The liberal media want us to believe that Donald J. Trump is the most notorious political demagogue to arrive on the American political scene in decades. But Trump is a piker compared to socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has gotten millions of young people into a revolutionary frenzy and fervor over the idea of a taxpayer bailout for colleges that provide useless degrees in such areas as women’s studies and queer studies.
Consider the Sanders proposal to “make college tuition free and debt free” for young people. My oldest son Clifford has studied this issue, and has taken many online courses through accredited institutions of higher education. He has written an article noting that the Sanders proposal would funnel students “into an expensive and inefficient system that is largely failing today’s graduates.” He adds, “By doing nothing to address the underlying cost increases of education, the American taxpayer could be looking at a new Medicare, with no horizon in sight for the ever-increasing costs of the program.”
“Why should the American taxpayer and government continue to subsidize a failing university system?” he asks. “The costs of textbooks, tuition, and fees have all increased many multiples against inflation. Textbook prices alone have increased over 1,000 percent since 1977. Many college professors now demand that their students buy the book that they wrote. Not only this, but a new edition is released almost yearly. Even if a student wanted to get by using last year’s edition, new textbooks often have an ‘online key’ that can only be used once, making the purchase of a new textbook essential in order to do the mandatory homework that can only be accessed online using this key.”
The state schools that Sanders wants to subsidize usually include these exorbitant textbook requirements. By contrast, “other new and innovative online schools like the online American College of Education (ACE) require no textbook,” he points out. “Rather, they assign readings and coursework using academic journal articles. The advantages of such an approach are two-fold for the student: they eliminate expensive textbooks and provide information that is much more up-to-date than a textbook can provide. Not only are expensive textbooks a thing of the past at ACE but so is expensive tuition—ACE offers numerous master’s degrees in education for around $7,000.”
Indeed, he notes that “in recent years there has been a proliferation of low and reasonable cost options for schooling, especially online. Lest there be any confusion, these are not online diploma mills. Rather, many of these are regionally-accredited, respectable institutions that offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s and even doctoral degrees for very reasonable costs.” He cites Western Governors University as an example of an affordable, accredited university. It was founded by 19 governors of Western states in 1995 to offer affordable tuition by taking advantage of online learning technologies.
My son concludes his article by saying, “Forget a bachelor’s in basket weaving; this university offers coursework in highly marketable areas like information technology, nursing, education, and business. Coursework for many of these programs can be completed entirely online. The programs with required field experiences can be conveniently completed in or near one’s own hometown.”
He notes that the major flaw in the Sanders proposal is that many universities “are failing to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs.” He explains, “Last year, 260,000 bachelor’s degree holders were making the federal minimum wage. Add in the 200,000 associate degree holders making the minimum wage, and we’re left with just short of half a million college degree holders getting a very poor return on their college investment, which includes not only tuition dollars but also two to four years of their time and associated lost wages.”
What Sanders is proposing is to funnel more tax dollars into an educational system that is already wasting money and failing. He will saddle the taxpayers with more debt in the name of relieving the debt being paid by students who end up with either no jobs—or bad jobs. If this is not demagoguery, then what is?
My son’s admonition to forget about a bachelor’s in basket weaving at your local college, and to take a look instead at what’s being offered by accredited online universities, brings up another excellent point. The Sanders proposal does nothing to fix the proliferation of useless courses being offered by traditional brick-and-mortar universities. You cannot walk through a tour of most colleges without getting lectured about the need for “diversity” and the prevalence of women’s and even queer studies.
My youngest son and I took a tour of Columbia University in New York City recently and were told that the contributions of the great Western thinkers to our civilization would be “updated” in various classes with reference to the involvement of feminists and homosexuals. There is even a “Queer House” or “Q House” on campus. A 28-page guide is available on “Resources and Programs at Columbia University related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Issues.”
A tour of the University of Virginia, supposedly more conservative, found fliers on bulletin boards advertising “Pride Week 2016” with “Safe Space Training” and a “Pronouns Workshop.” The sponsors included the Virginia Department of Health, the Queer Student Union, the LGBTQ Center, the Student Council, and the Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at the University of Virginia. What jobs does this produce for young people?
Dr. Tina Trent, who writes about problems in academia, says that non-ideological and technologically-oriented students are increasingly being drawn to online learning opportunities that prepare them for the real world. Many students, she notes, just can’t afford to “mess around for four years” in areas that offer nothing practical or marketable. Still, she notes, “the big money is behind the brick and mortar perversity circus.”
That big money is what Sanders is promising more of. He says he wants to pay for free college tuition through a Wall Street tax. “The cost of this $75 billion a year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago,” he says. But a so-called Wall Street tax would also affect the 55 percent of Americans who report having money invested in stocks. This category of Americans includes parents trying to save enough money to send their children to college.
While he is now claiming that his free college tuition plan is “fully paid for by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators,” that is not true. A “College for All Act” he proposed in the Senate depended on the states to provide at least one-third of the costs. When pressed on this, he admits that many states can’t, or won’t, pay for that one-third. Sanders has deliberately obscured the details in order to deceive young people and get them enlisted in the “political revolution” that he claims to be leading.
Even with all of the problems in academia these days, it doesn’t take much of an education to conclude that Sanders is lying about the cost of his plan, and misrepresenting how it would be paid for. He is a demagogue of the worst order, manipulating the hopes and fears of millions of young Americans. Even worse, he is leaving them with no hope—or hope in socialism, which is a dead end.
What we really need is a revolution in education, away from the brick-and-mortar institutions of the past to modern institutions that provide less expensive but more relevant courses that lead to real jobs. But this kind of revolution would not serve the political purposes of the socialists working desperately to capture the minds of the next generation.
Our media should start telling the truth: Bernie Sanders is a demagogue and his proposals are fraudulent.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]