Phi Beta Cons

Higher Ed and the Economy

I have often argued against the notion that spending more on higher education is a tonic for a state’s or nation’s economy. Productivity has nothing to do with the educational credentials of young people or the amount of money that universities spend, little of which is even tangentially related to teaching students valuable skills and knowledge.

In this excellent essay, retired UC-Santa Cruz professor John Ellis maintains that in California, higher education has had a decidedly negative impact on the economy. He argues that the many university towns in California elect people to the state legislature who are imbued with a “bitterly anti-capitalist ideology that sabotages the California economy.” He’s right. Much of the political and intellectual energy that has driven California into quicksand (or maybe I should say tar pits), has come from the state universities.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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