Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Libertarian Proposal For "Free" College


By now, most of you are aware of Obama’s plan to offer free community college. And by now, most of you have heard every opinion under the sun about it.

I’ve been reluctant to offer my own opinion for two reasons: one, most other reasonable voices such as Reason Magazine and Julie Borowski have already explained why this plan, while nice sounding, is actually terrible; and two, even if I were to offer my opinion as to why this terrible plan is terrible, the only people who would agree that it is a terrible plan are people who already know that it is terrible, because people who don’t think it’s terrible don’t care if it’s terrible.

This is why I envy “liberals”: their political platform is simply promising free stuff. They don't have to explain how they're going to provide free stuff. They just have to promise it and the sheeple will gladly vote for them. Because, hey, who doesn’t want free stuff? Who doesn’t want something for nothing? If you don't, why are you so greedy and selfish?


So it seems as though “free college” is going to be part of the nation’s political narrative—and if we’re going to insist on providing “free college”, I might as well offer my own alternative, more libertarian proposal as to how to best provide it.

I propose we go with the “Pay-It-Forward” model that states such as Oregon and Michigan have proposed. Basically, you attend the college of your choice for all four years, tuition free; then, once you graduate, you have a portion of your income taxed to allow other students to do the same.

Is it still funded by taxes? Yes. But at least the people being taxed are those who’ve already directly benefited from the program. Really, it’s more “voluntary” than socialized—like a student loan, only with less blood-draining.

I know my fellow libertarians and conservatives will still have hang-ups about this proposal of mine, but at least it’s a fairer, more libertarian, voluntary approach than whatever liberals like Obama would propose. And really, if more libertarians ran on this platform, they very well could capture the young vote. Pretty much every young person wants to go to college, but they don’t want to pay for it—especially if it means being buried alive in student debt.

But I want to know what you all think: would the “pay-it-forward” model be a better approach for “free” college, or is it still a terrible idea?