The College Money Game

Look, higher education is important to the state of Rhode Island, and it would be even more so if the state were institutionally capable of creating an environment that created jobs that would attract our highly educated temporary visitors to stay in the state. But colleges and universities should start considering how their mixed message comes across to the folks struggling to make ends meet. Consider:

There are 2,400 Rhode Islanders who planned on attending the Community College of Rhode Island this fall but never enrolled because they couldn’t come up with the tuition.
The University of Rhode Island may also be in danger of becoming too expensive for out-of-state students when they compare its cost with similar institutions elsewhere, according to Ray M. DiPasquale, the state commissioner of higher education.

And more:

For the cost of two or three visits a year to Dunkin’ Donuts, about $9 for every Rhode Island taxpayer, the University of Rhode Island could build a critically needed chemistry building, President David M. Dooley said Monday.
And for another $2.52 a year, Rhode Island College could have a new arts facility to replace a 52-year-old building that has outlived its usefulness and has several fire code violations.

The leaders of post-secondary education in the state want our money-strapped government to up its contribution to their cause and are asking taxpayers to take out loans on their behalf on top of it. Yet, there’s apparently money to add and accelerate new staffing positions for the cause of diversity.
This is the same game that governments play when they ensure that slush funds and wasteful programs persist while roads crumble. Expecting those expenditures that are clearly worthwhile investments to stand on their own, the people controlling the check book spend the funds already invested in them on items for which few taxpayers would agree to pay were they given the option. (To that, we could add the deal that university and college faculty and staff get.)
Sorry, but Rhode Island needs to allocate every penny possible to reducing taxes, eliminating mandates, and slashing regulations. If the spokespeople for the college crowd want a greater portion of the pie — and state-to-state comparisons suggest that they have a strong case — then they should add their voices to those calling for reform of our corrupt and wasteful system.

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Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

One thing people need to remember when going to the polls is that bond money comes out of the tax dollars we pay. And because we don’t pay those bonds today, our taxes need to increase to pay those new ones that we pay for.
People complain about their taxes going up and up, yet every election year, we vote yes on almost all of the bond referenda. Why? Do these people think the money for these things grows on trees?

John
John
10 years ago

Maybe the voters are smarter than you think, and have always known that one day, Rhode Island’s incurable fiscal responsibility would mean that we would stiff the bondholders — i.e., default. Knowing that, they’ve voted for lots of bond issues to get goodies today, knowing that when the time came to pay they wouldn’t. Besides, the bondholders are all rich, right? Probably descendants of Yankee mill owners. So stiffing the bondholders is really no different from slapping higher and higher taxes on the few rich who have remained in RI. So maybe there is a logic to things after all.

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

The problem is that education is treated like a trade school. Very few college students are actually interested in educating themselves. They see a degree as a way to make more money, education is a secondary or maybe tertiary concern. I have known a few pharmacy students in my day and never met one who read Proust or cared about Clausewitz’ views on war. I’m not picking on pharmacy students in particular, I don’t suppose that business and marketing majors pay very much attention to iambic pentameter or Fauvism in art, or Faulkner. When we call a spade a spade and reorient our colleges one way or another, define them as trade schools or institutions of higher learning, we may have a chance to claim some sort of excellence in the world’s community.
College has become little more than a factory grinding out workers for a post industrial age which does not really need them. So they get narrower and narrower by more intense specialization, become a foot wide and a mile deep. Such a population is easy to fool politically, and has very little appreciation for anything but material culture. This is who we train our students to be, and this is the society that we have become.
You get the idea; and if you don’t go read a book.
OldTimeLefty

Monique
Editor
10 years ago

“One thing people need to remember when going to the polls is that bond money comes out of the tax dollars we pay. And because we don’t pay those bonds today, our taxes need to increase to pay those new ones that we pay for.
People complain about their taxes going up and up, yet every election year, we vote yes on almost all of the bond referenda. Why? Do these people think the money for these things grows on trees?”
I’ll thank you to stop plagiarizing my thoughts, Patrick.
” Besides, the bondholders are all rich, right? Probably descendants of Yankee mill owners.”
… um, aren’t these kinds of bonds contained in all kinds of retirement instruments of the rich AND poor?

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