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Minnesota Government Bans Free Online University Education Within Its Borders.

Written by Gary North on October 22, 2012

The state of Minnesota has discovered a fiendish plot against the residents of the state. Thirty-three major universities are offering free courses online.

The state has warned its residents not to take these courses.

Why not? Because the law says that no out-of-state university can sell education in Minnesota unless it is registered.

But the courses are free.

Yes, but they involve the use of time.

But the law — decades old — does not mention the spending of time. Only money.

Well, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the state of Minnesota is determined not to have its residents cheated of their valuable by such fly-by night diploma mills as Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Cal Tech, Columbia, and Duke. No, sir. The residents of Minnesota are defenseless sitting ducks who must be protected from academic predators.

The target is Coursera, which makes these courses available online for free. No degrees are granted or promised.

Coursera has posted this warning on its site.

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.

The Department of Higher Education says that residents may take such courses if they are out of state at the time.

Across the Web, howls of derisive laughter have greeted the decree.

This policy by the state is an example of North’s Law #1 of bureaucracy: “Some bureaucrat will eventually enforce the letter of the law to the point of absurdity.”

In every bureaucracy, there will be a George Roedler. These people are determined. They say things that get normal people to start giggling uncontrolably, yet they say them with a straight face. Forbes reports.

Defending the statute, George Roedler, Manager of Institutional Registration & Licensing for the state of Minnesota says, “We regulate colleges & universities that enroll Minnesota residents. They are required to register as degree granting institutions with us.” When I pointed out that students are not actually obtaining a degree upon the completion of these online courses, he argued that, “Our statute does not exempt free and non credit bearing courses.”

The bureaucrats got such laughter that they reversed the decision in just one day.

George Roedler looks like an dolt in retrospect, of course. His superiors have hung him out to dry. “Sorry, George. You were expendable.”

He had said that the statute allowed no exceptions. This was nonsense. Bureaucrats interpret all statutes. He interpreted it on Thursday, October 18. The Internet took over by that afternoon. On Friday, his superiors reversed his interpretation.

The statute was the justification for the ban on Thursday. Invoking the statute was a convenient cover for the bureaucracy’s interpretation. Then they looked like dolts. They had to identify a sacrificial dolt. But which dolt? On Friday, the senior bureaucrats identified him by default: George Roedler.

Here is the universal rule: Bureaucrats interpret all laws. The legislature and the executive have little to say in the matter once they create a law. This is why the Federal Register was over 83,000 pages of fine print, three columns, in 2011.

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16 thoughts on “Minnesota Government Bans Free Online University Education Within Its Borders.


  2. Afraid of a little healthy competiton are we? I'll bet "Stewart Smally" has his hand in this as well.

  3. Yup, keep um fat , dumb, and voteing dumbocratic.

  4. Anonymous Guest says:

    What a maroon!

  5. Before the Republicrats embraced NAFTA and GATT and outsourced all the manufacturing and the high paying jobs, a college degree meant something. Now it's just a worthless pretty printed piece of paper. And millions of Americans are going into a lifetime of debt servitude to get one.

  6. Cliffystones says:

    President Clinton is a Democrat. And he didn't embrace NAFTA, he took it to bed!

  7. James St. John says:

    I feel bad for any thing Bill Clinton took to bed, even Hilary.

  8. Just try to enforce such a 'law', good luck…………

  9. Former Democrat says:

    Breaking news – Honey Boo Boo has endorsed Obama!

  10. Danno:

    The reason that the common BS/BA degree is worthless is that it is worthless. At my local large university, the most common major is psychology, a degree that is made much more valuable if the person can type and do filing. Too many people have been led to believe that the college degree is essential to getting ahead. In some professions, it certainly is necessary to have the formal degrees. However some nonsense majors should be dumped.

  11. SumerianMan says:

    The State MUST control the educational systems or else the Country might produce freethinkers and revolutionaries! __And das not goot!

  12. ken1lutheran says:

    If we are ever to get government back under control, we must revise the Administrative Procedure Act and its state counterparts to take the real lawmaking power out of the hands of bureaucrats and put it back in the hands of legislatures. We must also revise our constitutions to remove from the courts any power to compel the passage of any legislation, as has happened in several states in the last few decades–even where the state constitution was explicit that the judiciary would not usurp the legislative power (Massachusetts).

  13. There was a time when the job applicant with a college degree would always trump the one with only a high school diploma, but now that out-of-work teachers and engineers are swelling the homeless ranks alongside the chronically unemployed/unemployable, a 4-year liberal arts degree really is throwing good money after bad. I had a college roommate in the 70's who kicked himself for majoring in sociology, but went on to do quite well in real estate.

  14. […] Minnesota Government Bans Free Online University Education Within Its Borders. […]