Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Politicians and Intellectuals (perhaps unwittingly) Support the Higher Education Scam

I haven't had much time or inclination to post in the past three months, but I wrote a long post on the JD Underground forum and thought I'd turn it into a blog post.

Why is it that our nation's politicians and intellectuals (perhaps unwittingly) support the higher education scam by advocating higher education as a solution to our nation's employment problems?

Basically, the promise of higher education as a means of upward economic mobility serves a function similar to that of religion--it's a means of social control.  That is precisely why our politicians, intellectuals, and university elites love to advocate it so much.  Also, it is completely uncontroversial.  The upper classes are being confronted by an increasingly angry populace that feels that our nation's social structure is becoming akin to a caste system with a lack of upward (but not downward) economic class mobility.  If the masses began to believe that our society were structured against them and that it suffers from some sort of a gross unfairness, they could revolt like unruly Frenchmen protesting a proposal to raise the retirement age (or worse).

So, our politicians, intellectuals, business executives, and their media lackeys have been falling all over themselves to sell the promise of higher education to the masses as though it were an opiate.  This goes for practically all of our politicians on both sides of the aisle; this is non-partisan.  The implicit and sometimes explicit message is:

"Your unemployment and underemployment problems will be solved if you earn a college degree or obtain an advanced degree."

"The reason you're unemployed (or that your wages are low) is because you only have a high school education."

"Even though you have a bachelors degree, you're unemployed because your grades weren't high enough...or you don't have an advanced degree...or you didn't major in the right field but if you go back to school and major in a science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) field you're guaranteed to find a good solid middle class job."
Thus, unemployed and underemployed Americans will tend to blame themselves for not being educated enough, for not having been smart enough, for not having worked hard enough, or for not having networked hard enough rather than to blame the state of the American economy, our politicians, and the upper classes.  At least the masses won't blame our politicians as much as they otherwise might.  Also, many people really do believe all of that claptrap, especially older people (who entered the labor market in a very different time) and people who are currently happily employed.  Also, people who tend to support free market ideology, such as Libertarians, Republicans, and the TEA Party types are liable to buy into the propaganda because it is consistent with their faith in Meritocracy (work hard and take responsibility by preparing yourself through higher education and you will get the jobs and vocational success that you deserve).

I have been writing, for a long time, that it's much easier for politicians to say that we need more and better education than it is to actually address our real economic problems.  Advocating higher education is warm-and-fuzzy and touchy-feely.  What kind of a monster would oppose higher education?  In contrast, it's much more difficult to even merely acknowledge nation's our real economic problems--Global Labor Arbitrage and population explosion:

(1.)  We've sent millions of jobs including many college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs to Mexico, India, and China (foreign outsourcing or offshoring).

(2.) We've also imported hundreds of thousands of foreigners on H-1B and L-1 visas to displace Americans domestically from what are often college-education-requiring  knowledge-based jobs (often the ones people are supposed to retrain and re-educate for).

(3.) We've imported tens of millions of impoverished immigrants (legally and illegally) to displace working class Americans from their jobs and to drive down wages while also saddling ourselves with the costs of having to care for millions more poor people (health care for illegals, education for their kids, any associated criminal costs, etc.).

(4.) As a result of this mass immigration, we've suffered a population explosion. This means that we have fewer resources available per capita that can be used for consumption and economic growth, resulting in higher prices for those limited natural resources and a degradation of our environment (arable land, land around cities for housing, domestic oil supplies, freshwater, clean air, lumber, food, etc.).  See the must-watch video: Immigration by the Numbers (aka "Immigration Gumballs").

Who does Global Labor Arbitrage benefit?  The upper classes who own the businesses of course!   They're also the same people who purchased our politicians. As a result of this gigantic increase in the amount of available labor, business owners can keep larger percentages of workers' contributions to the act of wealth production for themselves as profits.  That is to say, the increase in the amount of labor relative to the amount of capital (jobs) serving the American market means that the price point where the supply and demand curves intersect must decrease.  Facial prices for some goods and services may also decrease, but the end result is that workers' compensation in terms of the amount of goods and services they can afford to purchase must decrease.  So, the Rich will get richer and the middle and lower classes will become poorer.

It's so much easier for a politician to say, "I propose to solve our economic problems by strengthening K-12 education, by increasing funding for college education, and by making college education more accessible," than it is to say, "I propose trade protectionism, an end to the work visa programs, and a moratorium on immigration."

Sadly, the sheeple just guzzle down this higher education message as though they were drinking Jonestown Kool-Aid.  Then, when they lose their jobs, fail to find jobs with their college degrees, or suffer wage and benefits cuts, they blame themselves for not having enough education.  Higher education also removes people from the labor market, decreasing the unemployment numbers.  (In the absence of a labor shortage, I think that college students should be counted as unemployed, or at lest some percentage should be counted as unemployed.)  Ultimately, the American people are themselves to blame for buying into this message, failing to understand what's really going on, and for electing our current politicians and for failing to drown all of them in the Potomac.

Will this higher education problem ever get resolved? As the force of Global Labor Arbitrage transforms our nation into a third world country and as student loans spiral out of control, eventually college graduates will end up defaulting in mass, making government-backed student loans untenable. Over a period of decades, the populace (many of whom will already be used to third world standards of living having emigrated from third world countries or being one generation removed) will become complacent about the "New Normal" and accept their impoverished standard of living, the student loans will disappear, and many colleges will shut down.

The United States may transform itself into a third world economy, but the Rich will enjoy large amounts of low-wage labor and our current politicians will have been able to successfully deflect a terrified populace's angry wrath.


Anonymous said...

And non-dischargable student loan monthly payments insure that the majority of the population doesn't have the time to begin an uprising.

Doc Harnisch said...

I'm always baffled when I talk to people about immigration and they think I'm intolerant or racist for wanting rational population control b/c, you know, "everyone's an immigrant, man."

Uh... dipstick... when my ancestors came here, America didn't have major resource/labor/land use problems. Population growth should be determined by need, not by some farcical "right" for every jackhole on the planet to live the American "dream."

For that matter, I'm in favor of throwing population limits on everybody, including the white folk. Something has to control the population. If we don't start doing it rationally, it's going to have to be done with disease, war, famine, or some unpleasant combination thereof.

Anonymous said...

This is the deal.

The Boomers are pretty much in control of things right now (God help us). For their generation of uniquely-blessed and very lucky Post-World War Two ex-flower children, ANY "higher education" paid off. Many of them still do not realize that the bountiful, several-decades-long postwar economy they grew up in is OVER. Permanently. The paradigm of higher education generically being some sort of a "ticket" to white-collar success is a thing of the past. But the "leadership" in this country doesn't yet know it. For them, it worked. Do decently in school, any school, then spend thirty years manning a desk at General Motors.

This country is now in the very real throes of a post-industrial tearing down of the real, industrial economy. Real, productive jobs replaced by service positions of dubious type and duration. It is not until the next generation comes to the political fore that any realization that things have, indeed, changed for good, can be expected.

Anonymous said...

"Facial prices for some goods and services may also decrease, but the end result is that workers' compensation in terms of the amount of goods and services they can afford to purchase must decrease. So, the Rich will get richer and the middle and lower classes will become poorer."

Really, how do the rich get richer if nobody is purchasing their goods and services? Does not compute!

Frank the Underemployed Professional said...

That's a good question. I think the rich would end up consuming more wealth (they'll be richer). Money would still be spent to produce goods and services that would end up getting consumed by the wealthy. Perhaps fewer TVs would be built for the poor people but more luxury jets and fourth and fifth mansions would be built for the rich. In other words--people will still be working and capital will still be used to produce wealth--what's changed is how much wealth the different classes get to keep. That's my take on it.

According to various studies and newspaper reports, it's been happening over the past decade. The rich in this country have gotten richer while the lower classes have either tread water or become poorer. The wealthy have come to own a larger percentage of the nation's wealth. I think I've even seen a study reporting that the lower classes earn less money today in terms of inflation-adjusted income than they were decades ago. Also, the lower classes probably have a whole lot more debt than they did decades ago.

There are wealthy people in second and third world countries. It's possible to have a wealthy class without wealth being evenly distributed amongst the classes. See Brazil for an example. (I've been meaning to write a blog post about the kidnapping of rich people for ransom in Brazil for some time. Maybe I'll get around to it at some point.)

Anonymous said...

Frank, I think this post has been overthought. It's real simple. The reason why politicians and employers tout education is for the desired result: the employer gets an already trained, educated worker with no cost to him or her.

If you look at most politicians, you will see that many were business owners before going into politics. If I were a business owner, I would much rather have someone else bear the economic expense of training my workforce. If I could then get this workforce already trained and have had the workforce bear the brunt of the cost to train, that is more profit for me.

If more and more individuals are educated, then education as a skill is worth less, since there is more of it. So the employer gets the skill for even less.

This is what we are seeing in the economy today. The student bears the brunt of getting educated. In the past, he or she could recoup the costs of the education, with a higher salary. Now, there are so many educated individuals who are unemployed or underemployed, that the employer has to pay very little for an educated workforce. So in today's work environment, the employee pays the cost to be trained, while the employer reaps the benefit without having to 'reimburse' the employee in the future with a higher salary. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

Importing allied health care from other countries to work here in our United States is a practice as old as the pyrex beaker.

I was an allied health student in the very late Seventies; the lab that I was student interning in was full of visaed-in med techs...and student med techs, all from the Phillipines.

To boot, a great many of these techs from the Phillipines held more than one full time job; lots of them had a full time job and a part time gig on weekends or an evening or maybe a night shift.

No American-trained nurses or allied health workers are being hired.

Yet the nursing schools and proprietary "colleges" and unis that have nursing programs are still cranking out graduate nurses. And there is a waiting list at many hospital based nursing schools.

Again, let's blame the education cartel for this one.

Anonymous said...

Thats a bunch of bull! for one employers cant use the excuse that they do not have to spend as much training people....most of what you learnn in college is never used on the job. Nearly all jobs are repetative and the same thing every day! And why is it that you have to pay for higher education and have a degree saying you went to college when in this day of modern technology people can be self educated for free with all of the information technology out here that is available at the touch of a button or click of a mouse. Paid higher education is just a big business and an excuse for companies to profit more . The rich get richer at the expense of the have not's! unemployment is bad and where it is because of the rich think that they should make more and more money. What they need to do is raise the wage of the so called "menial jobs and decrease the wage of the overpaid "higher education required" paying jobs. lol like office workers get paid big bucks to press keys on a computer using a software program to do all the work and calculating for them.....and they get paid more than the guy busting his ass blood sweat and tears for pennies and then get a slap in their face by having their jobs called "menial". Free market and outrageous profit margins allowing rich peoples wealth to grow is what is causing the unemployment problem and the poor man to stay poor. America is NOT A LAND OF EQUAL OPORTUNITY...NOT AT ALL. yOU HAVE TO BE A RICH MAN OR A MAN WILLING TO STEP ON OTHERS AND HOLD PEOPLE DOWN TO SUCCEED IN THIS COUNTRY. higher education SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO HIRE EMPLOYEES...YES it is helpful but should not be a mandated requirement. And it is terrible for a buisness owner to say that by having it this way it makes his profit higher. Thats why there should be caps on the amount of profit anyone can make on any product good or service. his country is doomed if it keeps going this way. The ability to read write and speak well and work well with people should be all that it takes to succeed and that is learned in high school...and if you feel more is needed than that of high school you should be teaching these extra needed skills IN HIGH SCHOOL for free!! Like i said higher education is just big business for the wealthy.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying your blog. Sadly, everything you say can be applied to most higher education programs...

Anonymous said...

Its not racist to say that there are too many immigrants here in the U.S. I don't care what color they are, most of them don't belong here.

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