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Did free college exist when you were growing up?

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Education is a life long venture.  And there are many ways to take advantage of it.

I went to a parochial grammar school and 2 3/4 years at a Jesuit high school.  I did my last year at a public high school and graduated in 1951.  I think my 12 years of education, most of it in Catholic schools, in the 1940s to early 1950s is equivelant of a general arts degree today.

But my education didn't stop there.  USAFI (US Air Force Institute) has a multitude of correspondence courses you can take.  I took courses in military justice, aircraft mechanics, several history courses.  Went I went to Japan  I took advantage of on base University of Maryland classes in Education and history.  My military schools included EOD school, aircraft armament school, special electronics school (which included seismology), weather observation school and weather forecaster school as well as short TDY schools in supply and instructor school.

And after I retired I became a Great Courses student paying for courses mostly in History but also in art and literature.  Right now I'm taking a course in Famous Romans...short biographies of the Romans who forged the Roman Empire (Markus Tulius Cicero being my favorite).  I've been educating myself all my life.

I have a high school diploma but no college degree.

Funny story...when I retired from the Air force (National Guard) I gathered up all my college course transcripts, my service schools, my correspondence courses and took them t the education office because I through I had enough for an associates degree.  I had more than enough.  But I was lacking a course in English Composition.  I told them I was a published writer, why do I need to take a course in English Composition?  I was told I could test for it.  But there's the rub.  I didn't think I could pass the test because I don't know a preposition from a hanging participle.  So I declined.  I never learned to write, I just always knew how.

But the point is if you apply yourself you don't need a degree.  A degree makes the door open easier for you.  But what happens on the the other side of the door is what's important...demonstrated ability.  I've seen new grad engineers come into the shop and just do the minimum and they skate by on their 'degree'.  But it's demonstrated ability than gets you ahead.

If you can learn you get where you want to go if you self educate yourself.  I once applied for job and was asked if I knew anything about digital electronics.  I told them I did.  They told me to come to work the following Monday.  I went to the library and got several books on digital circuity and after faking it in the ab for a week I knew all I had to know for an entry level job and after a few months I got promoted to development engineer (Non degreed).

When you graduate from high school and go to work or go on to college and get a degree it doesn't stop there.  Learning is a life long endeavor.  Take whatever courses are available (lots of them are) and never stop learning.

I know I've been rambling on here but I really feel it's so important to keep learning.

 

Edited by birdguy
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35 minutes ago, w6kd said:

Student loans may be non-dischargeable, but they are widely defaulted-upon nonetheless, and the cost of paying the banks for those defaulted loans falls on the taxpayers.

You have made this assertion, can you please show me the figure? My understanding is that private student loans are just that, private. If that's not the case, how much does the government spend bailing out the lenders, and why? That's corporate welfare.

36 minutes ago, w6kd said:

I had the graduate of an expensive private college tell me with a straight face that the US DOD budget could feed three square meals a day to the entire world population (if you do the math, those meals would have to cost something like a few hundredths of a cent each).  I see more and more young people that leave college thoroughly indoctrinated, but unable and/or unwilling to support an argument with anything resembling logic, reason, critical thought, or even back-of-the-envelope 6th-grade math skills.

I did the math. The DoD budget for FY21 is around $733 billion, which given a world population of around 7 billion works out to 28 cents a day, or 9 cents a meal. Given the number of people who live on less than $1 a day, not just eat, this is on the edge of plausible. Even in my expensive First World living conditions, there are more than a few meals I can make for family that have vegetables, protein and carbs that go for around $1.50 for a family of four. In a lower cost of living area with additional economies of scale? It's got a Mythbusters rating of "plausible". (It gets even better when you throw in the VA budget. That's another $270 billion.)

So even this history graduate (with a 2.3 GPA!) can do the math properly, and most importantly I didn't reject the idea out of hand because I disagreed with the premise or the speaker. 

Cheers

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Luke Kolin

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1 hour ago, w6kd said:

Your observation about being a history graduate that can outcode people with CS degrees is an example of my point that having government pay for your history degree would have been a waste.  Now having government pay for vocational education related to coding...that would make much more sense, if government *must* play a role.  I would prefer to leave government completely out of it.

I'm not sure I understand your first sentence, but perhaps I did not explain myself clearly.

I think one's ability to write code is completely independent of field of study. Writing code is a combination of logic, expression, math and a few other disciplines, and it's far more of an art than a science. Donald Knuth once wrote Programs are meant to be read by humans and only incidentally for computers to execute and I agree - to me software engineering is more of a fine art than a hard discipline and the best people at it understand the non-technical side of things. People who merely know how to code are like writers with an elementary school education; they can convey a statement but they rarely ever write anything good.

That's the tremendous value of my history degree and absolutely why the government made a great deal in paying for it. It's the secret of my success in an industry filled with people with incomplete educations. Being able to write, advocate, balance data and ask not "how do we do this?", but "should we do this?" is a huge advantage. It's rarely taught outside the humanities.

It's interesting that over the past 40 years we have focused on "usability" of degrees to the detriment of the humanities. And over that time, we've churned out thousands of CS graduates and MBAs, and look what an amoral and borderline psychopathic technology ecosystem they have created. Maybe some courses on philosophy, ethics and the like might have done some good!

Cheers!

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Luke Kolin

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I would ask everyone here who complains about student loan defaults and the government giving away free money if they sent back the stimulus checks we all got last year.

Noel


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17 minutes ago, Luke said:

So even this history graduate (with a 2.3 GPA!) can do the math properly, and most importantly I didn't reject the idea out of hand because I disagreed with the premise or the speaker. 

Of course, that woke activist Dwight D. Eisenhower also made the connection between global hunger and the military-industrial complex:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

Obviously, he knew nothing about the U.S. military! (Seriously, are we really splitting hairs about whether the U.S. defense budget could literally, logistically, feed the whole planet? The point, surely, is to emphasize the staggering size of that budget, which is not in doubt...)

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25 minutes ago, Luke said:

You have made this assertion, can you please show me the figure? My understanding is that private student loans are just that, private. If that's not the case, how much does the government spend bailing out the lenders, and why? That's corporate welfare.

I did the math. The DoD budget for FY21 is around $733 billion, which given a world population of around 7 billion works out to 28 cents a day, or 9 cents a meal. Given the number of people who live on less than $1 a day, not just eat, this is on the edge of plausible. Even in my expensive First World living conditions, there are more than a few meals I can make for family that have vegetables, protein and carbs that go for around $1.50 for a family of four. In a lower cost of living area with additional economies of scale? It's got a Mythbusters rating of "plausible". (It gets even better when you throw in the VA budget. That's another $270 billion.)

So even this history graduate (with a 2.3 GPA!) can do the math properly, and most importantly I didn't reject the idea out of hand because I disagreed with the premise or the speaker.

A Nov 5th Barron's article quotes 8 million Americans in default on federal student loans, or about 20% of those owing federal student debt.  Private loans are just that, private--the discussion is about federal direct and the older federally guaranteed student loans that the taxpayer is on the hook for when they default.  https://www.barrons.com/articles/a-path-forward-for-the-one-in-five-student-loan-borrowers-in-default-51636123063

The DoD budget in FY21 is a little over $705 Bn--there are other non-DoD lines in the defense budget, but DoD is 705.  And the world population clock shows over 7.8 Bn on the planet now, which is closer to 8 than 7 Bn.  Numbers matter.

If you're really arguing that 8.25 cents per meal to feed the world is "plausible", then there's no point in discussing further.  It's not plausible, it's absurd.  Again, numbers matter.

 

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12 minutes ago, birdguy said:

I would ask everyone here who complains about student loan defaults and the government giving away free money if they sent back the stimulus checks we all got last year.

If they haven't already, they will be, every April 15th for the foreseeable future.

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There is no such thing as "free" college, or "free" anything else for that matter.  Somebody has to pay for it.

What we've been doing in the States is 1)subsidizing State universities, usually paid for by the State, and 2)providing cheap loans from the Federal govt., with some of that being forgiven altogether, so essentially a form of education welfare. 

I'm fine with individual States providing free or subsidized university-level education.  The residents of those States will have to pay for it.  What I find absurd is the notion that the Federal govt. should provide "free" college education for the entire country.  The cost would be enormous, and would be added to our already crippling deficits and overall 30 trillion dollar public debt. 

I suppose that we could just do what we've been doing, IE have the Federal Reserve bank create more free money and give it to the govt. to pay for everything.  Just know that everyone will pay for it in the form of price inflation, which we're seeing all to clearly now.

Countries like Sweden that provide "free" college, or other countries that provide "free" healthcare, actually tax the living daylights out of their citizens to pay for it, and despite the high taxes most of those countries are heavily in debt.

There is no free lunch in life.  Period.

Dave 

 

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5 minutes ago, w6kd said:

If they haven't already, they will be, every April 15th for the foreseeable future.

April 15, June 15, Sept. 15, and Jan 15th!

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4 minutes ago, w6kd said:

the discussion is about federal direct and the older federally guaranteed student loans that the taxpayer is on the hook for when they default. 

Since you apparently have the numbers, how much is the government spending to bail these lenders out? That's the only number that matters.

5 minutes ago, w6kd said:

If you're really arguing that 8.25 cents per meal to feed the world is "plausible", then there's no point in discussing further.  It's not plausible, it's absurd.  Again, numbers matter.

This is the challenge, you keep starting with the premise that it's "absurd" and refuse to go engage. (If you had, you would have noticed that your math was off by two full orders of magnitude!)

Right now, around a billion people live on under a dollar a day - and that includes far more than food. In a world where we have automation, economies of scale and massively lower food waste could we feed the world at a subsistence level for 25 cents a day? Again, I think it's plausible. I wouldn't want to eat that every day, but it would beat starvation.

 

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9 minutes ago, dave2013 said:

Countries like Sweden that provide "free" college, or other countries that provide "free" healthcare, actually tax the living daylights out of their citizens to pay for it, and despite the high taxes most of those countries are heavily in debt

Sweden has a debt/GDP ratio of 35%. The US is 107%.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/debt-to-gdp-ratio-by-country

Cheers!


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18 hours ago, w6kd said:

The reason the cost of a college education has exploded is pretty simple supply-and-demand economics: when you make the ability to fog a mirror the only requirement to access massive amounts of money through unsecured debt, then that huge supply of money finds itself chasing a fairly steady supply of product (in this case university seats).  Prices, as a result, go up--a lot.  If we were to shut down the easy-money pipeline, and make lenders take on and deal with the real risk of making student loans to kids with lousy college aptitude or those getting German polka-dancing history degrees with no obvious path to repayment, then I think we'd have less people burying themselves in debt (because the banks wouldn't make the risky loans).  There's no rational explanation for loaning a kid $100,000 or more for a degree in journalism.  Writing propaganda doesn't require a college degree...heck, half of them can't even spel any more anyway.

My theory is more subtle as to why it's going up.  (Was much, much cheaper in the early nineties when I finished mine.)  Not so much supply and demand (demand is *always* there) but banks realizing they could make a great deal of loan income...and it's guaranteed too.  It just seemed that they saw a potential new source, if they could convince colleges to really raise their fees, which they all-too-willingly did.  Boom, instant revenue.  Which is a shame since it keeps people so far out they can't even fathom taking on the debt.  (E.g. my son won't even consider it.)  Colleges, also, used to look for older people to get degrees and take classes later in life...something I want to do.  They seem to have jettisoned that idea altogether.


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29 minutes ago, Luke said:

Since you apparently have the numbers, how much is the government spending to bail these lenders out? That's the only number that matters.

This is the challenge, you keep starting with the premise that it's "absurd" and refuse to go engage. (If you had, you would have noticed that your math was off by two full orders of magnitude!)

Right now, around a billion people live on under a dollar a day - and that includes far more than food. In a world where we have automation, economies of scale and massively lower food waste could we feed the world at a subsistence level for 25 cents a day? Again, I think it's plausible. I wouldn't want to eat that every day, but it would beat starvation.

My *memory* of a years-old discussion was off, not my math.  I did the math right here in public, and yup, if you really want to go with the argument that 8 cents a meal is anywhere near enough to feed a person, then go with it.  It stands in its own right as an objective measure of your argument's credibility.

Could we feed people on 25 cents a day?  I would say no...were it possible somebody would be doing it right now, as the need is certainly there at some times and in some places.  In the real world, 8 cents a day does not end famines, nor does 25 cents.  The cost of the logistics alone is more than that, and then there are myriad second-order complications to address--for instance how to deliver food to people in areas of active armed conflict or transport it across the lands of hostile neighbors, or how to prevent its capture and redistribution by criminals and warlords without the very military whose resources were theoretically just used to pay for this.

There are lots of wild starry-eyed ideas promoted in academia, where those promoting them usually have next to no experience with doing things in the real world, and they just assume away the pesky things that get in the way as too trivial to consider.  it's easy to assume that 8 cents can do the work of ten dollars "if only...."  It's not so easy to make things go when up against the real forces of nature--be it Mother Nature or human nature.

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Non sure how a topic of free college turned into the USDOD budget and hunger. I can personally say if the USDOD didn’t exist that there would be many places on the planet hungry (natural disasters, wars, humanitarian missions). 
 

Back too free college, did anybody here go to public schools growing up? They were not free. Tax dollars go towards paying those schools. Free college, tax dollars would be paying for it. Going back to nothing in this world is free. 

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22 minutes ago, Camsdad13 said:

Going back to nothing in this world is free. 

of course it's not free.

what it is is sensible and wise... a good investment.

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