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Friday, July 20, 2012

NBC targets For Profit colleges .... for making profits.

Rarely do I watch mainstream media news.  Reason being is I just get sickened at their clearly leftist leaning agenda.   The sad thing is that it's quite effective. People watch this.  The arguments sound objective and reasonable as they demonize their targets.  Last night was an exception for me as I was watching a story on NBC, who didn't fail to disappoint by demonizingt "evil, greedy, for profit colleges".  It took me a moment to catch the slant, but it wasn't hard to spot the flaws in the report.

If anything, this story truly encapsulated many core leftist fundamentals:

  • Profits are immoral and evil
  • Manufacturing victims
  • Absolving accountability
The gist of the story went like this:  

These "for profit" colleges are targeting low income people in order to attain the usually higher student loan/Pel grant money they have access to since that maximizes their profits.  The students are then stuck with high student loan bills and commonly default on them, which then sticks the US taxpayers with the burden.  There were also statistics that show that these pro profit colleges get a larger proportional share of student loan money vs traditional universities.  Makes those colleges sound like greedy capitalist pigs, right?  Well, that was the intent. 

But let's take a step back here. 

Granted, perhaps the colleges are getting too much money.  I'm not fully absolving them of blame.  But the rather galling part of the story was how it ignored the other two parties involved in this problem: the student and the government.  

Let's look at the student.  Unless there's some very evasive and shady practices, students should know how much their degree is going to cost them.  There's documents to sign which should outline the total cost as well as what the potential monthly payment would end up being.  My point is that these students knew what they were signing up for.  They're adults at this point, so they should have the capability to determine whether or not this is something they could afford.  Just like the housing crisis, where it seems no one is placing any responsibility on the people who signed on for loans they just couldn't afford, this story doesn't even consider that poor choices by the students play a key role in this issue.

Now let's look at the government.  They're the one handing out the loans.  My very own (much to my chagrin) Senator Tom Harkin was featured in the story about he plans on going after these for profit colleges for exploiting students and getting too much tax money.  Which baffles me considering that it's the government that's giving them the money to begin with!  You know, if you wanted to curb so called "abuse" such as this, shouldn't you examine the entity that's actually giving them the money??  Maybe, just maybe, the policies currently in place aren't good?  It's ironic too.  Because going back to the housing crisis, the lenders were demonized for giving out loans to people who didn't really qualify.  By that logic, since the government is the lender in this case, shouldn't a large majority of fault be placed on its shoulders?

Furthermore, let's actually look at these for profit colleges.  First off, there's no secret agenda for them here:  they want to make money.  It says so right in their classification.  They don't try to hide it.  Now, if they were only concerned about money and didn't provide a quality education, then that's a serious issue to address.  But, as far as I can tell, the education these students are receiving is on par with what can be received in a university.  The story even had a guy who graduated from the Art Institute laud the college's education.  While the star victim in the story meekly muttered "and I don't know if I got a quality education", the story pointedly did not even go down that road beyond that weak statement.  

Anyway though, these colleges provide a quality education.  And they're also trying to make as much money doing it.  Where are they making the money? From the government.  Just like any business anywhere else, they will look for the best way to maximize profits legally.  What these colleges are doing is not illegal.  They're doing exactly what the federal government is allowing them to do.  They're not exploiting any loop holes.  They're not be deceitful in either their intent or operations.  They're just getting as much money from the government as they're legally allowed to.  Again, just about every business operates this way. So again, whose fault is this really?

I'll acknowledge that the rising cost of college makes it fiscally prohibitive to many people.  In fact,  you can even look at these for profit colleges in a more positive light when you look at this way:  Would you rather receive a college education with a high amount of student loan debt or not be able to go to college at all?  For many people, the former is the only option.  

But getting back to rising cost.  If one wants to claim these colleges are charging too much, then there's two very important follow up questions:  
  • If these for profit colleges charge too much, then what about the increasing prices among traditional universities?
  • If these colleges are charging too much, then why isn't the federal government doing something to stem the flow?
Remember, these colleges are operating in their natural business, economical state.  The aberrations here are the students' poor choices and the federal government lack of fiscal oversight for these loans.  In fact, I'll have to say free money in most forms is a terrible idea.  Because it's never really free.  Just who benefits and whose accountable becomes disconnected, which can create problems like this.  Benefits and accountability should always be directly linked.  

For example, if they want these colleges to be more thrifty with the money they get from the government, they might consider putting the burden of repaying the government on their shoulders (and this goes for all colleges, not just for profit).  This would in turn make these colleges turn around and put students into contract to pay them.  So while the students still utlimately have to pay the loan, the institutions now have their butts on the line which will lead to them to making more fiscally responsible choices regarding who they sign up for student loans and how much they ask for.  Who knows, it could also force them into lowering costs now that their free money pipeline is gone.  

Anyway, what we have here is just another example of the leftist media pushing an anti capitalist agenda by trying to demonize a business for making money.  They ignore the other contributing factors to the problem because it goes against their liberal ideology.