By Ross Dubberly

A substantial portion of young people in America today think socialism is a splendid idea. But are my fellow peers as ready to apply such an abysmally horrid economic model to their own personal livesas they are to the entire U.S. economy?

Hardly.

Grades make for a good case study.

As far as grading is concerned, most students would, of course, like to see a merit-based system maintained. As YAF’s annual GPA Redistribution Video Contest demonstrates, many students—year after year—are quite uncomfortable with the idea of redistributing grades. As one student put it to the 2017 Contest winners, Davidson College Young Americans for Freedom, “I kind of like people to work for what they get.” Or, as another student said, “Everyone works hard to attain their own GPA and I don’t think it’s necessarily fair [to redistribute grades].”

And who could argue with these students?

Why should Jane have her A drop to a C, for instance, just so Johnny can have a C instead of a F? After all, Jane attends virtually all of her classes, takes notes assiduously, and goes out sparingly. But Johnny, on the other hand, is seldom in class, and even when he is, he spends his time texting and talking; he studies—or rather, crams—only the night beforean exam; and he goes out most nights of the week.

In such circumstances, would giving both Jane and Johnny a C be fair? I doubt that very many students would think so. However, such a situationwouldcreate equality, a circumstance highly desired by many who rail against the “one percent” and lecture students about the “haves” and “have-nots” on college campuses.

But as the great 20th century economist and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman put it to one student in a Q&A session after a 1978 lecture:

A society that aims for equality before liberty will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first for liberty will not end up with equality; but it will end up to a closer approach to equality than any other kind of system that has been developed.

While the rhetoric of socialism may sound appealing, it might be a good idea for us college students to ask the following: If the redistribution of grades is a terrible idea, then why is the redistribution of wealth and income a great one?


Ross Dubberly is the cochairman of the University of Georgia Young Americans for Freedom chapter.