Subsidize something, and you tend to get more of it.
But wait, what if you subsidize demand for something, but don’t really allow (or continue to disallow) increased supply?
Then prices for that something go way up.
This is elementary economics — nothing controversial about it.
Except that politicians and bureaucrats who make public policy tend not to acknowledge this aspect of reality when they propose subsidies. Instead, they expect praise for their “heroic” and “caring” program of destruction.
They need to be educated. But, alas, all this applies best to college education. How does one educate the educators?
A new study, which reliable economists tell me is “sophisticated,” finds that the bulk of recent college tuition price inflation can, indeed, be directly linked to the federal government’s loan subsidies.
This study makes for some opaque reading, alas: “Essentially, demand shocks lead to higher college costs and more debt, and in the absence of higher labor market returns, more loan default inevitably occurs.” Yikes.
The college education bubble has been much talked-about for years, at least amongst skeptics of government policy. But in hushed tones — the big fear, here, is that a bursting of the bubble will lead to — who knows what? I mean, who-knows-what policy reaction.
Probably just more government subsidy and control. And even higher tuition still. Double yikes.
Thankfully, while the brick-and-mortar higher education institutions suck up more and more government-backed money, the Internet is enabling some great alternatives. The future, I think, does not belong to the university system as we have known it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.