The polity that is Denmark, Bryan Caplan (!) edition

by on January 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm in Education, Law | Permalink

The Danish parliament on Monday passed a bill that will bar students from taking a second university degree.

The bill restricts individuals who already have a higher education degree from pursuing a degree in another field at the same or a lower level.

The bill was supported by the three government parties as well as the Danish People’s Party and the Social Democrats. Its backers say the move is a matter or priorities.

Here is the full story, via Anecdotal.

1 Neal January 6, 2017 at 12:28 pm

What if they simply said the government would refuse to fund second degrees?

2 y81 January 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Then rich people would be able to buy more than poor people, which is un-Danish.

3 John de Rivaz January 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm

It would seem more sensible and less lawyer-like simply to refuse to fund second degrees. However it would also be a good idea to have exclusions, so people could get combinations in really useful subjects. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Thus you could get degrees in medicine and engineering, so that you can join the growing trend to replace costly professionalism with technology cheaply available to all to solve the problem of disease, as discussed recently on the Singularity Hub and in the boardrooms of IBM, Google etc.

But you couldn’t get degrees in media studies and marketing. Even though they may go together, the majority of those taxpayers who pay for them may not think they are very useful.

4 XVO January 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Maybe they’re hoping it will force people to stop getting stupid worthless degrees. Sucks for those people who already have stupid worthless degrees, but maybe they shouldn’t have been so stupid and worthless in the first place.

5 John January 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Looks like the new law also includes an exemption for situations where the prior degree is considered non-marketable so doesn’t seem as bad as being made out. Likely many of the younger student are complaining about not having a plan going in and it perhaps impacting which degree they leave with (no idea if they have a “declare my major” phase at the start of the application or during the educational tenure once the student has some exposure to a number of different areas.

Also, given the rather poor state or journalism and news reporting these days (more interest in sensationalism and click bate I’m wondering just what the law actually says. The “full story” seems to lack that small detail.

6 TMC January 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

That exemption should go with choosing a degree that is marketable. If the person picked one garbage degree, what are the chances they are just trying to prolong their college days?

7 Lord Action January 6, 2017 at 1:19 pm

It would seem simpler not to fund non-marketable degrees in the first place…

8 John January 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Sure but then cannot the same claim be made for a lot of other choices people make that central planners of all stripes dislike. Might be a bit of a slippery slope in that argument.

I do wonder if the Danes don’t already have something in place related to dead degrees outside the usual Liberal Arts type degrees — which are not necessarily obsolete in terms or getting jobs, they are just not specialized to any given work place/industry.

9 Jan January 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm

What’s a non-marketable degree?

10 Just Another MR Commentor, King of the Komments January 6, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I say the marketability of the degree depends FAR more on the quality and respectability of the institution than the subject matter itself. Many so-called “marketable” degree programs are in fact of quite low quality and usefulness, particularly are lower tier institutions.

11 Jan January 6, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Investment bankers with English or history degrees from Yale, Harvard, etc.

12 Bill January 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

John, thanks for getting the accurate information.

Also, does this legislation prohibit you from getting a second degree in Denmark if you pay for it yourself and second it would appear that you could get another degree in another country.

GMU…here is a place to attract Danish students, preferably female, seeking a second degree.


13 Lord Action January 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

There may not be a price such that you can pay for it yourself, at least not in any real sense.

14 Bill January 6, 2017 at 11:11 pm


15 Danton January 6, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Im fairly sure it ended up being banned altogether, but I cant be bothered to look it up.

16 Fazal Majid January 6, 2017 at 2:09 pm

They should instead refuse to fund useless degrees, regardless of order. hat said, Danish universities are less likely to carry the wildly imaginative yet utterly useless topics American ones do in an effort to separate students from their money (or their parents’, or the government student aid’s).

17 Troll me January 6, 2017 at 9:19 pm

It’s a small country. Numerous nearby options exist if you want to pay foreigner EU price to attend uni somewhere else. Also, it might increase sticker shock as the size of the public subsidy. Sticker shock sometimes outdoes demonstrations of social benefit via positive externalities, as a mode of argumentation in policy debate.

18 Carl January 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Why? And how did this article influence you to come to that conclusion?

19 Just Another MR Commentor, King of the Komments January 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm

I support the elite universities that actually produce results but around 75% of the schools that exist now can be shuttered, they are simply not effective and providing quality, useful education

20 XVO January 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Corruption.30 years ago in the USA you could work a part time job to pay for college with enough left over for room and board. Today for tuition and books alone your part time job wouldn’t pay half of a year at most state or higher universities. Did education get better? No. Did it get harder to deliver education? No, it’s easier.

So someone could angrily and without deep thought easily come to the conclusion that universities are the problem and should be shut down. It would be better to remove subsidies and reduce credentialism, but yeah….

21 Bill January 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm

XVO, You should do some research on how states during the late 70’s and 80s dramatically cut back on educational funding.

22 JWatts January 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm

“states during the late 70’s and 80s dramatically cut back on educational funding.”

I’m not sure about the 70’s but this graph makes clear that State & Local governments have increased funding for higher education from roughly $55B in 1984 to $78B in 2014 in Real terms.

I don’t think there’s been any dramatic cut backs. There has been an increase in enrollment which has caused a decline in funding per student of roughly 7-8%.

23 Anderse January 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm

This smells to me like #FakeNews.

24 Danton January 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm

It’s not. They’re saving $40m a year that they’ll use on strengthening unemployment insurance scheme (a different, temporary and more middle class scheme than welfare).

There was some confusion about whether it should be banned entirely (from the public university system) or just require self-financing, but I think it ended up as a ban with a few exemptions.

25 Troll me January 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm

This kind of earmarking stuff is dumb.

If it makes sense to drop the second degrees, then do it. If it makes sense to add $40 million to strengthen insurance payouts during unemployment, then do it.

Why should the one be linked to the other? Are they both respectively the marginally worst and best places to be putting money?

26 Floccina January 6, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Is this fake news or just silly news?

27 John January 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Get the impression it’s a combination of usual political screams when money gets pulled from one group for another and the highly skewed statement of any facts to get the most noise generated.

28 John January 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Re bullet 2:
“News agency Ritzau reports that up to 2,200 students each year will be impacted by the bill but the government estimates that around 30 percent of those will be able to qualify for a dispensation for either health reasons or because their first education has become obsolete.” would seem an important caveat to the universal stated.

29 Thiago Ribeiro January 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Again, the world follows Brazil’s lead. Brazilians can’t follow two undergraduate courses at public universities at the same time.

30 msgkings January 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Brazilians also apparently can’t read English, as this post is not about Danes pursuing two degrees at the same time. Perhaps try Google Translate next time.

31 Thiago Ribeiro January 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm

The point is, Brazil fiercely restricts what one can do when pursuing a degree fu ded by the State. Other cou tries must follow our lead before they collapse.

32 Thiago Ribeiro January 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm

We are you tomorrow.

33 msgkings January 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

God help us.

34 Thiago Ribeiro January 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

God is on our side because we are on the right side of History and vice versa. As our last Emperor is said to have said, “I await God’s justice through History’s voice.”

35 Thadeu Freitas Filho January 6, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Please forgive my fellow countryman, Thiago Ribeiro.
I can assure you he doesn’t speak for all Brazilians.

36 Thiago Ribeiro January 7, 2017 at 11:25 am

I speak for all real Brazilians. I am the last Free Brazilian. But you must kowtow before your American masters.

37 Heorogar January 6, 2017 at 1:47 pm

When the government pays, it can make the rules.

Assuming the US Internal Revenue Code has not been changed (since years ago I last worked at it), one cannot deduct education costs for education/training that is required to enter a career or profession. However, later education/training to gain knowledge/skills and increase earning-power may be deductible.

38 George Mason January 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm

CLE. Not just the classes either, but also all the ancillaries such as travel, lodging, meals, etc.

39 jeff fisher January 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Something to keep in mind with one’s personal experience with health insurance premiums:

Not only do your premiums go up because healthcare costs rise in general, they also go up quite dramatically because you are getting older. Under ACA regulation, I believe, a 60yo pays 3x what a 24yo pays, and those increases get steeper as you get older. Starting at about 45 you can expect your premium to go up 10% each year just because of your age, even if overall premiums were stable. Similarly you are very likely to be using more healthcare as you age.

Personal experience of healthcare will be much worse than the overall state of healthcare because of these personal trends.

40 jeff fisher January 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Note, the age related increases were higher before the ACA.

15 years ago I bought a high-deductible catastrophic plan on the individual market for a year, and man was it cheap. $60 a month I think, I was 24 or so. But even way back then a 60yo would have paid $300 a month, assuming they passed the physical perfectly (if they passed it too badly they just couldn’t get insured at all).

41 jeff fisher January 6, 2017 at 2:20 pm

and i’m commenting in the wrong place, hah.

42 msgkings January 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm

You are probably still out of sorts after getting fired from coaching the Rams.

43 4ChanMan January 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

You forgot to call them Cucks – they are all CUCKS

44 jc January 6, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Fisher OUT!

45 Massimo Heitor January 6, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Denmark is formally banning students from taking a second undergraduate degree. In the US, it’s much worse. Public universities discourage students taking second undergraduate degrees, but they do that in secret admissions cabals without any public disclosure.

Hacking private college admissions discussions to uncover their secret process and motivations and tricks would be a scandal gold mine. Which race/age/demographic groups to the college admissions boards want to boost and which to they want to lower? And what is their motivation? Personal ideologies? Political favors?

On a related note, it’s quite ridiculous that colleges and universities offer so many barriers to say, taking a math class for credit. Some schools have flirted with online options that offer full credit and that’s amazing.

46 Troll me January 6, 2017 at 9:43 pm

Discretion is not necessarily a bad thing, if it can be used appropriately.

47 Massimo Heitor January 7, 2017 at 1:47 am

Discretion is important for hiring employees, dating, and yes, even admission to full time education programs.

I have a hard time seeing justification for denying an older adult like me to take upper division math or science classes and get the normal certification. If the student can’t handle the content, he/she will generally drop out or maybe fail out and lose motivation to continue.

Online programs have self-guided learner in mind, and the results of those have often been underwhelming.

48 LiberalsDontGetFreedom January 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Dystopic hell for freedom loving people no matter how well it “works.” Liberals can read sci-fi about autocratic societies that “work” and get it, but not see it when in front of them…

49 Jan January 6, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Ever been to Denmark? The place is a shithole, the standard of living is below that of most African nations, the population typically rates among the least happy in the world, the typical man is physically substandard and most folks lack even a 6th grade education. Liberalism sucks. If they found freedom, Danes might hope to piece together a society that can at least put food on people’s tables. But the socialism has so rotted the nation that even that would likely take a couple generations.

50 jorgensen January 6, 2017 at 8:25 pm

My relatives in Denmark don’t seem to be suffering much…

In fact they seem rather happy.

51 Maurice de Sully January 6, 2017 at 11:11 pm

If the Greeks were smart enough to fill their country with oil reserves, they would be as happy as the Danes.

52 LineralsDontGetFreedom January 7, 2017 at 9:23 am

Yeah, how’s their reading comprehension? I image pretty good given their schools. Yours? Not so much.

I conceded it “works.” Then you sarcastically re-explained that. Brilliant.

Go read your sci-fi again about the planets all happy and prosperous but living under robotic collectivist tyranny. You watched those and got the point way back when. But the left has lost any love of liberty, sense of humor, or logical ability, so we now have you.

Now you can’t even understand it when explained to you.

Of course, separately I could argue that it only “works” for 12 homogenous herring eaters who are essentially from the same family (where socialism comes closest to working). But that’s a different debate which I’d also win.

For this one, let’s just work on your reading comprehension skills.

53 LineralsDontGetFreedom January 7, 2017 at 9:26 am

If “Jante Law” is how you want to live you’re a sick totalitarian busy body.

As a libertarian I wouldn’t stop you, but I don’t respect it. It’s anti human collectivist sci Land.

54 Massimo Heitor January 7, 2017 at 1:49 am

All universities across the globe generally have a secret admissions process and routinely deny people access to education for reasons like this. This is hardly unique to Denmark or left-leaning socialist type places.

55 Anonymous January 6, 2017 at 6:43 pm

( In some countries B.E is a bachelor of Engineering degree).

Hamlet : To B.E or not to B.E

56 Clifford Asness January 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

Jeopardy answer:

“What is the square root of 4(BE)^2?”

Sorry, old one…

57 dearieme January 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Why can’t a Danish student just clear off to the Netherlands and do a degree, taught in English, there? “Standard tuition fees in 2017/18 are EUR 2,006 for most courses. There are some exceptions and private universities will almost always be more expensive. However, these fees are correct for the majority of courses taught in English in the Netherlands.” They can get a loan for the fees from the Dutch government.

Or Scotland; as I understand it, it’s only £1,820 p.a. for EU students bar those from the rest of the UK. I haven’t checked whether they can get a loan too.

58 4ChanMan January 6, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I have to conclude that you are a major Cuck

59 jorgensen January 6, 2017 at 8:27 pm

“I have to conclude …”

that says a LOT more about you than it does about “dearieme”.

60 Bill January 6, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Jorgerson, agree with you and dierieme.

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