• September 2, 2015

Public Higher Education Is 'Eroding From All Sides,' Warn Political Scientists

The ideal of American public higher education may have entered a death spiral, several scholars said here Thursday during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. That crisis might ultimately harm not only universities, but also democracy itself, they warned.

"We've crossed a threshold," said Clyde W. Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. "Higher education is no longer viewed as a public good in this country. As tuition at public universities becomes more expensive, middle-class parents say, 'I'll bite the bullet and pay this for four years, but I don't want to pay for it a second time with taxes.' And families who are frozen out of the system see public universities as something for the affluent. They'd rather see the state spend money on health care."

The mid-20th century suddenly appears to have been a golden age for higher education, said Wendy Brown, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.

"That era offered not only literacy but liberal arts to a mass public," Ms. Brown said. "But today that idea is eroding from all sides. Cultural values don't support the liberal arts. Debt-burdened families aren't demanding it. The capitalist state isn't interested in it. Universities aren't funding it."

The danger, Ms. Brown said, is that the public will give up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship. Instead, all of public higher education will be essentially vocational in nature, oriented entirely around the market logic of job preparation. Instead of educating whole persons, Ms. Brown warned, universities will be expected to "build human capital," a narrower and more hollow mission.

And faculty members are unlikely to resist those changes at a time when two-thirds of them are on contingent appointments instead of the more secure tenure track, said Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors. They simply do not have enough power within the institution.

During a plenary lecture earlier Thursday, Mr. Nelson, who is also a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he believes that the era of "incremental state funding for public higher education is basically over." For the foreseeable future, he said, the traditional battles for higher state appropriations are bound to be losing ones.

"Complaining about the amount of external funding the university gets is a kind of amoral starting point," Mr. Nelson said. "The first question should be how your institution spends the money it already has."

His own campus, Mr. Nelson said, has recently seen several multimillion-dollar projects that were favorites of administrators but were not endorsed by the faculty.

"Without these boondoggles, they could pay contingent faculty more," he said. "They could hire more tenure-track faculty. If they weren't chasing these fantasy projects, there is a lot that could have been done to build the university's educational mission."

But Mr. Nelson did not take any of this as a reason to retreat. Instead, he said that faculty activists should open up a more basic debate about the purposes of education. They should fight, he said, for a tuition-free public higher-education system wholly subsidized by the federal government.

"Higher education needs to be reconceived as a public good and a human right," Mr. Nelson said. "The only battle worth fighting now is a battle over fundamentals, not crumbs."


1. janebuck - September 03, 2010 at 06:34 am

Cary Nelson has once again identified a significant proximate cause of the academy's malaise. The faculty are caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of administrative bloat and mission creep, not to mention the obscene amounts of resources squandered on semi-professional sports.

2. 11180037 - September 03, 2010 at 06:52 am

This is a solution???: "...faculty activists should open up a more basic debate about the purposes of education. They should fight, he said, for a tuition-free public higher-education system wholly subsidized by the federal government." Is the faculty taking vows of poverty now to share some of the painful transition costs owing to "a tuition-free" education? It is so much easier to be idealistic on someone else's dime, which it turns out is one dime borrowed more than we can already afford drawn from an increasingly skeptical and hostile world players such as China. The gourging at the public trough is coming to a close, not by choice but by necessity.

3. jeff1 - September 03, 2010 at 07:07 am

Why in the world was this printed? Is the CHE determined to destroy public confidence in higher education. This is the most superficial nonsense I have ever seen. Please remain silent if you are going to just incessantly publish this negative stuff. We need an alternative to the CHE!

4. lackademia - September 03, 2010 at 07:59 am

Thank you for printing this important story. Did anyone notice that the "Most Emailed Article," appearing in a list adjacent to this one, bears the title, "Texas A&M System Will Rate Professors Based on Their Bottom-Line Value"? As for those who call funding for building the very basis of a democratic society "the public trough," remember that this same trough holds enough to wage endless war around the globe, but not to teach citizens non-commodifiable knowledge.

5. alvitap - September 03, 2010 at 08:17 am

I think it's a good article. Why blame CHE on this one.
The issue is that academia is eroding from lack of support and unlimited student growth that is unwarranted.

Soon, universities will have a handful of professors with old-school jobs and 1000 casual-labor shims, plug-in professors who teach one to two courses without benefits or allegiance.
For this, administrators will bring down huge salaries as they bring down costs and increase faculty exploitation (and profitability). Such schools will pump up advertising while they churn out illiterates for jobs that don't exist.

6. drmhp - September 03, 2010 at 09:09 am

It is interesting to see a story like this in the midst of the growing criticism and regulatory pressure aimed at the for-profit sector of higher education. Especially phrases such as, "all of public higher education will be essentially vocational in nature, oriented entirely around the market logic of job preparation."

If we have a hope of preserving the traditional mission of public higher education (i.e., providing "whole-person" education with a liberal arts foundation) - wouldn't this goal be better served by ensuring that the for-profit/career college sector flourishes (responsibly) rather than holding senate hearings aimed at publicly demonizing the entire sector? If this sector were not presented to the public as "non-traditional," students seeking career-oriented education would have that opportunity, subsequently freeing-up space at public insitutions for those students who seek a liberal arts-based educational experience.

Perhaps the public sector of higher education would not feel as threatened about its identity if it were able to view itself as one piece of the puzzle of higher-ed; rather than assuming that "the traditional model is the only model" and then complaining that public higher education is dead...

7. richardtaborgreene - September 03, 2010 at 10:30 am

For many decades the top colleges of the USA generated vile elites entirely self concerned. Now boo hoo they are paying the price for that. Boo hoo. Now colleges are suffering what everyone else suffered from Wall Street ism, generated and excused by our best and brightest educated for that role by our top colleges.

I find it hard to feel sorry for institutions that generate vile elites for generations then complain about teaching loads and all that. When everyone stops worshiping Harvard and starts calling Harvard to account for losing $13 trillion of all our wealth the last 2 years---when we make elites worth respecting---then we can lament any decline in colleges. Decline in those colleges that generate our current Harvard type elites is GOOD not bad and will improve the world not harm it by reducing formal theory-based journal published excuses for vile treatments of entire national populations for the sake of personal lifestyle wealth. Vile is vile.

8. 11207442 - September 03, 2010 at 10:36 am

Let's face it. We are moving more deeply into a "survival of the fittest" society,with privatization spreading in increasing numbers of areas,and public services being gutted. We cannot save public higher education without a change of consciouness in society. This will come when so many people are hurting that progressive political movements develop and are embraced, and we move toward a more cooperative society with a more equitable distribution of resources.

9. dmeagher - September 03, 2010 at 10:41 am

Public university = funded to a significant degree by tax monies = dependent on political will = influenced by public perceptions and priorities = reflective of economic and social conditions and conventions = contingent

10. 7738373863 - September 03, 2010 at 10:42 am

Yes, it is true, as Cary Nelson notes, that administrators waste the public's wealth on projects of questionable value rather than allocating the funds on hand as wisely as possible. Some of that has to do with the imperative to impress folks on the board and in the capital, thereby securing one's position and improving the odds of leaving head first rather than feet first, if one must leave. But as often as not, the funds thus consumed are restricted. As anyone who has worked in higher ed administration knows, moving funds into or out of personnel lines is unusually difficult.

If there is a death spiral in progress, it has to do with states cutting back on higher education funding, thereby eroding the faith and support of their citizens for the enterprise, while causing tuition increases. CHE's recent article on the situation in Washington state brings into bold relief the problems that systems in other states, such as Virginia and Michigan, have been facing for years. And the alternative to such weaning, when it is offered, is to become a bottom-feeding, bottom-line school--the current future foreseen for Texas A&M--or a palace of the vocations.

When I entered the profession as a TA more than forty years ago, I was already aware that it was a profession different from the one that my professors had entered. If anything, that gradient of difference has steepened--and not for the better.

11. 12080243 - September 03, 2010 at 10:49 am

<Comment removed by moderator>

12. 22186534 - September 03, 2010 at 11:00 am

We now live in a country where what we need versus what we want is more important. We can no longer live under the blue sky that Americans have become used to. Learning for learning's sake is now being shown as the pipe dream that it is. People need skills that can translate into economic stability for them and their current or future families, and these are often not learned at colleges and universities. The price of attending 4 year publics and privates is a poor investment for at least 50% of those who attend,i.e.ethose who think a liberal arts bachelors degree will get them anything other than admission to grauate school, where they can waste more of their money and/or borrow themselves into the poor house.

13. iduhpres - September 03, 2010 at 11:27 am

"We have met the enemy and they are us" said Pogo. The article is rght on target but some comments are not. The comments all seem to wish to blame administrators and yes many do deserve much blame. But faculty also deserve reproach. The goal of a full timer faculty member seems to be more and more research and less and less teaching. The economics of higher education are all out of whack. HE has to hire more part time serfs (conditional/adjunct/academic indentured servitude) because the full-time teaching load is so low that someopne has to teach and the adjuncts are the ones. Higher ed is an upside down funnel with the highest paid doing the least amount of work and the customers (students) are forced to pay more and more for less and less. The basic mission of educating students for the future society and economy has been lost and it is time HE either wakes up to that fact and changes or continue to suffer the loss of public support. Complaining one works too hard while mowing the lawn durting summer vacation is not paying well to people who have no jobs at all yet have to pay too muich in tuition for sones and daughters so we can have summers off.

14. venganza - September 03, 2010 at 11:31 am

It certainly comes as no surprise that public higher education is eroding. At Cal State, Los Angeles, the administrative incompetency, sleazy politics, nepotism, and mis-allocation of funds was well known. Hordes of dysfunctional and cultural illiterates are funneled through this diploma mill like cattle. The school degenerated into a whorehouse of political correctness and a cesspool of neo-Marxist mediocrity. A colleague who works at Cal State, Northridge says it's even worse there.

Mr. Nelson is a professor of English who wants the Federal Government to subsidize Higher Education? By what constitutional authority? This country is already 13 trillion dollars in debt thanks to the two-party carcinoma eating its way through country and Constitution. Perhaps the esteemed Professor Nelson should try reading the Constitution some time. It's not written in Swahili!

No, Mr. Nelson........higher education is NOT A HUMAN RIGHT to be paid for by holding a gun to someone else's head by feel-good fascists of your ilk. One has a RIGHT TO SEEK higher education if they qualify and meet the school's criteria. It's the responsibility of the individual to make arrangements for payment.

And as for the comment about the "public good"....whose good and at whose expense?

"For the good of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it has the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." Albert Camus

15. 11134078 - September 03, 2010 at 11:34 am

Many decades ago, the NY Times national desk monitored classified ads for possible stories. A sheriff in a rural Iowa county looked for deputies to be trained as detectives, college graduates with degrees in mathematics and philosophy preferred. Someone on the national desk called to inquire about his apparently strange requirements. Well, he said, detecting is mostly thinking. He wanted people whose training pointed them in that unusual direction. And that is why, friend 22186535, "learning for learning's sake" is not "a pipe dream."

16. christophknoess - September 03, 2010 at 11:44 am

Most public institutions are failing miserably (as do most private ones) at balancing their research mission with their educational mission. The result has been a simultaneous inflation of cost and erosion of educational outcomes, with very few noteworthy accomplishments in the area of research. The loss of trust and confidence posited in the article is real, and administrators and faculty would be foolhardy to ignore it.
To regain trust, confidence (and funding) from the public, all public institutions (including the flagship campuses) need to reduce their research ambitions, focus on their educational mission and improve learning outcomes (foremost retention and graduation rates at the undergraduate level) while eliminating bloat and reducing spending on facilities, athletic programs and other executive trophies.
It is time for public higher ed to wake up and smell the coffee. The sooner the industry gets back to basics, the less government intervention it will have to endure.

17. 11159995 - September 03, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Many of the largest public universities have gotten so far into the business of commercial entertainment through their high-profile sports programs that maybe they should just forget about the pretense of educating anyone and become full-time entertainment businesses.---Sandy Thatcher

18. _perplexed_ - September 03, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Public higher education, from community colleges to multiversities, will likely be entirely gone from the US in this century unless something rather dramatic happens. The main question now seems to be whether the privates can in fact pick up the slack, or whether we will be a third world country in 2100.

19. dboyles - September 03, 2010 at 01:46 pm

"Cultural values don't support the liberal arts."

Cultural values don't support much anything that looks like what we do in higher education. That is precisely why it is foolish to peddle the paucity of what passes for cultural values. It is the purpose of higher education to EDUCATE as to what cultural values are and could mean, against the grain of "common opinion."

It is high time higher education recognized it has its own mandate to secure the foundations of the nation and thus its citizens by its very uniqueness that NO other sector of American life offers--neither the family, nor the entertainment industry, nor the government, nor the private sector. It is high time higher education marketed the uniqueness of what it offers, rather than eroding itself by pretending to be service provider to customers, employment broker, entertainer to students, in loco parentis adoption agent, etc. If higher education is unable to be secure in what it once did so admirably and with backbone, perhaps it is time for its demise.

This has nothing to do with elitism and everything to do with the life of the mind, the quality of the citizenry, and future of the country.

20. 22228715 - September 03, 2010 at 01:54 pm

Do any of the people cited in the article have any kind of data beyond anecdotes from their own work environments? Did they study it using the lens of political science? It sort of sounds like 4-5 faculty around a lunch table, complaining...

21. betterschools - September 03, 2010 at 01:56 pm

Many good points are being raised in this discussion. Most of them focus on the predication for youth-centered higher education (17-21). While these students once defined higher education, they are now teetering on the edge of becoming a minority. Adult-centered programs are populated with individuals who have jobs, families, civic involvements, and may even be caring for aging parents. Is it not presumptuous of us to think that the in loco parentis presuppositions should be set aside or at least modulated to accommodate students who may have as much to teach as to learn from us with respect to cultural and social issues?

22. raoularreola - September 03, 2010 at 02:45 pm

The paradigm under which higher education, as a social enterprise, must function has changed. Historically higher education served as a 'filtering' mechanism for society. Only the most able students were admitted and grading on the curve ensured that a certain percentage of students were 'eliminated' at the end of each year. The role of the faculty was to give students the 'opportunity' to learn. Thus,those students who finally graduated were the ones who could best take advantage of those 'opportunities' and could learn no matter what obstacles were placed before them. In this manner society could be confident that college graduates were among the 'best and brightest'. Now 'filtering' has become politicaly unacceptable and society is not willing to support higher education if it continues to operate in the traditional Darwinian mode. This poses a major paradigm shift in which higher education must function. Society is now demanding that virtually everyone be admitted to college and that students be taken from whatever level of ignorance and ability they have upon entrance up to some specified level of employable competence. Under the old paradgim faculty did not need to be good teachers since a quality course was defined as one that had a high failure rate (doing a good job of filtering). Under the new paradigm faculty must not only be good teachers (so that virtually every student learns everthing being taught), but, if they are successful, then be prepared to face the charge of 'grade inflation' when they give everyone an "A" or a "B".

See the following for a further discussion on this issue:


Raoul A. Arreola, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of Tennesse Health Science Center
Memphis, TN

23. betterschools - September 03, 2010 at 03:29 pm

Well expressed Raoul. Thank you.

The majority of those who post still presuppose a vision of higher education when it was restricted to the smart and the rich. This reality dissipated before most perhaps all of them assumed professorial roles.

Given the greatly increased scope of markets and demand, similar observations can be made about standards for the professoriate. One of the brightest fellows in my undergraduate education held only a masters. Being clearly the brightest fellow in the department, I inquired one time as to why he had not acquired his Ph.D. He said he wasn't smart enough to earn a Ph.D. when he was in college.

24. jcas3309 - September 03, 2010 at 03:58 pm

"Complaining about the amount of external funding the university gets is a kind of amoral starting point," Mr. Nelson said. "The first question should be how your institution spends the money it already has."

A very important message in this article. Complaining about the amount of funding is worthless at this point - there is just not enough funds to do all the state and federal priorities. IHE must change the business model, and it needs to begin this process now! I urge presidents and senior leadership to start being realistic about priorities and put "change XYZ Univeristy business model" at the top!

F. John Case
FJ Case Consulting, LLC
Chapel Hill, NC

25. jensoja - September 03, 2010 at 04:25 pm

Part of the problem is many public universities (and many private universities) have continually managed themselves into mission creep. To control costs, and appear more responsible to the taxpayers, the public universities have to scale back excess administrators and programs. Also, they should maintain a core of humanities and liberal arts courses, but face the economic reality of today and promote courses that lead to jobs.

26. english_ivy - September 04, 2010 at 01:23 am

Ah, fiddle sticks.

I see you.

27. franklynb - September 04, 2010 at 01:34 am

Humanities and liberal arts courses are suffering because no one wants to take them. You guys have pounded on White Anglo Saxon Protestants for three generations, no one believes you any more or wants to hear it. Parents are reluctant to pay for a liberal arts education that is steeped in Marxist, comunist, socialist doctrine because it has been proven, time and again, not to work.

28. mvann - September 04, 2010 at 11:47 am

"The danger, Ms. Brown said, is that the public will give up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship. Instead, all of public higher education will be essentially vocational in nature, oriented entirely around the market logic of job preparation. Instead of educating whole persons, Ms. Brown warned, universities will be expected to "build human capital," a narrower and more hollow mission."

Since when are 1) educating for a democratic citizenship 2) a liberal arts foundation for educating the whole person and 3) vocational preparation of human capital MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE functions of higher ed. They are interrelated from my observations from working in both "corporate America" and academe. Time for the professoriate to come out of the silos and use their respected and significant intellectual capability to artciulate this connect.

29. 12080243 - September 04, 2010 at 02:23 pm

At the University of Southern Mississippi, we've experienced recent firings (downsizing due to economic exigencies) of tenured faculty in our economics and philosophy departments among others. I have a BA in philosophy, an MS in accounting, and a DBA in Business with a minor in logic and ethics. What worries me is not the value of a liberal education or the need for preparing our students to be competent in a business environment. What worries me is our inability to oversee our resources. For example, while we in Hattiesburg, MS and the University of Southern Mississippi squabble over tenure, AAUP, and a recession adversely affecting all of us, our leaders (administrators and some faculty) are sneaking out the back door with our money. The simple truth is that unless you participate in monitoring your institutions' use of resources, you'll be at the mercy of those who do. Cost consciousness and accountability are daily activities not belated concerns in an economic storm. And you don't have to be an accountant to intelligently participate. See comment #11 above for further information.


30. arrive2__net - September 05, 2010 at 04:04 am

It is easy to overdo "learning for its own sake". There is much knowledge and wisdom that is worth learning for its own sake, but do you want to make an undergraduate career out of it? If you are really all that brilliant after graduating, shouldn't you at least be able to make a decent living?

I think most people are practical, and would like to be able to make a living with their degrees, with the "learning for its own sake" mixed in there in 'electives' or 'general requirements'.

When I read stories like this (i.e. http://chronicle.com/article/An-Underclass-Is-Educating/124201) about 'the plight' of adjunct instructors, I see the story and comments as examples of how people may feel about getting a higher education where they learned a lot of knowledge that isn't really helping them make a good living. They don't seem to like it.

Maybe the mid 20th Century was a golden age of education ... that rode on the coat tails of WWII and the GI Bill. It seems like the US was very prosperous, had a hugely positive balance of trade, and had plenty of extra cash for public higher education. Allegedly the GI Bill proved that publicly funded higher education will pay for itself ... and provide a tremendous dividend as well, for the public, the government, and for the people who were educated. Now our economy seems to struggle to compete in the globalized marketplace, so prosperity does not come as easily.

Research ( I believe that was in the 80s and 90s) showed that those degrees were really worth cash, and it seemed to me that the poorer people who had no access to public higher education came to resent that their tax dollars were funding colleges that just made 'college grads' richer. Political leaders said let these rich college grads pay for their own prosperity. I think that is were the idea of the "public good" of higher education was undermined.

Public higher education has now to make a case for why the taxpayers (including those who can't or won't go to college) benefit from it, and how public education may pay for itself. Where are the news stories and research demonstrating the public good?

Now that public higher education is more expensive, and public subsidies (in the form of subsidized student loans) are distributed widely, public higher education has more competition from nonprofit and for profit colleges. That competition makes it more difficult for public education to make its case. However, public higher education would be better served to make its case as a public good (in an economic sense) than to rely upon the "knowledge for its own sake" or "civic knowledge" arguments. One major flaw with the "knowledge for its own sake" or "civic knowledge" arguments is that their are other outlets that can also dispense "knowledge for its own sake" and "civic knowledge". College is an expensive enterprise, and that necessitates spending money, and it seems to me that it is "in the money" that public higher education's battle is really waged.

Bernard Schuster

31. tolerantly - September 06, 2010 at 02:20 pm

You guys are dopes. The ruling class will go on educating its children in PPE, humanities, and theoretical science. The publics and lower-tier privates are turning into expensive do-overs for a failed K12 system. Ruling class will let the rest of us yell and fight about this, and remove their children to elite programs within elite schools. The smart but impoverished will find ways to give their kids the same ed and shunt them in socially with the rich, hook them into that social layer. Fifty years from now, some radical genius reformer will mount a campaign to bring that classical learnin' to the masses and revitalize democracy.

Plus ça change, baby.

32. rickinchina09 - September 06, 2010 at 09:19 pm

I find it sorely ironic that at the same moment Chinese higher education is creeping toward liberal arts education--or at least some semblance of aspiration in that direction among its more enlightened faculty--American higher education is moving toward a state enterprise (as opposed to land grant) model.

33. murleenray - September 07, 2010 at 11:12 am

venganza appears to have forgotten that Thomas Jefferson considered having an educated populus ESSENTIAL to maintaining a free and democratic society. For that reason, Jefferson founded the first university in Virginia. Now, the notion of having education free to the population being a specific "right" in this country strikes me as the foundation laid by the creators of the American Constitution. Since being "educated" seems to be changing/has changed, and a college level education is now mandated in order to maintain any economic viability within American society; now that college is not so much an option to improve one's overall marketability as it is a necessity in order to obtain any job at all; now that it appears that this capitalist free-market society has moved most, if not all, manufacturing jobs overseas and as our middleclass is crushed into non-existance, it would seem that a movement towards making education MORE available and not LESS available to people would be a step in the right direction. Those who want to wave flags of neo-Marxism and socialism seem to forget that this country needs an educated populus to remain a free state.

34. blue_state_academic - September 07, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I agree with #2 -- Cary Nelson and the AAUP would have a hell of a lot more credibility if they were realistic about tuition. To think we could (or even should) have a "tuition-free public higher-education system wholly subsidized by the federal government" is ridiculous.

35. prof_truthteller - September 07, 2010 at 02:10 pm

Teaching to a job or vocation is much more risky to society than teaching critical thinking, flexibility, creativity, and a broad based knowledge of our history and culture. Even the most careful social planning will never be able to anticipate, and train for, the jobs of the future. Heck, we don't even know what those jobs will be.

Populations that are trained are easier to control than populations that are educated.

36. phyllis_stein - September 10, 2010 at 08:05 am

We need to educate parents and students about what a quality education and institution look like. We must educate them to be good consumers--everyone in our society is trained for that role at least and will recognize the pitch.

With the attack opened on for-profit higher education--an attack that should be fastened onto and broadened--community colleges are emerging as the model of affordable and accessible higher education with a track record of good transfer success. To protect that achievement the states have to find some other role for K-12 than being test prep classes that fail to educate youth. That way the colleges and universities can get out of the depressing business of remedial education.

37. jsryanjr - September 11, 2010 at 01:55 am

Discussions of the value of higher education, professional education (i.e., relevant to professions), and liberal arts may be somewhat hampered in the U.S. by the lack of experience with the alternative of not having it. In the U.S., people might be forgiven for thinking that the benefits of these services "grow on trees" because they have inherited them from that golden age of the mid-1900s and don't know what it's like not to have them.

Try the contrasting perspective of Egypt and Pakistan, where I have been working in recent years. Employers want basic communications, reasoning, and teamwork skills that the U.S. takes for granted but that only the elite of the elite in Egypt and Pakistan get encouragement for from their schools and universities.

At the same time, universities are only beginning to make the transition from continental models of the 1800s to the professional and industrial relevance that we take for granted in the U.S. model. Nongovernmental financial support is still a novelty, an idea that is to some extent a U.S. import.

Shall we talk about democracy? Take away widespread higher education with its liberal-arts element and have a look at the resulting mindset of the median person on the street, especially as regards international affairs and relations with other cultures.

The old joke applies to lack of foresight in consuming the higher-education capital that we in the U.S. inherited from a more optimistic era: the chap who falls off the top of a tall building and says while passing the, say, 11th floor "So far, so good."

We need to be able to see the alternatives more clearly, and our experience in the short term may not equip us to do that.

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