A quick rant on “Free College”

1. Don’t call it “free.” Educating millions of students each year requires maintaining plenty of scarce resources, each of which must be paid for somehow. I therefore reject the premise of the popular question: “Should college be free?” I recommend asking, instead: “Who should pay College X for rendering educational services upon Student Y?”

2. “Education is a right.” But then how do you define “education”? I’ve educated myself by reading Thomas Sowell and Frederic Bastiat in my own time, but I wouldn’t dare suggest that I have a right to take money by force from somebody else (top X percent included) to fund my own enjoyment of reading! That being said, it is an “educational” pursuit, and if this rationale justifies a college to expropriate money from private citizens, then who is to deny my “right” to educational products from Amazon?

3. “Education is a right.” But then how do you define a “right”? Is it anything beneficial to an individual? to society? That reasoning can surely be reduced to absurdity. Good health, for example, is an individual’s building-block to success, and therefore critical to society. So where’s the movement for subsidized gym memberships and free salad bars? Studies also constantly confirm the value to society of strong property rights, meaning my right to my income would trump your right to taxpayer funded college.

4. “I like to pay taxes for schools because I don’t want to live with a bunch of idiots.” Well, do you call upon the state to bake your bread or to build you an automobile? No, and yet Americans aren’t starving (quite the opposite) nor are they still travelling by foot (just five percent of American households don’t own a car). The Lesson: Free minds will always find creative ways to improve living conditions, even without herds of politicians.



2 thoughts on “A quick rant on “Free College”

  1. Ron_H. December 24, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    Good rant, Nate.

    1. “Should college be free?”

    Well sure, if everyone involved in providing college is willing to work for nothing, otherwise they must be compensated somehow. Who better to bear that cost than the person receiving the benefit?

    2. Sure, everyone has a “right” to educate themselves, as you have done by reading Sowell and Bastiat, but there is no “right” to force someone else to provide it. The same is true of any so-called “positive right.”

    4. “I like to pay taxes…”

    What drivel. Anyone is free to provide financial support for education or for anything else they believe would be of benefit to themselves or others. They just can’t presume a right to force me to pay also.


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