American Consequences - April 2021


middle-class entitlement... though that word had not entered the political lexicon.

We parents all gazed, mouths agape, at the two-bedroom suite: each room had a double bed, its own closet, and opened into a spacious furnished living space, with a granite counter kitchenette on one side, and on the other a granite counter double sink bathroom, with its own private shower and toilet (so your student is spared that nasty inconvenient walk down the hall to the communal bathroom). Each bedroom had its own thermostat, guaranteeing your student will be neither too hot nor too cold. It was hushed, decorated like an Ikea catalog, and smelled like lemons and clean laundry. Which sounds like a long way from the communal showers for the veterans of D-Day and their wives. And then, there is the food. None of this communal pooling of everything that is left in the pantry at the end of the month. Parent reports that the dining hall at the school her daughter attended provided “... whatever kind of cuisine might strike her fancy: the waffle bar, carving station, sushi bar, and vegan menus.” The dining hall promised students “a global culinary experience with tastes of cultures from around the world.” There are, of course, schools where the dining and accommodations are considerably less lavish. But few where they are anything less than “comfortable.” And this leads to a couple of lines of thought... First, shouldn’t there be something monastic about higher education? One cuts oneself off from the worldly pleasures and the

ENDOWEDWITH DEBT Two generations later, college has become a necessity with a luxury goods price tag... expensive enough that some graduates will be paying for it for the rest of their lives. It is a price that is almost self-evidently too high. Still the costs of not paying might very well be higher. So, just how expensive is college and how much more expensive is it now, than it once was? Well, as always, there are numbers. Here are some: In the last 20 years, as Preston Cooper wrote recently in Forbes magazine, tuition prices have risen more than those of... well, everything .. . except, unsurprisingly, hospital care. It’s risen at a faster rate than things like childcare and housing, and climbed faster than wages. Since the turn of the century, the cost of a college education has more than doubled. A four-year hitch at an American college is the most expensive in the developed world . Leading one to ask... why ? One of the first things a lot of soreheads will point to is the fact that no institution of higher learning is looking to make unused military barracks into dormitories. In fact, what some schools are building in the way of housing for their young scholars sometimes resembles luxury hotels. The eponymously named Jane Parent describes a tour of a prestige public university that included a visit to a dormitory where:


April 2021

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