Community or Animal House?

With the oversupply of colleges in America, why do we even have federal job re-training programs?

The idea of using a ton of borrowed money to take off 4+ years and acquire a fermented degree in complacency studies is about to get replaced with more practical approaches.  In too many cases it’s no longer worth the time and expense.

Everyone will soon think more carefully about how their educational plans – whether they be STEM or Liberal Arts – fit into their life plans.

Here’s Bill Frezza in The Root Cause of Market Failure in Higher Education:

Just as Fannie Mae fueled an unsustainable housing bubble, Sallie encouraged runaway college tuition increases. And just as the federal government was forced to nationalize Fannie Mae when the bubble bust, Uncle Sam has now nationalized the college loan business with an eye on disguising the coming tsunami of student loan defaults.

Such policies have consequences. Too many aspiring young museum curators can’t find jobs? The pragmatic Chinese solution is to cut public subsidies used to train museum curators. The free market solution is that only the rich would be indulgent enough to buy their kids an education that left them economically dependent on Mommy and Daddy after graduation. The progressive American solution is to seek increased public funding to build more museums.

When such make-work spending fails – as it must during periods of fiscal belt tightening – do progressives encourage maleducated kids to look around, see what needs doing, and start businesses of their own? No. They urge them to take to the streets to bang drums and chant slogans.

The system is nearing breakdown, which will come when student loan defaults finally push the federal agency that guarantees such loans into bankruptcy. At that point, we will have to face the fact that capping off adolescence with a four-year party at taxpayer expense is a luxury we can no longer afford.

College participation rates will have to go back down to historical norms… Loans will have to be restricted to majors that confer capacity to pay the loans back. Dead-end programs used to train the next generation of professors – whose only skill will be to teach more such dead-end programs – will have to be limited, funded not by taxpayers but by ideological philanthropists with a hankering for fineries like literary criticism and gender studies.

This may seem like common sense to most people, but it strikes horror into the hearts of the liberal professoriate. After years of feathering their nests so they can produce students trained only to bite the hand that feeds them, perhaps it’s time to serve up a few helpings of horror. We can no longer afford to take the snobbery of academics seriously. Taxpayers just don’t have the money to keep them or their young acolytes on the dole.

From a wide-ranging interview Paul Ryan at AEI’s blog:

I put in the budget a plan to consolidate the 49 different federal jobs programs into vouchers for people to go back to school when they are mid-career and lose their jobs in sectors that are becoming obsolete. So you have to go back to lifelong learning and continual skills enhancement and get society wired culturally to do that. … I hear from so many businesses these days that actually we can hire people but we can’t find people with the skills. And that’s a big deal.

Education is at the heart of it all, but the culture is, too. Moral relativism has done so much damage to the bottom end of this country, the bottom fifth has been damaged by the culture of moral relativism more than by anything else, I would argue. If you ask me what the biggest problem in America is, I’m not going to tell you debt, deficits, statistics, economics — I’ll tell you it’s moral relativism. Now is it my job to fix that as a congressman? No, but I can do damage to it. But it’s the job of parents to raise their kids … But let’s not ignore it. These things go beyond statistics, they go into the culture. As a policymaker, I simply make that as an observation, not that I have an answer and a bill I can pass in Congress and to fix that.

As a person in government, I don’t see it as my job to try and micromanage the outcome of people’s lives. I see it as trying to advance the premise of equality of opportunity and getting people as much opportunity to improve themselves as possible. … The whole premise of this argument is wrong. The economy is not a zero-sum system. One man’s gain does not necessarily come at another man’s loss. … Wealth is created. Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage not by taking from somebody else but by creating and inventing something. Wealth and growth are organic and don’t necessarily come from somebody else’s loss.

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2 Responses to Community or Animal House?

  1. Paul Marks says:

    The moral relativism started in college – with the rise of the “Pragmatist” school with its denial of both objective truth and right and wrong (“the righit is just the expendient in our way of thinking” – William James). Of course the effects of the decline of “Common Sense” (both as a philosphical school in American higher education, the last great name of the school being James McCosh, and in ordinary language terms) has mostly informal effects – the average welfare dependent (or “ethically divergent” Wall Street banker) does not go around reading William James and co – he (or she) is just brought up in atmosphere where right and wrong (and even objective truth itself) have been devalued in the culture.

    However, there are sometimes still direct effects. For example, the Oslo mass murderer was a fan of William James as a philosopher – using his teachings to “free himself” from objective truth and objective right and wrong. For example, to such a person religion is not a series of claims about objective truth (indeed “modern” philosophers mock such an idea) – religion is a “cultural” matter a matter of one’s “way of life” (again the Oslo murderer held to this “modern” view ).

    WIth the decline of the Common Sense (or “Scottish”) school of philosophy in American life the main alternative to relativism became (and still is) Artistotelianism. This shares with the Common Sense school three central ideas.

    The objective nature of the universe – the phsyical universe really exists and its existance is NOT dependent on our minds.

    The human mind really exists – agency “free will” is not an “illusion”. We really can make choices (real choices). Our reason can overcome our desires – contra to the position of David Hume that our reason “is and should be” (the “should be” bit shows just how vile this part of Hume’s philosophy is) the “slave of our passions”. If one enjoys raping and murderingpeople (if that is a “desire” a “passion”) then the only role for reason is to work out the best way of getting to rape and murderpeople. I am certainly NOT saying that David Hume (the mildest of men) was “into” raping and murdering people – but his philosphy (the idea that reason “is” and “should be” the “slave of the passions” and the denial of true agency, real choices, free will) leads to the breakdown of the very civil society that Hume so admired. It leads to the breakdown of civil society – because it leads to the breakdown of CIVILITY (which depends on reason, human agency – free will, overcomming the passions, overcomming brute instincts).

    And lastly – that good and evil really exist. That they they are not just “boo and cheer” words (as the Hume loving Logical Positivists claimed).

    Human beings live in a real universe (not just a dream). Human beings have the ability to make choices (real choices – i.e. humans really are “beings”, reasoning agents). And we, as agents, can choose good over evil.

    In conservative Roman Catholic (and some conservative Protestant circles) Aristoteliamism is still strong – via such writers as Thomas Aquinas.

    But it is also strong in some athiest circles – via the influence of Ayn Rand and others.

  2. Paul Marks says:

    As for modern American universities.

    A trillion Dollar debt – from student loans and so on.

    The government subsidy and regulation of higher education has (of course) led to a explosion of costs. Just as the subsidy and regulation of health care has led to an explosion of costs. Sadly the government reply to this explosion of costs (in both educaiton and health care) is to INCREASE the subsidies and regulations (the mandates and so on) – the very policies that led to the explosion of costs in the first place.

    Also, and this most be said, it is moral outrage that the American system de facto insists a person study a liberal arts degree for years (and not even a very good liberal arts education – see above, but there is also the point of Marxist, as well as relativist, influence in the modern teaching of the liberal arts) before they can even start to train for such position as a lawyer or a doctor. This pushes such things out of the reach of the poor – unless they accept government subsidy.

    Of course before modern society became like the Roman Empire (guild dominated) a person could offer to represent people in court (for money) without any “training”. For example, Lincoln just read some law books (not even read them “under” an existing lawyer) and offered his services to customers – no State allows that today (that is how far America has fallen). But even those people who insist that (for example) someone offering legal services must have formal (and expensive) training, should be outraged that such people, de facto, have to go and do a liberal arts degree first.

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