Friday, December 21, 2007

Fat Pockets and Fat Envelopes

Herbert Allen has an interesting op-ed up over at the New York Times today, in case you missed it. Allen makes a case for a form of revenue sharing among colleges and universities that would allow the poor schools back into the competition for the best teachers and students. Writes Allen,

Our graduated income tax system sets varying tax rates based on income levels. Similarly, we could establish standards for the endowments of colleges and universities.

An example: Harvard or Williams (my alma mater) have endowments that are well over $500,000 per student. Why not take the colleges whose endowments exceed that per student amount and tax their capital gains? The tax revenue could then be put into a designated pool and distributed pro rata to colleges under the base level. The college with the lowest per student endowment would get the highest share.

...I know it won’t be easy to convince well-off schools to share their wealth. But they should. They should see this act as part of a down payment on their professed mission: to create a stronger, smarter and ultimately more stable society.

And on a slightly related note, for an interesting look at the pursuit of Ivy gold by a stellar emerging author, Joie Jager-Hyman, keep your eyes peeled this March for a book called Fat Evelope Frenzy:One Year, Five Promising Students, and the Pursuit of the Ivy League Prize.

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