Friday, September 30, 2005

Incentives in Education

I have always been in favor of the government using financial incentives (usually taxes) to encourage, or discourage certain types of behavior. For example, I don't believe the government should ban you from being able to drive an SUV, but a hgher gas tax (OK, probably not the most popular idea at the moment) would encourage people to choose more fuel efficient vehicles, while still allowing them the choice, as long as they were willing to pay the price. I was thinking today about financial incentives for education. Much has been made lately about how the US is falling behind other countries, particularly Asian, in numbers of scientists and engineers. While I think the problem is somewhat exaggerated, I also believe that the country does have a vested interest in ensuring large amounts of well educated people in strategically important areas, so in this spirit I propose that we should adopt a pay scale along the following model for our public universities.

Annual Tuition:

Lawyers - $40,000 (do we really need anymore?)

English and Art majors - $20,000 (hey, it might be fun, but if my tax dollars are paying for it learn something useful)

All other liberal arts majors - $6,000 (Except those studs in Russian Studies, who should be free)

Business - $4,000 (yeah, I made fun of them as an undergrad, but business does make the world work)

Science and Engineering - $2,000 (these are the people who invent all the cool stuff, like new cancer treatments, and I-Pods)

Doctors - $10,000 (Yeah, we need them, but they make a boatload of money after they graduate, so they can survive on student loans.)

This is just an idea of course.