Thursday, September 18, 2008

Facts vs. Conventional "Wisdom" on Higher Ed Money

Conventional wisdom is that a government lottery with all profits dumped into higher education will improve our economy. My view on this pro-lottery talk? It sure takes a lot of balls!


Remember in November we are not voting on the concept of a lottery in general, we are voting on a specific lottery proposal, one that stinks like a road-kill skunk for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not people should be allowed to buy lottery tickets. One of those is that the money extracted from the rubes who buy the tickets will go towards an increase in the funds going to college scholarships. This is already one of the most over-funded areas of state government!

Now proponents of this lottery might argue with me all day long on that, the difference being that I have facts to support my position while all they have are distortions and gas. The rest of this column will be some of my favorite fun facts to support my contention that college scholarships in Arkansas are already over-funded.....

*Higher Ed told us in December of 06 that they needed more bond money for (among other things) an “E-corridor”. We voted it down, then they magically “found” most of the money they needed to do it anyway. They had most of the money, they just wanted to keep that money and use even more of ours! THEN we got to “choose again” and this time with the help of “conventional perspectives” we voted to give them the bond money anyway!

*UCA and UALR Chancellors started giving in-state tuition tax breaks and even some scholarship money to illegal aliens. This despite the fact that the legislature specifically voted down legislation authorizing them to do this. They backed off due to public outrage, not a shortage of funds. Clearly, they had plenty to throw away in 06 and 07.

*One of the arguments used by proponents of letting illegal aliens get access to our state merit scholarship program was that some of the money was unclaimed one year anyway! So the achievers are getting quite a bit of money right now. Additional funds would therefore have to be claimed by relative slackers. I am even less enthusiastic about rolling my lazy carcass out of bed in the morning to go to work in order to finance their college “education”.

*The U of A President is building himself a $7,000,000.00 mansion with taxpayer money. We all know about Lu Hardin and the bonus money, acquired real estate that was used to fete “special people” etc….

*Scholarship money is getting so out of hand that the legislature had to pass a law limiting the percentage of a school’s budget they could spend on scholarships to 30%! Some schools are still over the limit, and now legislators are talking about bringing the percentage allowed down to 15% to get closer to the national average. In Arkansas, the colleges are buying their students and then claiming they need more money to build facilities for all of their students!

*Our flagship campus in Fayetteville now has a freshman class that is composed of 30% out-of-state students. They are considering opening a recruiting office in Dallas! Since they are running out of good applicants from Arkansas to shovel money at, they are shoveling it to young people from other states!

*Arkansas has had a recent massive expansion in college enrollment (21% increase since 2001) and in degrees issued (24% increase since 2001). Now we have a higher proportion of people that enroll but do not graduate relative to surrounding states. This indicates we have expanded opportunities for college scholarships faster than our pool of motivated and capable students can keep up.

*We still have too many graduates who have to go to other states to find a job which fits with their degree, indicating we are being taxed to train workers for other regions. Thus we already have more higher-ed infrastructure than we have business structure to go with it.

The Higher Ed report on Education is full of the usual platitudes and bromides, but the stats they use fall flat. By confusing cause and effect, they presume that churning out lots of people with college degrees brings a good economy rather than vice-versa.

Bottom line- this lottery proposal is a rotten idea on many levels, but most of all in the way it inflexibly sends all profits to higher ed.


Anonymous The party of McCain't is no party of mine said...

Than dont buy the lottery tickets!
This isnt taxes, no one is going to force you to but lottery tickets!

You Liberals want to protect the whole world from themselves!

6:56 AM, September 19, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

As soon as you sober up I'd like you to try reading the post again. Once your synapses clear up you might notice that the first sentence of the article proper reads: "Remember in November we are not voting on the concept of a lottery in general, we are voting on a specific lottery proposal,"

I am not coming out against ANY lottery proposal, but rather a GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY lottery proposal which sends all profits to one of the most over-funded areas of state government.

If the government wanted to make private lotteries legal, so long as they are honest and above-board, I likely would not lift a finger in opposition. It is the expansion of the state, with the state as its own regulator, and the expansion of an already bloated higher ed structure that skews to socialism which I object to.

8:41 AM, September 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd oppose it no matter who ran the racket. Why do the rats who flee their corrupt states come to family friendly areas like NW Arkansas and work their damnedest to get the same vices which destroyed their home states implemented here?!

9:04 AM, September 19, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

What about small-scale lotteries to support charitable causes?

If it was a full-time professional racket, I'd vote against it, so I guess I'd lift that much of a finger, but I find myself writing reams of columns against this one like I am on a crusade.

11:41 AM, September 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd oppose even small scale lotteries for charities, because it's the camel's nose in the tent. Even the pro-lottery crowd recognizes it as the opportunity to yell "hypocrisy" that it is.

There are plenty of effective ways for charities to raise money that don't involve business methods that invariably devastate the poor, break up homes, and welcome organized crime.

2:09 PM, September 19, 2008  

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