LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Higher education not always a necessity

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George Leef is right that the “huge cost of college is often a waste” (“Burst the higher education bubble,” Commentary, Wednesday). Some 17 million Americans have college degrees they don’t require for their jobs.

A nation’s success has little to do with how many of their citizens graduate from college. Backward Russia and economically stagnant Japan have more college graduates than America. Prosperous Germany has far fewer.

Mr. Leef is too optimistic in predicting that the higher-education bubble will burst soon, resulting in better education at a lower cost for students. Academia has other plans. It will use regulations to force people to attend college, whether they want to or not.

Egged on by colleges and trade guilds, state legislatures force many people to attend college just to get a business license for a job that logically shouldn’t require any college. For example, Florida requires interior designers to spend two years at a state-approved college before they can get a license to work.

More than 20 percent of the American workforce needs a license to work, compared to just 4 percent in 1950. College-attendance mandates enable colleges to charge high tuitions even as their students learn little.

HANS BADER

Senior attorney

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

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