Cover Your Assets

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The cash-strapped University of California system just might slap a $3,000 surcharge on students with family incomes exceeding $90,000. But the rich kids who qualify for financial aid (and there are plenty of them) won't have to pay up. The result: it's still good to be rich, as long as you're rich enough to hire a financial planner who can hide all of your money.

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  1. Of course, affluent parents can just send their kids somewhere other than UC.

    But since when is $90K a lot of money for a two-income family in California?

  2. Mike,

    Its not (90K that is). It would basically work like the evil tax cuts for the rich. The truly rich don’t have the same kind of taxable “income” and thus are not really affected by the evil tax cuts while a married couple with moderately decent jobs in a big city qualify as rich and get subsequently hammered.

  3. Don’t suppose we could just have a free market in education, where the only government interaction was for assuring that no one in America was unable to get education due to their economic situation and for subsidizing a good with such an extremely high network value?

    Of course not. Don’t be such a wise-ass.

  4. Plutark is right.

    Kindergarten through college, just cut checks redeemable only at institutions of learning. Public schools would disappear as even the NEA’s biggest shills don’t actually choose those dumps. The financial return would be enormous even though the education budget would grow 5 fold.

  5. Isn’t it those with family income of 90K+ who are now funding the UC?

  6. Or you can be the son or daughter of a Regent of the UC. Did you know that they get automatic admission anywhere they want to go no matter how dumb, errr… learning challenged they are?

  7. Another good thing to be is an illegal alien or other non-citizen. Non-citizen state residents pay the in-state rate. Citizens from out of state pay the normal rate.

    In other words, the University of California makes some U.S. citizens pay more than citizens of other countries.

  8. Plutarck —

    What is the reason for public funding of education? The only justifiable reason for using public money to pay for private citizens’ education, it seems to me, is if the private citizens’ education will benefit the public at large.

    Well, there are a lot of “schools”, and a lot of subjects, that in no way benefit the public at large — seminaries/yeshivas/etc, schools of chiropracty or homeopathic medicine, institutes that teach “creation science”, etc. People are going to want to send their kids to those schools, too.

    This means that either the government gets involved in deciding what “real schools” get money, and what they’re allowed to teach (ie, all education becomes public education) — or the “money for schools” program just becomes another massive corporate welfare program for any con artist or loon who decides to call his business “an institute of higher learning”.

  9. “The key here is that “Free Market”, as I use the term, does not imply a market without the _involvement_ of a government, only a market without the government screwing stuff up.”

    I submit that government subsidies of anything fatally distory the essential element of a market economy – the price signal – so that any market in government subsidized products is by definition screwed up, not “free”, and not to be confused with a market where buyer and seller meet to exchange value voluntarily.

    “Government is, in a free market, to be a good manager, to assist – to the extent it is rational for it to do so – in the willing (mutually beneficial) exchange of property amongst people.”

    Fine, I agree, this is why I am a libertarian rather than an anarchist. Unfortunately, a government that is heavily subsidizing a market is engaged in the non-consensual confiscation of some people’s property to deliver to other people. The subsidy has to come from somewhere, and be delivered to benefit somebody else, after all. This is not consistent with the proper role of a government as you define it.

    You may be right that education is a unique good that is best created and distributed with government involvement. What you describe, though, is neither laissez faire (as you agree) nor a “market” economy in education.

  10. I, for one, fail to see how the government can subsidize anything without interfering in it.

    Would the government cut checks to radical muslim schools? Or racist schools? Even if the system was initially set up to allow the parents to choose any school, that would eventually change.

    Just like Medicare is no longer just about paying for medical services, but effectively regulates them.

  11. Well, Dan, Don, and “”, I’m afraid you’ve proved precisely the point of how theory never perfectly translates to reality. Drat.

    In short, it is the nature of human political systems that in short order, indeed the government would start interfering in making decisions about what is or is not really “education”, as people simply won’t stomach money going to things they simply disagree with, if not utterly abhor. It wouldn’t matter that it would be dangerous and would inevitably lead to, well, perhaps what we have now, and/or what we are going toward in medicine – politics, and people in general, just don’t work at that high a level of principle and prediction. And the answer is of course education…doh! Pretty much a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation, there.

    In other words – agree, you’re all right on the matter. I failed to take into account that aspect of politics and eventuality.

    So, in short, the only solution I can come up with is just “subsidize education only for the relatively poor” (

  12. It seems to me that this is a wonderful idea.

    Can anyone else think of a better way to teach the evils of Marxist thinking to our impressionable youth?

    “You can’t go to a top school because you are ‘too rich’,” as if $90k/year is something other than middle class in hyper-expensive Cali.

    The other problem the UC system will have is that around 90% of its students are drawn from the top economic quartile. This includes many, many solidly middle class families. Drive them off, and the quality of students will drop.

  13. “Don’t suppose we could just have a free market in education, where the only government interaction was for assuring that no one in America was unable to get education due to their economic situation and for subsidizing a good with such an extremely high network value?”

    Which is it, a free market in education, or one in which the government subsidizes education? The two are incompatible, you know.

  14. T Hartin:

    “Which is it, a free market in education, or one in which the government subsidizes education? The two are incompatible, you know.”

    I disagree. If “free market” is defined as “the production and exchange of goods and services without interference from the government or from monopolies”, and – here is the subtle, but important, distinction – interference is defined as “the act or an instance of hindering, obstructing, or impeding”, then the two are not, in any way, in contradiction. The key here is that “Free Market”, as I use the term, does not imply a market without the _involvement_ of a government, only a market without the government screwing stuff up. Network effects, such as those experienced by having many people who are skilled, educated, dependendable, and reasonable, are immense – without others to do things better than we an do them we are left only with the natural, sluggish accumulation and dissimenation of knowledge that in the past required thousands of years of constant building just to get to the point where people could both read and have things TO read; not much use in being a consultant if there is no one to consult, for instance.

    Government is, in a free market, to be a good manager, to assist – to the extent it is rational for it to do so – in the willing (mutually beneficial) exchange of property amongst people. It may, theoretically, be as such desirable for the government to, say, subsidize behavior which is good in the long-term such that it becomes desirable in the short-term as well…but, of course, putting such power in the hands of government might not be such a good idea. So far as I am aware, I can think of only one good so universally useful and valuable as to be THE perhaps one and only good worthy of government involvement to promote: education. I just can’t imagine a world where there is just Too Much education – too much knowledge about one’s self, others, and the universe.

    Laissez Faire is subtly, but importantly different from Free Market. While I would vastly prefer a laissez faire education system to the government school system we have now (hell, I’d prefer damn near anything to it), I personally would rather strive for a free market one.

    Note that I utterly refuse to use the word “school system”, because school is only one _means_ of being educated or educating, and I would argue that it may be efficient for masses you just want to teach to count and read and warehouse, but it is horrific at producing genuinely brilliant good (meant here as being empathetic, understanding, reciprocal, and rationally informed) people, or even leaving them undamaged in the process.

    So government is more of a means of insurance against ignorance and a prod and assistant to enlightenment, rather than as a “do absolutely everything, leave nothing to chance or choice” entity of utter foolishness.

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