In the age of the market religion– the Reagan age– corporations pretended that the “invisible hand” shaped markets becuase that allowed them to shape markets. That underwrote market practices that in more ordinary times would be considered illegal or unethical or both. Capitalism needs, well, capital, so allowing the financial corporations to shape the financial markets doomed the economy.
It’s possible to imagine a ruling class/oligarchy that had very different assumptions but, at least in our time, the wealthy and powerful seem almost freakishly unconcerned with the long term. In the market that they shaped, the next quarter mattered and little else. This “damn the future” attitude isn’t just limited to finances. The university powers-that-be, e.g. the administrations, have no monopoly on long term thinking.
They shaped their markets by destroying full time employment, shifting costs to individual students via loans, and raising their salaries. Greed is the order of the day. They loved the corporate marketing models that made athletic sports so important. They’re no better than the financial sector. This is the environment that birthed the for-profit universities and so it’s not surprising that they too created a market that lacked scruples.
Now that the regulatory machinery is starting to come alive again, we can at least hope for some democratic input into the ways that certain markets work. In Higher Education, the point of the regulatory spear seems to be the for-profits, which makes a certain amount of sense, given the sentimentalism that tends to surround public education. The public universities, though, can’t expect to stay out of the fray for long.