When One News Story Clarifies Another (and Another)

Ohio State University has gotten national media attention for something other than Gordon Gee’s excessive compensation and the football team’s diminished prospects following quarterback Braxton Miller’s season-ending injury.

The university’s police department has recently acquired a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicle through a program that distributes surplus military equipment and supplies not only to local police departments but also to campus police departments.

This is what a Mine-Resistant Ambush Vehicle looks like:

MRAP 1

University spokespersons have offered various explanations for why this acquisition was necessary, but none of those explanations has been completely convincing.

In 2008, George Grayson’s seemingly unrelated article “Los Zetas: the Ruthless Army Spawned by a Mexican Drug Cartel” [http://www.fpri.org/articles/2008/05/los-zetas-ruthless-army-spawned-mexican-drug-cartel], was published on the ENotes blog of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The article includes the following paragraphs:

“Los Zetas have set up camps in which to train recruits aged 15 to 18 years old, as well as ex-federal, state, and local police officers. In addition, they have invited into their ranks ex-troops from Guatemala known as Kaibiles. Reviled as ‘killing machines,’ these tough-as-nails experts in jungle warfare and counterinsurgency adhere to the motto: ‘If I advance, follow me. If I stop, urge me on. If I retreat, kill me.’

“Their arsenal includes AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles, MP5s submachine guns, 50-mm machine guns, grenade launchers, ground-to-air missiles, dynamite, bazookas, and helicopters.”

I believe that I may have found the needed missing link between these two seemingly unrelated news items in an article that Jordan Weissman wrote for Slate. The article’s title and sub-title are “Smash the System: The Dangerous Plan to Make College Cheaper by Busting ‘the College Cartel’” [http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2014/08/busting_the_college_cartel_a_dangerous_conservative_idea_for_making_college.html]. Here are the opening paragraphs of that article:

“Ask liberals why college is getting so expensive, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a case of government neglect. States have cut education funding. Federal Pell Grants for low-income students haven’t kept up with the cost of tuition. Regulators have failed to crack down on predatory for-profit schools that charge high prices for sometimes worthless degrees.

“Ask conservatives the same question, and they’ll tell you the opposite. The real problem, they’ll say, is a pernicious case of government coddling. The unlimited supply of federal student loans has allowed schools to hike their prices to stratospheric heights without driving away undergrads. Feds have smothered low-cost competition by turning higher education into one big highly protected ‘cartel,’ as Utah Sen. Mike Lee put it in an essay for The Federalist.”

So, much as I hate to admit it, Congressman Lee may actually have a legitimate point: our institutions do seem to be arming themselves much as the drug cartels have armed themselves. He has a right to feel outraged by that.

So why do I suspect that he’s not only not very likely to be outraged by that, but he is also not likely even to get the point?

 

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