Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is Having a Sense of Entitlement Necessarily Unfounded?

I have been contributing comments to a debate at the Wall Street Journal's blog, and I might turn some of  them into blog posts.  Here is the first one.

I disagree that it is wrong that “Many law students and new lawyers feel entitled to a high paying, high quality job because they went to law school.”  If you spent 7 years in college, busted your ass, paid a large opportunity cost, and accumulated $120,000+ worth of non-dischargeable student loan debt, shouldn’t you feel entitled to a reasonable return on your investment if you did a good job of training and preparing yourself to work as a lawyer?  I encourage disenchanted law school graduates who graduated with 3.0’s and above to feel angry, cheated, and entitled. It is perfectly understandable and proper to feel that way.

If you are a law student or an unemployed or underemployed lawyer, please stop flagellating yourself and feeling guilty for having been misled after you had been indoctrinated with propaganda selling the value of higher education since childhood. The state of our nation’s economy and our nation’s Education Arms Race are not your fault. You made an effort to train to earn a living by going to college and graduating from law school. Grow a backbone and a sense of righteous, moral outrage.  We are never going to be able to make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy nor close excess law schools until we seize the moral high ground.


Patrick Murtha said...

The same nonsense has been going on over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, where Thomas H. Benton (William Pannapacker) has been sensibly arguing that earning a humanities PhD and then only being able to get low-paid adjunct work out of it is ridiculous, while others answer that no, even if you take ten years out of your life and indebt yourself for all eternity, you can't honestly expect any likely employment result from that! It's like wanting to be a Hollywood actor, don't you know? Only the few are called, blah blah blah.

The thinking behind these trends is explicated well in two excellent books, Robert H. Frank's and Philip J. Cook's The Winner-Take-All Society, and Jacob S. Hacker's The Great Risk Shift. Basically, the idea is that we, The Powers That Be, can guarantee you will get *nothing* if you don't get credentials, but -- and increasingly -- we can't guarantee you will get *anything* if you do get credentials, either. Take it, sucker.

Frank the Underemployed Professional said...

Oh yes, of course. To hear some people tell it, the purpose of education is the "love of learning" and to become a cultured and enlightened person. I can't imagine that anyone would want to put themselves deep into debt for the purpose of becoming cultured and enlightened and to indulge their love of learning. All of that can be done at the library or even over the Internet, for free. When ivory tower intellectuals spout that crap, it just demonstrates how disconnected they are from reality.

Thanks for making note of those two books.

Dupednontraditional said...

It would be nice to be able to pursue higher education simply for the love of learning, as some entitlement-debunkers would seem to suggest. Some do, I'm sure. Others do as well, and luckily have an overlap between love of the subject and employment prospects later. Some pursue something because they are passionate about it, yet have no prospects later.

What nobody talks about is that in true Victorian fashion, some people have to dirty themselves by having to work for a living, and some, with independent means, don't. Therein lies the concern for a return on investment. If you have funds to spare, and a job ready made for you, then there is of course no concern about the "utility" of one's investment in one's education, because the question of entitlement never comes up. It doesn't occur to you. You're going to take your humanities degree and run a non-profit foundation. Whey doesn't every one else do that, too?

I suspect that there is a strong correlation between those who think a sense of entitlement is crass, and those for whom $40k a year in tuition is mere economic background noise.

Anonymous said...

"I encourage disenchanted law school graduates who graduated with 3.0’s and above to feel angry, cheated, and entitled."

Are you implying that a GPA in law school is reflective of how much you studied or your knowledge of law? Grades in law school are a crap shoot and little else.

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