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Saturday, June 08, 2013

 

Why is Washington, D.C., a boomtown when the rest of the country has economic despair? Why are housing prices going up in D.C. when everywhere else in the world they’ve had a horrible five years?


Looks like someone to keep an eye on.

Ask Midland University’s Ben Sasse if he’s going to run for Nebraska’s open Senate seat next year, and he’s quick to insist that he hasn’t committed to anything. But within hours of Representative Jeff Fortenberry’s May 29 announcement that he would not be pursuing the seat, Sasse had a video up on Facebook announcing he was going to embark on a 45-day listening tour across the state​—​“from Benkelman to Beatrice”​—​with his wife and three young children in tow before making a decision....

Being president of the college in his hometown agrees with Sasse, but his résumé suggests no shortage of ambition. He studied at Harvard, Oxford, and St. John’s, then earned a Ph.D. from Yale. His dissertation won the Theron Rockwell Field and the George Washington Egleston Prizes. The dissertation is a treasure trove of forgotten history relating to the populist backlash surrounding the Supreme Court’s school prayer decisions in the 1960s. More broadly, it’s a sophisticated and brilliant dissection of how a lot of the standard liberal narratives about American political realignment in the last 50 years are woefully incomplete at best and self-serving fictions to attack religious conservatives at worst. Given his academic background, it’s not surprising that Sasse has taught history and politics at Yale and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. ...

When Sasse was appointed president of Midland three years ago, he was just 37 years old​—​making him one of the youngest college presidents in the country. At the time, Midland was in dire straits and contemplating bankruptcy. Sasse turned out to be a prodigious crisis manager. In the last three years, Midland’s enrollment has gone from 590 students to 1,100. It’s not much of an overstatement to say that in the process of turning Midland around, Sasse reinvented the higher education wheel. Oddly enough, his vision for reforming higher ed grew out of his experience trying to fix America’s dysfunctional health care system.

“The only sector that even compares with higher ed for being broken is health care. Think about how similar they are. They’re both dominated by third-party payment, and that third party is mostly public funders that don’t know how to hold anybody accountable for outcomes. The institutions exist primarily for the good of their own workers, not their own customers​—​students or patients. Quality is hard to measure, but to the degree you can measure, you have to measure things that are team outcomes, not solo, virtuoso outcomes,” he says.
Telling the truth

“The greatness of America is the greatness of the American people,” he continues, “not the greatness of centralized bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. Why is Washington, D.C., a boomtown when the rest of the country has economic despair? Why are housing prices going up in D.C. when everywhere else in the world they’ve had a horrible five years? The federal government ain’t feeling the pain. They just keep on growing.”

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