• Robert A. Brown

    Robert A. Brown is president of Boston University. Profile

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There are 11 comments on POV: Amazon Needs Higher Education. So Does Everyone Else

  1. As a Trump supporter I disagree with you 100% about education being good for business. Education is DISRUPTIVE to business- it lets anyone who has “book smarts” and nothing else come in and put established companies out of business and take jobs away from real Americans. Look at “edumacted” liberals in CA setting up wind farms that put billions of coal minors on the streets. Trump will stop that- he will keep economic power consolidated in the hands of the experts like himself and his family that know how to grow it responsibly for America.

    1. I agree with your premise but disagree with your reasoning. Education for too many people deflates the value of a degree. This is why we’ve got people who have undergrad degrees from good universities working at starbucks because they can’t find a better job. When everyone has X, having X is not good enough to qualify anyone for anything. As tragic as it may seem to university students, some people just should not go to university. It might not be fair, and it might not be equal, but it is efficient. To argue we all need higher education is to argue that we need the masters or PH.d to be the qualifying degree for desirable jobs, which does nothing but push out wprk for another few years for most people.

      Humorously enough, Trump is actually helping to fix my complaint. His election pitted a lot of people who didn’t go to college against thise they perceived as the elites. In doing so, and having them win, I think a lot of the stigma against the “uneducated,” lost effect, as people just stopped caring what was thought of them.

    2. Coal mining is on the wane for many valid reasons, but wind farms aren’t really to blame. There have never been billions of miners. I assume you’re being hyperbolic but no need to fabricate information to make a point. More important, who do you think established coal as an industry? It wasn’t miners. It was educated scientists, engineers and businessmen. Laborers have no work without educated leaders to create opportunity. Plus, without educated doctors who’s going to treat that black lung?

      1. Working people in the US have been facing the carnage of capitalism’s decline in production and trade. Ongoing wars under Democrats and Republicans, unaffordable higher education, and increasing dangers on the job as unions are weakened – this is what millions are facing. It was coal miners in action, taking back their union in the 1970s and 80s, that reduced black lung in the coalfields and established community clinics in the most remote
        parts of Appalachia. More of those struggles are needed – from Amazon to Walmart to industries that are not disappearing due to “robotization that’s going to replace the working class”.

        1. Thanks for sharing this! It’s a great perspective and much needed balance to my flippant statement. It will, indeed, take all of us struggling together to improve life for us all.

  2. Bob, I couldn’t disagree more … tax policy hasn’t been checked in over three decades, and it’s way overdue – for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that higher education has run wildly amok … TOTALLY unchecked … ridiculously liberal .. and to disagree with that is to miss an entire forest for a single tree!

    Go ask a couple of your professors, and I’m certain you’ll quickly learn that – It’s those crazy white guys in DC going at it again, cause ya know, the ‘white guys’ really ARE a problem population … isn’t that what one of the fresh faced faculty was widely quoted as saying – on the national stage, embarrassing the entire university? Wasn’t it something like, ‘white masculinity isn’t a problem for America’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for America’s colleges’ … sure, the context was different, but the words totally apply and we both know it. Higher education has LOST its way and is mired, far too deeply, in social justice – and that’s NOT where it belongs at $65k per year!

    Candidly, shrinking donations (and I could pick apart the rest of your points too) has little to do with ‘tax deductibility’ … I’ve never once thought of making or not making mine donations for the purpose of a tax break. The real problem is that until you wash the stupidly liberal bias out of the institution, at least returning it to something resembling more of an ‘independent’ point of view, you’ll see NO further contributions from this alum … and I suspect that I’m much more common than less in the alumni base (cause we DO talk to one another and many of us are disgusted).

    But go check with Saida … I’m sure she’s got some wealthy students that’ll make up the void … and if nothing else, blame it on Trump, cause that’s what’s popular with most liberals today.

    1. You make some good points, but unfortunately they’re immediately undermined by your use of sweeping generalizations and reliance on unrelated issues; you seem to be more interested in condemning liberals and liberal talking points than defending the tax plan.

      Liberal bias of higher education aside, cultural issues aside, I think the author makes several good points. Graduate students face financial difficulties, which by itself isn’t necessarily unusual given the self-reliant nature of post-graduate work, but it leaves them vulnerable to policies like this tax plan. Speaking as a graduate student myself, I usually break even month-to-month. If this tax plan goes through, that could be enough to push me and others in similar situations into a financial tailspin.

      Of course, there are plenty of counter-arguments, but railing against the liberal agenda is not one of them. If you have genuine concerns with the opposition to this tax plan, lay them out objectively and cleanly; letting your own personal biases play into your argument only obfuscate your points and makes it easier for people to outright dismiss them.

      1. Chris,
        Perhaps the most basic point is that your education is an investment in yourself … federal tax policy, the availability/deductibility or non-deductibility of things, and maybe most importantly – politics, should have nothing to do with your decision making … it’s either a good investment, or a bad investment – period!

        Our country is now $17 trillion in debt … the tax code is VERY outdated (the last major overhaul happened shortly after I graduated with the Tax Reform Act of 1986) .. some major ‘pain’ needs to be felt across the full spectrum of society. YES, those who can pay more should pick up their part, but hey, the everything should be free/deeply discounted culture that hallmarked the last 8 years is unsustainable – there’s simply not enough wealthy folks around to pay the tab!

        Large college endowments, BU notwithstanding as it really didn’t start growing materially until Dr Brown made it a priority (John Silber spent versus saved), SHOULD pay more as they’ve been nearly tax-free for as long as I can recall. Between Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton you’d find Over $100 billion – FAR MORE than is needed to ‘efficiently operate’ those institutions.

        I sort of recall that tuition/room and board was about $7,500 a year for my freshman year in 1979-80 … and while I’m not going to calculate how the cost has compounded – let’s just agree that it’s been wildly excessive if today’s tuition/room and board is nearly $65k!

        Higher education has had an absolute green field in terms of what it charges students for a VERY long time, ESPECIALLY since President 44 encouraged so many young people to pursue largely worthless degrees (in terms of employability), with borrowed funds made far too easily available …

        A real question for EVERY student to ask and explore is, am I getting $65k a year worth of ‘value’ for my money … and if you had $230k in a checking account, would you run it to ZERO to buy 4-years of that education?

        Higher education needs to ‘right size’ just like every other industry … long overdue.

  3. I should also add that one of the complaints in here has no basics in economics. The author claims that the tax plan “increases the tax burden of employees who take advantage of an employer’s tuition assistance” thus lowering the likelihood of taking it. This is not correct. The tax may SAY that not the employee must pay more, but who actually pays is based on the elasticities of the employer and employee, not what is written in the tax code. Changing this percent effectively does nothing.

  4. On a related point, Amazon should stay the heck out of Boston — at least 100 miles away. There is NO ROOM for increased congestion & related QOL problems that will come from plunking down a 2nd HQ here. It will also exacerbate the problem of excessively high housing costs. Finally, Amazon may or may not bring 50,000 job. But they won’t all be lucrative, & many that are will go to current employees imported from outside. Thanks but no thanks!

  5. This is a ridiculous post. Trump and the Republican’s tax plan is AMAZING for our country. We needed this to become competitive again.

    I love Trump, I want to Make America Great Again, and I’m a proud BU alumni!

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