Philosophy, Law and Politics

Should the Federal Government Pay Tuition for Higher Education to All for All?

Admission to American colleges and graduate schools is duly regulated by several nongovernmental organizations, notably, entities such as The College Board, the Educational Testing Service and the American Bar Association. And, our secondary and elementary schools are similarly reviewed and ranked as to merit, both within political subdivisions and across the nation, by educators, journalists and governing officials.

Would an assumption of tuition payments for all American college and graduate programs by the Federal government undermine current private governance by those currently governing and affiliated with America’s private schools of higher education?  Would it undermine the aura and efficacy of local history and culture within our publicly owned and governed colleges and universities?

Perhaps, the objectivity of the nongovernmental organizations responsible for admissions testing and school ranking in American higher education already provides and requires obligatory accuracy and fairness as to merit and quality across the nation in a way that state, local and private control of funding currently may not affect. Private and state decision-making in higher education must currently yield to duly enacted legislation and promulgated regulation, and a replacement of the monetary source for tuition, from the student, parent and or school to the Federal government, could not transcend present governmental procedures. Our schools would, in every respect, remain fully self-governing and retain due and fair competition.

The question then is whether Federal tuition runs only to the public good and public interest, and if the American economy can afford to pay the tuition of all college and university students? There seems to currently be neither an economic necessity nor an economic value in requiring students and parents, as the recipients of the goods and services of American colleges and universities, to make the tuition payments, when the ultimate beneficiary of educated Americans is America. Educated Americans determine America’s reputation and goodwill and the relative efficacy and value of its democratic government.  In doing so, the American public receives goods and services provided by those who do not earn the true value of the service they provide over the course of their careers.

Salaries of ordinary citizens and residents barely pay living expenses, no less do these salaries provide for college tuition. And, it is hoped that American families contain more than one child. College graduates and licensed professionals earn less than professional athletes and corporate executives. Our governing officials, doctors and lawyers provide more to keep America sane and rational than do CEOs, pitchers and quarterbacks. How can CEOs and athletes work day-to-day without professionals and government officials overhead. And, non-managerial employees and traditional small business men and women, who would receive college tuition for their children, would still benefit from American capitalism. Students and graduates of the long existing 2-year colleges, who receive learning in the technical arts and vocations, would certainly provide more to the public good as interns during school years in subjects related to their studies than as employees of those within their community who offer the highest pay in part-time employment regardless of the task.

A parent’s future payment of tuition to American colleges and universities is a for-profit incentive in the American and international marketplace. Currently, parents look to a child’s academic achievement, and the competitiveness of admission to America’s colleges and graduate schools, as an incentive for business success. Federal tuition would lessen stresses unrelated to achievement, regardless of parental income. And, the once thought long entrenched competitive advantage of students attending private elementary and secondary schools, is, now, rarely a concern, for advances in teaching, curriculum and college recruiting have provided economies of scale within local governing political subdivisions, and create a just capitalism in education.

If America’s professionals and college graduates are deemed, as our governing principles intend, to grow and raise children who make the most of our academic institutions, how do these professionals provide for their children’s tuition, even in two professional households, and even if with only one child? How does such a family pay for its children’s college and graduate school attendance, even if they are, themselves, among the American socio-economic elite? And, are not these very children of American professionals and college graduates socially obligated, themselves, by our social contract as citizens and residents, to not squander what has been provided to them by their parents and secondary school educators?

The centuries-old legal principle of discerning the merit and value of prospective legal and or governmental reform, as I profess to personally coin and denominate: “experimentation among the States,” may be in order. For, it provides that, if not all Americans are ready for a proposed reform, one State, or a few, in the Federal Union might enact a variation upon the proposed reform, for review and evaluation by citizens and judges. Today, governmental payment of tuition to public colleges and universities, especially as recently announced in the State of New York, may provide a basis for Federal reform, especially by our current President and noted businessman Donald Trump. For, President Trump professes a belief in the economic competition, efficiency and small government that Federal tuition payments to all American schools of higher education would provide. This may be achieved by President Trump from now through the inauguration of his successor in 2025!

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

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Philosophy, Law and Politics

Are Our Politics Determined by Money or Self-Reflection?

As someone with a theoretical, rather than a practical understanding of our political system, I ask how we reconcile the popular view that money is ever present in the Republican party with the popular view that money dominates both the Democratic and Republican political parties? Some believe that only with the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), and the enactment of new Federal campaign contribution limits on individuals and corporate entities, will American government be accountable to the electorate. The influence of the wealthy does dominate and determine our elections. Yet, there are large donors on both sides who are benevolent and offer a view of the common good in which they sincerely believe. And, some on both sides are less sincere and more self-interested.

Journalists covering campaigns do bring controversies to the public regarding those who are influential by virtue of political power derived from financial assets and not a given expertise or experience. So, the public is aware that the views of the majority do not determine elections, and that voters defer to those with known views who they feel have a better vantage point from which to decide what is best for the country. Even in the American history of not long ago, the public conceded to the Railroad Tycoons and the FDRs with an appreciative deference, though a resentment resulting from socio-economic status. Since that time, the majority has sought to cast off the yoke of paternalism. Our society possesses a more equal sense of opportunity, as well as of access to information and knowledge.

In America today, there is a greater sense of adequate materialism and a secure safety net. Yet, are the American working and middle classes of today more familiar with the profound blessings and power of the highly educated who have an understanding and role in society which they will never achieve themselves? They do not truly have economic want and they possess opportunities for their children of which they could not dream. Is their resentment, though existing without want, producing a disrespect for hierarchies and authorities generally?

Do those of the working and middle classes now resent the very academic institutions which produced their individual freedoms and the ability to exercise them? Are they not voting because they feel truly unable to duly consider the issues of government for want of formal education in the very complex and specialized subject matters citizens consider when evaluating candidates and reaching decisions on issues of referendum? As they do not participate, they cease to have a vested interest in the growth and development of their communities, commerce suffers, new residents are sparse and the communities decline.

In “off-year” elections, when voters are not moved by the issues of a Presidential campaign, few vote. In 2014, 40% of those eligible to vote in Ohio voted. This is local government by an interested few. Would more have a sense of personal interest in government if we brought before them the ideals and lessons on the manner in which they can affect government and their communities? With a sense of personal efficacy, would they then appreciate what they have amassed, can amass and what their children can amass.?

Even if new campaign contribution regulations are elusive in the anticipated future, I think that perhaps a sense of the efficacy of individual participation in politics might be achieved if we look to the basics of the American philosophy of government and encourage people to ask those offering ideas and public policies to explain how their suggestions are premised upon and strive to achieve our fundamental principles. To do this, we must frequently discuss the ideology of American representative democracy and ensure that all citizens and residents of our country, regardless of age, may look within and develop a sense of self-governance that believes in America. This November, and in the interim days, will you vote and or express your views and opinions?

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Philosophy, Law and Politics

         This Blog is devoted to a discussion of philosophy from ancient to modern times and how it might provide insight and guidance in today’s world. This first post appeared on Facebook and provided the inspiration for the creation of this Blog.

Lori Nuckolls

A Theory of the Development of American Law

          In light of current political controversy over reconciling public opinion and partisan ideology during this election season, perhaps we should give a look to ideas of many years ago. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a philosopher of the 19th century, offered a view of the manner in which society engages in self-governance over time. For Hegel, human history is an achievement of rationality and understanding. In an incremental process, society struggles to develop thought, reason and culture. Our pursuit of our own individual ethical order is expressed in our devotion to the universal principles arising to govern society at each stage in its development. In doing so, individuals must expend great effort to transform their personal, particular opinion by engaging in speculative inquiry as to what constitutes the laws and customs of government. Rights, ethics and justice are universally appreciated and incrementally progress and develop. The content of our own law is then, at various points in social history, our universal understanding. While truly presuming that this is not a scholarly presentation of Hegel’s thought, perhaps we as a community may begin to look within and share in productive discourse.