March 28, 2016
The Result Achieved is…

…more often than we think the result desired. Here’s Professor Wolff:

So at 4 a.m. this morning I got up and did a little Googling [this will give you some idea of the depths of my obsessions.] In-state tuition at Berkeley is currently $14,460 [this may be a trifle off, as I think this figure is a year or two old.] In 1968, it was $300, which in 2016 dollars is $2044. Although $2044 is not free, it is an amount that a serious student could earn with part time jobs. If California establishes a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage, as it appears poised to do, that would work out to about five hours of burger flipping a week during term time. That still leaves room and board, of course, and also books and lab fees, but the point is that it would be possible, as we used to say when I was young, to “work your way through college.”

I have written elsewhere on this blog about the reasons for the soaring costs of college. I believe it is no accident [the favorite line of old-time Marxists] that costs began to rise exponentially roughly during the tumultuous Sixties [i.e., in the early Seventies.] The social function of student debt is to compel college graduates to take safe, trouble-free jobs in order to pay off their debts, rather than opting for community organizing or other forms of social disruption.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at March 28, 2016 12:57 PM
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Interesting idea, but it seems to require too much foresight and concerted effort. I'll defer to George Eliot in The Mill on the Floss:

"Plotting covetousness and deliberate contrivance in order to compass a selfish end are nowhere abundant but in the world of the dramatist; they demand too intense a mental action for many of our fellow parishioners to be guilty of them. It is easy enough to spoil the lives of our neighbours without taking so much trouble; we can do it by lazy acquiescence and lazy omission, by trivial falsities for which we hardly know a reason, by small frauds neutralized by small extravagancies, by maladroit flatteries and clumsily improvised insinuations."

I was also interested in the tuition at Berkeley. In the mid-to-late 1970s, in-state tuition at the University of Maryland was also $300. And now it's about $5,000. I've been thinking that that was absurdly high (for UM) compared to what it used to be, but I guess if I think of $300 in 2016 dollars, it's not really so bad. On the other hand, the minimum wage in Maryland is $8.25 (and rising in subsequent years), which, if I remember correctly, is about 4 times the minimum wage back in the mid-1970s--compared to the current tuition now being about 15 times the old tuition.

I wonder how textbooks compare. I bought one of Dr. Wolff's introductory philosophy books back in the 1970s or 1980s, just for my own benefit, not for a course. I think it was somewhere between $10 and $20.

Posted by: TheoLib on April 1, 2016 7:50 AM
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