"This is an example of what Suzanne Mettler calls “the submerged state,” a pattern where the government has, as she says, “shunned the outright disbursing of benefits to individuals and families and favored instead less visible and more indirect incentives and subsidies, from tax breaks to payments for services to private companies. These submerged policies…obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market.” Instead of directly providing public options, we subsidize the purchasing of private goods, often using the tax code."Mike Konczai shows how we could indeed provide free college directly instead of of the manipulation of subsidies and private sector coalitions.
There are winners and losers in each case. When we subsidize through the tax code, people who are well off and pay more taxes benefit more. People who can afford support staff, such as accountants and lawyers, are also more likely to understand how to take maximum advantage of these benefits. These subsidies benefit private educational institutions over public ones, as they’ll make private education feel more “natural” while obscuring the role of the government in setting up these markets. They give public college a nudge towards corporatization and privatization.
Much of these subsidies are likely captured either by the higher education institutions themselves or the debt lenders. These subsidies will make tuition and debt easier to deal with, but providing colleges free as a public option would likely do far more to contain costs (also here).There are many more savings to be had by paring back and refitting of the test industry, the remediation industry, and the extremely poor job done by so many public colleges in getting the majority of kids through in less time. These subsidized sectors have fed off those who fail within the rigged system; their failures enable the others to succeed.
In a similar vein, states could also fund the public schools, if they were funded not on a per child, and by definition, per district basis, but as a fully-public system. A public option for schools would mean families could choose the services they need and get them. Schools would be focused on serving families and children as partners and providers of resources. Free college could help dial back the mission of credential manufacture and help move toward schools as community learning resources.
the remediation windfall
the demise of the public university
how is requiring a BA legal?
understanding school funding
semi-private clubs called schools