The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Invest in people, not legacy universities

The closed Hoover factory in North Canton, Ohio, on May 17.
The closed Hoover factory in North Canton, Ohio, on May 17. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
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In his Oct. 10 op-ed, “Don’t ignore our distressed regions,” Lawrence H. Summers lamented that “U.S. citizens no longer share a common lived experience.” When have we ever had such a common experience? Entitled white males, yes, but everyone else much less so. 

A university education costs way too much and educates too few in general. Until recently, universities happily bumped applicants of a lesser pedigree for a legacy — talk about an entitled Ferris wheel. I could never get on it, and a laid-off machinist certainly could not. Universities had to be created by and specifically for African Americans.

No wonder populist notions have so much traction and elites are scorned. I am sick of this mind-set that we have lost something. The United States has yet to achieve any sense of common opportunity or wealth. Basic demographics and statistics underscore this. I suggest that rust belts become university belts. Try investing in people. Stop acting like there is a savior tax break that will fix this when the biggest fix is, like it or not, educated human capital.

Victoria Brombacher, Vienna

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