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The Upside of the Debt Debacle: Taking the "Long View" Seriously

The debt crisis was nothing but political theater, but wouldn't it be great if more issues got the "think of your grandchildren" treatment?


Throughout the excruciating debt negotiations, there has been a particularly loud cry from conservatives to "think of our grandchildren." Countless politicians, most of whom will be dead by the time the debt limit creates a real fiscal crisis, are set on dealing with a problem that might materialize in 2070. But as GOOD pointed out a few days ago, the debt deal didn't actually address our long-term problems at all.

Even though this forward-looking view has been little more than political theater, there's an opportunity to apply it to thorny problems that could seriously use a long-term plan of attack from lawmakers. In a recent and all-too-rare moment of government foresight, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to make birth control free under the new health care law. It's a move that won't just save money in the long term, but also could help the world's overpopulation problem. Here are a few more issues that could benefit if politicians took the long view:

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Lumni: Investing in College Students as If They Were Companies

Social enterprise Lumni makes paying for college a collective investment instead of an individual one.

With the cost of higher education spiraling ever upwards, creative ideas for footing tuition bills are more important than ever. But what if paying for college became a collective investment instead of an individual one? That's the thinking behind Lumni, a 9-year-old social enterprise that helps finance the cost of college for students in exchange for a fixed percentage of their future earnings over a set period of time.

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The New Role of Money in Admissions: Is This the End of the Meritocratic Ideal?

Under a disturbing new proposal, students would be able to buy a guaranteed spot at Oxford and other top English universities.

Affluent students in the U.K. are about to get a big leg up in the college admissions game. Under a new proposal, students will be able to buy a guaranteed spot at some of the top universities—like Oxford—that turn away thousands of candidates every year. It's a money making proposition for the schools since students admitted in this way will pay the same higher tuition rates that foreign students pay, $20,000 to $45,000 per year, depending on the student's course of study. The plan also sounds like a total death knell for the idea of a meritocracy.

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