Myths and Flattery

by George Leef

Ohio, like so many states, is facing a huge budget deficit. Ohio State University president Gordon Gee is trying to keep as much state money for OSU as possible by flattering incoming governor John Kasich and trotting out the old myth that universities are “engines of economic growth.” (Story here.) I doubt that flattery will go far with Kasich and hope that Ohio pols won’t fall for the notion that more spending on higher ed will do anything to give the listless economy a boost. If they doubt that, they ought to read Rich Vedder’s Going Broke by Degree. They might also look north to Michigan, where outgoing governor Jennifer Granholm, who once said that higher education is like “jet fuel for the economy,” threw lots of money into higher ed — and where the economy nevertheless puttered along as if it were running on cooking oil.