Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Eternally Postponing Responsibility

responsibility, Denmark, education, welfare, socialism, Bernie Sanders, freedom

There is a common sense element to economics. We ignore it at our peril. So let’s take a cue from the Democratic Party’s current and de facto leader, Bernie Sanders.

Turn to Denmark for a model.

The Nordic state has what Bernie wants: higher education “free for all.” But there are . . . costs involved.

It turns out that “some Danes, especially older citizens already in the labor force,” explains Business Insider, “say the extra freedom can eliminate a crucial sense of urgency for 20-somethings to become adults. The country now deals with ‘eternity students’ — people who stick around at college for six years or more [not to mention advanced degree work] without any plans of graduating, solely because they don’t have any financial incentive to leave.”

Hardly a shock. Young Danes would not be the first to see in college life what satirist Tom Lehrer identified as the prolongation of “adolescence beyond all previous limits.”

Give young people an incentive to suck up resources year after year, and some will certainly take you up on that.

It’s hard to counter, too. The Danish “eternity student” problem remains even after taking policy steps to discourage it.

Business Insider ends its report by quoting an expert who insists that “motivation to succeed in your studies is in no way linked to whether you’re paying for your tuition or not.”

Yup, that’s what proponents of “free” education keep telling us. But there is more at play here.

Responsibility is on the line. Adulthood is about responsibility. Free tuition is about postponing responsibility.

Do we really want to go further in that direction?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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By: CS Admin


  1. JFB says:

    Post-secondary education has lost sight of its purpose and focus. It was never for everyone, and, until recently, was recognized for what it is, a personal investment in self to increase personal productivity afforded to those who were above average and who could withstand its rigors so as to actually become more productive (and later rewarded in the meritocracy).
    Free education takes investment aspect out of the equation and allows university life to devolve into an extension of adolescence with the selection of studies a function of personal preference and interest with little or no regard what an education in that particular subject provides in market worth. (This compounded by the fact that the studies which have significant market value are more rigorous and difficult to gain admission to).
    What Denmark is experiencing is well within rational expectations and predictable, at least for an Austrian economist.
    Its permutation is already evident here as students are clamoring for forgiveness of their student loans and expressing they did not receive sufficient value for their borrowing upon their retarded first introduction to the real world
    It is very simple, when the average youth attends college and graduates then their productivity and remuneration must also be average by definition. The promises of significantly above average economic rewards as a result of just attending university have been oversold and were made impossible to fulfill by the success and expansion of the sector. It is only in fictional Lake Woebegon that all of the children are above average.
    Compounding the problem is higher education being subsidized by the government, both base cost and through the availability of student loans. That has inflated its cost and utilization far beyond what would have evolved in a free and open market.,
    Further, higher enrollments and increased utilization have forced a reduction in the qualifications for admittance and the difficulty of the “average” curriculum to meet the average performance level of the attendees, who must be allowed to progress and “graduate”.
    It is really difficult to think about how it could have been done worse, or more destructively.
    The Danes are hopefully learning. I am quite confident Mr. Sanders and his followers and proteges will not for they invariably seek short-term benefits without any recognition the real cost is a long-term disaster. Maybe their higher education, especially economic education, was faulty.

  2. Pat says:

    Maybe “free tuition” should cover only the cost of the classroom.    Why not pay your own expenses for room and board?   It might give the eternal student a reason to live with Mom and Dad while he pursues his dream.   On the other hand, if you live in FL and want to go to Harvard or UCLA  (just an example) you would have to fund your own travel and living expenses while you get your ‘free tuition”.

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