'All Gov't Support of Higher Ed Should Be Abolished': Live Debate in NYC, 5/14

Soho Forum and Reason present George Mason's Bryan Caplan vs. Harvard's Edward Glaeser on whether taxpayers should fund college.


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All government support of higher education should be abolished.

That's the resolution up for debate at the next Soho Forum/Reason debate, which will take place in New York on Monday, May 14 at Subculture Theater in the East Village (details below).

George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan, author of The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money, will defend the proposition. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser will take the opposite position.

Reason is proud to partner with The Soho Forum to present monthly debates on topics of special interest to libertarians and enhance social and professional ties within the Big Apple's libertarian community. The debates are "Oxford style," which means that the audience votes before and after the arguments and the winner is the side who changes more minds to his position. The debates are livestreamed at and our Facebook page and online viewers can participate in voting and asking questions. The debates are moderated by Gene Epstein, the longtime books editor at Barron's, and comic Dave Smith will do a short warm-up set specific to the night's topic.

For more information on The Soho Forum, go here. Like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

Tickets cost $15 for students and $28 for general admission and include a cash bar and a free buffet of light fare. All tickets must be purchased in advance.

Soho Forum/Reason debate with Bryan Caplan and Edward Glaeser
All government support of higher education should be abolished.
Monday, May 14

Subculture Theater, 45 Bleecker St
New York, New York 10012

Cash bar opens: 5:45pm
Meeting convenes: 6:30pm
Wine-and-cheese Reception: 8:15pm

Seating is limited and all tickets must be purchased in advance. Buy tickets now.

For past Soho Forum/Reason debates, go here.

I interviewed Bryan Caplan for Reason earlier this year when his book came out. Watch now:

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  1. The way the proposition is phrased, Harvard Dude can interpret it to mean that colleges shouldn’t get nonprofit tax breaks.

    That’s certainly how I’d handle it if I were a liberal Harvard guy – “are you libertarians going to support a tax increase? No? Then we’re agreed the government should support higher education by tax breaks. Technically, I win already, but allow me to go on to show that the same principle permitting tax breaks will permit tax subsidies.”

    That’s why you want the other guy to have the affirmative.

  2. Is the guy arguing against education a right-winger?

    A right-winger who attended good schools, with financial assistance?

    And married someone who attended good schools, with financial assistance?

    And will arrange for his children to attend good schools (as he perceives it — for example, if he’s a wingnut he might steer them to a conservative-controlled campus such as Regent or Liberty)?

    And some people are gullible enough to purchase what he’s peddling (before the wine-and-cheese reception begins)?

    1. Can’t you ever post anything that’s not a pile of lefty shit?

    2. The fact that someone might have used a government grant to help them pay college tuition (these aren’t particularly generous anyway) doesn’t mean they can’t advocate for college funding reform and less government involvement in higher education.

      I find this one of the stupider arguments made about education by the left. “B-buh-buh you used public education money so you can’t say anything about profligate school use of taxpayer money.” Yeah, you actually can.

    3. I took a government road to work today. That doesn’t mean I think government roads are a good idea.

  3. The Amazon blurb for Caplan’s book:

    “Despite being immensely popular–and immensely lucrative?education is grossly overrated. In this explosive book, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity?in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

    1. “Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

      “Romantic notions about education being “good for the soul” must yield to careful research and common sense?The Case against Education points the way.”

      Or…you could follow the Rev’s liberal/libertarian science-based policy and subsidize more gender studies degrees.

  4. The labeling of students as conscripted is spot on and THE starting point for the discussion of how the education system should be re-tooled.

  5. Look if the popularity of your worldview requires making people stupid, your worldview is fucked up.

    1. We are all now stupider for having read your comment.

  6. Another debate?… “Whatever it is. I’m against it.”

  7. Studying would become a piece of cake for you if you would know how to write a persuasive essay. Then you would managed with every other type of essay!

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