Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Do not be hypnotized.

I want to apologize for the possibility that New York's governor will try to inflict himself upon the national political scene in time for the 2020 presidential election. Andrew "Evil Eyes" Cuomo has just made four-year state schools free (subject to means testing and stuff), which political watchers assure us is part of his evil plan to look liberal and caring in time to run for the White House. Of course, the fact that he's doing this by setting fire to our wallets is a matter of no consequence to him. 

Ballotpedia says that our fair state, which is basically composed of fat cats and plebes in the south and plebes everywhere in the north, had $387.5 billion in debt in 2014 (most recent figures available). This despite the fact that "Compared to neighboring states, New York had the highest state tax collections per capita, at $3,898." Obviously there's a big pile of money someplace that Andrew hasn't told us about if he's going to open wide the daycare centers state colleges free of charge to any idiot who can pass through the doors.

I don't mean to say that our state colleges are bad -- yet. Some of them have been quite excellent in the past. Some have been little more than places to park your loser kid for two to four years in the hope that something will finally click between his ears. But all of them are about to become worse, because if there's no tuition cost (leprechauns and unicorns picking up the tab) then there's little motivation to bust your ass to earn your way through school and get out of there as fast as you can. Or in the words of Kingsley Amis, referring to the expansion of education, "More will mean worse."

I know college is expensive, really too expensive; its costs have totally outstripped inflation over the last thirty years, and not because they're installing super-high-tech wonder gizmos everywhere. There are plenty of reasons for the rising costs, such as market distortions due to government interference and just because the colleges can, because we've become a world that spits on electricians with high school diplomas but lauds dingdongs with BAs in Grievance Studies. Some of the parents I know, even of a conservative bent, are hesitating to denounce the Cuomo plan because they are so terrified about the cost of their child's upcoming higher education. Others are furious because they just paid a fortune to put Liam through SUNY Armmpitt. None of these parents are in a position to consider that the "free" education is going to be a debased one -- if you think the BS from Armmpitt State looks cheesy on a résumé now, think of how it will look when prospective employers know you went there for nothing.

And they will have a legitimate concern. How much will the state be willing to pay top professors during the next inevitable New York fiscal crisis? But before the prestige issue comes into play, dozens of fine private institutions in New York will lose potential students who would rather try their luck with an education that won't have them paying off student loans for thirty years.

Government largess has a way of inducing chaos. If you think the cost of food is high, imagine what would happen if the government took over the grocery stores and declared all the food to be free.

But we don't mind; as long as we're furthering the career of Dandy Andy, who cares about the unintended consequences? Just like we didn't mind that Andrew Cuomo, as the chair of the Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, almost single-handedly caused the mortgage crisis that led to a worldwide economic meltdown in 2008, by throwing free mortgages at everything with a pulse, and being surprised when opportunistic bankers tried to monetize the bad debt they were forced to create, and shocked when people you wouldn't have lent a sawbuck to started to default in droves. (Don't trust me about Andrew's involvement; just ask that right-wing rag The Village Voice.)

Yessir, Andy may have Evil Eyes, but he likes helping people, and gosh darn the consequences, intended or otherwise.

So enjoy your "free" college, kids, just like everyone enjoyed the defaults and portfolio crashes and job losses and underwater mortgages following his "help" for housing. Cuomo is nothing but helpful, and I'm sure he'll be a wonderful candidate for president. Ask anyone from western New York and they'll be happy to tell you how great everything is now, and how much they can't wait to pay for some bonehead kid to smoke pot in a dorm in Delhi for four years.

(By the way: If you are looking to invest in New York, I suggest setting up a U-Haul franchise...)

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