Debt burden, part 2

Richard’s comment on yesterday’s post showed something positive at work. But I wonder, aren’t we looking at all of the question of higher education in a fundamentally wrong way? Why should it be the responsibility of young people to pay a high price for higher education? Isn’t in any society’s collective economic interest to do the exact opposite?

After all, if you have a for-profit company, and you are trying to maximize your profitability, your best option is generally to invest in those aspects of your business that will increase long term revenue.

And in the case of a nation, by far the largest potential engine for economic growth resides in the young minds that continually emerge from the population. These minds are, in the long run, the sources of invention, of new business models, new forms of art and entertainment, novel insights into science, technology and medical innovation.

The empirical genetic scientific evidence tells us that innovative minds are distributed rather randomly throughout any population — they don’t tend to be born more into privileged families. Which means that a nation that creates a de facto higher economic hurdle for a poor young person to be educated through the college level is simply self-destructive: The society that does so is like a farmer who consumes his own seed corn.

To put it plainly: Any nation state that figures out how to educate its young people without trapping them into a large debt burden will win, in the economic battlefield, over other nation states.

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