With a decision of Lower Saxony, the German have now shown precisely how serious they are about keeping the country as one of the most educated in the world: they have eliminated all college and university tuition. The Germans view education as not just a right, but an essential component for continued growth.
There are critics to educational subsidies who raise some good-faith issues of how such payments can eliminate pressure to make efficient choices and actually drive up costs. I actually see value to students paying some tuition. However, with tuition sky rocking in the United States and falling enrollment numbers, the United States is heading to a reckoning in the future for our lack of investment in our workforce. While we have spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and just renewed our commitment to the later to keep forces in the country), we have continued to cut environmental, scientific, educational, and infrastructure investments. The inevitable result is that we will continue to drop in our competitiveness in the world market and the future economy. Every other country is investing heavily in education while the United States continues to be distracted by shiny objects with more immediate political benefits for politicians.