Anybody for a Free Degree?
by Per Bylund
by Per Bylund
Recently another one of those stupid government policies, supported by even stupider arguments, was brought to my attention on a state-run, taxpayer-financed radio station.
I know very well that the Swedish government finances all education with what the government goons have looted from the working populace. And I know there is a general student financing program too, to cover any expenses for those poor people choosing to get a degree or two already paid for. Part of this financing scheme is loan (guaranteed by the government), part of it is a grant offered to anyone passing most (not all) of the classes taken.
Still the radio show made me aware of the magnitude of this system. It opened up my eyes for the reason so many students from abroad come to visit Swedish universities — and why they stay for so long. The reason? Our government forces Swedish taxpayers to give the same kind of financing to foreign students as well. Actually, it is illegal to ask foreigners to pay tuition, and it is illegal to deny foreigners the grants and subsidized loans. So why do foreign students go to Sweden to study? Well, who can blame them — this is kind of the free lunch Robert A. Heinlein claimed doesn't exist.
For those of you not knowing what the very generous government education system in Sweden is about and what it covers, let me simply say it covers EVERYTHING. You won't get rich from the grants and loans, but you certainly won't get poor either. And you certainly don't have to worry if you want to go to graduate school to get a master's or doctorate; it is all paid for by the heavily taxed Swedish populace. Actually, if you're aiming for a doctorate you will get a salary for the four or five years it will take you to earn that degree. There is no such thing as tuition at any of the universities.
You might think this is a way for politicians to find a way to spend more money than they "have to" and therefore they make this a secret. No, that's not how it is — there's a whole web site on the how's and why's of studying in Sweden, advertising the fact that it is all at Swedish taxpayers' expense: www.studyinsweden.se.
This, I think, probably strikes at the core (well, one of them) of what modern socialism is all about: stop as many immigrants as possible at the border to keep the people inborn and ignorant of the world, but waste taxpayers' money to advertise the glorious welfare state by subsidizing foreigners only temporarily in the country and thus never contributing to the welfare system. This is, actually, what most western states are doing and have been doing for quite a while. The U.S. government, for instance, issues visas to students who get their degrees at U.S. state-subsidized universities, but then forces them to leave the country as soon as they've earned their degrees. One would think it more rational to ask them to stay to work and pay taxes, but that is obviously not a valid conclusion in political reasoning.
Knowing about the educational dimension of the Swedish welfare state, the most pressing question on any rational person's mind should be: why does the Swedish government offer free education to foreign students — and why does it even offer to pay them to study? The reason was briefly suggested in the same radio show, and it is a thoroughly political reason. The politicians want to show Sweden to the world as a generous and prosperous (well…) welfare state, while at the same time avoid confronting the people on the issues.
Apart from the state marketing scheme, it seems the socialists in government simply don't want foreigners to pay tuition to Swedish taxpayers-financed universities, since that might make Swedes more prone to accept paying for education. If the issue is raised, the socialists would have to face the fact that foreigners pay for education in Sweden (and can afford to do so). That is simply too "costly" politically speaking.
But isn't it more costly to let Swedish taxpayers pay for educating the whole world? Of course, but this kind of economic reasoning makes sense only to the non-political a.k.a. real world. In politics, benefit is defined as what can be bought at someone else's expense, at gunpoint if necessary, and cost is only expressed in terms of loss of power and risk of people calling the political bluff. Thus: it is cheaper, politically speaking, to force the nine million Swedes to finance universities for whoever wants free education in a world of more than six billion people.
It never fails to amaze me, this political logic. I know everything about it — I've seen it from behind the scenes — yet I am truly surprised, almost on a daily basis, at the stupidity and ignorance of the political class. However could they, the stupid, ignorant, and moronic people unable to produce anything themselves, become our rulers?
June 27, 2007
Copyright © 2007 LewRockwell.com