Bob Barr’s Campus Comedy

Bob Barr, former congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate, is critical of the Obama Department of Education’s effort to impose a “gainful employment” measure (which would assess how well graduates are doing in the job market) on for-profit colleges that get federal assistance. Noting that Barr teaches constitutional law at the for-profit John Marshall School of Law in Atlanta, CampusProgress.org editor Kay Steiger says he’s letting the professional affiliation get in the way of libertarian principle:

At its base, the “gainful employment” regulations issue is about curbing wasteful spending – the regulations promise to cut federal funding from programs that leave students with high default rates or too much debt compared with their earnings. While Campus Progress has been focused on eliminating spending for bad programs to ensure more aid to successful programs, curbing government subsidies more generally is something libertarians normally get behind. In fact, in 2005 the libertarian think tank Cato Institute released a study in which they argue, “Rather than expand the current system, Congress should consider a phase-out of federal assistance to higher education over a 12-year time frame.”

Barr seems to have abandoned his libertarian ideas in this case, where the interests of his employer are at stake.

Although opposing federal pork for colleges is certainly a libertarian position, the issue here is not ending that spending (an option that is not on the table and probably won’t be in this life). Rather, Barr and other advocates for for-profit schools – an ideological potluck that includes Rev. Al Sharpton and former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial – are questioning whether for-profits should be subjected to a level of scrutiny that other schools are spared. “Curbing wasteful spending” is a laudable goal, but the bulk of federal pork gets sucked up by public schools and private non-profits. The question – beyond whether graduates’ job performance is a fair measure of a school’s subsidy-worthiness – is why the gainful employment standard is not being applied across the board. I have made the case that applying the standard only to for-profits is somewhat justifiable, but the question is legitimate. (See this comment from R C Dean for an opposing view.)

Barr’s interest in defending for-profit schools has gotten some controversy lately. But he can object to prejudicial treatment by the Department of Ed without betraying libertarian principle – so long as he acknowledges that the Department of Ed itself should be abolished.

Reason’s 2008 interview with candidate Barr.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Wow does Kay Steiger not get libertarianism. Next she'll tell us that mandatory drug testing for federal employees is consistent with libertarianism because they won't have to pay employees who are fired, thereby leading us down the road to fiscal sustainability.

  • Frank||

    I know. To further support your point, she actually considers Barr a libertarian. I guess it's time to start using the label "classical libertarian".

  • ||

    Of course mandatory drug testing for federal employees is consistent with libertarianism, as are speech restrictions. The relationship between government and its employee is not a coercive one. If an applicant doesn't want to submit to drug testing he or she is free to find another job -- you know, just like in the private sector.

    I can't believe that libertarians are supportive of extra rights for government employees that their private sector counterparts do not enjoy.

  • Bucky||

    i'm all for drug testing but, aren't we missing something...
    oh yeah, people on the dole...

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm all for means-testing federal handouts, so long as it is done across the board. Non-profit schools should be subject to the same funding strings as for-profits.

    Ideally, federal money will be made such a pain in the ass to get that neither kind of institution will want to bother.

  • zoltan||

    I'd like to see the "gainful employment" measurement for film schools of public colleges.

  • pmains||

    Let's say there's a for profit school based in Phoenix, Arizona that has roughly $3 billion in annual revenues. Would you say that any attempt to making getting funds a PITA might favor an organization that already has heavier documentation of processes due to its scale of operations?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    WRONG! Libertarians must recuse themselves from any policy advocacy other than the absolute abolition of federal funding. Also, stop using roads, you hypocrites.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    But I must go through the TSA to get on my flight to Mogadishu!

  • ||

    Not if you charter a private plane! You're the worst libertarian ever.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I know. I only know 3 sets of monocles. One time I even got a letter in the mail.

  • mr simple||

    How can a monocle have a set? Damnit, how much do I have to pay to move up enough levels to get my monocles in sets?

  • Spiny Norman||

    Each set contains one monocle. That's one of the "insider tips" you pick up when you're part of the Kochs' inner circle.

  • Lucky||

    they also come with their own silk tophat.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Thankfully I have now been proven to be only the second worst libertarian ever.

  • Spat Salesman||

    Spats here! Gitcher spats here! ONE dolla!

  • The Truth||

    the for-profit John Marshall School of Law in Atlanta

    Former-libertarian radio personality Neil Boortz is an alumni. I know people who attended John Marshall. I have no idead how their grads compare to other schools(I suspect quite well, it isn't a remedial community college or a store-front beauty school) I can't think of any reason non-profit schools shouldn't receive exactly the same scrutiny.

  • The Truth||

    Oh, and CHINA !

  • sevo||

    Plick!

  • Chuck||

    I have no idead how their grads compare to other schools(I suspect quite well, it isn't a remedial community college or a store-front beauty school)

    The Atlanta version of John Marshall wasn't even accredited until 2009. It's the functional equivalent of a storefront beuaty school; graduates of unaccredited law schools can't be admitted to practice law in over half the states in the country.

  • ||

    I'm so glad we have State Law Board monopolies to protect us from this.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    In a country where interior decorators and hair-weavers have to have licenses - er, permission slips - ...

  • Libertarian||

    Sorry, but it's pet peeve time. Boortz is not an alumni, he's an alumnus, despite all those college bumper stickers that say "______ alumni" on them.

  • Illuminatus||

    Hey wait just a minute...

  • The People||

    Barr and a picture of a horse's ass. Accident or deliberate?

  • Almanian||

    RACIIIIIIIIIST!!!!1!

  • ||

    While, in my never humble (and sometimes under-informed) opinion, Bob Barr is a carpet-bagging L. I. N. O. who wouldn't know a libertarian principle if Ron Paul slapped him with it, in this case, like a broken clock, he is correct.

    If we cannot completely cut off funding, but desire some limit to the stolen [taxed] funds doled out by government programs, then all participants should be subject to the exact same scrutiny. If you expect to receive charity, you have to meet the donor's qualification criteria.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Bob Barr is a fucking embarrassment to the LP. Same goes for Root "hugger".

    The LP needs to issue a formal apology for nominating Bob Barr in 2008. The other night, I saw him on Cavuto defending Mubarak, aid to Egypt, and all of US interventionist policies in the Middle East in the past 30 years.

  • ||

    If we're going to apply that standard, the LP needs to apologize for pretty much every candidate they've ever run.

    Barr's main opponent for the nomination opined that kiddie porn should be legal, while the guy in 2004 was a Truther who thought prisoners should be strapped into their beds 24/7.

  • ||

    If we're going to apply that standard, the LP needs to apologize for pretty much every candidate they've ever run.

    Far be it from me to defend the LP, but Harry Browne was an exceptional candidate and not that long ago, either.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Tulpa, Barr's main opponent in 2008 was Ron Kubby, a medical marijuana patient, not Mary Ruwart.

    Harry Browne and Andre Marrou might not have been shining lights, but they were hardly the embarrassment that Barr was. Badnarik at least had the grace to disappear quickly. Barr is the stinking shit you can't wipe off your shoe.

    And with your great love of authority, Tulpa, why don't you start working with DONEROOOO!!! for the Giuliani '12 campaign and leave us the fuck alone?

  • Max||

    Oh, yeah. The liberated Egyptians are demanding privatization of all schools. Barr will be left behind.

  • Adam||

    R C Dean was right. Quit being pigheaded, Cavanaugh. Admit defeat.

  • ||

    I hardly need to repeat myself.

    [smirks, twirls mustache, spins cane, jauntily saunters away]

  • prolefeed||

    The full-on libertarian and constitutionalist argument is that ANY federal subsidy for any schooling is both a terrible, wasteful idea that distorts the economy, and blatantly not an enumerated power allowed the feds.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm sorry, what does this have to do with 9/11?

  • Auntie Semitic||

    It's the Joos I tell ya! The Joos!

  • JohnD||

    Don't feed the troll

  • the real hozni m||

    the aristocrats!

  • ||

    Worst. Onion article. Ever.

  • Almanian||

    You need a new dealer - you're getting the "bad" stuff

  • ||

    Will COMMANDER take up the challenge?

  • Mr Whipple||

    [Round Robin $USD's]

    Say "Round Robin" 10,000 times. fast, then repeat.

  • Bucky||

    i missed the part where there was a great gnashing of teeth about oil rich princes?

  • Mr. X||

    Cutting funds for underperforming non-profit/public universities would kick UNCF schools right in the nads.

  • Captain Buzzy||

    United Nations College Football?

    Oh, I see. United Negro College Fund - An educational assistance organization with 40 private, historically black, member colleges and universities.

    You would have to be an extraordinarily stupid politician to include private not-for-profit schools. However, I can see why a for-profit school would want to hide behind that bulletproof shield.

    Also, That’s Racist!

  • ||

    But can Bob Barr get Baby Doc a scholarship?

  • the real hozni m||

    the aristocrats!

  • sevo||

    "biggest Terrorist in the World Today is the American Israeli Industrial Complex."

    How 'bout them Giants! What a ball club!

  • Mr Whipple||

    Hey Cyrano, I know a good plastic surgeon for that nose problem.

  • ||

    Trolling of the Bell, Ask Not for Whom the Bell Trolls, It Trolls for Thee

  • Bucky||

    if Ike had only seen the box cutters...

  • Rock Action ||

    I remember when they redrew district lines in Georgia, and Bob Barr wound up getting gerrymandered right into a Ludacris video.

  • SIV||

    He should have challenged John Linder.
    The "John Linder wants to take away your home mortgage deduction and institute a 30% National Sales Tax" attack woulda been a sure-fire winner. Didn't Republican Phil Gingrey actually win that gerrymandered "safe-Democrat" district? Barr was a quitter...just like Palin!

  • Rock Action ||

    I don't really know, actually. I only knew about it because I knew a bit about national politics and he was a high-ranking Republican. I distinctly remember Barr's awful cameo in the video and thinking that he'd pretty much do anything for power and votes.

  • Rock Action ||

    By the way, can you imagine the fights over the rate on the national sales tax and to which purchases it would apply? My God, it'd be almost hilarious to go shopping and plan a budget if it weren't so sad.

  • Spiny Norman||

    I'm sure glad we have the Editor's Note to keep the comments on topic. Just imagine what this place would be like without it.

  • Almanian||

    [Ending the Grand Chessboard Game]

    C'mon, Spiny - the Grand Chessboard Game is really what it's all about (they hoky poky aside). So Hercule's comments apply to EVERY topic - it's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

  • Bucky||

    and in other news the CDC has just announced that "toe jam" is not the disease ridden filth you once thought it was...

  • Max||

    Dude,
    Get the fuck out'a here

    You're making the liberturds look intelligent.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Charlie Bales, it's not the Jooooos, it's the fire hoses. You need to hire someone that knows hoses.

  • ||

    I AGREE

  • Rock Action ||

    Can we re-post?!

  • the real hozni m||

    but we tried that.

  • Bucky||

    does this mean i finally get my riparian rights back?

  • JoshInHB||

    All other areas not mentioned will be in [ANARCHY]!

    Iowa, Nebraska,Kansas, Montana and the Dakotas will be libertopia?

    I was hoping it'd be in Hawaii.

  • mr simple||

    Is a character limit not libertarian or something?

  • mr simple||

    Is a character limit not libertarian or something?

  • mr simple||

    Is a character limit not libertarian or something?

  • Rock Action ||

    To say nothing of repetition.

    I keed, I keed.

  • Bingo||

    Where's the post about Ron Paul's speech at CPAC? He did an awesome job. here...

  • the real hozni m||

    presidents come and go buddy

  • Bingo||

    Stop posting you annoying twat.

  • BakedPenguin||

    See, this is what INCIF was made for.

  • sevo||

    "surfing at La Jolla, isn't in the cards any longer,"

    For which La Jollians can be thankful.

  • Bingo||

    Suggestion: write a blog. That way a) you can stop shitting up the comments b) we don't have to read your nonsense.

    You are to political discourse as sports columnists are to athletics.

  • Lucky||

    it has a blog.
    search the name.

  • Bingo||

    Great, he probably has months of inane commentary stored up that he can copy and paste into every thread.

  • Fast Forward To Saturday ||

    Ding! Correct answer.

  • Almanian||

    [Are You Out Of Your Cottin Pickin Head???]

    RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIIIIIIIIIIIST!!!!!!11!

    Now you've gone over the line, Hercule Poirot-bot!

  • Bucky||

    "send lawyers, guns and money..."

  • Bingo||

    Eat shit and die.

  • Mr Whipple||

    All right Cyrano, this is getting ridiculous. You are trying our patience. Take this shit over to the Daily Paul.

  • Bucky||

    dude, keep your cell phone off...
    the missiles have launched.

  • ||

    Triathalon is [URL=http://againstthemodernworld.blogspot.com/2010/11/thoughts-on-andrew-loeb.html]Andrew Loeb's[/URL] new HIVE designation.

  • ||

    Hypertext that shit.

  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk||

    the real hozni m|2.11.11 @ 10:57PM|#

    presidents come and go buddy

    Don't I know it.

  • the original saddam h||

    preach it, brother

  • Rock Action ||

    Oooooh, that last part copped a lot of David Foster Wallace's writing style there, only without regard to his exacting punctuation standards, if by exacting you're using the colloquial and more commonly understood meaning of the word, substituting "painstakingly and learnedly accurate" for the original meaning, which was something or someone that was overly demanding to the point of qualifying as severe.*

    *which, w/r/t to Greek sculpture, was really a fine period, if you know what I mean.

  • Rock Action ||

    The Hillary digression, I mean. Damn squirrels.

  • thomas sabo ||

    good article!

  • thomas sabo ||

    I get more and mare information and popularity from your articles,so that I can keep up with the steps of the society!

  • Freedom Juries||

    When Bob Barr was asked by Roger Roots of FIJA about his column "Yates Jury Gets it Wrong", at the Denver 2008 Libertarian Party National Convention, he replied "You support jury nullification in murder trials?!" ...As if Roger was wrong to object to Barr's statement "The jury is to take instruction from the judge on the law". Roger replied in a libertarian manner. Probably close to how I would have replied: "Yes, because the jury can decide whether the laws against murder are being applied fairly and evenly, or whether the person was acting in self-defense and is being wrongly charged, or whether there are other mitigating factors. Moreover, juries must be superior in power to judges and prosecutors if there is to be a shred of freedom. Juries are not to "take the law as the judge gives it to them, because judges are typically totally-biased, worthless pieces of sh*t who work with the prosecutor, and are virtually all current or former members of the bar. Even if they aren't licensed into the same club, they have an immense conflict of interest, and spend much of their time enforcing mala prohibita, which has no right to exist".

    I found out at the Convention that I was the only person who brought Barr's anti-libertarian articles, proof of his abject worthlessness as an LP "standard bearer".

    Even on the more controversial fairness standard, Barr got it wrong. ...For instance, what if whites were allowed to murder blacks (or chinese) freely, but blacks (or chinese) were arrested and sentenced when they retaliated?" (Such a situation once existed in the USA.) Now, from the jury nullification comments on this site, most libertarians are dilletantes, who don't really comprehend the concept of consistent libertarianism and how it might actually function (Many oppose jury nullification of law, and would apparently like the prosecutor and judge to have even more unlimited power than they already do, or a state of lawlessness where anyone is free to rape, steal, and murder). The standard bearer of the LP in 2008, and a former prosecutor, Barr had no comprehension of of a moral system of law. He was a part and parcel of the problem. He spent most of his life as a tyrant and an oppressor.

    As George Carlin said: "If you wanted to start cleaning up the world with a gun, you could do a lot worse than a whole bunch of dead prosecutors." This is certainly still true today, as it was then.

  • Nike Dunk High Women||

    thanks

  • han||

    But he can object to prejudicial

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