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And People Complain About Oil Prices

Amidst all of the talk about rising oil and gas prices, it might help to place the rising price of gas in the context of higher education...

Since 1980, the median family in America has enjoyed an 18.4 percent increase in its real income. At an annualized rate, this equates to a real growth rate of 0.73 percent.

Over the same time span, tuition at Cornell's contract colleges -- those colleges that operate with financial assistance from the State of New York because the State deems the educational missions of those colleges to be vital to its long-term health -- has risen by 224 percent, as measured in real terms. (600 percent if you don't take into account the cost of inflation). Equivalently, this is an annualized rate of close to 9 percent a year.

The price of gas, on the other hand, has actually declined since 1980, as measured in real terms. When adjusted for inflation, the cost of gas in 1980 was just over $3.00 a gallon in 2006 dollars.

So I must ask, what is more vital to the long-term security and prosperity of this country? The price of a commodity of which there is only enough left for 40 or 50 more years of use at current consumption levels? Or educating the engineers and scientists who will discover and develop alternative sources of clean energy?

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 30, 2006 (#)

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