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Modern Capitalism’s Impact on Education

Chad Synan, North Staff Writer

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In the present day, it is often wondered whether or not our modern political system adequately addresses the needs of its constituents- this is for good reason. For many, key issues such as investment into human capital are the first to come to mind, and that is for good reason.

It has been understood that within the last 40 years, our higher education system has gone through a diminution of sorts; that being, that not only the quality, but the availability of education has become increasingly limited in the present age. To provide substance to this statement, it is important to point to two things: the rise in college tuition, and the lack of school funding by state governments.

First, the shift in state funding. According to an article by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state spending on public colleges is, post 2008 recession, “well below historic levels, despite recent increases. Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the 2017 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2017) was nearly $9 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation.” This is especially bad for Oklahoma, as our per student state funding fell by over thirty percent in over the 9 year period. Overall, our funding for students is suffering miserably.

Secondly, it is also imperative to examine the change in tuition costs. In his article for Time Magazine, Andrew Rossi delivers an insightful commentary on how American Universities “act increasingly like big businesses that treat students as customers.” He begins with showing how this issue arose in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the era of Neoliberalism. (For those unfamiliar, the doctrine of Neoliberalism can be understood through the works of economists F.A. Hayek, especially in Hayek’s infamous novel The Road to Serfdom. In Chapter Three, Individualism and Collectivism, page 85, Hayek states, “It is important not to confuse opposition against this kind of planning with a dogmatic laissez faire attitude. The liberal argument is in favor of making the best possible use of the forces of competition as a means of coordinating human efforts, not an argument for leaving things just as they are.”)

Rossi  provides the clinical blow, and thus solidifies the argument, with this passage. “But how did policymakers envision that students would pay for that private good? Through student loans, of course. Under the theory that student debt was ‘good debt,’ student lending limits rose during Reagan’s presidency, and a profitable student loan market emerged. This in turn fueled the rise in college tuition, as universities sought to capture the student loan dollar through increasing fees.”

As a matter of fact, since 1978, the cost of college has increased in absolute dollars by 1120% ( in reference to 2014). What does all of this show? As evinced by the presiding evidence, the people are taking a loss- a large one for that matter. College is such an essential part of many students’ lives, and for it to become more exclusive as time progresses is just shameful. Although we have a larger student population than ever before in U.S. history, our student loan debt has also reached $1.5 trillion in 2018 according to Forbes magazine; so, there’s no real net positive behind it. This inherent instability in our system needs to be addressed if we want any of our future students to have access to higher education; and furthermore, to close that gaping fissure between the classes that has only grown in the last three decades.

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Chad Synan, North Staff Writer

Hello everyone, I would like to start by saying that I'm absolutely elated that I'll be writing for Ruff Draft this year! This is my first year writing,...

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