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Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Association recently posted a chart that is getting a lot of attention because it is highly revealing:
As you can see, over the last two decades, the price of some things — housing and foodstuffs — has remained more or less steady if measured in constant dollars. Technological advances have brought down the cost of automobiles, household furnishings, and clothing, and they have dramatically reduced the cost of cellphone service, computer software, toys, and TVs. Wages have modestly grown, and the cost of childcare and medical services has gone up a bit. The shocker, however, is that the price charged for hospital care, college textbooks, and college tuition has gone up astronomically.
In the case of hospital care, there may be some excuse. The quality of medicine has improved dramatically in the last twenty years, and that comes at a price. Whether the increase in cost is fully justified I doubt. My suspicion is that the absence of market forces — the fact that there is no price transparency in the field of hospital care — has opened the door to gouging. The Trump administration, to its credit, seems to be aware of the problem.
In the case of higher education, there is no excuse. Our universities and colleges are not better today than they were in 1997. To be sure, they are more like country clubs. The facilities now available are impressive. But if you think that the ultimate test is what goes on in the classroom you will have to conclude that we have gone dramatically downhill. Nor is it the case that faculties have increased much in size or that their salaries have gone up a great deal. The real change is administrative bloat, and administrative salaries are considerably higher than faculty salaries.
This is a scandal, and something should be done about it — especially in the public institutions. For they are the worst offenders. If I were running for Governor in some state, I would try to make hay out of this, and I would attack them for their use of “adjunct professors,” who are paid a pittance. In today’s America, the people most apt to engage in moral posturing and virtue-signaling are the ones most likely to exploit the weak position of those under their supervision.Published in