Probable Trump voters. (Just sayin'.) Photo swiped from
PeopleOfWalmart.com. This has nothing to do with the
comments below. I just needed a picture of something.
Below, a three-paragraphs-long list of some high-achieving Americans, both living and deceased. Glance at all the names and then — quickly — figure out what they all had in common:
General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Inventor of the polio vaccine Jonas Salk. Actor Tony Curtis. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Composer Yip Harburg. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Composer Ira Gershwin. Author Henry Miller. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Keep reading, because there’s more:
Composer Frank Loesser. Theoretical physicist Julian Schwinger. Author Upton Sinclair, Jr. Millionaire investor Bernard Baruch. Actor Jud Hirsch. Congress of Racial Equality Chairman Roy Innis. Internet Protocol inventor Robert E. Kahn. Trade unionist A. Philip Randolph. Author Lewis Mumford. Keep going, because there’s still more.
Pulitzer prizewinning playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Artist Ben Shahn. United States Senator Robert F. Wagner. Psychiatrist Albert Ellis. Newscaster and reporter Daniel Schorr. Author of The Godfather Mario Puzo. Semiconductor entrepreneur Andrew Gove. Actor Zero Mostel. Nobel Prize-winning physicist and astronomer Arno Allan Penzias.
Figured it out yet?
Before I give you the answer, let me mention that this is just a partial list of famous high achievers who had this thing in common. But okay, I’ve probably kept at least a few of my readers in suspense long enough.
They were all graduates of the City College of New York — CCNY as it’s called locally — when it was free. You can find a fuller list here.
And remember, CCNY was only one of the free city colleges. There was also Brooklyn College (Frank McCourt, David Geffen, Dominic Chianese, Barbara Boxer, Alan Dershowitz, Bernie Sanders, and many others.)
And Queens College (Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Simon, Joy Behar, Gary Ackerman, Carole King, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert Moog. And many others.)
Free education is
Before the squeeze-‘em’-till-they-bleed Conservatives began to choke off the funding, CCNY alone was known as “the poor man’s Harvard.” And judging from all their distinguished alumni, they produced contributors to America’s prosperity, leadership, and scientific advancement far more cost-effectively than Harvard, Princeton or Yale.
Each time the city’s colleges turned out another alumnus, they helped to improve the economy, and scientific advancement of the United States.
These days, their funding strangled directly and indirectly by ever-increasing tax cuts for the obscenely rich, these institutions are forced to charge tuition. It’s still modest tuition by the standard of most private colleges, but the cost nevertheless prevents an unknown number of future potential contributors to America's greatness from getting a college education .
Nor was the concept of free or cheap college limited to New York City. The great land grant colleges and universities — places like Texas A&M, Cornell, Ohio State, Purdue, and Iowa State, among many others — were founded on pretty much the same idea. When Americans yearn for the time when America was “great” they are yearning, in fact, for a time when a college education for most could be free, or at least so dirt cheap that nobody had to go into debt for it.
But will rich people
get a "free ride?"
Some, I suppose. However, I don’t hear either Warren or Sanders promising to send your kid on a free four year excursion through the Ivy League. They’re talking about the public and land grant colleges and universities. So if, say, some future Trump kid can’t make it into Harvard or even Haverford, I suppose they can make a stab at Podunk State, and sail through tuition free if any Trump has the brains to survive. But so what?
We’ve had free elementary and secondary education in America for two or more centuries now. So far I haven’t heard anybody complain that Chauncey (“Chip”) Chizzlewit the Third went to public school free, from kindergarten through high school, and didn’t pay a nickel of tuition. It’ll be largely the taxes the rich will pay that will finance free public education anyway, so if they want to take advantage of it, fine.
Come to think of it, maybe mixing with the likes of thee and me will teach the spoiled rich a thing or two about tolerance. And perhaps they’ll all figure out that they’re not all Very Special Stable Geniuses after all.
The point is, free college education isn’t a radical idea. Preventing free college education is what’s really radical. Harmfully radical, reducing America's competitiveness in the world.
And the so-called middle-of-the-road Democrats who oppose free higher education are so far off to the right, they’re helping the Republicans run this country into a ditch.