Absolutely no analysis is done on the dramatic increase in college costs that outstrip every other expenditure while the return on the expenditure has dropped. Galbraith called university spending consumption and not investment for a reason. What is the purpose of college in the modern world? It's not a comfortable living space for four years or even scholastic enlightenment but to receive an education that will get you good employment and prepare you for integration into the job market. Think the product is better now because of wifi + bigger dorms? Bunk. He mentions wifi multiple times, yet how many majors benefit from wifi use by students? How much of the wifi is for downloading porn and music? America has seen massive increases to college with a crappier product. How many teaching assistants educate students now? What job prospects do students have now compared to 10, 20 or 30 years ago and what is the debt load they have to pay off to get the ticket to the good life? Much worse, yet costs keep rising. On top of that, so many students get churned out through the diploma mills that the value of the degree is greatly diminished. Plus, these colleges are three dimensional, political propaganda advertisements. Yglesias doesn't dare mention simple collective bargaining issues at schools that bump up costs, employee benefits, administrative bloat or God forbid, think unconventionally about why our Ivy alma maters could jack up costs 10 years ago. Universities do this all tax free, which he fails to mention.
In a somewhat light hearted way, he throws it out there that all churches should be taxed. It's not the first time. Buildings, books, etc. are just for private entertainment and do not improve soul saving (per his agnostic view). Seventeen minutes after that, he discusses how college tuition and costs have climbed but the standard of living for a student and experience has improved so it's not inflation per se. He mentions wifi and wifi and well nothing else. This is the problem of the secular, progressive nitwit: he's lost the possibility for spiritual development and saving. Religion is too hokey and superstitious. Religion is about soul saving and about community. These are people one share's a faith and belief system with so, non-soul saving items are important. Replacing a church built 75+ years ago has an effect on the flock. Not just in a new space for worship but what normally goes into the design selection, fundraising and the act of completing the church. I belonged to a church that built a new building as a teen. The coolest part was when the priests discussed what pieces of the old church they would incorporate and bring to the new church.
Beyond spiritual and community based reasoning, this comes down to money. Operations are not taxed, btu this helps all of those bastions of progressive thought, the universities. Paying no taxes makes fundraising for new buildings much easier. That is the main point. The liberals want to financially harm the churches. Marginal churches would close if forced to pay taxes. Destroy or corrupt from within centers of power outside the state's control. The leftoids forget that the other side of Jesus' render unto Caesar statement is that you give to God what is God's not man. God should have your devotion, your faith and your love. Not a simple politician. Not the bureaucracy. Marx and his munchkin descendants of the 21st century are right to attack organized religion as it is a reservoir of resistance to progressive Universalism. It may not act it, but the people who line the pews and engage in the ceremonies and rituals are the reservoir. Power lies in the believer not the 501(c)(3). Strength is in the souls who worked on Notre Dame for two centuries, not the stones. Yglesias and his ilk (journalists, not Jews) will never understand that.
Totally ripping off Chuck Ross, let's rework Yglesias' blurb on churches to schools.
I would go one further. Let's tax colleges! All of them, in a non-discriminatory way that doesn't consider conference, focus or level of scholastic rigor. There's simply no good reason to be giving large tax subsidies to Harvard, Yale, Williams, Swarthmore, Emory or Georgetown around the corner from me. Whichever university you think is the one true university, it's undeniable that the majority of this college-spending is going to support false doctrines. Under the circumstances, tax subsidies for universities are highly inefficient.
What's more, even insofar as tax subsidies do target the true university they're still a pretty bad idea. The basic problem with subsidized college is that there's no reason to believe that college-related expenditures enhance productivity. When a factory spends more money on plant and equipment then it can produce more goods per worker. But education doesn't really work this way. Upgrading a college's physical plant doesn't enhance the educational capacity of its professors. You just get a nicer building or a grander Spring pageant. There's nothing wrong with that. When I was young I always enjoyed the school plays. But this is just a kind of private entertainment (comparable to spending money on snacks for your book club—and indeed what are college study groups but the younger 50 Shades book clubs?) that doesn't need an implicit subsidy.
Meanwhile, nobody thinks colleges and other educational institutions should silence themselves on the important issues of the day. On the contrary, discussing moral action is at the heart of many scholastic enterprises. And much moral action plays itself out in the arena of politics. So trying to say that colleges should get subsidy when they don't endorse candidates is de facto a kind of subsidy to educational doctrines whose views happen to lack strong partisan implications. So if your university says "abortion should be illegal and spending on the poor should be increased and it's too bad neither candidate supports that" you're golden, but if your university says "abortion should be legal and spending on the poor should be increased so good for Barack Obama" suddenly you're in trouble. That's perverse. Just make everyone pay taxes.
I'll mail this to the GOP so they know how to attack college costs for the everyday voter. They can crumple it up and add it to my proposals on breaking up the big banks. Is Yglesias this stupid to not see the connection or is he just such a partisan hack that it's 24/7 with the progressive blinders? At this point, neither answer is good.