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Educational Investment

August 31, 2017
Emmetsburg News

To the editor:

In 1979, Theodore W. Schultz, chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, along with his colleague W. Arthur Lewis, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. The pair was honored for "pioneering research into economic development. . . with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries."

Schultz and Lewis postulated that the primary resource of any nation is its human capital. Schultz was the first economist to systemize how investments in education can accelerate economic growth and enhance the value of that human capital.

His ideas on the value of education surely would have resonated with past generations of Iowans. They took great pride in the recognition Iowa received for the quality of its education and the high literacy rate of its citizens.

Tying a radical new measure to added educational investment was a sure way to gain the favor of Iowans. As I was traveling through the state a few decades ago, I used to listen to the broadcast of the legislative debates in the Iowa State House. One of the most hotly debated issues of the day was whether or not the state should start a lottery. The thought that the money generated by the lottery would be exclusively used to support education was a factor that led to approval.

Of course, it was once again demonstrated that when a pot of money is available, politicians are going to dip into it. Rather than supporting education, the state has cut funding of education and has failed to adequately support our state's universities and community colleges.

Returning to Theodore W. Schultz, he was once on the economics faculty at Iowa State. At that time, the Iowa State economics faculty was internationally recognized and was referred to as the "Ames School" of economic thought. Schultz received the ire of the Farm Bureau and other agricultural interests when he produced a tract that speculated oleomargarine might ultimately benefit Iowa farmers. At that time, a cooperative creamery was in every rural community. Schultz was pressured to resign. He went to the University of Chicago along with some of his associates. The "Ames School" became the "Chicago School."

Alan Oppedal

1005 Ruthven Street

Ruthven, IA 51358



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