Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Wish I'd Said It

The following is reprinted from today's Wall Street Journals' Notable & Quotable.  From blogger and law professor Glenn Reynolds writing in the Washington Examiner, Dec.3:

The reason why a bachelor's degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability it that the government decided that as many people as possible should have bachelor's degrees.

There's something of a pattern here.  The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that the middle class people have.  If middle class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we'll have more middle class people.

But homeownership and college aren't causes of middle-class status, they're markers for possessing the kinds of traits -- self-discipline, the ability to deter gratification, etc. - that let you enter, and stay in, the middle class.

Subsidizing the markers doesn't produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.  One might as well try to promote basketball skills by distributing expensive sneakers.

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