As more and more people are beginning to recognize the evidence of a higher education bubble in the United States, Thomas G. Donlan‘s latest Barron’s column suggests a cause: government intervention. “Inserting federal-government credit into higher education has been one of the more popular and less effective programs of the post-World War II era,” Donlan asserts.

The World War II reference is important to Donlan, who discusses changes in the higher education market since the end of the second war to end all wars.

After 10 years of Depression and four years of war, there was plenty of reason to improve the skills of the workforce, but today the American problem is different: We don’t have millions of people ready but financially unable to go to college; we have the opposite — plenty of financial support and millions of people unready to take advantage of higher education.

Donlan goes on to warn readers about the dangers of easy access to credit.

Easy credit it always tempting to use, but rarely does it solve a problem. Usually, it makes matters worse, as many homeowners learned in the past five years. It was the solution to the desire of many Americans to own their own homes and created a wave of bankruptcies. It brought higher education within the reach of millions, but did not make them more qualified to carry large debts.