Free College Is Great. Free Job Training Is Better.



You point out class disparities in your gifted program(I dropped out before the cars were doled our, so was unaware).

Warren wants to forgive student debt.

And it’s like.. ?

Where’s my fifty grand?

“But I don’t own a home”, they say.


This is America.

We can do both.


Too many people in this country go to college already.
And make really stupid choices about what to study, where to study, how much to borrow.*

Countries that have tried this (free college) find that students make even stupider choices and waste even more time and money.

The way to improve college would be to make student loans more like other types of borrowing; you have to show that your degree will leadf to a job that will allow you to pay back the money.
Preventing many young people from borrowing money to go tpo college would be doing them a huge favor.

After they have acquired some life experience and life skills they will be in a position to make better choices if they choose to pursue more education.

An education is a very valuable thing, as such it is worth working hard to achieve, and sacrificing along the way.

and retroactively using government money to pay them for their stupid choices is a slap in the face to everyone who worked and sacrificed to get their education.

Plus, this money will disproportionately go to wealthier people, it is hugely regressive.
If Liz wants to soak the rich for $3 trillion there are about a hundred better ways to spend the money.


The two sectors of the economy that get more expensive at twice the rate of inflation and at huge cost to society are higher education and health care.
Both areas where the government massively interferes with free market forces.
Less, much less; not more government money in higher education will be a huge step in the right direction.


Better yet, institute a universal basic income so people don't feel they're required to be wage slaves at all. That should cut down the number of people feeling they must go to college. Then those who truly do want to be electricians or doctors or whatever can have their schooling/training free.


Free isn't free.


I'm in general agreement. Firstly, Warren's debt forgiveness plan is really unforgivable - it's a giveaway to people who already have degrees, who are largely in the top 20% of american society. Even you, degree-having Trader Joe's bagger.

It doesn't help anyone go to school who doesn't already qualify for loans - so it's unlikely to reach marginal students whose parents are un/low-banked, or who don't have the family credit (or family assets) to get loans in the first place. It's a rich-get-richer plan, and it's really a transparent ploy for the Dem nomination, not a serious policy. I'm surprised the intersecionatti haven't jumped all over this.

W/R/T vocational training - I contend that too many people go to university already. Plenty of them don't especially want to be there, plenty of people essentially waste their time, plenty of people choose degrees with no plan to use them after graduation. To the extent that the state should support education, it should do so with the expectation that it produces students who contribute to society with that money. If you're going to go back to retail after college, what did we spend that money for? Cases and cases of Busch, most likely.

So anyhow, yeah. We do need more vocational training but we also need to respect vocational skills. It seems the only people middle class and above who get int VoTech are people who realize by age 16 that traditional school ain't for them and they can't succeed there. Most of the rest just continue on to university because that's the path laid before them and they know they won't be respected for being a plumbers apprentice or whatever. The only people choosing that are realizing that they're not respected as a Subway Sandwich Artist either, it's not like anyone is weighing Harvard vs. X-Ray Technician.


"Countries that have tried this (free college) find that students make even stupider choices and waste even more time and money."

Cite please. Because that's not what studies say at all.

And. First it's not "free." There are fees. It costs on average about $300 a quarter in Germany. Which is exactly what my tuition was in America in 1984. An of course it's paid by taxes. Which graduates, who earn about 40% more than if they had NOT attended college, will end up paying. I have a kid right now studying chemistry at Humboldt.

In Germany the only real effect of note has been that it hasn't lead to a big increase in poor working class kids going to college. While enrollment went up - they were essentially from the same demographics as before. And people still seem to leave with some debt because they have to work part-time (lower paying) jobs in expensive cities that hardly make rent.

Most the fear mongering about free tuition didn't ever materialize. The big fear was the new graduates wouldn't want to endure the higher tax burden and would leave with the 'free" education to lower tax nations in the EU. Never happened.

But eventually there will be a downturn in the economy and the free tuition program will have to be cut or scaled back. Leaving a political nightmare and a resentful generation of kids who will have to pay. Which is what happened in America. American college education was much more highly subsidized by the government until about 1985-89. That's why I came here. College was cheap.

Now younger kids are getting screwed by greedy boomers that don't want to pay back the their debt. We got cheap rents, cheap education, cheap gas. And now we are fucking current generations. But I digress.

So it's not a permeant solution. Nothing is. Which is why the Australian model works a little better. Which is DEFERRED tuition. It's like a no interest down. That you pay as a tax against your income later after you graduate. But it can be scaled on a percentage of income. And higher earning degrees pay more in future tuition.


"Less, much less; not more government money in higher education will be a huge step in the right direction."

Well. This is provable nonsense. The government has scaled back it's roll in higher ed radically since the early 1980's and tuition has only increased.


Why not both?

Nowhere does Waren negate the second.


What Scotland learned from making college tuition free
By Libby Nelson

"... also found that students in Scotland were much more likely to study subjects with worse prospects for income and employment after graduation. When they weren't paying to attend college, it seemed like money didn't matter as much when they were choosing a profession.

Poor Students in Scotland Have Far More Debt

"The main criticism of Scotland's free tuition is that it's regressive: Students still take on some debt to pay living expenses even though tuition is free. And the burden of that debt falls more heavily on poor students than others.

".... And perhaps because students from wealthier families find it easier to pay their living expenses without government help, students from poorer families are more likely to borrow.

"Scotland has created "a de facto system of graduate tax visited mainly on those who started from the poorest homes, while the post-graduation incomes of those from better-off families remain largely untouched," Hunter Blackburn wrote, arguing that the system has the effect of "entrenching the current distribution of wealth."


Switzerland has an extensive vocation training system subsidized by the government. And in fact most people there do not go to college they get vocational training. And Switzerland has some of the highest per capita incomes and lowest rates of poverty in the world. So subsidizing vocation training could pay dividends. But only if you have the same protectionist and regulated labor policies the Swiss do. Otherwise in America it could be an expensive race to the bottom - which what we already have.


Well, OK;
but we'd feel better if you threw in something practical, like a minor in basket weaving...


@12 HAHAAHA... that article doesn't support your original claims at all that people just fuck around. The article says more people were likely to enter profession that were lower paying because they didn't;t have leave with more debt. And Scotland NEEDED more people to enter public service sector jobs. That's one the reasons they did it.

And of course the article cherry picked the criticisms an not the success. And it reiterated what I already said about debt and low income enrollment.

The debt burden for low income Scottish students of $15,000 was still less than HALF of the AVERAGE American student debt burden of $37,172 (a $20,000 increase from a decade ago).

So. That kind of shoots you in the foot right there. Most students would still come out way ahead in the US. Not that I am all on board with free tuition.But I think we do need to engage better with higher education in this country and get the government back to supplementing education like it used to.


"...if we continue to perpetuate the idea that college is the one true path to success"

An example of someone perpetuating such a notion would sure have come in handy.

It seems like the basic problem with higher education in this country is that somewhere along the line the universities decided to extract as much of the value of the education as they could from the students. Rather than structuring they finances to provide for their nominal purpose (i.e. education), they started getting "run like a business". And then these asshole MBA types realized "wow, a college education is worth hundreds of thousands of bucks over a persons life and we're only charging 10,000 bucks for it. This is a problem that must be fixed!

Then everything that has happened over the last 30 years is the consequence of this. Including the perpetuation of the idea that college is the one true path to success - its a marketing slogan, right?

I saw some article the other day where some dipshit was suggesting that students offer a cut of their future earnings to investors, ffs.

Anyways, vocational training sure why not. But is an excess of Humanities really a problem in this benighted age?


"a minor in basket weaving..."

Its supposed to be "underwater basket weaving", grampa. I mean, if you're dredging up antique Archie Bunkerisms.

A minor in basket weaving leaves a person able to weave a basket, right?


18 - He's sure another BMOC, amiright????


@14. You didn’t read the article very well. First of all, it’s not about Switzerland...although with your ilk, it’s always about Switzerland. Maybe...move to Switzerland. You know. So people stop killing themselves from boredom every time you bring it up.

Second, Katie mentioned a 1.5 million person deficit in tradesmen by 2024. Hardly a glut of labor that creates a race to the bottom in highly unionized industries like the trades.

Good article overall, Katie. I am in the trades myself and can assure you there is a definite shortage of labor in most every field. Starting wages are competitive and within a few years you can be pulling down 80+K a year working 40 hour weeks. This rate of pay and allotment of free time funds a ton of creative people I know. Some pursue music, some continue to educate themselves (know two guys writing books), tons chase tail at the bar, most own their own homes and work to increase their value and investment with sweat equity.

Plus, tons of shops are eager to make diversity hires. Women especially get preferential treatment and there are many pre apprentice female only schools that send their graduates straight into ready jobs.

But that 4 year degree to scrounge for tax free tips as a server is the “smart” investment.


" And then these asshole MBA types realized "wow, a college education is worth hundreds of thousands of bucks over a persons life and we're only charging 10,000 bucks for it. This is a problem that must be fixed!"

Exactly right. Just like with healthcare.

Not every sector of society conforms well to market economics. And in fact to attempt to crow bar market forces into these sectors is a recipe for failure, corruption, stagnation, and price gouging. But. You know. THE MIGHTY MARKET!


'move to Switzerland"

I already did! It was awesome.


@21 "in highly unionized industries like the trades"

HAHAHA. Unions? In America? Union membership just hit an all time low. There won't be hardly any unions in 2024 if we don't radically change labor regulations in this country regardless of how many mechanics and plumbers we pump out of subsidized vocational schools. Which I'm for.

And tell me more about my "ilk," will you? What is my "ilk?"

I don't know what bee flew up your asshole but I wasn't replying to Katie. It seems you didn't read carefully. I am PRO Unions. And I favor trades. And... well, I really don't know what your talking about.


@24. If you live in Switzerland then you’re already in paradise and can enjoy some of those higher levels of happiness and better wages. I bet you LOVE that 40% personal income tax rate. Plus the 7.5% sales tax? Oooh oooh, and the 12.5% social security tax?!!! THATS like, only 60% of your wages, yo.

Also, union membership has hit an all time low because the mass exodus from teacher and public sector unions who use union dues in a highly partisan political manner regardless of dues paying member affiliation.

Nobody is busting unions (11% of labor). They’re just not meeting employees needs in the public sector. Private? Trades unions? Non political. Representative of interests for all employees. Thriving.

You need to get some of that tax money back from the Swiss. You’re coming across as uneducated and ignorant.



And yet, people in Switzerland are happier than people in the United States.

Come to think of it, people are happier in lots of countries with high taxes.

Go figure.


Maybe once you fire all the vice provosts of transgender equity affairs and inclusion and some such, making $300K a year, we can talk about free college.

Until then, no fucking way.


"Employers could help reverse the trend of mandatory higher ed."

Nice thought, but not gonna happen. For the last 20 years, my job has involved hiring/employment in white collar professions. I have noticed a trend towards more and more employers requiring Master's degrees for jobs that used to require just a BS. If college were accessible to even more people - that BS/BA will have even less value - and the march towards requiring a graduate degree will continue. The price of admission for white collar professions will simply go up.



The world happiness index puts the US at 13th. The difference in happiness between the Nordic countries and the US is a factor of approx .4.

I think that’s a more than decent trade off for 40% of my earnings.

But if a higher tax rate is what makes you happy, there’s no law that says you have to pay the minimum.


Why not just make student loans dischargable through bankruptcy?

They were, until the `1980's. The Congressional decision to exempt them from bankruptcy is what led to tuition inflation and at the same time devalued higher education itself. It has created this perception that education is a high priced luxury good, with the same inherent value as owning a Bentley, rather than a means of developing skills and talents. And, just as luxury goods spawn knock off fakes (e.g., those fake Louis Vuitton bags you see for sale at tourist traps), this has also led two fake schools, such as The University of Phoenix.

We can stop all of this in one fell swoop. As soon as student loans become dischargeable, the banks will stop giving them out like Halloween candy. This in turn will force schools to lower tuition costs, as fewer of their customers can pay the existing rates without a loan. That will also force schools to focus more on learning than on building sundecks in the dorms like they do at Arizona State. It can also do much to end the college textbook racket.


"The drop has been particularly steep in the private sector. Just 6.4% of workers in the private sector are unionized, compared with 16.8% in 1983. On the other hand, government employee unions, like those for teachers and postal workers, have remained fairly strong, with a small decline from about 37% of the workforce in 1983 to 34% in 2018."

Why go out and make false assertions that other people can call you on? You could have easily gotten it right in the first place.


You’re not adding anything to the conversation, genius. Public sector unions (in some states by as much as 25%) are on the decline. Said so yourself.

Trades unions (private sector) are (and will continue to be) fine and thriving.

The loss of private sector union jobs is not due to ominous policy or busting or a decline in trades unions. It’s a result of manufacturing jobs that were traditionally union being outsourced.


@30: That and simply making it so the loans are no longer guaranteed by the government would be the easier, but more "conservative" approach.

The reason banks do not balk at giving a 19 year old with no income a $50,000 loan is that they know the government will eventually force the kid to pay it, or the government will pay it themselves. So since it is basically fake money until paid back, the bank is taking no risk or expense at all.

Treat it like literally every other loan, and the banks will have to consider risk again.

But that proposal does not excite the Millennials that Warren is doing so poorly with, so instead we get a "free college!" policy that will never actually happen, and if it does, will just be another tax paid by the middle class, despite Warren's assertions.


You can always identify the politicians that are truly clueless when they propose new taxes without first addressing the failure of the Internal Revenue Service to even enforce the current lax corporate taxation requirements. Princess Lizzie is serving up pie-in-the sky revenues that wouldn't even be needed if Corporations and High Net individuals paid what they already owe.



The best approach would be for the Supreme Court to make the decision. That way they can retroactively apply the rules to existing student loan debt, and since they’re not elected, they don’t have to face re-election, and the rage of the banks. If Congress passes a bill, the Chamber of Commerce will send it’s attack dogs out. If SCOTUS does it, they can’t do shit.

The limits of Warren’s proposal is that it’s limited to 50,000, on a sliding scale, and features means testing. It’s too easy to blow up; Congress just has to insert provisions that alter the sliding scale so you’d have to be permanently disabled and homeless to get any money at all. And let’s face it, the people who really need debt relief aren’t the folks with 20,000 in debt. It’s the folks with 200,000 in debt.

If, instead, SCOTUS rules the Congressional bill that exempted student loans from bankruptcy was unconstitutional, or the government guarantee program is unconstitutional, then everyone with any kind of debt can discharge all of it.


@36: May be tricky though, since the court upheld that the ACA was legal, they already basically set the precedent that the government can force you into a financial agreement against your will with the threat of penalty.

Seems like loan agreements would fall under that as well. But,k the court has some new blood on it now, so who knows?


So, some economist guy did the math:

Warren's plan would cost 1 TRILLION dollars instantly - that's counting current loan debt that would be erased - as well as about $100 BILLION / year for future debt-holders (this about 1/3rd higher than Warren's team estimates).

A majority (66%) of that Trillion dollars would go towards white families of middle or higher class background. It's literally more expensive that Trump's tax cut, and is more regressive.

But hey, it's for 'people like me' so we should support it!


@38, who and what are there credentials? Curious about their methods, like how do they know the benefit will go to the middle class? Predictive models are super tricky and computationally intensive and not something a quick back of the envelope calculation would capture because a drastic change to higher ed funding would affect enrollment rates across the board.

Anyway I think this proposal is more a conversation starter than an endpoint. If we start out in the outer extremes we would be more likely to achieve a compromise than we would just proposing something sensible from the outset — like, say, fed student loans being interest-free or increasing higher-ed subsidies to the rates that earlier generations enjoyed. This all sounds like a big giveaway but having a generation saddled with 5-6 figures in debt right out of college is bad for the economy. We are staring down another debt crisis.


Katie, nobody is looking down their nose at the idea of vocational education. Also, if we finally started cutting the war budget-there's no reason we can't get out of all the pointless unwinnable wars we're in in the Arab/Muslim world and there's no reason we have to keep arming the House O' Saud-we can easily afford free voc ed. AND free college. Also, a lot of people support free college because we want everybody who WANTS to get to college to be able to do so-there has never been elitism in this discussion.


Washington does a lot of vocational training through the community college system. These 'free college' proposals therefore are also for vocational training.


Re silly libertarianism.

Public college cost is not up. Subsidization is down. UW Seattle per student spending is almost exactly flat for the last 30 years, inflation adjusted. But in the early 90's the state paid 75% of tuition and today it pays about 30%, so tuition has tripled. This is a general case, not specific to US.

The US has the least 'government' in medical finance, and by far and away the most expensive healthcare system in the wealthy world. Even within the US the parts of healthcare with the most government involvement also have the best cost control.

Not everything is as an ideologically tilted version of econ 100 and a lack of life experience might lead one to suspect.


"not specific to US"

err, not specific to UW


@39 here's pre-Warren-annoucement analysis:


@39 uh-oh - it looks like those numbers may have been miscalculated (and may have overestimated the share of student loan debt held by high-income families) - see the reporting here: