I respectfully disagree with your March 3 editorial “Running on empty,” which pushes for an increase in the Ohio gasoline tax. The economy in Ohio is nowhere as good as it should be.
Unemployment and underemployment are severe problems. We in rural Ohio must often commute long distances to work if we do have a job. Oil companies jack up prices at will.
There is no justification for further burdening Ohio taxpayers with a raise in gas taxes. Lawmakers should eliminate the waste and excess spending in state government, then ask for more money.
Education helps janitors too
Keith C. Burris’ Feb 16 commentary, “Let’s rethink costs, content of higher ed,” made useful points about the need to contain costs and the value of higher education. But Mr. Burris was badly off base.
He exhibited the narrow thinking so common with armchair pontificators with his contention that it is foolish — “nuts,” he said — that 115,000 janitors in this country incurred the expense to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
The error in that thinking starts with two faulty premises: that a costly bachelor degree should lead to a higher-paying job, and that a janitorial job is less desirable than other work.
To learn to read well and think critically are skills that enrich lives, make for a more-informed citizenry, and open up possibilities within and outside one’s profession. Janitors play an important role in our society and influence countless people every day.
That a person chooses to incur and carry student debt to obtain a bachelor’s degree that inspires a love of Shakespeare, classical music, or theater, and chooses to be a janitor makes all the sense in the world. Their lives are countlessly richer — as are all of ours.
Higher education is not — and should not be — only about greater income and perceived socioeconomic status. Each person must decide if the cost of higher education, including student debt, is a burden one is willing to accept for a richer intellectual life.
State must boost aid to higher ed
Unfortunately, Mr. Burris relies heavily on the writing of William Bennett, former secretary of education under Ronald Reagan. The education and crime policy recommendations that Mr. Bennett has made over the years have been so discredited by researchers as right-wing ideological claptrap that no educated person takes them seriously.
Although there are problems in higher education such as overpaying presidents, expanding administration, and throwing increasing amounts of money down the sports black hole, Mr. Bennett’s book Is College Worth It? succeeds in distracting Mr. Burris from focusing on the biggest factor that has lead to escalating tuition costs: declining state investment in higher education.
At Bowling Green State University, where I am an associate professor of sociology, the state share of instruction covers about 30 percent of total costs, with tuition making up the rest. Twenty years ago, those numbers were reversed. The overall cost to educate students hasn’t changed that dramatically over the period, it is just that students are footing more of the bill.
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