Socialism at work

I attended the Board of Governor’s meeting on Friday and was able to hear Molly Broad’s final President’s report to the BOG. During the closed session of the meeting I was able to read a couple chapters out of “The Road to Serfdom.”

Hayek talks about how socialists have good intentions. They intend to make the world better by centralizing the planning of society. But in the end they create a world far worse than the one they intend to escape.

Then I went back into the BOG meeting and heard Broad tell the audience that in her eight year tenure, the University system has doubled the size of its infrastructure, grown its number of students, started a Washington DC office, and passed “the largest education bond in history.” She talked about enhancing “access” and diversity.

All these goals and policies sound good. But the truth is that the University has become a monstrous leviathan. The bond represents debt that the state doesn’t need. The Washington DC office represents the politicalization of higher education. And the increased number of students begs the question: how much is my degree worth?

Increasing opportunity and educating the populace are good goals, but centralizing governance and taxing the populace do nothing but stifle competition and lead to mediocrity.

16 thoughts on “Socialism at work

  1. Aaron Reply

    well, don’t leave your vast audience of shameless self-advertisers and complete idiots like me keep you from answering your own question:how much is your degree worth? and is its relative worth causally related to the number of people who attend UNC? and if so, how and why?

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Before you can even answer those questions, you must ask how you in fact measure worth? Is the worth of the UNC degree determined by pecuniary interests (I.e. opportunities post-graduation) or more qualitative (I.e. quality of the education)?Part of the problem is that you are dealing with a bunch of neo-marxists who are perpetually looking to change the world in their “enlightened” image. Instead of focusing on providing the very best education possible, the powers that be are more concerned with appearences and their idea of social awareness and change. This is how a school can on the one hand spend millions on needless infrastructure and on the otherhand reject over 5 million dollars in donations for a Western Civilization program in the History department. Both go towards attaining the University’s goal, but that goal seemingly is not necessarily the improvement of the quality of education.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    What is a neo-con? I was just having a little fun and made up a term to label left wing academics. I guess you could define neo-marxism as those people who fundamentally hold the tenets of Marxist thought, yet try and apply it within the confines of contemporary mores. Instead of utilizing violent revolution, they utilize our own institutions and tax base instead. I am sure you could come up with other very adequate definitions.

  4. Brian Reply

    In recent years, the gap between the salaries of those with college degrees and those without, has closed significantly. Whether or not this is a good thing, it shows that at least monetarily, a college degree is worth less than it used to be worth. So I ask why that is?There are several reasons:1- Universities have become leviathans. The more undergraduate students there are, the more work there is for graduate students, the more assistants professors have, the more prestige the university has, the more money they get from private and public funds, the happier the chancellor is.Consequence- undergraduate students are left out. They are taught by TA’s, they are not expected to work as hard, and grade inflation is natural if teachers don’t care what students are learning.1a- So, it’s not that more students at schools like UNC are cheapening my education. Is that administration cares so much about more students, that my education is overlooked. However, all in all UNC is a pretty good school. I am lucky. It is really students at your second and third tier schools that I am worried about, which brings me to my second point.2- Because people have been convinced that you need a college degree to feed yourself (not true) people are sacrificing more and more to get there kids into colleges. Wherever that college might be. Even if it is UNC-Pembroke. So, college has become an extension of high school and adolescence, which gives high schools an excuse to suck at teaching as well. 2a- so students go into debt for a degree that is not worth much. When students are making better grades in college than they did in high school, that is a hint that something is wrong.2b-why are degrees from these universities worth nothing? Because they have a vested interest in staying open. They need students. And the students and teachers who are going to UNCP and other places are not the best.3- Finally, centralizing governance of the university system aggravates this problem. If the public university system is looked at as one large university, then UNCP and others stay open when the marketplace of education might dictate that they be closed. Furthermore, those schools that want to improve are hindered b/c it is just understood that the top students go to UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State. And instead of changing policy. For example becoming a strictly “teaching university” or offering interesting programs like the classics, they try to follow the lead of UNC-Chapel Hill and get more and more graduate degrees and research: things that they cannot compete in. 4-Which brings me to my final point. Centralizing governance leads to group think. Which has led to every university in the system pursuing women’s studies, sexuality studies, and other programs that lack a semblance of merit. In their pursuit of prestige, the student who wants to learn something valuable, be challenged, and have a degree he can be proud of, is left out.

  5. Aaron Reply

    this (see the last paragraph for the bottomline) report from last year suggests that our college degrees are worth quite a bit monetarily. now, whether it would be worth more if there was less bureaucracy in the university system is difficult to say. if we want to prove this then we might do well to read some rigourous study comparing the monetary worth of degrees from large public universities to those from small public universities and also separately comparing degrees from large private universities to small private colleges. this would give us a good start. i haven’t found one yet, but the results would be interesting to it is, however, that extra 20k/year that a university graduate picks up (according to the article) seems to indicate that the university is doing its job at least on the monetary front.i would also be interested in seeing some studies showing the trajectory in the past of to what extent an university graduate made more money than high school graduates who did not pursue college careers. not that such a study would prove much given the conflating factors endemic to such a study, just that it would be interesting to observe the to the relative worth of women’s and sexuality studies majors/classes. i would recommend enrolling in one or two before passing judgement. maybe you have, if so, please describe your experience. i took a few and they were dedicated to analyzing the arguments of past philosophers and current political theorists with an eye towards how women or non-heterosexuals stood in the world, particularly regarding topical and metaphysical issues. in other words, there was merit to be had, and i believe i am a slightly better person as a result of being engaged in that, my concluding paragraph is that your (brian’s) concluding paragraph does not apply to me despite attending the same university and focusing on a liberal arts (not science) degree and, furthermore, i doubt it applies to most UNC students.but, then again, my assessment of the situation should be thrown into serious doubt since i’m just a complete idiot, as proven by an exhaustive doctoral thesis written a couple posts back.

  6. Anonymous Reply

    I think the comparison of college v. high school educated salary differential is a bit off considering the fact that just as the quality of education has slipped at the university level, the quality of education has fallen even more drastically at the high school level. High school degrees in the U.S. are for the most part absolutely worthless, thus comparing it to a college degree is not a great comparison.But I think you missed the broader point of Brian’s argument, in that it is not necessarily the UNC students who are getting the shaft here, it are all those other students in the University system (I.e. UNCP, UNCG, etc…). While UNC is not what it once was, a self motivated student can still attain a darn good education. The UNC student who relies on their guidance counselor however, gets anything but a great collegiate education.

  7. Aaron Reply

    but UNC-P and UNC-G are not large schools. they are not even growing schools. so i don’t see the connection.

  8. Brian Reply

    Aaron, UNCP and UNCG are growing. UNCP especially. In 1999 it had 3,062 students and in 2004 it had 5,027 students. This is an increase of 64% and is representative of the growth-minded nature of the system. UNCG has also grown (not nearly to the degree) but I don’t have the numbers readily available. So these small schools that used to have a specific purpose (UNCP was a teachers school) are trying to become big state Universities.But on to a more important issue: the merits of Women’s Studies. If you go to, and look at the inquiry papers, you will find one entitled, “An empty room of one’s own.” In this study, Melana Vickers, by looking at women’s studies at UNC, ECU, UNCC, UNCG, and NC State, found:1-classes are strongly biased and often lack scholarly treatment of subjects2-have a lack of student interest3-bring in very little outside moneyConclusion-NC taxpayers are flipping the bill for a polemical course that few people want and fewer north carolinians would agree with.Now what did she mean by each one of these points.1-At UNC, syllabi highlight the coverage of such topics as “the myth of the vaginal orgasm” and “Compulsory heterosexuality and the lesbian experience.” And in all the textbooks she looked at, only one conservative women was mentioned- phyllis schlafly-and it was not in a positive light. No mention of Sen. Dole, condi rice, dr. laura, margaret thatcher, etc.2- yes, a lot of people take women’s studies classes. But very few people major in it. In 2003, there were 43 people majoring in women’s studies at all five universities. Now why do a lot of people take the intro. classes and not major in it? Could it be b/c they give a high proportion of A’s?3- Many programs bring in private donations outside of state appropriations. The state actually only provides about 20-25% of the university system’s budget. However, women’s studies at UNCC, NC State, UNCG, and UNC received 0%, 0%, 6%, and 17% respectively of their budgets from private donors. This is abnormally low.For all these reasons above, I chose not to take a women’s studies course at UNC.

  9. Aaron Reply

    can you show statistics indicating that the degree of a UNCP graduate in 2000 is worth more monetarily (factoring out inflation and other conflating factors) than the degree of a UNCP graduate in 2004? furthermore, can you show, if the answer to the preceding question is true, how it is linked to the growth of the student body and bureaucracy at that school?

  10. Brian Reply

    First off, what did you think of my discussion of women’s studies?Secondly, you are missing the point. I do not know if a degree from UNCP in 2004 is worth less than one from 2000. I don’t really care. However I believe that UNCP in 2004 has 64% more students who think that they are getting a degree that will be their ticket to success, when in fact they might have been better off in the long run holding on to the $40,000 college will cost them.

  11. Aaron Reply

    1) i read the report to which you reference. i understand your reluctance to take women’s studies classes based on the tenor of the report. however, let me assure you that although the author’s findings are troubling (even to me) they are by no means representative of the entire department, especially since most of the courses, at UNC-CH at least, are cross-listed with other departments, and, therefore, are frequently taught by faculty from other more solid, better established departments. if you are at all interested in a substantive women’s studies course that is strictly devoted to analysing arguments, i would recommend ‘philosophical issues in feminism,’ particularly if it is being taught by professor jan boxill. it fulfills a philosophical perspective and maybe even a cultural diversity perspective (not sure about that last one). the course does not start off with the assumption that feminism is correct (which many women’s studies courses do) and you might be more comfortable in an atmosphere that is devoted to a practise that is (at least in principle) politically neutral.2) it turns out that i was incorrect about UNC-G. if the above report is correct, the student body there is approximately 11,000 students, which by my standards is large … but not rather large … just large.3) you should care. because i think you are dismissing your original point about the relative worth of bachelors’ degrees. nevertheless, i think that whether your initial claims can or cannot be settled relies on a lot of statistical data that is not at either of our disposal(s), so perhaps we ought to lay that point to rest … with the mutual agreement that ice cream is tasty but if you eat too much, it can spoil your appetite.

  12. Brian Reply

    I can agree to that. And I think that there are a lot of areas in Higher Education that we are eating a little too much of.

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