Want more slap-dash mockery from me on financial aid policy/politics? This is the post for you! US News reports (hat tip: Steve Sailer) that

The [568] group, named after a law that waives antitrust provisions to allow the members to meet, wants to lessen the confusing variation in offers by requiring aid officers to use the same method for determining need. Applying for aid “should not be like bargaining in a bazaar,” says Morton Owen Schapiro, president of Williams College in Massachusetts and a member of the group, who worries that the existing hodgepodge of policies tends to keep aid dollars from going to the neediest students. Critics fear the new approach will reduce competition.

D’uh! How many times do we have to go through this?

1) Maybe I am just drinking too deeply at the PC-infected waters of the College’s Diversity Report, but isn’t this usage of the word “bazaar” a little offensive? Is a bazaar a naturally an unpleasant place to shop? Are shop owners in a bazaar less fair or friendly to deal with? Is the universal and ideal shopping experience to be found the North Adams Walmart rather than those dirty, sleazy bazars in Istanbul or Tehran? Just asking!

2) Yes, I realize that Morty is using “bazaar” to mean a place without set prices, a place where bargaining occurs. Fine. But is there a single free market transaction with a price tag greater than $5,000 (much less $160,000) which does not involve bargaining? I can’t think of one.

3) Big thanks to Morty for wanting to save me and all the other idiot parents from all those “confusing variations!” Why, if Williams offers my daughter a different financial aid package than Amherst, I’ll be so flummoxed that even blogging may have to stop.

4) If collusion — whoops, I mean reducing the “existing hodgepodge of policies” — works for financial aid, think of all the other applications. Car shopping, for example, features all sorts of variations and much nasty bargaining. Perhaps the 568 Group could establish precisely what each family should have to pay for any given car. Come to think of it, buying a house was a big bother. We need a 568 Group for this as well.

Call me old fashioned, but I’ll take the “confusing variations” of a free market every time.

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