I wonder if the pundits ever get tired of pulling out the same old drivel about college and how it is not worth the cost. In their latest diatribe the voices that talk all day long have decided that since the college interest loan rate is going up no one should ever go to college ever. Or as Greg Gutfeld of Fox News puts it, “All college students do is play video games and get drunk.” (This attitude annoyed me so I tweeted a question to Mr. Gutfeld. I asked him exactly what did he do during college and got no response, by the way)
Gutfeld may be considered a comedic political commentator, but it seems to me that the noise at Fox News over educating our children is getting shriller. I also find it funny that it is those without children who shrill the loudest. But isn’t that always the way. Those who never had any children seem to know everything there is to know about raising them.
I have written on this topic before (Here, Here, Here) and it still irks me to no end. What is it about people who have their college educations thinking that no one else is allowed to learn? What is wrong with conservatives that somehow a college education is anathema to the real world? It’s the left-wing and liberal take over of education that bothers them. Are they so afraid of being challenged by their children? Stand your ground, fight with your children, argue and dispossess them of any notion that they are dealing in the real world. Tell your children “No” once in a while. It will do them and you some good. Believe me, “no” works wonders.
But now, on the other hand, these same pundits talk about how if someone goes to college they should make it a practical degree akin to technical school. So forget English literature, western civilization, studying Socrates and Plato or ceramics. Just make certain your child knows how to read a schematic and put together all their crap from IKEA.
A college education is about learning how to write, think, understand, reason and analyze. A college education is about learning how to challenge yourself and see how much farther you can push yourself. A college education is about being a total know-it-all when students come home on vacation. It is knowing that parents never had an original thought in their heads nor wanted to save the world at the tender age of 20 either.
The wonder of a college education is that it is all about being young, naive and thinking you can change the world. It is idealism and obnoxiousness. It is throwing out all those old stale concepts that have screwed up mankind (to the students mind), while looking for something more open and more reasonable. It is still being idealistic and romantic before the real world hits you in the ass.
Is education off the rails expensive? Yes it is. It always was. College has always been for the privileged in society. That ideal changed, however, when America became a nation of upward mobility. Upward mobility was part of the American birthrite. People still gear their children to that end. You do earn more in your lifetime if you have a college degree. That is still a fact. Yet your child doesn’t have to go to Harvard to get a good degree. There are as many avenues open to people who want a degree as there are people in the USA.
The truth is though that at some point America needs to deal with the realization that you really can’t do materially better than your parents. A house is a house. A car is a car. A vacation is a vacation. Clothes are clothes. Yes, computers and laptops and iPhones have changed the “standard of living equation” for certain. Yet, for some substantial things, just being able to have the same standard of living as your parents becomes the reality. The question becomes though, is that truly a bad thing? It is not stagnation. You still have to build, achieve and grow something in order to build what your parents built before you. Noone handed these material things to those that came before you, why should anyone hand them to this generation?
But the pundits are ignoring the real issue staring them smack dab in the face. The problem really isn’t that students come out of school with so much debt (yes its alot to start out with) or that the student loan interest rate went up (doubled from 3% to 6%- by the way mine were at 9% and still are). The ultimate issue is that there are no jobs for these recent graduates. If there were the jobs there would be the money to pay back the loans. If there were jobs these young people would feel that they had something to work towards. But many twentysomethings today also think that they are entitled, and some of their parents also think their children are entitled, to these major paying positions without having to pay their dues. (Just look at the nonsense spouted by occupy Wall Street protesters “Will work for a $70,000 a year job.”)
Well the real world doesn’t work that way. Sometimes after college you have to live at home with your parents, with multiple roommates, in a scaled down apartment or get a higher degree in order to compete in the world. Sometimes you really do have to work two or even three jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes you can’t afford luxury, maids and vacations. Sometimes you really do need to eat pb&js instead of steak.
In today’s economy entry-level jobs are also scarce unless you graduated with a STEM degree. But not everyone is cut out for that area of study. Not everyone has the brain to work through numbers, chemicals, and computer code. There has to also be variety of thought and talent in our society as well or we will cease to be a complete society. Art and music are just as intrinsic to the well-being of humanity as is science and technology.
Therefore, the ultimate issue for our offspring isn’t that college is bad or useless. It is that the adults in the room have made it difficult for our children to think of a future. And without any hope of a future there is no reason to educate your children or work to make this a better world. Without hope of a future there is no future. There is only disintegration, and ultimately revolution. Egypt is truly a cautionary tale.
So the actual question then that needs to be asked is: what exactly is the goal of those that control the purse-strings? What do they hope to accomplish? What are the aims of those in political power and what is the goal of the punditry? How did it get so bad that there truly is no American power structure? How did it get so bad that the middle class jobs all went overseas and we have nothing with which to replace them? How did it get so bad that short-term financial goals are better than being able to see and work for a future?
We looked for the quick dollar, instead of thinking longterm. We thought the money train would last forever, and ignored the terrible money-policy that was right in front of us. We thought the worth of our houses would keep going up and up and up. We forced bankers into untenable situations where they had to give loans when it wasn’t economically feasible. We gave no incentive for CEOs to keep their industries here in the USA. We did not change the reality of corporate fiduciary duty. We did not reign in the speculators on Wall Street and when we did, ended up with a useless and job constricting law that only makes the bills authors feel better about their own malfeasance.
It is time to realize that the “kids” are probably right this time. We, the older generations, really did screw up the world in so many ways. Perhaps instead of picking on our children, the up and coming generation, it is time we looked inward. We had better find a way to fix the economy and dearth of real future inducing jobs fast. The next generation is entitled to know that they do have a future and the hope that goes along with it.