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March 6, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Vedder in Forbes | Should We Tax English Majors But Subsidize Engineers?

Dr. Richard Vedder, portrait

Dr. Richard Vedder

Dr. Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University, wrote a column at Forbes headlined “Should We Tax English Majors But Subsidize Engineers?

…For example, say the average graduate of XYZ University earns $40,000 a year, but the average XYZ engineer earns $60,000 while the average sociology graduate only earns $30,000. Give XYZ University 1.5 times the average subsidy for each engineering major (or enrollee) and 0.75 times the average for each sociology major, providing the university incentives to increase the number of trained engineers and reduce the number of sociologists. In time, if a big supply surge of engineers occurs and engineering wages wane, the formula would need to be changed.

One side of me cringes at this approach, even though I teach in a discipline (economics) whose graduates are relatively high valued by society. I think educated persons should take courses in English literature, history, philosophy, art history, and music—all low paying fields. I think the year I studied French literature (in French) at Northwestern somehow was good for me, probably as much as more courses in economics. College is about developing basic skills—the ability to write and talk intelligently, to have some mathematical literacy, and basic core knowledge that lets one navigate civil society competently.

But here’s the rub. Should society pay for it?…

Read more in Forbes.

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