One of my less mature habits is shouting at the TV screen when some loud-mouthed commentator says something inexcusably egregious. For a variety of reasons, I find myself yelling at Chris Matthews of MSNBC more often than at most. He is transparently in the bag for Clinton, and routinely sneers at Bernie Sanders' call for free public college and university tuition as pandering to college audiences. Since Matthews is a snob as well as an ignorant toad [there I go again], he always references "Berkeley and Wisconsin Madison," as though it went without saying that free tuition at such prestigious public universities was especially absurd.
So at 4 a.m. this morning I got up and did a little Googling [this will give you some idea of the depths of my obsessions.] In-state tuition at Berkeley is currently $14,460 [this may be a trifle off, as I think this figure is a year or two old.] In 1968, it was $300, which in 2016 dollars is $2044. Although $2044 is not free, it is an amount that a serious student could earn with part time jobs. If California establishes a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage, as it appears poised to do, that would work out to about five hours of burger flipping a week during term time. That still leaves room and board, of course, and also books and lab fees, but the point is that it would be possible, as we used to say when I was young, to "work your way through college."
I have written elsewhere on this blog about the reasons for the soaring costs of college. I believe it is no accident [the favorite line of old-time Marxists] that costs began to rise exponentially roughly during the tumultuous Sixties [i.e., in the early Seventies.] The social function of student debt is to compel college graduates to take safe, trouble-free jobs in order to pay off their debts, rather than opting for community organizing or other forms of social disruption.
I don't guess I will ever get to point this out to Matthews. Do any of you know him, perhaps?