President Obama’s Plan for Free Higher Education is Nothing New
Last Friday, President Barack Obama told the nation he was going to propose during his State of The Union address that every American be able to receive a free community college education -- the first two years of community college would be provided tuition-free. I did a bit of research and found that a free postsecondary education is provided in 18 nations. Most of them are in Europe (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, just to name a few). In Brazil, even the pursuit of a doctorate is free. So this is by no means a unique idea.
As far back as 1775, Thomas Paine was an advocate of universal free public education. Paine also talked about some sort of retirement fund for the elderly beginning at age 50 (not considered elderly today, thank heavens) and Paine may have been the first to advocate a minimum wage, calling it a "guaranteed minimum income." I have believed for a long time that free higher education would be a way to help stop the cycle of poverty by allowing the poor to get the same education as the rich. Of course, they would have to choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
It all appears to be a good idea except how do we pay for it? What do you think? Would you be willing to pay more taxes to provide this opportunity? Remember the president's proposal calls for paying for only two years of a community college education. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this topic.