Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Ending the Higher Education Scam Will Be Very Difficult.

DISCLAIMER: Honestly, I don't have anything new to say in this post, and to some of you it may sound like a broken record.  However, I haven't posted much since 2010, so I thought I'd post a comment that I just made on a thread at JD Underground forum.  The only potentially new content might be my point that our politicians need to maintain the higher education scam to help reinforce the notion (amongst the sheeple) that social mobility is very possible and that we live in a meritocracy where hard work is all people need to secure at least middle class status.  Admittedly, I wouldn't call this post a completely comprehensive explanation as to why ending the higher education scam will be so difficult, but the essential elements are contained below.

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The higher education scam is very deeply entrenched in this country for a couple reasons, which will make it difficult to end.

(1.) Many parties have interests in maintaining the scam--student loan companies, university administrators, faculty, and general college employees.

(2.) Our politicians have been successful in selling the promise of higher education to the masses. They need the higher education scam to continue so that they can distract the public.  It's easier to tell the sheeple that the solution to our nation's economic problems is more and better education than it is to say that we need to address foreign outsourcing, end mass immigration, and end the H-1B and L-1 visa programs.  This way, the sheeple won't riot.  The overwhelming majority of Americans really do believe that higher education guarantees economic and vocational success. They believe (and have been taught to believe) that if someone graduates and cannot find a job, it is their fault.  Heck, unemployed and underemployed college graduates (and their families) blame themselves too.  It's a beautiful scam, isn't it?  For our politicians, the nation's having to (quietly) pay for defaulted student loans is a small price to pay for a contented populace.

For example, Obama is concerned about high school dropouts, and he probably claims or seems to imply that everyone should go to college.  Nevermind the fact that if everyone graduated from high school and if everyone went to college no one would want to work the huge boatload of low-paying menial jobs that need to be done in this country.  At least high school dropouts who work fast food jobs don't have a legitimate reason to honestly feel that they deserve more.

(3.) The promise of higher education also pacifies the masses and prevents them from adopting the "Occupy Wall Street mentality".  Our politicians need to maintain the illusion that social mobility is very possible and that we live in a meritocracy where hard work is all people need to secure at least middle class status.  If the sheeple stop believing in that notion, they might rebel against the wealthy.  (They might even (gasp) go socialist and want to tax them at more than 15%.)

So, ending the higher education scam is a steep uphill battle.  In fact, the notion that too many people are going to college is completely foreign to the vast majority of the populace.  It's not even an issue. It isn't on anyone's radar.  The sheeple might be aware that student loans are a big problem for many people, but the notion that the reason so many people can't pay their student loans is because there simply aren't enough appropriate jobs for all of the graduates in most fields never occurs to them.  The other side of the ravine that needs to be logically bridged in order to connect those dots is too wide for most people.

ADDENDUM: In the JD Underground thread poster "tsmonk" made the point that many localities are supported by colleges and universities.  So, ending the higher education scam would not merely put many college administrators, faculty, and other employees out of work, but also people who work in other industries that depend on the colleges and students.

Of course, the end result of overeducating people is not a fiscal stimulus any more than starting a war or destroying perfectly useful buildings so that people can be employed rebuilding them is a fiscal stimulus.  In reality, no actual economic value is created and human effort that could have been spent producing goods and services with actual tangible value has been squandered.  Thus, maintaining excess colleges that sustain certain localities might look good on the short-term front-end, and a small amount of people may selfishly benefit from it.  However, long-term and in the almost invisible back-end it impoverishes our society.  That is to say, the aggregate benefit that might accrue to a small number of people is much smaller than the total aggregate harm done to our nation's well being.

5 comments:

Nando said...

Going along with your second point, those who are "highly educated" will be MUCH less likely to revolt - even if they would be better, articulate leaders in such a case. They have been raised to participate and believe in the (idiotic) system. They will also rationalize to themselves, "I cannot lose my law license or CSW license over this incident. I can't be caught trying to provoke civil disobedience. I might lose my standing among my peers."

Even the overeducated unemployed will come up with such tepid logic, i.e. "Potential employers don't want to see my name in articles, protesting this pathetic government. I better keep quiet."

The latter does not seem to understand that employers already don't want anything to do with his ass.

Lastly, many state governments are now DECLARING that 2/3 of their workforce will need to get a college diploma or certificate, in order to compete for the "jobs of the future." Frank, I occasionally review city redevelopment agency plans, as part of my job. When I look at those RDA projects, I notice that the vast majority of those jobs "created" consist of the following categories: retail sales, department stores, fast food, sit down restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations/convenience stores, call centers, video game stores, etc.

Does anyone see a pattern with those jobs? Clearly those are low-paying, dead end jobs that DO NOT REQUIRE one semester of college, let alone a Bachelor's degree.

Frank the Underemployed Professional said...

Excellent comment, Nando. You make a very good point about how many educated people, especially in the legal profession, will be fearful of revolting because of a concern about the negative impact it may have on their careers.

It's a very valuable point that I need to mention more regularly.

I suspect that Professor Campos and perhaps Professor Henderson are not the only law professors who have misgivings about the law school scam. It's just that they have the cajones to publicly identify themselves and discuss it.

Our position probably has much more moral support amongst unemployed, underemployed, and even successfully employed lawyers than we'll ever know.

Anonymous said...

Frank:

I have had to fight the urge in myself to keep silent as well. I think it is the norm for lawyers. However, when a person feels as though they have nothing to lose, then they start to speak up. I think when more people (lawyers included) realize that they have nothing to lose because the profession passed them by, they will speak up in droves. I know I have been very vocal with my law school about this scam. They know my face and my feelings on the matter. Really, what can they do to me?

The work the scambloggers do is very important and there are many of us who have found a voice because of what you guys do.

About the professors you mentioned: they have tenure which means the noise they make, while important, probably will not cost them their jobs. Unemployed debt-ridden lawyers and other college grads still have the hope of employment even if it is misguided. I think it takes these people longer to speak up because of that fact.

Nando said...

To paraphrase a powerful statement:

Over-educated, marginally employed, underemployed and unemployed workers unite! The overeducated lumpenproletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. We have a world to win.

If only they would get over their fear of offending greedy pig employers, family members, and loss of "status."

Dona Furiosa said...

I notice that in Items 2 and 3, the first sentence contains the word "promise." Really, that's all it takes to entangle large numbers of people in a scam.

Nando--You've hit the nail on the head: As Obama, state governments and other elected officials and entities say that people will "need" to get college degrees, the employment situation is a "race to the bottom." More education (or credentialing, anyway) is demanded, but the jobs available are low-paying and, for the most part, low-skill.

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