Regular readers of the Washington Post opinion section should give credit where it is due. An enormous divergence of views is presented on their pages. Ideas in 100% opposition often appear on the very same day. That said, how the editors decide if an essay makes enough sense to arrive in print can leave the public overwhelmingly underwhelmed.
On the other hand, some takes on reality are so deluded and deranged publishing them can serve valuable purposes. First, they save detractors from the accusation of attacking straw men. Second, they can act as ideological springboards for launching crackpot notions high enough to get more scrutiny. Third, they provide a lode of asinine quotations that drive home the opposite point that was intended.
Christine Emba splashes A-19 on the Friday, May 6 WP with a belly-flop that soaks every onlooker. Why such a lack of compassion on student debt, barely wastes a word covering what’s wrong with education and economic justice overall from a standpoint guaranteed to make things worse. It starts with the title and continues spectacularly in the first sentence: “Why can’t we let good things happen to other people?” A “good thing” in her reckoning is handing over a sum that could feed roughly 300 million lavishly for a year so the kids can celebrate gender euphoria.
Later in the piece her straw man against student loan forgiveness asks, “What about me?” Emba then tells Biden to come back, “What about you?” “You” being the evil creep who demands some say so over who gets to dine on your honest toil.
Christine is right in emphasizing that financial benefits don’t necessarily work like a zero-sum game. But that observation is fuzzily meshed with the infamous “no-pain” anti-debt-ceiling doctrine that was flying last fall. Who pays by latching another 1.6 trillion (her figure) onto the federal debt load gets glossed over like the bar bill “others” might pick up on your birthday.
If we are going to consider who pays in the long run, who is getting paid is a good place to start. Few of us would dispute that kids coming out of school face devastating expenses between today’s outrageous rents and college loan payments. Could there be any relationship between those two figures?
Just who are these “other people” that “good things” happened to when they got lenders money? An article in Yale News from last November says: “In 2003, when 5,307 undergraduate students studied on campus, the University employed 3,500 administrators and managers.” That means that before considering the wages of professors, janitors, groundskeepers, security and other campus employees there were less than two students – wherever the funding comes from – covering the costs per administrator. It staggers the imagination to believe it could get worse – but it does. “In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on student enrollment, only 600 more students were living and studying at Yale, yet the number of administrators had risen by more than 1,500 — a nearly 45 percent hike.”
What on Earth productive could all these suits be doing? Put an Eli who graduated in 1970 up against one who oozed out in the last ten years – who do you think will be the first to say something stupid?
The article points out that Yale is the most extreme Ivy League example of this trend. But that trend is still prevalent throughout elite academia and up and down the higher education food chain. Do major media entities give this plague adequate attention? The number one hit in Google searches on college administration expansion, phrased numerous different ways, is still, The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much, from the NYT opinion section in 2015.
No college enjoying genuine prestige sees itself as a profit making venture. A primary goal of most profiteers is high living. The vast majority of people must save for many a paycheck for a trip to the beach. You can go to the shore any time of year — from Bar Harbor, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, the Hampton’s, Rehoboth, Nag’s Head, Myrtle Beach, Jekyll Island and down to St. Simon’s — and never fail to find college administrators staying in the same resort, sitting next to you at the bar or playing golf on the same course. They are always present in places most of us dream of idly, in numbers far outpacing their representation in the population. It looks a lot like “profit” to me.
What are they supposed to be contributing that allows them so much spare time to spend in places we’d all like to be? Emba reminds us that “good luck is always a little random” and compares government programs to a “lottery ticket win.” “Positive quirks of timing and chance benefit some, not all.” It evokes memories of a time, like say 1850, when the sons of plantation owners were sent off to Harvard. Somebody had to work for that … “And yet, good luck is always a little random.”
“Using taxpayer dollars to relieve the debt of a small, seemingly advantaged portion of society (only 13 percent of Americans carry federal student loan debt) is a lot to ask of non-college-going taxpayers, who have their own concerns that have been ignored for years.” There is not a word about what is done when the next round of college debt comes up. Presumably, the cancellation program can continue into eternity – if not the next generation of eleves is just a random victim of poor timing.
Did Christine ever notice the hedonistic lifestyles of administration at Princeton, her alma mater? She never brings that up. How much does she owe? Oblivion seems to be among the skill sets acquired from the modern curriculum at America’s pinnacles of higher learning. Asking them to square acts of production with acts of consumption is what they will likely compare to fascist thinking.
Ms. Emba closes with these words of wisdom from AOC: ““We can do good things and reject the scarcity mindset that says doing something good for someone else comes at the cost of something for ourselves.”
Emba and Ocasio-Cortez can’t make any connection between the squeeze of inflation on people with incomes that don’t reach the sixth digit and the government kiting checks. It would be interesting to find out how many of that 13% end up landing municipal, state and federal jobs that come with guaranteed pensions the other 87% will foot.
The education industry is not the only one teeming with ponzified parasites. But trust in the media would enjoy a healthy rebirth if management devoted a lot more ink to the shakedowns that leave so many hard-workers desperate for a respite.