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Nationalize the Ivy League—What Could Go Wrong? (Hint: Lots)

Let's tread lightly here, comrades.

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Yale
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In response to William Deresiewicz's recent article in The New Republic about the deficiencies of a modern Ivy League education, Chris Lehmann of In These Times goes full Soviet: Nationalize the universities! He writes:

So rather than taking a sojourn among the working class to round out a deficient elite life curriculum, why not reverse the tacit social logic here? Finish the work begun by the GI Bill—which wreaked a sea change in access to quality higher education via the direct method of driving down its cost—and nationalize American institutions of higher learning, abolishing anything more than a nominal tuition fee. Yes, amid present conditions, this is utopian. But it's no less realistic—and infinitely more democratic—than the expectation that better-trained meritocrats somehow will rescue the rest of us.

This solution ostensibly addresses some of the faults Deresiewicz finds with the operating procedures of Yale and Harvard, which reinforce economic privilege, according to the New Republic piece:

This system is exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite that is isolated from the society that it's supposed to lead. The numbers are undeniable. In 1985, 46 percent of incoming freshmen at the 250 most selective colleges came from the top quarter of the income distribution. By 2000, it was 55 percent. As of 2006, only about 15 percent of students at the most competitive schools came from the bottom half. The more prestigious the school, the more unequal its student body is apt to be. And public institutions are not much better than private ones. As of 2004, 40 percent of first-year students at the most selective state campuses came from families with incomes of more than $100,000, up from 32 percent just five years earlier.

The major reason for the trend is clear. Not increasing tuition, though that is a factor, but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children who are fit to compete in the college admissions game. 

As Deresiewicz notes, universities under the purview of the state are not exactly bastions of equality and affordability. The government's efforts to correct these problems have failed spectacularly.

In other words, let's tread lightly here, comrades.

Reason's Jesse Walker responds to Deresiewicz here.

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  1. wreaked a sea change

    Ooh…that’s some quality hedging, there.

  2. than the expectation that better-trained meritocrats somehow will rescue the rest of us.

    I find his disdainful whining so delicious. I want more of it.

    1. Bitter envy makes people truly pathetic.

      1. See also: Mary Stack

    2. I’m not sure that this sentence, out of the context of nationalization, is that far afield. Hasn’t the technocracy promised us by better living through large, managed organizations, the likes of which seem to always contradict libertarian thought, wreaked more havoc than done good?

      I mean, if there’s a sentence to criticize in that article, I don’t think that’s it. The original essay is also valid, and worth reading. It laments the goal-less ethic of the education itself. In other words, it’s a network without a moral impetus. And it’s not just “bitter envy” that drives this resentment. It’s the self-selection of those who would manage unwieldy and unsuccessful programs that directly affect people’s everyday lives.

      Again, this is not a left-wing lament on my end. It’s more a positing that people, when left to their own devices, do better than the “meritocrats [that] somehow will rescue us.”

      Because they’re not doing a very a job of it, from the twentieth century onward. It was better when they were finishing schools, frankly. At least then they didn’t have the imprimatur of superior knowledge about how to organize society.

      1. *good job of it. Sorry.

  3. What is it about socialism and retards?

    If the ivy league gets turned into a set of government schools, then the next tier of private schools becomes the ivy league. Duh.

    -jcr

    1. ^This.

      And it’s been noted before, but it seems like the fall of the USSR has relieved leftists from the burden of defending communism, so “new” ideas like this are springing up again.

    2. It sounds like he’s calling for ALL universities to be nationalized.

  4. but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children

    Ah, there it is. The government owns your kids and should turn them out like Model-T’s on an assembly line.

    1. If middle- and upper-class parents who prepare their kids for good colleges are “manufacturing” them, are low-class parents who have kids they can’t afford doing the same thing?

  5. Roma is playing a friendly against Liverpool at Fenway Park. I found that surprising until they mentioned that the Red Sox owner also owns Liverpool.

    Also, Tottenham is playing Toronto, and showing the ground MLS needs to make up in order to be a top rank league.

    1. …and of course, right after I write that, Toronto tie it up.

    2. Seattle just tied Spurs this past weekend too. Not that a friendly against squad in pre-season when your mid-season (and care way more) is too indicative.

      1. I didn’t mean to sound as if I think the MLS is crap, because they’re not. I suspect the top teams would be about mid-pack if they played in the top Euro leagues.

        1. Well I don’t think MLS is crap and go to as many Dynamo games a year as I can but that’s definitely not true, depending on how you define top. The best MLS teams might do pretty good in the English Championship. Maybe the bottom teams in the “top” leagues that have less parity than the EPL. Probably not though. The average salary in MLS is ridiculously low, it’s not even good compared to Liga MX (who have dominated MLS in the Champions League so far, though I think a MLS win is forthcoming).

          1. Perhaps I’m being a bit optimistic, but I have to believe that say, Seattle or KC could easily avoid relegation from the Premiere League.

            I didn’t realize their salaries were so poor, though. That’s definitely going to drain talent away.

            1. EPL relegation is a knockdown drag out fight. Wage bills for the even the lowest teams reach at least $60 million most approach $100 million.

              The median salary for a player in MLS $80,000. Only a couple of players per team are allow to be over the cap of $270kish, and not every team is even taking advantage of that.

              1. Is there a world cup for tiddlywinks?

  6. “As Deresiewicz notes, universities under the purview of the state are not exactly bastions of equality and affordability. The government’s efforts to correct these problems have failed spectacularly.”

    Nationalization is an end, not a means. For those calling for nationalization of anything, it really is irrelevant to them whether or not it leaves anyone better off.

    1. They don’t want anything better, they want everything equal. See Piketty for the latest rave example, where he admits his 80% taxation rate is not for revenue but to disempower rich people and discourage everybody from trying to earn too much.

      1. They don’t want anything better, nor do they want everything equal. They just want total control.

    2. I think much of the support for single-payer health care comes from people who think it will be better. I think they’re wrong, but the people I know who support it seem to sincerely believe that.

      1. True. I think there are some who believe that nationalization makes things better, but I believe some just see concentration of power as an end in itself.

  7. Is this really a surprise? The answer to progressives is always more government involvement which they equate with more equality. Because government is totally fair and impartial.

    The Ivy League schools are what they are because the rich send their kids there. As noted above, if you take it away, the rich (including the progressives) will just send their kids off to other private institutions.

    1. Or find some other way to game the system to give their kids an edge. Because that’s what a parent is going to do.

    2. “As noted above, if you take it away, the rich (including the progressives) will just send their kids off to other private institutions.”

      But one of these days, the rulers will institute the one perfect law and all will be fine!

  8. Um, Venezuela. Refute that, bitches!

  9. I read this as Nationalizing the American League: No more DH! No more DH! No more DH! No more DH!

    1. Is being anti-DH a progressive opinion?

    2. That would be awesome. Make those coddled AL pitchers bat.

  10. WILL YOU GUYS SHUT THE FUCK UP! MY SON AND I ARE WATCHING “BULLITT”.

    Yeah – the room is positively hazy with teh testosteronesez….

    Charger v. Mustang coming up shortly.

    Robert Vaughn was a great bad guy in “Bullitt”…..AND “Pootie Tang.”

    Think about that.

    1. I never realized Bob Duvall is a cabbie in “Bullitt”! So young…

      1. The car chase scene is pretty epic.

        1. The Bullitt car chase map. I live near one segment, and previously lived near another.

          1. Looks like five or six miles long. Impressive

    2. Shame on you for talking about Bullitt without providing an adequate trigger warning.

  11. Sarcasm Button On:
    RE: Nationalize the Ivy League – What Could Go Wrong?
    Comrades! Nationalizing the Ivy Leagues schools has already been established. It already has the prerequisite Marxists professors indoctrinating our elitist betters so we can march toward totalitarian socialism faster. As I stated on a previous post, just look at the people the Ivy’s have produced, such as Henry Kissinger, the Clintons, Obama and the Bush Dynasty. One only has to look at the records of these wise and brave socialists, and one can see immediately that nationalization of the Ivy Leagues schools started decades ago. And what progress has been made for our happy socialist utopia by these caring elitists. Medicare Part B, the Gulf, Iranian, and Afghanistan wars, Obamacare, No Child Left Behind, etc. Do you think these magnificent socialist ideas would not have come about without nationalizing the top eight universities in America? Of course not! Plus, there is more good news. Another loving socialist is on the way to help the United States become another socialist paradise like Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Her name is Elizabeth Warren (She’s part Native American. She says so.) So let us be happy knowing another indoctrinated socialist from the nationalized Ivy League is on the way to rescue us all from the repressive capitalist system that made America great.
    Sarcasm Button Off

    1. NEEDZ MOAR [BRACKETZ]

  12. It’s the logical next step to make college heavily subsidized just like we do for K-12. Or we can compete economically with the rest of the civilized world (and the vast populations of the less civilized world) with our “freedom.”

    1. Or we can compete economically with the rest of the civilized world (and the vast populations of the less civilized world) with our “freedom.”

      So, we should eliminate internal incentives that force competition so we can compete against the rest of the world.

      Totally makes sense.

      People still send their kids here to be educated, don’t they? Even from Europe and especially from the ‘less civilized world?’

      1. People still send their kids here to be educated, don’t they?

        Yeah, but sooner or later they’re going to catch on and realize that they’re not getting their money’s worth when they do.

        -jcr

        1. John,
          I think you might be confusing stated and revealed references.
          The stated preference is to get a really good education; the revealed preference is to get hired by those employers who use I/L degrees as a proxy for an education.
          So long as the latter condition applies, those people will fill the coffers of those schools.

          1. Pretty much. The Ivy League is about the brand name and the networking that can be done there. There’s no point for those progressives who run the places to let in poor folk whose families can’t give favors down the road.

    2. Tony|7.23.14 @ 8:49PM|#
      …”Or we can compete economically with the rest of the civilized world (and the vast populations of the less civilized world) with our “freedom.””

      Yeah, cuz those frogs are gonna eat our lunch with their 4-month vacations, right, twit?

    3. Why is idiocy always “logical” to you, rent-boy?

      -jcr

    4. You want college to look like the public K-12 school system? Really?

      1. Just the Ivy Leagues. That way things will be more equal.

    5. Make college more heavily subsidized than it already is, you mean.

    6. Yeah, like it’s worked so well for K-12.

  13. The nationalized universities that do exist (military academies) are pretty exclusive as well.

    1. Nah. Lots of poor black kids from the inner city make it into West Point…it’s never like slots are handed out to the kids of cronies.

  14. DERP!

  15. The political elite would never be able to game the system in a nationalize ivy-league. Never!

  16. Speaking of Ivy League, Krugnuts getting bitch slapped.

    http://m.townhall.com/columnis…..e-n1864445

    1. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

    2. Very nice.

      Warm up for 2017 slappings, if you catch my drift.

    3. Maybe they’ll hire him at VOX.

    4. From that link I found the three articles Niall Ferguson wrote in Oct. 2013 on Krugnuts. Excellent take down pieces using Krugnut’s own words. I had not seen them before.

    5. Wow, those comments by Volcker are pretty awesome.

  17. abolishing anything more than a nominal tuition fee

    And that will bring down *costs*, how, exactly?

    Anyone with a modicum of economic literacy should be able to understand that college costs are rising because government subsidies and easy access to loans all but destroy any incentives to compete on cost.

    1. Because once the gubmint takes control of something scarcity no longer exist. With enough top down control everybody can be a rich college grad with enough debt to choke a donkey and no real job prospects since there is no demand for experts in black lgbtfuspqr studies. But it beats being one of those icky people who produce goods and services.

      1. Which really shows how out of touch ‘liberals’ are with the issues related to higher education. They argue that everyone should have a college degree because it gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling. That it’s completely unnecessary and impractical doesn’t matter to them.

        There’s also another issue that I think has resulted from credentialism/degree seeking. It makes it easier for businesses to avoid real training programs where they simply teach people the skills they need. This is especially true when everything is subsidized and regulated.

        Historically, if you entered a field, you received on job training and mastered that one particular skill. Corporations even did this in the 20th century. There’s just less incentive to do that now and that’s partially related to the culture that promotes diploma printing.

  18. Uhh.. in what way did the GI bill lower the costs of education? Last I checked the “cost” was going sky high. It only lowered the bill to the vets…

    1. Uhh.. in what way did the GI bill lower the costs of education? Last I checked the “cost” was going sky high. It only lowered the bill to the vets…

      I would imagine the writer meant the original GI Bill as opposed to the post-9/11 incarnation.

      Anyone with a modicum of economic literacy should be able to understand that college costs are rising because government subsidies and easy access to loans all but destroy any incentives to compete on cost.

      Nah. Encouraging high schoolers they’ll be failures without degrees, and then handing them money to pay for it in terms of loans and grants doesn’t at all impact consumer choice…

      The argument is that they shouldn’t be consumers at all for higher education. Tony is just even dumber than that. He’s arguing we should subsidize higher education…most of which is provided by public institutions, anyway.

  19. There is an insular monoculture that’s having a negative effect on the quality of education at the ivy schools, but it is a self correcting problem.

    Currently most top academic and government positions are occupied by ivy graduates. How’s that working out? Yeah.

    1. Not just government positions (including the elected officials). It’s also true in the media. The NYT, WashPo, and other major news outlets all collect staff from the Ivy League and ‘prestigious’ liberal arts schools in the NE.

      There is a complete lack of diversity in the make-up of our major news sources. And I’m not talking about in terms of gender, race, or sexual preference. I’m talking about from a social class and geographical standpoint. Considering these are really national news outlets at this point and it’s easier than ever to scout for new talent, it’s a little absurd.

      1. There is a complete lack of diversity in the make-up of our major news sources. And I’m not talking about in terms of gender, race, or sexual preference. I’m talking about from a social class and geographical standpoint

        And?

        1. And what? They are free to do what they want even if they want to restrict everyone else. I’m just pointing out what I see as general hypocrisy from those who like to preach to the rest of the country so much.

      2. Brochettaward|7.23.14 @ 10:58PM|#
        …”There is a complete lack of diversity in the make-up of our major news sources”…

        Not sure if it is sources as much as much as delivery.
        Most lefty writers rag on “the media” as controlled by right-wing KORPRASHUNS, but that’s so much bullshit; the major media is left-leaning even by its own admission. But TV news ratings are all owned by FOX. And yet Obo gets re-elected.
        I’ll agree to confusion.

  20. Summer Time lovers arent gonna like that.

    http://www.AnonToolz.tk

  21. while they’re at it, they should nationalize the Baltimore Colts.

    1. Andrew Luck is a national treasure, after all.

  22. Go ahead and do it. Khan Academy and others are standing by to take over the moment you do.

    If progressives want to kill off the main source of their influence over the country, who am I to deny them?

  23. What runaway costs at Ivy League schools? Their financial aid is miles ahead of lower tier schools for low income students. Harvard is basically free if you can’t afford it.

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