Friday, February 17, 2012

Persuading the "Personal Responsibility" Crowd

While reading Professor Campos's most recent post, "The Message" and while ruminating over the negative comments received from non-JDs to many news articles about the law school scam, it occurred to me that we need to incorporate a core argument into our message (which probably won't be news to many of you).  I make mention of it all the time, but when we're dealing with the general public, it needs further emphasis.

We need to present a compelling argument that will help convince non-JDs of the "meritocracy/personal responsibility/free market" dogma persuasion (hereinafter known as the "Personal Responsibility Crowd") that the law school scam (and the higher education scam in general) is bad and worthy of opposing.  The Personal Responsibility Crowd objects to our message by reflexively responding, "Caveat Emptor!" in snide comments.  Their callousness and almost complete lack of empathy is an expression of the "I've got mine, Fuck You!" mentality.  In their eyes the higher education scam does not impact them.

However, the Personal Responsibility Crowd, which tends to be right-wing, is very concerned about an issue that ties in well with the law school and higher education scams: The Economy.  Thus, our message would probably be more compelling to them if we could convince the Personal Responsibility Crowd and the general populace that educating large excesses of people relative to the number of jobs available for college graduates damages the economy. This would hit the Personal Responsibility Crowd close to home.

Very simply, our economy, our well-being, and our prosperity suffer when resources (human time and effort, raw materials) are wasted on educating far more people than there are jobs available for them.  Instead of being wasted, those same resources could be better spent on goods and services that have actual value.  For example, those resources could be used to construct more roads or more houses or to provide better medical care.  This would result in an increase in our society's net wealth which would benefit everyone, including members of the Personal Responsibility Crowd.  Instead of being burdened by student loans used to pay for unneeded higher education, people could instead purchase more goods and services which would increase the amount of employment in fields where those goods and services are produced.  Also, presumably, one element of our nation's housing crisis is that unemployed and underemployed-out-of-field college graduates cannot afford to purchase houses; they already have student loan mortgages hanging over their heads.

A terse response to Caveat Emptor comments might be, "You guys don't realize how much damage all of this unneeded excess higher education is doing to our nation's economy.  This isn't merely about sob stories and personal responsibility.  It's about the economy, stupid!"


Anonymous said...

Well said. It does seem that many people still need to be convinced that the government-sanctioned education scams against our own citizens is in fact harmful to our society collectively. There is a strong current of ignorance and self-centered thinking in American culture. When people can see how it affects them, they will start to care more.

gribble said...

They don't care unless it affects them, but even when it does they will lie anyway.

These right-wingers tend to live in states that take the most government aid, they are subsidized by the left-wing states they mock constantly.

The majority of these people make under $50k a year, and while they will pretend to be well off, most rely on medicare/medicaid and other handouts.

In short these people are total hypocrites, and you're wasting your time paying attention to them.

Nando said...

gribble and Paul have added some insight to your solid proposal. The fact is that most of these idiots who think we are "whining" are generally the same ignorant bastards who think that Obama was born in Nigeria, Indonesia or some other foreign country. (For the sake of argument, would ANY federal judge overturn the results of an election that was nearly four years ago, on such a "technicality"?!)

To a certain degree, we should focus on how this impacts the entire economy - because this is reality. MANY college-educated people cannot purchase homes. Think about that for a second. My mother's and father's parents owned homes in their 20s, with no college!! The same for my father, and many blue collar workers in his generation.

Since they are tied down with student loan debt, they cannot stimulate the economy with spending money. (Yeah, that *MIGHT* be a problem in a consumer-based economy.) They are essentially sending money to whores such as Sallie Mae, as well as paying bills and other creditors.

I have similar comments in the past, and people with an IQ above 85 generally understand these basic concepts. Franky, let's continue to do so - but don't water it down, i.e. gear it for the morons, waterheads and hypocritical ass-clowns. Unless, you have time to draw these bitches a diagram with Crayola on posterboard.

Anonymous said...

The ones who talk about "personal responsibility" never had to take any upon themselves. If they made errors in judgment, there was someone to bail them out and give them another chance; if they couldn't get a job in one place, there was another for them.

And at least some of them are the ones who lure people who haven't had the mentors they had into the untenable situations faced by so many people we read about on these blogs--and many more we never hear about.

Anonymous said...

They will care when the cost of homes comes crashing down because no one in the next generation can afford to buy them. The boomer generation will be net asset sellers until they die; without an equal supply of buyers, prices tumble. When only 5% of people under 40 can afford to buy the homes that boomers are trying to sell, they will suddenly care that all the money they wanted for their homes is being sent to Sallie Mae.

Anonymous said...

@6:21: No, I don't think they will care even then. They will just demand a high price and if they don't get it they won't do anything except complain.

Since they own the homes and have more relative money, there isn't a real pressure for them to sell or do anything really. Most of these people won't quit working anyway. There is no reason for them to, since all they have to do is show up to work and get paid.

As for their other financial assets, the Fed has been manipulating stock prices up for months now. All they have to do is sell to the Fed.

Anonymous said...

So, let's see how posters on this site would "persuade the 'Personal Responsibility' Crowd." Apparently, most of them would do this by disparaging their intelligence and their character. Paul says they're ignorant and self-centered. Gribble says they're total hypocrites, most of whom rely on "medicare/medicaid and other handouts." (Any substantiation of that, Gribble?) Nando goes farther, referring to them as idiots, ignorant bastards, morons, waterheads, ass clowns and bitches. Friends, invective toward the people you're supposed to be trying to persuade will persuade them even less effectively than your self-pity. You can sell a man an idea by calling him clever and kind, especially if he is, but you can never sell anybody anything by calling him an ignorant bastard even if he is.

Just Sayin said...

My 2 cents.

See this is where I disagree from the "movement," and I believe that there is some personal responsibility involved in the decisions that we make. I think its too simplistic and if not wrong, to view these people as red-wing state hicks.

Instead, they are mostly math and science majors who struggled through school and found jobs at the end of the college journey. I'm an engineering major so I know the feeling of studying hard for finals while others are chilling at the college pool and hitting the gym during exam week. A lot of those people are believed to be poly sci or liberal arts majors who made the decision to choose those majors and then go to law school. So they are generally perceived to not have worked hard and are simply whining about the end result.

My beef is with law schools themselves. I don't care about the masses, because they aren't screwing me over. And no they aren't screwing people over by publishing false employment numbers. That's to be expected. More so we were all encouraged to go to law school by family members and the thought of being rich. Well that backfired. Instead I get an enormous tuition bill that continues to rise without any explanation.

PoorGrad said...

I think there is some personal responsibility but I don't like the current legal education system. At minimum the system needs to have a maximum cap on student education loan's interest, law schools should be held accountable for false and misleading information (this is because prospective law students are held to abiding by good moral character and ethical standards so the law schools should themselves abide by the same standards), and the overall costs of law school must come down.

Anonymous said...

@2:40 am.

"And no they aren't screwing people over by publishing false employment numbers."

Are you suggesting that fraud and misrepresentation should not be legally actionable? Are you trying to say that there is no such thing as a "victim of fraud"?

In your view, should it be perfectly permissible for used car dealers to "rollback" the mileage on cars and then tell purchasers that the vehicles have much less mileage than they actually do? If a buyer purchases a vehicle with 60,000 actual miles on it but pays the price for a vehicle with 25,000 miles after relying on the odometer that showed 25,000 miles, is that the buyer's fault?

Just Sayin said...


That analogy doesn't hold up. Sorry. When law schools say hey 95% of people with law degrees from our school gets a job. So when one buys X, there's a high possibility that you can do Y. They aren't selling you a future job, their product is a law school education. Whatever you pay, or whatever the market is saying, you will still get a law school education. Essentially, they can lie all they want about a future job, because that's not what they are selling. Its shady nonetheless, but fraud no.

Onto your analogy where a used car salesman sells you a car that they purposefully rolled back the meter. Pretty much they are selling you a crappy car, not the potential of X happening do to you buying the car. This is more equivalent to a law school promising you a great education but instead giving you crap..... actually this is true too.

Lastly, sooner or later, we have to stop lying to ourselves as to why we went to law school. We all were either talked into it by family, who said "wow you can argue well, you'll be a great lawyer some day" or by watching an endless number of law dramas. Really, no matter what the job numbers were, we weren't going to not go. We had to prove how smart we were, or to make their degrees worth something.

If anything I would say 95% of the people just assume lawyers get jobs.

Anonymous said...

It's fraud because they are knowingly misstating the value of what they are selling. The value of a law degree is the opportunity it provides for employment in the legal profession. The percentage of graduates who obtain such jobs in the legal profession directly relates to the value of what they are selling. The law schools know that people will rely on those numbers in making a decision as to whether or not to purchase their product.

Of course they're not selling a guarantee of a legal job. However, they are selling a legal education where 95% of previous graduates obtained employment. There's a large difference in value between a legal education where 95% of the graduates obtained employment in the field and one where only 20% obtained employment in the field.

In the context of a legal education, the employment percentage is a material property of the value of what they are selling. It isn't any different than if I were an automaker and I claimed that an automobile gets 70 mpg when in reality it only gets 30 mpg.

Mileage on an automobile and the employment value of a law degree is a great analogy. If a car dealer sells you a vehicle where the odometer reads "20,000 miles" and it really has 60,000 miles and he rolled it back, that is outright fraud. It's also illegal.

Anonymous said...

@just saying:

Speak for yourself. I would have just gone to medical school. I was worried about medical school debt and time, and the law school numbers looked much better.

Seriously you see those law school numbers and you think to yourself: "Man why become a doctor when I can make $60-70k easy at a government job or something for less hours worked? Look at all those high salary numbers, and that employment rate, I don't need 6 figures so I'll be fine!"

And then the reality is there are no jobs period, and all those JDs that are working at these government agencies or companies had family connections or got those degrees after they already had their jobs in the first place. The employment numbers turn out to be a total fraud, and getting a consistent $50k even is a total struggle for half the law grads.

If they had to publish actual statistics at least half the people that went wouldn't have gone, and it'd probably be the top half in terms of admission quality. Once you're in law school the grading is fairly random too, so your previous accomplishments tend to mean nothing.

After a year of law school I seemed to be worth less than before I went to law school. That set alarm bells ringing but by then it is kind of too late.

Knute Rife said...

@Just Sayin
I just love it when engineers think they know more about everything than everyone else because they can play with Fourier transforms and then display logic like this. I call it "Heinlein's Disease."

Let's walk through this. The average law student no more goes to law school to get a JD than the average engineering student's goal is the degree. They both want to enter professions and have a reasonable shot at making a living. Law schools aren't selling JDs; they're selling income streams to be obtained by holding JDs. So let's look at the elements:

1. The law students are buying the JDs to have access to jobs and income.
2. The law schools know this.
3. The job and income part is material to the transaction.
4. The law schools, to induce the potential students to buy, provide employment and income figures they know to be false.
5. The potential students reply on this information, and that reliance was, until recently, reasonable.
6. The student obtains the JD and discovers the jobs and income aren't there, but the nondischargeable loans certainly are, and if they aren't serviced, the new lawyer will rapidly face an array of legal disabilities (garnishment and execution, bar discipline, blacklisting from many jobs and programs, etc.). In other words, there is detriment.

I don't know, I'm just a lawyer, but from my chair here, that looks like fraud.

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