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Horowitz’s Academic Freedom: It Sounds Good, But . . .
Washington Dispatch ^ | Aug 29, 2003 | Cathryn Crawford

Posted on 08/29/2003 8:56:41 AM PDT by Sparta

In an article entitled “The Problem With America’s Colleges and The Solution”, published on September 3, 2002, David Horowitz outlined the problems that he sees with college and university campuses across America. In a fairly detailed manner, he discussed the lack of diversity concerning political ideologies and viewpoints among faculty members. He correctly said that universities and colleges have an overload of generally liberal professors, and, quite often, only have one or two token conservatives, if that.

In the article, he went on to discuss his ideas for a solution to this problem. His ideas, which are condensed into an Academic Bill of Rights, focus on assuring that there will be an equal number of conservative and liberal professors on any given campus, public and private alike. In his list of solutions, he gives this as an action to take in ensuring academic freedom: “Conduct an inquiry into political bias in the hiring process for faculty and administrators…”

Horowitz is pushing for state legislatures to become involved in this so called Bill of Rights, and Colorado, Georgia, and Missouri are on the verge of doing so. To quote Horowitz’s article again: “By adding the categories of political and religious affiliation to Title IX and other existing legislation, the means are readily available…to redress an intolerable situation involving illegal and unconstitutional hiring methods along with teaching practices that are an abuse of academic freedom.”

I agree with Horowitz’s premise – that having less liberal campuses is ideal and necessary. However, I disagree with his way of doing it. His solution gives the government deep and powerful control of the leadership of colleges and universities. Imagine making it a law that the governments “investigate” the politics of every professor or administrator on every campus in America. Far from freedom, this is a system that would not only allow for the hiring and firing of professionals based on their political beliefs; it is also giving the government too much power and control.

On another note – does Horowitz really buy into the popular notion that the solution to all problems is a new law? This seems not only foolish, but scary. There is the precedent that this sets to consider. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, isn’t it possible, if this becomes a full fledged law that it will expand to other markets? Isn’t it foreseeable that one day we’ll have to check a little box on our job applications - Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green Party - it would make for a long application.

Yet another question is - how could this be effectively implemented? Would it be limited to voting records, or would interviews be conducted? How far back would they go? How deep would they dig? What about professors who effectively covered up their ideology or simply didn’t want to discuss it? Would there be lie detector tests?

Who would decide whether or not a professor was “conservative” or “liberal” enough to teach a specific course? The government? The school? Would the level of ideology required change from department to department?

I thought that a professor was supposed to be a professor, not a political theorist. I thought David Horowitz wanted to take politics out of the classroom. Instead, however, this solution pushes it to the very forefront of everything that professors do. Instead of freeing the campuses from dirty politics, it makes dirty politics the name of the game from the moment a potential faculty member sets foot on a campus.

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Cathryn Crawford is a student at the University of Texas. She can be reached for questions and comments at feedback@washingtondispatch.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Front Page News; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: academicfreedom; cathryncrawford; horowitz
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1 posted on 08/29/2003 8:56:42 AM PDT by Sparta
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To: Cathryn Crawford
ping
2 posted on 08/29/2003 8:57:04 AM PDT by Sparta (Sending the UN back to Iraq is like sending the Taliban back to Afghanistan)
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To: Sparta
INTSUM - EDUCATION
3 posted on 08/29/2003 9:17:27 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Sparta
Instead of freeing the campuses from dirty politics, it makes dirty politics the name of the game from the moment a potential faculty member sets foot on a campus.

Thats what it is right now. TAX MONEY subsidizes Academia, yet they pursue radical politics not representative of the public at large. A conservative proffessor appointment can be vetoed by a single Marxist Proffessor. The only way to make the faculty responsive is to squeeze their funding. Does the author have another plan, or should we just wring our hands forever?

4 posted on 08/29/2003 9:28:10 AM PDT by Nonstatist
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To: Sparta
I seem to remeber that article. It sounded like satire to me. but maybe I'm thinking of a different one
5 posted on 08/29/2003 10:01:28 AM PDT by chesley
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To: ValenB4; Scenic Sounds; Sir Gawain; gcruse; geedee; DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet; Chad Fairbanks; ...
Ping for my latest.

If you want on or off this ping list, let me know via FR mail. Thanks!
6 posted on 08/29/2003 10:17:41 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Thanks Cathryn for the bump and the article.
7 posted on 08/29/2003 10:19:45 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Good job. :-)
8 posted on 08/29/2003 10:24:05 AM PDT by Sir Gawain (When does the next Crusade start?)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
making it a law that the governments “investigate” the politics of every professor or administrator on every campus in America.

Thought police, literally!

Good article!

9 posted on 08/29/2003 10:29:34 AM PDT by Lazamataz (I am the extended middle finger in the fist of life.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I thought that a professor was supposed to be a professor, not a political theorist.

ALL, I repeat, ALL of my eldest son's professors, are raving liberals who bring their bias into the classroom.

Horowitz's solution at least attempts to address that problem, absent SOME kind of change, education will continue to deteriorate into brainwashing.....NOT education.

10 posted on 08/29/2003 10:39:57 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (One by one, in groups or whole armies.....we don't care how we getcha, but we will)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I agree. A quota system might favor conservatives in the short term, but it is a terrible idea.
11 posted on 08/29/2003 10:46:43 AM PDT by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: BOBTHENAILER
ALL, I repeat, ALL of my eldest son's professors, are raving liberals who bring their bias into the classroom.

This semester, all of mine are, too. My Constitutional law professor is farther to the left then Howard Dean. He never fails to spend at least half of the class time bashing conservative thought, especially as it relates to the Constitution. Strict constructionists are his worst enemy. He calls Justice Scalia every name in the book, and he does it every class.

Horowitz's solution at least attempts to address that problem, absent SOME kind of change, education will continue to deteriorate into brainwashing.....NOT education.

True. I'm not denying the problem, and I'm not denying that the education system needs change. However, I do not think that involving the government in universities (especially private universities) is the proper solution. I don't want the government choosing my professors.

12 posted on 08/29/2003 10:50:49 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
When I was an undergraduate, I majored in economics. I remember the faculty being fairly well balanced politically. I guess I'm just naturally inclined to be a devil's advocate because I remember having a tendency to ask questions and take positions that were adverse to the prejudices of each particular professor. I honestly don't remember ever feeling that I was treated unfairly by any professor for challenging his/her views and actually developed some close and friendly relationships with some of them.

Most of what I learned as an undergraduate came from the books that I read and not from any personal beliefs of professors. In my particular major, the trick was to really master the underlying principles and to understand exactly how they were derived. Once that was accomplished, the peculiar prejudices of any professor became more or less irrelevant.

Another great column, Cathryn!! You're still the best! ;-)

13 posted on 08/29/2003 10:51:03 AM PDT by Scenic Sounds
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To: Nonstatist; Cathryn Crawford

Thats what it is right now. TAX MONEY subsidizes Academia, yet they pursue radical politics not representative of the public at large. A conservative proffessor appointment can be vetoed by a single Marxist Proffessor. The only way to make the faculty responsive is to squeeze their funding.

IMHO, the only way to end these types of problems is to eliminate government funding for education completely at all levels.

14 posted on 08/29/2003 11:04:14 AM PDT by Sparta (Sending the UN back to Iraq is like sending the Taliban back to Afghanistan)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I'm surprised you didn't call this what it is: Affirmative Action for conservative academics in the name of diversity.

It shares all the same inherent fallacies, myths and therefore implementation difficulties (see the movie Soul Man).

15 posted on 08/29/2003 11:14:59 AM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: Cathryn Crawford
He calls Justice Scalia every name in the book, and he does it every class.

Funny, I remember my own Con Law prof. He was a proud liberal, as most of them are, but we got off on a tangent about Scalia one day. His take on the good judge was that, as an unabashed liberal, he disagreed with virtually everything that Scalia stood for. However, as an honest unabashed liberal, he couldn't help but admit that Justice Scalia was also one of the most brilliant legal minds to ever sit on the Supreme Court.

That's what you need, and what I don't mind - honest and forthright liberal professors ;)

16 posted on 08/29/2003 11:17:03 AM PDT by general_re (Today is a day for firm decisions! Or is it?)
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To: optimistically_conservative
I'm surprised you didn't call this what it is: Affirmative Action for conservative academics in the name of diversity.

It's odd that you say that. When I had my notebook, writing my inital thoughts for this column, the very first thing I wrote was Affirmative action for ideologies? in big letters.

17 posted on 08/29/2003 11:20:40 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: general_re
My Con law proffesor talks about how the Supreme Court is full of brilliant legal minds, but he turns into a raving lunatic at the mention of Scalia's name. Sometimes I'm tempted to just whisper, "Scalia...Scalia...Scalia" during class to see what happens.
18 posted on 08/29/2003 11:22:10 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
My Con law proffesor talks about how the Supreme Court is full of brilliant legal minds, but he turns into a raving lunatic at the mention of Scalia's name.

See, now that's clearly the mark of someone who has abandoned any pretense at objective scholarship. Agree with him or disagree with him if you like, but only dilettantes and fools can deny the intellect of Antonin Scalia. And I don't agree with Scalia on everything, but I can make a very good case that in terms of pure intellectual firepower, there is Scalia and Oliver Wendell Holmes in one camp, and everyone else in the other. And honest liberals who are serious students of the court cannot help but also admit that he is brilliant - as opposed to your professor, who is either a fool, a fraud, or not a serious scholar. Either way, that sort of attitude is the attitude of someone who does not belong in academia.

19 posted on 08/29/2003 11:31:17 AM PDT by general_re (Today is a day for firm decisions! Or is it?)
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To: general_re
Agree with him or disagree with him if you like, but only dilettantes and fools can deny the intellect of Antonin Scalia.

I very calmly made this point yesterday to him, and he began talking about how Scalia "carrys around a pocket Constitution and beats people over the head with it."

20 posted on 08/29/2003 11:33:30 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
It's not much different and leads us the wrong direction.

For example, there used to be a measure to determine "blackness" based on geneological lineage. This was a bad thing because it was used to discriminate against you.

We now do the same thing, it's just we use it so we can discriminate in your favor and against someone else, for some reason this is now a good thing for the PC folks, I think it's just as immoral.

So, shall we have a test for conservativeness so we can decide how to discriminate? What really ticks me off is a Prof's ideology has no place in most classrooms - math, physics, computer science, any engineering curriculum, etc. It seldom came up in my experience, but when it did I was very quick to ask what a Prof's views had to do with learning how to integrate a curve, calculate signal flow in a circuit, or whatever.

It never came up again that I can remember. The problem is the liberal arts curriculums, where perception can't be proven or disproven as easily.

21 posted on 08/29/2003 11:33:49 AM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: optimistically_conservative
So, shall we have a test for conservativeness so we can decide how to discriminate? What really ticks me off is a Prof's ideology has no place in most classrooms - math, physics, computer science, any engineering curriculum, etc. It seldom came up in my experience, but when it did I was very quick to ask what a Prof's views had to do with learning how to integrate a curve, calculate signal flow in a circuit, or whatever.

Another question that I didn't include due to length - what about a professor who is fiscally conservative, but socially liberal? Would that make him okay to teach economics, but not okay to teach history? Or vis-versa?

22 posted on 08/29/2003 11:39:44 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
"Could be worse - he could be a foaming-at-the-mouth ideologue who carries around a syllabus and bores people to death with it..."

What a shame that you're not really free to speak your mind like that just yet. Don't be like me - Mr. Snappy Comeback's grades definitely took a small hit ;)

23 posted on 08/29/2003 11:39:59 AM PDT by general_re (Today is a day for firm decisions! Or is it?)
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To: Scenic Sounds
Once that was accomplished, the peculiar prejudices of any professor became more or less irrelevant.

True, but in something like Con law or history, the professor may weave their own prejudices in as truth, and it becomes a problem.

24 posted on 08/29/2003 11:40:54 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: general_re
Mr. Snappy Comeback's grades definitely took a small hit ;)

I do try to curb the snappy comebacks, but it is tough. :-)

25 posted on 08/29/2003 11:41:58 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Sparta
Good article. But Horowitz doesn't have much of a mind so it's no wonder he came up with such a tynrannical idea.

My solutions:

I don't have the time for it but I wish someone would start an organization that informs alumni just exactly what their donations are going to support. I'd love such an organization to help me keep an eye on things.

Also, another often-overlooked aspect of state governments is their power to appoint regents to the state's public schools. These regents oversee who gets hired and set the general policy outlines for hundreds of thousands of young people. Don't want the university hiring freaks and indoctrinating students? Make sure it's next president isn't a leftist.
26 posted on 08/29/2003 11:45:58 AM PDT by GulliverSwift
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To: GulliverSwift
Excellent ideas.

What about removing all government funding from all schools?
27 posted on 08/29/2003 11:47:50 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I do try to curb the snappy comebacks, but it is tough. :-)

Avoid being snot-nosed but have no fear to rhetorically destroy a dunderhead prof who tries to indoctrinate everyone.

Back in the day, I even confronted a professor with his bias privately and told him that he was being really quite unprofessional by injecting his personal views into things. He didn't like me afterward but I got an A in the class.

28 posted on 08/29/2003 11:48:52 AM PDT by GulliverSwift
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Agree to a point, but right now GOVT is hiring based on political beliefs. Since public universities are govt owned, politics is involved in it.

I know one professor that was conservative was run out of UVA based on his beliefs. MSU hired him, and it's known to the lefties as a 'conservative school' because of this one man.

29 posted on 08/29/2003 11:51:24 AM PDT by Dan from Michigan ("Boom Boom! Out go the lights!" - Pat Travers)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
I don't think that will ever be feasible to remove the gov't funding of schools. Any pol who tried to do such a thing would be even less popular than one who raised taxes 25%.

The ridiculous notion that college education is absolutely essential to have a good life is so engrained in people, they'd throw a fit if someone dared change things up a little. Nowadays, college educations are worth even less. In many ways, half of today's undergraduate curriculum is devoted to bringing students up to the level of a former high school graduate.
30 posted on 08/29/2003 11:52:15 AM PDT by GulliverSwift
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To: GulliverSwift

But Horowitz doesn't have much of a mind so it's no wonder he came up with such a tynrannical idea.

IMHO, Horowitz still hasn't shed many of ex-Marxist beliefs.

31 posted on 08/29/2003 11:52:33 AM PDT by Sparta (Sending the UN back to Iraq is like sending the Taliban back to Afghanistan)
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To: Dan from Michigan
Public universities, perhaps, but not private colleges.

I don't belive the solution to everything is to make a law. I don't want the government choosing my professors.
32 posted on 08/29/2003 11:53:48 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: GulliverSwift
I blame it on the GI bill which really ruined our higher education system by allowing people to get into college who really weren't up to it. That, and all these wasteful student loans which actually make the prices higher. Can't forget the terrible practice of draining millions on athletic programs, too.

Intercollegiate athletics were originally supposed to be fun way of competing against other schools, not as a revenue source (usually it's the opposite) or a recruitment device. School should be about academics. Unfortunately, many parents don't understand this and thus a lot of leftist indoctrination goes unchecked.
33 posted on 08/29/2003 11:56:57 AM PDT by GulliverSwift
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To: Sparta
IMHO, Horowitz still hasn't shed many of ex-Marxist beliefs.

I think you're right. He's still got some of his old attitudes left. Particularly the continual whoring for free media. He's not really an effective conservative spokesman. His autobiography was pretty nice, though.

34 posted on 08/29/2003 11:59:32 AM PDT by GulliverSwift
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To: GulliverSwift
You could be right. It is an idea.
35 posted on 08/29/2003 12:02:22 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Excellent article. I fully agree with everything you wrote. Horowitz's proposed cure is worse than the disease, but the underlying, fundamental disease is government involvement in education per se, at all levels (not just the university level). It is a violation of my rights (including my First Amendment rights) for the government to seize my property through force (i.e. taxation) and use it to teach and promote ideas and philosophies with which I disagree.
36 posted on 08/29/2003 12:40:27 PM PDT by kesg
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To: Cathryn Crawford
True, but in something like Con law or history, the professor may weave their own prejudices in as truth, and it becomes a problem.

Turn it into a positive. You want to contribute without being confrontational. You want to put your ideas in front of the class without challenging the Professor's position at the lecturne. You're unlikely to change his mind, so winning isn't the point - contributing is. Being an intelligent, non-controversial conservative can actually get you bonus points with some Professors who appreciate academic/intellectual exchange - as long as he thinks he won (or at least tied) in front of the class.

37 posted on 08/29/2003 12:41:31 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Excellent column; scary stuff. The courts would strike down any such law on First Amendment grounds.
38 posted on 08/29/2003 12:42:51 PM PDT by mrustow (no tag)
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To: kesg
It is a violation of my rights (including my First Amendment rights) for the government to seize my property through force (i.e. taxation) and use it to teach and promote ideas and philosophies with which I disagree.

I agree. I'd like to see absolutely no government involvement in education.

39 posted on 08/29/2003 12:43:57 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: general_re
My Con law proffesor talks about how the Supreme Court is full of brilliant legal minds, but he turns into a raving lunatic at the mention of Scalia's name.

See, now that's clearly the mark of someone who has abandoned any pretense at objective scholarship. Agree with him or disagree with him if you like, but only dilettantes and fools can deny the intellect of Antonin Scalia. And I don't agree with Scalia on everything, but I can make a very good case that in terms of pure intellectual firepower, there is Scalia and Oliver Wendell Holmes in one camp, and everyone else in the other. And honest liberals who are serious students of the court cannot help but also admit that he is brilliant - as opposed to your professor, who is either a fool, a fraud, or not a serious scholar. Either way, that sort of attitude is the attitude of someone who does not belong in academia.

In seven years of teaching college, that attitude is all I saw.

40 posted on 08/29/2003 12:47:10 PM PDT by mrustow (no tag)
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To: GulliverSwift
I blame it on the GI bill

which really ruined our higher education system by allowing people to get into college who really weren't up to it.
-GS-

What is the 'it' that you blame the GI Bill did?

Your other opinion, that "the GI bill really ruined our higher education system by allowing people to get into college who really weren't up to it", is ludicrous, with absolutely no basis in facts.
Where did you come up with a wimpy howler like that? -- The pencil-necked freshmens dorm?


41 posted on 08/29/2003 12:48:55 PM PDT by tpaine ( I'm trying to be Mr Nice Guy, but politics keep getting in me way. ArnieRino for Governator!)
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To: GulliverSwift
That, and all these wasteful student loans which actually make the prices higher.

I didn't catch this the first time.

If it weren't for scholarships, grants, and student loans, I would never have been able to afford to go to college. I work and go to school full time, and I still need the student loans to help me with my living expenses. For those of us whom our parents didn't contribute in any way to our college education, student loans are a literal lifesaver.

42 posted on 08/29/2003 12:55:06 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: mrustow
Really honest and forthright liberals are hard to come by, I freely admit ;)
43 posted on 08/29/2003 12:59:23 PM PDT by general_re (Today is a day for firm decisions! Or is it?)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
It is a violation of my rights (including my First Amendment rights) for the government to seize my property through force (i.e. taxation) and use it to teach and promote ideas and philosophies with which I disagree.

I agree. I'd like to see absolutely no government involvement in education.

BS.

If it weren't for scholarships, grants, and student loans, I would never have been able to afford to go to college. I work and go to school full time, and I still need the student loans to help me with my living expenses. For those of us whom our parents didn't contribute in any way to our college education, student loans are a literal lifesaver.

Shortsighted view. It is the scholarship system that cause the price inflations that has now put nearly EVERYONE in the position of needing a scholarship/loan to go to on to post-secondary schools. An aggravating factor is the economics of increased arrogance where everyone thinks they have to go to college (particularly a top 10 school in US News) that further drives up the tuitions.

There was a time, not too long ago, where you could go to the state school and work your way through with part-time work in the Fall/Spring and full-time in the Summer. And I'm not talking about the financial aid jobs the school offers.

44 posted on 08/29/2003 1:06:04 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: optimistically_conservative
So, basically, I shouldn't be able to go to college. Thanks.
45 posted on 08/29/2003 1:11:51 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
So, basically, I shouldn't be able to go to college. Thanks.

Careful, step back from the personalization of the issue. Surely you don't think you're entitled to post-secondary education. Not even all the rich kids whose parents pay all expenses get accepted, and their sense of entitlement is probably stronger than even yours.

So, you can't afford something you want at the time? What are we discussing here? The reasons why the economics of post-secondary tuition is out of whack, or how you've benefitted from a corrupt system?

46 posted on 08/29/2003 1:21:18 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: optimistically_conservative
I don't think I'm entitled, no, but I don't see anything wrong with private lending (which is what the loans I have are) and scholarships.
47 posted on 08/29/2003 1:35:54 PM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Ummm, moron. It's not free. It was paid for with taxes.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
You wrote, "I don't belive the solution to everything is to make a law; I don't want the government choosing my professors." Agree with the first but that doesn't mean the second is accurate. Actually, it is the responsibility of the state education system to pick teachers and have oversight ... for pre, elementary, and secondary schools. The power of the NEA has restricted the exercise of the taxpayers' representatives options to such a degree that lousy teachers stay on, filling space, slopping at the public trough, without doing what is required for a good educational system.

As to 'higher edumacation', private colleges and universities ought have the right to fashion their faculty politi, but those universities and college funded with taxpayer monies should be regulated to the max, to insure quality beyond politi and a predictable level of competence (excellence is the extra a student decides to put in) required to obtain a degree.. [With ideas like that, it's probably why I've never been on an education board. LOL And you basic rejection of David's 'hare'-brained idea is sound, CC.]

48 posted on 08/29/2003 1:47:19 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Cathryn Crawford
Are the loans discounted? Guaranteed? By whom? Where is the scholarship money coming from, private or public funding (most likely both even if is seems private because of the tax benefits)?

Posted: 11/1/1997 Student Loans and the High Cost of College

What is your opinion of government student loan programs? Aren’t they helpful to students who can’t afford the high costs of college?

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, the federal government has been guaranteeing bank loans for college tuition since 1965. The default rate on those student loans is more than 15 percent, three and one-half times the rate of default on mortgages and nine times the rate of default on auto loans. In fiscal year 1994 alone, defaulted student loans cost American taxpayers $2.7 billion.

One of the effects of these billions in federal loans and grants for college aid has been to boost the price (tuition) of college, in much the same way that billions in federal expenditures for Medicaid and Medicare have boosted the costs of medical care. In that sense, by artificially boosting the demand and cost of college, the federal government's policy has actually worked against one of its intended purposes--to enable more of the poor to go to college.

There is at least one other way in which federal involvement has worked against the poor. To the extent that most Americans are aware of federal programs for college aid, they support private efforts less. In other words, government aid "crowds out" private aid. It also diverts scarce capital from otherwise going to where it would be more highly valued (as evidenced by the fact that government must subsidize the interest cost on student loans to get capital to go there). This crowding-out effect has been observed with many federal initiatives. For example, people take less care of their elderly parents these days because they assume the government will handle it.

In a free market, capital for student loans would have to compete with other uses to which capital can be put. A prospective college student would undoubtedly have to sign a contract to pay a student loan back at a competitive, market rate that also reflected the chances of default. If a student was not willing to pay a market rate to get someone (a bank, let's say) to lend him money for college, he might well seek assistance from friends, family, future employers, private college aid funds that would spring up to fill the gap, etc. Or, he might simply not get the loan.

In the case of a student not being able to afford a market-rate loan in a free market, some would say that outcome is harsh and uncaring. But that involves a dangerous value judgment. Since capital is scarce and valuable, it will be used in other ways, perhaps for someone to afford an automobile or to pay a doctor bill or to build a home. If someone wants to say categorically that using those funds for a student loan is better use of the money, I'm not sure how they would justify that other than through some emotional attachment to the "cause" of college loans.

Finally, those of us who believe in freedom and free markets recognize that there are a great many worthy causes out there, including sending worthy students to college. Many of us would do more ourselves to assist, if it weren't for the fact that after government at all levels takes its 41% of what we earn, there isn't much left to give. Nonetheless, we are working for a revival of a truly civil society, in which people accept responsibility for their own goals in life and, to the extent they can, give time and resources to help others less fortunate so they can reach their goals too. It just isn't true that the only people with compassion or the foresight to see the value of education are politicians spending other people's money. Have faith that a free and responsible people will take care of worthy things; there is little reason to believe that politicians and their bureaucracies care more, or solve problems better.

Let me suggest a couple other sources of information that may be helpful to you:

1. Citizens for a Sound Economy, 1250 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: (202) 783-3870. Ask for their "Issues and Answers No. 14," entitled, "Direct Student Loans: Putting Taxpayers at Risk."

2. Cato Institute, Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 842-0200. Check out their web page at www.cato.org for possible information on this topic. I have reason to believe they have produced material on student loans because one of their scholars, Stephen Moore, authored an article in the April 10, 1996 Washington Times entitled, "Student Loan Boondoggle?"

3. National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas, Texas. Check out its web page at www.public-policy.org/~ncpa

49 posted on 08/29/2003 2:12:07 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: optimistically_conservative
Interesting. What, if anything, do you think the government should do to encourage education in this country?
50 posted on 08/29/2003 2:40:13 PM PDT by Scenic Sounds
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