After Super Tuesday, What’s Next?

After Super Tuesday, What’s Next?

by Jack Enright

One possible albeit unlikely scenario, courtesy of the NY Times' delegate calculator.

One possible albeit unlikely scenario, courtesy of the NY Times delegate calculator. Though it remains to be seen how the race will play out, tomorrow will yield significant results.

Texans voted along with 11 other states during the Super Tuesday primary elections on March 1. For the Republicans, Ted Cruz won Texas and many Plains States, whereas Donald Trump took most of the South and Northeast. Hillary Clinton won a majority of states for the Democrats, but Bernie Sanders took a respectable amount as well. Looking at the current delegate count, Clinton has a large lead, and while Sanders’s campaign is unprecedented for an openly socialist candidate, Clinton looks like a solid favorite to win the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, while Trump has the lead, Cruz has a strong second place, buoyed by a 17-point win in Texas over Trump.

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What Dank Memes, Drinking Games, and “Donald Tramp” Tell Us about the State of Politics

What Dank Memes, Drinking Games, and “Donald Tramp” Tell Us about the State of Politics

by Noelle Mandell

Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in the history of our country.  Right now we’re in the prime of our youth—the years where we’re the most attractive we’ll ever be, having the most fun we’ll ever have, and likely the most passionate about our ideologies that we’ll ever feel.Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 7.16.18 PM

A single catalyst is all it takes to nudge your life down a given path. I’ve experienced this personally, and witness it happening to others all the time. Emerging adulthood is a pivotal and impressionable age.  As freshman in college, we seek out communities to be a part of while breaking away from the comforts of our childhood circumstances. Many of us stick with those communities throughout college, and even into our real adult lives. We find new homes and new identities, by participating in things like Greek life, sports teams, and political activism. We tap in to our special interests and hobbies, meet lots of interesting people, and open our minds to new ideas. We grow interested in learning about the world, and in coming to a deeper understanding of it. Read more ›

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Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!

Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!

by Dustin Lané

samstatue

Sam Houston, as a noble statue.

Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!  And Happy Birthday to Sam Houston!  On March 2nd, 1836, settlers in Mexican Texas adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence, which declared their independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas. Today we celebrate our history, and the individuals, like Sam Houston, who helped make it so. I admire Sam for his pride and adventurous spirit—the same spirit that’s in our declaration—but I also think it is important to view the past for what it really is, especially when doing so causes us to face uncomfortable truths.

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Announcing TMI’s Spring Forums

Announcing TMI’s Spring Forums

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With the success of our first season hosting single-issue summits and forums behind us, TMI is excited to gets things rolling again with a new array of forums this spring on a number of hot topics. Our forums are designed to facilitate discussion and subsequent activism around certain issues, and serve as great opportunities to learn about those issues with other interested people. TMI leaders will be convening from around the state to bring you:

1/31 Education @ Texas State University

2/27 Drug Policy Forum @ Texas Christian University

3/26 Free Speech Forum @ Baylor University

4/16 Gun Rights Forum @ Texas A&M University

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Tuition, Subsidies, and Hazlitt’s Lesson

Tuition, Subsidies, and Hazlitt’s Lesson

by Taylor Pace

College Debt

As of 2015 the National Student Debt reached $1.3 trillion with the average student loan debt at about $29,000. Many former college students are discovering it is difficult to pay back such a large amount of debt. This is especially true of students that graduate with fruitless degrees like sociology and human development and family studies for example. These majors are only good for a prerequisite to a master’s degree. Most graduates find themselves working jobs that are completely unrelated to their studies. For the graduates with worthy degrees such as engineering and nursing, large amounts of student loan debt will still be a burden. For some universities the student loan default rates are as a high as 30-40%. Why is the price of tuition so expensive?

The College Industrial Complex

In 1965 the Higher Education Act (HEA) was created. It mandated federal funding directed towards higher education. This was the beginning of the Federal Pell Grant Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, which prior to 2010 was known as the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. These government programs provide subsidized loans to be used by students to pay for tuition. The result has been a tremendous increase in the flow of money into higher education. Government funding in 1960 was $11 billion and spiked to $48 billion by 1975. Between 1960 and 1980 state funding for higher education increased 390%, but the cost of tuition did not remain unchanged. In 1964 the average cost of tuition (adjusted for inflation) at a public university was $248 and by 2007 increased to $8,055. At private universities tuition increased by an average of $1,088 to $19,991

The Racket

How are colleges spending all the revenue they receive from tuition? The number of full-time professors has actually decreased while the number of cheaper part-time professors has increased. Meanwhile the number of university administrators has more than doubled in the past 25 years. Between 1987 and 2012 the number of new administrators increased to 517,636 or an average of 87 per working day. These are non-academic employees that add little to no value to the education of students and are appointed as a result of political favoritism. The largest portion of tuition money is now surging into athletics. The amount of athletics spending per athlete at universities grew by about 50 percent between 2005 and 2010. Colleges spend three times as much on athletics as they do on academics. Schools in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) spend twelve times as much on athletics compared to academics. Of course none of this is possible without the federal government subsidizing student loans

Spiking Tuition Coincides with Government Subsidies

Colleges are willing to raise the price of tuition so long as student loans are guaranteed. In a free-market private loans are funded by a bank, credit union, or the school itself. These lenders have to weigh the risk of a loan being paid back. Graduates may or may not be able to pay back their loan or pay them back on time. This varies for each student based on the amount of money lent and the type of job they work after college. Private financial institutions will not lend a huge amount of money if the chance of the loan being paid back is unlikely. If students were limited to the market value of loans and were not able to pay for their tuition, then attendance would dramatically drop and schools would have to lower the price of tuition or risk going out of business. These were the circumstances before the government got involved and in most cases students could work all summer and make enough money to pay for a year of tuition and never have to take out a loan.

Under the system we have now loans are funded by politically connected financial institutions via the federal government, which has no risk of bankruptcy when too many people default on their student loans. All of these loans are backed by taxpayers and inflation.  Schools gladly raise the price of tuition so long as the amount of lending also increases. The result is skyrocketing student debt and the creation of a bubble similar to the one that caused the housing market collapse of 2006-2007.

Capitalism Gets Blamed

Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned. It’s a system that fosters free markets or the separation of economy and state. Under these circumstances no relationship exists between colleges and government. However, this is the ideology that tends to take the blame for the problem of unaffordable tuition. It’s argued that capitalism is predicated on selfish greed and responsible for exploiting students, despite the fact that before the government intervened into higher education most students did not have to take loans because it was affordable. What’s more exploitative than predatory lending made possible by the government’s forced redistribution of capital or wealth from one group of people to another?

Still, socialism and the idea of “free” education as a solution to student debt has gained popularity. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) proposed a plan to do just this. President Obama mentioned in his last State of the Union address that he wants free community college and to reduce student loan borrowers’ payment obligations to 10% of their income. Supporters of Sanders and Obama claim this idea is good because wealthy Scandinavian and European countries already do this. They believe that socialism works and assumes there is no negative economic effect on society. Never mind that this does nothing to solve the underlying problem of overpriced tuition and will only place this burden on others.

Hazlitt’s Lesson

Let’s say the aforementioned socialist policies were implemented and all of higher education were priceless to students. The cost would be shifted to the rest of society in the form of taxes or inflation. This may be a benefit to those in school, but only at the expense of society as a whole. Libertarian philosopher, economist and journalist – Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993) correctly identifies this problem in his book Economics in One Lesson. His lesson is based on two main economic fallacies: that of looking at only the immediate consequences of an act or proposal and that of looking at the consequences only for a particular group to the neglect of other groups.

If student tuition were completely subsidized, then graduates would have more money to spend on other things, like clothes, food, vacations, cars, and houses for example. More money would circulate to other industries and cause a boom in the economy. This is the immediate consequence and focuses on students only. The long-term consequences are much different. In this scenario capital has been redistributed not only to students, but to all the cronies involved in higher education. In other words, capital that was produced in other industries has been taken and given to a group that has produced nothing for society. All the people working in manufacturing, farming, construction, and many other productive industries would have to subsidize $1.3 trillion (and get nothing for it) to people who have produced nothing more than an exaggerated cost of tuition. If college could become a free-market industry again, then the $1.3 trillion could be kept by those who bear the cost. This money could be spent on clothes, food, vacations, cars, houses, etc. This difference would be that graduates would be largely debt free and also have more opportunity to accumulate wealth. All the people with crony jobs in the college system would have to find productive and valuable work in other areas of the economy. On a net society would be more wealthy and more productive.

All the Scandinavian and European countries that have socialized education could be wealthier if they understood these economic concepts. The United States could be better off as well if everyone here realized that government intervention has only made the problem worse.

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The Real Meaning of “Democratic Socialism”

The Real Meaning of “Democratic Socialism”

by Jack Enright

Bernie

2016 marks an increasingly divisive year in the realm of electoral politics. The candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have energized their respective parties, with Trump only recently losing his significant lead, and Sanders offering a strong challenge to Clinton.

I have written previously about the candidacy of Donald Trump and how it reflects on a large portion of Republican voters who are enthusiastic about his bigoted proposals to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States and similarly restricting Mexican immigration with a wall rivaling the Great Wall of China.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is rallying the far left in a way not seen since at least the time of George McGovern, who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon after gaining the Democratic nomination. The question of how Sanders fares in this election is yet to be seen, but the enthusiasm he has already generated merits an examination of his views in a similar fashion to how I examined Trump’s in my previous column.

Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont, has a longstanding reputation as a maverick leader, running as an independent in his mayoral race of Burlington, VT, followed by his U.S. House and Senate campaigns. In addition to not holding any party affiliation, he openly declares himself a socialist, specifically a “democratic socialist.” This term has become increasingly common in recent months, as he has frequently used the term on the campaign trail to describe his set of beliefs. But what does this term really mean?

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School Choice? Pfft, we need Public Cafeterias!

School Choice?  Pfft, we need Public Cafeterias!

by Carsten Hood

School Choice

Around the country, people young and old are donning yellow scarves and celebrating National School Choice Week!

The public school system is rife with problems, but Americans have long grown accustomed to those problems.  Unfortunately, the education market is not structured to reflect people’s real choices and preferences.  Public schools do not face major competition, and that is itself a problem—or rather, the beginning of a solution.

If you think I have some sort of free market solution in mind, you’d be mistaken.  On the contrary, I hereby propose a Public Cafeteria System.  It’s just the model we need!  After all, we can’t trust the private sector with something as important to the fabric of society as feeding our nation’s children.  If nutrition were left to private, greed-fueled companies, we’d all be taken advantage of.

As a result of our current system, our youth are sick and malnourished. This has nothing to do with protectionist regulation that stifles local, natural food sources; monopolistic subsidies that encourage highly processed junk; or perverse public dietary policies dictated by special interests that prioritize corn flakes over meat and vegetables.  Nope, none of that adds to the nutrition problems we face.

In fact, government is the solution. And when I say government, I mean the real government—the federal government. Stuff as important as child nutrition doesn’t get left to your fickle, fragmented states, so don’t give me that high-minded nonsense about federalism and states’ rights. No, the federal government needs to feed your children, just like the Soviets fed Ukraine!

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Houston, We Have a Pothole Problem

Houston, We Have a Pothole Problem

The Solution? The Sharing Economy.

by Noelle Mandell

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of talk about potholes. Whether it’s in the political arena or simply your friend lamenting as the bottom of their car scrapes against the pavement, Houstonians are talking about them and want solutions. Many have attempted to come up with the answer to fixing these monstrosities that are obstructing our daily commutes throughout the Bayou City, but to no avail. My favorite examples can be found on one of our local news outlets that brought about the “Pothole Patrol,” which updates the public about the ongoing reports, discrepancies, mishaps, and array of excuses. They reported on the allocation of tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollar that have been designated to go toward repairs, and the subsequent lack of results that we’ve seen come from that, as promised by our outgoing mayor who declared this problem a crisis for Houston. The Pothole Patrol even exposed the bureaucratic processes that have to be navigated in order to get these things fixed, which result in wait times for fixes of at least 5 months upon reporting! Read more ›

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Stop Whining About Young People: A Young Person Responds

Stop Whining About Young People: A Young Person Responds

by Noel Jett

There’s a lot of junk out there about how “kids these days” are the dumbest, rudest, laziest generation ever.  I’m here to take the best of it and respond.  Most of the criticisms against today’s young people are overly-harsh; Of course young people do dumb things, everyone does dumb things and teenagers do it the most.  We don’t post all over the internet about how 2-year-olds are the worst because they can’t stop asking “Why?” do we?  No, because we understand constant questions is how they develop.  So, it’s just as unfair to go overboard hating on teenagers and 20-somethings for making dumb mistakes, because that’s how they develop.  You did the same crap too, you just didn’t have an internet to post it on.  So stop whining and strap in for a wild ride on the truth-mobile, on which we will analyze some of the most baseless complaints about young people on the Internet.

1

Ah yes, millennials, the first generation ever to photograph their children.  My mom actually has 20 or so super-heavy, fabric-bound books full of pictures, most of which are of me throughout my lifetime, but that’s totally acceptable.  It’s when we utilize the incredible technology we have to do it that it crosses a line.  Moral Of The Story: Just drive your kid everywhere and show it to everyone in person, because that’s way less annoying. Read more ›

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald

by Jack Enright

Donald_Trump

It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the 2016 election cycle as being defined by Donald Trump. The real estate mogul has consistently stolen the spotlight from candidates of both parties during the election season thus far, and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. With racially charged remarks like calling some Mexicans “rapists” and calling for a temporary halt to Muslim immigration regardless of origin, many voters from both sides are condemning his words. While his remarks are certainly deplorable, the fact that his poll numbers are around the 40% mark means that he is simply doing his job as a politician: getting elected. The fact that his poll numbers are so high despite these remarks are an indictment of the public, not of Trump.

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