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!"

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