Saturday, June 8, 2019

Admissions Scandal Libertarians Losing Their Way

By Professor Doom

     As I’ve mentioned a few times, my political leanings are Libertarian, though I find myself ever more understanding humanity is a long way from being evolved sufficiently for Libertarian ideals to work. That said, Libertarianism, basically the opposite of Socialism, hasn’t gotten over 100,000,000 people killed like Socialism…granted, this is most likely because it’s never been tried, even as we continue to find willing populaces willing to try, yet again, Socialism.

      The Mises Institute supports Austrian economics, one of the foundations of Libertarianism. I saw an article on MI’s site…the author really missed the huge point, even as he said many of the things I’ve already said.

     Economic Stratification and College Admission

     Let me go real quick over the libertarian position on people paying extra money to get into private schools: so what? If I were in McDonald’s (bear with me), and some guy paid an extra $100 to cut in front of me…I might not like it much, but I wouldn’t feel completely outraged. 

      Many of our theme parks, in fact, offer a “fast pass” option, where visitors can pay that kind of money just to cut lines (I’ve used it, in fact, saves a couple hours of standing in line on a typical day).

      “But only so many people can get accepted, those bribes are hurting the poor!” is the basic of the counter-argument, but…no. There are other schools, and ivy league schools are never going to be able to take everyone, anyway. I’m not saying there weren’t some fraudulent aspects of the admissions scandal, but…in principle, letting the wealthy pay extra for admission into an expensive school is hardly a bad thing.

       I again point out that it’s always been this way to some extent. The “bribe money” was normally given to scholars however, who would use the money for scholarships for poor kids to get into school, or otherwise improving education, instead of enriching our admin.

    But the article I’ve linked doesn’t mention any of this, and goes in every other direction:

American politicians are demanding that college be free and open to everyone, but at the same time they are helping to create a political economy that demands a college degree even for lines of work that should not require higher education at all. As this country makes the unfortunate transition from an entrepreneurial market economy to one that is becoming increasingly dependent upon political power, college takes on an oversized role. The greatest irony is that higher education in the USA is becoming as important to one’s financial future as it was in the former Soviet Union even outside the so-called professions.

      I…um…no. A supreme court ruling a few generations ago is what led to this “college degree is mandatory” madness. “Government created the problem which government is now trying to solve” is a common Libertarian theme, but a Libertarian site should do a better job of correctly identifying how the problem was created.

     The author, much like I did, points out Bill Gates managed to do fine without a college degree, but uses it not to demonstrate how a degree really isn’t necessary for success, but rather as a lead-in to the benefits of entrepreneurship: 

Entrepreneurial skills are internal, and while one can teach about entrepreneurship, it is difficult, if not impossible, to teach someone how to be an entrepreneur, yet those are the skills most needed for a market economy to grow, expand, and prosper. In reality, the success of the professions depends upon the strength of the business sector, which in turn depends heavily upon the success of American entrepreneurs, and yet, entrepreneurship does not depend upon the prestige of higher education.

     All well and good, but I’m not sure how this relates to the admission scandal. He then goes on to rail against the USSR, again not much of a factor in the scandal. While what he says it true, railing against the evils of the USSR is a bit dated.

     It’s pretty much how he finishes off:

The U.S. economy has not yet reached the miserable Soviet standard, but as state power over the economy grows, and as more and more Americans demand a socialist regime, we are seeing the emergence of what Florida State University economist Randy Holcombe calls political capitalism. According to Holcombe, political capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which the economic and political elite cooperate for their mutual benefit,” and in which “the profitability of business is determined by political connections rather than by the satisfaction of consumer preferences.”

      Again, the above is true, and it does seem like my successful friends are strictly those with political connections. But I still think there’s more worth saying about the admissions scandal, and the very first commenter agrees with me:

One question related to this "scandal" that has not been asked -- but which is a stark reminder of the state's brutality -- is why on earth anyone should get thrown into a brutal cage (prison) for the relevant actions? Why is cage time always the state's answer? Let the universities involved take action against the relevant individuals, either suing for compensation for losses suffered, if applicable, or excluding them from future interaction.

     Indeed! The parents of the kids are going to jail over this, some of them, and I’m hard pressed to understand the exact crime, why it should be a crime, and why a jury trial is out of the question here (granted, only a jury filled with Libertarians would be sure to let the parents go, but still…).

     I really do love sites with comments sections, because so often those comments point out glaring issues ignored by the site, such as the above.

    Another commenter misses a point, but it’s easy to miss:

I can't for the life of me understand why the only people I see getting crucified in this are the parents, who just used their own money to advance the interests of their children, while the people and colleges that were more than happy to be corrupt, have skated through without a blemish.

      Why are the colleges getting away without a scratch? An easy question any Libertarian can answer: they’re politically connected. I’m not convinced these bribes are fundamentally illegal, but if offering a bribe is illegal, taking one should be too, right? If the schools/admin aren’t going to take a penalty here, then the parents shouldn’t either. Neither should in my opinion, of course, although it should be shouted loudly how this bribe money isn’t going to help education, like it used to do in the past.

      Anyway, not every Libertarian article is a winner, so I guess I’ll let it slide…shame the government can’t turn down the opportunity to put more people in cages, though.


  1. O/T:

    1. Well of course they aren't. While much of this is due to the extensive paper-writing fraud going on, another strong factor is the internet is simply a superior tool to books in a library. Now let's place some bets about how much of the library staff are being cut...

  2. Malum prohibitum versus malum in se.

    And who, precisely, was harmed in this 'crime'? Not the parent or the official taking the bribe. They have already shown they have no moral fiber. Possibly the child, but they're most likely going to turn out poorly anyways, because they were raised by parents like this.

  3. Plainly Americans pay massively to ensure the faint prospect of high self esteem & presumable parallel affluence to a multitude of young citizens with few, & of any of those few, weak internal resources & consequent narrow economic ingenuity.

  4. Young people who were more deserving of the scholarships were the victims who 'lost out'. Read the charges: parents bribed people to let their daughters steal slots in athletics to gain entry in favored schools so the girls who worked hard to win the scholarships lost out.
    I, by the way, got into college at age 16 via winning scholarships.

    1. Those are the charges, but charges aren't necessarily reality. Many of the "athlete" kids were no athletes; the coaches were only letting them in due to the bribe, and then only after they'd already admitted they had enough athletes to form a team. The coaches were basically selling their "free tickets."

  5. Libertarianism is a joke - an unworkable fantasy that appeals to the uber greedy, me, me, me, and then some more me - type of personality.

  6. Why stop with allowing the sale of admission to college? In the 17th through the 19th centuries, the British Army sold officer commissions in cavalry and infantry regiments to the highest bidder. Current officers could be promoted to higher ranks in exchange for money rather than by merit or seniority. The US should return to this practice to partially fund our military services. The fact that this system led to armies being let by incompetent buffoons is no reason to stop the onward march of Libertarian principles.

    And as far as paying extra money for special privileges, why only apply this idea to prospective students? Instructional positions, administrative positions and even tenure should be for sale. Tenure for faculty should be auctioned to the highest bidder. Likewise, the conferring of degrees should be up for sale. Pay $500,000 and be given a PhD in Literature. Pay $5,000,000 and be given a medical degree.

    That is the ultimate foolishness of Libertarianism. When carried to it's logical conclusion, it becomes destructive and unworkable.

    1. Heh, of course, this is to a large extent the system we have now...and we're hardly Libertarian in structure today.

    2. (it's also worth pointing out that the military system you propose allowed Great Britain to basically conquer the world in the era you specifically mention)

  7. Thanks for the kind words. As the founder of current world Libertarianism, and ignoring some of the ignorant projections onto Libertarianism by some of the commenters unaware Libertarianism is helping change the world around them, it's always a pleasure to me to see someone like Prof. Doom find something in the approach. Be assured that while Austrian economics has a lot, it is not a foundation of Libertarianism. Nor will we see massacres as Libertarianism grows: the approach forbids the death penalty and is restorative in approach, and allows voluntary forms of socialist community. Libertarian level 1 is a success: the spread of UN Rights standards/membership to all nations. Libertarian-direction level 2 is what we have in Florida: as a first milestone and platform for additional improvements, a world of peaceful sister Floridas with 16% libertarian voters is a good step.

    In education the approach is Gilson trinary privatization: voluntary home/ purely private club, commons funded by endowments, and citizen projects as private-for-public entities. In states as Florida we thus see full legality of homeschools and free co-op schools, growing private/endowment funding of common schools and colleges, and a fairly good treatment of private schools for public use whether for-profit or no. This compares to countries that forbid homeschools or where 'public' education monopolies are bribe-ridden rackets to enrich local communist parties. Our hope is a college education at little to no cost--in both the broad liberal and with job-ready majors sense--for all in the world who desire it, worldwide. Libertarians leading campaigns legalizing things like e-learning are important components. Simplifying regulations and driving down costs, addressing rackets and ousting totalitarian 'educators' in the system is a part of that. As I say, education free P-post PhD.

    Parents seeking good and free/low-cost college education will find what they need on GOOGLE without over-priced 'experts' with dodgy strategies. Colleges like Charter Oak and St Petersburg College (SPC) have the right idea. Harvard Extension offers eased admission to those interested in distance learning at low cost. Abroad, UNISA has a helpful degree-by-thesis approach as far as costs and flexibility.

    My first reaction on learning of the scandal is why people would bribe themselves into an inferior education verging on propaganda and so-so college connections. That probably deserves its own article.

    I would recommend anyone starting take a job-ready AS or technical certificate or two first and a sound education on entrepreneurial basics, then consider study of the classics and relevant second/third majors as above, or look to schools as St. John's or New College of Florida. These welcome anyone intelligent and have generous grants. More widely and long-term, Libertarianism urges revival of landed extended families who can form their own self-sustainable mini-economies.

    Those interested in world Libertarian activities now in every country can websearch us @ Libertarian International Organization. I look forward to more of Prof. Doom's research and thinkpieces.

    1. If you wish to learn more about why people are paying such ridiculous bribes to get into the upper tiers of our higher education system, you read the first chapter or so of my book, or the first few blog posts I ever made, on the Myth of College (there are several).

      Perhaps Austrian economics isn't explicitly a foundation of Libertarianism...but at some point Libertarianism will need an economic policy which doesn't center on government control, and Austrian economics is pretty much the only one laid out sufficiently.