Student Aid Increases Tuition?

Interrupted by articles this week in Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal, on the cost of college and the federal Pell Grant program.   I wrote an editorial for the Carleton College newspaper in 1983 which made the point that we shouldn't blame Reagan for cutting the Pell Grant program, we should blame the colleges, whose tuition increased NOT in proportion to any inflation, but in DIRECT proportion to the federal grant dollars.

When the same point is made, 25 years later, and no one has done anything about it, it makes me wonder about "playing the system".

  • College is expensive.
  • Federal dollars offset expense.
  • Colleges mark up tuition.

  • People are told to "eat local"
  • Supermarkets see demand for local goods increase.
  • Supermarkets mark up local products.

It still makes sense to use consumer demand to improve the sustainability of production which we consume.  I'm not against advocating for environmentally sustainable purchasing, and still stand behind the boycott of countries which won't sign treaties protecting whales.

But entering my 4th decade of environmental activism, I'm really impatient with the way corporations play the  system.  I'm not anti-corporation... I think that it's human beings inside the corporation who make decisions to play the system.

If low-carb diets look promising, someone will sell you "low carb version" of mineral water.  That doesn't mean it's bad mineral water.  But it means that if we are willing to be stupid, people will sell to us as if we are stupid.

Will the call for ethical recycling make recycling better?  I hope so.  But just saying that another company is bad comes quite naturally to many competitors, and if there is a way to say it through an NGO, expect sponsorship dollars to flow that way.

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