Romney: “I like the idea of linking the level of support that we’re able to provide to young people going to college to the contributions they’re going to make to our society”
“Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, says he would like to link college financial aid to the jobs students pursue after they graduate,” writes Karin Fischer for The Chronicle of Higher Education in a release titled Romney Proposes Linking Student Aid to Careers.
Mr. Romney pitched the idea while campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, but he offered no specifics on which careers would warrant more money for a student during his undergraduate years, the Associated Press reports.“I like the idea of linking the level of support that we’re able to provide to young people going to college to the contributions they’re going to make to our society,” Mr. Romney said … etc., etc.
Romney has confused conservatism with authoratarianism. Romney proposes linking financial aid to career paths. This assumes in advance that questions of school, major, course load, job opportunites etc. are political questions as opposed to personal choices in response to social and market conditions.
Imagine congress attempting to develop legislation that established a hierarchy of preferred curricula and career paths—on what grounds would they decide such issues?
Would Romney’s proposal not amount to a National Careers Policy—i.e. would this not involve massive and centralized government planning? Would this not also result in massive lobbying by every interested party—trade unions, teachers’ unions, professional associations and societies, universities, vocational schools, consumer groups, student associations, for-profit proprietary schools etc., etc.—to be represented among the top tier of preferred, and therefore more highly subsidized, majors or career paths?
How is this anything other than a massive arrogation of power by the state?
Here is our point: Romney is not a conservative. He simply isn’t one. His instincts, his habits of mind, and the solutions he develops to problems are all those of a social progressive—a naive and unprincipled social progressive—one who firmly believes in the efficacy of political agency. Conservatives—genuine conservatives—OTOH, stress our dependence on culture, institution, and nation. Against reforms like those that Romney proposes we would stress the complexities of social life.
We have no problem with social progressives. We disagree with them, but we are happy to participate with them, even as we struggle with them, in civic, social, and political life. Pluralism, as Perelman would say, sharpens the critical sense. It helps us learn; it helps us grow. What we have a problem with are frauds like Romney who feign a conservative line even as they propose e.g. “to link college financial aid to the jobs [that] students pursue after they graduate.”