Does Undergraduate Tuition Subsidize University R&D?

Do Virginia Tech undergrads subsidize this research lab? Or does the lab subsidize undergraduate education? Does anyone really know?

It stands to reason that there should be a rational nexus between the cost of providing a college education and the tuition charged to pay for that education. If the cost goes up, tuition needs to go up as well…. And costs have been going up. Reported per-student educational expenditures at public four-year universities increased 16% from 2005 to 2015 in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

But Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, told the Daily Caller that financial information reported by universities is a “purposeful misrepresentation” of the true cost of educating students. “Universities are fundamentally overstating instructional expenditures and fundamentally understating research expenditures,” he said. Continued the Daily Caller:

Only 27.2 percent of full-time faculty at public universities spent nine or more hours a week instructing students in the classroom in the 2014 academic year, down from 39.4 percent in the 1989 academic year, according to a 2014 survey by the Higher Education Research Institute.

“Research is systematically favored over teaching, so it is not surprising that teaching loads have been falling, or that the time freed up is used for research,” the Center for College Affordability and Productivity wrote in a 2010 report. …

Charles Schwartz, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, also believes departmental research has a significant impact on the cost of undergraduate education.

His calculations indicate that the actual cost to educate an undergraduate student in the University of California system is $7,500 per year, far less than the $13,222 in tuition and fees charged to in-state students in 2013-14.

Bacon’s bottom line: If the Vedder/Schwartz critique is correct, undergraduate students are subsidizing university R&D activities to the tune of billions of dollars per year. In the process, they are taking out ever bigger student loans, selling themselves into debt peonage, and stoking one of the nation’s great social crises.

While it very well might be true that undergraduates are subsidizing R&D — there is no question that the highest-paid faculty are teaching less — I don’t know that to be the case. At meetings of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), I have heard the opposite argument being made, that university research subsidizes general education. To the extent that federal grants provide funds to cover research “overhead,” there may be truth to that view.

Here in Virginia, we are schizophrenic on the issue. We want our kids to get the best and least expensive undergraduate education possible. At the same time, we look to our research universities to contribute to economic development through R&D and the local jobs and investment that spins off from that R&D.

Here’s the problem: We can’t hope to strike the proper balance if we don’t know who is subsidizing whom. Higher-ed accounting is a specialized discipline and opaque to outsiders. We are fumbling in the dark. We need more information. The higher-ed establishment has no interest in providing that information, which can only lead to unwelcome calls for change. Only the General Assembly can made Virginia colleges and universities cough up the data. But, sadly, most legislators don’t know what they don’t know, and none of the bills submitted to the General Assembly this year (that I’m aware of) are calling for more cost and accounting transparency.

(Hat tip: Ken Cuccinelli)

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20 responses to “Does Undergraduate Tuition Subsidize University R&D?

  1. I have posted here before arguing that this is likely the largest overall redirection of student tuition fees away from instruction (considerably larger than athletics fees and amenity-related fees). What is exasperating is that we can’t even have an informed and meaningful debate on it due to a combination of entrenched interests and opaque finances.

    If you look at Australia and the UK, you can see that they at least have fact-based analysis and debate, which is absent in the U.S. Australia discussed this in Parliament. In the UK, it has been addressed by the education minister and in committees.

    As you can see in the attached reports, this is a huge chunk of change. The UK analysis determined that 1/7th of research funding comes from revenue collected ostensibly for teaching. In Australia, it is 1/6th. Analysis in the U.S. shows this may be closer 1/3rd.

    http://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/HEPI-How-much-is-too-much-Report-100-FINAL.pdf

    http://www.tai.org.au/content/not-%E2%80%98how-high%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98-what%E2%80%99

    http://www.changinghighereducation.com/2016/08/the-high-cost-of-funded-research.html

    • Thanks for having been instrumental on throwing a light on this subject.

      One way to start thinking about the size of this problem is to consider that, even if one excludes the big ticket STEM research cost in time and money, undergraduate Humanities Professors (liberal arts and sciences) in the larger universities spend an estimated 50% of their time in “research” and another 25% of their time in Administrative activities, both of which activities are deemed for accounting purposes a teaching activity. So I assume, these costs are paid for out of undergraduates student’s tuition, despite the fact they see no benefit from that 75% of their professors time.

      Plus –

      Likely too these percentages are higher today, given today’s growth of Adjunct, post doctoral, and graduate students to instruct undergraduates.

      As a result, the undergraduates’ tuition and fees are going ever higher while at the same time those students get ever less teaching from their tenured and tenure track professors.

      Teaching in Higher Education is becoming more of a factory line that paid more more and more other activities that are the main interests of the University and its professors. It quite a gig they and the administrators have got going on at the expense of others.

  2. That need for “more cost and accounting transparency” also applies to the way most schools offer grants/scholarships/rebates/loans-with-conditional-forgiveness/loans-without-accumulated-interest/loans-with-accumulated-interest/balloon notes etc. etc. And it may not be clear if these are first year only or multi-year commitments. All of this is done in non-standardized ways that make it near impossible for students or parents to understand the implications, much less to compare different institutions’ offers of admission on a financial apples-to-apples basis. See this discussion the other day in the Washington Post, here:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/01/19/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-figure-out-how-much-youre-going-to-pay-for-college/?utm_term=.6219fc5c7916

    • So everything having to do with students cost becomes ever more opaque, uncertain, and vague. Kind of like buying a used car on a roadside strip.

    • https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/01/19/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-figure-out-how-much-youre-going-to-pay-for-college/?utm_term=.6219fc5c7916

      This Washington Post article is highly disturbing. It shows a feeding frenzy of money lending activities that appear to be out of control. This is the hallmark of financial lending programs headed for disaster.

      In similar lending arenas harboring such frenetic and seemingly unregulated activities, substantial numbers of people typically end up going to jail, including often Corporate Chief Operating Officers. One of the most startling aspects of this particularly obvious abuse is that Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was so aggressively attacking the private credit card industry, and at the same time so totally irresponsible in failing to protect the rights of students from obvious predatory loan practices by public and non-profit institutions of higher education, and that system’s enablers.

      The built-in conflicts of interests in these transactions are patiently obvious, yet appear to be totally ignored. So the “deceptive advertising and offering practices rampant here, amounting to likely fraud, is highly predictable.

      These financing activities surely will not end well for hold bunches of individuals, Higher Education generally, the American economy, and the American people, generally.

  3. Thanks for the article… it was interesting but I did notice this:

    0 Comments

    which is unusual for WaPo…

    Higher Ed is not alone in their opacity… and I do agree that people are entitled to an understandable accounting… but the idea that if folks could ever get such an accounting – they could then put pressure on the colleges to cut tuition is yet another fool’s errand.

    It’s sorta like trying to get to the bottom of the Fairfax County School budget or VDOT’s budget.. or the the numerous other agencies including health insurance companies and medical providers.. etc…

    the other thing is that is tuition costs are fairly similar across the states… there’s an implication that all of them are doing the same thing and depending on your point of view – industry standard.. or they’re all in cahoots screwing their customers.. or some such.

    Perhaps a better way to achieve change is for the few colleges that do have low costs and low inflation.. actually get them to lay out their costs… and use those colleges as models… for “better” and perhaps one would think – gain more customers…

    But I just don’t think there is going to be much success in “forcing’ them to do something.. when they are experts at playing with accounting tricks to start with.. Legislators might be able to order all of them to undergo deep-dive forensic audits.. ..

  4. “At meetings of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), I have heard the opposite argument being made, that university research subsidizes general education. To the extent that federal grants provide funds to cover research “overhead,” there may be truth to that view.”

    Per OMB rules federal indirect cost payments are not supposed to be used to subsidize non-research areas including education, and there are audits. Of course, universities could certainly overcharge. The Trump administration threatened to reduce indirect cost recovery based on this justification.

    I think the most likely scenario is research increases the overall university budget, and that is what universities are motivated to do. However, to get research funding, universities have to chip in 30%+ from their own funds, and undergraduate tuition is going to be a big component of that.

    • All of my research supports that view. I see no evidence whatsoever that supports any such claim that Research subsidizes general education made at meetings of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Indeed, all evidence points to the reverse conclusion.

  5. I think Universities are guided mostly by what the going price is with their competitors. Like Hospitals they grab as much funding from various sources that they can.. and they plow it back into the University to provide amenities that students want, buy quality professors that will boost existing programs or stand new programs up… etc…

    They do whatever financial reporting is required of them but they’ll take advantage of all techniques for classifying that afford opacity for things they’d prefer to not stick out like sore thumbs.

    There is no incentive for them to lower prices – because loans are so readily available. If they fall short of enrollments.. they lower their qualifications. This is why you see them actually admit students that have to take remedial courses before they can take actual college course material.

    So people pay college prices for high school material rather than get rejected for enrollment and go back to the high school or Community College – they just rolled that remedial cost into their loans.

    Let me repeat. There is no incentive to lower prices… and they are better than their critics at playing cat/mouse budget info games.

    It’s like Lucy with the football.

  6. Just got back in town and read this. It is true that the standard teaching load for Virginia university full time faculty is 9 semester hours. Has been that way for at least a couple of decades. In Virginia the 9 semester hours means that a full time faculty member teaching 9 semester hours is in the class room 9 total hours per week.
    Nationally two thirds of all college students are taught by graduate students, part time adjunct faculty etc. In a few cases this is a positive depending on who the part-timers are. See the link below. Less than 20% of all student costs are devoted to faculty pay. So lots of other things are put ahead of students learning…as the student debt approaches $2 trillion.
    Major restructuring will be coming as the nation sinks deeper and deeper in debt.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/noodleeducation/2015/05/28/more-than-half-of-college-faculty-are-adjuncts-should-you-care/#122427381600

  7. jwgilley –

    Thanks for your pointing out the Forbes article which devastates any claim that educating students is the priority of the modern university.

    Let’s here also deal with any claim made at a SCHEV meeting that university research subsidizes general education at colleges and universities.

    Under a July 1, 2013 post here entitled “Sullivan’s Plan Optimizes UVA’s Institutional Self Interest,” I commented:

    “This Sullivan four year plan will profoundly alter to the mission of the University as follows:

    1/ It will shift the University’s primary mission from teaching to research.
    2/ The primary focus of the University will become STEM research, namely a heavy emphasis on research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine. Thus UVa will become Virginia Tech’s great competitor in state.
    3/ This shift of University focus will require very major new expenditures in heavy infrastructure projects, including highly complex and sophisticated scientific labs, equipment and buildings, as well as the costs of training and equipping scientists, engineers, researchers and other technocrats most.
    4/ This conversion of the University will be built on the backs of the students through the raising of tuition on all students as the primary funding source for the heavy infrastructure costs of this STEM research.
    5/ The University is betting the farm on theory that it can “win” an ever larger share of dwindling Federal research grants (including defense) so as to capitalize on its massive expenditures paid for out of student tuition.
    6/ To assure funds above tuition increases necessary to carry out its plans,

    Sullivan proposes the creation of an Strategic Investment Fund that will skim monies and borrowing power off the University’s normal coffers so as to place those fund outside the control of the Board of Visitors and vest the power over the monies in University administrators and faculty. (For details of the Fund see the last comment to Article “More Big Tuition Hikes ahead for UVA posted on this website on March 28, 2013).

    Beyond the tuition hikes, and establishing a fund outside the control of the Board of Visitors but within the control of the Administrators and Faculty, the Sullivan Plan bets UVa.’s future on the dubious theory that UVA can win and ever larger share of Federal research grants despite the fact that:

    1/ Monies available for Federal grants are in rapid decline, and will remain so for the foreseeable future ….
    2. UVA’s income from federal grants is also in decline, as are its returns on fixed costs from such research, given the cutbacks in Federal spending.
    3/ UVA to date has been a minor player in the federal grant business.
    4/ The competition for Federal grants, always fierce, will increase, given across the board Federal cutbacks in discretionary spending, particularly for UVA that is putting itself in the position of having to compete with far bigger more experienced players in fields of government funded research.
    5/ The burden of any monetary shortfall will force raises of student tuition and cutbacks in other university programs. These forced cutbacks will be acerbated by the privileged position occupied by the Strategic Investment Fund to be controlled by the School Administrators and faculty. It will diminish the monies available for other needs, thus putting additional pressure on student tuition, and University borrowing generally.”

    HERE WE ARE TODAY MORE THAN FOUR YEARS LATER.

    UVA still refuses to inform the public about how their monies – massive amounts of taxpayer funds and tuition payments and other fees and charges paid by students to attend UVA – are being spent and allocated between the real education of students and alternatively the growing businesses that UVA want to engage in to enrich itself, its senior faculty and senior administrators.

    Nor will UVA tell the citizens of Virginia, the patients at their hospital, or their students or their parents, how much of these massive sums of monies paid by them to UVA are being drained away from the real and daily education of their children at UVA. And also how much is being drained away from those remaining teachers who actually teach undergraduate students at UVA or dearly want to teach those undergraduates but find themselves more and more deprived of the tools they need to teach UVA undergraduates.

    This is a scandal. One in plain sight, yet still effectively hidden. UVA thumbs its nose at those paying the bills, and suffering the consequences … We’ll get the answers, one way or another. Hope it happens before the financial collapse, and total ruination of undergraduate education at UVA.

    AND IZZO Replied:

    University accounting is, perhaps intentionally, opaque. There are a set of revenues and a set of expenses, and it is difficult to see how they are related in many areas because the names don’t match. In this case, NSF data shows that funding for research comes from “Institutional Funds.” There is no revenue fund (e.g. tuition, state appropriation, endowment income, gifts, patent revenue, patient revenue, etc.) that is named “Institutional Funds.” Jim was asking for more transparency on where this comes from so we can make informed decisions on higher education costs. Larry’s earlier comments distract from that. There is no evidence tuition ever goes to research. He is dead wrong.

    One type of research is what is called “Departmental Research” (this could be reduced teaching load given to a salaried professor to do research that is not externally funded). Departmental Research is accounted for as Instruction (i.e. there is no difference between from teaching a class and departmental research) by guidelines from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). So unless you are saying tuition doesn’t pay for instruction, it pays for research at any institution that has Departmental Research.

    Here is how “Instruction” is defined in the National Center for Education Statistics database (IPEDS): “Instruction — A functional expense category that includes expenses of the colleges, schools, departments, and other instructional divisions of the institution and expenses for DEPARTMENTAL RESEARCH and public service that are not separately budgeted.”

    See surveys.nces

    Please read this piece that was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well. Pay particular attention to the second part:

    see: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~schwrtz/CHE2.pdf

    The NSF research data Jim cited, which lists “Institutionally Funded” sources, is about another type of research. This is about research that has external sponsors. However, external sponsors don’t come close to covering all costs, which is why there is an “Institutionally Funded” component. Like I said earlier, we don’t know what goes into “Institutionally Funded” at any specific institution or in aggregate, since it is not provided. There is strong circumstantial evidence that tuition and state appropriations have to be used at many institutions because, if you look at their possible sources of revenue, THERE ARE NOT ANY SOURCES THAT ARE LARGE ENOUGH TO COVER “INSTITUTIONALLY FUNDED” UNTIL YOU GET TO TUITION AND APPROPRIATIONS.

    There is another post recently on a project at Virginia Tech where this was spelled out in detail. It is completely implausible that any tuition dollars go to research. Here is an abstract from a report from university finance and research professionals. They include the Associate Vice President of Finance, Duke University; the Associate Vice President, Financial Management at the University of Washington; the Vice Provost of Research, Stanford. They are subject matter experts. Here is what these experts say (I added the caps):

    “Sources of revenue for both public and private research universities can be divided into unrestricted and restricted resources. Unrestricted resources can be used at the discretion of the institution for the primary missions of teaching, RESEARCH, public service, or any other activity. The primary unrestricted sources for operations are STATE APPROPRIATIONS (public) AND TUITION (both public and private) . . . The single, limited pool of unrestricted revenue is expended according to the competing needs and priorities of the university.”

    Why would they ever have worded it that way if tuition can’t be used for research? Jim’s question was is this true for UVA and how much? Inquiring minds want to know and we can’t tell from the financial reports.

  8. Thanks Reed,

    I’d pretty much forgotten that I’d written that.

    I’d love to see Virginia take the lead somewhere on this issue. As jwgilley points out, student loan debt is at $2 trillion. New analysis shows about 40 percent of students who took out loans in 2004 may default by 2023. It is a time bomb.

    I know the institutions think they are expected to produce sausage (Research) and don’t want to have to show how the sausage is made. But something has to change.

  9. Are we saying that – across the board at most Universities that only 20% goes for instruction?

    I see lots of higher Ed claiming about 40% .. but even at 40% that’s a LOT of “other” …

    so what is the “other” spent on? Got some handy pie charts:

    here’s one:

  10. Other isn’t the only issue. If you look at the articles Jim cited, one of the things they are saying is that “Instruction” that is cited as 48% in the UNC Chapel Hill pie chart isn’t actually spent on instruction as we know it. The Oklahoma State professor in the article estimated 40% of reported instruction costs at research universities are actually “hidden” research expenditures. With that applied to UNC, the actual instruction is reduced to less than 29% of tuition. The broad accounting definitions enable the institution to allocate time spent doing research to “Instruction.”

    • Yes, Izzo. And that was a central point of your long comment above.

      Another words, this is a classic example that “it all depends on “What IS IS”.

      THE TRUTH IS THAT:

      In American Higher Education, many things that are defined as “Instruction” that are in fact not instruction at all. But they are called “instruction” in order to be able without shame to mislead people. And at the same time to be able to covertly divert tuition payments of students to pay for costs having nothing to do those students’ education, and to be able to do so without the students, parents, regulators, or public knowing it.

      Making matter worse is that so often it is done by professionals like accountants and lawyers who were are told are honest and independent, and held to high and rigorous ethical standards, so we are told that we should believe what they tell us. It is in this way that dishonestly is made lawful in our institutions and society. So this professional lying is the most pernicious fraud of all. Now frauds of all kinds can more freely filter into our entire society, like happens in our tax code.

      So for example, this allows the Higher Education System to publish all over the internet Fraudulent Pie Charts like what Larry innocently posted above, assuming that it was a true (not misleading) account of what was happening.

      This sort of fraud hidden in plain sight in our society is now immense, and growing rapidly. This is one of the major reasons why so many of our institutions in America will so suddenly “clam up” and refuse to discuss truthfully the facts about what they are doing and what is going on in our society as it relates to them, and instead will start to madly SPIN FACTS.

      This often is in sharp contrast to places like Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, where these sorts of matters are often more freely discussed, if only because the people and institutions in those places have so much less to hide on the particular subject at issue, than we do.

      Another example of this corruption of the truth in America in illustrated by the covering up of the facts of what happened in the Spring and Summer at Charlottesville last year, and the Jackie affair at UVA in November of 2014.

      The Hunton and Williams Report broke this chronic American dishonesty habit to its great and ever lasting credit. The tragedy is the follow up efforts by other Americans to ignore and hide that truthful report so that they can continue their dishonest behavior individually and as a society.

      Like I have said elsewhere on this Blog, “the present always hates the truth of what is going on in the present, and the present also hates the truth that can be learned from the past, particularly events in the more recent past.” Hence it takes at least a 100 years TO BEGIN to learn the truth of what happens in War. We have just scratched the surface of what happened in World War II for example. Victors rarely tell the truth.

      So this habitual dishonestly if often everywhere around us.

      And it is one of the tools that our Higher Education System uses to hide what colleges and universities are doing with our money, and what state and local governments are doing with our money as well, including as it relates to its own schools, and colleges and universities. These are systemic growing national problems. Liars who get away with Lying will keep telling ever more Lies simply because they can get away with it, and benefit from Lies.

      A more polite term for these Lies is Pervasive Deception.

  11. Reed and Izzo have introduced an important idea that has so far eluded me but bears further inquiry. I have been thinking that faculty do one of two things: teach or conduct research. (Research does not have to be what we think of as technological R&D but can include researching and writing for publication in academic journals. Much of this, especially in the humanities and social sciences is useless.) But of course faculty members also spend considerable time on internal administrative matters, serving on innumerable committees. Some of these activity is warranted. But much of it, I would surmise, consists of academic navel-gazing of no conceivable interest to anyone outside the academy. It would be interesting to know if the “administrative” burden of sitting on useless committees addressing arcane issues has increased over time. I suspect it has. I wonder if there is any way to measure the time wasted.

  12. Jim above states and asks:

    “But of course faculty members also spend considerable time on internal administrative matters, serving on innumerable committees. Some of these activity is warranted. But much of it, I would surmise, consists of academic navel-gazing of no conceivable interest to anyone outside the academy. It would be interesting to know if the “administrative” burden of sitting on useless committees addressing arcane issues has increased over time. I suspect it has. I wonder if there is any way to measure the time wasted.”

    In reply I believe that:

    Yes, I suspect that too much of this is naval gazing, running around worrying and otherwise dealing with little tempests in teapots, or make work projects.

    But I also suspect that much of this administrative work by senior professors, whether in undergraduate arts and sciences, or graduate level work in traditional Arts and Sciences, and now STEM, and professional schools, has increased greatly for personal, and private collective, interests of senior professors as well as up-and-coming tenure track junior professors.

    This trend is well illustrated on this blog. Recall the senior non teaching UVA professors who have been interviewed for posts on this blog. Recall how some are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year but never teach. Recall how some of these never teach yet claim to work so hard as they administer and coordinate the work of rafts of other professors. Some also profess to teach other professors. I suspect that much of this administrative work goes to promoting those professors’ personal self interests, advancing their careers, and their various professional business interests, whether it be of individual professors or groups of professors engaged in “centers”, or collective interests of one sort or another, including various departments, and the initiatives of those groups, going after all sorts in monies within and outside of the university. A lot of jockeying for, and spitting up of pies and positions, is constantly going on here in modern American universities.

    In any case, typically these are the professors who make far more money than those who teach students. Indeed, teaching here is too often considered unpleasant “grunt work” that is unfortunately needed to be done in order for low status and highly overworked professors to “Bring Home The Bacon.”

    Why?

    Increasingly with public universities, the Tuition Income money, particularly undergraduate tuition, is the primary critical source of general unrestricted monies for these universities. Increasingly its the biggest pot of money from which to pay for professors time and costs incurred by and devoted to their heavy load of research and administrative work that the senior professor elites deem so necessary for their personal self interests and private business affairs.

    Why?

    Increasingly, senior professors consider themselves not to be teachers of undergraduate students. Instead they deem themselves to be scholars, intellectuals, scientists, economists, or whatever, who are FOR HIRE. THUS IN BUSINESS for themselves. Hence, much of their time is spent promoting their own private interests. Doing things like flying about on an endless worldwide “Intellectual Rubber Chicken Circuit” of COLLECTIVE GROUP THINK, while they sell their own wares, pet theories, and ideas to whoever is there and is willing to listen and hopefully then later them pay them for. Things like cooked up academic studies and opinions that support private and or public special interests, including special political interests and private financial interests. This has evolved from the original model of the French Academy’s Public Intellectual. But now its monetized as only Americans can monetize themselves using the powers of the Internet, and other tools of self promotion, afforded by today’s amazing technologies.

    Unfortunately, America’s undergraduates’ students and their parents are now the primary ones paying for all of this, and going broke doing it, mortgaging their future’s now to the tune of 2 trillion dollars. While senior university professors and administrator are living high on the hog.

    • Hmmm… Very interesting theory. And, if true, very discouraging.

    • To understand the modern day Western intellectual, including so many who hold privileged positions within the American Academy, one can always return to, and mine yet again, Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 commencement speech at Harvard:

      “To an outside observer the most striking feature is that the West has lost its courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and (each institution but) … the decline is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society … there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life.

      Political and intellectual bureaucrats (in America) show depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable, as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is, to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.

      And the decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of those same (cowardly) bureaucrats when dealing with (others who are weak), or with currents that cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue tied and paralyzed when they deal with (others) who are powerful and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists. (Here) one should point out the from ancient times decline in courage is () the beginning of the end.

      (While) the majority of the people have been granted well being (beyond) their fathers and grandfathers (wildest) dreams … (there is) the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life, a struggle that imprints many western faces with worry and even depression … (and leaves) an active and intense competition that permeates thought without opening space for free spiritual development.

      American statesmen who want to achieve something highly important and constructive has to move with caution and timidly as there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him … from the beginning laying dozens of traps. So mediocrity triumphs.

      (Meanwhile) destructive and irresponsible freedom (enjoys) boundless space. Society has little defense against the abyss of human decadence, for example the misuse of violence against young people, and (entertainments) full of pornography, crime, and horror. Life so organized () cannot defend itself against the corrosion of evil. So evil has come about gradually (as if) born from a humanistic and benevolent concept that there is no inherent evil in human nature, as if the world belongs to mankind and all defects of life are caused by wrong social systems, which must be corrected.

      (In the American press) there is no moral responsibility for deformation or disproportion (nor is there any responsibility) to readers or history. There are few examples of any obligation to correct mistakes … it would damage sales. (And) because instant and credible information has to be given, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors, and suppositions to fill the voids, and none of them will ever be rectified; they will stay in the readers’ memory.

      (So) the press can stimulate public opinion and miseducate it. (In America) the slogan is that everyone is entitled to know everything. But this is a false slogan, the characteristic of a false era (as the people should have) the right not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, and vain talk. (Instead) hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century, (particularly in the (media), and surprisingly given the alleged freedom, the western press mostly gives emphasis to their own opinions (and prevalent group think).

      The west does not admit the intrinsic evil or man nor does it see any higher task that getting happiness on earth (so) worships man and his material needs, (at expense of spiritual needs) as if man has no superior sense, … (thus) providing access for evil (as) mere freedom does not in the least solve all problems of human life and it even hides a number of new ones. So man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. And as humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation, first by socialism then communism …”

      I admire Gary Saul Morson’s characterization of this speech found in last October’s New Criterion article Solzhenitsyn’s Cathedrals:

      “… Solzhenitsyn again and again returned to his grand theme asking why, after all of the century’s horror, post modernist American intellectuals spoon fed by corrupted intellectuals of an exhausted Europe could do all the damage they were bent upon doing. Like, as he earlier said, intellectuals had done so often before “in one grand sweep dismiss as worthless all of classical Russian literature – which never disdained reality and always sought truth, steeped as it is in love and compassion toward all human beings, and especially toward those who suffer …

      (And how) Solzhenitsyn, (like) a biblical prophet, echoed his Gulag warnings to Americans against their postmodernist teachings to American Youth that, after all the horrors that had happened in the world’s recent collective memory – the torture and murder of tens of millions of innocents – still found root in the American Academy – and he yet again…expressed dismay that America’s post modern intellectuals could still believe and teach “that evil is merely a social construct” and that “absolute truths do not exist any how … and that nor is it worthwhile to strive for some kind of higher meaning …” in our lives.”

      It is all quite remarkable how some actors in this world of ours never change.

      As to the massive amounts of tuition monies, including the $2 trillion in debt incurred by American students, and how much of those monies have been diverted to fund the costs of Elite Professors activities that have nothing to do with teaching undergraduate students, see “UVa’s Invisible Research Subsidies” posted here April 10, 2017 (and comments thereto).

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