have wanted once fingers began pointing at him for Mrs. Clinton’s defeat. (I guess we can at least be glad he didn’t plant the information on Carter Page. )

Let’s call a spade a spade. The media is a big part of the coverup. When the Justice Department inspector general issued his damning report on Mr. Comey, not one media outlet in the Factiva database told its readers about the existence of its classified appendix except this column and Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid.

Mr. Comey himself, after allegedly leaking the secret information to the press, penned a sententious memoir suggesting the same info should remain hidden from the American people “decades from now.”

And while flogging fake revelations from the nonexistent Trump-Russia conspiracy, the mainstream press ignored a public plea, uttered before Congress, by the Justice Department’s own inspector general that the secret Comey information be declassified so the people and their representatives can know the truth about 2016.

On Thursday night, former Rep. Trey Gowdy reported that the information Mr. Comey is suspected of leaking to the media he refused to share even with Congress in a classified briefing, saying it was too top secret.

The mainstream media has been uncharacteristically silent about all this for too long—and you’re about to find out why. Whether from design or myopia, it allowed itself to be instrumental in suppressing real news in favor of a fairy tale about Mr. Trump and the Russians. That’s the deeper message of the Times’s weirdly conflicted handling of its scoop about Mr. Comey.

Leaking secret intelligence, if that’s what Mr. Comey did, is a crime. But even more palpable is something else: The information remains officially classified not to protect national security but to protect the national-security establishment from embarrassment.

The story here truly contains something for everybody. If you think Mr. Trump never should have been president, blame Mr. Comey. If you think the “deep state” is running amok, here’s your evidence. If you think the intelligence establishment is incompetent and needs a Trumpian kick in the derrière, even more so.

Alas, every revelation about this matter turns out to be a revelation also about the deviousness and expediency of Mr. Comey, the nation’s former FBI director. What should happen now? More than ever, Attorney General William Barr should act on the authority Mr. Trump has given him and declassify the inspector general’s report as well any material describing the role of other agencies (e.g., the CIA) in Mr. Comey’s election-meddling escapades.

Iran’s Greatest Myth: Moderates Waiting in the Wings

From: Independent Institute

Iran’s Greatest Myth: Moderates Waiting in the Wings

Alvaro Vargas Llosa • Wednesday January 15, 2020 3:21 PM PST • 1 Comment

Every time Iran is in the news, the same old myths about the country’s politics seem to fill the airwaves and the print media, fueled by politicians and commentators.

By far the most important myth is the one that divides the regime between hardliners and moderates. According to this view, a significant part of the establishment, including President Hassan Rouhani himself, is made up of closet moderates who are waiting for the opportunity to restore relations with the West and reform, perhaps even dismantle, the political system and begin a transition. The opportunity for them to overthrow the Ayatollah and the mullahs, the story goes, will come about as a result of western pressure.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence of an existing moderate wing inside the Iranian regime, just as there was no evidence that prior to the Soviet Union’s implosion Mikhail Gorbachev and fellow supporters of glasnost and perestroika constituted a liberal current within the Soviet regime, waiting to bring about its destruction. If such evidence had existed, Gorbachev would not have been picked to lead the state. He himself had no intention of actually dismantling the communist system. His intention was to save it by making it more open and productive, and less onerous—but his actions had unforeseen consequences.

The Iranian regime is made up of people with varying degrees of fanaticism, conviction, and courage, which means that many of its members are probably there out of cowardice or opportunism. They, and even some of those who pass for hardliners, would betray the system if they had to so in order to save their necks, but they are not working as a group towards any democratic goal.

Sure, there are those who are natural economic populists such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the infamous former president, and others, such as President Rouhani, who understand the need for austerity when things get out of hand—which is why he presided over unpopular austerity measures at the end of 2018. But the “moderates” around Rouhani are just as responsible as the hardliners for viciously repressing the economic protests that erupted at the end of 2017 and those that were sparked off one year later by the tripling of gasoline prices. The second time hundreds of protestors were killed and thousands jailed and tortured.

From time to time, in order to survive, the regime makes tactical concessions or opens a big divide between its words and its actions, as we recently saw when it responded to the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani ordered by President Trump with an attack on U.S. bases in Iraq aimed at avoiding casualties. They wanted to avoid an open conflict that might endanger the regime. But the regime’s imperialist foreign policy in the Middle East continued even under the heavy international sanctions before and after the 2015 nuclear deal, and it will continue now that the deal seems to have collapsed.

The liberation of Iran will likely come from internal developments we cannot anticipate yet rather than from external action. Evidently, there is a powerful anti-government sentiment as shown by the periodic riots and protests that sometimes involve the rural poor, sometimes the liberal, educated middle class, and sometimes the so-called “middle class poor”. Given that almost two-thirds of the population is under 30 years old (in large part because having many children was encouraged by the mullahs in the early years of the Revolution), the people’s rage is a testimony of the utter political, economic and religious failure of the theocracy. Only through brutal force is it able to maintain its power—until one day that will no longer be enough.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. His Independent books include Global Crossings, Liberty for Latin America, and The Che Guevara Myth.

Conrad Black, Teachers And Education And Society.

From The National Post

Conrad Black: Ontario families deserve better than their so-called education system

Teachers have to stop swaddling their avarice and negligence in a fog of pious claptrap about putting the interests of the schoolchildren first

Conrad Black

January 17, 2020

The renewed agitation by teachers in Ontario highlights the debacle of the whole public teaching and school administration apparatus that is possibly the greatest and most universal public policy failing in modern Western civilization. It is one of the richest and most distressing ironies of our times that all of our Western societies consecrate more and more funding resources to education to produce steadily less educated and ostensibly less informed and less usefully intelligent graduates of secondary schools and graduate university programs. Not surprisingly, we are also focusing on fewer and fewer real subjects of authentic study. As my learned and much-harassed friend Jordan Peterson has often said, any course calling itself something that ends with the word “studies” is not a real subject. It is just a part of a larger subject and generally implies the exclusion of most of the real subject (and I write this as a former lecturer at McGill University in “French Canada Studies,” which was in fact the history of Quebec).

Possibly the greatest and most universal public policy failing in modern Western civilization

Illustrative of the endless and debilitating problem of the public education system in Ontario is the announcement on Wednesday of a one-day strike planned for Monday Jan. 20 of the public elementary school teachers in the Toronto and Ottawa areas. (Similar one-day rotating strikes have already closed public secondary schools across the province; Monday’s threatened strike would be the first to directly close elementary schools.) The announcement of the planned stoppage was accompanied by the breezy announcement by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO): “Please know this decision was made with student safety as our first priority.” Hapless parents of the locked-out children may want to reflect on the implications of the fact that the teachers to whom their children are entrusted feel that the best guaranty of the schoolchildren’s safety lies in closing them out of their schools.

The response of the Ontario Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, seems to me very appropriate: the province will compensate affected parents with cash allocation for daycare services on strikebound days. Since, as far as I can deduce, the pupils don’t learn any more at their schools than they would at daycare centres, the schoolchildren are no worse off and the province will economize as long as the striking school personnel are not paid for the days they take off.

ETFO spokespeople said rotating strikes would continue until the provincial government “gets serious” about settling, i.e. caving in to their demands. It reminds me of the main Montreal school commission strike in 1967.

The premier of Quebec, Daniel Johnson (Sr.), enacted an order-in-council requiring an immediate return to work of all teachers, and the order provided that failure to report to work of at least 90 per cent of the teachers involved would result in the officers of the union being taken into custody, the seizure of the union’s assets and the decertification of the union as bargaining agent for the teachers. Any non-compliant teacher without a professional affidavit of a sufficient medical or family emergency excuse for non-compliance would be dismissed for cause and declared ineligible for receipt of any category of benefit from the province for an indefinite period. When asked at his press conference how the government would teach the students if there was not compliance with the order despite its draconian penalties, Johnson po-facedly replied that an armed officer of the Quebec Provincial Police would be placed in each classroom with a closed-circuit television screen, the minister of education and senior colleagues in his department would give the lessons by this method of transmission and $20 million a week would be rebated to Quebec taxpayers while non-unionized schoolteachers were recruited to return to work on terms acceptable to the government. He could not have been entirely serious and the strike ended abruptly anyway, but Johnson was on the right track. Teachers have to stop masquerading as a learned profession while behaving like an irresponsible industrial trade union, and they have to stop swaddling their avarice and negligence in a fog of pious claptrap about putting the interests of the schoolchildren first.

Teachers have to stop masquerading as a learned profession while behaving like an irresponsible industrial trade union

It is a completely impossible student-teacher relationship that reduces pedagogy to rotating strikes amidst unctuous pieties about the welfare of the student-hostages and the outright blackmail of the parents, especially where the parents work on weekdays. That is why the minister’s daycare substitute at least has the makings of a counter-strategy. But if the larger societal problem of declining teaching standards and steadily less proficient graduates of these schools is to be reversed, the entire structure based on the agitation of unionized personnel in top-heavy education administration units has to be overturned. The teachers’ unions should be decertified and pay should be recalibrated on the basis of meritocratic results, with adjustments for more sociologically challenging areas. Two years ago when provincial testing revealed declining test results for successive graduating years, the reaction of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation was to recommend the abandonment of the comparative testing.

This entire mentality of uniform regimented work rules and compensation levels unconnected to anything except seniority has to be scrapped. There is no surer way than continuation of the status quo to produce teachers who uphold George Bernard Shaw’s famous assertion that “He who can does; he who can’t teaches.” We all remember the good teachers we had, but mainly we remember silly and ineffective or excessively authoritarian teachers. They have undoubtedly declined in competence at least in the public system, and from what I see, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on the proposition that the Catholic system is superior — the pontifications of their teachers’ union leader, Liz Stuart, are just as belligerent and philistinistic as those of her secular analogues. The public schools have suffered work stoppages and work-to-rule activity intermittently for the past eight years; the Catholic system has been somewhat less perturbed.

This entire mentality of uniform regimented work rules and compensation levels unconnected to anything except seniority has to be scrapped

The quality of teachers has undoubtedly suffered from what was in all other respects a great step forward for society — the vast improvement of the status of women in professional and executive roles that has drained the teacher pool of a large number of its best practitioners. The teachers should be a learned profession, like university faculty-members, lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, and properly qualified clergy. For this to be affordable to society, we will have to make educational administration less self-perpetuating, and less costly, accept larger classes for more apt students, improve curriculum and stop using the occupation of study of commercially unviable fields as a disguised device for reduction of unemployment by paying stupefying amounts of public money to subsidize underworked faculty imparting politically correct non-academic subjects which are unrelated to a graduate’s ability to be a self-supporting economic participant in society. The more essential crafts, such as plumbing and the more exacting areas of construction and mechanics, should be socio-economically upgraded.

As a society, we must snap out of the class snobbery of the Second World War era in which we have disdained blue-collar work that in fact adds value, in favour of pseudo-academic work that does not, including the frills of academia and the bloated greed of the 360-degree cartel of the legal profession. This entire complex of issues must be addressed, but it all begins by doing a better job of teaching children.

Among other benefits, a better educated population will demand a more elevated and reliable service from the media than the comprehensive failure to inform with integrity and thoroughness that afflicts Canada now. A better teacher corps will produce better educated young people, a more informed and sophisticated population and ultimately higher quality media and more imaginative and successful political leadership. Canada is in danger of becoming fundamentally uncompetitive, a condition that it will not be possible to conceal by mesmerizing the electorate with a lot of nonsense about climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

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Regulation Is Causing A Mess

From The Institute Of Economic Research

By Jeffery Tucker

The more Donald Trump does these extemporaneous speeches at rallies, the better he gets at perfecting their sheer entertainment value. He has a comedic sense of timing. He connects with people like a great entertainer. He speaks to regular problems that people confront in their lives, the way the show Seinfeld did. You could say his is a presidency about nothing but it surely is a great show.

His latest bit – and it gets funnier each time – concerns how government regulations have wrecked our home appliances and bathroom experiences. This is a serious matter that fundamentally threatens the quality of our lives and health.

The toilets don’t flush. There is precious little water coming out of faucets. The dishwasher doesn’t clean dishes. The clothes washers use as little water as possible so clothing comes out dirty. Our showers are unsatisfying because the flow is artificially restricted.

We could go on to mention two other terrible things. The water pressure in our homes is awful so that pipes get full of lime and muck and you have to call the plumber. The hot water heater only warms the water to a temperature that delights bacteria and fungi. Blech! And we keep having to replace things because warm, slow-moving bits of water break down rather than clean the operations of our drains and toilet tanks.

Many households have to work to fight back the stink. Whole cities have dealt with sewer problems because not enough water flows through to keep the place clean.

It’s a huge mess!

The nation that perfected indoor plumbing and emancipated women from household toil has forced a reversion to a time when we had to hand wash everything, keep basins for washing hands, and slog to the outhouse. This is not hyperbole: the pro-misery crowd has turned against all flushing in favor of the composting toilet.

We thought these bad old days of dirt, filth, and disease were gone forever. Now they are coming back, gradually, regulation by regulation.

Trump is exactly right that this all traces to preposterous government regulations designed to save water that actually end up using more, and not dealing with the real problem which has nothing to do with domestic water use.

There is a reason his stand-up routine on this connects with people. We all know it’s true. He is the first big-time U.S. public figure that has mentioned any of this in public.

200 Paramedics Work In Vancouver But Can’t Live There

200 Paramedics Work In Vancouver But Can’t Live There

Did you see this latest story? Paramedics working in the city of Vancouver can’t afford to live there.

There is the story of one man who commutes from Parksville on Vancouver Island to Vancouver to work. That’s a six hour trip. The gentleman would have to drive from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to get the Ferry , and hour and a half ferry ride , then another drive to Parksville. Another lives in Courtenay on Vancouver Island, even further than Parksville. Then there is the couple who live in the Okanangan Region , 400 kilometres away. And there another 197 who do similar trips to maintain that paramedic job.

That’s how crazy the Vancouver area is these days.

And notwithstanding that the Socialists are in power municipally and Provincially and who have claimed for years they have better answers than the Liberals , little has changed . The measures enacted by both levels of Government have done little to change the situation.

Just look at the Real Estate Board’s numbers for Metro Vancouver for December 2019. The average price for a detached home is $1, 423,500, an apartment is $656,700, and an attached home is $778,000. As a matter of fact prices are trending upward this month and quarter having come down modestly for the year. And that earlier drop was on exorbitantly high prices.

So that socialist dream ? Remains just that.

Banned in Aspen: Newspaper chain fires its only conservative.

Carried on the website The American Thinker

January 11, 2020

Banned in Aspen: Newspaper chain fires its only conservative
By Glenn K. Beaton

Orchestrated media bias extends all the way down to small-town newspapers owned by big-time media companies. Consider the Aspen Times and its parent, Swift Communications.

That lefty little newspaper in this lefty little resort town started publishing my conservative columns seven years ago, back when Donald Trump was known as a blustery reality TV host.

My columns sometimes went to the top of the newspaper’s trending list, generating more clicks than frontpage news. They invariably produced more comments and letters to the editor than all the other columns combined. Most were positive.

I usually dealt with national political issues, where I often but not always criticized the clown car of Democratic presidential candidates while siding with Trump’s policies if not his personality. My stuff contrasted with the mindless and unread Trump-bashing of the other half-dozen columnists.

My columns also covered touchy local issues such as Aspen’s $3-billion (yes, with a “b”) subsidized housing program, where the yearly income limitation for a family of four is about a quarter-million dollars. In that black hole of taxpayer money, many local politicos along with Aspen Times editors and newspaper staff who endorse them enjoy seven-figure housing for dimes on the dollar, sometimes in the middle of town or even slope-side.

I revealed that some of the lucky recipients of this housing welfare illegally sublease their near-free housing for five-figure rents at Christmastime while evading lodging and income tax on the rental proceeds. That scandal has attracted attention in the Denver media 200 miles away, which sent an investigative reporter to cover it, but is often overlooked or back-paged in the Aspen Times.

I also wrote about the silly feel-good hypocrisy of locals who make a show of banning plastic straws on the fanciful notion that the straws somehow get transported from Aspen to the ocean a thousand miles away.

Meanwhile, those same locals happily use coal-generated electricity to be transported up snowy hillsides in order to amuse themselves by sliding back down, over and over, by a big ski company that buys carbon indulgences from the local greens by banning plastic straws in its restaurants.

Ten days before Christmas, I wrote a nuanced column — the last, as it turns out — about the human side of Jesus. It was widely admired by both Jews and Christians, including a prominent Episcopal bishop and a longtime local religious leader.

All that wasn’t enough, or maybe it was too much. On Christmas Eve, I received an email from the managing editor of the Aspen Times notifying me that effective immediately, without prior notice or even discussion, they had terminated our seven-year relationship. The reason he gave was that my bi-monthly column was contrary to their “values.”

His boss later contended that I should have anticipated this blindsiding. Their reasoning apparently goes like this: I knew that (1) they are lefties, (2) lefties don’t tolerate disagreement, and (3) lefties like to express their intolerance rudely.

The corporate parent of the Aspen Times is Swift Communications, which owns 26 newspapers. In effect, 26 newspapers around the country have banned this conservative voice.

Letters to the editor blasting the Aspen Times flooded in, but they printed only a fraction of them.

Then they announced that they would replace me with another “conservative.” But by the replacement’s own account, she is not a conservative.

They also promised that the replacement will focus not on national politics, but on local issues, though their other columnists face no such constraint in their non-stop Trump-bashing.

The replacement’s first column, published last Sunday, announced that “what we desperately need” is additional taxpayer-subsidized, city-provided housing welfare.

As for me, my story became national news. Power Line led with it the day after Christmas, and then other outlets picked it up as well. That weekend, more people read my column predicting the events of the new year than read the Aspen Times.