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Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Protesters/Free Education

Occupy Protesters were heard shouting that education "should be free, like the air and water" yesterday in New York.  Well, they think that, do they?

First, the water is NOT free; anyone who has a home will tell you that fact.  Second, while I do agree that a post-secondary education by and large costs too much, that's a different issue than claiming it should be "free".  The fact is that the moment you make something free you diminish it's value.  We sometimes lose sight of this fact in our society these days.  Education has value, and a higher education is worth paying for, by and large.

In a larger sense, there are times when I think that the current generation has been given TOO MUCH and they have lost sight of the fact that there are few actual RIGHTS in this world.  A post secondary education is NOT A RIGHT, it is a privilege, one that requires two abilities:

  1. The ability to intellectually handle the work
  2. The ability to pay for it

It may be all warm and fuzzy to think that everyone can do both of the above, but that's simply not reality.  We are not all equal in our abilities, and that's okay.  Society needs both lawyers and plumbers to function, and true personal value isn't measured by W-2 earnings or what (if any) school you attended...personal value is best measured, in my opinion, by the kind of person you are and the kind of person you strive to become,


The RIGHT that I do think we all have is the "right to strive", but "strive" is different that being "given".  Hell, I don't really think that we have a right to strive, I think we have an OBLIGATION to strive.  We owe it to ourselves to always try and make ourselves better, throughout the course of our lives.  That kind of drive almost has to come with a cost, because it's the effort part of striving...the having the work hard and make choices part...that builds us as individuals.

I do believe that it is entirely noble and correct to fight against injustice, and in American society today there are tons of injustices that need to be addressed.  Having to pay for a college education is not an injustice.  Pain in the butt?  Definitely.  Injustice?  No.  Claiming the right to a free education as an issue worth chanting about makes at least some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters out to be spoiled little children who believe that they should entitled to anything they want, just "because".  Wrong.

1 comment:

Tom Borthwick said...

The current cost of education is prohibitive. I'm nearly $90,000 in debt with student loans. That's with scholarships. (I have the added bonus of being a teacher in PA, which required that I get my master's in 5 years or be fired.)

Countries like Germany which provide next-to-free college education have stringent rules for acceptance. You don't just "get in." I think if we want to make this country great, we need to make education accessible, affordable, and NOT punative.

Right now, my financial future is dictated by this debt and there's no end in sight. By the time I pay this off, I'll have kids ready to go to college. It's just another way the American system is set up to destroy the potential for the upward mobility of the middle class.