Friday, March 31, 2006


Ban scholarships!

I've had much more experience in the last year with scholarships than anyone could want, and I've had a lot of time to ponder the question of who is wasting whose time in the process of scholarship-application. I've come to the conclusion that the people who offer scholarships may be doing society a disservice.

The vast majority of applicants to any given scholarship are losers. For them, the application process is a total waste of time. Moreover, even the winners produce nothing of lasting value; the time they spend on applications effects only a transfer of wealth, not the creation of wealth. So the "benefactor" causes a few people to have an easier time of going to school, but causes a bunch of people to waste significant time pushing paper. Depending on the relative number of winners and losers, the size of the transfer, and the opportunity cost (e.g. foregone wages) of the applicants, it could easily be that society would be better off without any scholarships.

Obviously, a scholarship process that took zero time would produce net benefits. Such a process is hard for me to imagine. But it might be better for everyone if benefactors were less discriminating.

This is pretty obviously true.
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