Saint Paul, MN–Over the next three years the city of Saint Paul will give $3 million dollars (in $50 allotments) of taxpayer money to newborns in hopes that savings accounts generate college degrees. Giving out money to make progress based on cherry-picked data, that seems legit, and Democratic.
That said, this program is noble, honorable, fantastic, and based on very limited data. CollegeBound Saint Paul, the program in question, appears to rely solely on a singular data set of 1,554 participants from a 2013 study done by the Center For Development Research at Washington University.
MPR recently highlighted CollegeBound Saint Paul in an article titled, “Welcome to the world, and here’s 50 bucks for college“. In light of the limited data and the funding involved, this program should be called TaxpayerBound Saint Paul, to emphasize where the financial gift is coming from: citizens’ pocketbooks.
To clarify, the population of St Paul is 304,442 in 2016; the number of participants in the Center for Social Development’s study was 1,554 in 2013. That means the results of this study make up less than .5% of the population of the very city where this program is being implemented.
For compassion sake, to give children a fighting chance at getting an education is an honorable goal, a very progressive idea, especially done right with much research, scientific method, and proof of positive outcomes. However, to create programs funded with taxpayer dollars on scant information is reckless and poorly thought out.
I will end with this, as with any economic idea, time will tell. The truth will show itself as the aid gives way to the unrealistic promises in expensive programs. Economic ideas that work thrive over time. Economic ideas that do not work go bust, just after the politician that created them leaves office, most likely in 18 to 20 years down the line when we have no recollection of these programs or their champions or their intent in the first place.