Imagine you are attending a top ranked college.  You are nearing graduation and are about to be named Valedictorian of your class.  You have a grade point average of 3.95.  It wasn’t easy.  For four years of college, while many others spent more time on parties than studies, you stuck with it.  You went to all your classes and you studied for 10 hours every day, counting class time.  On weekends, you slept in until 8:00 a.m. but then you hit the books for most of the day. You did take time to run errands, take a walk in a local park, and write a couple of quick emails to parents and friends.  But, in your mind, school was your job and you were doing the best you could.


In the frenzy of fairness and political correctness, your college, just a month before graduation, decides that grades are potentially demeaning to students.  In fact, there is a body of work that suggests that minorities are discriminated against and end up with lower grade point averages than majority students. Grading and graduation honors smack of class, and, they hurt the self esteem of those who do not score well on exams.  The college makes the decision to eliminate grades and honors at graduation.   You find that your diploma will read the same as every other member of your class who has completed the requirements for a degree.  An employer who asks for a transcript of your work will learn only that you passed all your courses. All your work will not pay off in better job opportunities.  If you had it to do over again, you might have just partied more.  What sense would it make to work harder if you could receive no external advantage from all that work?

The intended consequence is that kids feel less pressure and tend to have fewer self esteem problems, at least until they get out of school and meet a world where people compete for jobs, raises, and most other things.  Professors need only track students enough to ensure they have met minimum requirements to get credit for the courses they teach.  This takes stress from the professors and in the short term they are happy with the change.

HonorRollThe unintended consequence, after a few years, is that the college has a reputation as a party school and employers look elsewhere for talent.  Fewer students with ambition and drive consider the school since it will not provide them with the education they want, nor the opportunity to show future employers that they can compete well with others.  Professors are no longer stimulated by bright students since those students have all chosen to go to other schools.  Soon they don’t care about their classes or students and just resign to hold their tenure and benefits until they retire.  Ivy League Brown University, in the 60s and 70s was repeatedly ranked in the top 50 schools in the nation.  Since Brown’s 1969 decision to make grades for classes an option for students, Brown has steadily dropped in academic rating.  Today it is nowhere near the top 50 and is bested by almost every Ivy League school.

The same ‘progressive’ mentality that creates mediocrity in colleges like in the above example, aims to always make most people feel good. (Brown does claim to have the happiest students.)   This is what is behind a desire to GIVE everyone healthcare of equal value whether earned or not.  This is the attitude that says that excelling is being mean to those who do not excel.  And the attitude that says the rich should pay for the poor and the hard workers should carry the weak, by law, not by choice.

When healthcare is dumbed down by government control, we will lose much of the health and medical innovation we have now.  We will lose many of the brightest minds who will find other ways to be challenged than medicine.  And for what?  So that everyone can have the same healthcare (except the politicians, of course).  Or so that we can cover a few more people than have ‘regular healthcare plans’ now?   Many progressives will not quit until everyone is dragged screaming and shouting into a program that they will not use properly, if at all.

In nature for the past few million years, survival of the fittest has served the earth well.  Why do “Progressives” think they are so much smarter than nature and markets?  I hope that the politicians look carefully at all of the consequences of the current reform proposals.  They may succeed in gaining more political power and control, but I doubt they will accomplish many, if any, of the lofty goals they promise.  And I hope that what they do accomplish will not be at the cost of creating a mediocracy and losing freedom.