Richard Wolff on a Conservative Argument Against Free Education

Now let me turn to a recent argument by
conservatives. They are really having to reach these days. We should have a moment
of compassion for their hard situation. They have to fight the demand of Bernie
Sanders and other candidates for free college tuition. And in their stretch
here’s an argument they came up with that is so remarkable I wanted to share
it with you. They said we shouldn’t do it because we’ve learned the lesson (hear me
now, you may not believe this but I didn’t make it up. You can’t make up this
sort of stuff) we shouldn’t have free tuition because we’ve already made the
mistake by helping people with loans to go to college. Oh, I see. We shouldn’t have
given them loans. “No!” say the Conservatives, and here’s why. When we
gave students loans colleges raised the tuitions because they said the students
can now get loans and we can raise the tuitions. And the second thing that
happened was by giving them loans we enabled more students to go to school
than might otherwise and that made more of them look for jobs, which is why
employers aren’t raising wages because there’s all these people looking for
jobs. So you see, we shouldn’t give them loans and we certainly shouldn’t free
the tuition because colleges will raise their tuition and employers will stop
raising wages. Oh my goodness. This is why we shouldn’t help people
because others in this crazy system would take advantage of helping people.
That’s right. That’s their argument. A system that allows schools and colleges
to negate the whole point of helping people get a loan to go to school by
raising the price, that’s a problem that we should solve. And ditto, employers who
don’t pay people a living wage is a problem of a capitalist system that we
should address. The conservative solution is to screw young people out of a loan
and out of free tuition because the rest of the system behaves so badly.
That’s the logic of conservativism. The alternative is to change a system
that works this way and frustrates the attempts to help people that loans and
free tuition represent.

Maurice Vega

70 Responses

  1. I'm from the US and when I get into a conversation with my friends from Scandinavia and Germany, they look at me with child-like innocence because they simply cannot grasp the concept of having to take out tens of thousands of dollars for education. Thanks Professor ?

  2. The foundation of capitalism consists of: Gluttony, Avarice, Envy, and Pride. Without these deadly sins, capitalism would collapse.

  3. What retarded clown in our flawed government said this bullshit ????
    Wish we could reconstruct this government and fire all the ones currently … Big ass reset button smh

  4. The ideal conservative America is an uneducated, low wage and gullible workforce.

    So why do conservatives draw the line at colleges and universities? Why not privatize K-12? Perhaps it's obvious to them that a largely illiterate population makes a country uncompetitive. Then why can't they see the competitiveness of a highly educated and skilled workforce?

  5. "attempts to help people"

    Ignoring the fact that taxation and redistribution isn't charity, they didn't need help until we started tricking them into going to college en masse based on the lie that it would ensure their futures financially. As usual, Socialists are thwarted by the Invisible Hand of the market, and instead of reversing their mistake, they exacerbate it by doubling down.

  6. If the student proves him/her self in a field of necessity at the graduate level (masters as an example) (engineering, biology, medicine, healthcare, …) sure, BUT not crap (womyns studies, basket weaving, black studies, ect—you get my point. We shall not pay for undergrad for people you can't count, who can not speak, who are felons , … , one must prove him/her self first to even get into college, and I believe this starts back in kindergarten all the way thru HS. ONLY grades and military service should count not color of skin.

  7. All federal buildings are about to be demolished by massive explosives. All of them will be crumbled with you in them

  8. Look the truth is rich people are unable to empathize..
    Academics have littlecommon sense and most folks at the top are narcisstic
    All studies from NPR
    Frankly..i blame the necktie..obfuscates blood flow to the male mono hemispheric brain

  9. The idea that EU or UK students don’t need loans isn’t really true. They probably take out half as much out of a loan than Americans, if not three times less, but at least for Dutch people, many have to take out loans because the college they want to go to, or the only one near enough their town, is far away enough to require a home in that place. So while College education is subsidised to 2000€ per year, the housing isn’t. Because our high school is tougher than in the USA, we only need around 3 years for a Bachelor degree. So if housing is 10k€ per year, you’ll probably need a loan of 36k€. Sure in the US it might be double that depending whether you’re in state or not and whether you’re living with your parents or not. But people still have to take out loans (that are currently zero interest however) to go to the schools they want. It’s not like there’s a university around every corner. A Dutch friend of mine took out a federal loan for a 3 year UK bachelor degree, where I believe he pays 9k£ per year in the college (don’t remember if that includes living expenses).

    Also, US universities are much larger in their campuses and have a lot of clout, or things that they don’t need. I don’t know how likely it is for a Dutch uni to have its own stadium, while in Oregon state they have TWO. I’m not saying that Dutch unis are inferior or less equipped in scientific purposes than US ones, but they’re definitely more compact and more pragmatic in what they choose to build. Many Dutch universities do look either very classic or modern for sure, but I’ve seen the Oregon state campus and I went into the new engineering building and it looks like a new office building. It has so many large spaces and stuff. The campus os more spread out, so I don’t know how much that affects cost. Dutch unis are just much more pragmatic while still being able to have everything they need for a good science degree without investing in what I think is kind of useless stuff, while still looking nice. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect but there’s a reason why US unis are more expensive. I really don’t think American unis should be free, but the cost could definitely be lower, community colleges can definitely be cheaper, or, I think that you’re final grade as a percentage should be the amount of money you get back from the uni to motivate people to get good grades. Or something similar. I agree that it shouldn’t be free so that people can just drop out, that’s not good and it’s wasteful too.

  10. Conservative arguments such as these are largely disingenuous and designed to keep the right and left fighting each other rather than the corrupted plutocrats we should be uniting against.

  11. As a progressive, I don't think you made good arguments here. In other countries, while there is free tuition, the academic standards are higher, thus not everyone can go to college, nor should everyone go to college. Free tuition is not so everyone can go to college, free tuition is so people that will benefit the most from college can do it without incurring debt. If we are to give free tuition we need to increase academic standards because not everyone can or should go to college. And yes, colleges will have the liberty to increase their facilities, professor pay, etc, unless there is a restriction on the number of people that can go.

  12. In translation (for many who don't quite understand what is going on all this time, since Capitalism replaced Feudalism due to advancement of tech, which hasn't changed the fundamentals of economic system where the rich ruling OLIGARCHY class end up using their wealth to extract even more wealth by exploiting work of others):
    – This is how capitalists (bankers) suck out money from people by "helping them" in giving them loans whereby they are the ones who get MORE in return by charging interest
    – This is how capitalists (owners of) private "education" suck out money from students yet again
    – This is how corrupt government which is controlled by the Deep State (capitalists yet again, and remaining Monarchies who happen to be capitalists themselves also) exploit the people, extract wealth from everyone, and end up keeping everyone stupid, brainwashed and poor and controlled by them.. then they all collectively brag on about how they "care about the people", how they "care about freedom and prosperity of the people", how they are "helping" people…. all of which is utter and complete RUBBISH !!!

  13. countries that invest in their People's Health and education become the happiest most innovative people. You don't get good credit for loans or scholarships for good grades by not working hard.

  14. When my dad went to uni, he saved up money for two years by working on a cruise ship as a waiter to pay (with help of his parents but still) his college tuition at the hotel school in Lozanne (I think that’s how it’s spelt) in Switzerland. It was a really prestigious school, so it was expensive. Considering how most Americans, and others around the world, live day to day, pay check to pay check, do you think this would be possible today? If not in USA, many the Netherlands or France or UK?

  15. Dr. Wolff: we support your Democracy at work idea. Any information on how worker co-op handles automation and improvements that may be objectionable to members for the consequence of reduction of jobs.?

  16. Only problem is definition of education. Today education system is more indoctrination than education. Gender studies are perfect example. With this education you are perfect candidate for working in Starbucks. And mybe after more education Wall Mart is option

  17. The Democrat answer is "Free college for everybody would be great but it's too expensive." Both parties always seem to agree on the end results & both have to lie about their "opposing" positions.

  18. Another argument I hear them say is “because we paid for it and we made it just fine, therefore why should the next generation get it for free?” Crazy logic if you think about it.

  19. Can anyone give a me reference or reading material that supports wolffs point that FDRs hand was forced by the labor/socialist movement when enacting the new deal

  20. Hey everyone! I'm a new progressive YouTuber. I've covered student debt cancellation and foreign policy in my videos. Please watch and subscribe!

  21. I've always felt that schools shouldn't be pro profit. We ought to pay the teachers well, but today the tuition and fees have gone wild and been eaten up by too many middle men, just like the health care industry of this country.

  22. If you believe capitalism is the final stage of human development you would also think like the conservatives. 
    The premise of all their political thought is the preservation of capitalism, they understand capitalism can deteriorate and take that as ' its not perfect, but nothing is perfect'.
    Egoism, avarice, competition, therefore, is accepted within their mindset as the ideal personality of a social system. Capitalism is permanent to liberals and conservatives…what can I tell you?
    Within conservative circles we are stuck with a system that is the highest stage of human development and the only stage higher than American capitalism is in the netherworld of religion where God and man are finally united as One.
    Facts such as the Lost City of Angkor Wat and the Maya, Ancient Societies, civilization come and go are replaced by new ones never happened.

  23. The owners merely want someone just smart enough to do simple tasks and nothing else. They don't want us to question the system itself.

  24. The education system only trains one to show up (hopefully on time), and answer to "authority", in whatever form that may be. Education is not the solution, everyone says that in lieu of knowing whats really going on. just to start, we all have to argue for those higher wages from a position of strength. Labor participation dropping is a good start. dry up the supply of workers and business will be forced to be dynamic… business doesn't like being dynamic as it makes the operation unpredictable. The better option is to give sole proprietors equal or greater privileges over corporations, or eliminate corporate charter. Level the field and deregulate the people. This country is burning to the ground anyway so it won't matter eventually. A bankrupt government cant pay a military, and cant afford police to put the boot to our necks, so…just let the system go…do the world a favor…and what you advocate for is nice, but I've seen more than enough of what our fine species can "achieve" to care about other people… atleast some deserve the pain…and although they may have been influenced by their surroundings, it doesn't excuse the terrible choices they've made and the consequences all of us end up paying for. I'll take my chances with laissez faire

  25. Wolff, I used to follow you…but you have to stop paying attention to the economics and study the psychology. You cant have a stable economy without constraining peoples natural "sinful desires". People will continue to cheat without something to pen them in. We essentially need alien overlords, that happen to be infallible and incorruptible.

  26. The Tower of Babel was never built . Supposedly caused by a language problem .  To me not so much language but the thinking , the reasoning behind it . Here we have a perfect example of human reasoning at its worst   .  

    The neo cortex , where all this intellect , thinking and reasoning comes from is , as the term says, new . The thinking of the Human species is new and underdeveloped , the primitive limbic system still dominates and overrides the new system , because it's larger , older and , more important : much faster. Result : the slow neo cortex is a slave to the old limbic system , used to justify the subconsciously generated primitive drives .

    The subconscious  limbic system takes the decision , makes the choice , decides the angle etc , in a split second , the neo cortex then justifies it with "reason" . 
    Often the producer of this "reason" is not intelligent enough to realise the flaws .
    The mechanism is known in psychology , in psychiatry this flawed reasoning  is called "rationalising" , which is regarded  a symptom of insanity . 

    Not wanting to spend money on education does not help the Human species evolve , to the contrary .

    The Tower of Babel was never built …

    Education and health care should be free for all : they are universal Human Rights  .
    Governments are obligated (by their own choice) to provide .

  27. Can you do a video on the labor theory law of value? As a Marxist you probably would understand this but I find it hard to find anything that explains it well. You guys are so good at explaining economic things, so it be cool to see you cover this.

  28. Hold on, free education means anyone who wants college or a trade needs that OPPORTUNITY.

    Poor people don't have a CHOICE of opportunities, their childhood dreams CANNOT be fulfilled.

    Privatizing higher education put Monsanto-Bayer in charge of microbiology education for decades.

    Free education doesn't have those direct coercive influences to basic science being hijacked for private corporations.

    The USA has little basic science going, it's "too expensive", there's no "path to profits", eh?

    Leading edge work worth researching: infinitysav & technokontrol for magnet powered electricity, no-fuels, no-inputs, no emissions, tiny carbon-footprint.

    These are small biz on a budget, the machines are the path to zero emission electricity globally.

  29. One good way to lower college is to use the donations colleges get to lower the price to go to college ! It's not
    Rocket Science

  30. So…it's a systemic problem of capitalism? Guess we should do away with capitalism. Stop doing things based solely on profit motive and start doing things based on common good and what's best for the ecosystems we rely on for survival.

  31. Nobody is talking about this, but I imagine that if you set out to provide more education to more people, to maximize this… that the form would change, maybe change drastically. It might not be that the educational system would just sit there exactly as it is, and someone would just write millions of individual checks for each individual bit of tuition?!!?? You might end up with some vast expansion, more online stuff I would think. I mean, I teach SHOP, lab stuff, hard to do online! We talk about this a lot. I can easily imagine a lot of third-rate colleges just sort of dissolving into a sea of partly automated education. I don't DO THIS myself, I teach in person! But I learn a lot from old books and YouTube videos and trade publications. It might be that going to an actual university, and living in a dorm and having personal instruction will become harder to access, with a rising tide of undergraduates. WHAT is being taught might change as well, if we're seriously going to talk about "re-industrialization", then there might be a whole new slant to the school system in a large part…. I have said for years that a dream of business might be to have minimum-wage engineers, which might be impossible but you could see that this argument has some force? We've been talking about unemployment generated by technology and big organization of business for a hundred years now, and that hasn't gone away. If we already HAVE more graduates than we can employ (this has been true for all my life), and we just amplify this situation… the idea of going to school for career-related reasons might be lost…. OR you won't be thinking of making a higher wage so much as just being employed AT ALL.

  32. The added lemon juice in the paper cut is that the overwhelming majority of conservatives claim to be Christian, meaning when they ask themselves "What would Jesus do?" in response to helping their fellow man, "*Kick down*" is the answer they believe their God whispers in their heart.

  33. Bwa ha ha – their argument against free education reduces to: "Because capitalism destroys itself" – and they don't even realize it.
    BWA HA HA HA HA you can't make this shit up

  34. Can someone please tell me why the assholes in the subreddits r/communism and r/communism 101 keep censoring everything that even disagrees in the slightest with them?

  35. Sure, let's pay for all the useless Liberal Arts degrees nobody needs, so the idiots getting them can't get a job and pay their college loan. Genius!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. What a bunch of half truths and lies. The laws that encouraged student loans made it impossible for borrowers to declare bankruptcy if they can't pay those loans back. They can never escape that debt. The students get loans for tuition that is stupidly high priced and graduate with a burden of debt that will make it impossible for them to begin to accumulate wealth. They won't be able to buy a car, a house, get married and have children because they are too burdened with debt they can't escape. There's over a trillion dollars of unpaid debt from this scam between the banks and the colleges.

    What do many of these students study as their majors? Much of it is worthless. Womens studies, art history, psychology, sociology, English literature, history, nothing that will get them a good paying job. I was a student a long time ago and had a loan that was easy to pay off. I studied engineering and worked my ass off for four years studying calculus, physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, electrical engineering, and lots of other things that were very hard. I had a remarkable career. I used my college education to make something of myself. Others my age were living on psychedelic drugs, partying, getting drunk every night, becoming political activists. My school taught only science and engineering. They didn't have those problems with their students because if you did those things it wouldn't be long before you flunked out.

    Here's a take on what most college educations are worth and were always worth. You want to be well rounded? There's nothing rounder than a big fat zero.

  37. Just look at the ungodly mess the GI Bill of Rights created after World War II.

    People got this notion that they were entitled.

    Look to where it has brought us…..

  38. Why United states does not do as many developing country which have at least one public university with very low tuition, so that poor people can go to. ? sometimes I forget that the education business and capitalism intertwine and it is better if they (KLEPTOCRACY)keep the poor oppressed, ignorant and uneducated.

  39. Education should be considered a defense priority and would be a small fraction of the defense budget and universities would just be like any other grifter defense contractor. Widely accepted. I expect ubi to empower the wealthy takers to take more and to further subjugate the have nots but free healthcare needs to be supplied with free tuition to medical school. Add quality nutrition assistance to most people and your grifter is in the supply line bilking the government's who will let it go so far and crush the little guys that do it but it'll be less painful to the people.

  40. Higher Loan Debt leads to put students in a vise to put more pressure on them so they have to take lower wages for the debt.?‍??‍?

  41. I think free tuition or debt free education is a good idea. I don't think student loans are a good idea. They should end the loan system completely and have grants and work exchange for tuition. Work that can be done in two years time. Not 30 years of debt.

    Even if they had a better student loan program, starting out life in debt is depressing and discouraging.

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