One of those sure thing, great ideas for education in the 1990s was for states to start in-state tuition savings programs. It was thought that these programs would not only help parents save for their children’s higher education but would also serve to assure state colleges and universities a future income from citizens of the state. Like most government programs, though, this one has failed miserably all across the country.

These savings plans, called 529’s, seemed like such a great idea. States started them with all sorts of good intentions, wonderful promises, and starry-eyed dreams. It would have been a boon to parents, too. Yet nearly every state that started one is finding them failing, falling deeply into the red.

Not only have many states administered their programs badly but the economic situation over the last several years has served to make matters worse. As one finance website says, the programs are being hit from two directions at once by the down economy. As states find themselves in a budget hole they are cutting support to public universities and as that happens those universities are raising their tuition to close their own budget holes. This is wrecking havoc on the savings plans.

Consequently, many states are closing down their plans and/or taking away benefits from those in them.

Currently, 19 states have prepaid tuition plans, six of which (Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia) are closed to new investors. Nationally, assets under management total $17.1 billion as of December, up from $15.7 billion in December 2008, and the number of individuals with an account has remained largely unchanged at 2.2 million, according to the CSPN.

Once again we see government trying to get into areas that it has no real legitimate role, this time with savings plans. Governments have proved themselves wholly unable to plan for the future, promised more than they could deliver (in order to get votes), found that their ideas were failing, and then the whole edifice collapsed around them.

Now, think about this little lesson and apply it to healthcare. Government cannot even administer a simple college tuition savings plan. And we want government to take over our healthcare?