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According to the educational wisdom Mitch Daniels presented in his Feb. 7 Washington Forum commentary, “Learning from our mistakes in higher ed ,” we should penalize colleges whose students cannot in this gig economy find gigs remunerative enough to pay back their student loans. Never mind that the very efficiency, technological and otherwise, made possible by higher education, coupled with the endemic avarice of corporations, has created a stingy marketplace with respect to worker compensation.

Furthermore, the very schools that would be hardest hit by this would be those public institutions whose mission includes providing access for people who would otherwise be debarred from this “product” (as Mr. Daniels put it), which is a necessity for upward mobility.

With thinking like Mr. Daniels’s, with its surprising animus against public education masquerading as fiscal responsibility, it is no wonder that the U.S. social upward-mobility rate continues to recede in comparison with other industrialized nations’. It is particularly egregious because the tax-cuts-for-billionaires and to-heck-with-a-balanced-budget crowd will be the first to feed at the trough of this self-imposed field-slanting brain drain.

David Kaloustian, Bowie