Sen. Gardenhire’s fallacious claims about mass schooling

Sen. Todd Gardenhire

Sen. Todd Gardenhire

The rooster crows immediately before sunrise, therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.

— Sample of poplar fallacy

By David Tulis

The marketplace in educational services has been stifled in Chattanooga for decades thanks to a taxpayer-subsidized cartel that is loaded down with corporate hangers-on and profiteers.

But others support public schools despite not being direct recipients of its dollar largesse as a public works program. These include state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, who this week in a speech repeats one of the most popular fallacies about mass state-controlled schooling.

And that is the claim that a college degree causes personal prosperity and virtually guarantees a man or woman a high-paying job.

The logical fallacy is post hoc ergo propter hoc. To translate, “after this, therefore because of this.” Put another way, if B follows A, then A caused B.

This formulation as applied to the state school system holds that if you go through high school, and go through college to get a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science, you will prosper as a result of your classroom drudgeries.

His argument at the Civitan Club on Oct. 16 was to argue for reducing tuition for immigrants to “plug the drain” in talent. “According to Mr. Gardenhire, individuals who do not receive a high school education end up receiving more than $33,000 a year *** from the government. Similarly, those who only receive a high school diploma cost $30,000 a year and those who only attain some college education cost $18,000. He said that it is only when individuals receive a college degree that the trend reverses, resulting in a $15,000 contribution to the system.”

Slap to high school grads

To say that that people who escape high school without a diploma cost the system F$33,000 a year is bad enough, but to say that those with high school diplomas “cost $30,000 a year” is perhaps worse. After all, have not diplomat earners been toiled away through 12 grades to become productive tax-paying citizens? Are they really a drain upon “the system” rather than net givers to local economy and national economy? Is it true that only if you graduate from UT that you become a contributor to the system?

The problem here may be that the report of the speech misrepresents Sen. Gardenhire’s point.

Still, he is saying that unless you get a college degree to guarantee financial success, you are a drain on state welfare.

That’s a pretty bold statement to make, and reinforces our sense of Mr. Gardenhire’s great limits as a senator. Though he works as an investment adviser, he offers no free market perspective at all in his office, does not defend the interest of families in education, favors only tinkering with the system as any sort of reform.

The system is brittle, broken, hugely overpriced, not sensitive to market demands, sees its client as the state rather than the parents, and is morally corrupt in its pragmatism, situational ethics and effeminacy. Sen. Gardenhire sees it as inevitable, sound, true and favoring the general public and supporting the cause of genuine learning and morality.

Source: Emmett Gienapp, “Senator Todd Gardenhire Says ‘We Need To Plug The Drain’ On Costs Of Students Not Receiving Higher Education,” October 16, 2015,

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