Free college is the wrong answer for a real problem

One of Bernie Sanders’ most popular positions is his call to, as his website proclaims, “make college tuition free and debt free.” While the proposal may strike conservatives as both absurd and unlikely, it’s worth paying attention to. For one thing, it may be less unlikely than it appears. Other countries–as Sanders is fond of pointing out–have adopted publicly-funded higher education, and the issue fits the same template that gave us Obamacare: a viscerally appealing reform for an undeniably broken system.

Whether or not we end up having a serious debate over free college, Sanders’ proposal is worth thoughtful consideration because it is the sort of policy we are going to see proposed more and more as the United States debates whether to continue our drift toward a more European system where core social functions are financed and administered by the government.

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