Yesterday’s Washington Post carried this op-ed by a student who pleads that she simply MUST have more government subsidies so she can pursue the grad school program of her choice.

Cato’s Neal McCluskey does a thorough demolition job here.

One interesting assertion made by the author of the op-ed is that credential inflation has reached the point where “It’s almost necessary to have a graduate, doctorate, or law degree to compete with the current highly qualified pool of candidates.” I think that’s a piece of wild hyperbole (which characterizes the whole article), but if we took her advice and subsidized everyone’s graduate school desires, we would soon find that credential inflation would ratchet up another notch. As David Labaree wrote in How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning, “The difficulty posted by (the glut of graduates) is not that the population becomes overeducated…but that it becomes overcredentialed, as people pursue diplomas less for the knowledge they are thereby acquiring than for the access that the diplomas themselves provide. The result is a spiral of credential inflation, for as each level of education in turn gradually floods with a crowd of ambitious consumers, individuals have to keep seeking ever higher levels of credentials in order to move a step ahead of the pack. In such a system, nobody wins.”

Governmental subsidies for higher education were a bad idea to begin with and we are now seeing the results in the clamor for universal college and beyond. The only winners are those who work in the education credential business.