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Preparing Boys for Manhood December 30, 2007

Posted by federalist in Education.
2 comments

By the age of 18 every American male should be able to:

  • Stay physically fit.
  • Practice first aid.
  • Swim, row, sail, and navigate.
  • Speak a foreign language.
  • Competently operate cars, motorcycles.
  • Safely use and maintain hand and power tools for working wood, stone, and metal. 
  • Wire, plumb, frame, roof, and duct to code.
  • Handle a concealed pistol defensively.
  • Maintain and shoot rifles and shotguns.
  • Garden.
  • Ride and care for horses.
  • Manage personal finances.

He should:

  • Kill, skin, and eat a wild animal.
  • Fell and stack a large tree.
  • Read Ayn Rand and The Federalist Papers.

Most importantly — though there may be no sure prescription for it — he should have a sound moral character.

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Enumerated Powers Act December 19, 2007

Posted by federalist in Federalism.
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Straight out of every Constitutional federalist’s dreams: U.S. Representative John Shadegg has introduced the “Enumerated Powers Act.”  DownsizeDC.org offers a compelling introduction and explanation.

QOTD: Partisanship Is Politicians vs. Citizens December 18, 2007

Posted by federalist in Government.
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Andrew Morriss in a WSJ letter:

Gerald Seib writes that the U.S. has two major political parties for “a reason” and that reason is because Americans are split over the role of government. Nonsense. We have two major political parties because the Republicans and Democrats have entrenched themselves through campaign finance laws that favor incumbents, ballot-access laws that put huge hurdles in front of new parties and independents, and pork-barrel politics that allow incumbents to finance goodies for favored interests from the public till. Americans aren’t divided on issues like subsidies for sugar, Bridges to Nowhere, or the rest of the spending that comes from treating taxpayers like an all-you-can-eat pork BBQ restaurant. We just rarely get to vote for anyone willing to cut government down to size.

Runaway Higher Education December 14, 2007

Posted by federalist in Education.
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The classic “runaway higher education” story is about the vicious cycle in higher education prices spawned by government subsidies.  However, yesterday a few essays in the  Wall Street Journal warn of another runaway scenario: the most well endowed universities have reached a point at which they are no longer dependent on anyone for funding.

Fay Vincent warns that with such vast endowments universities will no longer be accountable to any outside entity.  “In the present circumstances, the administration and boards of these schools now control the money because the endowment is managed by internally controlled entities.”  The Dartmouth coup is just a preview of things to come.

To this point universities depended on students, alumni, and (except for Hillsdale and Grove City colleges) the government to sustain their operations.  The most endowed universities have just recently reached a point at which they can readily afford not only to snub donors but also to stop charging tuition, should they so desire.

For what did the generations of alumni and donors who built these institutions hope?  A majority probably donated so that their children could eventually enjoy the same college experience as their parents. “Legacy” admissions used to be an explicit mandate at these institutions, and only recently have life-long donors realized that competitive schools are no longer reciprocating the financial commitment of their alumni.

Other donors may have donated to the ideals for which an institution stood in the past.  Depending on the era this might have included any of the following:

  • Preservation of Western civilization
  • Subversion of Western civilization
  • Promotion of WASPs
  • Promotion of colored minorities
  • Promotion of conservative ideals
  • Promotion of liberal ideals

Over the past century private higher education has given us a taste of each of these, indubitably to the consternation of large groups of preceding alumni and founders.  One hopes that astute donors discerned the whimsical nature of academia and never gave substantial gifts without tight controls to ensure that their vision was honored.

The alarming fact is that, regardless of the original intent of the donors, the unrestricted endowments of top universities are now so large that they have essentially purchased their administrators independence from any oversight.  For those who aren’t already appalled at the fact that private colleges have become bastions of anti-American, anti-capitalist liberalism, we could imagine any number of appalling scenarios engineered by faculty and administrators with vast resources and no accountability outside of their own ivory tower.

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QOTD: College Price Discrimination December 13, 2007

Posted by federalist in Education.
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I have never approved of the pricing gambit run by private universities: They run a wealth redistribution scheme by setting tuition above the marginal cost of educating a student, and then rebating the surplus to students that meet whatever criteria they think deserves it (low income, athletic ability, etc.).  WSJ editorial today touches on this:

“Colleges have little incentive to cut costs,” says economist Richard Vedder, the author of “Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much.” Mr. Vedder explains that there are now twice as many university administrators per student as there were in the 1970s. Faculty members are paid more to teach fewer hours, and colleges have turned their campuses into “country clubs.” … Our financial-aid system also hurts middle-class applicants. Parents who have saved money for their child’s tuition quickly find that, by the strange calculus of financial aid, they are charged more for college tuition than if they had blown their savings on a bigger house. Mr. Vedder wonders why universities should get to ask the income of their students before telling them how much they’ll be charged. That sounds like price discrimination….

Public universities end up getting dragged into a similar gambit as they compete for attractive students, though they face some mitigating pressure from voting residents and taxpayers to keep things from getting completely out of line.