No one has a right to a publicly-funded education.
Of course, if you pay mind to complaints from the left about Gov. Nathan Deal (of whom I am no fan) not increasing HOPE payouts to match rising tuition, you might disagree. Even Republican governors such as Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Scott Walker, who recently proposed guaranteeing their residents a four-year college education at the cost of $10,000, seem bound to the idea that the state ought to be providing college education in the first place.
I propose a simpler solution: end publicly-funded education.
Yes, I am well aware that I am receiving a public education. Yes, I realize my tuition is free due to HOPE. And yet, I am still publicly arguing for the total abolition of both.
We live in a system where individual rights are violated to provide us with the public goods we utilize — taxpayers are robbed of their income, and that money is allocated to this university. While it is immoral to compel a man to forfeit his property for the “public good,” such compulsion is already being carried out every day in the form of regulation, taxation and subsidization.
As my morality is that of self-interest — the only morality rooted in man’s nature and the requirements for his survival and prospering — the best an individual like me can do is live within the confines of the statism around me, while arguing for the consistent implementation of laissez-faire capitalism at all levels of government.
I anticipate objections to my proposal, one of which is as follows: if education is not publicly funded, how would anyone afford a college education?
First, the question is irrelevant. No man’s need makes him entitled to that which, of right, belongs to another man. No man belongs to anyone but himself, and this includes the consequences of his productive abilities. This is the essence of liberalism in its proper, classical sense — not the collectivist perversion of the term preached by the left today.
Second, those who raise this objection seem to overlook that it is their own quest to make education free that has distorted its costs and made it so expensive. Just as LBJ’s creation of Medicare led to price controls under Nixon to mitigate rising costs, so too has the creation of HOPE led to immense tuition increases across Georgia (this has occurred all around the nation with similar programs). Coupled with a funding formula best described as the “dig a bigger hole, and we’ll give you more to fill it” model in the midst of an economy which cannot fill the hole, tuition will necessarily rise.
Though it’s been a few years since I’ve taken economics, I do remember a few things: when you make something free (or pretend it’s free — the money comes from producers, not magic), the demand becomes nearly inelastic. This causes a problem because the supply itself has not increased; higher costs to prevent shortages are the inevitable result.
On the other hand, if you subject college education to market forces, elasticity of demand will increase, price will fall and suppliers (universities) will have no incentive to continue expanding perpetually with no regard for the costs. Freed from influence-peddlers and government constraints, universities will more readily cut unprofitable programs and better allocate their now-limited resources.
This is as it should be. The morality which tells man to pursue his self-interest is also that which allows him to best attain it — that which is moral is also practical.
The moral argument alone, however, should be enough. No man should be forced to serve another, whether the force is private or through public vote.
I do not believe that public education will be abolished anytime in the near future. The University of Georgia enjoys its status as the “first state-chartered university” in the United States, though I think it would be better served at the forefront of privatization.
But even if this ideal will only be attained in the distant future, it needs proclaiming in present: no one has a right to a public education.
—Brian Underwood is a junior from Evans majoring in political science and history