Richard Vedder

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The American political class has long held that higher education is vital to individual and national success. The Obama administration has dubbed college “the ticket to the middle class,” and political leaders from Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have hailed higher education as the best way to improve economic opportunity.

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The Barack Obama administration and Congress purport to care about the rising costs of college. Yet the government’s policies are only fueling the higher-education arms race.

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Colleges’ exploitation of young Americans through rapidly rising and increasingly exorbitant fees is a national scandal that can no longer be ignored. In his college tour this week, President Barack Obama is speaking at length about what he intends to do about it, after promising “tough love” on higher education for the last two years.

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US President Barack Obama speaks to students gathered at Knox College on July 24, 2013

President Barack Obama keeps declaring war on rising college costs. In a speech at Knox College last month, he vowed to unveil an “aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs and improve value.” He said something similar in his 2012 State of the Union address, so I’m a little skeptical that much will happen.

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks to reporters during the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, May 14, 2013.

For at least a half-century, the University of California has been considered the premier system in U.S. public higher education. The Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses always rank among the top 10 state schools, with several other UC campuses close behind.

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No financial scheme — no matter how innovative — can overcome the ultimate reality that this is not an economically sustainable long-term trend. We are currently overinvested in higher education.

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At this event, Bennett and Wilezol will present their book, higher education finance experts Richard George and Richard Vedder will provide discussion, and a coffee reception and book signing will follow.

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The ending of overt racial preferences in college admissions is overdue.

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Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee (R) speaks during a news conference as head football coach Jim Tressel (L) listens in Columbus, Ohio, March 8, 2011.

University presidents aren’t corporate executives. If higher education wishes to maintain its privileged position in American society, it needs to contain its spending. A good place to start is at the top.

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The federal government can do more for our college attendees by doing less, not more.

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Job seekers stand in line to meet with prospective employers at a career fair in New York City, October 24, 2012.

Why are Americans working less? While there are a number of factors, the phenomenon is due mainly to a variety of public policies that have reduced the incentives to be employed.

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