There is a move to place an initiative on the California State ballot calling for free college tuition for instate residents. As with many popular brain farts, the cost will be paid for by the rich because let’s all face facts, they don’t deserve their money, right?
The idea the rich should have to pay a higher percentage in taxes because they can afford to makes about as much sense as charging the New England Patriots two extra losses a year because they can afford them more than the likes of the Cleveland Browns. When the wealthy buy groceries, clothes, cars, houses, or anything else, do they pay a higher sales tax because they can afford to?
No one who is not rich wants to admit this, but we should all be paying the same percentage of our earned income in taxes. That percentage varies depending on the numbers you believe. If you are me, that percentage should be zero. That’s right. Our money earned is ours to keep. The best way to fund government is to turn our state sales tax into a federal sales tax that is a flat rate across the nation.
Low income people and seniors on fixed incomes can still be afforded breaks when it comes to things like essential items. In fact, all of us would be afforded this break. Sorry, but a bag a Doritos and a six pack of beer are not essential items. Neither are yachts. Medicine, diapers, vegetables, school supplies, formula, and tampons are just some of the essentials people need. There is no reason government should profit off them.
However, that new jet ski, shiny watch, or thousand-dollar suit are not essential. If I want them, great, but I can pay the high flat tax on top of the sale price (most experts say a flat sales tax of 25 to 33% is the price needed to fund government).
Look, we have built a nation centered around the concept of consumerism so it only makes sense to tax the consumers and not the workers.
Beyond the tax argument, there is another reason we should reject a free college tuition initiative. The more people who can earn a college degree will only devalue going to college. It’s simple supply and demand. Drug companies charge hefty prices for the period they own the patent on their drugs. When those patents expire and the drug is mass produced in a generic form, the drug suddenly becomes much cheaper. The cost of Viagra is set to drop in half at the start of 2018 now that their patent is expiring and it is expected to continue to drop to one-tenth of its current price when it begins being sold over the counter.
If everyone goes on to get a college degree because tuition is free, college kids become nothing more than an over the counter drug and will see their earning power destroyed. Worse, they will still carry debt because college towns will not be able to house the influx of students because housing cost and books are separate from tuition and their cost will skyrocket. Classes will be harder to come by which will result in kissing goodbye once and for all the concept of a four year degree.
What California, and the nation in general, needs is a wake up call. We need to get rid of this idea the only path to success in life is to go to college. It isn’t. It is, however, a path to financial ruin if you are not careful. This is why we need to assure affordable college for those who really are college material.
Now, no parent wants to think their kids are not college material so when you make it free, guess what, your little Skippy is a genius. More likely, he is better served rethinking his post high school path in life. His high school should be providing him with opportunities to explore other avenues to life after graduation. As it is now, most in this state only offer a life in the military through their on campus ROTC programs.
Ever talk to any of the ROTC instructors? I have. They love their numbers and the enthusiasm of their students even though most can’t score above a 10 on their ASVAB test rendering them of no use to the military.
Why aren’t these kids in job training programs learning the many skills that sit unfilled in our country? Why not train them to be welders instead of fooling them into thinking they have a great future ahead in college or the military? Pipefitters, drillers, or medical support personnel are all fields that need people who do not need a four year degree and offer a decent to excellent wage.
Instead of an initiative promising free college tuition, what this state needs is an education overhaul that provides high school graduates with enough options to know there is more than one path to success in life other than going to college. That path will result in less debt, quicker earning power, and set one on the path to becoming an avid consumer of products that will fund our government.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.