Wait for it: There’s another financial bubble ready to pop.
I’m not an economist, so I could be as wrong as, uh, a Keynesian strung out on (and pushing) “economic stimulus.” But the usual signs of an over-priced market sure seem to apply to higher education, today. After all, colleges and universities are sustained and over-fed by massive debt . . . in this case, government-guaranteed student loans, now passing the trillion-dollar mark.
From your local community college to the Ivy League, the whole industry reeks of insider advantages, constricted supply and inflated demand. So of course prices rise.
Beyond all reason.
The latest sign on the way to the bubble’s bursting comes from Harvard. That august institution’s Faculty Advisory Council for the Library issued a memorandum last week declaring that the cost of subscribing to peer-reviewed journals has become too great to bear. Robert T. Gonzaleaz, writing at io9, puts this news in perspective:
What does it say about the world of academic publishing, the accessibility of knowledge, and the flow of information when the richest academic institution on the planet cannot afford to continue paying for its peer-reviewed journal subscriptions?
When I look at the prices of textbooks and journals and academic books, I wince. Were this industry marked by laissez-faire policies and free markets, the typical leftist “anti-greed/anti-business” attitude might make sense. But this is an industry riddled with government intrusion, as far-reaching as the intrusions into housing and banking that led to 2008’s financial debacle.
How could the over-sold, over-subsidized, over-controlled college-university industry remain immune to a similar catastrophic deflation?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.