The New York Times reports today that the president is threatening to veto an increase to the GI Bill. Apparently he fears an exodus from our over extended military. As can be expected in an election year, this has become the rhetorical equivalent of a greased flag pole climbing contest.

The whole GI Bill thing is dumb. Please understand, I support the GI Bill. Born of political expediency, it nevertheless turned out to be one of the best pieces of legislation of the 20th century.

The whole GI Bill thing is dumb because it misses the point. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a movement to require that all U.S. citizens be provided with a free public education through grade 12. For all its ills, the U.S. education system turned out some of the best educated and most economically competitive individuals in the world. The GI Bill only improved on all that.

In the 21st century, a high school education is worth about as much as a 6th grade education was worth one hundred years ago. The sorry fact of the matter is that, as a country, we’re getting dumb. Why the debate over the GI bill is dumb is that we should not be voting to give veterans a free college education, we should be voting to give everyone a free college education. We should do this just like we voted to give everyone a high school education 100 years ago.


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