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Monday, August 26, 2013

We don't really need more education: Wall Street Journal editorialist Richard Vedder says so

I began reading the Wall Street Journal regularly (for me). I am usually a New York Times fan, but both are long slogs to read for all the potential information an MBA might like to know. But knowledge is power. Or well, maybe it is not.

Richard Vedder in an interview piece by Allysia Finley suggests we should be getting 18-24 year old adults into a different line of thinking, not college per say.

Fact #1: "Colleges are an escape from reality. Believe me, I've lived in one for half a century. It's like living in Disneyland. They're these little isolated enclaves of nonreality."

Fact #2: "In 1964, federal student aid was a mere $231 million. By 1981, the feds were spending $7 billion on loans alone, an amount that doubled during the 1980s and nearly tripled in each of the following two decades, and is about $105 billion today. Taxpayers now stand behind nearly $1 trillion in student loans.
Meanwhile, grants have increased to $49 billion from $6.4 billion in 1981. By expanding eligibility and boosting the maximum Pell Grant by $500 to $5,350, the 2009 stimulus bill accelerated higher ed's evolution into a middle-class entitlement. Fewer than 2% of Pell Grant recipients came from families making between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in 2007. Now roughly 18% do."

Fact #3:"The Obama administration has been beating up on [for-profits] pretty hard for the past two to three years," Mr. Vedder says. "It's true that drop-out rates are disproportionately higher at the for-profits, but it's also true that the for-profits are reaching the exact audience that Obama wants to reach"—low-income minorities, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college."

Fact #4 (most important)" "Nor is the president addressing what Mr. Vedder believes is a fundamental problem: too many kids going to college. "Thirty-percent of the adult population has college degrees," he notes. "The Department of Labor tells us that only 20% or so of jobs require college degrees. We have 115,520 janitors in the United States with bachelor's degrees or more. Why are we encouraging more kids to go to college?" 

And that is the crux of the article, because, the cost has spiraled out of control, all the public universities are competing for heads through amenities and services, much like hospitals duplicate - and as we have seen there too - the costs go up, dramatically.

My Journal response to another reader:

[Again from Vedder's mouth: He adds that the president's approach "creates a moral hazard problem. What it signals to current and future loan borrowers is that I don't have to take these repayment of loans very seriously. . . . " I don't have to worry too much about getting a high-paying job." It encourages "sociology and anthropology majors compared with math and engineering majors." "]

So, instead of having any freedom of choice, we should just strongly encourage/ threaten to plunk people into math and engineering, because, like, those are real majors?

No need for anything like the "classics"....just CS/EE majors. No teachers either - don't want them foisted their commie attitudes on the kiddies...Or teaching social studies the wrong way...Foreign language...waste of resources, speak English.

WHAT subjects are important enough to know about anymore? Who decides that? I didn't realize we had a glut of anthropology degree holders screwing up our economy with their obscene debt levels....the parasites. Economics majors, like Vedder, are they killing it in the job market as from Academia or Wall Street? (I hold an industrial engineering degree...does that mean I picked right?)

The mixed signal is: while we'd like to promote all young people to get higher ed, as you contend, there is not enough jobs available for the degrees held, as it "is not a gateway to success for everyone."

Wow. The truth comes out. Success is not through knowledge acquisition, but instead, a combination of clear objectives, hard work, and well, a bit of luck never hurt. And who wants a job anyway...be an entrepreneur like Branson. Of course that took all of the things I just mentioned.

Seems way back, we never discouraged people from obtaining more education of whatever type it was, but now, we only want to encourage if it doesn't hurt one's financial situation. The subsiding issue is interesting since we often ignore one of the largest subsidy program ever installed: prisons.

Over the past 30 plus years, we have grown this business almost purely subsidizing it. Create tougher 'laws', more prisoners, more need to build new prisons, more lawyers (who are subsidize to get those law degrees), police/probation officers (again subsidy), and more suppliers of materials to keep these places running - with a bit of graft, kickbacks, corruption, friendly contracts, you name it, its there. The largesse has been over $1 trillion to keep all the bad people locked up, long ago. Why? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Incarcerated_Americans_as_a_Percent_of_Population.jpg

An economic fact: Those bad Eddies have to get out sometime - even the really bad ones do. Then, we pray (or some do) they recidivate quickly, so we can continue to subsidize their 3 hots and a cot. How productive is that? The ones that do want an honest to goodness change, can't usually - the barriers being what they are. No college usually for dumb criminal. (Charles S. Dutton was an exception, from a prior time.)

Vedder comes off as a bitter fact learned from his halcyon days at university. What was good for him, is not good for anyone under 25 anymore. He has plied his craft to assert that the world needs more ditch diggers, the earlier we get them there, the better. No need to improve one's self at the current debt levels incurred. No need to go off for 4 years and figure out what you might like to do, or socialize, meet a mate, or hone up on the techniques of the mental dig.

A population's education level is not to be had at the Nation's economy footing the bill. I get it. We must close the doors to the feckless, unstructured, non-technical (again, who decides that) 18-24 year old. If you want to learn, learn quick - 1 to 2 years at Ivy Tech, or a for profit diploma mill, that you paid for. Then, invent or innovate something quick Johnny. We gotta an economy to turn around...and you are wasting our resources, like breathing too much oxygen.
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