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Letter to the Collegian

February 24, 2012

I couldn’t help but respond to this piece in our daily collegian:

http://www.kstatecollegian.com/opinion/public-universities-should-not-accept-students-from-countries-that-have-bad-relations-with-us-1.2706213#.T0fvJ3prQ_d

Here is my response:

Dear Editor,

Milton Friedman used to say that economic change precedes political
change. The opening up of world trade has done more to change China than
any political reform might have accomplished. Unfortunately our foreign
policy is replete with embargoes that punish innocent people on the ground
and do nothing but reinforce local tyrants. Trade is a force for peace,
maybe our only hope. In the words of another great liberal thinker,
Frederic Bastiat, “When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will”.

Therefore, I must say that Mr. Frye has it exactly backward in his piece
“Public universities…” of 02-24-2012. Delivering educational services,
especially higher education, to foreign nationals is part of the peace
effort. It’s the reason why these foreigners would want to sell their work
and their goods to us, so they can earn dollars that they can then spend
to come and get educated in our great university system. As long as these
channels of exchange stay open we can expect to keep war at bay, so it is
exactly to the countries we have most problems with that we should extend
an open invitation to come spend their dollars over here.

Once the benefits of open trade are understood, the distinctions that Mr.
Frye makes about public versus private universities become irrelevant. In
fact “public” universities only get a minor percentage of their funding
from tax-payer money, and private universities also might very well
receive federal grants etc….If Mr. Frye wants to make a general case
against tax-payer money going to subsidize education, that’s fine but
unfortunately he picked the wrong example. If it’s a good thing that
people from all over the world strive to come here to get their
education, then it’s a good thing full-stop, independently of a person
country of origin and independently of the institution providing said
services.

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