Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The March of the Subsidy State

Politics is a business of command and control. You spread your net of political control as far as you can; your purpose is to control an unruly world and unjust world.

Unfortunately, the world won't be controlled. So the dance of control ends in a death spiral, a frantic attempt to control everything that succeeds in commanding nothing.

That's what we see in every area of government activity. Today, President Obama is signing the health bill amendments; it includes the federalization of student loans, a long-time goal of Congressional liberals. No longer will the banks source student loans. Now the Department of Education will do it. There will be billions in "savings," we are told.

Thus does the Subsidy State march onwards, as the Wall Street Journal explains.

The story begins in another progressive heyday, 1965, when the federal government launched a program to make college "affordable" by offering a taxpayer guarantee on student loans. College has if anything become even less affordable since, as the subsidies have merely driven up the prices that colleges charge.

Now the government has taken the student loan program over completely. It won't make college any cheaper. And it will ratchet up the costs for the ordinary taxpayer.

Subsidy is a cruel policy. It takes a free and voluntary activity and subjects it to the rules and power plays of politics and special interests.

There was a time when children went to school for a couple of years while they learned their letters and their numbers. Parents paid for schooling, even poor people. Then children went to work.

Now we force children to school for twelve years, and when they are done, in many cases, they need to learn to read and write.

Yet everyone agrees that education is so expensive that we need the government to provide it.

Not so. Without the subsidies, people would sent their children to inexpensive neighborhood schools run buy the neighborhood women. Then most ordinary children would begin internships or apprenticeships, or maybe just work. They would develop a network of work and life contacts that would serve them for the rest of their lives.

Rich bitches, of course, would still go to college prep schools and go on to selective schools where they would meet the selective people with which they would network for the rest of their lives.

Some day we are going to have to unwind this cruel system of subsidy and "free" services that we call the welfare or entitlement state. Yet with every addition and accretion that our Democratic friends make to this monstrosity, the price of reform, and the size of the eventual disaster ratchets up another notch.

The tragedy is that it will be the poor that suffer most. They already do, with the annihilation of the low-income family and the utter failure of inner-city schools.

But who cares about that when there are millions of votes to win and trillions of dollars to spend?

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