Sanders/Buttigieg And Some Free Education

Hair splitting over hypothetical programs to assist people in affording university seemed to be the outrage d'jour online this week, or at least the parts of online I read. I was reminded of Clinton/Obama in 08 and the competing health care which had little resemblance to what came out the other end of the sausage machine.

One thing in the discussions did pique my interest however. Buttigieg's proposal had suggested a not free portion to begin at household income of six figures.

AOC suggested that an income of six figures is "working people" in NYC. I'd guess anyone who isn't a rentier could be considered a working person. The comments Ms AOC received were of the "one can't buy a pizza for a hundred thousand in NYC or San Francisco etc. Many many of the comments were to the effect that a $100,000 dollar income is barely surviving in NYC. As if below that is impossible?

So I looked.

Median household income in NYC is $57 thousand dollars. Half the households make less, half make more. That's from this year's census numbers. I'd say a very solid "most" people make less than a hundred thousand in New York City, yet somehow the twitterati responding to Ms AOC didn't seem aware that there is this whole universe of people who don't make that much money. In the very cities they live in. It's a serious problem in my party, heck both parties.

I discussed with my much more down to earth wife. Of course we support free tuition to public colleges. Our oldest will be going somewhere in a year and a half. Yes we make six figures, but barely, and it was only four years ago that we were just above or at poverty for many years stretching back to the recession. We've saved every year, and invested, and paid off a mortgage, but we've a lot more experience on the lower side of five figures than at six. Free tuition would float our boat.

I took a look too at the closest good public university. It is my kid's "safety" school in case, you know, Harvard is full. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/university... 59% of the students come from the top fifth of households, 3.8% are from the bottom fifth. If free public University were a policy, and if attendance remained the same, which it probably won't, such a program would mostly benefit the well to do. Likewise loan forgiveness. There is a perception amongst many working class people that such a program would be yet one more benefit for the wealthy.

We as a country have to have universal health care and education, at no out of pocket cost. And for those who need it education should include a dorm room and a meal plan. 37% of kids today get a bachelors, for minorities the numbers are pretty bad. For minorities the numbers are worse and much worse. Currently 75% and higher of minority students don't get a bachelor's. Income on average is about double for having that piece of paper.

Free post secondary education is something we simply have to do, at the same time we need to be mindful of not making it a program for the upper middle class. It has an awkward sound to it to many in the working class.

Share
up
7 users have voted.

Comments

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

always demand that there has to be somebody who does NOT get a free government program?

If an upper middle class kid wants to go to a free state college where he is educated with students from various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, why dis incentivize that?

Or are you saying the rich kids need to stay on their side of the tracks?

up
19 users have voted.

Peace Sells

movie buff's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger
Welfare recipients can be stigmatized, and the program can be gutted. And the rich neoliberals who dominate Democratic power circles have a very paternalistic view of such programs--they think it is the right of their class to decide who gets something and who doesn't. (Since we now have two parties of the rich, I think one of the differences is that one party likes to think of itself as having a selective sense of noblesse oblige and the other doesn't.)

But as for the upper class kid going to state college, the thing about this class is that for them, that's kind of a nightmare scenario. Hell, for them, it's considered a failure if you end up going to Brandeis. And they view a child of their class going to State U the way the Puritans viewed adultery. This kid's parents have now failed in their duty to raise an upstanding member of the upper class, and the kid is doomed to sell insurance or something instead of taking her place among the true elite. So of course they don't want to incentivize it, and I think on some level they want to punish those parents for not raising the kind of kid who could at least get into Wesleyan. So now this kid from Westchester has to rub shoulders with all the welfare recipients. In their twisted, weirdly puritanical view, could any fate be more fitting? To them, a large, institutional diploma mill full of middle class kids on the government dime headed for careers that are merely functional and necessary to society--the idea fills them with Kafkaesque dread.

And if you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I've been saying for years that there's still a TON of class solidarity in the United States, only it's all in the upper class.

up
24 users have voted.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." --Noam Chomsky

longtalldrink's picture

@movie buff Well said

up
7 users have voted.

Well done is better than well said-Ben Franklin

CB's picture

It's WHO you know.

Getting an education at a university where one can meet and greet society's future power players is twenty times more important than the actual degree attained in considering future income.

BTW, students are now getting a degree for work that didn't require one fifty years ago while incurring debt that will take a lifetime to pay off.

@movie buff

up
10 users have voted.

@movie buff
There is a direct correlation between the drop out/fail out rate and race/class. Unless we equally support primary education it won't matter how many people we send to college, they will simply fail. And then even if we improve primary education we will still have to fix society's attitude regarding class and job title. (a classic story from the 1980s: "I own a construction company. I make %$100,000 a year. But when I go to a party and tell some woman what I do for a living she instantly leaves to talk to some programmer. (programmers in 1980 made $30,000) It's stupid and I'm sick of it.")

up
8 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

movie buff's picture

@doh1304
Most people don't need to go to college, nor should they. Society tells everyone you HAVE to go to college, and then these kids get there and they can't figure out what they're doing there, and they quit. And what CB said above is true, too. It's ridiculous that you typically need a diploma to become, say, an insurance underwriter. That means they're hiring people with art history degrees while passing over people who are computer proficient and good number crunchers but don't have that piece of paper. But this is what happens when you give the elites carte blanche to write the rules of the game. They'll always write the rules to favor their class.

up
5 users have voted.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." --Noam Chomsky

Lookout's picture

Imagine if they asked people making over 6 figures to pay for k-12 public education. Education for all. Of course as a retired teacher I would like it to be a higher quality education focused on guiding students toward fulfilling rewarding lives instead of the typical gobble and puking of selected facts.

Health care is in a similar sorry condition and the improvement of both could be a parallel re-enforcing process.

Mayo Pete is mistaken....again!

up
12 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

That misses the point too. We don't make programs universal because everyone struggles, we make programs universal so everyone is part of the struggle.

The marginal cost of including high earners is worth getting rid of gate-keeping & reducing intra-working class resentments.

Why shouldn't the middle class get something for their tax dollars besides bombs? Maybe then, they can save for their old age. Or, god forbid, have a happy and enjoyable life without worrying about money all the time.

up
18 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

up
13 users have voted.
edg's picture

@jbob

The average income of a South Bend resident is $19,818 a year. The US average is $28,555 a year. - The Median household income of a South Bend resident is $34,656 a year. The US average is $53,482 a year.

South Bendians as well as many other Midwesterners and non-coastal Southerners and Westerners don't and likely won't ever make $100K annual salaries. Those of us who are more fortunate often forget that.

up
5 users have voted.

So I am not inclined to be interested in anything he has to say on any topic.

up
11 users have voted.

"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

edg's picture

Thanks for writing it. In a progressive society, taxes as well as benefits like education should be progressive. Rich pay more because they reap far more from society than poor do.

up
7 users have voted.
Song of the lark's picture

I'm just about ready to completely give up American Politics.
I'm in time out over at Dkos for another week for saying some shit. Whatever. Some metaphor about burning the GOP to the ground and kicking their ashes. What can I say I woke up on the wrong side of bed one morning. It been and exceedingly frustrating year. Peace to the Caucus 99 crowd.

up
0 users have voted.