Magazine November 25, 2019, Issue

Break Up the B.A. Cartel

Library of Trinity College, Dublin (De Agostini/W. Buss/Getty Images)
Washington has massively distorted the labor market, to the benefit of the higher-education industry

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the Democratic field have a solution for anxiety about the cost of college: They’re offering student-debt forgiveness and “free college.” They quibble about the details — Sanders wants to have taxpayers eat all $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loans while Biden pledges simply to make existing loan-forgiveness programs more generous. But they agree on the broad strokes. They want to supersize the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies that state governments and Washington provide to higher education.

The problems with all this are manifold. Loan forgiveness mostly would involve taxpayers’

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