Of Course There's No Such Thing As a Free Education, Bernie

It never stops being astounding that conservatives are repeatedly forced to explain to progressives that when government attempts to make things “free” for the governed through government subsidies, the end result is ALWAYS rationing of the whatever thing is free.


The thing ultimately becomes a scarce resource because government doesn’t earn money to fund anything. It can only tax people. And that’s a finite resource. So the subsidy is a fixed amount, based on what government can squeeze from the taxpayer, and only so many can make use of a fixed amount of funds.

But try telling that to Bernie Sanders, whose constant calls for free college education, while really popular with the millennials (because they hate their crushing school debt), is about as economically sound as Grandpa Simpson yelling at the clouds.

In a great piece from PJ Media, Simon Constable lays out the case for why free — or fully subsidized — education actually leads to fewer students by explaining why tacking on a fee (with lower income levels not forced to repay the fee) led to more access to education, particularly by those lower income students, at schools in the UK:

For decades [in the UK], all students there were entitled to a free first degree. For a time, they were also given a stipend for living expenses while they studied. Indeed, I had the benefit of this taxpayer-funded handout for college, at a time when few people opted to attend.

It sounds great, just like an idyllic society.

But then something changed, and things got even better.

In 1998, the government decided to tack on a fee to attend college. It was much like the U.S. system, although the monetary cost was initially far lower. At first, it was around $1,300 a year at today’s exchange rates, although that has increased to approximately $12,000 (or 9,000 British pounds.) A significant difference with the U.S. system is that repaying the cost is income-dependent — below a certain annual level of earnings, no repayment is required.

So what happened after the change?

Many more people went to college than had gone in the past, at least they did in England.


He also makes the rather easily overlooked point that once rationing starts under the “free education” banner, colleges begin to choose students they want. So upper crust kids continue to go while  lower income kids are weeded out.

In short, Bernie, those people you profess to want to help by providing them free education are the very people that are ultimately “not chosen” because the government can’t afford to send them.

Conservatives will be here next time you need that explained to you.



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