November 10, 2012

Hipsters On Food Stamps, Part 1

hipsters_on_food_stamps.jpg
who wants Haterade





In the John Waters-esque sector of northwest Baltimore -- equal parts kitschy, sketchy, artsy and weird -- Gerry Mak and Sarah Magida sauntered through a small ethnic market stocked with Japanese eggplant, mint chutney and fresh turmeric. After gathering ingredients for that evening's dinner, they walked to the cash register and awaited their moments of truth.

Those are two "hipsters", and the punchline is that they pay for their foodie porn with foodie stamps, which sounds like it should be a terrible thing, except it's in Salon.com, which means they're going to try and tell you how it's a good thing, which they don't, because they can't.  It's madness.

It's very easy and satisfying to hate these two, and nothing would make me happier than to hit them square in the back with a jack-o-lantern.  But I also recognize that I am being told to hate them, so I have to take a step back and find out why it is so important that I hate them.  I did.  I should have just reached for the pumpkin.

No one but the state and psychiatry can profit from another's misery, and they are the same thing, so let's see why Election Day doesn't matter.


I.

First, the obvious: what's wrong with hipsters on food stamps is that these are college educated people who should be able to get jobs, not live off the state.   They're not black, after all.  Hell, one of the two in the article is even Asian.  "What, like Russian Asian?"  No, like Asian Asian.  "Whaaaaaaat?"

"It's the economy, stupid!"  Thanks guy from 1992, but the economy did not tell you to go to college for something you knew in advance would make you unemployable, especially when that unemployable choice cost exactly the same as the employable choice, i.e. too much.  Lesson one at the academia should be the importance of separating vocation from avocation, as character actor Fred Thompson and electrical contractor Benjamin Franklin both understood. When I was six I wanted to be in Playboy.  Just because it's your dream, doesn't mean you should pursue it.  

So what makes them hatable is the seeming choice they have made: they could work, yes at jobs they don't like but hey, that's America; but instead they choose to feel entitled to  $200/month from the rest of us salarymen.

However, secondly:

Before we blame them for their choice, we should ask why they felt they could make that choice.  I'm not trying to start trouble, but let's choose something I'm familiar with, i.e. women: why would a smart high school junior, 4.0 and AP Everything, think that going to Hampshire College for English Literature was a good idea?  Why would her parents allow this madness, other than the fact that they were divorcing?  What did she think would happen given that she knew in advance there were no jobs for English majors?  Serious answers, please, I'll offer four I had personal experience with: law school; academia; non-profits; marriage.  Don't roll your eyes at me, young lady: let's say you are the daughter of a lawyer and you major in English.  When you were 17 and you imagined your life at your Dad's age-- not the starving poetess fantasy you wrote about in your spiral notebook, but a glimpse of the bourgeois future you then thought you didn't want-- what kind of a house did you imagine in the "if that happens to me I'll Anne Sexton myself" scenario?  A lawyer's house or an English major's house? In other words, the choice to major in English was predicated on information she received from multiple sources like schools and TV-- sources I will collectively call the Matrix--  that every generation does better than the last, that there was a safety net of sorts, a bailout at the end, that future happiness was inevitable, and so we return to economics: the general name for that safety net is credit.  America was the land of the minimum monthly payment.  And if this analogy isn't clear enough for you, let me reverse it: the ability of the economy to offer English as a major required a massive subsidy to make you feel like $20k/yr was the same as free.  If you had to pay it up front, you'd either be an engineer or $80k richer.  That subsidy is now worthless, not because the money doesn't exist but because the bailout at the end, e.g the four options I suggested were operational 1977-1999 which guaranteed the payments would be made, won't help.

Imagine a large corporate machine mobilized to get you to buy something you don't need at a tremendously inflated cost, complete with advertising, marketing, and branding that says you're not hip if you don't have one, but when you get one you discover it's of poor quality and obsolete in ten months. That's a BA.

II.


When we see a welfare mom we assume she can't find work, but when we see a hipster we become infuriated because we assume he doesn't want to work but could easily do so-- on account of the fact that he can speak well-- that he went to college.  But now suddenly we're all shocked: to the economy, the English grad is just as superfluous as the disenfranchised welfare mom in the hood-- the college education is just as irrelevant as the skin color.  Not irrelevant for now, not irrelevant "until the economy improves"-- irrelevant forever. The economy doesn't care about intelligence, at all, it doesn't care what you know, merely what you can produce for it.  The only thing the English grad is "qualified" for in this economy is the very things s/he is already doing: coffeehouse agitator, Trader Joe's associate, Apple customer.................................................. and spouse of a capitalist.

Of course I'm not happy about this, I like smart people, but that's the new reality.  There was a time where women went to college to get an MRS degree, and I am telling you that that time is today, there is nothing else of value in there.  Sure, some college women go on to become doctors and CEOs, and some go on to become child pornographers and Salon writers, none of those things have anything to do with what happened in college.  If you are going to college to get an education and not to meet guys, you are insane, literally insane, delusional, in reality one is never going to happen and the other is going to happen anyway, and you could have gotten both for free at a bookstore.  Worked for me.  The only question for the future single mom is whether it's worth $XXXXXX a year to meet guys, and the answer is of course it's not, even nightclubs let ladies in for free.

It's hard to accept that the University of Chicago grad described in the article isn't employable, that the economy doesn't need him, but it is absolutely true, but my point here is that not only is he not contributing, the economy doesn't need him to contribute.  Which is good, because there's nothing he can do for it. 1. Anything requiring science is out.  2. "He can work manual labor!"  I love how people assume economics doesn't apply to construction.  The demand for those jobs is very high AND hipsters suck at them.  At any wage, Gerry the hipster will always be outworked by Vinnie the son of a longshoreman, who will always be outworked by a Mexican illegal, i.e. the system will always be able to find someone who can do the job better AND with lower labor costs.  Bonus: no need to pay Jose's insurance, everyone knows Hispanics never get sick, except fake psychiatrically.  3. Hipsters are not good at retail or sales unless detached irony is required, which it is not, which is why they're on food stamps.  Here's a quick test, watch this video:





Is Baldwin's character a jerk or a savior?  The genius of the story is that half of you will have completely misunderstood it, and you like mint chutney and food stamps. The secret is at the beginning, at 0:15, where it is revealed that Alec Baldwin doesn't feel any of this, the whole speech is a work.  If you were in that room, some of you would understand this as a work, but feed off the energy of the message anyway, welcome the coach's cursing at you, "this guy is awesome!"; while some of you would take it personally, this guy is a jerk, you have no right to talk to me like that, or-- the standard maneuver when narcissism is confronted with a greater power-- quietly seethe and fantasize about finding information that will out him as a hypocrite.  So satisfying.

That same person will retort that the film is a critique of evil American capitalism, but then why, in a job sector with 50% more women than men, is Alec Baldwin yelling at a room in which there is not a single woman?  Are there no female capitalists?  Why does he have to teach them a mnemonic that is already posted on the bulletin board behind the chalkboard?  Same reason Pacino isn't present: because sales isn't about the product, it's about the relationship, and women and alpha males are better at relationships, while everyone else is busy outing hypocrisy.  Go get 'em.  "The leads are weak."  Oh, the leads are weak. In this example, leads=economy.

This is where the two mentalities separate.  One group of people sees the man behind the job, and judges him as an identity; and the other group of people sees the symbolic importance of the person, what he represents, a judge, a doctor, a bank teller, whatever; and that first group of people find it difficult to operate in society because they cannot see that the person is more than he "is" simply by virtue of his position, because that would doubly reinforce their own marginalization. 

The hipsters want to believe that because they are not obsessed with money/capitalism that they are better people, opting out of "materialism", but that's an after the fact rationalization.    There's simply no drive for anything except existing.  "I'm a good father."  Go home and play with your kids.  "I believe in social causes."  For which the minimum exertion is required, yes they'll have wifi at OWS.  There's plenty of attention to style, to identity, and regression to our most primitive instinct: eating, fetishized.  The next thing that should happen in this chain is the fetishization of the bathroom, "how pooping can be luxurious and how to make it more decadent."  Louis CK made a joke about this:





and in case you think "it's so true!" note that he was talking about how terrible being old is, how life was basically over for him.  And then, IRL, he went on to make two TV shows.  In other words, he was kidding about the pooping.  He wasn't talking about himself, he was saying it because he knew you'd relate.

"We're artists, not producers."  Then make some art!  "No one will buy it."  Are you insane?  The point isn't the money yet, it is the drive.  Go to the Whole Foods and ask if you can hang it for free, and if they say no, hang it anyway. I'd rather look at the most horrendous art than subway tiles or "Lose Weight Fast" ads.  I'm no artist, yet here I sit, clickity clackety clack, applying King's 2000 words a day to write you the best book of pornography I'm able to pull off (by Christmas).  The natural human instinct is to create things, beginning with the toddler who is amazed that he was able to create such a fascinating product out of his butt, the difference is most toddlers grow up and sublimate that drive and create other things.  You have not gotten past the poop, strike that, you have regressed to the oral stage, hence the emphasis on organic foods. Yes, the anal stage comes after the oral stage.

"I have a degree." No one assumes you're smart because of it, so what was the point?  You were tricked, your parents were tricked, your peers were tricked, your employers were not tricked at all.  "There's more to a college education than employability."  No there isn't.  I am not anti-liberal arts, I am all in on a classical education, I just don't think there's any possibility at all, zero, none, that you will get it at college, and anyway every single college course from MIT and Yale are on Youtube.  Is that any worse than paying $15k to cut the equivalent class at State?  Name me one contemporary fiction writer who required his college training to be a writer, and if you say David Foster Wallace I swear to god I'm going to pumpkin your house.  I think the only reason The New Yorker keeps shoving him down my throat is because he-- the guy, not his work-- is an academic's aspirational fantasy, a compromise between two worlds: mild mannered writing professor by day, brooding and non-balding antihero by night, a last chance at "I can be cool, too" for the late 30s associate  professor who thinks that intelligence alone is insufficient reason to be labeled a man.   My university is full of them, all reasonably smart, all pretending at cool through the hiding in plain site of cultural irony and political cynicism and pretend alcoholism.  "I may be drunk, but why was my polling station filled with rednecks trying to take away a female's somatic autonomy?" says the endocrinology patient wearing a blazer with jeans as he nurses his second microbrew, trying to impress me with what kind of a man he could be in the Matrix.  Come on, stop breathing.  Obviously I'm not telling you to become an alcoholic, but don't tell me you are one and then go home at 10:30 because otherwise your wife will cheat on you.  Man up or stand down, I don't care which, just don't backwash into a perfectly good beer if I'm going to have to finish half of it.

III.

Fact: college is a waste, but we haven't yet hit that point in society where we can bypass it.  So we have to pass through another generation of massive college debt.  How to pull in the suckers in?  Answer: these articles.  By getting you to say, "these hipsters should be able to get jobs because they are college graduates!" you are saying, "college is worth something."  It isn't.  But by directing your hate towards hipsters, you are protecting the system against change.  


part 2






Comments

Name me one contemporary f... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 4:58 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Name me one contemporary fiction writer who required his college training to be a writer, and if you say David Foster Wallace I swear to god I'm going to pumpkin your house.
***
How about Philip Roth?

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How can you address being b... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:28 PM | Posted by humanillusion: | Reply

How can you address being black or asian without addressing all other minorities (or gender bias, a well-documented wage disparity currently still plaguing a majority of "college educated" single mothers). Anyone in this country, whether young, hip, black, white, rich, poor deserves a chance to get back on their feet again if they lost work, regardless of the circumstances. If people of other citizenships are able to enter into this country and get scholarships and free money for an education and health care, etc, then why not the actual citizens themselves? I love that you are also using a fictional example from a film written by privileged white guys, which is also probably the perspective you are coming from. Vehemently protect your privileged position, or else "they," or "we" might just come and take some precious little scraps away from you. What a greedy,

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...misinformed mindset. </p... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:30 PM | Posted by humanillusion: | Reply

...misinformed mindset.

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You can't get into medical ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:36 PM | Posted by anon: | Reply

You can't get into medical school without first graduating from college, and you can't become a psychiatrist without going to medical school. The same dynamics work in other fields too. College is a sorting mechanism. That said, I agree that a lot of "college education" is a waste, but we're dealing with 18-22 year old's who don't have a lot of experience with life...

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Someone had to say it. I'm ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:38 PM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

Someone had to say it. I'm glad it was you.

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I'm generally okay with sup... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:53 PM | Posted by b-nasty: | Reply

I'm generally okay with supporting those in need -- true need -- but something just feels wrong with allowing tax-payer funded benefits to be used frivolously on junk food or pricey 'organic' rip-offs. For the price of the two serving, processed, soy junk purchased at Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck), another family could buy 10lbs of regular, supermarket hamburger and feed their family for a week. Why should the family that doesn't qualify for SNAP be forced to shop smart and buy what they can afford, while the hipster gets to shop wherever with his 'free' money.

The USDA already calculates average food prices for the essentials all over the country. Why not audit the SNAP spending such that only stores that offer choices that match what is laid out are allowed?

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It's not true that English ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 5:57 PM | Posted by Io: | Reply

It's not true that English majors can't get "real" jobs. Who do you think works in advertising, just to name one option? "If you're an English major, then you're going to teach, right?" is pretty trite and predictable at this point.

The trouble with the liberal arts is that there's no system in place that leads towards finding a job...helping students find internships and what they would be good at. You know, like there is for the sciences. Liberal arts students have to figure it out on their own, without having their hands held, the way a medical student would.

But just to say that English majors are unemployable is ridiculous. I'm sure you know plenty of former English majors who have jobs. The path to get there is just a bit rockier and less predictable. Of course it doesn't help that universities encourage their liberal arts students to be impractical. That's a huge problem in need of fixing. But the problem is not the subject matter--not everyone can be an engineer.

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The point isn't that Englis... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 6:33 PM | Posted, in reply to Io's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The point isn't that English majors are unemployable, but that they are no more employable for having their English degrees. Which were very expensive, and both ate up four to seven years of their life and four to seven years of what might have been work experience for a resume and four to seven years of their future income by indebting themselves for it.

The solution to this is not more systems and hand-holding. Medical students, sans hand-holding, would still find jobs, because they have useful skills. This is not the case for English Majors.

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I can't help but feel you m... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 6:33 PM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I can't help but feel you missed the major point if the race part is what you want to talk about... particularly when it seemed to me TLP was making a point that these are privileged *white* people who are on food stamps.

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If you think college gradua... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 6:37 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

If you think college graduates, particularly female college graduates, with degrees in things like "communications" "performing arts" and/or "new media studies" can't get jobs you need to take a survey in your IT department.

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For the record, the ethnic ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 6:43 PM | Posted by Hugh: | Reply

For the record, the ethnic grocery store in my town that stocks Japanese eggplant, mint chutney, and fresh turmeric also happens to have some of the best prices in town for meat & vegetables. And I grew an inch intellectually when I started to see Salon articles for what they are after having spent half a decade on the cesspool of a site. It wasn't long after leaving them that I stopped reading the New Yorker, although they still send me the damn thing every week a full year after my subscription expired - TLP helped me understand why they would still send it to me. All that said, this article still hit me square in the balls.

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60 Minutes spent a full seg... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 7:00 PM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

60 Minutes spent a full segment thrashing Peter Thiel for having a similar stance on college education.

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I have to agree about the p... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 7:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Hugh's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

I have to agree about the prices as the ethnic grocery. When I was a minimum wage red-state living coed trying to get my MRS. degree (how stupid was I, I married an art major!) while working and living in a violent ghetto, I overcame the food desert phenomenon because of Asian and Mexican grocery stores. Here, spices cost two dollars instead of twenty, making a diet of rice, jalapenos, 80 cent cans of black beans, and the occasional vegetable as affordable as a calorie rich nutrient poor diet consisting primarily of Williams fried chicken and MD20. Why do we assume that the poor budget badly? Being white and educated means you probably have a better sense of what you should be eating. Why? Education. Your more privileged upbringing taught you about eating your veggies, likely even by osmosis. It probably also helped you get your Crohn's disease diagnosed!

To be honest, I can't seem to stop thinking that blaming white middle class man's lack of employment on THEM is a strange change. It's not because minorities or women are TAKING their jobs? Wow, so now white guys are subject to the same kind of scrutiny other people are when unemployed. Fascinating. I'm sure they drive Cadillacs or have a fur coat some where too!

Ideal would be a stance of compassion I guess. Perhaps that is too idealistic a goal.

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1) Regarding David Foster W... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 7:11 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

1) Regarding David Foster Wallace: THANK YOU. Brb, loading a truck with pumpkins and a catapult.

2) Nice to see an article that's a little less about narcissism. I mean, it is, but it's on a practical / societal sort of level, which I always enjoy reading from you.

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"One group of people see th... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 7:42 PM | Posted by AlexeyConrad: | Reply

"One group of people see the man behind the job, and judge him as an identity; and the other group of people see the symbolic importance of the person, what he represents, a judge, a doctor, a bank teller, whatever; and that first group of people find it difficult to operate in society because they cannot see that the person is more than he "is" simply by virtue of his position, because that would doubly reinforce their own marginalization"


This knife cuts both ways. A person who sees another person as more than he is can, and often have, used their symbolic importance for horrific acts. Take the Romanov family for example, Russian Revolutionaries refused to see the Romanov children as exactly that, as children. So they were slaughtered because of their Symbolic importance, as Royals, instead of being seen as mere innocent children.

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my judgement, is that you a... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 7:46 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

my judgement, is that you are judgemental. I take a certain satisfaction that this will never be something you understand, but will always happen.

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As far as contemporary writ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:02 PM | Posted by Joe: | Reply

As far as contemporary writers and the academy: the explosion of MFA programs since WWII--driven first by the GI Bill and later by the student loan industry--was probably the single greatest factor in producing the amazingly rich body of literature we have today. Mark McGurl documents this all in extensive detail in his book "The Program Era."

The irony, of course, is that many of those same MFA-incubated authors (and later MFA teachers) rail against confining and conformist institutions. Likewise, in your blog post I see someone using arcane Lacanian theory to denounce the worth of higher education. Who gets rich learning about the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary in grad school seminars? Well, no one (except Zizek, and perhaps TLP if he sells that book or somehow gets enough people to buy low-production-value podcasts). But, just as we'd be missing a whole lot of terrific fiction without MFA programs, we wouldn't have TLP's generally fun commentary without the academic institutions that support and perpetuate the intellectual activity that underpins his ideas (even if he would never actually acknowledge those sources in his writing).

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There are a lot of hipsters... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:15 PM | Posted by dave: | Reply

There are a lot of hipsters near where I live. I don't begrudge the ones I see working much, they actually produce really good food and some pretty aesthetically pleasing watering holes.

There is one thing that set me off though. I went on a date with a hipster chick and asked her about all this hipster stuff because I was unfamiliar. Specifically I asked her about a guy at the bar that had stretched his ear lops way down to below his neck. I couldn't understand thing. It was ugly and it looked like he mutilated himself. When I asked her why he had done it she said, "why not?" I replied, "that's well enough and all, but that's the kind of 'why not' that has more to do with not having enough 'why(s)' in your life then a genuine lack of inhibition against new things." We never went on a second date.

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People with BAs had more op... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:21 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

People with BAs had more opportunities in the past (50s-70s) and getting a BA costs an order of magnitude greater than it did then. I've forgone attending university because I'm allergic to the notion of taking out a large portion of credit. Nonetheless: If you adhere to some kind of political economy consisting rational self-interested actors with perfect information, I'm all ears.

The only people I know who are willing to acknowledge that attending college is a shitty deal and that the system is set up to bilk you are the recent grads with service sector jobs. None of them collect food stamps.

Consequently, the entire political leadership and every last person in this society over the age of 35 is sincerely (and quite fervently) committed to the notion that we're still living in economically mobile boom years and that the recession amounts to an aberration. It would never enter the minds of almost all of the non-1% that it's a part of a larger macroeconomic trend of globalization and the resultant non-competitive price American labor.

In light of this, what's the difference between aiming low in the job market (construction LOL) and exploiting the system that has no use for you anyway?

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You're joking. You have to... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:24 PM | Posted by Mr_Jones: | Reply

You're joking. You have to be joking. While I can't say that you aren't completely wrong, that there are a certain number of people who don't want to work, or go to college with the express purpose of finding a paycheck to marry, the large majority do not. This type of stereotyping is, or should be, beyond your accreditation: suggesting that "all English majors are useless" and "all women are whores" does not become a person in your profession.

No offense, but you should lose your license to practice. In the state you're in, I think you can do more harm than good by mangling people into pigeon-holes that cut off significant pieces of their functionality. You sir, should get your head straight then get your butt back to school before you ruin anyone else's life in the same way you did your own.

There is no value in this type of narcissistic diatribe.

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The vast majority of BAs ar... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Mr_Jones's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The vast majority of BAs are a financially shitty deal. I'm not sure what rock you crawled out from under, but the facts of the past half decade or so bear this out.

And of course -- You're off track: what he's referring has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the education on offer, but rather what employers look for.

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Aw shit, Alone, you've made... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:49 PM | Posted by Naw: | Reply

Aw shit, Alone, you've made me realize I'm insufficiently like Ben Franklin and Fred Thompson. Inspiring!

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Have to agree... the flip s... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 8:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Have to agree... the flip side of this argument is that the denigration of higher education into job training is disadvantageous to both.

A PhD in philosophy is expected to look back with resentment on the mistake, but to understand why.

A person with an MS in ERP systems will never know why he feels cheated.

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College, often, leads to be... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 9:01 PM | Posted by HippyLongStockings: | Reply

College, often, leads to better things. I agree that people should be practical about college and not get into outrageous amounts of debt over it simply for the sake of an interesting major that has no practical use in the job market. Employment is important. But college is how people become doctors, lawyers, etc. Even if hipsters are broke right now, they may use that degree to become (gasp!) psychiatrists.

It is a very tough economy. There are people who were science majors who are working two jobs (and I mean minimum wage ones) in order to make ends meet. Believe it or not, a college degree can actually hurt you if you are over qualified for what it available.

It is very tough right now, and I think this piece is overly cynical.

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"But by directing your h... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 9:24 PM | Posted by thestage: | Reply

"But by directing your hate towards hipsters, you are protecting the system against change."

And so are you.

I'm not trying to invalidate what you're saying, but your message is the same as everyone else's. Fall in line, give the system a nice long blowjob and hope you do a good enough job for it to throw some cash at you after blowing on your face. And if you're lucky, maybe you won't even be 65 and ready to die when that time comes.

The difference is the audience, you're not writing for Johnny Business Grad, you're writing for Gerry the hipster (though I become less and less inclined to think your ideal reader is your actual reader). His dad is either a wallflower or the guy who calls him a fucking hippie; you're calling him a fucking hippie and then dropping DFW or Nietzsche to code him into not tuning you out. Does it work? I don't know. Should it?

Maybe it's not worth throwing your life away to spite daddy society and mommy education (the coddling liar), but remember, both daddy and mommy have failsafes, they anticipate you reacting how you react, they code it into their message, the countersign, the blowback. And if I take Daddy TLP's advice (which I can't, which you know, which you've directly written about), the best I can hope to become is a fake version of screaming Alec Baldwin. And guess what? The system/economy/society/neighbors/everyoneyoumeet doesn't give any kind of shit whether or not the Baldwin they share fake laughter with at dinner is the real thing or not. There is no difference, except inside, where you do it for ten years and then come back to Daddy TLP when it suddenly dawns on you that you are miserable. This post is a drug, it serves the same end as the pills you will shove down my throat if I stop the pretense and swallow the cum.

It is very, very hard for me to not want to be a failure, because it is very, very hard to see anything worth winning.

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and I get it, this is me pr... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 9:43 PM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by thestage: | Reply

and I get it, this is me protecting myself, warding off change. but aye, there's the rub, why does "getting it" not at all matter, not at all externalize? surely part of the problem is me, but just as surely there's something else at play. if there is no difference between baldwin and fake baldwin (between fake alcoholic professor and real alcoholic professor), o simulacrum of simulacra, then what is the difference between detached me and actualized me? miserable associate professor is not sitting on his laurels, the school that granted him his degree admits less than 5% of its applicants; the school that hired him chose him out of 500. what was his reward? if he drops it all and Baldwin Screams while using whatever talents or intellect he's accumulated to drive a ferrari right into the center of the new york times, all he's done is given up the him part of the equation, he's not the professor anymore. et tu, brute--what price?

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as someone above said, Engl... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 9:49 PM | Posted by thestage: | Reply

as someone above said, English majors make up a good portion of advertisers. that's all you need to know, really: they spend four years (or more) of their life learning to hate the thought behind advertising (don't argue with this, please), only to become advertisers. they literally marginalize themselves, sacrifice themselves so that there is an occasion for future generations to study what they have studied. all is grist for the mill.

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Oh. My. Fucking. G-d. ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 9:53 PM | Posted by weare: | Reply

Oh. My. Fucking. G-d.

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"but your message is the sa... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 10:25 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"but your message is the same as everyone else's"

I'm thinking along the same lines. Not the same, actually, but to the same effect.

This is also the media. Inaction and inertia are advantageous to the "system" are they not?

If you are hopeless, but pacified by the illusion that this person could "understand" you then you are not an agent of any kind of change. Not even in your own small life.

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I'm not really in the posit... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 10:34 PM | Posted, in reply to Io's comment, by MackyTrajan: | Reply

I'm not really in the position to answer this specifically, but advertising jobs are probably given to people who show aptitude for advertising; i.e. - people who are heavily involved in social media projects. I don't think advertising companies even care if someone has a B.A. in business advertising, much less a B.A. in English. It may be that the English grad has an aptitude for advertising, but trust me, it isn't because of the degree. And the skills he/she DO have were definitely not acquired in Literature courses.

It is a rocky, unpredictable road out there for ALL grads, but if you know that advertising is your passion, why not do something advertising related right now? It's just nebulous as to where to start. I'm studying a hard science degree not because I wouldn't rather do anything else, but because the uncertainty of the future has admittedly got me worrying about money.

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RE: David Foster Wallace</p... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 10:43 PM | Posted by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

RE: David Foster Wallace

I have wondered whether if he had written more about life and death, would he have offed himself? If you are having suicidal ideations perhaps focusing thousands of pages on irony is not the way to go.

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This is ridiculous, I live ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 10:55 PM | Posted by Clarissa: | Reply

This is ridiculous, I live in Texas and I am on food stamps but in order to even qualify for them you have to WORK a minimum of 20 hours a week and you have to provide enough evidence about your moneyary situation to prove you need assistance. My $800 a month salary won't let me live and go to college at the same time, how dare you assume work isn't necessary or required. Maybe you should look at the provisions of food stamps required by states before cashing us college students as freeloaders.

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apparently college hasn't t... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 10:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Clarissa's comment, by thestage: | Reply

apparently college hasn't taught you how to read

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Windbag... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 11:04 PM | Posted by Larry: | Reply

Windbag

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I wanna be a porno star, wh... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 11:12 PM | Posted by 8====D: | Reply

I wanna be a porno star, where do I go for that?

I wanted to be a rock star but learning to play teh geetar took tooo much time

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Can someone explain the nar... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 11:48 PM | Posted by Gary: | Reply

Can someone explain the narcissism and hypocrisy-hunting connection?

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He is not polishing the sys... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:02 AM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

He is not polishing the system's pole in any way, nor is he necessarily suggesting to fall in line. This whole post reads like a kneejerk reaction. I certainly realize what a contentious issue this is.

My take: the people who strive to drop out or at least bottom feed off of the system and their parents (hipsters, fauxhemians or whatever the fuck) do it only through spite -- the ideology comes later. You could call this a strawman -- or shadowboxing with a figure from pop culture -- and I'd partly agree with you. It's the inauthenticity of the posture and the massive sense of entitlement it takes that makes them loathsome. These are not interesting people by and large, but consumers of interesting things.


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"First, the obvious: what's... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 1:36 AM | Posted by Ot: | Reply

"First, the obvious: what's wrong with hipsters on food stamps is that these are college educated people who should be able to get jobs, not live off the state. They're not black, after all. Hell, one of the two in the article is even Asian. "What, like Russian Asian?" No, like Asian Asian. "Whaaaaaaat?""

Is this an attempt at irony or just really sad racism?

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"The point isn't that Engli... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 2:43 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"The point isn't that English majors are unemployable, but that they are no more employable for having their English degrees. Which were very expensive, and both ate up four to seven years of their life and four to seven years of what might have been work experience for a resume and four to seven years of their future income by indebting themselves for it.

The solution to this is not more systems and hand-holding. Medical students, sans hand-holding, would still find jobs, because they have useful skills. This is not the case for English Majors."

On the contrary, I am much more skilled at what I do than other people because of my liberal arts education. Can everyone be a copy editor? If everyone could be a copy editor or a proofreader, they wouldn't exist. How many science students could read through an ad and make the writing better or correct flow an style in an article? Everything that's written needs to be proofread, and people get paid to do it. That's just ONE career that an English major can have. A medical student can't do my job. And I'm sure you understand that there is lot more writing done in the world than writing novels. Technical writing, for example.

I have a BA in Classics and an MA in Creative Writing. Two pretty worthless degrees, right? But I have a skillset and a career path just the same, it's just taken me longer to get to it because when I was an undergrad the message I got from my professors was that if you love what you study, money will find you. Obviously that's wrong. Navigating the job market is a skill in itself, and it should be a part of higher education....just like it is for science students. But liberal arts students aren't taught this skill set, so it's not that their education is worthless, it's that they start out with a handicap.

A medical student who doesn't get shown by his supervisors when and how to apply for residencies or what have you is probably going to commit career suicide, employable skills or not. You have to know how to play the game. No one is going to come to your house and offer you a job as a doctor--they're not in that much demand.

And it's possible to get an affordable and decent college education. State schools are perfectly adequate.

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cant get on board with this... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:44 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

cant get on board with this article.

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Man I sure hope that book i... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:00 AM | Posted by qerplonk: | Reply

Man I sure hope that book is coming out by Christmas. Beat it geeks.

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another novelist and poet w... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:29 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

another novelist and poet who studied writing in college would be Haven Kimmel, and she is amazing

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Food stamps (now called SNA... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Food stamps (now called SNAP) are starting to be accepted at some McDonalds. Before everyone has a a cow, I just want to point out that single mothers on FS have a much easier time being out and about job hunting or taking their kid to the doctor if there is the possibility that they can stop and get a meal or a drink. Poor people are often using mass transit too, so it can take them a lot longer to go from place to place. So they might get hungry. It also helps to be able to soothe a cranky kid who is being dragged all over running errands or whatever since his mom can't afford a babysitter.
In some cities, there are restaurants for the homeless that accept FS, giving a thoroughly disfranchised person the change to take a break and have a nice meal and get out just like anyone else. If a lot of poor people are on disability, which they are, and can't afford much in the way of social activities, especially if they are mentally ill where socializing can help their mental health, I don't see why this should not be so. (Soapboxes always lead me to these long winded run on sentences, sorry).
I also do not see why any person shouldn't be able to shop wherever they want, including whole foods, with FS. Why not have a nice or special meal once in a while_ it"s important fr mental health> and finally One more: $200.00 is less than fifty dollars a week to feed a person. It's not like these people even have the choice of eating, I don''t know, coq au vin even four times a month. It's just not possible- the FS/money is simply not there.
And finally, if anyone is curious what people get on FS, how much when factors like kids and rent is figured in, Illinois has a SNAP calculator online.

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James Richardson presumably... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 5:13 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

James Richardson presumably learned something about poetry while at college studying writing. I thought perhaps you meant New Yorker writers or something because that at least narrows things a bit.

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1. So it's deterministic: m... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:29 AM | Posted by isomorphismes: | Reply

1. So it's deterministic: major in X, salary is Y? I don't think so.

2. I think there's a very obvious answer why kids major in P or Q instead of R or S like they "should". It's a three-part obvious answer.

2a. They have never paid for their rent/food/life when they're asked to make the decision.

2b. Adults are lying to them, because education is a profitable business that relies on getting young people to work away for a lot of money later, paid for a long time, on promises made now, that generate super-super-senior debt. It's too profitable to throw up a chaff screen that says, e.g., incomes equal out by age 40 irrespective of university degree, and too hard to clearly disprove that claim (especially given that 18-year-olds neither have training in statistics / data analysis nor well-trained bullsh*t detectors toward adults who are lying to them for selfish reasons).

2c. Nobody gives good career advice. What are the qualifications to become a guidance counselor or career advisor? As far as I can tell the people who do these things couldn't get any job that I would want.

2d. I'll add another. Most adults don't know what the f**k they're doing, how the economy works, or what job options or even industries exist. Given a nebulous understanding, actually a non-understanding, of the causes of career success which everybody possesses--economists and business professors included--who is going to effectively argue that A will cause B?

It all reduces to a "values" question -- and I mean values in the abstract, irrelevant, theoretical, useless sense, not values as they're discovered in the fog of war. Do you "follow your dreams" (and where did those dreams come from? and are they uniquely designed for you or is "I want to write the Great American Novel" just as fabulated as the supposititious "rat race" alternative?) or "follow the pack" and "work for the man" and "give up on your dreams"? All of which is of course poppycock. "I'd rather be a starving artist" is a logocentric, aspirational, disconnected, fabricated, meaningless sentence unless it's uttered by someone who has experienced both (1) a life without enough art but plenty of money, and (2) a life with enough art but struggling for money. Period.

The solution is pretty obvious to me as well. Indoctrination needs to change in two ways. First, "learning" is not valuable any more it was for the ancient Mandarins: producing things other people want, that are hard for other people to produce. Second, homogeneity is not your friend and specialisation is.

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Whether Baldwin's character... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:37 AM | Posted by isomorphismes: | Reply

Whether Baldwin's character is an inspiration for the Boiler Room idiots or an affront to the softies or a rehearsed speech, it is true in the story that third prize is you're fired. I think the message is that sales sucks and there are greater forces pushing salesmen to push on you, and, work sucks, and sales sucks.

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And if I haven't said it be... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:46 AM | Posted by isomorphismes: | Reply

And if I haven't said it before: I love your codeword "the Matrix" for all of the crap.

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As other people besides me ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:51 AM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

As other people besides me have argued: (certain) liberal arts degrees teach you the very valuable skill of being able to bullsh*t-argue for anything.

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Show me someone who doesn't... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:58 AM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

Show me someone who doesn't judge what others buy with food stamps and I'll show you someone who's been on food stamps. The choices are constrained in ridiculous ways, like it's possible to buy candy or Pringles but not toothpaste or shampoo or toilet paper. You can't buy hot prepared food (that would be like getting to eat out) but can by cold prepared food. You can buy shrimp or caviar if the store carries it and you can expect the eye from the cashier. You can't buy alcohol, obviously.

I think the reason it is this way is: it's actually very cheap (in USA terms) to give someone food stamps, so other than a few obvious off-limits items that somebody thought to complain about, nobody has the time to care.

Here's a question that's appropriate to this blog: if you qualify by the state guidelines for food stamps (eg, under $200 in the bank account at all times) but you have a college degree, and therefore you don't accept them--does that make you moral, overly proud, or both? (or sth else)

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The money for food stamps c... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 8:53 AM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

The money for food stamps comes out of a big pool of tax money. You don't get to decide who gets food stamps--whoever meets certain eligibility levels gets paid. You can't change the law to make it so that "everyone can get food stamps, except black women who want to buy McDonald's/white hipsters who want to buy kale/Asians, because GROSS!!!!"

The point of reading articles about "x group on food stamps" is to get you feeling emotional about something that you can't control. There's always going to be somebody out there that you feel doesn't deserve what they have, and if it wasn't people on food stamps it would be somebody else.

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Also, I get the feeling tha... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 9:14 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Also, I get the feeling that the author is in academia and dislikes the current system because it's a ripoff. However, a lot of "useless" fields are already being eliminated, and the ones that are left are generally career-oriented, so there will be fewer people out there getting degrees in the humanities and more esoteric hard sciences. The change is already coming, partly due to the attitude that "an English degree is only good for castrating men and getting women married, so fuck it."

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He can't be an academic. In... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 9:51 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

He can't be an academic. In academia the pain is that the University is dead or dying. It's now just job training. And the loss of language and history is the dissolution of culture.

We're becoming a nation of worker drones with classification papers who have never learned to think. Yay!

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Or I guess if he is an acad... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 9:55 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Or I guess if he is an academic (as opposed say to some one who is employed tangentially by an academic institution) he's quite cynical.

Was the role of the University ever to be a trade school? No. It was based on class, and it was a part of what separated "us" from "them" and now "they're" here.


Also, who are these brats who don't work in college or get scholarships? Yep. I said it. My useless BA was achieved with 0 debt. It took time and effort. Pointless or not, you should adjust your priorities any time you are considering BUYING something you CAN'T AFFORD when you can't accurately estimate the ROI.

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I've always thought the pri... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 10:27 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I've always thought the private sector should foot the bill for its worker drones. Draft people out of college. It's clear college can't offer what these people actually need in terms of soft skills. That way colleges can 1. perhaps charge less and 2. raise standards considerably higher to keep stupid people away.

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Err, I'm the one who posted... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 10:28 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Err, I'm the one who posted this - I meant draft people out of High School, not college.

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They do, they're called pri... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 11:03 AM | Posted by HP: | Reply

They do, they're called private universities. And they cost more, not less, because they're not subsidized. And it's almost impossible to completely get rid of the subsidies, because there's significant federal interest in keeping their fingers in education.

Side note aside: Interesting that TLP makes multiple references in this article that would cast TLP as a woman, despite numerous references in other articles that very much cast TLP as a man.

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"And it's possible to get a... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 11:26 AM | Posted by Donny: | Reply

"And it's possible to get an affordable and decent college education. State schools are perfectly adequate."

That's another trend I've noticed for the last 2 decades: kids going to remote schools at double, triple, or quadruple the cost of going to the local state school, where the education is just as good if not better than whatever school they were able to get into in some other part of the country (i.e., somewhere at least 8 hours drive away from home to deter the parents from dropping by to check on their investment).

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I guess the gender doesn't ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 11:37 AM | Posted, in reply to HP's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

I guess the gender doesn't matter. TLP or "Alone" or whoever could also be multiple people. Any time you are reading an author's work you're reading a character and a story. So it's up to the author to create that for you.

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The cost of attending a sta... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Donny's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The cost of attending a state university has not kept pace with inflation (this means mommy and daddy's money does not go very far, and working your way through means 2 jobs, not one), and the job market is absolutely abysmal for new grads. You'd almost be better off putting $10k on black at a roulette table at this point. If you believe that there's any social mobility or job security to be had for someone fresh out of college with a BA now, you live in a bubble, end of story. The best you can hope for is to end up creeping your way up in the service sector.

If I attended what's basically commuter university in my city, I would easily be graduating with $12,000 in debt just from tuition, and that would be after attending for 2 years (I have an associate's degree from a local college). That's assuming I still qualify for a Pell Grant and low interest Stafford loans. Since $12,000 is a considerable amount of money for me, I plan to think it through as thoroughly as possible.

I mean, for fucks sake, you have to be quite literally prescient if you plan to study in a university, because the demand for specific fields fluctuates on a year to year basis. Law is an absolutely terrible field to get into now (without being well connected). Healthcare was pumped up for the past few years like it was sure bet, but graduating in nursing isn't all sunshine and rainbows because healthcare facilities would rather pay $10/hr to assistants and technicians rather than LPNs. Business and IT seems like where it's at, and perhaps finance if you're an amoral ass licker who has no problem with the finance capitalism/proliferating debt peonage thing.

If you want to teach in a public school, enjoy the eventual $10/hr no benefits treatment because there is a concerted political push to essentially privatize public schools through charters.

If you plan to teach college at all, enjoy being kept in an adjunct position, never getting tenure, having no benefits whatsoever, commuting 2-3hrs a day, and getting paid peanuts relative to your faculty brethren.

In other words, anyone suggesting pursuing "any college degree" in general is not just naive, but a dangerous idiot that will ruin you.

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I noticed the gender, too--... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:40 PM | Posted, in reply to HP's comment, by sunny day: | Reply

I noticed the gender, too--and I was like, "Man, this author is whiny!" Which I tend not to do with the other posts from a "dude" author. Says more about me, the reader, than the author.

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The different then is betwe... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:40 PM | Posted by Phil A.: | Reply

The different then is between those who just do it, and those who are waiting for things to just happen for them.

In that case, the election doesn't matter because you can't vote in a society with more pro-social attitudes. You can't vote for people to be "doers" and not "wait-ers". You can't vote for people to know how to make something of themselves, from themselves. So inevitably, the system will be broken no matter how close to perfect it ever manages to get. Socialism and capitalism both cannot work unless the people who hold them up make it work.

That sounds about right. I would think that the only consolation is that at least those who have it figured out will have an easier time making something of their lives because most other people aren't trying, but the fact is is that when EVERYONE is a doer, all the other doers are better off. The system flourishes, and the competition leads to greater gains for everyone.

Unfortunately there is no silver lining except that perhaps the next generation can learn from the prior's mistakes. Maybe.

This is why, I think, if you are, or plan to become, a parent, it's so important to get your life in order. Pay off all of your debt first, either start climbing that ladder towards a higher salary, or start working to create your own business. As long as it's something. Because any child who is raised by someone who "doesn't get it" has a severe handicap in life, and they're almost certainly not going to figure it out themselves because there's no impetus or means (yet) for that to happen.

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"Here's a question that's a... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:55 PM | Posted, in reply to isomorphismes's comment, by b-nasty: | Reply

"Here's a question that's appropriate to this blog: if you qualify by the state guidelines for food stamps (eg, under $200 in the bank account at all times) but you have a college degree, and therefore you don't accept them--does that make you moral, overly proud, or both? (or sth else)"

I think that's the wrong question. The question hinted at by this blog post is rather: unless you have a good reason for not having a job (disability/handicap), are you acting morally by avoiding any form of employment while falling back on assistance programs designed for those in real need? If one were to remove their pride over underemployment (meaningless word) or doing gross/hard/hot manual labor, is it still impossible to find a job? The moral hazard created from assistance programs is that those jobs may be out there, but they are a less desirable choice compared to doing nothing and collecting SNAP.

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Alone is often deliberately... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 12:57 PM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone is often deliberately hypocritical, so there you go...

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And under-employment is onl... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 1:03 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

And under-employment is only meaningless to the ruling class who want you to swallow shit and ask for seconds even after playing by their rules and doing everything everyone told you was right. Do you actually think you can earn your way out of student debt working 35hrs at Wal-Mart or Starbucks (less than 40 to deny you benefits, of course, and so that you qualify for public benefits). You have no clue what you're talking about.

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The student loan debt is a ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 1:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by b-nasty: | Reply

The student loan debt is a red herring. I'm not saying it isn't a factor in your quality of life, but who incurred the debt to earn a degree with low employment prospects?

Under-employment is as meaningless a term as dating someone 'below your league.' You have buyers and sellers. If you, the seller, can't entice buyers, your product is priced to high relative to its value. Remember, working that 35hr/week plus perhaps another job for the other 5-15hr/week (in the USA) still places you in the top 15% of all incomes in the world. You are rich enough to live a life that most of the world can only dream about. Perspective is important; not everyone is making 6-figures.

That said, I agree with your point about the college scam. These schools have the data about placement/employment/salary in various degree programs. Them taking $$$ in Federally-backed SLs to provide a near-worthless product is criminal.

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" has it worse" will never ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 1:41 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

" has it worse" will never be a compelling argument for working a bad job where you are readily replaceable and have no benefits, especially not when shit continues being sold as shinola with respect to bettering yourself in the job market.

I thought the ideology favorable to this globalized capitalism and free trade was banking on it to uplift everyone's standard of living? . . .And not turn us into pious market Calvinists thanking the lord that we sure do have it better than someone living in an entirely different socioeconomic context experiencing work and suffering in ways we can't understand? Even when we recognize that it was better in the past, and could easily be better if the political leadership of this country wasn't so god damn stupid?

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Don't forget the need for s... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:03 PM | Posted by DensityDuck: | Reply

Don't forget the need for social shaming to get people to pay back those student loans. If it's okay to get a loan for two hundred thousand dollars, graduate with a degree in Film Studies, and then just blow off the loan because "hey man I can't find a job", then the world will burn down. Despite everyone's slick modern attitude that we've totally moved beyond Puritan morality, the credit system is dependent on it.

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hippylongstockings, you may... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:12 PM | Posted, in reply to HippyLongStockings's comment, by anon: | Reply

hippylongstockings, you may have missed a key point of the article...... What he's saying is that it is NOT "very tough out there right now." He's saying that this is the new normal. All these jobs that have been deleted since 07-08 are never coming back, because they're not needed today or ever. Many of these jobs are ones that used to be performed by the newly undergraduated.

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And yet. OWS has iP... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:14 PM | Posted by DensityDuck: | Reply


And yet. OWS has iPhones. "Quality" food (as in: not TV dinners) is affordable on food stamps. Maybe what we're seeing is that the war on poverty is over and we won. The people who are in miserable sleep-on-the-street poverty are, increasingly, those who made specific choices to live that way--the guy who goes on a three-day drunk when he gets his welfare check and spends the rest of the month bumming for change, the woman who "feels confined" when she stays in the halfway house that won't let her smoke meth. The goods of comfortable happy life are available in abudance, nearly free, to the point where someone can have all of them and still think "man, I'm fuckin' poor".

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Are those people you mentio... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:17 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Are those people you mention really "choosing" poverty or failing to choose and failing to change the behavior that screws them?

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In other words: politicians... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Phil A.'s comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

In other words: politicians are not superheroes, nor are they marionetteers directing "the" economy. In other words: failure is our own fault.

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"Are those people you menti... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:32 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by DensityDuck: | Reply

"Are those people you mention really "choosing" poverty or failing to choose and failing to change the behavior that screws them?"

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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I don't think it's "wrong",... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:34 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

I don't think it's "wrong", just on a totally different (internal) axis than the "justice" (external) angle you're taking. Not arguing with what you said, just orthogonal.

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Not sure I agree. You're as... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:37 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Not sure I agree. You're assuming these people are making a rational and realistic assessment of actions and consequences. If you don't know what you're choosing, or why, or how it will effect you... you're not choosing.

You're not improving, you're not changing, and you're not doing anything useful... but you're also not choosing to choose or not to choose. And you definitely can't be said to be choosing consequences you don't know. You're simply following the status quo.

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Furthermore, you're simply ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:38 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Furthermore, you're simply following the status quo just like everyone else... whether they are in poverty or not.

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*affect. Grrrrr....... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:39 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

*affect. Grrrrr....

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I see it as a red herring f... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:45 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

I see it as a red herring for another reason. Say you make $14.5/hr @ 40 hrs/wk, no student debt = $29k/yr. Versus, say you make $32.5/hr @ 40 hrs/wk = $65k, but are "broke" because you pay $3k/month in debt service for a net of $29k/yr.

These two people have equal incomes but probably very different lives in terms of social class, borrowing ability, future "breakout" potential, and how engaging their work is.

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TV dinners are a weird exam... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:54 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

TV dinners are a weird example because they're for the lazy. Cabbage, potatoes, legumes, and eggs would be my example for cheap food.

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I've lost interest in deali... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 3:55 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I've lost interest in dealing with this Boomer/Gen X/privileged idiot circling of the wagons. It might take another economic collapse for the writing on the wall to become clearer to the white suburbanites posting here.

Please do not partake of the loathsome socialism of "Obamacare" when you decide that it's time to pull your head up and have the sand flushed out of your ears.

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Why don't these English maj... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:22 PM | Posted by Lucas Gray: | Reply

Why don't these English major graduates become high school English teachers?

Or is there a glut in the teaching market that I'm unaware of?

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Believe it or not they don'... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Believe it or not they don't let just anyone teach these days. In fact, a lot of teachers now have a Master's degree, and often they want you to have majored in education.

Crazy isn't it!

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1. yes, there is a massive... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

1. yes, there is a massive glut in every teaching market

2. an english degree does not qualify you to teach high school english (I mean, it does, really, in the sense that a bad teacher is a bad teacher no matter what paper he's got) unless you also have a teaching certificate. and once everyone has those, guess what, you'll need an MA. and you'll never believe this, but guess what? there sure are a whole lot of unfunded MA programs out there with super high acceptance rates ready to charge you 20 grand a semester! yarr, thar be degree creep over yonder

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yeah, that was me again... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 4:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by thestage: | Reply

yeah, that was me again

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As far as I can tell, what ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 5:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Lucas Gray: | Reply

As far as I can tell, what you're communicating in this post is this: young people are fucked, regardless of what they do.

I know there's meant to be a Part 2 coming, and I'm hoping it resolves this, but pointing out that English majors have bleak futures, while failing to mention that this is the case for basically everyone, is perniciously dishonest, not to mention useless.

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" If you don't know what yo... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:23 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by DensityDuck: | Reply

" If you don't know what you're choosing, or why, or how it will effect you... you're not choosing."

Making a bad choice for terrible reasons is still choosing.

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You are missing the point. ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:27 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

You are missing the point. It's not choosing THE CONSEQUENCE. Which is what you imply when you suggest they would be choosing homelessness or poverty.

If the meth addict was a former pop star worth billions she wouldn't be in poverty, or if the halfway house for some reason accommodated meth use. Or if she had a co-dependent sister to live with.

She'd be making the same choice: keep using meth. But the consequences would be different every time.

This is why it is illogical to suggest they are choosing to be in poverty.

They aren't.

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"TV dinners are a weird exa... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:28 PM | Posted, in reply to isomorphismes's comment, by DensityDuck: | Reply

"TV dinners are a weird example because they're for the lazy."

Or the people who leave the house before six AM for their first part-time job and get home from their second after nine PM.

"Oh but it doesn't take that long to make--" Yeah it does, if you want something that isn't a bowl of glop. Or the same thing two months in a row ("how come it's chicken cacciatore again?" "Because that's all mom knows how to make.") Or a boxed/bagged dinner that's barely a step above a TV dinner anyway.

TV dinners don't sell nutrition; they sell time.

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Think of the logic this way... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:36 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Think of the logic this way:

If you go into a room, even a room where you know something bad might happen because you've been warned about there being something horrible about the room. You made a choice.

What happens may be bad, but you don't know what it is. So you didn't choose the consequence.

No assume some one is in the room. When you enter it, this person has been waiting. In their game of choice they have entered the room with a purpose. Their purpose here is to shoot anyone who comes into this room at this time.

You come into the room. They shoot you.

They did not choose to kill YOU. They chose to kill whoever entered the room. That just happened to be you.

You did not choose to get shot, even if you knew there might be a horrible thing that happened when you entered it. You didn't know what. You didn't choose to get shot then.

Now, imagine you have a reason to need to enter the room, or you think you do.

Knowing you might get shot might make you change your mind. But remember, you didn't know you would get shot when you made the choice.

You didn't choose the consequence, only the action. You can't be blamed rationally for getting shot because you didn't know what "horrible" meant exactly and you certainly didn't know it meant getting shot.

The person who shot you can be blamed for murder, but it can't be said they chose to shoot you for you. Only that they shot some one in cold blood.

The consequences can only be predicted within a margin of error and rely on rational insight and actual knowledge to infer. The action always has unknown consequences to some degree.

Some times we anticipate the consequences, some times we don't. But we never truly choose them because we don't control them.

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This shit is just way too c... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 7:55 PM | Posted by Narcinonymous: | Reply

This shit is just way too cynical. Cynicism is a crutch. Look: everything is terrible, BUT don't ask me - I'm an alcoholic! That's not funny. That is another crutch.

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Really? Your statement that... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 10:21 PM | Posted by Thomas Belnap: | Reply

Really? Your statement that -

{They're not black, after all. Hell, one of the two in the article is even Asian. "What, like Russian Asian?" No, like Asian Asian. "Whaaaaaaat?"}

Sorry, lost me right there. Racism voids your legitimacy because you're taking an effect and trying to make it the cause which is (needless to say) irrational. I dislike self entitled holier than thou hipsters just as much as the next guy, but it isn't hipsters that are exploiting a much needed social safety net, it's people. People do bad things not styles, colors, money, or any other inanimate object or physical quality. There are unethical people and ethical people, unethical people exploit systems and ethical people support systems. In the same way that people do good or bad things, people make things worthwhile or worthless. Which is the primary error you make in you're rhetoric here's what I mean -

On your main thesis that college is worthless. The value of any given thing is whatever it is that a person places in it. College can be worthless if you decide that it is and behave in a manner that reflects such an attitude. The people you refer to in the article behave in a manner that reflects their beliefs. No one gets a college degree and then is handed a lifelong successful career. That kind of reasoning is analogous to assuming a hammer is all that is required to put a nail in a wall. You have to swing the hammer into the nail. The hammer, in itself, is useless. Same story with a degree, I'm a philosophy major which has no specialized job application in the real world (as there aren't any job postings for philosophers on any career site or job board I've ever seen). Is it a waste of time then? No. It is a tool that I am using to train my mind to see a wider range of possibilities in ordinary circumstances. That is what education is. Potential. But like the hammer potential itself does nothing without an agent to act upon it. I believe in education so much that I left a cushy career that paid me 6 figures a year which took me 5 years to achieve. I started out selling newspapers over the phone at $9 an hour when I was 17, living alone, barely able to pay rent, and couldn't afford to feed myself 3 times a day (never once did I use food credits). I slowly built my skill set up to qualify for and secure a business consulting position at the largest internet technology company in the world an experience that enabled me to start two of my own businesses which I also gave up to pursue a degree. Education is the same story, it is a stepping stone, just like my first job selling newspapers. Sometimes you have to shovel shit before you can rake in success. I didn't leave my job because I thought that a degree would end up making me more money, but because it would afford the opportunity for greater experience, and open doors that would otherwise be closed, which it already has. I am better off now than I ever was before and I still have 1 semester left. Why? Because I have more "hammers" now than I did before which I'm already using to build a better me and therefore a better life.

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You have no idea how much l... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 10:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Thomas Belnap's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You have no idea how much luck played a role in what you've accomplished. Of course you can go study philosophy - you're quite wealthy.

I suggest you divert some of your efforts away from studying philosophy toward sociology or at least political philosophy. You're terribly under-informed (or perhaps deliberately ignorant of) macroeconomics and the relationship people have to "the support system", a product of The System, capital-S.

You seem to selectively emphasize that it consists of individuals making judgement about the utility of things (in this case, education). When it is in fact run by, voted in and maintained by people with their own agendas and irrational, short-term self interest that are entirely unrelated to the ethical quandary of "do you/i/they deserve food stamps". Their agenda begins and ends with "fuck you, got mine", a refrain you're probably familiar with if you've made six figures, put with less vulgarity.

I mean really, are you some kind of rube? Were you born yesterday? As if "deserving" were the primary operative concern the system adopts in making that determination on YOUR behalf.

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This, ladies and gentlemen,... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 12:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Lucas Gray: | Reply

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you miss the other person's entire point.

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I have somewhat the opposit... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 12:57 AM | Posted by indigomind: | Reply

I have somewhat the opposite experience as the hipsters. I majored in Chemistry despite having more of an aptitude in English and I think it was a bad strategy. I didn't receive high enough grades within the subject area in order to obtain either a good job/go onto graduate school/ medical school.

As far as career advice, I still think the book "What Color is your Parachute?" has the best advice. He recommends that people figure out their strengths/interests and then pursue them with great diligence. The author's attitude is a great combination of idealism and practicality.

I know that the US worships capitalism but remember it is also the reason that people come out of college unskilled. It is not profitable for colleges to teach students sufficiently. They need all of those students to pay them more money for a Masters/PhD.

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This hipster follow your he... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 9:45 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

This hipster follow your heart BA thing is classism. With a twist.

The intellectuals, since Aristotle laid it all down, have always been upset that we are smarter, but those with economic power end up as rulers.

We have been developing a world where we get to be in charge.

Karl Marx has been the most brutally frank about it.

Most of us are more subtle. We are requiring hiring quotas and otherwise using the law to develop a world where we are necessary, and will be in control ove the developers of wealth.

The end results is: a world that is less productive, and so has less to offer everyone, but allows us to be in charge.

Healthcare reform is a leading example. As would a planetary cap-and-trade dealio. Wow, we came this close. We actually had a 'carbon market' there for a while.

The challenge is to convice everyone that we need to be in charge. So, we have to promote the idea of enemies, and problems.

"Food insecurity."

Yes, if you nswer a poll saying you have any level of concern about buying groceries if you happened to lose your job, we count you among the planet's populance suffering 'food insecurity."

Done. problem found. How to solve?
Identify an enemy, and put us in charge to regulate them.
Enemy: Mitt Romney.
solution: food stamps, and free birth control pills for all the ladies.

Think about this: our LEADING feminist issue is whether me, in my cubicle, will give tax dollars so the woman in the next cubicle can enjoy se x with her boy friend without having to pay for the pregnancy prevention pills?

Or, without having to pay for the eventual abortion?

Feminism has done so much, that is all that is left on the to-do list.

No, obviously not true.

It is our BA strategy of developing problems so we are necessary to solve the problems thru legislation and regulation.

Finally, we educated elites can be the rulers,

To shape this world, we needed a populace that thinks like us.

So, we came up with the idea of the student loan, inclusing unsecured student loans.

Now, we get anyone and their dog into BA, then everyone thinks like us, and we get control over the producers of wealth.

Where are the poor in all of this?

Well, the ones with the BAs now are both the believers in the Intelligensia being the rulers, and are the poor. Win Win.

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I think there are a lot of ... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 10:23 AM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I think there are a lot of reasons for this kind of thing. First off, colleges are NOT sorting mechanisms as one guy here said. It's no more of a sorting mechanism than kindergarden is. Grade inflation in HS and the SAT ACT courses that pretty much tell you the answers to the test guarentee that any semiliterate person can get into college. After you get in, you have to TRY HARD to flunk out. I've graduated courses in my major even though I never bought the book and BS'ed my way through "research papers" in a day (mostly with wikipedia).

All of this is why "college education" is valueless. If you can fill out the FAFSA and your tuition check (either your own or the government's) doesn't bounce, you WILL get a diploma. Then people cry because a diploma that you literally purchased doesn't get you hired. What did you think when you got in with a C- average? Everyone has something, it's useless. If everyone looks like brad pitt, why do we need brat pitt?

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I would have been a hipster... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 3:58 PM | Posted by Antigone: | Reply

I would have been a hipster in my youth, if the phenomenon had existed 10 years ago in Europe (I wore the clothes, the hair and the attitude). Not because of foodstamps, which do not exist here, but because of the irony and the not taking yourself (in your mind) and the culture you lucked into seriously. It is self-defence. And I still think, this is a valid defence for people, who suck at sports and being "ethnic". But this is totally irrelevant.

What isn't a valid position to take is, that everybody should be coerced to spend 12 years in school only to incorporate the message, that you can only be successful, if you go to college and become the same looser your high-school teacher and your parents are (If you are lucky).

What isn't a valid position to take is, that the labour theory of value holds true. Nobody wants to know about the reason you think your professor wrote about why his professor wrote, why Anna Karenina died in a dress and how many hours you spent thinking about it. Get over it. Nobody is gonna pay you for 3000 words of this blabla. (And yes, the amount of your footnotes is irrelevant.)

What isn't a valid position to take is, that there is a tough economy right now, and therefore everybody has difficulties to find a job. Sorry to inform you, but the economy is always tough, because it CHANGES, but let's be real: there is no economy. Only you. Are you useful or are you reading Salon.com (only to keep up with this blog, I would have written "a sociology textbook") instead now?

Oh my god, Capitalism has won, we are only bees to be educated on how to produce maximal value for the others, the bosses. And we won't be able to rewrite Hamlet while urinating on stage with a college degree and earning 1000 Dollars a week. I am so so sorry. I'd really love to see your limp dick.

But the real problem is, that it is still to valuable for businesses to rely on a college degree in everything else than "make up for a dead body thingy" as a signal for intelligence. I do know not why, I guess the reason is, that HR departments consists of zombies, that went to college.

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Let me clarify, I know why:... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 4:13 PM | Posted by Antigone: | Reply

Let me clarify, I know why: Because they work in Zombie Industries. They won't be here after sunlight.

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Takeaway: Why does Salon wa... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 4:57 PM | Posted by skipper: | Reply

Takeaway: Why does Salon want you to hate Hipsters on food stamps? Answer: because they're inviting you to think: "they went to college, so they must be employable" thereby reinforcing the idea that college is definitely a ticket to a career. This even though there is some evidence suggesting we should rethink our attitude toward college.

Simple enough. sounds right as an analysis of why Salon wants you to hate them. But that's like, maybe, two paragraphs of this thing. Not sure what was going on in the rest. Aside from the fact that TLP is awesome and hardworking and very much not a member of the class that she's criticizing here, despite satisfying all the criteria.

Anyways, the crude idea that a B.A. is prep for a career is not something anyone believes. Louis Menand has a nice piece on two theories of higher education. College is either 1. a place to develop critical thinking and the like, which are good for citizenship, flourishing, etc. or 2. a filtering mechanism that informs employers who is the smartest/most likely to do well in their company. The point is that you can fulfill the goals of theory 2 no matter what people study. Unless you want to go in for a third view: all college is merely vocational training. Well then, yeah, don't study English. Big surprise.

But the bigger problem here is that the reason why we need to rethink college has nothing to do with English degrees and everything to do with debt.

Also, you can always just go to the library? seriously?

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Sure college is bullshit, b... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 5:44 PM | Posted by Mike Burnett: | Reply

Sure college is bullshit, but the hipster-welfare queen chimera you've created is not something to drag out from under your bed and call insight.

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I would like to confess tha... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 6:43 PM | Posted by Tom White: | Reply

I would like to confess that I was once of these idiots. I made the mistake of getting a useless degree based on bad advice and no life experience. I have never had a job because of that degree. Instead I have taken whatever work I could get and swallowed my pride.

In my defense, and I guess defense of all those studying idiotic degrees, we were lied to. All my high school teachers through to the career counsellor, my parents and grand parents etc said go to college. My parents were uneducated middle class; their advice was based on the advice of what is best for the upper class with money [follow your dream etc].
I did start off in a field that I thought would guarantee me a job [Come graduation I would have been wrong about that had I kept it up] but I was talked into changing my focus by the academic staff with the intent of going into academia. I lacked the drive or the interest and ended up unemployed and unemployable.
I was too young and naive to know what I wanted to do and truthfully I should never have gone to college. It was a major trap and I made the mistake of taking well meaning advice from others.
I have a debt I can't shake and four wasted years.

I spent my time as a welfare queen but I regained my pride and refuse to be dependent the nanny state. I work shit jobs now but at least I am answerable to no one but my boss and I am no longer a parasite.
That is where I deviate from the hipster in your article. I made the choice to turn my life around. Unfortunately, I am starting from so far below the average that its hard. I unknowingly dug a massive hole and now I have to get the hell back out of it.
Right now I work construction but it has no future. I am told, frequently, that studying STEM will get me places, but now I am wiser and far more cautious since every dollar I spend is one I spent a shit day earning.

One final thought: At the age of eighteen you don't know the value of a dollar, the meaning of debt [it is slavery], or what work really means. A mandatory two year gap between high school and college where you have to earn your own way would knock many silly notions from young people's heads.

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Nice to see TLP admitting s... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 7:00 PM | Posted by The Last Client: | Reply

Nice to see TLP admitting she's a woman and acknowledging she's not a psychiatrist and not "well-educated" (in the modern yup-pwog sense).

So what, really, is TLP?

Bored housewife who married a guy she hates, and has spent at least 5 years in psychotherapy, and is writing from a fictional psychiatrist's perspective because of having spent time in psychotherapy to great disappointment?

That's my guess.

Clearly not a real shrinker, clearly not a man, clearly narcissistic and very spoiled.

And, more obviously, clearly in need of reinforcement that she's "brilliant" or whatever her better-of-two-parents used to tell her in those moments of poor self-esteem.

As Bunk Morland would say,

sheeeee-it

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In TLP spirit, here's anoth... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 7:07 PM | Posted by isomorphismes: | Reply

In TLP spirit, here's another anti-distraction / "deeper issue" question. Why is it that people identify so strongly with their college degree--either as a primal cause in what follows in their lives or as a valid descriptor of one's "true self"?

I know retired Americans who still self-identify as "I was a journalism major" or "My life began with my chemistry engineering degree". But I've heard fewer people impart as much personal significance to their first job/company, their favourite book, first

Here are a few possibilities:
1. First big self-identifying choice these people made. (And for those who didn't go to college? "I majored in nothing")

2. Self-reinforcing. Because people believe degree choice is such a valid identifier, it becomes determinate of life opportunities--either "I couldn't work at Corporation X, I was only a sociology major" or "We only hire from target schools/fields of study".

3. Something more sinister.

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I'm curious what makes peop... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 7:22 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

I'm curious what makes people so sure of the gender at all. At best this post reads to me as gender ambiguous.

Do I care? Nah... I'm just distracting myself. Should go do something useful now.

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"3. Something more sinister... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 7:28 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"3. Something more sinister."

This. For me at least. My degree was something I poured my life into. I was passionate. I really loved and dreamed, and I just knew I'd do something good and.... "those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end"

You spend all this time working in this fake world until you think your work mattered.

What hurts a lot? Dying for nothing. Starting another life.

So people cling to it.

Well some do. I find it sad to think about it. Just one more thing in my past. And a box to tick.

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Ok. My first degree. The se... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 7:30 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Ok. My first degree. The second was the end of my belief. The third... is just a rope to swing on for me....

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The system works by giving ... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 8:54 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The system works by giving them a set, one-time dollar amount for food each month. If they waste it on over-priced food, that's less food for them.

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Looks like I touched a nerv... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 12:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Thomas Belnap: | Reply

Looks like I touched a nerve. Good. Your comment shows the difference between you and I. I believe I have control over my actions and you seem to believe that life is simply a matter of chance. Also you're focusing on minor details of the author's argument (economics and so forth) which are simply operatives or premises of his conclusion that -> college is worthless

http://brainbeatsbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/collegestats.jpg

Simple.

Your argument style - ad hominem, straw man

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Looks like I touched a nerv... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 12:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Looks like I touched a nerve. Good. Your comment shows the difference between you and I. I believe I have control over my actions and you seem to believe that life is simply a matter of chance. Also you're focusing on minor details of the author's argument (economics and so forth) which are simply operatives or premises of his conclusion that -> college is worthless

http://brainbeatsbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/collegestats.jpg

Simple.

Your argument style - ad hominem, straw man

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"Nice to see TLP admitting ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 12:41 AM | Posted, in reply to The Last Client's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"Nice to see TLP admitting she's a woman ..."

so being a woman is something that has to be 'admitted to' now?

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Really, did it not occur to... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 1:07 AM | Posted, in reply to The Last Client's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Really, did it not occur to anybody that TLP might be a bisexual man? Come on, people.

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And also, asshole, five yea... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 1:10 AM | Posted, in reply to The Last Client's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

And also, asshole, five years in psychotherapy is valuable and is also a hell of a lot of hard work

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"Take the Romanov family fo... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 1:12 AM | Posted, in reply to AlexeyConrad's comment, by Ryan: | Reply

"Take the Romanov family for example, Russian Revolutionaries refused to see the Romanov children as exactly that, as children. So they were slaughtered because of their Symbolic importance, as Royals, instead of being seen as mere innocent children."

They were literally part of the royal bloodline,that was not just a symbol (though the importance attached to it by society was). There were millions of White Russian supporters, and so a very real threat that one of the children could later return and start another war to regain their throne. Look at the Carlists in Spain, for how longlasting this could be.

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And why the problem with bo... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 1:20 AM | Posted, in reply to The Last Client's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

And why the problem with bored housewives? they're certainly benign enough. Is that sexism- women can be anything they want as long as it is not a housewife (I have no idea why being bored as opposed to, I don't know, wildly entertained matters to you either, but I digress). Seriously- is that the best you've got?

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"I love that you are also u... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 2:07 AM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Pirran: | Reply

"I love that you are also using a fictional example from a film written by privileged white guys, which is also probably the perspective you are coming from"

Oooh, what a racist. How do you know s/he is a white male? How can you make such a baseless, bigoted projection?

"Anyone in this country, whether young, hip, black, white, rich, poor deserves a chance to get back on their feet again if they lost work, regardless of the circumstances."

And everyone else (whoever they may be) has the DUTY to pay for it. I'm not entirely sure how these things work, but I believe it involves planting many more Magic Money Trees.

What a clueless, gullible mindset.....

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TLP is cool with you as lo... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 2:07 AM | Posted, in reply to The Last Client's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

TLP is cool with you as long as 'she' is a psychiatrist, but not cool if she is an analysand. They are navigating the same basic territory but for some reason the psychiatrist is better to you. Fine, whatever.

Although the analysand is largely operating from an emotionally and mentally difficult position, that of navigating raw, original experience... so why the shrink is better in any way, I don't know. Kind of flip sides, same coin.

With these other posts, the basic premise is that poor people (artistic hipsters) shouldn't get uppity and want things they aren't really entitled to.... yet many of the people writing in are complaining about just that, not getting what they're entitled to (because they too wasted money on college). So... they're entitled to something but the artistic hipsters are not.... right. And finally, the artistic hipsters, in my imagination, are happy and making the most of their poverty, cooking something nice, which is all anyone can do, ever. But everyone writing in with any sense of entitlement is for the most part, pretty unhappy. So what makes you better? Curious.

I know it is great fun to feel superior to someone, nobody knows that more than me I am super into that. But still, I've noticed a lot of the time in this blog it's like nobody feels good without trashing on someone else. It's particularly funny when they are doing it whilst insisting grandly they are overcoming their narcissism and being querulous about the best way to be an authentically good person.

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"This is why it is illogica... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 2:39 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by DensityDuck: | Reply

"This is why it is illogical to suggest they are choosing to be in poverty."

Except they are. She has a choice: Use meth and sleep on the street, or sleep in a shelter and don't use meth. She'd rather use meth than not. She is, therefore, choosing to sleep on the street. Choices are not made in a vacuum. "But she doesn't want to sleep on the street!" Really? I don't want to eat ramen noodles for dinner, but I like having Xbox Live more than I like having a burrito. Pretending like my choices don't result in noodles instead of beans is foolish.

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No. Wrong. Pseudo intellect... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 4:05 AM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Chris: | Reply

No. Wrong. Pseudo intellectual existentialism. There. are. jobs. You will not like them. McDonalds is hiring, at least where I live.
If there are no jobs, move, and work as a janitor in a oil-riggers dorm if needs be. Do not sit in a pile of bong smoke. Use the time you have. Wisely.
----
Your degree entitles you to nada. Zilch.
It is a ticket that gets you in to an entry level job. That. is. all.
If you had a real degree (pharmacy, medicine, nursing) or a trades certificate (plumber, mechanic) you would KNOW that. In your bones. Your newly minted M.B. gets you the great privilege of working as an intern. 100 hours a week. Crap pay. That gets you a residency -- or registrar job where I live -- and completing that (where I live) allows you to sit an exam half the candidates FAIL. If you pass that... you can then work as a specialist, in private or in public or academia.

Oh, no... he's another STEM nerd, you say. Yes. I. am. But my backup plan back in the day when Reagan was schooling Carter was to do English Lit. There the bus ticket is a PhD. And PhDs do not come easy. Keeping academic jobs and promotions... is not easy. I've published on average two papers a year for a decade. My H factor is 8. My highest cited paper has over 80 citations. And I did not start specialist training until I was 30.

Whatever you end up doing, do it well. Because what you did last year really does not matter. What matters is completing the tasks you are doing now. If you are a salesman, you have got to close. If you are a waiter, you have to serve, if a carpenter, build... and if that job goes away, do something else.

The doors, the choices, are still there. Take one. Commit to it for a year. Because irony, in the end, is... boring.

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agree with most of your pos... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 4:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Chris's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

agree with most of your post except the first bit...what you're saying is actually a lot more existentialist than the post you're responding to. existentialism was never supposed to be about whinging about how crappy things are, that's just something that hipsters turned it into.

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The problem that is croppin... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:54 AM | Posted by thestage: | Reply

The problem that is cropping up in these threads is that people are taking the idea of "college is bad" in a very general, reductive sense, and then taking this to also mean "knowing things about things that aren't directly related to economic production is terrible." We have a word for that, it's called idiocy. Most of the people bitching about the terror of the humanities (essentially) in this thread are people who went to college as a trade school and learned nothing of intellectual value. And yes, TLP is telling you that this set you up economically. But the point isn't that you are awesome, it is that the system fucking blows. If knowledge was truly valued, pursued, and disseminated effectively, we wouldn't be in this position to begin with. Terrible economies and confining social systems are literally based on stupid premises, propagated by idiots intent on being king of the dunces. Education is not the evil, you are. Buy into it so you can eat bread without dying in the gutter (we are so dumb we've convinced people one step away from financial ruin that the problem is not that everyone is one or zero steps away from financial ruin, but that we actually attempt to feed the ruined), sure, but nothing at all improves if there aren't also countermeasures, if the concept of advancement via something other than short term economics and material consumption (not production, lol, we leave that to asian people) is not aggressively and thoughtfully propagated.

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and that justifies slaughte... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 6:30 AM | Posted, in reply to Ryan's comment, by AlexeyConrad: | Reply

and that justifies slaughtering a child?
see, that's the kind of whacked out thinking i was talking about.

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"Except they are. She has a... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 7:10 AM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by Unnatural Selection: | Reply

"Except they are. She has a choice: Use meth and sleep on the street, or sleep in a shelter and don't use meth. She'd rather use meth than not."

Or never start using meth in the first place, but don't let anyone catch you saying that "people should be held accountable for their life choices". It isn't their fault that they chose to fail.

Oh wait, yes it is.

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"Your degree entitles you t... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 8:24 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Your degree entitles you to nada. Zilch."

that is not consistent with the importance society gives to colleges. I agree with you but at the same time, considering what a big deal college is, society shouldn't let your sentence be true. College must give you some entitlement or they should get closed down and sued. I live in europe and here college is cheap, but still they are funded with public money and professors with enough seniority make a ludicrous amount of money compared to the national average. Why we should let this be if then college doesn't entitle you to anything? The fact that a degree doesn't entitle you to anything is exactly the problem

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Wrong. You're still thinkin... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 8:26 AM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Wrong. You're still thinking of you. What "she" and remember, you're the kind of person who made her up. She's YOU in your imaginary mind.

But what "she" is accountable for, like in my hypothetical evil room, is recognizing the clues to make a better choice. But don't let that stop you from feeling superior! good thing you only made her up!

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Also: is everyone assuming ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 10:39 AM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Also: is everyone assuming that when TLP says "trying to impress me" that the implication is "trying to have sex with me" here?

That seems to be the only time where there's a situation that could be interpreted in such a way the gender of the speaker might be inferred. Still a big leap though.

I could also read it as trying to impress a senior in rank. We're talking about associate profs here. They're like glorified grad students. Trying to impress some one can be as simple as wearing a suit to a job interview, or name dropping your famous colleague. Now it could be sexual. Sure. But that doesn't imply a) heterosexuality or b) that it's not status oriented anyway.

I'm so amazed always that people really go through life convincing themselves they're so sure of everything.

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Is there anything I can do ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 11:34 AM | Posted by JR265: | Reply

Is there anything I can do to get you to stop writing about economics? I really like the blog, but your ignorance about this one subject is cringe-inducing.

This whole post is based on a false premise. The median household income in the US is about $44,000. The average starting salary for an English major is $30-40,000. They're not getting rich, but they're certainly better off than if they hadn't gone to college.

And yes, a shitty economy explains a lot. It's not something you can just handwave away.

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The article also serves to ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 11:49 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The article also serves to reinforce the system by subtly suggesting it's still better to be a cog in our economy than a producer in someone else's. It's not an article about the rational hipster who takes his worthless BA in English literature and gets a comfortable salary and free living accommodations teaching English in China. Hate the hipster on food stamps, but God bless America.

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I don't think he hates the ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 12:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't think he hates the system and America so much, I think he is more interested in fixing it and not destroying it or damaging it for example by making smart or valuable people move to shitty china.

But maybe it's just my impression

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Does anyone ever actually r... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 1:32 PM | Posted by Ed S.: | Reply

Does anyone ever actually read a TLP essay or just mentally keyword scan and react? Reading the comments it was scan/react, because the essay isn't about the value (or lack thereof) of a BA. What's it about then? Well, TLP conveniently puts the first topic of the essay in the 1st and 2nd paragraphs:

Those are two "hipsters", and the punchline is that they pay for their foodie porn with foodie stamps which sounds like it should be a terrible thing, except it's in Salon.com....It's very easy and satisfying to hate these two, and nothing would make me happier than to hit them square in the back with a jack-o-lantern. But I also recognize that I am being told to hate them, so I have to take a step back and find out why it is so important that I hate them.

Here's a bit more:

So what makes them hatable is the seeming choice they have made: they could work, yes at jobs they don't like but hey, that's America; but instead they choose to feel entitled to $200/month from the rest of us salarymen.

However, secondly:

Before we blame them for their choice, we should ask why they felt they could make that choice.


If you think that this is an essay about the "value" of a BA -- read it again. The essay is about what TPL regularly writes about: the Matrix (no, not the movie) and ongoing media manipulation of the narrative. Oh, and narcissism.

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"It is very, very hard for ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 4:27 PM | Posted by J: | Reply

"It is very, very hard for me to not want to be a failure, because it is very, very hard to see anything worth winning."

This, exactly this.

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NO.Or at least tha... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:12 PM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

NO.

Or at least that's not my point. I love me some history, I read about it as I get time. BUT, I wouldn't waste my time getting a "History Degree" -- that's foolish. I'll graduate 4 years later with a diploma that cost me $50K, and no way to recoup the cost of said degree. In fact, I might be overqualified for the jobs out there, or maybe the future boss will think I'm retarded because I blew $50K on being a history buff.

The thing I think is conflated in this picture is that somehow you didn't really learn history or art or literature or philosophy unless you got a degree in that subject. It's actually the oppostie in many cases. If I went to a 4-year program to learn history, I'd be pretty much reading pre-chewed history straight out of some professor's book about whatever person or period I'm studying. And in most cases, that's about it -- you read at most ONE text on the subject with maybe some supplementary reading on the side. You don't even really learn to evaluate whether that person is right or wrong. You take notes on what the teacher says about the professor's texts, then spit back what the professor thought was important about the other professor's thoughts on the history of whatever era. Or if you read on your own, you find yourself reading lots of different sources, and at least in my case a lot of primary sources, and in that way, you are forced to come to terms with whether or not a given author has anything useful to say, or whether that theory of the civil war you were taught in the first text holds more or less water than the theory put forward by a different author. You find out that what Lewis and Clark were saying about themselves might be very different from the romanticised notion put forward in textbooks.

That's the thing, I think you'd actually get a better "liberal arts" type education for a lot less money by reading the texts about whatever interests you on your own time. It forces you first of all to learn how to learn, but it also makes you budget the time effectively to do so and evaluate sources that you spend your own money on. Then once you do that, it you need to you can use those skills to earn a degree that will make you money. Unless you really want to brag about the diploma, I don't see the problem with self-study. The resources are out there. I can get a lot of stuff on the history of Egypt or Europe at $20 a pop -- which is probably less than the cost of a tank of gas. It's not as prestiegious to do it that way (which is what I think a lot of people like the lib arts degrees for), but you get the same material.

For most of us, we're only going to get one chance at a college degree, and since we'll be paying for it for the next 20 years, it makes no sense to get the degree in a subject that won't pay you back. I suppose if you have a trust fund, it might be different -- you aren't going into massive debt to get the diploma, you aren't getting the diploma to get a better job, it's for fun. If that's the case, do whatever you want. OTOH if you're going to college and taking out loans that you'll be paying back for the next 20 years, you shouldn't be looking at college as "mind expanding" but rather as a job training program. Because if there's no job after the debt, you've become a slave for a degree that's more often used as a way to get a pie piece in trivial persuit, rather than doing it on your own and having no debt.

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What's with all the blowjob... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:14 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

What's with all the blowjob hate?

Anyway...

"It is very, very hard for me to not want to be a failure, because it is very, very hard to see anything worth winning."

Wow. This is so interesting and different a feeling to me. It is very hard for me to want to be a failure. Makes me think of the line from Place of Dead Roads.


"If a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing, even badly."

I don't understand how not winning is worse than failing. Winning is just the end of something. Losing is the end of something too. If it's worth doing it's worth doing however it turns out.

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TLP, this post is stupid, a... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted by DrModern: | Reply

TLP, this post is stupid, and you are stupid for writing it. To get specific, credentialing is a form of signaling; signaling is the primary means by which participants in the modern labor force convey information about themselves; colleges are institutions that provide credentials. The value of those credentials depends directly on the perception that they are difficult to obtain, which requires most colleges to set performance standards by essentially arbitrary benchmarks related to cognitive achievement, many of which are ultimately not germane to the tasks people will ultimately be required to do in the labor force.

The service that college provide, part of the promise, is that they will grade you rigorously and harshly on your academic performance. (The incentives to engage in grade inflation are obvious, but there's also no real reason to believe that grade inflation is problematic (unless you're a bitter old person longing for the good old days when people were judged *on merit*, by golly) unless it becomes public knowledge that it's taking place.)

This is why colleges generally do not take steps to constrain their pupils in their choice of major: if the value your institution generates depends on its academic reputation, you can't give off the impression that your institution is, essentially, a vocational school. And while some choices of academic concentration may require further specialized training to realize the value of the undergraduate credential, access to that further training is itself strongly contingent on one's undergraduate credentials.

That some subset of the populace hasn't taken steps to realize the value of their credentials doesn't say anything about whether they're mispriced or overvalued by the market in general. I guess you just don't like that the modern labor force depends on being able to signal your value without necessarily actually delivering value? I mean, sure, no one likes having to work with morons who managed to coast through at Harvard, but it's not like there's some bygone golden era to long for here.

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Or rather I guess I don't u... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:21 PM | Posted, in reply to J's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Or rather I guess I don't understand really how winning would ever make something worthwhile?

I guess I don't understand winning. You don't know what you win. You don't go get a thing, and if you did by the time you get it the thing has become worthless. It was the doing stuff that was worthwhile. The end is just an excuse to make up something to do. Failure is winning then if you decide you want failure, then you're winning at getting your failure.

It's either worth doing the "win failure" operation or not based not on what you win (I don't even know what failure means to anyone else specifically) but rather on what you get to do while acquiring your failure.

I mean there's nothing to win at all ever. Worthwhile or not. There's nothing to fail at either. In my mind, there's just things to do and death is the last one.

You always do the last one.

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And for once it isn't even ... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 5:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Ed S.'s comment, by Galimathias: | Reply

And for once it isn't even very nebulous what (TLP thinks) the media manipulates us to think:

"By getting you to say, "these hipsters should be able to get jobs because they are college graduates!" you are saying, "college is worth something."

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It's both. Both what you ge... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 8:16 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It's both. Both what you get and also the intrinsic value of the thing, the intrinsic value of the doing. You have to have both.

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Yes and no. Part of the va... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 9:46 PM | Posted, in reply to DrModern's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Yes and no. Part of the value of any signal is how hard it is to fake your way. If a semi-literate person can graduate from a local state college, you aren't signaling "smart guy" necessarily. Which goes back to the central issue of college graduation -- almost everyone will have some college, and probably 60% or so of the class is going to have a 4-year diploma in something. So what exactly are we signaling at this point? If I have a diploma from a 4-year college, I'm signaling that I'm ... average. Because the average American has a 4-year diploma.

As far as colleges not restricting majors, I agree that it's probably not where they're going to restrict. If they're serious about the value of the diploma, I think it's going to be a question of raising the standards so as their graduates have to accomplish a lot more to get in. Maybe take only the top 10% or something. Or if they don't really care, they do as they have been doing, sell the "college experience" and give anyone who can pay tuition a diploma 4-5 years later. High end schools will probably take the first path, as they're counting on future successful people endowing the university with money in gratitude. State schools will probably continue to take the McDiploma route in which you buy a degree -- because they have very little incentive to stop the gravy train of thousands of suckers willing to pay through the nose for a diploma and a few drunken frat parties. It depends on the model schools really have. Outside of prestiege schools like Harvard and Yale, they probably don't really care if their diplomas signal anything out in the workplace. I've yet to see any 4-year school give the percent of people who are working in full time, non intern jobs in their field within 2 years of graduation. If they were concerned about the value of the diploma they sell, that would be something you would hear about.

But as far as the present, I think the value of a degree is pretty low, as it only signals functional literacy, which while nice, has very little to do with job training. If you're in STEM, you will have skills related to that field, you'll know how to make a bridge not fall down, stuff like that. It's not giving any signal worth sending.

We've essentially made college like high school because we fell in love with the idea of being college graduates. We've brainwashed generations of kids who really wouldn't have gone to college into spending thousands on diplomas that do little more than make them debt slaves. Because, hey, I'm a good parent with above average kids who all graduated from college. Aren't I good?

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She has a choice: Use m... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 10:39 PM | Posted, in reply to DensityDuck's comment, by Jay: | Reply

She has a choice: Use meth and sleep on the street, or sleep in a shelter and don't use meth.

You're assuming she has free will, which is a rather problematic assumption for addicts.

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I said nothing about your a... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 11:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Thomas Belnap's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I said nothing about your agency, self control, or lack thereof dude. Let's think of it like this: It's almost like there are a complex set of factors that go into everyone's life, most of which are determined before you're born. I believe it's called "playing the hand you've been dealt".

Is it somehow unreasonable to assume people hit the ground running as a result of their parents? Things like their ability to afford a college education, and the ability to live in a school district that will facilitate getting the opportunity to earn a degree? People their parents know, or wealthy people who they happen to meet to take a chance on them? What about having parents who ensure that you do your homework every single day, and have the free time to stimulate your intellectual curiosity? What about the luck of being born in the first world to begin with? What about the objectively measurable advantage of being white and male? What of all that?

I don't need to waste my time on refuting babby's first fallacies here. Here's an ad hominem for you: it's embarrassing to me, as a member of this society, that you're allowed in a philosophy program with such a deficit of critical faculties. I'd pity your professors, but there's a very good chance that there are dozens of students even more naive than you in their program. I hope they can do something for you, but there is not much reason for that -

Which brings us back to why college is terrible for everyone - the standards have cratered to the point where students are less knowledgeable about certain things after leaving college than they are after leaving high school - like history. Their writing and critical reading skills are no better than the day they graduated high school either.

These institutions are also EXPECTED to meet the needs of a corporate culture that gives exactly zero fucks about your ability to comprehend Kant, Joyce or Derrida, or to be able to crank out a thousand words on a Mondrian painting. Which, IMO, are all admirable pursuits in themselves. The article actually makes a point of saying the same thing, which makes most of the comments here coming out swinging at TLP for being anti-intellectual or at least anti-academic ironic - it makes his case for him. Academia has already failed you if you can't figure out what a brief blog post is actually saying, quite frankly.

Let's get back to it though - Colleges divert a huge proportion of PUBLIC funding to entertainment, aka sports programs, and divert another big chunk to amenities to attract the tuition dollars of both domestic (and especially) cash-cow foreign students. This is a matter of economic necessity, coupled to what the general public demands.

Adjunct positions are the only wave of the future for people seeking to teach at a college level - tenure is over, you're now teaching as an independent contractor for half of what you'd have made 30 years ago, and you will get no benefits to boot.

College in the year 2012 happens to be run like a business, in other words, and a lot of the administration at state universities comes from the private sector. I cannot emphasize how reprehensible that is, and how much I fear for the future of intellectualism in the US.

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The economy doesn't need hi... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 11:36 PM | Posted by Weldon: | Reply

The economy doesn't need him to contribute. There it is.

It's not like we're fighting a two-ocean war and need everybody to pitch in: we have an unprecedented amount of stuff, and all we lack is the jobs that we use to prove we deserve stuff. (Why do we still have 40 hour work weeks? Because that's how much a manual laborer in the 1920s could do for 40 years before he keeled over? Are there any non-shift jobs for which that number is not entirely arbitrary?)

For that matter, what's the point of productivity-increasing technology if everybody still had to work at a job?

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Also, I think you're ignori... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2012 11:41 PM | Posted by Weldon: | Reply

Also, I think you're ignoring what college is actually useful for, which is the same thing it was used for 150 years ago: it's a way of figuring out who's socially good enough to work for you. Fortunately we're a kinder, gentler oligarchy now than we were then, so we allow a path for some people to get into the rarified social circles from the barrio. Which is supposed to make all the difference.

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Anon @ 11:05. Since ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 1:49 AM | Posted by Chris: | Reply

Anon @ 11:05.
Since I am not American, I can't comment on US universities. I will say that in my country (I work for a university in the top 150 in the world on a small rock in the South Pacific) university sports are just that... sports. You play against the local town teams -- and in an annual tourney. Which does not make the TV.

We do have fee paying foreign students. It is a reasonable deal in the Antipodes... the tuition fees for international students range from about 21K a year to 85K a year (Dentistry, which is more expensive than medicine). That is kiwibucks, so around 16K -- 68 K in US dollars (at current rates).

And I do some consulting work... a couple of thousand a year. The real way the University makes money off me is by contracting half my time to the local hospital.

So yes, it is a business, and my University does make a profit most years...

Dovakhin @0905: My employer (university) gets a fair amount of its money from he government (Taxpayer) and the income depends on completion rate. There is thus pressure to pass people -- the limit is the integrity of the staff. Since I work in a professional school the grandmother test applies -- would you let your grandmother go and be treated by that student? (It becomes the mother or child test in some circumstances).

General comment -- if you do not know what you want to do and are graduating high school, get a job for a year. Go to school when you need the certification to pursue the jobs you want. It is cheaper to fly to Ibiza to party than to have a college experience.

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Academia has already failed... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 3:27 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Academia has already failed you if you can't figure out what a brief blog post is actually saying, quite frankly.
***
That's not fair or accurate. Some of the posts have statements can that be read either way. Also people frequently complain that Alone is hard to understand, and often many- *many* of the comments reflect confusion which I am quite sure is intentional.

Often I think the value in the blog, one of the values anyway, is in the cathartic release of people expressing themselves, which as you can see often happens quite strongly. And adamantly. And argumentatively. And sometimes pretty snotty. And...

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This is a little outside my... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 3:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

This is a little outside my realm but based on what i know perhaps i should clarify. I meant something akin to catharsis, approaching it, maybe sometimes right there. (And that touchy little note REALLY makes it sound like a true TLP blog comment).

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Coaches for (american) foot... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 4:33 AM | Posted, in reply to Chris's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Coaches for (american) football at American universities are oftentimes the highest paid state employees. The NCAA is a multi billion dollar media empire. In fact, college football is oftentimes more popular than the NFL, which is no slouch either.

The problem with running a university like a business is that the focus ultimately shifts away from education to amenities and sports entertainment. The focus is drawing people in with the most amount of money to spend as well, aka foreign students. The prices are pretty gargantuan in NZ if what you're saying is true. Here out of state tuition is around $30-40K at state universities.

3:27AM Anon:

"That's not fair or accurate. Some of the posts have statements can that be read either way. Also people frequently complain that Alone is hard to understand, and often many- *many* of the comments reflect confusion which I am quite sure is intentional."

Look, I'm not even referring to something he's being ambiguous about. Considering that he routinely employs concepts from psychoanalysis, do you really think he dislikes the humanities?

Here, have a look for yourself:

"The only thing the English grad is "qualified" for in this economy is the very things s/he is already doing: coffeehouse agitator, Trader Joe's associate, Apple customer.................................................. and spouse of a capitalist.

Of course I'm not happy about this, I like smart people, but that's the new reality. "

I'd also contend that leaving the reader to fill in the gaps through provocation and rhetoric does not necessarily mean that it's hard to understand. That's just how I read things. Oftentimes TLP will attack the inherent cynicism of the articles he makes the subject of a post for treating you as if you cannot think for yourself (and offering a simplistic, Disneyland treatment of the discourse), so even if his writing is unclear (it often is), he's at least willing to practice what he preaches.

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I know two sisters. <... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 6:48 AM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

I know two sisters.

The one studied, can't find a decent job to save her life, lives in a shack.

The other became a hairdresser, married a car mechanic and lives in stunning home.

I know two men.

The one went to work for a factory after 9th grade, they taught him a vocation that's always in demand just about everywhere in the world, and the other earned a phd in [insert 3/4 of all majors].

Guess who's shoveling in the dough, while the other is languishing in long term unemployment or low paid temporary job contracts.

I know cazillions of such stories. Unless you're going to study something that's always in demand and you're going to be the very best/indispensable at your job...forget about it. Take a stab at vocation instead. Even the child care workers at our local preschool are better off than some people who studied to become a teacher.

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TLP, are you playing three-... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 9:55 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

TLP, are you playing three-dimensional chess here by especially criticizing women's choices to study liberal arts?

If you are going to college to get an education and not to meet guys, you are insane, literally insane, delusional, in reality one is never going to happen and the other is going to happen anyway, and you could have gotten both for free at a bookstore.

Since other commenters are playing Anecdote As Data here, I'm going to toss out the wild guess that my anecdote as a woman will be criticized as exceptional. Which it isn't, if you'd actually talk to women who studied liberal arts instead of facile nonsense. (Again, three-dimensional chess or what?)

I and every, single, woman I know who studied liberal arts - literature, foreign languages, and music, no science or "computer science" or law or medicine whatsoever - are gainfully employed. Every. Single. One. Several are contentedly, long-term single, myself included, and fully, financially independent.

Guess what we're also smart enough to criticize... college as something that should be gone into debt for, and creating enemies out of thin air as a means of protecting an abusive system.

"By directing your hate towards hipsters women, you are protecting the system against change." (Seriously, three-dimensional chess...?)

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Whoa! The only thing worse ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 10:42 AM | Posted by Zeus: | Reply

Whoa! The only thing worse than slimey hipsters is the thought of spending the rest of my life with a look-at-me-I'm-tough obnoxious white girl like you. Entertaining post though. :-)

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Add me to the list of women... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 11:38 AM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Add me to the list of women with useless degrees who are gainfully employed. I actually even like my career.

Bring on the hate I guess, I'm a taxpaying salary woman. And I even got a degree that is supposed to result in my being a starved hipster sucking it on the street for photo-ops on Vice magazine.

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"Guess what we're also smar... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 1:25 PM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"Guess what we're also smart enough to criticize... college as something that should be gone into debt for, and creating enemies out of thin air as a means of protecting an abusive system."

what does this mean?

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I had the same awakening an... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 1:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Hugh's comment, by shakingfist: | Reply

I had the same awakening and exactly in that same order. There are too many others on the not-good-enough-to wipe-my-butt-with now.

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Wow, that post had so much ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 1:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Zeus's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Wow, that post had so much vitriol that i wanted to counter with a cute picture of a tiny fluffy kitten wearing a green frog hat, but this site won't let me post pictures. Still the thought is there. I wish we could post pictures.


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I fucking hate my post abov... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 2:21 PM | Posted by Antigone: | Reply

I fucking hate my post above, but I tilt so badly, when the topic college comes up while I am drunk, because, guess what, I teach at one (business school, at least here the female using college as a marriage market hasn't died out yet).

Let me try again: The problem isn't, that libart/polscy/business students aren't employable. The problem is, that they are, when most of them shouldn't.


Premise 1: They shouldn't go to college, but learn together.
Premise 2: They shoudn't seek employment, but build/create together.
Premise 3: The jobs they eventually get, shouldn't mostly exist.

Conclusion: College equals foodstamps.

They both pretend to fullfill a need, but take you hostage instead, only to make you the warrantor of their perpetuate existence by becoming a parent with kids on foodstamps or a social worker and/or good taxpayer, who doles them out.

And thanks so much for this blog/comments. Never understood Marx before.

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I wish they taught you how ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 2:57 PM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I wish they taught you how to use a comma in college.

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"They both pretend to fullf... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 4:03 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"They both pretend to fullfill a need, but take you hostage instead, only to make you the warrantor of their perpetuate existence by becoming a parent with kids on foodstamps or a social worker and/or good taxpayer, who doles them out."

How do "they" do anything. We invest them with meaning. They just make that profitable for themselves. I'd do the same if people decided to invest me with so much significance. Hell, I think we call that celebrity.

You only comply to comply. Now, personally, I wanted to comply because at the time it meant something important to me. It was, for me, a way out. Now I realize for me I needed to believe that to motivate myself, and I'm fine with having been deluded.

I'm not fine with some of what happened during that time, but with the big dream I'm happy and it certainly hasn't *kept* me from anything. To be honest... it worked. But I'm definitely not sane, and very ok with that. I'm also maybe more ruthless (or more gentle) depending on how you look at it. I did what I needed to get through it without loans.

When one strategy fails, just get another strategy, right?

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Fraula,I’m a bit l... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 4:28 PM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Ed S.: | Reply

Fraula,

I’m a bit lost in your admonition to TLP since the good doctor wasn’t "criticizing women's choices to study liberal arts" . Here’s what the good doctor actually wrote (I’ve edited a bit and added emphasis):

….why would a smart high school junior, 4.0 and AP Everything, think that going to Hampshire College for English Literature was a good idea….given that she knew in advance there were no jobs for English majors? …. the choice to major in English was predicated on information she received from multiple sources like schools and TV-- sources I will collectively call the Matrix-- that every generation does better than the last, that there was a safety net of sorts, a bailout at the end….

Section I in the essay is not about you or your friends and your choices, decisions, or experiences (bravo – but irrelevant -- that you and your friends are employed, content, and financially independent); this is the point:

Imagine a large corporate machine mobilized to get you to buy something you don't need at a tremendously inflated cost, complete with advertising, marketing, and branding that says you're not hip if you don't have one, but when you get one you discover it's of poor quality and obsolete in ten months. That's a BA.

You're being manipulated -- by articles like the one TLP uses as an example -- to believe that something is true that isn't. It's not about education or the liberal arts:

"I have a degree." No one assumes you're smart because of it, so what was the point? You were tricked, your parents were tricked, your peers were tricked, your employers were not tricked at all. "There's more to a college education than employability." No there isn't. I am not anti-liberal arts, I am all in on a classical education, I just don't think there's any possibility at all, zero, none, that you will get it at college, and anyway every single college course from MIT and Yale are on Youtube……Name me one contemporary fiction writer who required his college training to be a writer….

The essay is about how the media manipulates the narrative so that we implicitly behave in a way that’s beneficial to the overall power structure and protect it from change.

A final question (and this echo’s a point that TLP makes): do you use (specifically) what you learned in your BA to be employed and financially independent?

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"do you use (specifically) ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 4:50 PM | Posted by Weldon: | Reply

"do you use (specifically) what you learned in your BA to be employed and financially independent?"

Yes, but you and the good doctor are missing what was learned.

What was learned in college were things like:
1) you deserve a middle class lifestyle
2) here is how middle class people dress
3) here is how they talk to one another
etc.

The university currently does the exact same thing it did for pretty much all of its history except a brief period after WWII, except now with a few more non-white people: provide a social way for non-poor people to distinguish themselves from poor people.

That is worth, basically, however much they ask you to pay for it.

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"A final question (and this... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"A final question (and this echo’s a point that TLP makes): do you use (specifically) what you learned in your BA to be employed and financially independent?"

I know this wasn't directed at me, but yes. Yes in a big way. You see, being utterly useless and generally about the creation of a market where there is no need for one, my degree is one of the most ruthlessly useful degrees one can get. Provided you understand what you're trying to learn to do.

The problem I see lies with this idea that if you just follow a nice set of rules you'll be *given* something.

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Sorry tornpapernapkin (what... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 5:12 PM | Posted by Antigone: | Reply

Sorry tornpapernapkin (what a supercool name!) I do not get your first paragraph.

You write in the second: "You only comply to comply." No: the banality of evil lies in the word "only". You comply to only comply, that is the fucked up thing nobody wants to be true, because they complied in college. This is how they get the hipsters. They get the "ethnics" with the foodstamps and the sporty with sports. College equals foodstamps for hipsters.

Q.e.d.

Does college work for some? Sure as hell it does. So does eating grilled burger chips. That you delude yourself is conditio sine qua non for a college degree. You did it. I congratulate you, that is quite an accomplishment. What about the others? Are they as resourceful as you?

"But I'm definitely not sane, and very ok with that."
Lucky you, you're the one, that got away (and let's face it: not being sane is supersexy). College did not destroy you. But it will destroy your peers. They will think, they are sane, while sitting in front of a computer punching numbers for 8h a day. Again: That is the problem. Nobody gives a shit about your sanity, you see? You and I got away pretending to be sane;-)

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"They will think, they are ... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 5:32 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"They will think, they are sane, while sitting in front of a computer punching numbers for 8h a day."

Isn't that exactly the kind of happy, comfortable, life with no drama or at least predictable drama that can be talked about over the water cooler that so many people hope a degree will entitle them to?

Are they unfortunate?

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Frau, I get that all of the... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 5:43 PM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Frau, I get that all of these women are employed, but my question is whether those women would have been able to get the same sort of job with NO college. It's one thing to point to employed college graduates and say "see, college works, they have jobs", but there are hidden assumptions that cannot be ignored.

They might have jobs that don't require college, or they may hove gotten the jobs they got because they knew the people hiring, or they might have gotten the job based on the degree. knowing absolutely nothing about these women, and assuming that the odds of them getting a job for any of the above reasons is about even, then the odds are 1 in 3 that their diploma had anything to do with the job. I think that number is actually somewhat high, the real number may be as low as 1 in 10 -- especially since they didn't go into a skill.

All of the above matters because, as I mentioned earlier, we have lots of people going into 10-15 year's worth of debt for a diploma. If said diploma only gives you a 1 in 10 shot at getting a "big boy/girl" job, you'd have better payout for less money by spending your tuition money playing Texas Hold'em in Vegas. At least with the cards, playing by the rules works.

And again, most people are going on a few assumptions that are no longer true. Diplomas don't make you stand out -- everyone has one. College grads are not better educated -- ask about other countries, they can't find Iraq or Afghanistan on a map even though we're at war with both. And educating yourself actually seems to work better. I've been in classes and done self taught in several skills. I like forgein languages for example -- and I actually learned better and faster teaching myself with books and websites than I have sitting in a classroom.

The reason, IMO is that if you're teaching yourself, you can't bull-crud the teacher into giving you a pass when you don't know the stuff. If I can't make myself understood well enough in Italian to read a paragraph, then I don't speak Italian. If I can pass the teacher's multiple guess test on Italian verbs, so what? Same with lit -- If I read an author, and I don't get what he's saying, then I don't get it. If I don't understand the symbolism in Huck Finn, then I can't hide from that. Unless of course I memorize someone else's answer about the symbol and give that answer on a test. That's not really understanding -- it's the Chinese Room. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room). In other words, you don't understand, you simply learn to give the right answer when presented with a certain stimulous. all for the low low price of half of your income for the next 20 years.

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Gotcha - a college degree a... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 5:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Weldon's comment, by Ed S.: | Reply

Gotcha - a college degree as a status symbol or signaling device. And ancillary benefits to understand how a college educated person speacks, acts, dresses, etc.

But my entire point was that the essay wasn't about the value of an education -- rather the essay was about an article manipulates the narrative so that we implicitly behave in a way that’s beneficial to the overall power structure and protect it from change.

And TPN -- what exactly does, "being utterly useless and generally about the creation of a market where there is no need for one, my degree is one of the most ruthlessly useful degrees one can get. Provided you understand what you're trying to learn to do" mean?

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Did anyone else question wh... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2012 9:06 PM | Posted by Uelek: | Reply

Did anyone else question whether or not TLP actually wrote this? The comments were there but the prose was off.

Also, regarding the gender remarks, anyone question whether or not the references were just a red herring?

I can understand keeping the messenger ambiguous. It helps keep the emphasis on the message.

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yep, the whole time I was r... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 1:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Uelek's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

yep, the whole time I was reading I kept thinking, though I've never seen one: "this must be a guest post."

Wish Alone still replied every once in awhile - these replies have gotten out of control.

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I think he lets them get ou... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:08 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think he lets them get out of control so he can study them... what will these idiots do if left to their own thoughts/devices?

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More likely they're just ig... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:30 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

More likely they're just ignored. I mean if the writer is a research scientist, it isn't likely there's a shortage of studies being conducted.

I can't imagine the comments on a blog would be very useful. Maybe entertaining some times at best, but not useful.

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he lets them get out of con... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 3:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

he lets them get out of control probably because he needs a(nother) reason for drinking

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Nice article, enjoyed it a ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:24 PM | Posted by Rookie: | Reply

Nice article, enjoyed it a lot. But man, that end came on too suddenly. I guess it's a pretty obvious double bluff when you think about it.

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I agree... Since when was b... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 3:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Jim: | Reply

I agree... Since when was being able to communicate effectively ever worth anything? I mean, who would want to hire someone who is proven to be literate, articulate and capable of writing a coherent sentence?

On another note, don't tell me that this is a universal skill set. I know MANY engineers and even a few of physicists; their writing nearly brings me to tears (in the worst possible way).

I think you may be making the fatal mistake of buying into your own nonsense. I know for a fact that there are many companies, that require university diplomas, that favor hiring English majors for their communication skills. Moreover, there are entire industries which are based around English majors. Hell, there is usually a fairly noticeable gap in quality when reading an article, or even a blog, written by someone who hasn't had an English education and reading one written by someone who has.

As for writers... Many writers have English degrees; YOU may not understand what a writer can gain from an English degree, but I guarantee you that to a writer sees the value of the degree. You see, you don't understand the wealth of mechanics that exist within a competent piece of literature. It is a great boon to be able to identify, and apply, this vast array of techniques. Unless you want to write bad vampire fiction, no degree required for that.

You are poorly informed, your argument has very little foundation to stand on. However, that is okay; it isn't like you are actually trying to appeal to informed people. What you are focused on is reiterating a very common rhetoric. You are preaching to the converted and you don't care if informed people disagree.

A shameless article written by someone who should talk less and listen more...

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There was a five year gap b... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 3:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Tom White's comment, by Jim: | Reply

There was a five year gap between University and high school for me. Yet, I still made the decision to pursue what you have labeled as a "useless" degree. I am fresh out of University and am already doing very well for myself. My degree played a large role in my acquisition of, what I would consider to be, a dream job.

Maybe the degree isn't the problem, maybe you are the problem. Have you considered the possibility that you are just a loser?

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It was not morally justifie... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 1:25 AM | Posted, in reply to AlexeyConrad's comment, by Ryan: | Reply

It was not morally justified, but this isn't about deciding the best way to act; it's too late for that. I was not advocating their choice of actions, I was disputing the way you portrayed it as being a symbolic measure. It is true that they were children, but it is also true that they were Grand Duchesses and a Tsarevich; the important thing you ignore was that only the childhood was not permanent. They would grow to adults, but exiled or not, they would not grow out of their royalty.

Also, your description of them as children is in itself based on our modern concept of symbolicly lengthening childhood. The girls were 17-22 when they were executed. Only Alexei was a child in early 20th century Russian society at age 13, but even at that age he accompanied his father when he left off to take command of the Russian army and held the rank of Lance Corporal.

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As near to perfection as an... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 11:15 AM | Posted by John Gault: | Reply

As near to perfection as anything I’ve read in years.

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*sigh*1) How many ... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 3:24 PM | Posted by Jess H: | Reply

*sigh*

1) How many times will I have to explain to people that food stamps have a work requirement which can only be waived under specific, and rather strict, circumstances? My fiance has no cartilage in one knee, extra bones in the other, type 1 diabetes, and severe social anxiety issues. Every 6 months, he has to reapply for food stamps and they ask him "Do you still have the same problems that kept you from working the last time we spoke?" Well, duh! His knees aren't going to sprout cartilage. His pancreas isn't going to miraculously revive. All they do is humiliate him by making him tell them over and over how broken and useless he is.

2) I hear "upstanding taxpayers" complain when they see people using food stamps for junk food; they say "They should at least buy healthy food if I have to pay for it!" So now you complain because people are buying healthy food and want them to purchase cheap junk food instead because they're being pretentious or whatever. It's a lose-lose situation. If they only have $200 a month, why not let them stretch it however they see fit and keep your thoughts to yourself? It's obvious the self-righteous complainers who go on about "leeches" using "the system" to survive couldn't care less whether the poor are getting good nutrition or not. It's just a way to shame those who are unemployed or (more often) underemployed.

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"So now you complain becaus... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 3:53 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"So now you complain because people are buying healthy food and want them to purchase cheap junk food instead because they're being pretentious or whatever. It's a lose-lose situation."

What they want is for you to die. So now that you know what assholes they are, why do you care about them?

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"What they want is for you ... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 8:21 PM | Posted by Jess H: | Reply

"What they want is for you to die. So now that you know what assholes they are, why do you care about them?"

Who are you referring to, hipsters? I'm an admitted hipster, but I don't wish death by starvation on anyone, including people I don't like or disagree with.

If you're referring to the "productive" elements of society, then I already knew they're assholes. I care because they vote and they outnumber me.

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"If you're referring to the... (Below threshold)

November 21, 2012 9:12 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"If you're referring to the "productive" elements of society, then I already knew they're assholes. I care because they vote and they outnumber me."

I'm referring to those elements of society who think they are so productive they get to decide who is productive and who isn't. So, obviously not you...

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"Name me one contemporary f... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 6:42 PM | Posted by Anonanon: | Reply

"Name me one contemporary fiction writer who required his college training to be a writer, and if you say David Foster Wallace I swear to god I'm going to pumpkin your house. "

Stephen King, you buffoon.

Or howsabout this, you smug ignoramus - prove that he didn't require the University of Maine to become a writer, that he would have been a success without immersing himself in English lit (his major), writing for the student newspaper, and presenting his first novel to other people who actually gave a damn about writing.

Had enough, you dummy? How about Tom Wolfe PH FUCKING D. He might have used it for rueful laughs later, but I'd be surprised if he would have been as good a writer. He's spent his whole life fascinated with America - his doc is in American Studies. Of course it has nothing to do with his writing...

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JK Rowling, another writer ... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 6:12 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonanon's comment, by Johnny: | Reply

JK Rowling, another writer with a BA. Also notable, she used to be on government assistance.

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Pity they didn't teach you ... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 8:45 PM | Posted by Bill O'Slatter: | Reply

Pity they didn't teach you any logic.

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<a href="http://unsanesafe.... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 12:51 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Jennifer Frances Armstrong: | Reply

http://unsanesafe.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/phd-transgression-and-regeneration.html

No "dying for nothing".

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Yes, rage more, you impoten... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 2:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonanon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yes, rage more, you impotent ape. Tell us how you really feel, about something with no real value, on an anonymous medium, with an anonymous name, and nothing to gain.

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If we fingerprinted everyon... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 6:37 PM | Posted by bloodyspartan: | Reply

If we fingerprinted everyone receiving assistance, I figure we could handle the Load, Unfortunately years ago while working in a defense plant I was taught by the Brothers how to get and keep multiple ID's.
My splice partner had 5 or more.
So much for a Secret Clearance.

Too bad for me I was too much of a coward and stupid to do it.

Trust me none of this matters anymore the collapse is coming and work toward surviving it or fixing or going to war and remove all the Traitorous assholes.

Or we can keep whining on the INTERNET until the food runs out and we get knocked off.

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They do fingerprint. they d... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 8:56 AM | Posted, in reply to bloodyspartan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

They do fingerprint. they don't issue the card the "money" is issued on (since they don't actually use stamps anymore) until they fingerprint, or at least they did when I got them.
part of the problem with governement waste and fraud, which is rampant, in public assistance programs, is that the computer systems aren't set up to check for things like whether someone is receiving stamps in another place- nothing is linked, everything is entered manually, probably specifically *because* they don't want benefits somehow going to someone who *doesn't* deserve them. For example, when disability put me on medicaid (which it does automatically after 2 years on Social Security disability), I had to apply- even though I was on medicaid and food stamps-, wait over three months to be approved, wait for the request to be forwarded to Medicaid in Illinois and be entered on their system, then wait for the request to be sent to social Security, then wait for medicare. I am doing well, but by the time things went through they were taking money out of a tiny social security check, so that was bad. I didn't get all of it back, either. for people who are more seriously ill than i was (mentally)the whole process and trying to monitor what was happening so things go through and doctor bills get paid--- is exhausting. they really need to find a better way to do this, because it is so easy for people to fall through the cracks this way, and not get their medications, and we all know what that means.
In Arizona's system, a mentally ill person can go to like any one of three of a chain of pharmacies, popular pharmacies, and demand medications (as long as they've been prescribed). No co-pays, maybe your driver's license, and you just show up because if you're in the system for one you're in the system for all of the pharmacies, and you get into it automatically (no signing up or having to bring in a script) if you are with the local behavioral health authority.There are some problems with how they do things in Arizona, but that's not one of them.
I realize probably nobody cares- but I got talking. Oops!

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Here are some examples of n... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2012 6:21 AM | Posted by Borf: | Reply

Here are some examples of needless, unproofread ambiguity that reinforces TLP's need for an editor:

- "Why does he have to teach them a mnemonic that is already posted on the bulletin board behind the chalkboard? Same reason Pacino isn't present" Pacino, the actor? OH, you mean the character that isn't referenced in any way in this YouTube clip, who'd only be encountered in a full viewing of this somewhat esoteric film.
- "How to pull in the suckers in? Answer: these articles." TLP articles or Salon articles?

I could write more, but you all know what I'm talking about. A lot of TLP articles require 1 or 2 or 20 rereads to understand what he's getting at, and often that's due to richness, depth, and nuance, and other times it's because of the lazy, unproofread, "go fuck yourself" tone adopted in these articles. I love your work; please get an editor.

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Nice article...want to know... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2012 1:06 PM | Posted by shan@buzzinghealth.com: | Reply

Nice article...want to know more.

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Appalling racism.</p... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 10:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Ot's comment, by Jill the Pill: | Reply

Appalling racism.

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"I can't help but feel you ... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 10:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by JIll the Pill: | Reply

"I can't help but feel you missed the major point if the race part is what you want to talk about... particularly when it seemed to me TLP was making a point that these are privileged *white* people who are on food stamps."

The racism lies in the assumption that white or asian people on food stamps is an unusual and unacceptable situation but that black or latino people are the "normal" recipients, which is simply false.

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you are just very stupid</p... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2012 11:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Ot's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

you are just very stupid

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As someone who when to coll... (Below threshold)

December 14, 2012 9:36 AM | Posted by Heather: | Reply

As someone who when to college for a BFA in art I could easily have been stereotyped to fall into the category of unemployable BUT I went on from college to work as a designer and earned (at the glass ceiling of my design career) close to 6 figures designing carpets (that are vomited on by strangers staying in hotels around the world). This was much to the shock of my Engineer father who encouraged me to become a x-ray technician or some such career. I ignored his advice and followed my dream!

Your statement "Just because it's your dream, doesn't mean you should pursue it." is the one that rubs me. Apparently in your world all people should be doctors, lawyers, engineers and educators or some such nonsense, where is your appreciation for more esoteric options that invite beauty and creativity?
Great advice, lets all do things that make us miserable just so we can "make a living".
Jan 2010 post economic high I was let go and decided to re-direct my career. In the midst of that transition (which is still underway) I have had to collect unemployment and at times was very tempted to apply for food stamps as well (but didn't).

Maybe I'm mis-understanding you but I've felt betrayed not by my education but by our "system" and yes I felt completely "Entitled" to collect something in return for that betrayal. I felt I did everything "right" and where did it get me? I'm starting over and will build myself up on my own and I don't expect anyone (government, family etc) to support me through the process but there was a short time that I did need a little hand up, a temporary one...I don't think there is a damn thing wrong with that and perhaps if you were to understand the individuals in the article you might just find that for them it is also a temporary need of assistance (I didn't read the article so I'm not directly stating this is the case).
Call me a 40 year old Hipster if you like!

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I pretty much stopped readi... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 8:03 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I pretty much stopped reading when you assumed they don't have jobs: "So what makes them hatable is the seeming choice they have made: they could work, yes at jobs they don't like but hey, that's America; but instead they choose to feel entitled to $200/month from the rest of us salarymen."
They probably DO have jobs they don't like. They probably work at low wage hourly jobs like many other recent college graduates. And you don't have to be unemployed to get food stamps. In fact, in most cases you have to HAVE a job to be eligible for food stamps. Before you write an article about hipsters and food stamps, be sure you understand food stamps.

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I am sorry that the hipster... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:14 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I am sorry that the hipsters hurt your feelings.
If only they had the good sense to value the same things as you in the same ways as you for the same reasons as you.

Or maybe you just like creating systems that validate your choices instead of creating systems that validate other peoples choices.

Woo!

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<a href="http://en.wikipedi... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:41 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychologist's_fallacy

Trololololololoolololo....

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You do have a chance to go ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 12:01 PM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by thedomjuan: | Reply

You do have a chance to go for what you want... you just have to take it. Just like those immigrants did. Lazy Fuck.

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Not really sure that he's s... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 12:10 PM | Posted, in reply to Heather's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Not really sure that he's saying that. I think the point is just the common sense thing of "make sure that you can get a real job when you graduate." I don't think it means give up on your dreams at all. I don't think it means that only doctors and engineers get to do what they like. It simply means that for the vast majority of us, it's not that easy. Some types of "dreams" are fantasies -- for example, the fantasy of being a great writer or artist. It's like trying to make it in professional sports. So spending 20K to get a degree in that is not a smart investment. besides which, you can just as easily persue that stuff as a hobby. If you like art that much, you can buy art supplies and draw. Share your stuff, hell a personal webpage and a scanner is all you need to start selling prints if you're good. Upsides of that approach to art is that it doesn't preclude getting a paying job in the meantime, and you aren't it massive debt. Plus, you can do what you want without having to worry about how "marketable" it is. Same with writing. You can easily get software to self-publish on e-readers. Some of it you can get for free. So after you work as a whatever, come home, write whatever you want, run it through the e-pub software and sell it (or give it away). Costs nothing, and you get to keep a job that lets you earn a decent living. People have long since figured this out for sports -- if you really like baseball, join an adult league and play, don't try to get one of the cherry spots on the Dodgers, and certainly don't waste your life and money on the assumption that you are the one in a million. there's a difference between a fantasy and a reality.

We've just somehow convinced ourselves that we are 300 million 1-in-a million people. It's not possible.

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There's one solid economic ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 12:50 PM | Posted by Pat S.: | Reply

There's one solid economic justification for college (with caveats), which is that you're buying into a professional networking club. At a "good" school, you meet tons of driven people who are bound to make things in society, not to mention the thousands that went before you and are out there making things already and are willing to help you out as a fellow member of the club. These are people who can provide you opportunities to sell whatever it is you do, from business to engineering to, yes, even literature and art.

There are two main caveats: you have to have the discipline to create something tangible or those alumni won't care, and it has to be a school where the "club's" opportunities are sufficient to justify the tuition costs in the long term. If you're going to Yale to be a writer and you're willing to write and publish things, you just might be tied in to a network where you can meet someone willing to pay you to write those things. Do the same thing at some other school, though, and you're probably out of luck.

So there you go: if you can get into a school with a strong alumni network, and you're still willing to put in work, it can be worth it for the connections.

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So much misinformation abou... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 12:55 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So much misinformation about English Majors...

To those saying that you don't receive any job-related skills by studying English, here's three primary skills you receive with an English BA:

1. Written and verbal communication skills
2. Detailed analysis
3. Researching

Go ahead. Tell me about all those employers out there who hate employees with those three skills. Get real.

As someone else mentioned earlier, the trick with liberal arts majors is knowing how to market yourself. Do some English majors represent themselves poorly in this regard? Of course. You can't just snob employers to death, bragging about your knowledge of Chaucer and your amazing ability to alliterate. However, to lump all English majors into that stereotype is incorrect and lazy.

But hey, I understand. Sensationalism sells. Nice work.

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I have an English degree. I... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 1:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Steven: | Reply

I have an English degree. I make $97,000 a year as a content strategist because I have writing experience and a degree. Corporate America does need writers. Novelists and poets? America doesn't need so many of them. So get a day job and write on the side.

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I understand that these two... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 1:58 PM | Posted by PittyPow!: | Reply

I understand that these two hipsters using food stamps is angering when there are others, families who could really use them. But to belittle and hate on someone(and a group of people) because they decide to take something in college that -you- deem useless is just...ridiculous. Who cares what someone else takes in college? It may seem useless to you and it might actually be but who gives a damn? They're the ones paying for it and they're the ones doing this for themselves. Not you and not to better the economy that you care so much about(you might as well lay in bed with it)you think they had the economy in mind when they signed up? No, they took it for themselves. It doesn't effect you personally and maybe that "useless" thing they're taking is the backbone for something better.

Maybe they had more guts than you to take something in college that truly interested them and this is where this is coming from.

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It took a lot of college ed... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 2:15 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It took a lot of college educated people I know with competitive degrees at least 6 months to find gainful employment in 2010.

Also, many of them would have been eligible for food stamps even working as barristas and cashiers, but some people are too proud or feel pressured by assholes who have had their shit together since before the bankers destroyed the economy and are looking down their noses saying "Why don't you get a job and get off the dole?"

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David Foster Wallace was a ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:02 PM | Posted by Anon9001: | Reply

David Foster Wallace was a pretentious low-watt bulb who wasted his life, as he did eventually realize in September 2008.

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I love the article. I agree... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:10 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dusty: | Reply

I love the article. I agree with a lot of it. I was an English major and planned to teach English was why. I decided I didn't want to do that by about the time I finished up undergrad, so I went out and found a job instead. Sold insurance for a few years and now help run an internet marketing firm with my brother (another English Major).

If I could go back, I would take accounting and become a CPA.

Anyway, I would say that Jim Butcher (my favorite writer) Did talk about how he got his real start in writing through his college classes but that is not to say he needed it. He thinks his early stuff back then was crap anyway.

Again though, love the article. I'll be sending it a few people's way.

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You are ignorant. I am not ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You are ignorant. I am not going for an MRS degree. I know there's a lot of gals (or stupid bitches, you for instance) who go to college, "for the experience," or to find a man. I am going to fulfill my dream of working in science, and contributing to society. That is where you, and all of these stupid hipsters fail, by not setting the bar higher. It's a shame how you destroyed what could have been a significant article with stupidity, and talking out of your ass. I think that's the real problem here.

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I'm in one of those useless... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:10 PM | Posted by Nick G: | Reply

I'm in one of those useless undergraduate degrees (Physics), but what sets the "liberal sciences" (by that, I mean pure sciences such as Chem, Physics, Math, Bio) is that they are precursors to so many different fields. It may take less time and be more profitable to have gone into engineering or economics, but I enjoy physics and I know that with a masters, I am already in possession of one of the top 10 most profitable degrees.

However, with English or Philosophy (or any of the aforementioned sciences ALONE), you are not in the market for high paying jobs. Fact of the matter is that the best outcome for English or Philosophy is law, and it turns out that the only lawyers anyone is hiring are patent lawyers (enter the engineers and physicists!).

I think that too many people are going to college. My personal solution is making the calculus sequence required for graduation in all Letters and Sciences departments.

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I'm pretty sure that the wr... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm pretty sure that the writer is singling out the liberal arts majors.

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"First, the obvious: what's... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:16 PM | Posted by Wow.: | Reply

"First, the obvious: what's wrong with hipsters on food stamps is that these are college educated people who should be able to get jobs, not live off the state. They're not black, after all. "

There it goes.. the author's credibility dying.
And to think I clicked on this link from Cracked expecting knowledgeable gems to be dropped so I can fill my head with some more knowledge but boom- had to come across that ugly racist statement.

And aren't white people actually the largest group on welfare? Ridiculous. Seems I'll just look for another article on this topic by a writer who is far less ignorant.

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I think to say college is t... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:27 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think to say college is totally unnecessary is not only unrealistic, but very naive. Yes, there are certain fields which are out of balance in terms of what you pay for college and what you actually learn, maybe there are some areas of the workforce you could teach yourself about in order to be prepared. But, how would companies know you did this? There needs to be a litmus. You cannot trust every person to do the required research on their own. There are a lot of fields which this wouldn't be appropriate. Engineers, doctors, psychiatrists, to name a few. Perhaps in the world of liberal arts minded individuals college isn't needed, but that isn't the world we all live in.

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Let's be honest: anyone who... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:47 PM | Posted by anon: | Reply

Let's be honest: anyone who thinks that a college degree isn't necessary hasn't seen the unemployment rate of those without one. This is emblematic of all those self-educated types who think they can swing with the big boys: they have no one who knows anything guiding them, and so seek out the sources and facts that support their biases, no matter how much of it is misinformation. You can see the same thing from all the trade school grads (especially engineering) who are libertarians because Ron Paul tells them they are special snowflakes and they haven't learned economics from people who actually know anything about economics.

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Another reason to get a Bac... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Io's comment, by LibrariansGetEnglishDegreesToo: | Reply

Another reason to get a Bachelor's in English is to obtain a Master's in Library Science. And yes, we make good money.

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I read a really great serie... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 5:22 PM | Posted by Shinobi: | Reply

I read a really great series of articles in the WSJ a few years ago about why college is unnecessary for most people. It isn't that it is unnecessary for everyone, for some people, engineers, doctors, psychiatrists, mathematicians, even history researchers, it is an amazing place for them to broaden their minds and also delving deep into a specific subject so they can become experts.

But the truth is that most people are just not going to become experts in that way. They go to college and end up with the education they should have gotten in high school, a reasonable level of writing ability, the smallest amount of advanced mathematics they can get away with, and a slightly deeper understanding of "Business" or "Communication" than they had after college, but not as deep as they would have had if they'd just worked for 4 years.

And for the most part these kids are cheating, and partying their way through college so they have an expensive piece of paper.

But until businesses are willing to hire people without a Bachelors, even for jobs that don't require a bachelors, they wont be able to get jobs. (You need a bachelors degree just to work in a call center now. It's ridiculous.)

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I'm an English Major, my hu... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 6:07 PM | Posted by Mother Hen: | Reply

I'm an English Major, my husband is a History major, and we have a two year old. We've been on Food Stamps since our toddler was born, because we refuse to put him in daycare and would rather live modestly than put him in a room with strangers all day, just so we can have more spending money. We buy almost entirely organic food on our foodstamps, and rarely (if ever) go over our food stamps budget. We're waiting to get into grad school next fall, and hopefully once we have graduated we'll find employment and be able to get off food stamps. Should poor people not be allowed to buy "foodie" food? We always get bad looks at the check out lane, for buying "luxury" food items, and yet we never buy sugary drinks and very rarely buy any processed food at all. Just because you are investing in quality food over the quantity of food doesn't mean you are abusing the system. We should be encouraging people to eat healthy with their food stamps, rather than disparaging them for it.

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While I agree to a certain ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 6:37 PM | Posted by Cassidy: | Reply

While I agree to a certain extent, this also kind of reads like griping about a situation you don't truly understand, or don't want to look into in more than a shallow way?

College degrees cannot be divided into "employable" and "unemployable". All of them make you employable to a certain extent; yes, even English majors can theoretically get jobs in their field. But whenever a particular degree starts to become known as one that will get you employed, it soon gets overloaded and then you're a law student with $100k in loans who can't get a job because only the very best are being hired. There are plenty that are neither completely academic nor completely practical that in a good economy have many job openings and in this one have none - and while I agree that you shouldn't always try to make your passion your job if it's too esoteric, having everyone get an MBA because the short-term economy is terrible does not lead to good things in the long-term.

Also, hipsters being too ~ironic~ for retail/food service is completely irrelevant. As with construction, you cannot get a job there without experience, and I have found that having a Bachelor's (and especially a Master's) makes them put you at the bottom of the list, no matter how well you do in the interview.

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I think the idea that hipst... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 7:36 PM | Posted by emily: | Reply

I think the idea that hipsters "are not obsessed with money/capitalism that they are better people, opting out of "materialism,"" is a JOKE. Aesthetics play a HUGE role in a hipster's self-image, and that specific hipster image we all know (in terms of fashion, design, books, etc.), is perpetuated by the same capitalist and materialist undertones that am rampant in popular culture. The difference, mind you, is that these "hipster" likes are supposedly counter culture--but I would argue that "counter culture" is really just a pop culture of sorts that deals with more obscure likes and interests within a society. Similarly, most hipsters grow up in a privileged households and are thus (perhaps unbeknownst to them) very attuned to/focused on materialist wants and desires, including their self-image. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't hipsters who are legitimately concerned with social causes and other non-materialist pursuits, but I feel they are more the exception than the rule.

With that being said, I understand and agree that American society is harsh and only really cares about your utility, but at the same time, this fact only wants to make me REBEL against this ludicrous reduction of human worth. Did I go to college? Yes. Did I spend a lot on my degree? Yes (I too went to UChicago). Did I major in an "un-useful" major? Yes. Despite this, do I think college was useful? Yes. Do I have a job that makes decent money? Yes. Does my job help people? Yes (Well, at least I like to think so because I am a teacher). Do people value my contributions at my job? Eh, sometimes. But I don't do my job for other people's approval.

I don't know. Maybe I'm a strange exception, but I believe college has done me a lot of good, and capitalism/materialism don't play a major role in my life. Just because most of the world reduces people to productivity and profits doesn't mean I necessarily have to live that way too.

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I'm not American, but I do ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 7:49 PM | Posted by Jennifer Frances Armstrong: | Reply

I'm not American, but I do have a couple of thoughts on American culture and what it craves the most.

http://unsanesafe.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/carlos-castanedas-shamanism_17.html

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Wow. I think I've never rea... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 8:25 PM | Posted by Kira Wonrey: | Reply

Wow. I think I've never read such an awfully-written, bitter, pointless rant.

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Seems like an easy target f... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 8:45 PM | Posted, in reply to LibrariansGetEnglishDegreesToo's comment, by ElPato: | Reply

Seems like an easy target for municipal reduction. We have a library here in San Jose that never opened.

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"Is Baldwin's character a j... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:11 PM | Posted by Less binary: | Reply

"Is Baldwin's character a jerk or a savior? "

That is a bit binary don't you think? He does represent inspiration, but not just that. He is putting people on a burning platform and tell them to sell or gtfo. So to sell at all costs?. Ethics be damned? You have to assume that. In this suddenly he represents something larger. A problem. A kind of thinking that drove us over a financial cliff for short term gains, that thinks we need to compete with slaves for our wages because its what the market wants. Well...good luck with that.

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Last I checked, I make a lo... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:17 PM | Posted by Ryan: | Reply

Last I checked, I make a lot more (mainly out of property and rent) than my peers who were in Marketing and Finance(I did English Lit.).

It may be a matter of context:

I became an English major because I live in Asia, where there's a demand for English education. That netted me a $4k a month job the second I got back from London (got the job offer while still in school).

This provided the seed fund for my initial property investments,and I flipped my first two houses at 24.

I also used my qualifications to co-found a language school. And if you're contracted to teach English enrichment in 17 different schools, that's a decent amount.

I'm also a syndicated finance writer, which is a pretty good source of side income (and I needed English to learn how to write).

I made that money by understanding context. I saw a viable market, and the degree was my key into it.

I think the one mistake in this article (I agree with most of it) is associating the subject of the Degree with an inherent potential for success.

The earning potential for a law degree is much higher in the States than in, say, Australia (as of now). The earning potential for engineering is much higher in Canada than in Russia (last I checked).

The situation and immediate needs of the economy determines the earning capacity of various Degrees. It would be mistaken to believe that English, as a major, is inherently and always less valuable.

It's like believing "Forex traders always make more than index fund investors", or "landed properties are always worth more than apartments".

When it comes to money, it's about how several variables work together. We shouldn't affix inherent earning potential to different investments (a degree is an investment) and take things for granted.

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Yawn....It is funny you sho... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:19 PM | Posted, in reply to anon's comment, by Just, no.: | Reply

Yawn....It is funny you should say that because I had a teacher from Copenhagen Business School tell me that the economy is a ...and I quote here "a fantasy". Yeah sure it works but its still largely just in our heads. You were talking about only reading things which confirm to own biases. Please do continue.

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"Sure, some college women g... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:49 PM | Posted by Amelia: | Reply

"Sure, some college women go on to become doctors and CEOs, and some go on to become child pornographers and Salon writers, none of those things have anything to do with what happened in college. If you are going to college to get an education and not to meet guys, you are insane, literally insane, delusional, in reality one is never going to happen and the other is going to happen anyway, and you could have gotten both for free at a bookstore. Worked for me. The only question for the future single mom is whether it's worth $XXXXXX a year to meet guys, and the answer is of course it's not, even nightclubs let ladies in for free."

I certainly hope you would say the same thing about men—and yet I somehow can't see you writing "Sure, some college men get good jobs, but that had nothing to do with your education...if you think you're going to college to get an education and not to meet chicks, then you're delusional." Such a blatant double standard frankly leaves me speechless.

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sqat et ezz b'laeya... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

sqat et ezz b'laeya

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (2 votes cast)
You go gurl!Take tha... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Amelia's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You go gurl!
Take that CIS scum down!!!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -2 (6 votes cast)
tl;dr... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:57 PM | Posted by someone with real things to do: | Reply

tl;dr

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This article is an interest... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:24 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This article is an interesting paradox, as it impugns English Lit degrees as useless, and yet is poorly written itself, which sort of defeats the argument being made. If I were to say math wasn't useful in day-to-day life and yet you saw my checkbook full of arithmetic mistakes, you would think it was more likely that I had a personal bias due to my own lack of ability.

One thing English majors are taught is the value of editing and rewriting, 90% of which is cutting your prose down to what is focused and true. And for something to be read as true, it needs a sense of logic, backed by evidence. Generalized statements like "Fact: college is a waste" without any evidence other than personal opinion sounds more like the rant of an intelligent but emotionally-compromised stand-up comedian-- in this case, a comedian who isn't very funny.

One source cited here is Stephen King's book "On Writing" which is interesting, because every English Lit major knows that regardless of how many books the very prolific author cranks out and sells, he is a "hack" who doesn't conceive of his stories through theme developed into metaphor, but rather what seems "scary" at a given moment-- no more literary than the scene in a horror movie where the cat jumps out and startles the hero. If I'm wrong about this, than I have a challenge for you: show me an English Lit course from a good school that throws out "The Great Gatsby" in favor of "Cujo." I read a lot of great books in my seven years in college, and not one was a novel by King or any other frequent bestseller type. They don't teach from books that have nothing to offer socially but entertainment. King's inner drive says Ass + Chair = $$$$ but not every writer does things that way. By that method, you don't need college, just to read and write a lot. However, college helps budding writers with guidance in what would otherwise be a very lonely job pursuit, where they meet others with the same passion and are encouraged by teachers who have specific advice at an individual level, and not just the general advice offered by a book like King's "On Writing." (He has a BA in English, by the way. Email him and ask if he thinks it was no help whatsoever to his success...)

The author of this article makes a lot of bold claims without many factual references to support them, the segues are weak and the article rambles on and on with a lack of focus. If facts were gathered on these points, the article wouldn't need to be so long and incoherent. I stopped reading towards the end because of this. Does that make me a lazy reader, or does it mean this writer could have used some more English classes and sources of data for these claims?

And finally, those who study less obviously employable majors like English, Art, History, Philosophy etc. may be doing so to become teachers of those subjects because they have a passion for the material. We have many teachers who have jobs because people go to college for more than technical majors. An article like this one doesn't offer solutions, just criticizes and leaves people who worked hard for a diploma feeling like they did it for nothing. What good does that offer the readers? I certainly hope you aren't an actual practicing psychologist... a degree, by the way, that is overpopulated and just as unemployable.

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Soooo Black people can't be... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:58 PM | Posted by ?: | Reply

Soooo Black people can't be college educated? Food stamps are only appropriate for Black folks? what is wrong with you, you racist fuck?

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Anti intellectual nonsense.... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:06 AM | Posted by Hegroid: | Reply

Anti intellectual nonsense. Who cares about this person's opinion? Narcissist for sure. I especially laughed at "No one but the state and psychiatry can profit from another's misery, and they are the same thing" Lunacy.

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So entirely beside the poin... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Doesn't Matter: | Reply

So entirely beside the point.

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Nice tirade! My favorite th... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:56 AM | Posted by Stevie: | Reply

Nice tirade! My favorite thing in life is when a customer or acquaintance says to me something along the lines of "Wow, you're actually smart." -- I'm a manager (like an assistant manager but a smidge higher) in a retail store. I'm making 30 grand a year; I clawed my way up the hierarchy, and I overcame years of social anxiety and fear. I work so hard. I never worked hard in school... like an asshole.

Then it was college versus paycheck -- so yes, I have an English Degree it was the easiest one for me to get. I couldn't handle 40 hours plus college and pass with any other degree. Higher education? In my fantasy land! I'll not be seeing that.

But I'm not an associate living in my mother's basement. I'm a manager, no thanks to my BA in English.

You're right. I'm not going to read the other comments on here because I know what they say. You're so 200% right. Good for you. I'm too busy to be this angry but at least someone noticed and is. Thank you for putting it out there.

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Thought this was going to b... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 1:04 AM | Posted by poloniusmonk: | Reply

Thought this was going to be a witty, well-supported argument against the hipster (not a fan), instead it was a bunch of one-sided, ill-researched, poorly worded garbage (not a fan). I think you're more impressed with yourself than most will ever be ... and that oozes through in your high handed, crappy critique that probably could have been great. Oh well.

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uI agree that this is outra... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 1:08 AM | Posted by Hibertspace: | Reply

uI agree that this is outrageous mostly because of my disdain for rich kids who are just gaming the system. I am a first generation American who grew up in a poverty stricken neighborhood. I chose business as my major because I knew it would make me employable. I decided to turn down a top 10 school for a top 25 program because it was more affordable. 3 years later I have paid off my 30 know in loans and more saving for my first home. If I can figure this out when my parents don't have college degrees, there is no excuse for predominantly upper middle class hipsters with college educated parents to cry about their decisions. you can do your research before you make ur poor decisions. For example somebasic research can tell I that job opportunities are awfl for the vast majority of law students.college is extremely expensive nd those that finish are privileged be it by upbringing or opportunity. We should no have Dartmouth grads on foodstamps. When I think of my friends back home who have to take care of siblings and drop out of college and are unable to get assistance. Ijust have nothing but shame that these hipsters are the people we are helping. Sorry for grammar tablet sucks

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Thank you for this interest... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 1:19 AM | Posted by Lucy: | Reply

Thank you for this interesting op-ed. I wouldn't have used some language (such as "illegal" to describe undocumented workers), however, I know it can be difficult to keep up with P.C. terms.

When I graduated from college last spring I expected to get a job immediately, but it was actually extremely difficult. My dad (who had been helping me out with bills) decided to cut me off financially 100% and basically called me a lazy mooch for having a hard time finding work. I wish someone had explained to me earlier how to get a job with my degree, which is in psychology. Right now I'm thinking my best option is to get a masters degree in a specialized field. Who knew being an adult would be so hard?

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I could here the screams of... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:12 AM | Posted by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

I could here the screams of the oxen being gored from the other side of the net.

"Who me?" seems to be the reaction on the part of so many who apparently have no idea what TLP is suggesting.

Can't think of a post that I haven't enjoyed...only wish I could present my ideas as well as TLP.

I have often said that the most difficult thing to do is change someone's paradigm and that happens to be what TLP attempts to do in every article.

Many of the comments here, and elsewhere, reflect the desire to keep discussion within the paradigm, thus missing the entire point of the article.

For example, as some have suggested, it's true that many jobs now require a college degree and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. The point TLP is making is that the jobs themselves do not inherently require the degree and thus, in this particular example, he/she is attacking the system, not the individual that is a victim of the system.

Whether or not there are career tracks that require the years of study presently mandated may be debatable, but the fact that there are many that do not is not.

Further, there is no "right" to a job in the field of your choosing and no obligation on the part of society to provide one.

And that particular example only scratches the surface of what this article attempts to convey...


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Whoops, posted before I was... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:15 AM | Posted by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

Whoops, posted before I was ready.

Not sure why the "here" instead of "hear" and I apologize in advance for any other errors I might have missed prior to publishing my prior comment.

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Spending $200 at whole food... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:23 AM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by yea: | Reply

Spending $200 at whole foods versus $200 at food for less still costs the economy the same amount of money. Why shouldn't the individual be able to budget that stipend how he see's fit?

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I am an employed, skilled p... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:30 AM | Posted by Matt Mitchell: | Reply

I am an employed, skilled professional, and my wages aren't enough to afford food. As a result, I get "food stamps" (EBT). I can not fathom why I should be expected to use those benefits to purchase inexpensive, low quality food. Why should I be looked down upon for putting quality, healthful, safe, organic food into my body. Are poor people just supposed to fill themselves with garbage? Don't they deserve to be as healthy and well nourished as possible? Maybe there is some sort of subconscious death wish for people you see as less valid than yourself. The end result of consuming shitty food is just a large healthcare bill that I couldn't afford either. Maybe I should become a fat diabetic so you could at least feel more justified in your disgust. There is nothing wrong with using food stamps to purchase the best food you can manage. Poverty doesn't make you a second class citizen. Money doesn't make you anything but fortunate.

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The thesis of you post seem... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:31 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by randy: | Reply

The thesis of you post seems to be that majoring in English isn't that bad of an idea....
First off, advertising is one of THE most competitive fields in which to make a living. There are extremely few who are successful in it versus that tons that want to do it for a living. So you can throw out that fact that some advertisers have english majors and think it renders the authors point moot, but it doesn't. Obviously he isn't ACTUALLY speaking in absolutes. He doesn't mean NO English majors can get a real job, he means the trends show that more English majors are employed than people of more practical majors. That's a fact. And advertising is a major these days, so mostly advertising majors work in advertising, so that's "who"...

Furthermore, the trouble with liberal arts is indeed that there isn't a system in place that paves the way to employment. But that is not the fundamental level here. You can go one deeper and realize that the reason there isn't such a system in place is because majoring in English doesn't technically make you any more useful in any job than not getting a degree. YOU ARE ONLY AS VALUABLE AS THE SKILLS YOU HAVE TO OFFER. And a few scattered skills like the ones you would learn majoring in English do not make you a marketable employee. As an engineering major myself, there is no "path" besides the fact that majoring in Engineering teaches me the skills I need to be an Engineer. Which in fact sheds some light and leads to the realization that there really is no "path" at all. It's just that there is an END POINT, or a DESTINATION. And that destination is employment as an engineer. Majoring is English doesn't lack a pathway to employment so much as it lack a destination of employment. Majoring in English simply does not teach you a tangible skill that would contribute enough to the economy to make an English major useful.

Though I would never advocate using it as blind reassurance, every generation is getting smarter.... But is English evolving? Not really, besides the fact that the literacy rate is improving. It's obsolete as a major, and there is a reason English majors don't get hired. An English degree is superfluous. No, not everybody can be an engineer, but everybody can major in something more reasonable than english. And everybody can learn just as much about English at the local library. As the author to this said, you're crazy if you go to college for an education, because you can get that from youtube. You go to college for a degree. And who in their right mind would get an obsolete one for the same price as a practical one?

The problem with liberal arts? The fact that it's still a college major. Once the same education can be gained for free and the diploma doesn't increase one's chance of employment, then only fools would pay for that degree.

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Hiding in plain 'Sight' - n... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:58 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hiding in plain 'Sight' - not site.

an unemployable English Major

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While I largely agree with ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

While I largely agree with the content of the Article, the closing paragraph bothers me. There may be college degrees or majors that are largely a waste, but it IS necessary for many occupations. Sure, "... every single college course from MIT and Yale are on Youtube," but attending university is, first, arguably still more efficient than sifting through youtube clips (not to mention any hands on learning or feedback professors give you would miss with Youtube) and second, college provides credibility. Even if you completed the equivalent of a major through video, that would give you nothing to put on your resumé. Why would any company ever take your word that you, "totally covered this stuff during one of your 2am information binges?"

Our society will never reach that magical point where college is entirely unnecessary, rather a point where it becomes cost inefficient.

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"It's not true that English... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:27 AM | Posted, in reply to Io's comment, by Wayne: | Reply

"It's not true that English majors can't get "real" jobs. Who do you think works in advertising, just to name one option?"

Marketing majors. Public relations specialists. Graphic designers. Psychologists. Cinematic directors. I've yet to see an advertisement that relies on an exhaustive knowledge of Chaucer.

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Here at UC Berkeley, Englis... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:34 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Here at UC Berkeley, English majors are those most likely to be admitted to top law schools. It teaches critical thinking and argumentation. As soon as the article made the analogy between English majors and lawyers, I knew the author was a moron. English majors are future lawyers. Take it from an engineer.

And by the way, this article reads like it was written for Cracked.com - like a disgruntled teenager wrote it.

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I just want to throw three ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:47 AM | Posted by Dillon: | Reply

I just want to throw three points out there for no one to read, but to satisfy my intense need for validation:

1.) Yeah, there are a lot of liberal arts degree grads who are unemployed. There are also employed liberal arts degree grads. We don't hear about the ones who are employed, because we as a society accentuate the negative. Or, putting it another way, we only notice something if it goes wrong. It seems unfair, therefore, to condemn an entire branch of academia because of the mistakes that a relative handful of graduates made.

2.) There seems to be a definite assumption that one's vocational worth is measured entirely by income. I think this is an erroneous assumption. I think it is entirely fair to say that people have different values and aim at achieving different ends. For example, I don't think it is fair to condemn someone who works in, say, fundraising as a careless life-planner because she makes less money than a CEO. Some people want to help others more than themselves. I'm not explicitly going to say that one is better than another, nor should anyone else. Let people live their lives in pursuit of the ends that they think are worth pursuing.

3.) The massive problem with the last point is that some pursuits incur unfair costs on others. This is an entirely fair point, and if that is the basis of the disagreement, I'm willing to side with the author of this blog. Yet, somehow, it seems to me that the scope of this author's argument is wider than that. Don't let a frustration that stems from an inability to understand other people's choices cloud your judgment on the actual issues at hand.

Ironically enough, the author would realize this had he been a liberal arts major.

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English major here. I chose... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 5:20 AM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

English major here. I chose English because when I needed to transfer from an out of state school to an in-state school for monetary reasons, switching to an English major was the quickest way to a diploma. I never, ever had doubts that I would find a career. And I did. I'm a journalist. And very few of my journalism friends were journalism majors. Almost all of us were liberal arts majors.

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Hipsters ? dude th... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 5:34 AM | Posted by Shodan: | Reply

Hipsters ?

dude this is 2012, it's been resolved that "Hipsters" is a faceless moving target of a group

in most case it's just whoever you hate the most as a group, your definition is local and it means to me absolutely nothing

I can't even start reading your article because I don't know what you're talking about, where's I'm from "hipsters" are first and foremost middle class, childless, snobbish and fashion followers

they don't get food stamps, they live in the gentrified part of town with the 900$ a month rent for the 3 1/2 with the crooked floors

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Humanillusion: "A well docu... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 7:11 AM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Robert: | Reply

Humanillusion: "A well documented wage disparity still plaguing a majority of "college educated" single mothers"

Well you've just explained the wage disparity. If you leave work early, you are not doing equal work. As an employer I do not give two shits about your brat. I'm not paying you to breed, I'm paying you to be there from X time to Y time and to do the job for which you are hired. Need time off, fine, but don't expect to make the same is Jim or Jane who stay there late into the night.

Scholarships exist for everything under the sun, whole books exist describing where to get money for education, choose to use it on something stupid, you made your own bed. When a Nigerian immigrant can come into the United States, get citizenship, get a job, work his way up to a better job, figure out the scholarships and go to school…but your hipster or single mother are still clueless, the problem isn't the system, the problem is their own lack of direction or motivation.

And the wage gap you talk about, exists only if you calculate the numbers by leaving out all public sector jobs, include all entrepreneurial activities (where the self employed determine their own salaries) and exclude all benefits and the variable hours (i.e. someone choosing more time off for family as opposed to more time in the office to move up) AND it also does not take into account personal behavior, i.e. a man and a woman go in and interview for the same positions, he will likely haggle his salary, she will likely accept what is offered. He is likely to push for a raise, she is likely not to. Again, this is not a sign of a problem with the system, but the way in which people choose to work within it. If you choose not to ask, why should I choose to give? If you don't ask for a raise, you have no right to expect one just because somebody else DID choose to ask, and got one.

YOU are the one that is uninformed, and YOU are the one with the illusions.

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I majored in English litera... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 7:36 AM | Posted by Sandra: | Reply

I majored in English literature and have a reasonably high paying job thank you very much! I would always encourage my kids to study what they are most interested in- that would mean they would be very good at it - and if they are good at it then they would be clever enough to learn how to profit from it. There are many failed lawyers out there - doing a degree that sounds profitable but that you're not really into is a recipe for disaster. Best advice is to do what you would do anyway if money weren't an object http://youtu.be/siu6JYqOZ0g not to be guided by career prospects.

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I fucking hate people like ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:20 AM | Posted, in reply to Lucy's comment, by man on a pedestal: | Reply

I fucking hate people like that. Either you have a sincere wish to help others and then find a way to help people in a way they are comfortable with (Rather than just bulldozing your superior opinion over them at the price of a meal) or you dont.

P.C is a disease that we unfortunately cannot jail and force people on medication for...yet. It is the epitome of dishonest communication.

Finally. Psychiatry is entirely made up. Speculation. Science Fiction. You wasted your time. It is based on whole assumptions and several new studies reveal that 1.therapy is nearly as effective as talking to a family member, a good friend or a kind stranger(?!). 2.Those that want the education go that way to get to know themselves better. In other words, psychiatrists are often the very people who probably need one. They cant operate in a world where they cant pigeon hole people into small boxes that stacks neatly. It makes their world fall apart...apparently. I hope you find your way

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And no, I am not a member o... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:24 AM | Posted by man on a pedestal: | Reply

And no, I am not a member of everybody's favorite space cult. I am just stating the obvious. Perhaps a psychiatrist can tell me how the DSV-IV (its 4 by now, or has it moved to 5?) keeps growing and growing and growing with identified "mental problems" that needs their invaluable help. You would think they had come up with just a handful of good solutions to "mental illness" by now other than dishing out harmful narcotics and hope for the best, but no. They keep making up more fictional diseases they wont be able to cure. It boggles the mind and work as pure intelligence repellent.

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And you are a right cunt wh... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:33 AM | Posted, in reply to Robert's comment, by Man on apedestal: | Reply

And you are a right cunt who have no problem with paying people pennies on the dollar of their actual value to you. One must assume that you look down on others as humans. It is hard to walk away with anything else from this fact alone. But you are right, its not the systems fault, it is just people like you are assholes who wont admit that they have a deep felt loathing for other people that they can only express by stealing their value which is justified with the fact that there are desperate people out there who would otherwise do it for you, if not me. That makes you different from the common 'pimp', how?

But you are right, the problem is not the system. Its you.

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Welp, I have a degree in ac... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:46 AM | Posted by Jimmy: | Reply

Welp, I have a degree in acting and I managed to carve out a career in philanthropy for a billion dollar company. I started out as a street canvasser for a charity, as bottom-rung as it gets. I dont think it's your degree that holds you back, its your experience. Yeah, I have a degree in acting; I can give presentations to large groups, retain large chunks of information in a short timeframe, I work well collaboratively and I adapt well to change. All employable skills, but some kind of experience is needed to back them up. I think hipsters fail to realize that in a pseudo-capitalist society like this one, in order to survive you need to sell yourself on the open market just like a product and you need to market the hell out of it. Im not going to tell people what to go to school for or judge pottery or poetry majors, they are marketable, they just need to hustle.

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So many people missing all ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So many people missing all of the points, and focusing on the race card, wonens rights and defense of education, etc.,. It isn't about race, sex, education or economics, but the absurdity that society believes any if it matters.

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Nice read.However,... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:40 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Nice read.

However, saying that alpha-males and women are better at relationships seems silly for a number of reasons, most of which I feel are obvious.

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You are all missing the dam... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:46 AM | Posted by Nick G: | Reply

You are all missing the damn point. English degrees ALONE are useless. I'm a physics major, a lot of my peers make fun of business, marketing, English, and all sorts of non-hard science majors because they think that they are useless. Reality check: ALMOST EVERY BS OR BA IS USELESS. You can't do anything with a bachelors degree in a liberal study like Math, English, or even Physics WITHOUT a supplemental degree or certification. In those three majors alone, many of them either get a teaching certificate, go to law school, get a masters or PhD in their field or a related one, or they just stop with a BS or BA and don't know why nobody would hire them!
Nowadays, you aren't going to get a job right after college if you aren't majoring in Engineering, Economics, or a health profession (my girlfriend is in OT, not even done with her second year and has offers!). All of the other fields require more experience or more school (or in my case, both...)

As for the MRS degree thing, that's true. Wealthy women IN HISTORY would go to college to meet guy with potential. Now both men and women go to college because it is expected of them. Granted, many men and women wish to get in to a career. One woman, upset about the MRS comment, noted that she wanted to do research in science (she didn't say what), that requires a PhD. But if you wanted to do just about anything else, you'd be better off getting a grunt job and working your way up by supplementing education part time at a community college. Banks, marketing, all that stuff, doesn't require a degree, and experience is usually preferred in lieu of a degree.

Now if you excuse me, I have an E&M exam to take.

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Look, it's not just the deg... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 10:05 AM | Posted, in reply to Cassidy's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Look, it's not just the degree, it's the problem of lack of planning. The one question no one asks -- HOW DOES A DEGREE IN X GET ME HIRED. That's what I think the big question needs to be. I'm not going to say "don't major in X" but that you need to be brutally honest and self-reflective about why and how. Too many kids are going to college without even the hint of a plan. They like English, so they major in English. Which is OK, if you have a good idea of how a degree in English is going to pay you back for the cost of going. It's not OK if you're choosing a degree in English precisely because you vaguely enjoy the subject and you can delay adult responsibilities while attending a 20K a year college. It's also not OK if you are trying to get into a field in which 1 in 200 get into it and you are not really all that much above average. I like to write, I like to draw, I like to play on the computer. I'm just not unrealistic enough to think that my crappy writing is good enough to spend 20K a year on because the odds are not on my side.

There's a difference between a hobby and a career. There's a difference between an avocation and a vocation. For 99% of us, anything in the arts is going to be something we do in our downtime, for fun. If you really really are that good, fine. If you really are the next Brad Pitt, great for you. I'm not, so if I go to hollywood, I'll be one of the millions of baristas in every restaurant in hollywood that carries a headshot in my pocket and never goes anywhere but upwards in the management of Starbucks. Or I can keep acting as a hobby and learn a skill to use in the meantime.

It's not that arts majors are evil, I think the evil is a system that fleeces kids who have no great talent in the arts and never tells them the odds, the better to get the 20K a year for the 4-5 years that kid is in school. What you create for those kids is a tragedy. They don't become experts in a field that makes the coin back, so they have reasonable odds of either teaching that subject at a HS or grade school level, or they get jobs that for the most part they could have just as easily gotten had they never gone to college in the first place. As in 80K in student loans and 4-5 years earlier. It's a combination of lots of narcissistic behavior from all kinds of angles. The school doesn't want to be the kind of school that crushes a dream (plus they want the kid's money), the parent who just can't admit to themselves that their child really isn't that great of an artist or writer or actor. The kid who can't see clearly enough to know whether they are the one who will make it, but assume that they are. The society that desperately wants all kids to get a college education because it shows that even poor kids can have the middle class trappings. It's not the Arts program students necessarily, it's a system designed to make them have unrealistic expectations of what they can do with the arts.

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> "There's more to a colleg... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 11:08 AM | Posted by JP: | Reply

> "There's more to a college education than employability." No there isn't.

You're wrong. There is more to a college education than employability, but not why you think. See, you think that going to college for anything other than job training is a waste. It's fairly shitty of you to assume that everyone between the ages of 18-22 knows what they want to do for a living, because people don't. How could they?

But okay, fine. You want people to know exactly what it is they want to do as a career before their brains are even finished developing. Fine. Whatever. I wasn't good at math or science, so I got a history degree with a minor in English and women's studies, and that was because (I thought) I knew exactly what I wanted to do: museum studies and/or write.

But then, guess what? It totally didn't matter what I thought I wanted to do, because nobody gives a shit about your college education. It doesn't matter what it's in; if you want to get hired in your field, you'd best be prepared to go to grad school. Maybe even get a PhD. Nobody cares about that bachelor's degree anymore; it's all but worthless.

So, yes, there is more to a college education than employability, because having the bare minimum of college education doesn't actually get you employed. If you're not going to get hired without getting a postgrad degree anyway, then why not take the time to explore your interests and find somethings that you want to do?

I'd rather be happy and employed somewhere outside of my field of study (like I am now) than miserable and doing something I hated but related to my major. Just me?

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David Wong ripped you off i... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 11:31 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

David Wong ripped you off in his latest Cracked article.

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You fucking moron, yeah he ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 11:47 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You fucking moron, yeah he "ripped them off" be quoting their article and telling his millions of readers that they should go read the whole thing. That is NOT ripping somebody off.

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Hahah @ all the mad people.... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:12 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hahah @ all the mad people.

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There's place and means ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 3:06 PM | Posted by The Sanity Inspector: | Reply

There's place and means for every man alive.
-- William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

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But these hypothetical "Eng... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Cassidy: | Reply

But these hypothetical "English majors because they're vaguely interested in it and nothing else" are straw men. They're something it's great to point to when you want to make yourself out to be superior to these other total idiots who don't even know what they want to do at 18! The people who have a vague interest and no direction? They're the ones that follow what they're told is the profitable path or else do what's supposed to be easy.

Personally, I think it's better to think of what you want to do as an adult and then figure out what you should do at college to get there, but I was precociously deciding I was going to be an archaeologist at age eight. And it hasn't even worked out exactly as planned for me, so that's clearly not a perfect solution. But it's kind of ridiculous to expect teenagers to be able to predict the market several years in advance and to know exactly what to go into, and exactly what they have any aptitude for.

... or they get jobs that for the most part they could have just as easily gotten had they never gone to college in the first place.

Except that just about everything except the most basic retail/food service/permatemp positions require or prefer a BA these days. If you want a job in an office, you need to have a four-year degree, and it doesn't matter in what most of the time, which means that getting a degree in English, or philosophy, or art history, or whatever is not a sure sign of stupidity, because it will help to get you hired against someone who has no college degree, or whose GPA was worse than yours.

It would be much better for everyone to stop making a huge fuss about imaginary younguns being entitled/delusional and start concentrating on making the world a place where the economy isn't so bad that jobs in museums, the arts, schools, etc. aren't disappearing, and that the job pool isn't so huge that employers can use a bachelor's degree to shrink it to make it easier on them to fill positions. Because those are the real problems.

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I agree. The comment about ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Mr_Jones's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I agree. The comment about food stamps and African Americans was also absurd and idiotic.

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Okay first of all, for bein... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 10:25 PM | Posted by ThatFeministBitch: | Reply

Okay first of all, for being so vehemently against college, the state of your writing (or rather, ranting) sure could use an education. However, from what I could decipher, you are violently opposed to three things: higher education, women, society. None of these things describes a hipster. At all. In fact you barely mention hipsters, other than to point out that they are apparently all useless female english majors whose only purpose in life is to get married and eat organic food. You talk extensively about the benefits of skipping college (namely, saving money), yet you still characterize jobs that do not require a degree as low-level jobs. How do you propose anyone makes money? Buying into pyramid schemes? Yeah I don't think so. The only real, stable, proven way to subsist outside poverty is to get a college degree. And it's not a waste of money if you can spend more of your life earning a higher income than saving that 80k you "blew" on school. In short, fuck you, fuck your sexist attitude, and fuck your narrow minded stereotypes. I can't believe you think you have some sort of insight into the human mind when the only thing you're doing is piling on tired stereotypes in order to bash on people who behave or think differently than you.

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She certainly lives up to h... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 10:58 PM | Posted by Max: | Reply

She certainly lives up to her name.

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Do you even realize that yo... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 2:44 AM | Posted, in reply to JP's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

Do you even realize that you completely missed the point of the article?

Think about it.

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Whoa Nelly, you are one bit... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 5:04 AM | Posted, in reply to ThatFeministBitch's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Whoa Nelly, you are one bitter person! I guess TLP was talking about you.

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And it's not a waste of ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 8:53 AM | Posted, in reply to ThatFeministBitch's comment, by The Sanity Inspector: | Reply

And it's not a waste of money if you can spend more of your life earning a higher income than saving that 80k you "blew" on school.

That's the big If that so many people are foundering on nowadays. Yes, the lifetime earnings will repay the cost of college and then some--IF you can find commensurate employment! That's sadly not case with much of the present generation now entering the work force.

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"and regression to our most... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 10:08 AM | Posted by Paul M: | Reply

"and regression to our most primitive instinct: eating, fetishized"

Damn! I was watching an ad for yet another goddamn cooking show, or book, or DVD series, and I *knew* that something was wrong, but couldn't put my finger on it.

Thanks.

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This reminds me of the "wel... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 5:16 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This reminds me of the "welfare queen" story from the 80's used to accuse black women of taking advantage of the system eventhough the story wasn't even accurate or even true. People are always looking for someone to blame for sucking the tete of the working man. since racism isn't as acceptable we can now hate hipsters.

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If this virulently ignorant... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 6:45 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If this virulently ignorant parody of clever satire were itself any fuller of shit, by the dogs - it'd be biodynamic compost.

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Higher education through co... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 7:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Higher education through college is important in many aspects of society. Governments and Corporations need college-educated Economists (and more so they need businessmen, although I imagine in that case college degrees aren't always necessary.

Also, theoretical physicists. They are essential for inventing new technology to help the whole humankind develop. I'm not exactly an expert on US schooling system, but I'm relatively certain that they train these in colleges/universities. These are just some examples.

I agree that those who didn't plan their employment prospects ahead are idiots, but remember that the economy does have an influence on the levels of employment. Neither can everyone in the society be employed, so even if they all followed logic, there would still be unemployed people.

Finally, I inferred from your article that you are against social welfare. This is highly ignorant, as many unemployed people aren't unemployed because of being lazy, but rather due to social causes (poor family, ethnic background etc.) This creates a vicious circle, where children of poor people are also poor because of their bad upbringing. Social security is one of the few important means of combatting that.

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I went to college and becam... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 9:03 PM | Posted by Tess: | Reply

I went to college and became a scientist and now I have tenure at a major research university. I run a lab full of skilled, intelligent people and also teach at the college level. I married for love and he cooks like a pro chef every night. I have freedom and a wonderful life thanks to my education.

I was born in the middle east. Education was the way out of being owned by either my dad or my husband. How lightly you take for a woman to be able to be free. You're not much more mature than those hipsters you deride. Really, how could my life be where it is without a university education?

While it may be true that you can do well in life without an English or business degree, until robots run the world, you need skilled, well trained people in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, medicine, law... Saying college is unnecessary is so short sighted.

Also your writing is sooooo long winded. You seem to have an audience. Respect them and learn to edit your writing.

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Erik H. Eriksson didn't hav... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 9:08 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Erik H. Eriksson didn't have any degree. I am so diggin' young man luther.

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One of the most famous psyc... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 9:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

One of the most famous psychologists, Erik H. Erikson, had no conventional degree.

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I personally don't think an... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 9:11 PM | Posted, in reply to Cassidy's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I personally don't think an 18-year old should be choosing a major on their own anyway. Kids don't know about the adult world. But it's not like they're making this choice in a vacuum. The adults are encouraging this, and not telling kids what they need to know. I don't think parents should be encouraging a child to major in something with extremely low odds, it's not fair to the kid who's stuck at the end of the day. I also think that schools should be much more honest in their vetting of students.

It's true that you can't predict the exact jobs that will be out there in 5 years, however, you can know the types of jobs that will be out there. The world will always need CPAs, nurses, doctors, engineers, and business people. Other jobs will be needed but will rise and fall with the economy -- stuff like chef schools and interior design and hospitality in general (the things that people cut back on when they don't have a lot of discretionary income or fear losing their job). This is true for most of human history. We've always needed healers, builders, shopkeepers, and bookkeepers. We probably will have similar types of jobs 10,000 years from now. We will have artists, certainly, but I don't think the number of artists has ever topped 1-2% of the population. So you can in a sense predict what will exist in the future in broad terms -- if it's entertainment or discretionary spending, it's not going to be in demand all the time. If it's health, building, or business related, it's always going to be there.

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Wow, there are a lot of com... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 11:35 PM | Posted by Paula: | Reply

Wow, there are a lot of comments and this was a long piece. As an English major (2004) who has been steadily employed for the last 8 years in jobs related to my field, I don't agree that intelligence and critical thinking have lost their value in the workplace. I have supported myself every painful, fledgling step of the way since college and have never been on food stamps or unemployment, not that I fault those who have.

Parlaying your arts & sciences degree into a real job and more importantly, a real career, is definitely a challenge, and of course it means confronting a lot of your college-age ideals (ie, growing up), but it's not impossible. Maybe the problem isn't WHAT people study as much as whether they have willpower, drive, ambition, self-reliance, work ethic, creativity, perseverance, common sense — qualities that transcend a field of study.

As an English major, sure, I wrote poetry and romanticized writers' lives, but I also seriously engaged myself with books, language, history, culture and new (to me) ideas. I believe my degree has only appreciated in the 8 years since I've gone to school because so many of the skills I acquired then have only gradually come into play the more I clamber up the career ladder.

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Hilarious article, but it's... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 1:10 AM | Posted by Lex: | Reply

Hilarious article, but it's a bit too simplistic. A formal education and title without passion and experience probably wouldn't be very effective. Practical experience and passion without formal education or a title probably wouldn't be very effective. Combining all could be quite bombastic. Ok, so there are those that circumvent higher education and become very successful. They're rare and blessed. Also, we often forget that the world is really ruled by people with degrees. Richard Branson and Geffen are billionaires, but regardless of the weight they can push, it's the judge, senator, lawyer, doctor and economist that really control the world in which they exist. The proletariat fights, but the educated vanguard calls the shots. After the Egyptian revolution subsided who was out in charge of the country? An engineer - not a rebel fighter. Higher education is always power; in the western and non-western world.

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I find this article helpful... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 2:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I find this article helpful. Thanks. You rock.

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although thi article was ab... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 3:11 AM | Posted by not on welfare or english major: | Reply

although thi article was about hipsters, it seemed very racist. the constant mention of welfare users and black women was unsettling. wont be reading anymore

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This excessively lengthy ar... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 6:07 AM | Posted by Wolfgang: | Reply

This excessively lengthy article is so full of generalizations, wrong assumptions, biased premises and ideology that it is very hard to sort out the few valid points amongst all those fallacies. What I have learnt from reading this: education matters, having learnt how to think and process knowledge appropriately (also, but NOT ONLY in technological manners) matters after all. A lot. ... Just that terribly weird starting point - that "every" b.a./m.a./phd student (so, any person who does not pursue a career in business, law or a medical profession) needs to be a useless, failed "hipster" who deserves the hatred of the American public - is so plain generalized and wrongfully subjective. Sorry "tlp" but all in all your argumentation is ridiculous.

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You look at them now and th... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 9:47 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You look at them now and think no instant employment, instant failures, their degrees failed. But, that degree pays off down the road. When jobs open up and you get an entry level position in a call center or a bank, or as a receptionist somewhere, or in sales. Your ability to understand what you are reading and to speak properly and to write properly will lead you to success. Smart people, once employed get promoted, if you do not have a degree, you reach a ceiling and cannot get past that point. So at 40, your liberal arts degree from when you were 22 lends credentials to support your advancement.

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From About.comHigh... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 10:25 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

From About.com

Highest Paying Psychology Careers

Average Salary: $167,610 per year

Educational Requirements: Approximately eight years of post-undergraduate study. After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring psychiatrists must graduate from medical school and then complete a four-year residency.

Psychiatry is the one of the highest paying fields tied to psychology. However, salaries can vary considerably within this field depending upon your specialty area, where you are employed, and the type of work you perform. For example, the Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that in 2009, psychiatrists employed in the offices of physicians made an average of $159,300 while those who worked in outpatient care centers averaged $188,210 per year.

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Wait - when you were six yo... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 11:39 AM | Posted by dhani: | Reply

Wait - when you were six you wanted to be in Playboy ?

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Automatic invalidation for ... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 12:08 PM | Posted by spike: | Reply

Automatic invalidation for bringing up the Glengarry Glen Ross speech.
That thing was a laughable period piece even when it was in theaters. No one talks like that anymore, it was a lame persona then, and is a lamer persona now.
Occasionally you encounter someone who watched this speech, modeled themselves after it, giving you an opportunity to laugh at them. The 80's are over.

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An MRS? Are fucking serious... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 1:39 PM | Posted by zeeb: | Reply

An MRS? Are fucking serious? Your privilege and ignorance are astounding.

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Have to say, you did well, ... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 5:47 PM | Posted by Hah: | Reply

Have to say, you did well, as evidenced by the people whose buttons you've pressed.

Just glad I studied a real subject.

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There is really no defense ... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 8:34 PM | Posted by CaptiveAudience: | Reply

There is really no defense for being on the dole when you could work but employers discriminate a lot. There is no shame in doing an honest days work but that's my opinion. Having some crappy job can do as much damage and sometimes more to future employability than being unemployed.

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It's telling you base this ... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 1:55 AM | Posted by eh: | Reply

It's telling you base this all on a "hipsters on foodstamps" article which has been widely criticized for distortions and conjecture based on no hard evidence, just two highly selective samples, one of whom later wrote that the author was less than truthful about her subjects and quotes. It was one of the earliest examples of bogus trend articles which claim youth are jobless and poor because they're lazy, have poor attitudes or whatever comforting fantasy allows readers to pretend only fools don't succeed in one of the worst economies in history. I wish this - and so many other rants - involved any talking to actual humans and hard statistics, instead of straw hipsters and idle speculation based on dubious trend pieces, stand up comics and references to fictional movies. At the very least, you should read more stuff, like the unemployment stories in Gawker.

The two most hilarious "I'm utterly disconnected from reality" moments are:

a) "you could have gotten both for free at a bookstore. Worked for me." Um, last time I checked, bookstores aren't free. Do you mean the library, perhaps? Or are you one of those people who spent all day thumbing through books at Borders and wrecking them for paying customers? By the way, did you notice that Borders doesn't exist any more and most bookstores are in trouble?

B) When you address the imaginary hipster who could be hanging their art for free at whole foods but isn't and says they should hang it anyway. Which has got to be the dumbest thing I've ever read by someone who is preaching about hard realities. You do realize Whole Foods is a massive chain (despite it's crunchy trappings) which never hangs art and has enough security (and lack of wall space) to make guerrilla art impossible? Were you perhaps thinking of a local coffee shop? Do you even know how guerrilla art works, or that it's a growing trend thanks to all those allegedly lazy but actually very ambitious art students who are, in fact, doing it for cheap or free because they're real and not the hipsters in your head?

Oh I could go on, but honestly, it's not worth it.

Because you can't actually think beyond cheap pop culture examples you buy into the idea there is this vast number of gourmands living on food stamps - when at best there are some people who can't make enough to eat and use stamps to buy what you consider luxury but is actually raw ingredients which are cheaper and "quality" meals on a budget.

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"Fact: college is a waste, ... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 1:59 AM | Posted by Luke: | Reply

"Fact: college is a waste, but we haven't yet hit that point in society where we can bypass it."

Oh, is that so?

College is, inherently, NOT a waste simply because of the fact that it enables individuals to get jobs.

Many careers will not even consider applicants without college degrees, so that validates college in and of itself.

To be sure, some of college may be a waste. Such as the fact that I had to take Religion 101 and College Algebra in order to get into Physical Therapist Assistant school. So, I would agree that, to an extent, some of college is a complete waste of my time and money.

However, like others have said, college also functions as a "sorting mechanism" -- nursing school and PTA school only accept so many applicants per year. This ensures that they applicants will be able to receive good training and that the job market will not be over-saturated when they graduate.

Reading through this article, I was severely confused at times because some of the references and points that you chose to make simply do not make sense.

Tl;dr, wake up: you're a hipster

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While I commend you for pay... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 5:03 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Wilbur: | Reply

While I commend you for paying for your education out of pocket and working a job while doing so, you seem to be in a very unique position. While I did have a job (two actually) during collage there was absolutely no way I could ever afford a collage education. I tried for scholarships but was turned down for all of them. (For the record, I reapplied to all available scholarships every semester, and was always turned down.)

But here's the kicker: In order to even be eligible for the aforementioned scholarships I had to fill out that wonderful form known as the FAFSA every year. And while I did receive the Pell grant (on account of being poor) it was not enough to cover both tuition and books for all of my classes. The same FAFSA form also helpfully informed me that I could take out student loans to cover any additional expenses.

Picture the average ignorant, broke 18 year old fresh out of high school boy, such as myself, getting told that on top of this free money they already got, they can get even more money to cover not only books, but living expenses too! And you don't even have to worry about paying it back until you graduate!

And as we all thought back then, by the time we graduate with our fancy new degree, we will be practically rolling in money, and %18 interest is, like, so small right?! I mean that's what the student aid counselors, student loan officers, federal student aid agents and the bankers underwriting all these loans told us right? Clearly they were all successful and made lots of money. They all wear suits and ties! I don't even own a tie, much less a fancy suit!

Fast forward five years and my fancy degree, which is NOT a Liberal Arts degree mind you, but a Business Administration degree that I pursued on the advice of my father. (He said I would be employable anywhere and make lots of money if I had this particular degree.) All this qualifies me for these days is a shift manager position at your favorite local fast food restaurant, making 50 cents above minimum wage, with no benefits of any kind.

And by no benefits I don't just mean insurance. I mean no paid time off what-so-ever. No sick days. No personal days. No holidays, and because I am salaried, no time and a half on holidays and no over-time. I routinely work 60+ hours a week, putting my actual earnings well below minimum wage.

Think about that the next time you go into Starbucks to buy your "skinny-who the fuck am I kidding- this is still 21oz. of milk and concentrated -sugar free vanilla- syurp heart attack in a cup latte," and yet you still feel entitled to bitch about "too much foam" or some such nonsense.

The guy or gal that just made your preposterously complicated drink for you would have to work an average of 2 and 1/2 hours to be able to afford the same drink.

Think about that for a moment.

You piss and moan about having to wait 2 or 3 minutes for a drink that your Barista would have to spend over a quarter of his day (cumulatively of course), busting his ass off trying to please entitled jerks like you, to be able to afford.

Meanwhile you took two sips of it, then left it in your cup-holder for the valet to find. Then the same Barista who carefully made that drink to your exacting specifications threw it out a few hours later.

Try gaining some perspective before you start dolling out advice.

Ass.

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I never understood the focu... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 5:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I never understood the focus of this argument. Sure, I agree with much of what is being said - but the problem is not that people pursue these majors or that others aren't directing their vitriol properly - the problem is that education, whether it proves useful or not financially, costs so damn much.

If we were to join the rest of the functioning civilized world, we would not be paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend college - an in-state one at that. Let's not get into private schooling.

Given such an idealistic scenario (idealistic in the peculiar way that applies only to America), in seven months when the Art/English major finds out that they can't pay their newly-acquired loan bills, they can (whether they will or not is another post entirely, perhaps) simply go back to school and pursue something more practical.

Education, whether it has value in society or not, should not be discouraged. And we don't need a country full of engineers, either. Fix the costs and this entire point becomes irrelevant.

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College is a waste? I guess... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 7:30 PM | Posted by Tony: | Reply

College is a waste? I guess that accounts for why, in the down turn, the average unemployment rate for anyone with a college degree never got much about 4% when the non-college educated population was almost double that? Your BA is worth what you make it worth: you can use it to prove that you're capable of creating something, or you can use it to wipe your ass when you're done.

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College can be a waste, if ... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 9:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Luke's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

College can be a waste, if it's not used properly. If you go to college and only use the library to take naps, or if you spend more time worrying about your social life than your academics, you're wasting your time and money. If you go to college with literally no idea how a degree in X is going to get you hired, or what kinds of jobs a degree in X will qualify you for and how to get them, you're wasting the time and money. That's where the waste comes in. Not that any person who majors in a given subject is doomed, but that so many kids go to college and choose their majors solely on what they liked in high school are going to have a hard time with the get a job part. Too many people are using college as a 4-year "Peter Pan Phase" where they're going more because they don't want to be grown ups yet, rather than having a specific plan and a road map to make that plan a reality. Which is why so many students are more concerned about getting into a good fraternity during rush than about getting a good grade in English Lit 205. It's why the libraries are usually empty while the bars are full.

What needs to happen is that college has to be seen as an investment, not a social club. When you invest in a stock, you want your money back plus interest. When you buy a house, you want one that will be a good value for your money. When kids go to college, they look for an experience, they worry as much about whether the dorms are nice as about whether the professor has won any awards in his field. They choose majors based on likes rather than sound economic understandings (as in the unemployment rate for graduates with that degree, and expected salary VS cost to get the degree).

It's not working because the system is geared to the wrong things. If getting kids hired after graduation mattered to the consumers (students and parents) then it would be reported, it would in fact be demanded. All products do this. Your investment house advertises about how they did better than the stock market, or how they beat the Lipor Average -- not because they're being nice, but because they need to tell people that the money put in will come back with interest. Housing markets sell the school system and the nice neighborhood and do everything the can to imply that this house is not going to lose value -- because that's what house buyers demand. We don't demand that from our schools, we demand social experiences and a good football and basketball team. The problem is there, in your face. We the public don't demand employability for the thousands we spend on degrees. We don't demand high academics (something else we don't advertise). We don't "invest" in a degree for the most part, as we don't actually behave like an investor. If I was investing in myself, I'd want strong academics and a diploma that gets me noticed in a tight job market. I'd demand that a degree i spend 30K on be something that gets me to second base with any job I apply for.

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The USDA has already gone o... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 9:59 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by Perry: | Reply

The USDA has already gone on record to say that they will not regulate which foods qualify for the program (beyond what they have, by denoting that things labeled "food" - i. e. have a "Nutrition Facts" label instead of a "Supplement Facts" one, etc.) because of two major reasons: 1) it is immensely cost prohibitive to reclassify all of the tens of thousands of possible foods in the US and 2) they are cannot dictate what is and isn't a nutritious food because they do not know each person's nutritional needs while on the program. That includes organic produce and the like, particularly for people who have reactions to the commercial pesticides in non-organic foods. (It also happens to include "junk" food, because the fact that people who need high-calorie, high-sugar, etc. foods exist means that the USDA cannot blanket ban them due to public opinion of their nutritional value.)

Also, it's really not that hard to budget for organic. It can be cost prohibitive in some areas (and not only am I willing to openly recognize that, but I think it's absolute bull. Not because I think organic is inflated, but because I know why the prices are unfairly high are because of the requirements for Certified Organic status, including the exorbitant fees), but this is why SNAP (and WIC, as well) covers farmer's markets. In fact, going to a local farmer's market in season whenever possible is encouraged, to get the best quality produce for the lowest possible price, and to help benefit the community.

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Actually, that's not inhere... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 10:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Perry: | Reply

Actually, that's not inherently true. Without interships and externships, it is very likely that many, possibly most, medical students would NOT get jobs despite their skills because the market is rather flooded with them in several areas. "Medical students" is a broad category that includes everyone from licensed massage practitioners to full MDs and everything in between. And, while parts of the country are reporting shortages in one area or another in the medical field, those shortages don't last long and often are in areas not directly serviced by medical schools.

Take for example the nurse shortage. I know there is still a shortage in some areas, but the national and local level advertisements that have encouraged a lot of people to join Nursing programs created a huge boom, and most of those gaps got shut very quickly. It takes on average four years to become an LPN, and by the time a lot of students in this area (WA) in particular graduated, we were already experiencing massive layoffs of nurses.

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"Food stamps (now called SN... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 10:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Perry: | Reply

"Food stamps (now called SNAP) are starting to be accepted at some McDonalds. Before everyone has a a cow, I just want to point out that single mothers on FS have a much easier time being out and about job hunting or taking their kid to the doctor if there is the possibility that they can stop and get a meal or a drink. Poor people are often using mass transit too, so it can take them a lot longer to go from place to place. So they might get hungry. It also helps to be able to soothe a cranky kid who is being dragged all over running errands or whatever since his mom can't afford a babysitter.
In some cities, there are restaurants for the homeless that accept FS, giving a thoroughly disfranchised person the change to take a break and have a nice meal and get out just like anyone else. If a lot of poor people are on disability, which they are, and can't afford much in the way of social activities, especially if they are mentally ill where socializing can help their mental health, I don't see why this should not be so. (Soapboxes always lead me to these long winded run on sentences, sorry).
I also do not see why any person shouldn't be able to shop wherever they want, including whole foods, with FS. Why not have a nice or special meal once in a while_ it"s important fr mental health> and finally One more: $200.00 is less than fifty dollars a week to feed a person. It's not like these people even have the choice of eating, I don''t know, coq au vin even four times a month. It's just not possible- the FS/money is simply not there.
And finally, if anyone is curious what people get on FS, how much when factors like kids and rent is figured in, Illinois has a SNAP calculator online. "

The argument for allowing SNAP to purchase hot foods has specifically been for those who are homeless, unable to cook at home because of physical ability (elderly and/or disabled), unable to cook at home because of time (single parents, etc.) or unable to cook at home because they don't have a stove/working stove and can't afford to get one. I'm glad to hear States are actually implementing that, and not just talking about it.

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"They aren't black after al... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 11:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"They aren't black after all." I really hope that is sarcasm! I never knew a sentence could piss me off so much.

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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross, th... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 2:33 AM | Posted by Robyn Hode: | Reply

Re: Glengarry Glen Ross, the fact that you think that speech has some deep value kind of torpedoes your argument. In the play, Alec Baldwin is the boss of a *fraudulent real estate business*, psyching up one set of suckers (his employees) to sell swamp land to another set of suckers (his customers).

Whether that constitutes an indictment of capitalism or just serves as a good setting for the story Mamet wants to tell is a matter of opinion, but by comparison, hipsters using food stamps at a gourmet market seems a pretty small ethical infraction!

As for college being a big swindle, blah, blah-- do you think this is a new idea for anyone who's spent even a semester at a modern university? What's touching is your faith that an *engineering* degree is somehow more practical. News flash: there are plenty of STEM PhDs working the line at Starbucks these days alongside the Theater Arts and Women's Studies majors.

I sincerely hope you're not a clinical psychiatrist; although you have the requisite narcissism and condescension down, you appear to be singularly lacking in empathy and insight.

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I sent this URL and this ha... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 9:45 AM | Posted by Police Dept.: | Reply

I sent this URL and this hate comment and article to slander a particular race the the POLICE DEPARTMENT AGAINST VIOLENCE AND HATE CRIME COMMENTS AGAINST A PARTICULAR RACE! LET THE LAW FIGURE THIS VIOLENT URL OUT!!!!!!

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I agree. See my blog of:<br... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 1:20 PM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by ML Baisch: | Reply

I agree. See my blog of:
http://rossroadetc.com/2012/12/02/the-grinch-who-stole-the-food-bank/

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I agree with speaking up in... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 1:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Io's comment, by ML Baisch: | Reply

I agree with speaking up in support of liberal arts. Re: Point III in this article - it's hyperbolic. Knowing something about the liberal arts is important - a few pages of those subjects are still required in college classrooms. Living for the moment is most delicious when you know something about other people who lived in their moments. I do agree that our school system is antiquated and needs to be re-structured - dramatically. Teachers are no longer the brightest bulb in the pack. You'll find those folks on-line.

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With respect to eating, fet... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 8:01 PM | Posted by Paul M: | Reply

With respect to eating, fetishized:
Prior to the anal and oral, the very first thing that gives pleasure, the very first act of (what will become?) conscious will is simple movement - the will to move ones limbs.
And so even more primitive and atavistic than the fetishization of eating is the fetishization of movement. That is: people who think that dancing on the dance-floor is important, that it accomplishes something, that moving (and we are not talking about sex, at this point) deserves some sort of goddamn medal.
I'm thinking of "Get this party started". I'm thinking of Public Enemy's "guardians of the first world".

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...Okay, having now read pa... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 11:43 PM | Posted, in reply to Robyn Hode's comment, by Robyn Hode: | Reply

...Okay, having now read part 2 I feel the need to apologize for my harsh tone. It seems you are hating on the current system of academic credentializing, rather than railing against the victims of same.

In my defense, reading other comments here I note that I was not the only reader to misunderstand you-- those naughty, bad, silly hipsters you start off with don't really have much to do with your overall point, do they?

Anyway, very interesting pair of posts and I'll look out for #3.

PS- you're still so, so wrong about the Alec Baldwin speech!

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part 3 is here: <a href="ht... (Below threshold)

December 24, 2012 12:40 AM | Posted, in reply to Robyn Hode's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

part 3 is here: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/12/product_review_panasonic_pt_ax.html

unless it's just a related piece but not actually part 3...

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THIS IS NOTHING BUT A BUNCH... (Below threshold)

December 25, 2012 3:43 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

THIS IS NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE THAT WANT TO HATE AND BULLY JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!! I THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS A PLAICE TO LEARN! I STILL PUT THIS BLOG AND ALL THESE HATE CYBER BULLYING COMMENTS TO HOME LAND SECURITY AND IF IT DOES NOT STOP AND OR THE AUTHOR THE TEENAGE BIMBO THAT STARTED THIS SHIT BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF HER BRAINS BEING MISS PLACED DOES NEED TO STOP AND REMOVE THIS BLOG AND IF IT CONTINUES ANOTHER DAY I WILL REMOVE YOU AND EVERY ONE OF YOUR FROM EVER POSTING ON THIS INTERNET: HOMELAND SECURITY CHEIF

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If you are the Homeland Sec... (Below threshold)

December 25, 2012 6:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Robert: | Reply

If you are the Homeland Security Chief, then "I" am the Queen of England.

Gosh, I wish we had a constitutional amendment that allowed all people the right to speak freely without threat of government censorship...oh wait, we DO, right there at the top.

And if you call this bullying, you don't know what bullying is. Send away young fool, send away.

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I read an article on Cracke... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 9:44 AM | Posted by Niro: | Reply

I read an article on Cracked (6 harsh truths something something) by David Wong. Which I enjoyed/agreed with, and then I read this post (published 5 weeks before his) and he seems to have drawn some inspiration from you. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I've commented twice, alluding to the similarities, on his article and both times the comments have been removed. I think I know how to comment on an article?
This is his entry: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/

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Read #5 more closely and yo... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 11:27 AM | Posted, in reply to Niro's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Read #5 more closely and you may notice that TLP is directly quoted and his blog attributed. Perhaps your comments were deleted twice because you failed the reading comprehension test.

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Point well made. I have alw... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 11:31 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by niro: | Reply

Point well made. I have always been good at reading comprehension, and better at impulsive indignation. My bad!

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I love posts like this: It ... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 11:42 AM | Posted by NoNeedForOne: | Reply

I love posts like this: It lets me use my expensive liberal arts degree to its fullest.

Here's the fallacy:

"I'm going to college so I can make a living."

That's called "begging the question" (using that phrase correctly, in this case, because after all I am a philosophy graduate). It assumes that completing college somehow directly results in wads of cash, when actually the opposite is true. A college education costs money: It doesn't pay money.

So, how does one make a living? Work. Yes, working would be a good idea. Do something of value to someone. Because, you see--working directly leads to being paid.

A college education, regardless of what degree is obtained, does not.

You need to do something to make a living. Just being educated won't cut it. That is no denigration of college at all: The people who run things and determine our futures will always be the ones who graduate from good college programs--and who do something with the skills, knowledge and connections they make there. But there is no direct line from a degree to money in your pocket. They need to do something.

So here's a better syllogism:

A) I need to make money
B) Money comes from doing something of value
C) I will therefore discipline myself to work at doing something of value
C2) If more skills are required for additional success and I have opportunities to acquire them, I will take those opportunities. One opportunity might be in the form of getting a college degree.

And here's another one:

I am bright and enjoy knowledge
College is a good place to learn things
Therefore, I will go to college.

The two don't necessarily intersect, at all.


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FYI, that Cracked article i... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 11:50 AM | Posted, in reply to niro's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

FYI, that Cracked article is how I found TLP, so bully for Cracked!

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Entertaining rant, but part... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 8:16 AM | Posted by Shannon Phillips: | Reply

Entertaining rant, but parts of it ring oddly false, especially this: "What did she think would happen given that she knew in advance there were no jobs for English majors? Serious answers, please, I'll offer four I had personal experience with: law school; academia; non-profits; marriage."

The four obvious "traditional" career paths for English grads were publishing, journalism, copywriting, and tech writing. I really don't know why you wouldn't mention journalism and publishing as these career fields have collapsed and therefore suit your argument perfectly well--except, I guess, that they show there's always been professional applications for an English degree. And copywriting and tech writing are as viable as ever. A lot of English grads also end up in PR or marketing, or in some kind of unglamorous but quite decent-paying support role in a corporate or law office. I did patent writing for a while and it was the best paying job I ever had, though it made me want to stick forks in my eyes.

I'm sympathetic to your larger argument about the scam of useless college degrees, but it's just bizarre to lump English in with medieval philosophy. English has always been the most practical and flexible of the liberal arts degrees, and remains a decent option for anyone who wants to do professional writing. The English degree doesn't make you *better* at these jobs, of course, but it does make you vastly more likely to land one, as most of these employers require a BA. I tend to subscribe to the theory that the real reason for this is to ensure a workplace filled with people from relatively homogeneous class backgrounds.

*Fiction* writers should not go to college unless they can land a free ride somewhere and want to use the time to start writing the reams of unpublishable shit they'll need to get out of their system. Their real education should, of course, come from time spent on Twilight fan forums. Well, it doesn't actually have to be Twilight, but reading and writing fanfic and getting direct feedback from readers is the best available training for making a living as a genre writer. They should then take pains to avoid the death-throes of the kraken of New York publishing and simply start self-publishing ebooks to Amazon, at least one a year. They can expect to be self-supporting within five years, assuming they're any good and that they're writing in a genre people want to read. (That's romance, fantasy/sci-fi, crime or military thriller, mystery. "Literary" novelists need not apply.)

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There's certainly some vali... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 11:40 AM | Posted by Tom: | Reply

There's certainly some validity to this train of thought, but I agree with the posters above - having a major in English is a totally useful addition to one's skill set. And in truth, that's what liberal arts schools attempt to foster (some successfully, others unsuccessfully). You don't get a liberal arts education to attain a liberal arts job; you get a liberal arts education to acquire a plethora of soft skills that will translate to a variety of positions. Of course, this puts the burden entirely on the student in terms of knowing what direction s/he will take with his or her career. That's why career centers are a vital part of any university - and one that is often undersold to, and underutilized by, students. If you know the general career path that you'd like to pursue, most liberal arts majors are more than useful to society.

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Which i would not have a pr... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 12:09 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Which i would not have a problem with if the schools and parents were UP FRONT about it. Colleges don't seem to do that, unless you are specifically persuing a technical degree, they don't care about anything other than the tuition check not bouncing. They AREN'T telling LibArts students that this is a "soft skills" program. They aren't telling kids that they aren't going to be doing anything related to what they think they are going to school for. I did BA biology, and it was much the same -- what they didn't say is "unless you have the B+ average to go into Medicine or a great Grad School for an MS, you are wasting your time and money." In fact, the fact I pulled a B- C+ average in most subjects was never mentioned as a cause for concern by the advisors, even though it literally meant that it would be equally as useful to set the tuition check on fire and spend my time in bars. that's where the scam comes in, not that you absolutely cannot get a decent job with any major, but that colleges literally do zero quality control for graduates (as in requiring good performance to stay in school), nor truth in advertising (as in reporting the typical jobs a person could expect upon graduation, the odds of getting said jobs, and the time spent job hunting before getting them). Instead, they sell you the idea that you study English and work in English related fields, or art and paint or photograph or make toilets into modern art, or something like that. If they said (making this up) 40% of "Photography majors" go on to exciting careers of Photolab Manager at Wal-Mart, perhaps people would think twice about going for that diploma.

What would solve most of the mess is the simple concept of truth. As in what is most likely to happen to the average graduate of each program, so that parents and students and bank loan officers can make an intelligent decision about whether it's really worth spending 20K to get that degree, given a student's history. What's weird is that Community Colleges do a lot better, probably due to the difference in student demographics (poorer kids and returning students) who are more interested in the degree as job prep than a degree that's supposedly magically going to make them rich doing something vague. A PTA program at a local CC will throw you out if you don't do well enough to justify your degree. A BA or BS in just about any subject they don't care, as long as you pass or retake (and you can re-take the same course 30 times) you are never told that you might be wasting your time.

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Ironic that this piece is m... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 1:03 PM | Posted by mike: | Reply

Ironic that this piece is mostly unreadable. No flow or style, and not very cohesive. Many out of work English majors could have punched this up a bit.

"I have a degree." No one assumes you're smart because of it, so what was the point? You were tricked, your parents were tricked, your peers were tricked, your employers were not tricked at all. "There's more to a college education than employability." No there isn't. I am not anti-liberal arts, I am all in on a classical education, I just don't think there's any possibility at all, zero, none, that you will get it at college, and anyway every single college course from MIT and Yale are on Youtube.

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A substantive reply. The st... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 1:21 PM | Posted, in reply to Shannon Phillips's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

A substantive reply. The stereotyping of liberal arts majors as forever jobless is unbecoming since it neglects that these are people who will try to come up with something to do to support themselves even if it's not "being an author". It's also not as if English students don't know what's coming for 4 years—they're aware of the legions of people telling them to be an accountant or lawyer or whatever.

I'm sympathetic to your view that "the real reason for this is to ensure a workplace filled with people from relatively homogeneous class backgrounds", but I feel that explanation needs a mechanism. Certainly those who hire don't think to themselves: "I feel just a little more comfortable around [whites | BA's | coast-born | 'like me']" or that "I will engineer this workplace for maximum homogeneity"—in fact they'd say and think that they want diversity.

Like other beneath-the-surface causes worth of discussion on a psychiatry blog, it needs an explanation of how an individual with free will comes to amplify or co-cause some "culture" level phenomenon.

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Like a lot of "psychiatrist... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 1:56 PM | Posted by Andrew: | Reply

Like a lot of "psychiatrists," this person could use some therapy, rather than trying to impose his thin grasp of reality on everyone else. Particularly stupid is the claim that studying English has no value. Yes, it's near-impossible to make a living writing literary criticism; but yes too, learning how to write and think from analyzing creative masterworks of the past does have value in a variety of professions, including law, non-profits, teaching, advertising, and a variety of other business functions, including entrepreneurship. Heck, it's even valuable for the noble cause of selling real estate, since you have to practice imagining the state of mind of others. However, you do need to aggressively seek out internships and training as an undergrad in one of these fields, because there aren't obvious pathways to entering the work force with an English degree. But the type of ranting, misleading negativism on this blog needs to be disregarded by English majors, lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Good point about soft skill... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 2:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Tom's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

Good point about soft skills, but:

1. How can 18-year-olds know the direction they want their career to take? Other than picking up the detritus of some incidental marketing scheme.

2. Career centres are staffed by...whom? Right: by bureaucrats given a toadie job who by dint of having that job, don't know how to get one of the more desirable jobs. I've seen a decent career centre at one of the US' top business schools, but everywhere else it's "take an MBTI and look at the DOT".

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I'd like to have the same q... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 3:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Ot's comment, by Ultimate Mist: | Reply

I'd like to have the same question answered.

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I came here because of Davi... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 3:45 PM | Posted by Ultimate Mist: | Reply

I came here because of David Wong's Cracked article. David, please don't link articles from racists anymore. It really ruined the high of your article, which is GREAT btw.

I'm going to hope you don't share the same sentiments as the waste of flesh who wrote this garbage.

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Long ago Phys. Ed. and a fo... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 4:12 PM | Posted by hessler: | Reply

Long ago Phys. Ed. and a foreign language were required for an Arts and Crafts degree.

Perhaps a semester of HVAC, Welding or Plumbing is in order for these times.

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As a sociology major who wi... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 8:09 PM | Posted, in reply to isomorphismes's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

As a sociology major who will soon be graduating with a "useless" degree I might as well use what that degree has taught me to answer your question re: the mechanism by which workplaces become class homogenous:

Researchers who specialize in the sociology of education have come to the conclusion that colleges themselves are the mechanism by which a homogenous class background is virtually assured. The majority of students who will graduate with a four-year degree tend to be overwhelmingly white and middle/upper-middle class. Thus, by requiring a BA, employers don't have to consciously think about which people they are comfortable having as workers--the institutions of higher education do that for them, by having entrance requirements that are biased towards students from public schools in districts with more resources (read: white, upper-middle class) / students from private schools (read: white, upper class).

(I could explain in detail why our secondary and primary education systems are also used to maintain social inequality but that would take quite some time, and there are plenty of good books on this subject available that would do it better than I can.)

This has been going on for a long time-- I recommend you read The Chosen by Jerome Karabel if you have the time. This book highlights the ways in which ,during their early years. the elite colleges actively discriminated against all but White Anglo-Saxon Protestants so that the elite members of that group would send their children to those institutions. The credentials provided by a university education don't inherently mean anything (as the author of this blog kind of states in a roundabout way), but these institutions (many of which were originally seminaries/for religious instruction or for training teachers or teaching agriculture) have positioned themselves so that their degrees have status because of who they admit.

So, tl;dr, most of the time this discrimination and maintenance of a homogenous class of workers doesn't even have to occur at the individual/interpersonal level, though it sometimes does (such as when those people of color and poor students who do/ manage to make it through the higher education system and land a BA face discrimination and cultural isolation in the workplace-- and then the HR officers are like, "well I don't understand, that person was supposed to bring more diversity but they quit...").


Ironically enough, I learned all of this from being at a fairly selective institution of higher education. Go figure.

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Was this guy with the holes... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 9:45 PM | Posted, in reply to dave's comment, by D: | Reply

Was this guy with the holes in his ears someone you knew well? How do you know he didn't have enough of the"whys" in his life? What were you using to measure his contribution—his ability to meet a need? And why would his decision to gauge his earlobes effect any more than personal aesthetic?

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"unless you have the B+ ave... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2012 10:07 PM | Posted by Paul Murray: | Reply

"unless you have the B+ average to go into Medicine or a great Grad School for an MS, you are wasting your time and money. … What would solve most of the mess is the simple concept of truth."

I see a different problem. The universities are pulling in too many people. There are not more people now that can actually benefit from an education now than previously. Those same X thousand people are going into medicine or graduate school as always. And the inner core of students and professors, one hopes, are passing down the candle of learning the same now as always.

One hopes.

So the question is: why does everyone have to go to uni these days? Answer: employers are no longer able to discriminate on the basis of sex or race, and so they need some marker of class (remember, racism is just a particular kind of classisim). A degree simply marks you as being a member of a certain segment of society, as being "our kind of people".

But because this qualification is now so completely necessary, the universities and student loan companies are cashing in.

And that's what's going on.

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As an engineering major I h... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 3:07 AM | Posted by zzzzz: | Reply

As an engineering major I have to laugh at all the libtard arts majors fuming about how their degree WAS worth it. If nothing else, your degree choice shows employers you don't think things through before you start them. Please feel free to down vote me. It just shows how pissed you are and I love it!

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What kind of engineering wo... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 8:04 AM | Posted, in reply to zzzzz's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What kind of engineering work do you do?

I'm a Linguistics major who teaches English for a living, by the way.

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The problem is exactly that... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 11:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Paul Murray's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

The problem is exactly that -- and the fact that no one is being a consumer avdocate telling the kids who aren't good enough for a college degree that it's not doing them any good. No prof takes a kid aside and says "You aren't making good enough grades to make it" when the entire institution knows. No one tells them that a degree in some fields is useless without a MS. That's what's drivng the hipsters more than anything. Sure the elite can get through that wringer -- because as they have rich parents who are from families that have run that gauntlet for generations, they know how to stand out. In most business fields, internships are just as important as the courses, but the schools don't tell the poor kids (and most of them are unpaid, which means the poor kids can't afford them) so those career making internships at great companies go to rich kids who have daddies who know the guy running the internship. The rich kids know what majors and courses "signal" the right things, they even know which institutions are the best for sending what "signal". Without truth in advertising, however, college is for too many kids a way for rich people to get poor people's money while pretending to give them something of value.

If the same thing on the same scale was happening anywhere else in the economy, it would have brought a federal hammer down. A bank has to disclose interest rates, fees , and all kids of other "gotchas", but schools don't. They don't have to publish hire rates, They don't have to break it down by GPA, they don't have to tell you about the university's profits, or how much of that money is spent on research into the mating habits of mountain goats.

I think for a lot of people, the idea of college as improving future earning is about as good as those Nigerian scams. And much like other scams, they prey on those who cannot help themselves.

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Begging your pardon,... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 12:27 PM | Posted by Tim Wayne: | Reply


Begging your pardon, but this article is fundamentally flawed. You’ve based your entire point on the example of two hipsters on food stamps, without informing the reader that these very same hipsters must meet work requirements to receive their food stamps.

This is no small point: if we are supposed to hate the hipsters for taking public assistance, we should also be told that these hipsters only get the stamps for two or three months, after which, they are required to work at least 20 hours a week (either in the workfare program or in a regular job like everybody else) to keep receiving them. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act put the work requirement into law. It was in the news recently. You should know this.

I’m very disappointed in this article. I wanted to share it with my college-bound nephews, since some of the points are great. However, I can’t share anything that is so poorly sourced, relying on false assumptions and untruths to back up its point, even if that point happens to be true.

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The pittance the gummint sp... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 10:08 PM | Posted by Mike on Chena Reidge: | Reply

The pittance the gummint spends on foodstamps annually is insignificant compared to the billions pissed away on militarism. Talk about welfare! A thousand fucking lobbyists--a good number of them retired Colonels who've feathered their nests @ the Pentagon for thirty years administering procurement contracts for General Dynamics, Raytheon, General Electric, etc.-- are knocking down a million plus per year schmoozing congressmen to keep the corporate welfare coming. And you're bitching about foodstamps? You're just another mean-spirited libertarian fuckface. Go to hell.

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Knowing how to perform surg... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 12:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Gacy: | Reply

Knowing how to perform surgery is not more useful than knowing how to make an ad, translating from japanese or making art, each thing serves a purpose and is valuable on its own way, really stupid you are, now you will come telling that it´s because a doctor saves fu cking lives! Square idiot with small income an a narrow mind anyone?

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you have a point but why do... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 7:25 AM | Posted, in reply to zzzzz's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

you have a point but why do you feel the need to humiliate these people further? I think it's not entirely their fault if they choose a useless degree- their parents, teachers, university and their government are all responsible

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There are points that I rea... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 9:09 AM | Posted by Sarah: | Reply

There are points that I really like in this article, and points that I find a bit off.

I completely agree with earlier posters that the problem is that college doesn't equal work. I think that is true with most degrees, however. No one cares if you have a business degree, unless you have experience (internships, part time work, anything) or connections. Having a business degree with nothing on your resume is no more useful than having an English degree with nothing on your resume.

The society we live in requires that people in certain positions have degrees, sometimes by law (doctors, lawyers), and other times just because that is what we value. However, once one has the experience no one cares what the degree is in with most careers. I successfully worked in I.T. with a theatre design degree. It didn't matter what the degree was in because I'm really good at tech (mostly self taught). I know people with English degrees successfully working in marketing, I.T., business, publishing, and academia. For most of these jobs what mattered was their work ethic, experience, and drive. So, I'm not sure that it really matters what degree anyone gets, because if you can get experience and work hard, most places just don't care what the degree is in. However, not having a degree at all can block people from both getting the interview and getting promotions (depending on the field). I'm not saying that's right, but currently it just "is."

So, what I question with "unemployable" educated (and generally from upper middle class) hipsters, is not what degree they got, but what they are willing to do in life. Most of them have safety nets in their families, so even if they got the "wrong" degree, they should be able to take an internship, or work towards a career that is actually employable. But what I've heard from people like this (and I know more than a few) is they don't want to work for the corporate world (e.g. all that anti-materialism stuff). So, therefore, they won't try to find a path they can take with that English literature degree.

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this why not doesnt have mo... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 8:23 PM | Posted, in reply to dave's comment, by Yoshi: | Reply

this why not doesnt have more to do with having to many why's. it's exactly what it sounds like. he wanted to give it a go and there was no particular reason in his mind why he shouldnt. and the fact you and most people dont find it pleasing is not a reason to not do something in the minds of many many people.

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I'm extremely impressed wit... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 11:02 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm extremely impressed with this article, and could not agree more. Where I find myself stuck, is how to then change this system that rewards mediocrity and learned helplessness. We need to create and produce as people, but the collusion to deny this need is so strong and so easily degrades into emotional tirades, rather than any willingness to engage in logical thought.

Thank you for writing such a strong, thoughtful, and logical argument.

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To the response regarding m... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 11:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Gacy's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

To the response regarding medical doctors not being more valuable than artists. I'm sorry that you completely seemed to miss the point of this article. How sad for you. The writer acknowledged that creating and producing are important. However, when push comes to shove, humanity and lives will continue without advertising agents, without linguists, without psychologists (which I am). In certain situations, a medical doctor is much more valuable than an English major, in that they can actually save a life. But, again, that did not appear to be the main point of this article, at least from what I got from it.

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If something this poorly th... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 12:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Jim: | Reply

If something this poorly thought out can be considered "logical" or "strong" then we certainly are a doomed society on the verge of collapse...

Read a few of the comments posted here; all the fallacies, illogical comments and idiotic statements have been addressed by people far more intelligent than pseudo-intellectual that wrote this article.

That being said; anyone with an ounce of common sense should have been able to identify this article as the inarticulate braying of a half-wit who knows nothing of what he speaks...

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do you happen to see racism... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 12:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Ultimate Mist's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

do you happen to see racism in your sandwiches too? Nice overreacting

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This article in a nutshell:... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 2:47 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This article in a nutshell:

Keeping in mind that this is YOUR life, make sure you get a job you don't like (but which allows you to survive), do not ensure that your education (which you payed $$$$$ for) goes towards something you enjoy, screw your dreams because other people don't care about them, and - of course - don't be an English major.

Better advice:

Fuck this article, go be whatever the fuck the you want, but plan ahead and don't spend all your fucking time on Facebook. Productivity counts.

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I think the point missed is... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 3:12 PM | Posted, in reply to Tim Wayne's comment, by Madness: | Reply

I think the point missed is that even if there is a work requirement, after a multi year investment in education, involving significant financial sacrifice as well, food stamps shouldn't be necessary. This would be so, argues the author, if they had been guided to choose something more employable. I certainly see some logic in that.

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What's amusing to me about ... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 3:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Madness: | Reply

What's amusing to me about this comment is that, in its most basic, what Alone is saying in this article is "productivity counts". What's productive is the debate, I suppose.

I've read a lot of articles lately on this blog and if anything, they consistently serve as a warning not to be duped by the system without your knowing. In other words, they aim to help us distinguish between pursuing our ambitions, and living a life in pursuit of the unobtainable; ideals which are often fabricated and subtly suggested to us, and we adopt without resistance for not knowing any better. As Alone calls it, plugging into the matrix, and my take is, we often do so voluntarily bc it seems cool and promising.

But that's too big of a topic so allow me to segue there. Back to this comment and this article. I would say that thinking that you are free to be whatever you want to be without consideration for your relationship to society is rather... Dare I say it... Narcissistic? Simply following Alone's application if the term (correct me if i misapply it) i'll explain why i say this: You aren't the main character in this movie. Society isn't there just for you to be what you want to be. You and everyone else are in this together. All supporting characters. Or main characters. Whatever. Point is, you can be whatever you want to be, but if you don't help society so that everyone else can do that also (and as they do, they also consider your well being) then that is rather self-serving.

And i'm saying all that to point out that many years of investment and 10,000s of $ in debt borrowed from the system to help you be what you want to be without any plan to be able to leverage that to contribute back down the line... Yeah...

But Anonymous, you know this. That is why you said "plan ahead" and be productive. So that you can be independent and not drain on society. But what is being independent? When you contribute something where society rewards you in turn. With money as it were. So that you can reward other contributing parts of society. But of course this is the system. You just hopefully know it is, bc it is, in a sense, a double edged sword.

I just hope you see that you are reading a lot in this article that isn't being said. The best part is. I love the article. I love your counter advice. And they are the same thing. Cheers!!

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Who said "pick something yo... (Below threshold)

December 31, 2012 9:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Who said "pick something you hate", I didn't see that at all. The fact is that any job will eventually be another day at the office, so you'll hate at least parts of any job. What the "job you hate" comment means that you think about the stuff that people will pay you to do. No one's sending you to a gulag or a salt mine, but there are boring points to any job people will pay you to do.

The difference between vocation and avocation is the fantasy. When you imagine your life doing an avocation, it's a fantasy. You don't want to be an author, you want an author's lifestyle. You don't want to design games, you want to be the idiot in the commercials who sits on a recliner and says that you need to tighten up the graphics a bit. You don't want to be a cook and work 14 hours, you want to be Guy Fieri who is a famous chef who doesn't work in a kitchen. When it's a real vocation, it's something you'd be willing to work hard for. You're the one working on the novel when everybody else is drinking and having fun. Or you're the one making Morrowind mods when your buds are out playing basketball. Or you're the one making the food for the party when you'd rather be schmoozing. Vocations mean you're willing to do the boring bits, give something up.

If you're really going to be a great novelist, then you'd be writing novels in the lunchroom while working at your part time job. You'd write instead of clubbing. You'd be working on making the book better, editing that thing down to perfection. On the other hand if you simply want the fantasy of being an author, you might read about writing, you probably subscribe to all the "writers" and "literary" magazines, and you read them. But you aren't writing anything, and you haven't written anything besides a few notes on a pieces of paper.

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Wow. I just checked in on t... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2013 11:23 AM | Posted by Dan: | Reply

Wow. I just checked in on this article and am shocked at all the harsh criticism. I'm guess you (the author) aren't shocked. If the point you were making was truly off the mark, it would have only been an irrelevant blog. Clearly you hit a nerve with this victim generation (and their enabling parents).

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

I work with this generation everyday. GREAT column. Very accurate.

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Very well put. Cheers!... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2013 11:38 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Dan: | Reply

Very well put. Cheers!

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Mmm, I agree with the messa... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2013 2:09 PM | Posted by Adie: | Reply

Mmm, I agree with the message which (as I take it) is "stop waisting time and money on useless degrees". OTOH I find the video amusing, because I am employed and generally seem to be doing well, but I woulda walked out of that room and quit if someone did that to me. Cuz life's too short, I like my work and a good work environment (not an abusive one) is critical, since I'm there so much!

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Dovahkiin, you are right ab... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2013 3:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

Dovahkiin, you are right about avocation:vocation::imagination:reality. But doesn't it seem to you like these stock caricatures of this thread (eg, "the" English major) are too clueless for real life? I think almost everyone knows that, as you said, even a dream job wouldn't be dreamy all the time.

The problem I sense in real discourse (in my subculture) is the frequency with which people ask "What do you want to do?" That's only half the story, innit.

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I think it depends honestly... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2013 7:21 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I think it depends honestly on the student. A student in any major who's living in fantasyland isn't going to do much with any degree. I'm not against a person with a plan that requires an English degree from getting an English degree. I'd be against a kid (or grownup, but I think more kids fall for the trick) going to college and choosing a major based on something he kinda-sorta likes, and his ideas about the lifestyle of whatever major he picked. Especially if you're middle class or lower and are going to be taking out big loans.

If I was going to give a kid advice about picking a career major, I'd tell him what i said earlier -- If you find yourself doing it instead of doing other fun-type things, if you like thinking about how to make it better, or if you like taking it apart to figure out how it works, you're on the right track. It's not even mine, really, I paraphrased J. Michael Straczynski, as he writes a newsgroup about his writing. One of the things he says, basically about writing, (and really I find it applies to most careers) is "Writing is a mug's game. It's heartbreak. It's pain and struggle and
rejection and isolation and the only reason...the ONLY reason...to do it
is if you've got something to say, something that burns in you so that you
can't *NOT* write. If you're doing it on a whim, as a curiosity, as you
say "trying your hand," then this may not be the field for you. This is a
hardass, hard-work, lifetime job, and if you're not driven to say
something, maybe you should consider something else."
It's true of most things. If you can put up with the frustrations of the job ans still want or better yet NEED to do it, if you find yourself doing it when no one is looking, then you've found what you will be successful at. It might very well be "literary agent" or "philosopher" -- but most people doing those majors are seeing the fun bits and the lifestyle. They see Paula Deen and think they want to be a cook, but if you're not ready to be a cook who works 14 hour days, misses most major holidays, and gets laid off when the economy tanks (because people don't go out to fancy restaurants when they're losing their jobs) no you aren't a "chef". You might love you some Morrowind, and like talking about how "they" should do something (I like doing it too), but again it's a lifestyle thing. Would you still want it when you hear about people working 20 hour days and sleeping under your desk? If you hear the negative side of it and you still want it, it's for you. If you can't imagine anything negative you hear about that job changing your mind, you're on to something. If it's vague, I'm saying it's probably better to just wait a few years.

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If the point of this diatri... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 6:34 PM | Posted by Denever: | Reply

If the point of this diatribe is to urge people to choose careers such as law, then it's exceedingly ill informed about the opportunities in law these days.

If the point is that the choice is between being an unemployed English major as an undergrad and being a lawyer, then it's just stupid. Those aren't either/or choices, because, as others have noted, you have to major in something and get a bachelor's degree before you can even apply to law school.

If the point is that getting a BA in English is the wrong thing to do if you want to be a lawyer, then it's just wrong. (And also a little stupid.) I don't know what the author thinks a would-be lawyer should major in, but pre-law is not the way to go. Pre-med for future MDs, sure. But most pre-law programs are crap.

What "useless" undergrad major tied for best LSAT scores a few years ago? Philosophy. Where do English majors rank? Fifth. That's not bad. (I was a history major myself - we came in fourth.)

The higher your LSAT score, the better the law schools that will offer you a place, and the more likely that you'll be offered a scholarship. That will help defray the insanely high cost of law school now and arguably make it worthwhile to get the degree, even in the current legal climate.

The author would have done well to take a philosophy class or two before heading off to med school. Logic 101 or even Intro to Philosophy can do a lot to sharpen one's analytical skills.

http://www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/Phil/upload/LSAT-Scores-of-Majors.pdf

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I bet you are wildly succes... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 10:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Denever's comment, by Dan: | Reply

I bet you are wildly successful. Congrats!

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How could you have written ... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 10:27 PM | Posted by JC: | Reply

How could you have written such a delicious update of the First Discourse if you had never gone to cawlidge?
PS.- Don DeLillo. He sucks, but he does write fiction, and would be an even bigger nothing without the academy...

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Am I the only aspiring phil... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 10:33 PM | Posted by no one: | Reply

Am I the only aspiring philosophy major who LIKED this article? My BA isn't going to get me a job all by itself, I know that, but I have other developed and employable skills, and the GI bill covers my tuition. My plan includes graduating college debt-free and employable. It's not that degrees like English and Philosophy are necessarily worthless, it's just that a lot of people major in English and Philosophy with no plan as to how they're going to support themselves, or what they're going to do with it. That's dumb, and telling me how awesome philosophy is doesn't make it any less dumb. I love philosophy. Based on Alone's other blog articles, he/she seems to be fond of it as well. Just have a plan. Make Stuff. Don't be pursuing a soft BA so that you can sit around all day and talk about things and never DO anything. That's what this article is saying.

If this article makes you see red, maybe it's time to re-examine your life path, because sometimes the truth hurts.

(Also, it helps to read Part II).

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Dear The Last Psychiatrist:... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 7:28 PM | Posted by Elisa Montrose-Roback, LMFT: | Reply

Dear The Last Psychiatrist:
Your thoughts and opinions intrigue me. I find myself wanting to dialogue with you. Are you up to it?

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Self-employed, love what I ... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 7:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Dan's comment, by Denever: | Reply

Self-employed, love what I do, earn a comfortable living ... yes, that is my idea of success, though I'm sure merely "comfortable" would fail to meet some other people's standard.

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Well, as that lady with a B... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 8:32 PM | Posted by Kathryn : | Reply

Well, as that lady with a BA in English (textual studies, not literature, so I'm specialer), I just have to rationalize this cognitive dissonance away (I was also a psych minor. unique). I spent inordinate amounts of time and money on my (useless?) degree, so I just have to tell myself that it was all worth it so I don't break down and cry.

I also have to add that almost any degree in useless unless you get a degree in engineering or nursing or some iteration of those 2. If you want to make your full expected salary almost right away with no additional schooling, get one of those 2 non-useless degrees or go to a trade school.

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"hiding in plain site"... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 8:54 PM | Posted by Kyle The Brat: | Reply

"hiding in plain site"

Should be "plain sight."

I'm not even college educated.

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I am an English creative wr... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 1:11 AM | Posted by Chloe : | Reply

I am an English creative writing major and have worked full time from the time I left school developing my career in the work of special events because I have a good personality, drive, ambition, motivation. I was taught to work hard and be a contributing meet of society. I am well respected within my career industry and make a comfortable living. Iyour degree or lack there of is not the end all be all of who you are, can be, or will be. There is something deeper within people that makes them succeed or not. And everyone's definition of success is different. It starts with good parents, not perfect parents, but those who can give their children the tools to make good choices. And maybe all these hipsters should lay off the weed!!! A side effect of weed is lack if motivation and laziness!

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Terrible advice. First, I c... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 1:30 AM | Posted by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

Terrible advice. First, I can agree with you to a point: a BA is worthless to get a job, but, like another commenter pointed out, to be a doctor, lawyer, etc, you need a BA. You also gain connections at universities and colleges.

What I hate about you Republican Capitalists is exactly what was delivered in your youtube clip. Yeah, sure, the individual is realizing his place in the world and trying to find the first opportunity to "expose his hypocrite", but would the human condition be better off if we didn't have a liberal education to understand our disparity? I think that would take society back to the days of the serfs. There is no doubt that things are changing and our dreams of being a successful artist are dwindling, but if we have a society that adds -- instead of retracts -- from what we have created (liberal education, etc) then we have a society that is not only productive but also interesting.

So with your "superior" analytical skills that helped you deduce the average mans disparity in the movie, yeah, great, but to live in a libertarian form of capitalism will provide movies with no emotion, no self reflection, no motivation other than to accept and love his/her disposition. It is not the hipsters $200 dollars a month that made him/her lazy, it is rather the inexpensive crap that is easily attainable that has made the individual lazy.

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"What I hate about you Repu... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 2:19 AM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

"What I hate about you Republican Capitalists..."

I don't even.

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"There is no doubt that thi... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 4:13 AM | Posted by GC: | Reply

"There is no doubt that things are changing and our dreams of being a successful artist are dwindling,"

Given what passes for art nowadays, that's probably a good thing.

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The author contradicts hims... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 2:14 PM | Posted by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

The author contradicts himself several times and offers no solution.

Should the "hipster" choose not to go to college so that he/she can be in the same place he/she's in sooner?

Should the "hipster" accept all outrageous demands from superiors and be happy with his disposition?

Remember, the freedoms that you and I enjoy today were not handed down by God, a caring boss, or a caring government - it was rather fought for and won by people standing up and fighting against authority. It was black minorities, feminists, workers, etc, who won our freedoms through bloodshed and sacrifice.

Maybe we can say, "everything has changed, those policies are outdated", but to cut the liberal education that strengthened the masses will take us back centuries. No doubt we are in a Darwinian world that's dog-eat-dog, BUT we are competing against other countries NOT our American neighbor. When the masses in our country are ignorant and passive, it affects the quality of our country. Look at Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands, Canada...all far more educated and stronger than us. It is a paradox that the character in the movie has to deal with: does he exploit his workers through fear and intimidation to feed his lavish lifestyle, or does he create a well oiled workplace that works together for the success of all?

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(Continued; Part II)<... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 2:36 PM | Posted by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

(Continued; Part II)

The most absurd thing about the author, is that he assumes James Foley -- the director of House of Cards and who worked with the most Liberal actors, including Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn -- was making a pro-capitalistic movie!

He doesn't even answer is own fundamental questions on "hipsters" finding a job when the average American is bred off of a middle class liberal education: the boss will higher the illegal alien, or ship the jobs overseas, and you're not happy with him working at Apple or Whole Foods. What are you trying to say? You're putting the blame on the victim and not the perpetrator.

This essay is just a rant on the authors own insecurities and disposition that his failures in life has caused. He is projecting his own self loathing into a fictional view of a social demographic he doesn't understand.

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I'm currently doing an Arts... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 4:09 PM | Posted by Terra: | Reply

I'm currently doing an Arts Degree. I hope to qualify with a BA in German and French. I also have a one year module on basic webdesign. So I'm going to qualify with fluent French, German and HTML and CSS skills. I really don't think it's a waste of time or money and there are definitely jobs available in translation.

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Worst part of all is that t... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 1:01 AM | Posted by Marcos Eliziario: | Reply

Worst part of all is that the University has been washed down by its popularization and a "classic" education is classic only on its name. In the past, people who majored in English was people very well read, that knew not only american literature, but probably also had already devoured some Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Proust, BEFORE they even finished high school. So, the teachers had way better material, were themselves true intellectuals, much of them already able to read fluently in at least some french or german. Now, what do we have? Some hipster posers that probably haven't read more than some 150 books in their entire lives and that think that kate perry is a manifestation of culture beyond the interest of binge drinking promiscuous girls and of anthropology scholar interest on documenting the habits of the modern american savage.
--
Grammar nazis disclaimer: Non native english speaker

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Another thing that american... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 1:19 AM | Posted by Marcos Eliziario: | Reply

Another thing that american upper class kids doesn't seem to get is that nominally making some excuse of study to pass on the exams and have some ass time on college is not going to take you anywhere. If you're going to major in english, you'd better be a well rounded intelectual by the time you look for a job. People are not going to automatically give you a job. You'd be interviewed first, your application would have to pass the first filter before and so on. People that think, like, humm, you know? are totally not going to be hired. Why do you think the asians are usually so successful, because their culture values hard work, and the second generation asian americans still have not being contaminated enough by this lazy american generation values to have lost this yet.

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the author of this article ... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 7:15 PM | Posted by grant: | Reply

the author of this article is trying to make something black and white that isn't. and does he not have something better to do than complain about people?

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Dude...missed the point...d... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 9:02 PM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by charlotte: | Reply

Dude...missed the point...did you even read this article, or did you just scan it for politically incorrect buzzwords?

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The chart is for the entire... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 11:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The chart is for the entire population. But we all know today's graduates can't look forward to the same job prospects as yesteryear's graduates: that's the whole point.

What about a chart of only under-25's?

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In many English as a Second... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 2:21 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In many English as a Second Language institutions, across the entire globe, it is required that teachers have completed a degree in English.

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Who said I'm not happy with... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 10:19 AM | Posted, in reply to Solrac The Barbarian's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Who said I'm not happy with them working retail. Feck, I work retail. What I object to is the system that tells them that they are special little snowflakes, actively hides necessary employment statistics, and then fleeces them for thousands of dollars every year for the next 20 years.

The only thing I fault a hipster for is that they didn't do their homework. I think we need to insist that our kids have long term thought out plans for post-high-school employment and education. I'm thinking of kids writing something like a business plan that explains in detail why college will be a good investment for them, what they intend to do with whatever they study, and most importantly why someone would pay them to do that. I've said before -- college is an investment. You don't spend your life savings on bad-bet stocks just because you like the company. You research the company and the industry and the products and know why you expect this company to make lots of money -- not because it's fun, it's probably more fun to invest in clown colleges and so on, but you'd lose money. It's just as stupid to choose a major based on "sounds like fun" without being able to describe the daily life of a person in X field, the likelyhood of ever working in the field, the pay, the negative sides of the career, etc.

They didn't do their homework on college, which wasn't made easy by the grown-ups who should have known better. It wasn't helped by a college industry mosre interested in selling keggers and diplomas than education and employment. it's not helping that our entire culture is telling kids lots of lies about themselves and their future and the kinds of jobs they "should want". We told them they didn't want menial labor or boring office work. We told them that they should spend their college time doing things other than study and that the geeks who spend their time in the library learning sciencey stuff rather than rushing fraternities and playing beer pong were going to be miserable. So they didn't do that stuff. They choose a major based on "kinda sorta liked" and not being those things that our culture told them they didn't want.

Hipsters are in a sense the result of our culture. They did everything the culture told them to do, with almost no deviations. If you took the culture of the 1980's and did everything that the culture of 1980's told you to do, you'd be one of those hipsters.

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Okay, sure, because we all ... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 1:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by C. M.: | Reply

Okay, sure, because we all know that communication isn't a skill that anyone relies on these days. Modern technology has totally eroded the need for anyone to write briefs, summarize events, think critically and analytically, draw conclusions based on disparate information, or present material coherently and concisely to audiences both general and specific. No company in the world hires people with those skills, right?

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I think you all have missed... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 4:24 PM | Posted by BobNesbo: | Reply

I think you all have missed a big part of the article, how the hero hipster college graduate pisses away $100K on a college degree. My college load debt when I graduated in 1984 was $5000. The entire loan. Credits were $65 when I started in 1980 and $128when I graduated in 1984. Did something magically happen to the words in the books in the meantime? Are the textbooks nor printed on moon rocks? Are the toilets solid gold? Are the teachers now Martian Buddhists? The same people who bitch about "Big Corporations" will not say one peep about how expensive college is.

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Madness,I like you... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 4:28 PM | Posted, in reply to Madness's comment, by BobNesbo: | Reply

Madness,

I like your take that we are not "the stars of the movie". I went for a degree in broadcasting and a career in radio. When the first 2 jobs I had turned into disasters because I was passed over for the next big job each time, well, life became easier once I took heed of the lyrics from Pete Townsend, and the song "Punk Meets the Godfather":

You declared you would be three inches taller
You only became what we made you.
Thought you were chasing a destiny calling
You only earned what we gave you.
You fell and cried as our people were starving,
Now you know that we blame you.
You tried to walk on the trail we were carving,
Now you know that we framed you.

Thank about it...

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Racism doesn't void his leg... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 4:31 PM | Posted, in reply to Thomas Belnap's comment, by BobNesbo: | Reply

Racism doesn't void his legitimacy. Why would you type line after line to refute something "illegitimate". If anything, his "racist comments" are used ironically in a context that points up what is usually a veiled implication when the terms are used.

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You're an idiot. The world ... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 7:01 PM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You're an idiot. The world is not a gender studies course, and ironically you only prove the author's point. Women statistically make less money because statistically they choose the kinds of useless college majors that the author refers to, women make less money as a group because they make poor career choices. When compared with literally the exact same experience, education etc etc women and men are at parity economically. Either way, you tell me who the privileged group is considering that women spend 2/3rds of all the private wealth in the world on consumer goods. Apparently even though they're making less, they're still spending a hell of a lot of other people's money

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Did something happen magica... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 8:51 PM | Posted, in reply to BobNesbo's comment, by stefan: | Reply

Did something happen magically happen between 1984 and 2012?

If you had spent the last twenty years paying attention to anything at all besides yourself during the last two decades, you'd know. But since you seem to be confused, I'll give you a hint -

You didn't let it happen, you made it happen.

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I completely agree with eve... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 6:52 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I completely agree with everything you said, except for one thing: there is not correlation between liking mint chutney and food stamps. Mint chutney is quite tasty, and I'm a successfully employed young professional.

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...who can't spell. *no cor... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 6:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

...who can't spell. *no correlation.

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Lol, my ex-husband went to ... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 1:37 AM | Posted, in reply to Amelia's comment, by YarnBomber: | Reply

Lol, my ex-husband went to college: even Grad School in English. I used to help him with his homework. Now he works an awful retail gig, and part of my job is, well, writing. I have no degree, but my specialized apprenticeship means I will always have work.

@OP: The only one on the crew tougher and more effective than Vinnie is Vickie, his big sister.

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Philip Roth began writing i... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 7:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Philip Roth began writing in 1950s

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Thanks to all the people wh... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 8:30 PM | Posted by Bill O'Slatter: | Reply

Thanks to all the people who fisked this particularly stupid article. no doubt, in his/her dreams, this character thinks he has brought the career of hipsters whoop arsing it up on $200 per month food stamps to an end. All I can say is if you can identify this malign idiot as giving you psychiatric care then cease doing so immediately. Now how many million people are on food stamps ?

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Maybe you missed the part w... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2013 8:07 AM | Posted, in reply to b-nasty's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Maybe you missed the part where it said "small ethnic market."

Which tend to have low prices. Just saying.

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" First, the obvious: what'... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2013 4:40 PM | Posted by Mwatuangi: | Reply

" First, the obvious: what's wrong with hipsters on food stamps is that these are college educated people who should be able to get jobs, not live off the state. They're not black, after all. " *stopped reading*

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And you're a psychiatrist?<... (Below threshold)

January 13, 2013 6:24 PM | Posted by Rielouise: | Reply

And you're a psychiatrist?

May I refer you to the late, great Thomas Szasz?

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The ironic part of today's ... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 1:54 PM | Posted by video games: | Reply

The ironic part of today's system is you pay others to pay for your own child's education and you get paid to look after other's children.Is this not what the public education is all about?

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I read this as him describi... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 4:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Mwatuangi's comment, by P: | Reply

I read this as him describing firsthand how the American public would view these two in contrast to the "welfare queen" archetype thrown around by Reaganites to historically describe people on public assistance. He's saying the words like it's his opinion, true, but it comes off as satire more than overt racism on the part of TLP.

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i think you have it backwar... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 5:48 PM | Posted by selena: | Reply

i think you have it backwards regarding the value of a college-degree.
it has gone from being 'an extra an employer looks for' to 'something you need to have in order to not be branded a complete idiot'.
so rather than abandoning the idea of 'college for the unwashed masses' it should be more like highschool: part of standard education, with government-rules on the study-program (english, math, computer-skills, etc) and heavy government-subsidies to make sure anybody can attend.

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Jonathan Franzen... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 9:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Jonathan Franzen

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Soren Kierkegaard, Friedric... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 11:22 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche

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I have been both the hipste... (Below threshold)

January 17, 2013 6:40 PM | Posted by Namorada: | Reply

I have been both the hipster and the person disgusted by the hipster in this situation. Whatever. Lets put things in perspective, people! This isn't the f-ing dust bowl. No one is dying from a massive outbreak of bubonic plague. We have access to potatoes, theres no famine. And if we happen to use our five finger discount to get one, no government agency is legally authorized to cut off an appendage. We have it pretty good, Americans. And if some hipster is being forced to buy his Kombucha and organically sourced trail mix with food stamps and the rest of us are forced to watch, it sounds to me like a lot of first world problems and like we built a country full of whiners. Let it go.

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Wrong about one thing. Inte... (Below threshold)

January 19, 2013 12:01 AM | Posted by whatever: | Reply

Wrong about one thing. Intelligence does matter. At least of a kind and employed correctly. The neat thing about America is the Elite are bloody minded determined to ignore this despite the costs.

I've been to factories that try to avoid having a single engineer. Not one. Never mind current and heir. Or current, heir, and spare. Oh no. They have revolutionized production by taking it to ZERO.

Sometimes +$100,000 pieces of equipment lie unused because no one had the intelligence to put a dead-band in the control loop, so it chattered endlessly, but heh, engineers cost MONEY. They like MONEY. Witness the implosion of Nokia.

Now, most companies can function without engineers or intelligence. Very inefficient, huge amounts of waste, but if you are hell bent on lowering wages no matter what the capital costs, no matter what the capital wastes, then heh, you can do it.

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Christ you must have heinou... (Below threshold)

January 19, 2013 5:17 PM | Posted, in reply to isomorphismes's comment, by bungled assassination: | Reply

Christ you must have heinous gas.

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If you took a survey of you... (Below threshold)

January 20, 2013 11:50 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Tim: | Reply

If you took a survey of your local IT department, you'd find that a disproportionate number of the employees don't have college degrees at all.

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I feel obliged to second Ry... (Below threshold)

January 25, 2013 12:39 PM | Posted by Vlad_The_Inhaler: | Reply

I feel obliged to second Ryan and Heather. There is no such thing as 'useless knowledge' and the education earned has absolutely nothing to do with the earnings at the end. The truth, in my opinion backed with personal experience is that everything boils down to the will behind the skill.

Many people like to ridicule the graduates of the art school saying,m that they will never make any money because their skills are useless. The trick is, that such skills are very useful and employers are constantly seeking for good artists. The keyword is 'good'. If someone goes to art school to party, coast and dream of being the new Rembrandt or Pollock, happy that they do not need to ponder over quaint and curious volumes of engineering lore, they go there to _chill_out_. On the other hand, someone who does some projects on his or her own, may start working while still at school, leaving it with the diploma, contacts and a hefry portfolio. And this is how it always was - the most famous artists started with painting generic portraits for gentry or getting meager commission from churches or state offices that required yet another picture of Christ or a portrait of incumbent monarch. Dull, repetitive tasks, sure, but the tasks that help you to pay the bills.

I know and work with many school graduates, and the statistics back this up. All people who had some ideas aboiut what they want to do either run their own businesses as jewelers, designers, illustrators or whatnot or landed a job as doing something similar. Same for other fine arts - those who studied with a particular goal in mind (say, Literature in case of translator or editor) ended with some useful knowledge the use in their chosen line of work. Those who thought studies will magically transform them into new Nabokovs and Twains, well... not so much. I often offer counsel to such young people. And it usually boils down to something like 'So you want to be a writer? That's great. Please, tell me about your stiories you wrote so far.'. And it may sounds funny but it is pretty hard to explain to a 18-year olds that they cannot be great writers or painters without, well, writing and painting. And I mean, writing and painting a lot. If they haven't started it until now, it is very likely that they actually don't like to do this.

There is no rule that you will fail you final exam if you don't work at McDonalds for at least a year. When in University, I was translating video games for worldwide publishers, my girlfriend made illustrations for popular books. Suffice to say that after graduation our major problem was to decide if we should pursue our well-prospering businesses or look for jobs more related to our studies. And then we decided we'll simply do both. No sleep for the wicked, but hell, we can rest when we're old. Sure, it requires some luck, and a lot of work. But it's worth it.

With some exception of state-regulated professions like doctors or lawyers (but this applies only to some countries) the only thing university gives is the pure knowledge. What graduates uses it for is only their problem. They had several years for getting necessary contacts, thinking about future and safely putting their new skills to test.

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This is the best thing I ha... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2013 7:52 PM | Posted by Chris: | Reply

This is the best thing I have read in years. Period.

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Hey,Can you really... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2013 11:41 AM | Posted by Joe Young: | Reply

Hey,

Can you really take every class at MIT and Yale online? How much does that cost?

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It's free. Check out MIT's ... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2013 2:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Joe Young's comment, by theorymeltfool: | Reply

It's free. Check out MIT's OpenCourseWare, and Open Yale Courses

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Nobody knows who that is.</... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 5:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Nobody knows who that is.

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Try looking at your itunes.... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 6:44 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Louise: | Reply

Try looking at your itunes.

(Winston Churchill's speeches are on there too).

When Margaret Thatcher entered Downing Street in 1979 a journalist asked a rather obvious question: 'How does it feel to be the first female prime minister in Downing Street?'

After pointing out that she had no other basis for comparison, Margaret Thatcher alerted the journalist to the fact that she was also the first science graduate in Downing Street. Her predecessors had mostly been humanities graduates.

The only cure for ignorance is knowledge and generally it doesn't come to find you. You have to seek it out.

Is it worth commenting on the fact that there are many great historical figures who never graduated from university? Orwell was one of them. They didn't think he was bright enough to attend. Imagine that? Methinks that maybe they weren't bright enough for him.

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The writer of this article,... (Below threshold)

February 6, 2013 7:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The writer of this article, and anyone else who thinks the purpose of education is to train for a career, is a moron.

Despite being such a moron, the writer is correct on every other issue in the article.

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I disagree that it's idioti... (Below threshold)

February 6, 2013 8:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I disagree that it's idiotic, if for nothing else than the fact that students are going into massive debr to get these diplomas. If they aren't going to translate to something that will pay a person back for the loans and other things, they've lost money.

And really, if the point of an arts education is to make a portfolio, why not skip the coursework and build the portfolio? I agree that in most cases the actual experiences would be more valuable than a simple degree, and this is true in most skilled trades. It simply seems in many cases to be begging the question -- why is the "college" part needed? why not apprenticeship, or guided portfolio making, or something similar? I think there are dozens of better ways to handle getting the skills and proving it to an employer while NOT selling a kidney and a ling to pay for something that might not pay off.

Near term , sure we are looking at degrees, and we will need them. We haven't yet built up a system that allows us to bypass the gateway. In part, I think this is design -- the point is to make getting a worthwhile degree expensive enough that only the upper middle class or higher can afford to get it. But that's not going to produce a bunch of non elite grads who have viable degrees. Which is the problem. I don't care about elites attending Yale and reading Proust en route to a high status job -- they'll be fine no matter what the system decides to throw in front of them. my concern is the middle class or working class kid who comes to university and throws away his chance to "make it" because he's been trained not to think of university as job training. As a practical matter, he cannot afford to treat uni as navel gazing and party time. That student cannot necessarily go back and retrain if the skills he should have learned in college are not there, or if he chose a "cool" but unpractical major. None of the fancy stuff matters if you graduate and are only qualified to be a cashier at Target.

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Let me open with this: I ha... (Below threshold)

February 7, 2013 2:24 PM | Posted by Nic: | Reply

Let me open with this: I hate hipsters who buy food porn with food stamps. Unfortunately, you meander so much that you fail to make a single cogent point. I read this thing twice and there are at least half a dozen moments where you say one thing and two sentences later its exact opposite: surely you realize that being an engineer, doctor, lawyer or scientist all require a college education. The whole thing is completely schizophrenic: you are simultaneously attacking a system while defending the core principles that suit you best. Your answer to the question "why should I work a job I hate" boils down to "because that's life"; check this out though- to your question of "why should I pay for you to not work", my response is "because that's life". The notion that everyone should be miserable with you is absurd- you're saying that we all need to participate in a misery inducing economic and social system, and your reasoning for why we should live our lives that way is that "everyone else is doing it". The American way of life is completely ridiculous- you really think the best human life is one where you spend half of your waking hours in a cubicle coming up with new marketing strategies for Kraft Foods? If that's the life you chose in exchange for the financial resources to buy things you don't need, then you're damn right I'm going to mooch off you.

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English major here making $... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 1:29 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Steve: | Reply

English major here making $80k as a Senior Editor. A job that was out of reach to non-English majors. Not because we're special but because it's what the market requires.

I work in the legal profession and know a large number of English majors who became lawyers. Using this major as an example of what's wrong with academia is silly.

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I don't understand how this... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 9:57 AM | Posted, in reply to Steve's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't understand how this is an argument in favour of English majors in general though.

Saying that you've found a job in law as an English major basically means one of two things:
a) You got the English major and got a job by finding an employer who was only interested in retraining you from the ground up anyway, or;

b) You took and completed an english major only to turn right around and go back to school for a law degree

I understand in the case of b) that most law schools would rather you spend a year or two in university general before applying, but in most cases you don't really need a full degree to apply, and honestly using an English major as a stepping stone to a law degree is not really a compliment to the English major.

In the case of a) I would say that you've more or less fluked out which is great for you, but not really representative of the English major in general, and with the retraining it is once again not really a compliment to the English majors. If there wasn't any retraining I would start to wonder if you might have your position in the company capped based on your level of actual legal knowledge.

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"but in most cases you don'... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 1:13 PM | Posted by Denever: | Reply

"but in most cases you don't really need a full degree to apply"

That may be true in your country (UK? Canada?), but it isn't in the U.S. Here you do need an undergrad degree to apply to law school, so it isn't that Steve got a degree and, as you say, turned right around and went back to school; he got the required BA and then continued on and got a JD. His point is that the arguments of the article against majoring in English and other liberal arts if you want to go on to a well-paying career are bogus. And he's right.

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Once again though, it's gre... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 6:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Denever's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Once again though, it's great that he/they/whoever were able to use the English degree as a stepping stone, but it really isn't an endorsement English degrees. Why not just have a longer schooling in law?

In this case it's the system you describe that I'm wondering about here, unless you can take an English major that is entirely devoted to the study of law it seems rather arbitrary that you are required to spend time and money on it before moving on to a preferred career path.

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Tell me, The Last Psychiatr... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 7:51 PM | Posted by Louise: | Reply

Tell me, The Last Psychiatrist was this what you really wanted to be? Or was it a last resort?

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Oh and take this: Transfera... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 8:05 PM | Posted by Louise: | Reply

Oh and take this: Transferable knowledge. Google it up and enlighten yourselves.

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I'm pretty sure the author ... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 11:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm pretty sure the author is a woman.

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However you think the syste... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 12:01 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Denever: | Reply

However you think the system ought to work, the way it actually does work in the U.S. is that you have to get an undergrad degree before you can apply to law school. Nothing you've said refutes Steve's points -- he's talking about his experience in the system as it is, not as it could be if the whole thing were overhauled because you think that would streamline things.

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in the age of the internet,... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 6:09 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

in the age of the internet, of mit courses available for free on the net, of public libraries everywhere, it's moronic to consider university and especially get yourself deep in debt for an "education". Super moron

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But then they would miss ou... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 8:43 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Louise: | Reply

But then they would miss out on the whole college 'experience'?

Do you think that people should only attend college for 'vocational courses'? And why are you singling out 'English' rather than humanities?

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I don't know what part of t... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 4:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Louise's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I don't know what part of the college experience you cannot get elsewhere either, nor for that matter the value of some of the experiences we count as college experience. What is the value of having your drunk roommate puke on your sheets? (this happened to a friend of mine) or Frat/Sor toga parties? Most of the worthwhile stuff can be done by vollenteering with a good charity. Want experience planning an event? in college, you want student government or RHA or the fraternity council. Outside of college, just about any charity fund raiser is going to need someone to take charge. Added benefits of the second approach are working with a more diverse bunch (people of all races, backgrounds, and ages, rather than a bunch of 18-25 year olds who come from the same middle class background you do), working with local business leaders, dealing with the logistics of working with people who are not connected with your college and getting them to rent you space and equipment (rather than ordering it from the college), and as a bonus getting to help people who need it. If you think college is just drinking, hang at the bar.

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‘Psychiatry is probably the... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 5:20 PM | Posted by Louise: | Reply

‘Psychiatry is probably the single most destructive force that has affected American Society within the last fifty years,” Dr Thomas Szasz, Lifetime Fellow, American Psychiatric Association (APA).

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Szasz should get out more.<... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 6:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Louise's comment, by Rob: | Reply

Szasz should get out more.

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That might be a bit much to... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2013 6:34 PM | Posted, in reply to Rob's comment, by Louise: | Reply

That might be a bit much to expect.

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Yeah... having read and rer... (Below threshold)

February 11, 2013 10:54 AM | Posted, in reply to Denever's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yeah... having read and reread my responses and yours I'm not exactly sure what you've been trying to get at. That his experience was unique? I know, I admitted that in all my responses. That my questions with regards to the system you use are not perfect or not proper refutations? Never claimed they were.

The only point I've been trying to make is that just because an English major can be used to reach an end goal, does not make it useful by itself. As in, if you changed your mind about wanting to go into law, then your English major would be useless by itself.

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No, it's not, because a BA ... (Below threshold)

February 11, 2013 11:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Denever: | Reply

No, it's not, because a BA in English specifically is not the prerequisite for law. English majors can go into publishing, advertising, etc. His point was a response to the article, which (aside from misunderstanding the whole "need an undergrad degree before going into law or med school" thing) is saying that a liberal arts degree is useless as compared with a professional degree. Steve's point is that one can lead to the other. And although that's n = 1, his experience is not as rare as you seem to think.

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Let me put it this way: You... (Below threshold)

February 11, 2013 12:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Denever's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Let me put it this way: You broke your ipod, and being a self sufficient person you decide to take it apart and fix it yourself. So here are a couple of steps involved in that.

1. Clean the outside
2. Take a little plastic thing and pop off the screen
3., 4., 5., 6.,
7. Power on

Okay, so step 1 is like an engineering degree. You can keep going after you do it, but you've already achieved something immediately useful. You can go into industry with no additional schooling, no extra steps needed.

Step 7 is like a law degree. You had to do a bunch of crap before the ipod was completely fixed, but now it is and you have a useful result. Since the repair was successful, every step prior to this one that was not individually useful has been validated. If the repair was not successful, every step up to now was a waste of time.

Step 2 is like an English major. Basically this step by itself is useless. You have to do it to get to step 3, but if you just stopped here you couldn't do anything useful. This step is the same for a whole bunch of different repairs, but this step does not have value until the repair is completed and successful. That is to say, until you get a degree in law or publishing or whatever, the English major has no value.

If this particular repair was not successful, you could rewind to step 3 without needing to redo step 2 (ie you wouldn't need to do another English major), but step 2 will continue to not have any value until you actually produce a working repair (ie get a publishing degree).

That is what I mean when I say that an English major is, by itself, useless. When you get a degree in law or publishing or editing you retroactively make the English major valuable, because you couldn't have gotten whatever degree without it, but until you do it was a waste of time.

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Delicious irony - AdChoices... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 11:42 AM | Posted by SnakePlizzken: | Reply

Delicious irony - AdChoices popup up the following ad when I started reading this:

Oil & Gas Industry Jobs
www.rigzone.com
Browse Oil & Gas Industry Jobs. Upload Your Resume Today!

I wonder if there are any hipsters working in North Dakota right now?

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You make some very good poi... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 2:05 PM | Posted by ib1netmon: | Reply

You make some very good points. But I still hate hipsters, anyway.

To the esteemed (ex?)-Hipster who commented "get over it", yeah I'll get over it when my money isn't used to finance other peoples' bad choices.

The government has been attempting to make being poor easier for about 60 years now - and what do we have to show for it? More poor people, and now people who are not even technically poor (in the old sense, meaning worrying about whether they can feed themselves) sucking at the government teat.

My suggestion is that we should make it harder to be poor, grindingly hard, miserable, and destitute. THEN we will see less poor people, because being poor will really suck. Social safety net, not a social safety hammock.

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You're just so deliciously ... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 2:57 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Sigh: | Reply

You're just so deliciously unaware, the morlocks will eat you first.

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You could also pour gasolin... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 3:29 PM | Posted, in reply to ib1netmon's comment, by isomorphismes: | Reply

You could also pour gasoline on all the homeless people and set them on fire. Poof, no more homeless problem.

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Happy hipsters?You... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 3:43 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Happy hipsters?

You had me going up until that point....

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Nicely done, you have illus... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 11:38 PM | Posted by Steve Skubinna: | Reply

Nicely done, you have illustrated the kind of person this article is about.

And you still don't get it, do you?

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The Catholic Church makes i... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 11:57 PM | Posted, in reply to ib1netmon's comment, by Louise: | Reply

The Catholic Church makes it easy to be poor. Just become a monk or a nun and take a vow of poverty. It's not rocket science.

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I think that a liberal arts... (Below threshold)

February 14, 2013 4:09 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think that a liberal arts education can still be relevant, under three conditions. First, the degree would have to be earned in a rigorous program, of which there are admittedly very few. Earning a degree in English as a second language doesn't count. Second, the student must have a good work ethic, and be prepared to work his/her ass off to find a job after graduating. Third, that the study of social sciences not be included in the above, because they are utter bullsh*t.

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Not sure how much I can agr... (Below threshold)

February 15, 2013 5:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Not sure how much I can agree with the statement of college being a waste. Though I'm obviously biased because I'm an under grad. It's just that most people don't make use of the skills they gain in college and most of them don't learn anything useful. It's being able to pick out something useful and putting it to use that's important, and I feel like college is an effective way to pick up those skills.

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well, the problem is that o... (Below threshold)

February 16, 2013 11:09 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

well, the problem is that our way of funding college makes it less likely that the kid is taking it seriously as an investment in the self. Namely HE'S NOT THE BUYER. If you look at how we really fund college, it comes down to a combination of Big Bank and Daddy's Wallet. This is a problem because he's not nearly as invested as he would be if HE was the buyer. If I buy a car, I want a good deal, I want to make sure that it passes the inspections, that it gets good gas mileage, that it's safe, and that it fits what I need it to do. Once I actually buy the thing, I'm going to keep up with the oil changes, I'm going to pay attention when I hear a rattle, I'm going to wash and wax it and vaccuum the interior. If daddy buys my car, I don't worry as much about the mechanical workings, I may care somewhat about gas (which I will buy). But I'd be much more likely to pick a "show off" sports car than a practical honda. I might not take nearly so much pride in the maintenance of said car, particularly if it starts to interfere with my other uses for money. An oil change costs as much as a date night, and date nights are more fun.

Why do we expect that to change when we apply the same problems to colleges? The kid is not the buyer, why does he care if he gets other people a good deal? Why would he give up date night for a cram session about Russian History? Why would he not be thrilled to find out that class is cancelled and his time (the only thing that he's really paying at this point being time and effort) is not being taken?

The other more tragic part is of course that since the kid generally picks the college, most colleges are evolving to soak up the cash by becoming McColleges much like the McDojos that sprang up to soak up the cash of people who wanted to "learn" karate because Mr. Miyagi was cool (but they didn't want to really work, just get the black belt). (http://www.amam-magazine.com/mcdojo.html) We've done the same thing with most degrees. And one of the most obivious signs of this is the degree to which cheating works. If we were insisting that the students earn the grade, cheating would be almost impossible. We insist on that in some skills -- surgery for example, or engineering. Those kinds of things are hard to fake because they are based on objective criteria. If the surgery kills the patient, then you don't know how to do surgery. If the building falls down, you're not a good engineer. You can't cheat with a scalpel or a steel-frame skyscraper. You can easily cheat through too many programs and graduate with little more than you started with. The system is easy to cheat more or less by design -- first because it lowers the work of the TAs and keeps overhead low and Butts-in-seats high, but equally, it keeps students who don't really work in those seats, paying those tuitions out of the student loans, boosting the local economy with beer and pizza runs, buying cheap stuff at Walmart, and so on. If those kids were to flunk out, the school loses revinue. So we're at the McDojo stage of College -- so long as the check clears, you graduate with a C average.

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What is The Last Psychiatri... (Below threshold)

February 16, 2013 11:46 AM | Posted by Louise: | Reply

What is The Last Psychiatrist going to do when the Neurologists have finally succeeded in obliterating psychiatry off the face of the planet? And what will American Big Pharma do to stop this, or worldwide Bad Pharma: America consumes most of the world's pharmaceutical drugs.

Somebody fetch me some popcorn. This is going to be entertaining.

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Racist & Misogynistic ... (Below threshold)

February 16, 2013 8:52 PM | Posted by Heather: | Reply

Racist & Misogynistic

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people who accuse others of... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 6:39 AM | Posted, in reply to Heather's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

people who accuse others of being racists and\or misogynist all the time are the worst. In my opinion the second you accuse someone of being a racist or a misogynist you become an inferior human being.

What's worse about these labels is that they are never (or almost never) used against actual racists or woman haters. Just against relatively normal people with slightly non 100% politcally approved thoughts or ideas.

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I think you missed the iron... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 4:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Heather's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think you missed the irony...

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Was this supposed to be iro... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 5:02 PM | Posted by heather: | Reply

Was this supposed to be ironic? then yes i missed it.

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do you think i care if the ... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 5:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Heather: | Reply

do you think i care if the person is a "real" racist or misogynyst? the article came off as just so. am i not supposed to point out horrible generalities when i see them. if it's ironic, maybe the guy should work on humour?

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So you are going to accuse ... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 5:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Heather's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So you are going to accuse a person of racism or hating women without caring if they actually hate other races and\or sexes. Very intelligent.

"am i not supposed to point out horrible generalities when i see them"

no you are not, who the hell gave you that impression? Maybe you feel smart (hey did he just use a generalization? Everybody knows they are always wrong!!! AHA I GOT HIM GOOD) but it's completely unnecessary- if something is clearly racist, there is no need to point it out, if something is slightly unpolitically correct, then it's too much to resort to name calling. Grow up.

No he doesn't need to work on humor, you however need to work on stopping posting

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All people raised in Wester... (Below threshold)

February 17, 2013 9:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

All people raised in Western culture are raised to be at least unconsciously racist. Why did you think it was so critically important that the Democrat party go out of their way to discribe Obama as "a well-spoken black man"? It was to in essence make it OK for White America to vote for this black man.

And you can find all kind of evidence for it in other places as well. Our movie heros are always played by white men, with the exception of Will Smith or Denzel Washington? Why is it that a person with a black sounding name is less likely to get called back for a job interview?

I do think for the most part that accusations of racism are distractions and mostly used to circumvent real discussions on race issues, but the phenomena of racism is real. Accusations of other people being racist means you don't have to listen to them. That's the point of the kill switch. Once you throw the switch, the conversation stops. And accusations of bigotry in whatever form is a great kill switch, because no one wants to be a racist, or more properly, no one wants to be seen as a racist. Personally I think most of the anti-racist speech in America is more about projecting an image, not about actually being not a racist.

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While I loved the arts, I w... (Below threshold)

February 18, 2013 12:15 PM | Posted by Confused: | Reply

While I loved the arts, I was from a lower middle class family and had to make practical decisions re: my education.

I got a B.Sc. in Env. Science. 10 years later I have been making 250k each year for the last three years and am on track to make 300k this year.

I say this because the sentiment of this article re: the practicality of a BA only applies to the majority of us, but not all.

Liberal arts were historically the preserve of the upper class who never needed to worry about "earning" a living in the way we do. Somewhere along the way, lower and middle class people somehow thought that they were ENTITLED to the same opportunity as the upper class.

While there are always exceptions to the rule (advertising, HR, comms are examples), most BA's will struggle to find the type of employment they desire - because having a BA was never about finding employment. It was about preparing the minds of the elite to be well-rounded taskmasters and good for conversation at dinner parties.

I agree that college is largely a social rite of passage. I could have been hired out of high school and been the better for it.

Those of us from the lower and middle class need to accept who we are and act acordingly. You can take some dreadfully practical training (like nursing) and save your money to get a history degree later. The bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Not thinking about the bottom line will impair your ability to survive in this world.

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There are an awful lot of i... (Below threshold)

February 18, 2013 10:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Confused's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

There are an awful lot of impractical BSc degrees, too.

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Cracked essentially rewrote... (Below threshold)

February 19, 2013 4:23 PM | Posted by Thomas Anderson: | Reply

Cracked essentially rewrote your article. They even linked to it knowing everyone just accepts what they say as true.
http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/?wa_user1=1&wa_user2=Weird+World&wa_user3=blog&wa_user4=companion

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"(or gender bias, a well-do... (Below threshold)

February 19, 2013 11:55 PM | Posted, in reply to humanillusion's comment, by Sean Goerling: | Reply

"(or gender bias, a well-documented wage disparity currently still plaguing a majority of "college educated" single mothers)."

So this "well-documented wage disparity". Disparity between what single mothers earn and whom? If it's a disparity between single mothers and single women (or men) without children, then the single women (or men) without children are going to have more time to focus on their work, thus earning them a higher salary. If it's a disparity between single mothers and married mothers (or fathers), then the married mothers have the support of their husband (or wife), meaning they can spend more time (than a single mother) at their job, earning a higher salary. Only if it's between a single mother and a single father would you even have room to START making a case for sexism.

Try reading some of Thomas Sowell's writings. As he's pointed out studies have shown that the UPPER_MOST LIMIT to the effects of sexism on women's pay is 0.08%. Most of the "well-documented disparity" you cited was by comparing the gross aggregate sum of what women make, divided by the amount of them compared with the same for men. And this creates the illusion that men make more than women.

I've often heard the phrase "Equal pay for equal work" used when this topic gets raised. However, it's unequal pay for UNEQUAL WORK. Generally, workers on an oil derrick make more than an office secretary. And there are FAR more men working on oil derricks and more women working as office secretaries. So the set of all men will earn more than the set of all women if the men tend to choose the higher-paying professions and women tend to choose lower-paying professions.

Here's a link to a blog posting by Thomas Sowell on this:
http://capitalismmagazine.com/2004/07/the-grand-fallacy-equating-male-female-differences-in-salary-with-discrimination/

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An English degree might hav... (Below threshold)

February 25, 2013 2:27 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

An English degree might have done you some good; you write like a frustrated, dyslexic 7-year-old. It's kind of cute, actually.

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"Name me one contemporary f... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2013 8:49 PM | Posted by Vaylon Kenadell: | Reply

"Name me one contemporary fiction writer who required his college training to be a writer, and if you say David Foster Wallace I swear to god I'm going to pumpkin your house."

Someone sounds very bitter that they couldn't hack it. Your bitterness pleases me greatly.

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I wonder if the ultimate ir... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2013 6:01 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I wonder if the ultimate irony of these 'Hipsters..' posts is that TLP sees the endless involutions and inescapable self-referentiality of modern ideas and positions in a way very similar way to David Foster Wallace. Except DFW tries to offer a way out of the vicious irony spiral, through the humbling of oneself and giving credence to nuggets of received wisdom, without instinctually claiming superiority to them.

I find it highly interesting that Part 3's title is a Panasonic PT-AX200U, a digital projector. The 6th year in DFW's Infinite Jest's Subsidized Time is the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office Or Mobile [sic].

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hmm? So what are you trying... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2013 10:24 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

hmm? So what are you trying to tell me?

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Just for shits and giggles,... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2013 2:25 PM | Posted by Some Guy: | Reply

Just for shits and giggles, lets talk about being an English major, since it's apparently a waste and it's only good for people who want to teach, go to law school, or write grants for non-profits. I'm assuming you chose those three professions because those are the professions your friends with English majors whom you consider successful enough to associate with your pretentious ass are in, not because you actually took the time to research your article.

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Thank you for taking the ti... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2013 3:15 PM | Posted by Campervan Rental: | Reply

Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks

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Perfect piece of writing ri... (Below threshold)

March 8, 2013 10:14 AM | Posted by Soapbox Digital Media: | Reply

Perfect piece of writing rich in information. I have been looking for such a post for a long time. Thanks again.

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As a hipster on food stamps... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2013 4:16 AM | Posted by L.: | Reply

As a hipster on food stamps, I can't help but laugh at how stupid you all are.

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I get a lot of great inform... (Below threshold)

March 17, 2013 11:01 AM | Posted by raza: | Reply

I get a lot of great information here and this is what I am searching for. Thank you for your sharing. I have bookmark this page for my future reference.
how to buy youtube views

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"Our society is fascinated ... (Below threshold)

March 17, 2013 12:17 PM | Posted by Jeff Bridges: | Reply

"Our society is fascinated by outsiderness. This neurosis comes from the fact that we exist by the support of a civilization we see as going down a bad path, if we think about things at all. Our outsiders look more askance at this society than we who must maintain it, but they also do so from within it, so they are both critical of and dependent upon it. This creates a need for not a new civilization, but a new psychology of civilization, and it is mostly commonly engendered by song: poetry, jazz, prose or violence."

You aptly describe how society's needs dictate one's position in life, but you fail to pinpoint the fluidity with which the stronger force can change as a reaction to the shift in perception of all its cells. The individual cannot be reduced to a formula as Carl Jung said, and the problem an individual faces in his life is often a problem of his entire society in an embryonic state. The universe is ultimately about two things, creation out of the random, and then deconstruction of the created form back into the random, a sort of game.

When two beings cross, both are changed, and so when society meets the hipster, society forces the hipster into a degrading lifestyle because society has no place for the hipster, the hipster only becomes a well integrated human being to the extent that he hybridises himself with society because in his natural state he serves society in no way... but this hybridisation goes both ways. The food stamp hipster meets society and rejects society for its conceptual idiocy, and the society can only recruit his help to the extent that its scaffolds can serve his psychic architecture.

Eventually you'll have enough hipsters to tip the scale, and the rehabilitated hipsters who are gaining leverage as they rise up beaurucracies will hear their inner childs telling them to slowly change the system in favour of the hipsters, until the scale tips, and a new genesis must slowly churn in the primordial cogs of human existance.

"Cool" always has an appetite to deconstruct the boundaries of the present for this very universal reason. For The system wants us to be part of it, but the system doesn't want to change, and we want to succeed in the system, but we want the system to be deconstructed by our hand. A contradiction is often a good catalyst for change, and change is indifferent to both parties.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, or that hipster's are wrong, but that you are both two different extremes to be avoided. We are leaving the industrial age, but the air of importance given to "productive" lingers on from its long lines of production that completely reconstructed the previous world of man, just as our new push into a world of personal conceptual taking precedence over material productivity will reconstruct the industrial world. One day, if our race is to see that day, we will have robots capable of handling all physical labour, and the only mark of a person's value will be his ability to put a new spin on old concepts, to apply his intellect and realise the univeral patterns to all forms of mental human endeavour.

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I agree that both sides are... (Below threshold)

March 17, 2013 5:23 PM | Posted, in reply to Jeff Bridges's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I agree that both sides are learning, but I suspect that the change isn't going to be all that dramatic. Most people already think that the arts are important. That's what's behind accusations of "selling out" are about. It's an implication that the artist has sold out his art, betrayed it in a sense. How can you betray something that you don't find important? Who is going to accuse me of betraying my basketball squad? Not for being successful. Sports are not considered important. Art is. Art is for better or worse considered a profession -- the idea of simply making for yourself makes the artist less. It's an odd opinion when you think about it. In art, the ideal is to make art that gets bought by museums and do so full time. We don't say that about other things. We dream of quitting so we can be writers -- but who told you you had to quit first? Who told you your novel wasn't real until it was on a bookshelf?

That's the change I hope I see coming -- Art freed from the pretension of Artists. Art made by the masses for the masses. Everyone making art, but not one Artist. Everyone writing but no one being an author. The other part of this change is that I think enventually we'll get over the notion that education can only count if you've paid lots of money to sit at a desk and doodle in a notebook. Yes that's one route, but I think the vast majority of people are smart enough to do what their ancestors did and teach themselves.

There are plenty of things that need to be untrained.

You don't need the approval of the Establishment to be an artist. You don't even need to sell art to be an artist. Just draw, paint and write. If you need the audience to prove that you're real, you're fake anyway.

You don't need to get a degree to learn. You can get information from internet or libraries or bookstores. Get cheap textbooks from booksales at the Y. Read a lot, talk to experts where you can find them, and learn.

College is not for everyone -- in fact I don't think it should be the default choice (which is what it actually used as right now). The default should be that only those who need a degree should go. If you need an MD or a phD to get through the door, that's fine. If you're just going to delay adulthood from 18 to 23-24 you've been had. If you do go, study, don't party. If you don't go to the library to study books on your major in your free time, I think you should think really really hard about whether you really want to be doing that. The computer geeks spent free time building mods of games, the physics geeks spent their time trying to figure out how to pull off the perfect prank. Business guys were picking stocks. The dummies were drinking and wearing togas and so on. If you want a party, bar-hop. Even at $100 a pop, you aren't paying what it costs to wear bedsheets at a college.

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I think technology will mak... (Below threshold)

March 17, 2013 10:43 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Jeff Bridges: | Reply

I think technology will make the change super dramatic. The extremely rapid rise in interactive software and hardware processing power will completely revolutionise the education process. Imagine being taught by an interactive program tailor modified to suit your neurology. To me the biggest flaw of college has always been the same flaw apparent at school, it enforces a uniform left-brained kind of application to life on all colours of people - usually people who go into college purely for some sense of added academic professionalism to their hobbies are the kinds of people whose brains reject the very format by which their curriculum is organised, and in fact most artis