Bernie Sanders

What Bernie Sanders Doesn't Understand About Germany's Free College

Why does America have higher attendance and graduation rates?


If only all colleges were on Wall Street he'd understand why his plan won't work.
Credit: iprimages / photo on flickr

When a politician says something that indicates a serious fundamental ignorance about economics or crime or really any subject, it can make you wonder whether they truly don't know what they're talking about or whether they're cynically assuming the average voter won't know enough to realize the flaw.

With Sen. Bernie Sanders it can be a toss-up. He recently tweeted a particularly stupid complaint about college loans, whining that there's no reason why their interest rates should be higher than for cars or mortgages. It was pointed out that cars and homes can be repossessed or foreclosed upon, thus reducing the risk from the banks for providing the loan and reducing the potential losses.

Does Sanders even understand this? Who knows? Today the Washington Post has published a commentary from Sanders calling for free college that again highlights his poor grasp of the economics of higher education and avoids any discussion of why college costs are skyrocketing. After crediting the progressive movement with creating the K-12 public education system, he declares: "By 1940, half of all young people were graduating from high school. As of 2013, that number is 81 percent. But that achievement is no longer enough. A college degree is the new high school diploma."

He continues:

In the 1950s and 1960s, it was possible to graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree. A couple with a sole breadwinner could buy a home, raise a family and send their kids to college. That was the American dream. Unfortunately, today, for too many Americans, it's not a possibility.

An important pathway to the middle class now runs through higher education, but rising costs are making it harder and harder for ordinary Americans to get the education they want and need. In 1978, it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of college tuition just by working a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today, it would take a minimum wage worker an entire year to earn enough to cover the annual in-state tuition at a public university. And that's why so many bright young people don't go to college, don't finish or graduate deeply in debt. With $1.3 trillion in student loans, Americans are carrying more student debt than credit card or auto loan debt. That's a tragedy for our young people and for our nation.

By the way, on what basis is it a tragedy that Americans have more student debt than credit card and auto loan debt? If the argument being presented is that college educations are vital to economic mobility, doesn't that indicate intelligent decision-making?

Anyway, you won't see any discussion in Sanders commentary about why college prices have exploded far above and beyond increases in the consumer price index or even the costs of healthcare. There will be no discussion of how subsidies and administrative bloat have massively driven up prices and eliminated any incentives for colleges to restrain costs. It's just a thing that happened.

Instead, Sanders points to other, smaller countries that have "free" college tuition (scare quotes because obviously somebody's paying for it): Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Mexico. He takes special note of Germany, because even Americans can access their college system:

For a token fee of about $200 per year, an American can earn a degree in math or engineering from one of the premier universities in Europe. Governments in these countries understand what an important investment they are making, not just in the individuals who are able to acquire knowledge and skills but for the societies these students will serve as teachers, architects, scientists, entrepreneurs and more.

Since Sanders left out any analysis of why college is so expensive, it's worth exploring what exactly Sanders has left out when he invokes Germany's college system. Note that Sanders has said "A college degree is the new high school diploma"? That attitude is exactly backwards from how Germany approaches higher education. Germany does not have a work environment that demands a college degree for every well-paying career. The apprenticeship program that Sanders bemoans having lost in America is well intact in Germany. Many careers that require college degrees in America do not require college degrees in Germany.

Even with the free tuition, Germany actually has a lower college enrollment rate than many other Western countries, including the United States (check out World Bank data here). Actually, America has a higher rate of college enrollment than all of the countries Sanders lists except for Finland.

Oh, also: America has a higher college graduation rate than Germany, too. And a greater percentage of young Americans have college degrees compared to every country on Sanders' list except for Norway and Ireland.

Instead, Germany has a very robust vocational education track that partners businesses and the government to provide apprenticeships, so the government (and citizenry) is not paying the full burden for the students' training, though Germany is still covering classroom costs.

It is also a highly regulated, centrally controlled, and very inflexible system that probably won't fly in the United States. Tamar Jacoby noted at The Atlantic when exploring Germany's apprenticeship program a year ago:

What makes dual training work, every manager told us, are the standardized occupational profiles, or curricula, developed by the federal government in collaboration with employers, educators, and union representatives. Every young machinist training anywhere in Germany learns the same skills in the same order on the same timetable as every other machinist. This is good for apprentices: It guarantees high-quality programs where trainees learn more than one company's methods, making it possible for those who wish to switch jobs later on. But it's hard to imagine this level of state control or business-labor cooperation in the U.S.

It's certainly easy to see how a guy who thinks we have too many types of deodorant would not grasp that flexibility and innovation could be lost as a result of standardizing college the way we have public education. It's also possible Sanders wouldn't even grasp that this is a problem.

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  1. College is too expensive, so let’s address the symptom, not the cause. A college degree is the new high-school diploma, so let’s address the symptom, not the cause. America’s one-size-fits-all approach to education has failed, so let’s address the symptom, not the cause.

    1. You know who else wanted to address the cause…but not the symptom?

      1. Frank N. Furter?

      2. OJ Simpson?

      3. Gregory House, M.D.?

      4. That guy who wanted to address the symptom, but not the cause?

    2. As I sometimes put it, Ferraris are also expensive, but a plan of “Give everyone $250,000 towards a new Ferrari” does not actually make them less expensive.

      1. Actually, JD… you’re right! it would make them MORE expensive, and that’s the point Bernie can’t grasp.

        Same goes for college tuition and the price of sugar and corn.

        But Bernie’s a member of a cult, and one does not try to ‘reason’ with cult members unless you’ve got way too much time and energy to waste.

      2. Tell that to Norway.

  2. A prog named a non-European/white country as an example for the US to emulate. First time ever? Is Mexico now one of the civilized countries and I missed the memo?

    1. That is a little out of the usual.
      Normal practice for The Bern and other lefties is to cite various White Socialist utopias and just forget about the Brown Socialism [I count the Soviets as Potato Wogs for this purpose – and I’m sure most of the American Left does to].

      Discussions about the failure of Brown People’s Socialism is not acceptable. Just bad luck maybe.

      “Zimbabwe: If they’d just had a few million Aryans, it would have worked out beautifully.”

      1. Any socialist country that has failed isn’t truly socialist. I’ve actually been told that Maoist China, the USSR, North Korea, and Venezuela aren’t valid examples of socialism.

        1. Next you’re going to tell me Somalia isn’t a valid example of libertarianism.

        2. You might make that case on the basis of “ideal” socialism. However, since “ideal” socialism completely disregards human nature, the nature of incentives, the benefits of market and consumer signalling, etc., it builds itself upon a flawed premise and there are no other possible outcomes.

          1. I’ve actually been told that Maoist China, the USSR, North Korea, and Venezuela aren’t valid examples of socialism.

            The (insert denomination) don’t really know Jesus. Only the (insert denomination) know Jesus.

            Same thing.

        3. I like your ‘logic’ Dr. Whom… because it perfectly fits in applicability when a prog claims that “free markets fail” or “capitalism doesn’t work.”

          Same diff… check the mirror! If the US isn’t what the progs would like BECAUSE of ‘capitalism,’ we can say it’s because we don’t practice “perfect capitalism.” It’s been blunted by the progs.

          …. and then suggest they fuck off… 🙂

  3. When I was in cooking school we had a chef who was from Germany. When asked about the free college, here’s how he explained it. You can go for free, but they tell you what to study. If you don’t want to study what they determined you should study, then you’re paying for it out of pocket. On health care, he would openly mock Americans for going to the doctor for every little thing. He told a story of some student in his cooking school who accidentally stabbed himself in the belly with a fillet knife. He put a bandage on it and went back to work. He said the health care is free, but, culturally, using it is frowned upon unless you’re practically dying. That was twenty years ago. Not sure when he was talking about either. Probably twenty years before that. So things have probably changed somewhat.

    1. Germans also begin putting their kids onto trade school or college tracts very early. Germans don’t spend much time trying to find themselves in college.

      1. +1 Jack Chick

        1. There is a guy handing out “Christian tracts!” at my subway station a couple days a week. He looks exactly like you would imagine.

      2. Germans don’t spend much time trying to find themselves in college.

        I wonder if some part of that is because alcohol and brothels are not off limits to young adults there.

        1. You might be onto something there…

      3. I never got the “find yourself in college” thing. I was one of those boring goal-oriented people. Besides, it would never have occurred to my parental unit to pay for that.

        1. It wasn’t my intent to “find myself” when I went to college, but I found out very quickly that I just didn’t enjoy college and wanted to go out and live my own life.

          So I joined the Army.

          Yeah, I’m not actually good at living my own life it seems.

          1. The hell. Just because “your own life” includes service to others doesn’t mean “I’m not actually good at living my own life”. I appreciate and salute your service to others (including me)

      4. At age 10 or 12?

    2. If this free college thing is so great, rather than student loans, we can just give any student a grant for airfare to Germany to study at one of its universities.

      1. I find your ideas intriguing, and am interested in subscribing to your philosophic movement newsletter.

      2. Indeed. Why isn’t this the solution? For less than 1,500 you can be in Berlin, so for around 2,700 (if you took 5 years, or if prices go up a bit) your kid can have a stellar college education, at an International University, and have the opportunity to experience other cultures first hand.

        Fuck, lets end the US funded University system. Let’s just send our kids abroad.

      3. Your plan is Genius in its simplicity. I’m in.

      4. And these days (if the news is correct), the Germans do appear very welcoming of foreigners coming to their country and sucking at its well endowed teets.

        1. Too late – that door is already starting to slam shut.

          1. Gaw-dammed Sylians – keep telling down my shitty wahr.

          2. Only on swarthy people.

        2. You mean like this campaign poster by Merkel and another female Christian Democratic politician?

          “Vera Lengsfeld – We give you more!”

    3. You can go for free, but they tell you what to study.

      I would take that deal. I tried three different majors purposely at odds with anything I was good at in high school, and wound up with something just to be done with it.

      I now have a career in the exact subject I enjoyed the most and was best at in high school.

      1. You’re a web-cam girl?

      2. Selling baggies of oregano to 9th-graders?

        1. OK, third best at.

    4. I lived in Germany and this guy was not German. Germans go to the doctor for every little thing. And they study what they want to study.

      1. I trained under him for over a year, and I have no idea who you are. I choose to believe him, not an arrogant stranger.

      2. Also, if you read what I wrote, you would have seen that he was likely talking about his experience in the 70s. Times change.

      3. You’re correct: today, Germans do go to the doctor a lot, and they generally can enroll in whatever field they want at university (it used to be rather different, though).

        That’s not the whole story even today. For example, large numbers of students are failed out at university early on, and people can’t necessarily go where they want. And although there is no tuition, you still have to pay for your living expenses.

    5. A friend who was born in Argentina but raised in US went there to go to college for free. She was back in a matter of weeks. Why isn’t Latin America running the world if university is free?

  4. How did the University of Chicago go so wrong in educating Senator Sanders?

    1. He majored in Political Science, not Economics.

      1. He MAJORED in “Derp”, MINORED in Poli Sci.

        1. +1 excellent

        2. Political Science IS derp.

  5. A college degree is the new high school diploma.”

    Gee, I wonder why that is. A real head scratcher, that one.

    1. I’d love to see someone sue to overturn Griggs vs. Duke, but I have no idea how anyone would get standing to do so. You would have to be denied promotion or a job for lack of a college degree, and that would be next to impossible to prove.

  6. “What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About …”

    If you are going to dedicate time talking about what Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand, I suggest larger servers to hold all of the text. Perchance the more economical and efficient solution is to dedicate your time to analyzing those things he does understand.

    1. Well, the man knows his way around a cervix.

    2. “What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About …”

      I checked the comments precisely because I wondered if anyone was thinking this…

      Good on ya, Zunalter.

    3. OK, I’ll give it a shot.

      What Sanders understands..


      Hold on, I’m thinking…

      Ah, I know. Sanders understands how to win the votes of 22-year olds ‘studies’ graduates who have realized their $250,000 diplomas have prepared them for nothing except making coffee (and most of them even suck at that).

  7. What Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand about economics could fill every single economics textbook, and does.

    1. BOOM!

      Mic Drop – right here

  8. A college degree is the new high school diploma

    Idea: Sending even more people to college might not be the way to fix that problem.

    1. And then a masters degree will be the new high school diploma.

      1. I have it on good authority that a Master’s degree is the new Bachelor’s degree.

        1. A lot of coworkers are bugging me to get a master’s degree. I make a good living now and I enjoy what I do. “In what?” I ask. “Whatever,” they reply.

          1. Yep, a degree to have the degree.

            1. if you are a civil servant, why not screw over taxpayers by demanding your employer subsidize a master’s degree. then, you can can get paid more to do the same work

            2. It’s starting to make sense. Maybe the only deodorant you need is “Degree”?

              Ironically it’s made by Unilever, who financially supports Bernie.

              This is some sophisticated messaging he has going on there..

              *Finds hole in tinfoil hat* DAMN!

            3. Learner’s permit as my freshman physics prof put it. I will say that grad school improved my understanding and thinking processes, and I was never as smart as I was right before quals. But a PhD is still mostly just a test of your patience.

              As with all things YMMV.

              1. I’m guessing you were 18 when you entered college, and 22-23 when you started your graduate degree, and 24-25 when you completed it?

                I remember going through transformations of thinking and maturity at that age(24/25)– sans a college degree. Not to knock the effort or value of your degree, but it’s possible that understanding and thinking process came about because that’s what happens when you hit your mid-20s, not so much a result of getting a Master’s.

                1. huge change in what one does and how they think between 18 to 25.
                  18 coming into college, look at all these fit young women how do I bag them.
                  25 how do I budget to buy a house.

                  18 work is lame who can I text.
                  25 you old guys are worthless teach me everything you know and I’ll do the work, Im tired of hearing of how long it will be until your on SS

                  18 boss :” can you work saturday”? no Im busy”(kegger)
                  25: gimme, the more hours the better.

                  1. Um I would be disappointed if I;m not still thinking about how to bag fit young women well into my 80s. Budget a house? Fuck that, I’m never buying a house. All I need’s enough room for a mattress and the rest of my money I can spend on plane tickets, food, and hookers!

                    One may say I’m a typical mid-20s grad student with my lack of interest in ‘grown up stuff’, though I would say all that bullshit is irrelevant to me since I’m never getting married or having kids. I take in more than I spend, and grad school gets me access to software, a university library of near infinite resources, a rec center, and I get paid to think about interesting math problems instead, so it seems like a nice bargain to me. Even get free access to the rec center.

          2. I got one in something useful because my PoliSci BA was garbage.

            1. I’ve been at this for 15 years. I already have the equivalent knowledge. The real reason to get one is to have a permission slip for your next job.

            2. Haha similar boat. One would think I were an engineering major given my dislike of the social sciences, but I’m in fact an overzealous convert; I majored in a useless subject and am in grad school for a useful one because if I went straight into the job market I would’ve had to do something boring and mind-numbing. Now at least if nothing else I’ll get to code for a living (which believe it or not I find less boring and mind-numbing than anything that involves working with people).

              If there’s a totalitarian law I’d support, it’d be a law requiring that all students be either applied math or statistics majors. There’s nothing you can’t do with one of those. I’m positive statistics majors would even make better political scientists than polisci majors.

          3. They’re handing out master’s degrees like party favors these days. I work in a small company, and 4-5 people have masters degrees. And they’re so proud of it. And they don’t know shit from shinola. They basically got fleeced. It’s a racket. But they have copped an attitude.

            I’d like to see a comparison of WORTH of degrees versus just how they are paid for etc etc.

            And to be honest, at some juncture, and education has only so much worth in and of itself. Either your mind is tuned to process rationally or its not. Either you have a sizable ability to retain or not. There are plenty of people with degrees who have closed off their ability (or desire) to think.

            1. My wife had been accepted to Harvard Business School for an MBA and we turned it down. She already had 8 years of experience doing the stuff that the MBAs were doing. We calculated the cost of an MBA, both in the tuition but also the several years of lost experience and wages.

              The price just didn’t make sense. And this was from one of the highest bang for your buck business schools out there.

              Business school (and other masters) can be worth the money if you get it right out of college- indeed if you do things right, you can earn the masters only a year after your bachelors. But once you are in the real world, experience can quickly eclipse the pay that an MBA gets you.

              1. The point of a Harvard MBA is the networking. If you do it just for the “education” it’s not worth it.

                Not sure how much of that networking you have to do before you get there. Somehow all the rich douchebags with Harvard MBAs seem to come from rich families.

        2. Many medical related professions like physical and speech therapy used to require a focused Bachelors. Now they require Masters.

          Degree inflation caused by guilds and colleges.

          1. My cousin is working on her speech therapy degree, and her mom had to go back to school for a masters in order to keep her job that pays less than $40K. What is up with that silliness? It was ridiculous. I can see if it’s like my Uncle, who went back to school to brush up on new computer languages and techniques, as well as a Business and Accounting minor.

        3. That is more correct than you may realize. For one, my father was a CPA. When he took the exam, you only needed a BA, but now the requirement is a MBA. I just wonder how long until there is a degree higher than PhD.

          1. Doesn’t have to be an MBA, just the requisite credit hours in post-baccalaureate accounting coursework. You don’t even technically have to complete a masters program, although by the time you accumulate the necessary credit hours you are right there anyway. Many MAc programs are less selective than MBA programs and don’t necessarily require the GMAT for admissions. It’s still pretty ridiculous though. Either you can hack the exam or you can’t. I’d be astonished if an extra year or two in school learning the things you’d learn in the first 6 months on the job in an accounting firm is making for better accountants.

    2. If a college degree is the new high school diploma what is the new college degree?

      1. Black?

          1. Orange you glad I didn’t say “banana”!!!!!

  9. A college degree is the new high school diploma.”

    Oh how true that is, Bernie, how true that is. I suspect you’ll never grasp just how true that is.

    1. …and obviously he doesn’t grasp WHY that is.

  10. “Look, everyone wants to be like Germany, but do we really have the pure strength of will?”

    1. Our Will shall Triumph!


  11. All Bernie has to understand is how to connect his cronies to the money fountain when he implements one of these hare-brained schemes.

  12. You know who else thought Germany was great?

    1. David Hasselhoff?

      1. Sonofabitch.

        1. Great minds?

    2. Hasselhoff?

    3. Anton Fokker?

      1. +DR-7

    4. A bunch of 20-ish Syrian guys?

    5. Charlemagne?

    6. Napoleon?

    7. My high-school German teacher?

    8. The German-American Bund?

  13. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree. A couple with a sole breadwinner could buy a home, raise a family and send their kids to college.

    What did the strong union jobs go when the large manufacturing sector could no longer operate cost-effectively in the U.S.?

    And if you look at the inflation adjusted ‘minimum wage’ in the united states, it makes one wonder why the Fed policy is to boost inflation and lower the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar– all in the service of helping “exporters”.

  14. When I was a kid in Turkey, they warned us that we would be taking exams at the end of elementary school that would literally decide whether we’d be allowed to go to college or not.

    That’s what they have in Germany. Do these proggies realize what the fuck would happen to their special little snowflakes in such a regime?!?

    Yes, Bernie Sanders is a fucking imbecille. I’ll bet he’s even dumber than George Dubya Bush.

    1. Some do realize it, which is why they cherry pick.

      Remember in the 90s when American labor activists bemoaned the fact that large American firms weren’t as progressive as Japanese ones which tended to guarantee an employee a job for life?

      But they conveniently left out the fact that in Japan, while they’d guarantee you A job, you weren’t guaranteed THE job, which means if there’s no place for you on the manufacturing line, you’re now pushing a broom, cleaning a toilet or driving a tour bus for their travel subsidiary.

    2. Almost worth it to see parents react to hearing their kids aren’t college material – but they can go to vocational school for free.

    3. You’re not allowed to consider the equivalent of K12 education anywhere in Europe except Finland — an outlying data point that is culturally different from the US but that, by the most amazing coincidence, comes closest to the way schools would work in progtopia.

    4. That’s what they have in Germany.

      It varies, but yes that’s how it was when I lived there in the 80s. Although there is a way to hop on the college track if you change your mind later – I was in a class like that.

      1. I meant to add that some areas have tried out American-style one-size fits all high schools. I am not sure how successful that is turning out.

  15. OT: Does the Reason search function suck or am I just missing all the articles about the arsons happening around St. Louis? I would think from a property-rights perspective alone a story like this might get more coverage than college speaker getting othered by (trans) femme university students after they felt she othered them or, you know, the one freak arson at a Planned Parenthood a while back.

    1. To be fair, considering all of the abuses of individual liberty and derp-progthink happening on a daily basis in this country, how do you pick and choose?

      1. how do you pick and choose?

        See ‘The narrative’.

  16. OK, cap tuition at $0 and cap university salaries at $15 an hour. next question.

    1. Notice how the progress always talk about free tuition but not text books ?

      Couldn’t have them and their buddies lose that gravy train.

      1. Yep. You gotta have the bookstore jobs, and new books every year, regardless if nothing changes, and then to combat the used book sales, online learning platforms that charge you as much as the book to access them. Shoot, if investigative journalists wanted a huge and complicated series that would attract outrage and attention, investigating the procurement and approval process for textbooks would do it.

  17. Oh, the burden all libertarians must bear: deciding whether the people who disagree with us are stupid or evil.

    Scott, I think the answer to your opening-paragraph conundrum is 1/3 evil, 2/3 stupid.

    1. Ima go with “100% both”

    2. Scott, I think the answer to your opening-paragraph conundrum is 1/3 evil, 2/3 stupid.

      Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      Or more succiently? cock-up before conspiracy.

  18. What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand…

    There is a series of articles that has no end.

    1. Job security for Reason writers!

  19. How many of the people who thing that Germany has the right idea also think that tracking in school is a horrible injustice? Part of the problem in the US is that most students in high schools are put on, or at least encouraged to go for, a college-prep track. If high schools actually offered more vocational training, maybe college wouldn’t be so necessary. Skilled tradespeople can easily be solidly middle-class.

    1. Skilled tradespeople can easily be solidly middle-class.

      I know you said “easily” so I won’t dispute that, but there’s good evidence that with the “right” skills, they can reasonably easily be upper-income– at least as the Seattle Times defines “upper-income”. Which I recently discovered I am.

      1. If you have the right skills and the motivation to hire employees and run a business, you definitely can. And I know a few electricians who do pretty damn well just working independently.

        1. I’m talking about straight employees.

          Trained HVAC installers can make $40 an hour. Longshoremen crane operators with a certain seniority can make $160,000 and more per year.

          1. I think there is a whole different union thing where you are.

            1. I have two guys I went to school with and was in Scouts with that make that much in non-union jobs in the Midwest, because there aren’t that many kids that have their follow through and attention to detail, and there is a demand for people who can learn enough about IT to muck their way through complicated HVAC systems (they both have had jobs working on our high school’s system, which is an ongoing Cluster F*ck costing the district millions). Both of them own rather than rent, and have owned houses since age 19. That’s pretty darned good to get your high school diploma and an HVAC certification, then be a homeowner only one year later.

      2. The median income is around $45K, is it not? Yet anyone making that wage is pitied as if they’re being done a grave injustice, no matter what they do.

        So maybe everyone should make above the median income to be doing okay. I’m sure that won’t affect the median income in the future.

    2. Vocational training is for people who can’t hack it academically You know, losers.

      /how I was raised

      1. Me too – when I got home from college, my “loser” friends who were now machinists, carpenters, and plumbers had wads of cash falling out of their pockets when climbing into their new cars.

      2. Yep. In Germany there is no “shame” in it. How could there be, when you’re tracked one way or the other starting in 5th grade and nobody is telling anybody what a special snowflake they are.

      3. That was the spiel I received, and listened to, while in middle and high school. I deeply regret not taking the metal-working or shop classes I wanted to as an elective and instead took some bullshit AP classes for college credit. I didn’t need the classes for college, I wound up hating college, and I’d like to have some hobby involving actualy fabricating something now.

      4. I was fortunate to be raised with a good combination of valuing academics, but also knowing that working in a trade was perfectly respectable.
        My father was from a very academic family and was a highly trained musician, but mostly worked building houses and making furniture.

    3. Every time I pay the plumber $100 for ten minutes work I definitely think I’m a sucker for going to college.

      1. When you need to replace a sewer line, you’ll be glad you went to college.

        1. When I rebuilt my house, plumbing was the only thing I didn’t do. Not because I can’t, but because I couldn’t be bothered. I think plumbers are all brain damaged from all the plastic pipe cement.

          1. When I rebuilt my house, plumbing was the only thing I didn’t do. Not because I can’t, but because I couldn’t be bothered. I think plumbers are all brain damaged from all the plastic pipe cement.

            The houses I’ve ‘flipped’, I’ll do plumbing up to the point I have to break ground and electricity back to the panel (and less as time allows, obviously). I can and have done both further in other circumstances, but both of these are generally the point where the discussion when pulling permits goes from ‘Was the work done right?’ to ‘Was the person who did this licensed to do the work?’.

            In standard gov’t fashion; I’ve been through/around more than one house fire and AFAIK, never has a village, inspector, insurance company or anyone else looked to see who did the work, when, and whether they were licensed or not. Maybe it’s different when there’s something other than minor property damage at stake, but AFAICT, strictly licenses and permits for licenses’ and permits’ sake.

        2. It’s the same for the electrician, the roofer, the garage door guy ($75), etc. It seems like everything costs $1500 to fix. I own rental properties.

    4. Power companies are so desperate for lineworkers here that they’ll pay people to go to school for it with a guaranteed job at the end.

      Not that repairing high-tension power lines is for everyone.

      1. I have a couple of friends who are linemen. It’s a splendid job for adrenaline junkies, but for folks who might be leery of dangling midair near thousands of volts of electricity in absolutely shitty weather—not so much.

  20. Unfortunately, I fear that all the Millennials will hear is the siren song of “cheap/free college”.

    1. Considering we have mostly been educated by the public school system, this is likely.

      1. In 20 years: #IDidn’tKnowI’dBeThisBrokeAndConsideredRich

    2. I fear that all the Millennials will hear is the siren song of “cheap/free college”.

      True, but that will just make them easier to hunt.

      1. Also: #ApparentlyAWomensStudiesDegreeIsntMarketable

        Though I think the long term plan is to make as many people reliant on government largess as possible, not push the definition of rich to lower income brackets.

  21. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was possible to graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits.

    That’s because the US had no economic competition. Europe and Japan had been bombed into dust. The PRC was busy cleaning the ROC from mainland China and cleansing their country of kulaks while India was busy wrecking their economy by building the socialist dream in the License Raj.

    1. Also, relatively fewer people had high school diplomas back then, making one relatively more valuable. The high school graduation rate was about 55% in 1950, which was a record high at the time – graduation rates were very low for much of the first half of the 20th century. (Source:…..n.h29.html) And sure enough, as high school diplomas became ubiquitous, they became less valuable. WHAT A SURPRISE. IT’S ALMOST LIKE SUPPLY AND DEMAND ACTUALLY MEAN SOMETHING. Ahem.

      I also suspect that the degree to which the statement is true is rather overstated, anyway. Every eighteen-year-old who graduated high school in America could expect to just immediately step into a full-time job with good pay and benefits? That doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

      1. I know my grandfather couldn’t step into a job after HS? you had to join a union to get a job and he didn’t have the right skin color for that.

        1. Ah was he a dark one? Due to your name and suggesting he didnt have right skin color seeing how the 1950s werent exactly good for dark ones

  22. This may be a bit of a generalization and someone can correct or educate me but Northern Europeans, generally speaking, are more deferent to authority than Latin nations. It’s easier to control programs with them. Therein, I think, is the reason why Hitler was able to control the masses more than Mussolini could.

    North Americans are not Europeans and possess a different way of looking at things.

    Enough we comparing each other as if the other side knows or understands something we don’t.

    And the left is especially ridiculous on this front.

    1. Oh. And give ME the North American way ANY DAY.

    2. Sure – and when Northern Europeans snap – they snap in an organized insane orgy of mass murder.

      1. Yep. Like the time Sweden dropped that nuclear weapon on a city or carpet bombed poor peasants in Asia.

        1. There Japan and Germany was, just minding their own business…

        2. Viking is synonymous with hugs.

          1. Gustavus Adolphus was also big on peaceful coexistence.

        3. Epic troll is epic

        4. Right, that’s not Sweden’s style. They prefer collaborating with totalitarian mass murderers rather than getting dirty or morally ambiguous fighting against them.

    3. Yeah, I’ve read similar things (“The private road is possible for the same reason that enforcement via wooden box is possible for the same reason that a Swiss pedestrian on a completely deserted road will wait for the Walk/Don’t Walk signal to turn green to cross the road.” from “Private Roads Are Possible — I’ve Seen Them”) about Germanic people in general obeying the rules and Celtic/Latin peoples not following the rules ? the rutas in Mexico simply slow down and honk at a stop instead of stopping.

    4. It is a bit of a generalization, but there is a fairly large amount of truth to it. If you randomly select a German you will select a person who is going to follow the rules.I was driving there for a year before I stopped slowing down when I’d see someone walking on the sidewalk. In the States I have to assume that person might be about to cross the street. In Germany, yup, they’re not crossing the street until a crosswalk. And even then they will not cross against the light.

      1. This summer my wife and I went to a small college town in western Pennsylvania for the day. WE were walking around the downtown, and FOUR times when we were standing at the crosswalks, waiting for traffic to pass, the cars stopped in the middle of the street and waved for us to go!

  23. I suspect Bernie the Greek and his band are laying the groundwork to expand high school. Maybe add a couple more years. Just think of all those teachers you’d have to hire and shiny new teachers union members

  24. Political gadflies like Bernie see free stuff as a tool to their own ends, nothing more nothing less. Why for example has no one asked this question in a different and obvious way? If we’re going to give free college to everyone who wants to go what about the people who can’t or don’t want to? What compensation do we give them for having to support a family or something like that? We assume the in the US if you’re under the age of 30 and you’re not in college then you’re unemployed and unemployable by choice. Which is nonsense. So while the Bernies of the world are screaming about ‘redistribution’ what they want, specifically is to give 10’s of thousands of dollars to some young people NOT to work while penalizing people who want or have to.

    1. They’re nothing more than thieves, stealing from the working and giving to the bureaucrat.

  25. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was possible to graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree. A couple with a sole breadwinner could buy a home, raise a family and send their kids to college. That was the American dream. Unfortunately, today, for too many Americans, it’s not a possibility.

    Also in the 50s and 60s the US was almost the sole manufacturing center in the world that hadn’t been obliterated by WWII. And that was back when companies did something strange with their new hires. They trained them to do the job they were hired to do. Now, they’ve outsourced that to…well, no one. College doesn’t train you for a job, really, so you’ll have to get your training from experience, which is tough to come by. (continued)

    1. (continued)

      And the average family can live on one income today. It’s just that you’ll have to live like they did in the 50s and 60s, ie poorer than now. A lot of things, especially appliances, clothes (consumer discretionary items) were relatively more expensive back then. Look at the price of a shitty vacuum cleaner or TV from back then. Look at the price of a pair of nice slacks or an LP record. Shit was more expensive. Why were there so many more repair shops for everyday items back then? Why did people sew their ripped clothes? Patch their jeans? Because repairs were worth it. Back then people brought home relatively less money, but somehow people lived on single incomes.

  26. Perhaps Bernie should suggest “free” vocational education for every American, which is closer to what Germany does. Note that “free” college in Germany requires that you “qualify”. They don’t pay for students who are unlikely to be able to graduate because of lack of ability to do the studies and maintain grade levels necessary for a diploma. Here in the US almost anyone can “go to college” (somewhere) even if they can’t qualify for an “Ivy League” college. The fact that many of these “students” will flunk out is only proof that they really weren’t “qualified” in the first place.

  27. What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About [insert abstract concept here]

    You could spend your life writing 1,500 page books about all concepts he doesn’t understand.

    1. Sadly the book would be much, much longer than 1500 pages.

  28. 1. Sadly this man has a chance to become president. To quote the great James Woods-Utter Moron.
    2. Between the Bernie “Utter Moron” and Howard “Battle Cry” Dean the judgement of the people of Vermont has become highly questionable.
    3. To lower the cost of college, severely reduce the bloated administration, bureaucracy and useless majors at every school.

  29. “Free” health care gives us “death panels”. Liberals joke about it, but they exist. They are the panels that decides if you get your necessary surgery or not. Costs don’t vanish, someone has to pay them, and when it’s the taxpayer there are government boards to ration out surgeries.

    The same will happen with “free” education. It already exists in Germany. It is not your choice to go to college in Germany, your tests in high school determine that. I’m not talking about SAT scores, I’m talking about standardized tests everyone takes to determine if they will get “free” college or not. Your school decides if you will be a welder.

    If European style free universities are so bloody perfect, then why are so many Europeans coming to the US for an education? Same reason so many Canadians come to the US for medical treatments. They’ve been locked out of their perfect socialist system.

    1. My Chinese coworker got free graduate school.
      Of course he was the only kid from his high school selected to go to college.
      And the only kid from his elementary school selected to go to high school.


    2. I’m talking about standardized tests everyone takes to determine if they will get “free” college or not.

      No, sorry, not true. If you have a high school degree, you can go to university. There are waiting lists for some majors, but that’s all. However, many students fail out.

  30. Somebody disabuse me of this notion if I have it wrong, but it’s my understanding that in traditional German universities, you can sit in any lecture you want. But you’re not considered to have taken the class unless you take exams and pass.

    It’s like everyone is auditing every class, and you just don’t take the exams unless you think you’re going to pass.

    1. Traditionally German students have had a high degree of freedom how to handle their courses. As long as you pass the exams and writing assignments and stuff like that you could do with you want with your time. There has been a continuing shift to a more “managed” teaching model though.

    2. Traditionally, only a few percent of Germans went to university in the first place, so those universities were full of exceptionally talented and motivated students. What German universities did traditionally isn’t really relevant to modern educational policy.

  31. A college degree is the new high school diploma.

    A college degree is the new high school diploma.

    A college degree is the new high school diploma.

    A college degree is the new high school diploma.

    I need a drink.

  32. Nice try to shoot him down. And a nice attempt at a straw man argument. I’m not going to bother picking through everything in your article, but I will just post a link to US college costs from 1980 forward. IMO, it says everything that supports his argument for free education:


    1. Yes, John, college has gotten more expensive. Nobody here is denying that. What we’re denying is “Hey, therefore the state should just throw money from its bottomless wallet at the problem.” WHY do you think college got more expensive? Just random chance? Greedy college presidents? What? Clearly you did not bother picking through everything in the article, by which we mean actually reading the article. And what “straw man” are you talking about? You do know what “straw man argument” actually means, right? You yourself agree that Sanders is arguing for “free” education.

      1. “You do know what “straw man argument” actually means, right”

        Also, don’t blame us if your idiotic socialist arguments fall down like straw men.

    2. Tuition is way up because the demand for college has gone way way up and the supply doesn’t change much over time. Also, because of the huge demand, tuition has become more and more subsidized, leading to even higher increases in demand and then tuition as a consequence.

      Making tuition “free” won’t reduce the costs. It will actually increase them if nothing is done to stifle demand.

  33. As my nick might suggests I have some direct experience with German higher education. One additional problem with the comparison between US is that I would argue that there is no direct counterpart to US colleges in the German education system. I. will simplify things a bit but essenially there are two types of higher education institutions:

    a) University: geared towards a more theoretical perspective of the respective fields
    b) “Fachhochschule”: geared towards a more applied perspective of the respective fields

    To qualify for going to one of these institutions you need to have graduated from the “highest” school form of Germany, the “Gymnasium”. I would place US colleges somewhere between these two levels of our education system (actually there was/is some discussion if Germany should establish something akin to colleges).

    Oh and on a sidenote: 200$ per year is bullshit for most universities. The fee depends on the university but 600$ is more realistic. Doesn’t cover the costs that’s for sure but makes you wonder where Bernie got his facts.

  34. How many words does it take to say “Everything”

  35. Anyone else find it bitingly ironic that a man whose proposals would add $17T to our national debt is bemoaning $1.3T in student debt? Heck, why not just throw student debt onto the national pile and pay them off?

  36. crediting the progressive movement with creating the K-12 public education system

    Why is that something to proud of?

    Oh, right, equality.

  37. Next, the education bureaucrats’ lobby will be saying the new degree required is a PhD. Anything to force more customers to use the education bureaucrats. Time for online learning. One can learn any college course online. Online the best teacher can teach a million students. No more boring classrooms and forced schedules.

    1. SSSHHHH!!!! Are you trying to say that one doesn’t need the ivory gate keepers to give you an education. Next you will say something silly like certifications are more important and excperiance trumps education. LOL!

  38. “It’s a problem, I tell ya. And the only way we’re going to fix that problem, is by giving humanity’s dominant hegemonic super-power a whole lot more influence over the crafting of our youngest, brightest minds.”

    — Bernie Sanders, at a urinal in a Chuck E. Cheese’s, 2013

  39. The public colleges and universities that Bernie wants to make “tuition free” were established using Federal Land Grants back in the 1800’s (under the Morrill Act). As part of their charter, they were to offer tuition free educations to in-state taxpayers ? just like anyone who lives in a city or town gets to attend that town’s High Schools “tuition free.” This is not a radical concept!!

    1. This is not a radical concept!!

      1. Radical is not a synonym of novel.

      2. The Morrill Act does not require nor even suggest that the colleges established under the land grants* be “tuition free”. It does restrict how the funds can be spent and requires the state to establish a “perpetual fund” with a 5% minimum annual return (via… magic, I guess?), which must only be applied towards certain expenses.

      3. What the Morrill Act does require is that the states establish at least one college of “Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts”; that is to say, colleges with the primary purpose of practical instruction.

      * = You do realize that these “federal lands” were appropriated from the native peoples, right?

      Here is a scan of the relevant section of the United States Code (chatper 130, starting 3/4 of the way down the page, and continuing on 2 following pages) added by the Morrill Act.

    2. So why haven’t they been doing this since it is isnt a radical concept? I was charged tuition

  40. Survey: I’d like some opinions on why entrepreneurs aren’t stepping up and providing a college education that delivers a respectable degree without Title IX, administrative bloat, high tuition, and all the other BS of state colleges.

    When you have so many dissatisfied customers, it seems like entrepreneurs would be tripping over each other to fill that demand… But all the information I can find seems to suggest that private colleges are 90% crap.

    In other words, how would we go about transitioning from a system of overpriced state-run colleges to affordable AND respectable private ones?

    1. I’d like some opinions on why entrepreneurs aren’t stepping up and providing a college education that delivers a respectable degree without Title IX, administrative bloat, high tuition, and all the other BS of state colleges.


    2. Ever hear of coding bootcamps.

      They form, become reasonably successful

      Then suddenly find themselves as targets.

      1. Thanks; that’s very interesting – and frustrating.

        I bet nobody hears about these kinds of institutions because they get snuffed out before they ever get too much attention.

    3. Two thirds of US college graduates don’t have any college debt, the rest have an average of $29000 debt. So there really is no “student loan crisis”.

      And entrepreneurs are stepping up. But there is only so much they can do, because educational institutions are highly regulated: they need permits and accreditation, and those usually require agreement from the existing educational establishment.

  41. What Comrade Sanders also fails to realize is the apprenticeship programs run by the unions he so praised were nothing but a breeding groound for nepotism and corruption. If you were not the son/brother/son in law etc of a union electrician good luck trying to get a union apprenticeship. It wouldn’t go to the most qualified but to the most connected individual. Even if you were lucky enough to get one of these positions you were subject to the will of union bosses often bosses who were mobbed up. You would be the ones thrown under the bus during layoffs.

  42. Dear Mr. Schackford:

    With the scope drawn close, you are certainly correct that (a) Bernie is wrong to suggest that a one-size-fits-all model (i.e., publicly-funded university education for all Americans who so desire) does not match up to the current policy in Germany, which retains much of the medieval apprenticeship model, and (b) that the cost of universities is commensurate with rising rates attributable to subsidies and administrative “bloat”. But how does the author know that subsidized public universities, funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation, would not cover or even staunch the “bloat”?

    Why assume that Sanders’ platform does not grant those who would prefer to become welders subsidies in terms of job retraining programs? Even if the analogy to Germany is weak, he succesfully offers up comparative examples of government- funded education systems that do indeed work efficiently (i.e., Norway and Ireland). Despite being different to collaterized loans for cars and homes, college debt still incurs commensurate anxiety for debtors. So why not assuage that anxiety by negotiating equitable rate changes for college grads–and reinstituting a publicly funded system?

    We had publicly funded universities in America?The City College of New York is a perfect example–and many fine Americans, conservatives even, including Norman Podhoeretz, Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell, are beneficiaries of free college education.


    Jason Reuven Kropsky

    1. Do you understand incentive?

      Free college will make the costs go up and quality/value of degree go down. A tax on wall street speculation will mean less revenue than predicted as it will be shifted else where. Then where are you going to get the money to pay for this

      Cool examples but not sure they justify his free college plan

    2. Why assume that Sanders’ platform does not grant those who would prefer to become welders subsidies in terms of job retraining programs?

      Why the hell should we have to guess at what Sanders platform actually is? The man is running for president; he should be held accountable for every single statement he makes, and he should be crystal clear and explicit about his platform in each and every detail.

      he succesfully offers up comparative examples of government- funded education systems that do indeed work efficiently (i.e., Norway and Ireland)

      In what way are they “successful”? Just because they have slightly higher rates of college graduation? That’s easy if you just lower your standards enough.

      If anything, we are graduating too many people from college.

  43. Imagine a person trying to fix a computer by hitting it with a rock. When you point out that that approach seems to be making it even worse, they shout, “you don’t even WANT me to fix the computer! I’m telling you, this will work – I just need to hit it harder… With a bigger rock!”

    That’s the image that comes into my mind whenever I observe some statist meddlers trying to make something “free” or “affordable”.

  44. I’ll be the devil’s advocate – Bernie thinks that after you’re educated, your brain can be repossessed or foreclosed upon, the ‘educated’ part of the brain, removed, and the rest given back to you.

    Thus, the loaner or what have you, can keep the educated part of the brain.

    1. Hell, there was another article on the front page that detailed how the CFPB is going after payday lenders for charging “predatory” interest rates among other things… Because apparently, it’s the greatest evil to charge higher interest rates when you’re dealing with generally high-risk borrowers.

  45. This article is very misleading. Yes, perhaps Germany is not the best example for Bernie to use, but Canada sure as hell is a great example of tuition being affordable with a heavy emphasis on technical and vocational schools (i.e. NAIT) and with a loan system that parallels the US. And yet, the difference between Canada and the US is that tuition is affordable and free for those with merit. The article’s emphasis on the “high graduation rate” of the US is also bogus because a US undergraduate education is currently on par with a Japanese High School diploma, we also have the lowest entrance standards and highest grade inflation. There is one thing we should incorporate from Germany though, and that is their law that requires rich parents who can afford it to pay for their children’s education to do so. Overall I find this blog and many others to just attack the “semantics” of Bernie’s examples (which he uses to explain things to average voters), when in actuality his arguments are quite sound, sometimes misplaced, remember US politics and not European education is his expertise, but the core argument he is making, that the US education system is a racket designed to flood thousands of dollars into universities on the backs of high interest loans for students, is absolutely valid.

    1. I dont see what any of your points has to do with your assertion the article is misleading.

      So your or Bern’s solution i should say by making college “free” is to decrease the quality of the college degree even further than it is now since it is “free”. And you are concerned about the racket designed to flood universities with thousands of dollars in student loans….what do you think is going to happen when you make it “free”? They are going to stop raising tuition? You do realize the federal government is responsible for the tuition hikes as it is since they make all this money available…yet you want to add more. MAKES TOTAL SENSE!!!

      What would constitute rich parents here?

    2. You are concerned that a college degree is on par with japan HS….so let’s make college easier??

    3. but the core argument he is making, that the US education system is a racket designed to flood thousands of dollars into universities on the backs of high interest loans for students, is absolutely valid.

      You’re talking nonsense. Two thirds of students graduate without any student loan debt in the US. The rest have an average student loan debt of $29000, less than the price of an average new car. People can pay that back even without a college degree.

      remember US politics and not European education is his expertise,

      So what you are saying is that Sanders is lying through his teeth when he keeps saying how much better things are in Europe.

      And if he actually knew about European history, he would recognize how close his political program is to that the Nazis got elected on.

      1. Two thirds of students graduate without any student loan debt in the US. The rest have an average student loan debt of $29000

        If true, this means the average student’s loan debt upon graduation is about $10,000 which while not chump change is definitely something they could afford to pay off in the next 10 years, even with a minimum wage job.

        1. Here is an article describing the situation:

    4. I don’t know what world you live in, but 4.29% API is not a “high interest loan”. The primary impetus for rising tuition is the money we pump into the system. The more the Feds increase grants and loans to students, the more the universities will charge because they know their clients can pay more than they otherwise could.

      Drop the federal loans and federal grants, and watch this start to dry up. I’d guess 2 to 4 years and you’ll see tuition drop drastically.

  46. You know who else thought that the government should provide free education, welfare, and health care? Who vowed to fight bankers and capitalists, and ensure fairness in the economy and fair compensation for labor? Who thought that Germany and the German model was superior to the rest of the world? Yeah, that’s right: Sanders’ ideological granddaddy and and secret hero.

  47. HOW TO PAY FOR COLLEGE. This week I start teaching the second semester here at Berkeley. Many of my students and students at other universities are drowning in debt ? which is distorting their career moves (they can’t afford to become social workers, for example), causing huge anxiety (the job market is still bad for new graduates), and creating another potential debt bubble. Yet as states continue to withdraw support from public higher education (where 80 percent of American students get their university education), tuition and fees are rising to make up the shortfall.

    What’s the solution? Eliminate tuition and fees for public higher education, and require instead that students pay 12 percent of their earnings for the first 12 years of their full-time employment into a fund that finances public higher education. (According to my back-of-the-envelope calculation, this would yield enough revenue.) That way, graduates who choose to high-paying careers (investment bankers, corporate lawyers, business consultants, etc.) would subsidize those who choose low-paying ones (social workers, public defenders, and teachers), and no one would begin paying until they’re working full time. What do you think?

    -Robert Reich 1/23/14-

    (an alternative, then, to the tax on Wall Street speculation)

    1. or enroll in a less expensive school

    2. I think it’s idiotic. People who go into low paying careers, of course, should spend less on their education, instead of getting subsidized.

    3. What happens if they dont find jobs or dont care to look for one? Instead of 12 pct why not just have them repay loans?

    4. Not everyone starts out making good money.

      Robert reich….people listen to him????

    5. Yet as states continue to withdraw support from public higher education

      Oh really? I’d like to see some actual numbers on this. I bet two things:

      1. It hasn’t actually changed much in total nominal dollars.
      2. To the extent it has decreased or just “hasn’t kept up”, the money has gone to other budget items which have ballooned lately (e.g. pensions).

      In my state at least, state schools seem to be erecting new buildings and hiring new staff (mostly administrative), which doesn’t look to me like they have a funding problem. In other words, tuition has gone up but not “to make up the shortfall”. They’ve gone up because of easy credit and gullible enrollees.

  48. Things like free college abroad is greatly offset by lack of free public bathrooms, free parking space, and insanely high gas prices.

    Most people in the world live middling lives hoping to get jobs is small economies that runs on a handful of industries or are dominated by conglomerates. Every time my friends go to Europe, they observe that everyone smokes and drives these tiny little cars that hold two people.

    Ignorance is no excuse in the age of the internet. A cursory google search would reveal that the cost of living is through the roof in parts of Europe and Asia. If you want to pay 5,6 dollars per gallon of gas to finance someone’s free education, you’re more than welcome to move to Europe. And some of these colleges aren’t even the lavish meta communities that are public colleges in America. They’re glorified adult schools.

  49. What you must not know about student loans. The interest rate should be much lower on student loans for several reasons. The vast majority of student loans are administered by the government, the interest could be much lower but has been used to pay for tax breaks for wall street (read the bill addressed by EW in interview with Fallon)…BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY you say banks can reposes a car or a house, well in the case of a student loan they can garnish your wages, they are not escapable through bankruptcy, or even death (the fall back your parents/spouse/children who can then have their wages garnished)…so no matter what the body who gives a student loan will get their money + interest… In the case of a home or car the value of that item may have fallen, and they may lose money, so your argument that they can be repossessed is invalid.

    1. What tax breaks might those be? The interest isnt really that high to begin with.

      How is the argument that they can be repossessed invalid when you just admitted they can be?

      What should the interest rate be?

    2. Repossession is not the same as garnishing wages. Your point is dubious as it is conflating two different things. In cars and houses there is something tangible…student loans not so much. If one doesnt work then how will their wages be garnished?

      Pay for your own stuff. Grow up and stop looking for others to cater to you. Take some responsibility. You want to have all the fun and make someone else pay it. You agreed to it so follow thru.

      My cousin did something similar to my grandpa…it is sickening.

    3. The vast majority of student loans are administered by the government

      So? The interest rate is based upon actuarial analysis, not “who administers the loan”. If lots of people don’t pay off their loans in time, or they make partial payments frequently, or they get deferments (as the law requires the lender to grant), then the interest rate has to go up accordingly. Even so, I bet the rate doesn’t actually pay all the bills, and the government already is ponying up some of the cost–especially since the interest rate for “federal student loans” is capped by law.

      the interest could be much lower but has been used to pay for tax breaks for wall street

      Even if this were true–and it’s very likely some high-grade bullshit–so what? Is “Wall Street” supposed to pay for your college education? You realize that, outside of government-backed pensions, most people have their retirement funds tied up in investment accounts, right? And those “government-backed pensions” are driving municipalities across the country bankrupt.

    4. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY you say banks can reposes a car or a house

      Car loans and mortgages are secured debt. The repossession is a last resort; the bank doesn’t want your car or your house, it wants money. Why? Not because it’s full of greedy bastards, but because the house and the car were not free. The people who made those things (if new), or paid for them originally and maintained them over the time (if previously owned), were already paid. Are they supposed to get stiffed because you’re delinquent?

      well in the case of a student loan … they are not escapable through … death (the fall back your parents/spouse/children who can then have their wages garnished)

      This is just plain false. Student loans are dischargeable upon death.

      they can garnish your wages, they are not escapable through bankruptcy

      Remember how you said the loans were “administered by the government” as though that were a good thing? Yeah, well this is what that means in practice. You know that unpaid taxes can be garnished from your wages too and are not escapable through bankruptcy either, right?

    5. the interest could be much lower but has been used to pay for tax breaks for wall street

      The interest rate on student loans is already quite low. And the “tax breaks for Wall Street” you are talking about are primarily tax breaks on retirement investments and overwhelmingly benefit the elderly and retirees.

      In the case of a home or car the value of that item may have fallen, and they may lose money, so your argument that they can be repossessed is invalid.

      Mortgage companies go out of their way to ensure that you have enough of a down payment and don’t overpay your house so that they are safe from loss. The only times they give people loans that are too large is when the federal government requires them to, or when the federal government guarantees/backs the loans.

  50. I wish people would think things through before they speak. If one doesn’t research a topic completely then their opinion is half-ass. So college debt is not any riskier than any othe debt so the interest rates should not be so damn high. In fact, college debt is so less risky that its one of the few types of debt that must be paid back, meaning that one cannot remove or reduce student debt via bankruptcy. However, it could do so for car loans (reduce at the least) and mortgages(stop a foreclosure at least). Bankruptcy removes many types of debt (except student loan debt), why you think donald trump always file for bankruptcy. He (and rich people like him) can get out of their debt but when someone tries to help yhe needy theres a big uproar. GREAT ME A BREAK!!

    1. How high are they? You saying it is half assed doesnt make it so. Maybe you should make good on the end of your bargain instead of receiving the benefit and expecting others to bail you out

      Would like a cite on the rich bankruptcy clain

      1. Would like a cite on the rich bankruptcy clain

        There is no “cite” because it’s an intentionally meaningless claim. “Rich people” can’t declare bankruptcy; or more precisely, in order to declare bankruptcy, you have to stop being rich. Chapter 7 (debt cancellation) requires you to liquidate most assets and use the proceeds to pay back as much as possible before any debts will be canceled. Other forms of insolvency (Chapter 11, Chapter 13) restructure the debt without canceling it, but similarly require concessions to be made by the debtor.

    2. o college debt is not any riskier than any othe debt so the interest rates should not be so damn high. In fact, college debt is so less risky that its one of the few types of debt that must be paid back, meaning that one cannot remove or reduce student debt via bankruptcy

      That doesn’t mean it will be paid back. You can’t wring blood from a stone; you get no water from a dry well. Someone can die with a considerable balance on their student loan, and if they do pay it off but pay it off late, then the bank has to make up the difference in the mean time.

      Bankruptcy removes many types of debt (except student loan debt), why you think donald trump always file for bankruptcy. He (and rich people like him) can get out of their debt but when someone tries to help yhe needy theres a big uproar. GREAT ME A BREAK!!

      Bankruptcy also destroys your credit worthiness. “Rich people” can’t declare bankruptcy; part of the process of declaring bankrupty is demonstrating that you have no free assets available to pay off your loans. When Donald Trump declared bankruptcy, he really was bankrupt. That he made it all back again multiple times over is a statement of his own ability to earn money, or at least to fleece it out of people. You have the same opportunity available to you.

  51. Excellent commentary, Ed, but as you know all too well, Sanders will pay no attention at all. He knows how Obama secured two terms:

    “Why Barack Obama Won Twice” http://relevantmatters.wordpre…..won-twice/

  52. The Germans aggressively track students beginning in 6th grade. To even apply to a German university one needs das Abitur or das Fachabitur, the equivalent of a French or International Bac or a British A-level. (One can take an admission test but unless your IQ scores are about 2 sd above the mean and you also have basic fluency and reading comprehension in German and at least one other language, you ain’t getting in).

    In the end, only about 20% of the students in German secondary schools are eligible for German universities. Also, you have to finish in 6 years.

  53. Avast thar me mateys and landlubbers! “Welcome to the matrix” 🙂 .

    Do you want to be freer than you are now?

    If so, the first thing you need to understand is that _no-one_ can free you, except _YOU_.

    No politician will free you, nor anyone else.

    Meaning, if you want to be freer than you are right now you need to stop complaining about the government, and to stop fantasizing that some new, temporary, provisional head of what is essentially a 100% criminal organization is actually going to improve your life for you.

    Ain’t gonna happen!

    If you believe it can/will happen, then “the matrix” definitely “has” you” :-).

    Regards, onebornfree.
    Personal Freedom

  54. Student loan debt is the most collectable debt you can have. Bankruptcy doesn’t discharge it, wages can be garnished without a court order, and income tax refunds can be diverted. The ability to repossess a rapidly depreciating car does decrease the risk for an auto loan, but student loans are still lower risk.

  55. to whom wrote this article,

    I see a certain lack of education and according to your comment you are a traditional. You live in USA, a developed country that doesn’t have free education? A country driven by capitalism where most of your top 100 companies have a bigger gdp than some third world country. Don’t tell the people that his intent of having a socialist politic in usa is wrong or that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
    By having free education, you finally allow people to be educated , unless you are a pro capitalist and I understand you don’t want certain social class to grow. You say and prone that student debt is good for the economy ? In what kind of world are you living? MADNESS!!!!! You want the economy to be driven ? Tax business higher those that are in the top 100 . Double tax business that would consider leaving America. Tax more shareholders . Stop wall street or regulate them way more.

    why Europe is a better example in education? social health ? Why employees are more productive, more educated, healthier .

    You live in a system where only the rich can afford a live. he can be educated at the top school, he can have the worst disease and still be capable of having a treatment.

    Bernie is the best you got and he could have a positive effect on usa . Of course, rich people must be clearly scared as they should .

    1. What do you think k thru 12 is? At some point it is time to grow up and pay for your own stuff and not force others too. The problem is free college will turn into free grad school into free phds. And diminsh the quality while increasing costs

      Free college would be a benefit for higher income and wealthier folks that can already pay for it

      Tax those higher in the top 100? Top 100 what? Not sure you create a prosperous economy by taxing the hell out of companies, taking money out of the economy and churning it thru govt bureacracy.

      What are you basing they are more productive, healthier and more educated on? How do you even measure healthier? France is certainly not more productive.

      Your post is full of drivel

    2. What social class might that be? Are you saying europe doesnt have rich people or they arent capitalist?

    3. Europe and Asia has an unforgiving educational system (Korean schools are open on Saturdays) that will melt most American teens. And some of those countries levy separate taxes on education.

      German workers are known for efficiency, but that has more to do with work culture there, which many leftist will find either unsavory or even “discriminatory”.

      I’d like to say “Stupid Americans” and be done with it, but there’s no excuse in the internet age. Google “Cost of living Europe” or visit expat forums. Your fantasies are just that. Buzzfeed is useless but this article is actually informative…..livin-147h

      No parking space and insane gas prices. There won’t be even strike three for most Americans.

    4. A higher percentage of Americans has university degrees than Europeans.

      Social health? Europe is full of social conflicts, massive income disparities, and racial and religious conflicts.

      I suspect your bullshit advice and your false statements about Europe are intended to get Americans to screw up the US in the same way Europeans have screwed up Europe.

    5. You live in a system where only the rich can afford a live.

      No, I’m afraid that’s where you, assuming you live in Europe. Europe is run by the same powerful elites that have been in charge for centuries, and they have the average citizen completely bamboozled and riled up with anti-Americanism. Get a clue.

      1. Its the traditional European way man. Who are you to say its wrong?

  56. If the government can offer Financial Aid to just about anyone, then they can offer free college. The quality of education has nothing to do with whether or not the consumer is paying for it. All i hear is people talkin about how parents and students in private school are more worried about the education they/their child is receiving than those in public schools. Now that may be true, but that by no means means those in public education dont give a rats ass about the quality of that education. If you have free college, and you take more than 4 years to finish a 4 year degree you are one of two things; 1: There is something wrong with your learning ability, you have a learning disability, perfectly fine but take a bit longer than other people to understand new things, or you are plain stupid. 2: You don’t truly care, not about the quality of the education you are getting, but about the education itself.

  57. Whether or not you pay for it, you should always strive to try and get it done in 4 years, if it is a 4 year degree. It’s even better, whether or not it is free, to strive to get it done in 3. I plan on going to Germany to get my Master’s in Physics and then take that with me to the CERN facility in Switzerland. After of which I would like to complete my PhD and localize in particle physics. Now, how ever long the degree *should* take, just because it is free does not mean I will not strive to get it done sooner. 8 years of schooling costs a lot of money. Not everyone is from a privileged family with money. The world is filled with people with disabilities not rightly recognized by their governments, which makes getting jobs for them difficult. I live in the U.S and here depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, are not really recognized as disabilities but they are, and they make life hell for people who suffer from them, like myself.

  58. It’s hard for us to not only keep jobs, but find them, since some of us can only do certain types of jobs as to not trigger anxiety and panic and bouts of depression. It’s hard for some to get jobs where they interact with customers or guests of some kind, those not working within the company. Some have chronic pain caused by the longevity of their depression and cant work where they have to stand in once spot, perhaps behind a desk/counter or at a piece of machinery. Not all of us have the means to pay lump sums of cash for an education we truly want and will actually do something with.

  59. Isn’t doing the same thing and expecting different results, like, literally insane?

  60. The average American college graduate is less educated than the average holder of the German Abitur. Abitur is the degree you receive after 13 years of schooling in Germany, of which grades 5-13 were spent in in a special school called “Gymnasium, where you are separated from the dumb kids and are prepared for your university studies. University leads to a graduate degree. Comparing American college graduates to German university graduates is like comparing undergrads to graduate students.
    All in all, I find that the American educational system is very well suited for the Banana Republic that is called the United States. It reminds me of countries like Brazil and India. The US is not supposed to be a civilized country, so we should stop asking for it to be on the same level as civilized countries like Denmark and Germany.

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