WASHINGTON, April 21, 2014 – You never know when you’ll run into some genuine food for thought in this utterly thoughtless age of ours.
Case in point: While doing daily research for my regular “Market Maven” column here at CDN, I chanced upon a short piece in the always-cynical, often excellent, frequently paranoid financial blog collectively known as ZeroHedge. In it were a couple of charts and excerpts from a recent piece by a writer who self-identifies as Daniel Drew, “A New Dark Age: When College Doesn’t Pay,” which explores some interesting stats on college grads and their dismal employment prospects before discussing wider social implications.
Drew’s opening gambit:
“If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? One day, as ignorance becomes an ideal to strive for, that question might be replaced with, “If you’re so dumb, why aren’t you rich?“
“The possibility that evolution might take a wrong turn and transform us into a society of imbeciles was dramatized in the movie Idiocracy. That process is beginning today as education is no longer rewarded. A look at the labor force participation rate for college graduates shows a steady decline since the data was first tracked. Getting a college degree used to mean a ticket on the upward trajectory of this thing they once called a ‘career.’ Now, your college degree guarantees you a place behind the bar counter in the McJob recovery. As more college graduates become unemployed, the more the federal government picks up the tab.”
Next, let’s toss in those two relevant and rather elegant charts. The first, which we’ve posted above this article, is pulled from an ongoing series of little known (to the public) but astonishingly informative FRED charts, aka “Federal Reserve Economic Data,” that are published and explained in surprisingly plain English on a regular basis by the St. Louis Fed. The chart above shows you, on a percentage basis, how many college grads are entering the workforce annually.
If the first chart isn’t grim enough for you, let’s try the second. The next chart provided via Drew and ZeroHedge and also derived from Fed data, illustrates the recent catastrophic rise in student indebtedness since the beginning of the Obama administration.
Genuine stats don’t lie, which is why leftists generally try to game them to paint a different picture. But this pair of charts should give pause to any young person and/or his or her parental units who are considering taking on the $30,000 to $100,000 indebtedness required to get a bachelor’s degree via today’s American university system.
In a move underreported in the media, early in the current president’s first term, the Obama administration began a three-pronged attack, geared first toward getting private lending institutions like Sallie Mae out of the college loan business in favor of federalizing the whole process—in other words, making collage loans yet another branch of the growing, increasingly “Blob”-like federal government leviathan.
Step two was the administration’s continuing attack against this country’s growing for-profit university system, essentially attacking, suing and fining these institutions one by one in an attempt to put them all out of business. The main thrust of this attack was to use one ruse or another to deprive these for-profit systems of federal student loan funding, thus removing competition from state and federal government underwritten support. The object, once again, was federal control.
Third and most in the news right now has been the administration’s influence in transforming the American higher-learning experience into a dystopian jungle of forced social change as opposed to education’s historic mission of helping its consumers—its students—to learn more about their own cultural heritage (the humanities) while also learning practical skills (science, technical, business) that prospective employers would find valuable and desirable when these students graduated and entered the workforce.
The results of this three-pronged attack have been devastating. Colleges and universities now spend the ever-increasing pool of taxpayer and tuition supported dollars on inferior faculty members whose goal is frequently to “teach” as few students as possible and on a rapidly inflating pool of high-paid, drone-like administrators—some of them essentially mandated by the federal government to enforce this or that bogus regulation—most of whom rarely see the inside of a classroom.
Making this situation even worse: Lazy senior faculty and grossly overpaid administrators also serve to skim the pay of each university’s vast pool of overworked and underpaid instructors, teaching assistants, teaching associates and adjunct faculty who have no benefits, no job security and paychecks that keep a great majority of them in poverty.
This academic class—the one that teaches most university students while getting pennies on the tuition dollar for their salaries—is tantamount to slave labor, a situation that is knowingly perpetuated by senior administrators and tenured faculty on the take, statistically all of whom are self-identified as liberals.
Such bloated and expensive institutions would seriously benefit from competition, something the for-profit colleges and also, arguably, America’s community college systems have been increasingly providing. That’s why, at least for starters, the administration took full control of the student loan business, using it first to crowd out the bulk of private college loan money and institutions and second, as a tool to force for-profit colleges and universities out of the “education” business.
The ultimate aim of this taxpayer-funded chaos: complete government control of what today we call higher education but what is, in reality, a substantial and nefarious federal effort to use America’s already radicalized higher education faculties to indoctrinate all the young people who pass through the American university system.
This situation reveals yet another building block in this administration’s “fundamental transformation” of the United States into a poorly informed, poorly equipped, poorly defended Third World nation of failures and complainers, all of whom will or already are dependent upon the federal government to keep them fed, clothed and sheltered. Historically, that’s something only a socialistic, one-party state can accomplish, apparently. It would appear that Venezuela and Cuba are likely models for this kind of transformation.
How’s this largely unreported federal effort to subvert higher education working for us? Are today’s college students really getting an education, or merely an indoctrination in some flavor of Marxist theory? Is this what taxpayer money is meant to fund, and do taxpayers even know what’s going on here?
And perhaps most important, are today’s fundamentally transformed and uninformed college grads going to find success and happiness in a country and a world they can no longer control or even understand? We’ll explore the likely results of this costly and cynical strategy in our next article.