Commentary: Government is reason for high tuition, not solution

This is in response to the Feb. 21 letter to the H.B. Independent ("Affordability is essential to higher education") in which two well-meaning Cal State Long Beach students suggest President Barack Obama intervene to lower college costs. 

In the article they describe Obama as an advocate for keeping college costs low. What? Is this the same president who nationalized student loans, effectively creating a government monopoly?   

Competition in the student loan market acts as a check and balance against high-interest loans. The Obama administration removed the competitive marketplace from the equation of student loan rates. The federal government is now making a profit off student loans that is being used to fund other non-education related discretionary spending and national debt. 

It is fundamental economics that government intervention contributes to the cost of higher education by providing a greater flow of public dollars in the form of various grants, loans, and loan guarantees. That greater flow of government (taxpayers') cash tilts the balance of supply and demand. 

When you have more dollars chasing university tuition, you are allowing colleges greater discretion to raise that tuition. We've seen the same impact in industries like healthcare, where government interventions (such as the well intentioned but grossly inefficient Medicare and Medicaid programs) have contributed to the ability of healthcare providers to raise their rates, and burdensome regulations have necessitated raising rates further to cover regulatory compliance costs.    

Were it not for the government dollars chasing college admissions, colleges and universities would not have the "customer" base to raise their prices, and equilibrium would be restored to the supply and demand equation.   

Ask yourself why is the federal government involving itself in the industry (yes, it is an industry) of higher education in the first place?  What's next — a federal university system operated by the same folks who bring us the DMV, the V.A., Solyndra, and bridges to nowhere? 

Too many apparently believe Washington is the North Pole, except the Santa Claus in this North Pole is expected to visit more frequently. 

If you want to go to a university, work hard. If you can't afford it, find another campus you can afford, but don't come asking taxpayers to pay for it.

ROBERT SMYTHE is a Huntington Beach resident.

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