November 15, 2012

Hipsters On Food Stamps, Part 2

Whole-Foods-003.jpg
gross margin 35%.  Damn right we voted for food stamps

part 1 here

IV.

"I can't tell if you're defending hipsters or hating on them."   They're ridiculous. Feel better?  They're not the problem.

It's a simple thesis and no one wants to hear it: hipsters may lack drive, but the world they live in wasn't set up by them, it was set up by their parents, i.e. the Dumbest Generation Of Narcissists In The History Of The World, the ones who magnified the importance and cost of college without having any idea of what should be its purpose, let alone its content. 

If you want to tell me a 30 year old hipster should be lashed for not trying to better himself, I'll bring the whip, but the 30 year old chose his pointless major when he was 17 and you think the outcome is all his fault?  A 17 year old can kill two people and still be considered too young to be criminally responsible, and anyway in that case you think the problem was video games and bullying.  Of course Gerry The Hipster is made of soy and ennui, but there's plenty of blame to go around.  When he was 17 the system incentivized him to destroy his life, tempted him with beer, babes, and BS-- and the promise of an upper middle class lifestyle provided he went to "a good school" (read: gave the system $100k of his post tax, pre-interest money), never mind for what.   Like a good American, he did what he was told.

The society that taught people to want a defective college degree is, unfortunately, going to be expected to support those that bought it, it's still under warranty.  At the very minimum, it owes them their money back, and if they don't pay you should sue for breach of contract. "At the conclusion of this course, students will show a proficiency in...."  The plaintiff rests.

"They should have studied more." Agreed.  But then you shouldn't have admitted them, you shouldn't have passed them.  Inflate the grade, Gresham's Law the society.

All along you've said "you need to go to college so you can get a good job" but the system was not designed to raise producers, it was designed to raise consumers.  Well, here we are.  Why are you surprised that they need consumer stamps?  Why are you surprised they moved back in with you?   "We did the best we could."  No you did not, I was there, I saw it.  You borrowed against their future, and they can't pay it back.  And now you're yelling at them.




Homeless to harvard.jpg...A Hobbit's Tale




V.


While the idea of a Metafilter post-doc receiving food stamps AND telling me they're entitled to it makes my eyes go Sauronic, it's that rage that requires some examination.  Why rage?  Why not just roll my eyes and go back to drinking rum and soldering op amps?  What is the social importance of my rage?

Society is nothing more than individual psychology multiplied by too many to count.  If narcissism is what drives this society, then only narcissism will explain it.

So start with an interesting hypothetical: does everybody need to work anymore?  I understand work from an ethical/character perspective, this is not here my point.  Since we no longer need e.g. manufacturing jobs-- cheaper elsewhere or with robots-- since those labor costs have evaporated, could that surplus go towards paying people simply to stay out of trouble?  Is there a natural economic equilibrium price where, say, a U Chicago grad can do no economically productive work at all but still be paid to use Instagram?  Let me be explicit: my question is not should we do this, my question is that since this is precisely what's happening already, is it sustainable?  What is the cost?  I don't have to run the numbers, someone already has: it's $150/mo for a college grads, i.e. the price of food stamps.  Other correct responses would be $700/mo for "some high school" (SSI) or $1500/mo for "previous work experience" (unemployment).  I would have accepted $2000/mo for "minorities" (jail) for partial credit.


VI.

While all those monies have different names and different "requirements" they are all exactly the same thing: paying people who are off the grid, whether by choice or circumstance, indefinitely.  i.e. Living Wages. However, they can never be called that.  They have to pretend to be something else: this is for food, this is because of a medical problem we just made up, this is because you were caught with weed so we'll leave you in here for 6 months until we sentence you to probation.  And they have to have these fake reasons to give taxpayers a little emotional distance, deniability, otherwise they'd go John Galt, after all, they have all the guns.  If they can invade Iraq, how hard is it going to be to take the Whole Foods on 3rd?

That "emotional distance" is not hyperbole, it's not me being a lefty deconstructicon, it is an absolute requirement of a psychic defense of identity, of self-worth.  The point is not to get you to accept that hipsters deserve food stamps, the point is the opposite: to enrage you, infuriate you, so that you will resist-- because then and only then will you pay for it.

If this seems implausible to you, which it must-- that's exactly the point of it--  consider the following extreme analogy, which surprisingly will be easier to understand, which is also the whole point:  Say your father raped you repeatedly for a decade. Hold on, slow down, it gets worse: now you're 40, and he shows up asking you for $2400 because, and I quote, "you have a responsibility to take care of me."  There he is in your living room, eyeballing the nice things in your home.  If it is a fact that you will inevitably give him the money, is it easier to for you to pair it with your venom or your sympathy?  Though it's enraging, there is a perverse pleasure in giving that bastard the money.  It tells you that you showed him that you are better than him.

That's how America works.  The system needs you to be willing, not wanting, to pay for this, and getting the existing (narcissistic) society to believe that it is their "responsibility" (Left's word) to pay for "laziness" (Right's word)-- to WANT to pay for this-- is absolutely impossible.   Why can't we just all agree on what a fair share might be, take care of each other?  Didn't you major in English Lit?  "Homo economicus" is not reality,  envy is an immutable characteristic of our consciousness, it is practically Kantian, some of you will get a minor hold of it but even your priests are chock full o' it.   If the porn isn't high res you can't get horny, but you can hate a guy at 1000 paces without a scope. That's human nature.  Envy, rage.  It's not all we are, but you cannot discount it.
 
The only way to get them to agree to pay is to give them a way of rationalizing the "responsibility" as, in some way, for them: you'll get a tax break, you'll be rewarded in heaven, you are a better person for it, thanks, this means a lot.  Can you imagine a hipster looking at a salesman and saying thanks for your service?   So that's out, use the default: rage.  Just like how you get people motivated to go to war.  No, no, no, no, not the people already waving flags, I mean the people who don't want war.  Said every liberal in Congress one magical day in 2003: "I'm not going to let those oil bastards Cheney and Bush get away with their racist  imperialist plan, which is why I'm going to scream obscenities at them as I vote Attack."

The system isn't thinking short term, it needs this to work long term, those hipsters are going to be getting food stamps forever, or do you think if the economy rebounds, old liberal arts majors will suddenly become appealing?  Like a woman who squandered her youth on fun but disreputable men, she will find herself at 45 wanting to marry, but alone.  "That is such a disgusting, sexist, archaic thing to say."  I feel your rage, and you are right.  Alone nevertheless.


VII.

You might retort that there's no money to pay for 25 more years of hipster apathy.   Admittedly, this is a compelling argument.  But the total cost of food stamps is $80B.  The annual budget deficit is over ten times that.  America's economy is one big gigantic retail sales event.  Is the economy back to like it never happened?

retail sales2.JPGwhy Obama won



The underemployed econ majors will recognize that this isn't "real", inflation adjusted sales and the last few years are based on overpriced high-end goods that only Aspirational 14% can afford, and that for the other 85% of America purchasing power has dropped to 1997 levels, but as Whole Foods says, whatever.

$80B is a lot, but how much is actually going to hipsters, how many hipsters are there, really?  73?  74?  What purpose does this rage serve?  If you Rage Against The Hipsters, you will be that much more likely to "allow" food stamps for everyone else.  The hipsters are diversions.  They are sacrifices. How much hate have you focused on Gerry since you heard about him?  All of it.

To clarify, this is not some kind of socialist ploy, it is a function of the way America (read: narcissism) works, it doesn't need to be centralized, it is the sum of individual vectors pointing in different directions.  Here's the other side's example:  when they talk about raising taxes on the rich, why do they pick a "low" point and push it higher?  Should the highest rates be at $250k/yr?  $300k?  Another way of doing it, which is precisely why they cannot do it, is start at the top and move down.  "We need $1T.  Ok, top five guys pay 90%.  Not enough?  How about top ten guys pay 90%.  Not enough? Top...."  I'm not advocating this or any other policy, not my place, I am pointing out that doing it the way it's done protects the 1% by letting the Aspirational 14%-- who crave recognition and are easily identifiable and hatable because they are poseurs, just of a different kind-- act as human shields.  They take the bullets, the unknown mega-rich take tinted window rides to the Hamptons.   During those tumultuous 80 seconds of OWS-- and BTW, those people gave up hanging out after only a trimester, do you really think they're ready for 40 hour work weeks?-- the majority of the personal attacks were against people who made <$300k, not >$50M.  It's easy to hate, and so the media nudges you in the wrong direction.

VIII.

You might think that the rage is the spark for a transformation of America, a full scale Dagny Taggart meltdown or Bolshevik revolution, depending on your hat.  That's not how it works.  If this is narcissism, then its purpose is protecting identity, defending against change. Doesn't matter what side you think you're on, unless you are unplugged you are for the status quo.

Here's an example: in the "radical left" (their words) magazine Jacobin, the editor writes a defense of Gerry and Sarah as a way of arguing for the abolishment of, well, everything Randian.   He's against the  "work ethic", he wants a paradigm shift away from American producerism-- the idea that your value is based only on what you can produce for the economy--  towards social rights, e.g. Living Wages.  I disagree with everything in it, so what?  but it is very well written and reasoned, and if I played the same game as him I'd want him on my team.

The point here is that he wants CHANGE.  Here is the last paragraph of the article, tell me if you can find anything supporting the status quo:

Rather than the "deserving" or "working" poor, with its connotations of moral judgment and authoritarian social control, it is time to begin speaking the language of economic and social rights. For instance, the right to a Universal Basic Income, a means of living at a basic level that would be provided to everyone, no questions asked. Against the invidious politics of the work ethic, it's time to argue that some things should be granted to everyone, simply by virtue of their humanity. Even hipsters.


Sounds sublime.  But Gerry already had a living wage-- he spent it on the University of Chicago, 41 years of food stamps in 4 years.  If everybody knew in advance the outcome was going to be unemployment and living wages, then why doesn't Frase challenge the capitalist assumption  that college is money well spent-- could have been used differently?  He can't.  This thought cannot occur to him, not because he is dumb, he clearly isn't, or because he is paid by a college-- money is irrelevant to him.  He can't because his entire identity is built on college, academia.  He is college. Take that away, he disintegrates. So in the utopia he imagines, college still exists AND people get living wages.  Call me a Marxist, that's what we have now.

Second, and more importantly, he thinks he's a radical progressive, that he wants a paradigm shift away from capitalism towards social rights-- but he wants to keep everything else about capitalism completely intact.  He is explicitly against producerism, but he wants to replace it with consumerism.  He wants to make sure people can get what they want, not teach them how to want.  In his utopia of no questions asked Universal Basic Income, do retail sales go up or down?  The system has won.


IX.

If rage is necessary to keep this all going, how is it elicited efficiently?

Peter Frase, defending Gerry and Sarah:

But what the [Salon] article seemed to call forth in its readers was unending bile and rage directed at people deemed insufficiently deserving of a public benefit.

Let's do this right.  If it is rage, then the rage is because of a threat to identity. What possible threat to identity could Gerry and Sarah pose to hardworking Americans?  The answer is that someone wrote an article about how great Gerry and Sarah are, e.g. Peter Frase.

Frase again:

But they aren't the only people who react to stories like this with rage or contempt rather than empathy. Consider the following comment, left under [Gerry's] response to the article about him:

I'm sorry but you are a selfish, whiny leach. I can say this because I a middle-aged woman and have been trying to find work for two years without success though I have a masters degree in a fairly desirable field. I have dwindling savings and two kids. Because I stayed home with them for a few years I don't qualify for unemployment and that has also damaged my marketability in the job world. Despite all of this I have never resorted to public assistance and will not. In addition, I have a back problem that surgery did not correct so I am in physical pain 24 hrs a day. Still I have taken temp jobs and we have cut back in many ways. I am proud of my fortitude and resourcefulness, because we will make it through this time and my kids will learn valuable lessons from me about self-reliance.

Here we have a person who has been marginally employed for two years and suffers physical pain 24 hours a day--and rather than demanding something better for herself, she demands that other people suffer more!


Wrong, read her words, they are right in front of you.  Before that article in Salon, this mother was allowed to believe that her staying off the dole had some honor in itself-- some validation of her identity-- and it allowed her to survive her hardships.  Now she is forced to swallow that these people are not merely as good as her, but more valuable-- they get an article, they get defenders like you, they are praised for their intrinsic human value, and all she gets is mocked, belittled, "she's too stupid to know what's good for her!"-- all she can do is comment on their life-- and her small act of rebellion is to at least use the space to tell the world she  exists.  Rage is her defense that keeps her intact while the world seemingly ignores her. 

Husband hates that his wife reads about the faux-celebrities in magazines. They say words to each other.  What do they actually hear?  

She hears this: "Anyone who likes that is lazy and stupid. You're stupid." 

He hears this: "I know they don't actually do anything, but they're more interesting than you."

This is the surprising result: since they wall off into psychic cocoons, therefore the marriage remains intact, for a while longer.



X.

Back to college.  Since the problem is college,  does college accept any responsibility?  I went to The Chronicle of Higher Education to find out.  Surprise, no.



phd food stamps.JPG

What did I expect?  They apparently intended this picture to evoke sympathy, isn't it a crime that 33000 PhDs are on food stamps? 

You can imagine how the other side reads it, some highlights: hyphenated name; stupid thing to get a PhD in; fat; what's an "adjunct"; why so much cheese; tattoos; place is a mess.

Nowhere does the article address the fact that it should not have allowed her to get a PhD in medieval history, let alone help her pay for it.  Do you know what The Chronicle does focus on?  That she's not black.  First sentence of the article which is entirely about branding:

"I am not a welfare queen," says Melissa.

For a lefty loosy publication like The Chronicle, what difference does it make if she's white?  Why does her PhD make her more deserving that a welfare queen?  Because to The Chronicle, the PhD has value.  It doesn't.  I'm not saying she isn't smart, I'm saying the PhD in no way communicates to me she knows medieval history better than any D&D player.  She may know more, but how do I know?  I don't even find "MD" particularly valid, but at least you can sue a doctor.

But my reason for showing you her is to highlight the perverse logic of the university which will doom us all: since the only maniacs who would ever hire these PhDs are universities, then the solution to their unemployment is more money for universities:

Ms. Bruninga-Matteau does not blame Yavapai College for her situation but rather the "systematic defunding of higher education." In Arizona last year, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a budget that cut the state's allocation to Yavapai's operating budget

Why would you expect her to answer differently?

All the system had to do, starting around 1965, is not incentivize this madness.  If there were not guaranteed student loans, up to any amount, available equally across majors and across colleges, independent of skills or promise or societal need, none of this would have happened.  Easy money got us into this mess, and easy money will keep us sailing until we go right off the edge of the map.


part 3

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych






Comments

Are you (were you) 45 and w... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 4:55 PM | Posted by J: | Reply

Are you (were you) 45 and wanting to marry?

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I like the part when TLP ta... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 5:08 PM | Posted by Judge Wilhelm: | Reply

I like the part when TLP talks about narcissism.

Can I get a what, what? People don't even say that anymore. Now you know how old I am. I'd like more explanation of this point:

"This is the surprising result: since they wall off into psychic cocoons, therefore the marriage remains intact, for a while longer."

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>tfw you are a second-year ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 5:39 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

>tfw you are a second-year PhD student reading TLP

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You speak of human nature i... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 5:41 PM | Posted by M: | Reply

You speak of human nature in talking about envy, rage and resentment, going so far as to call envy an "immutable characteristic of our consciousness", but then you go on to talk about how the economic system the Jacobin editor proposes would maintain consumerism. What if wanting a bunch of superfluous trinkets and status-signaling crap is also human nature? You're willing to propose discipline ("teach them how to want") as a solution to the second, but not the first.

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I agree with the notion tha... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 5:48 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I agree with the notion that the Boomers did a lot of this to Gen OWS. They've been gaming us for a while, and while we absolutely fell for it, they were the ones preaching.

I think the worst things they did were cultural even moreso than simply pushing college. They told us to do what we love, but there's a huge problem there. Namely that stuff people have fun doing generally either don't pay very well or are not in demand. And of course once people fell in love with teaching us that we're so special, that we were too good to be worker bees, and that if you just wish hard enough you can have an easy fun job doing something interesting. Except that such a thing has never happened and never will. What really happens is that you have to match yourself to something that people actually need done, most of which are either boring or dirty or don't pay well.

As to the hipsters, I think they'd be better off if they actually liked the stuff that they were getting a degree in. I'll admit that I haven't met all hipsters, but the ones I do know are more interested in talking about the subject than ... doing it. I like books, I like to read, but I don't seem to read like a hipster. If you ask a hipster for a book recommendation, it's always something that comes from a canonical list of that genre. It's weird. If you like science fiction, they'll tell you about Isaac Asimov or something. Not that Asimov is bad, I like Foundation, but it's weird that they only like stuff written before their birth that has been named "classic" be some English teacher. No Brian Herbert, no Star Wars novels, nothing written after 1970 or so. I don't see how a person who actually likes book would do such a thing. They'd have a few books that aren't on a Literature list, they'd be interested in stuff written after their birth. Which I think is part of the failure of most liberal arts majors. They aren't for people who like the material, they're for people who want to be the type of people who like the material. It's poser culture. Art majors talk about art, but they don't make it. Lit majors want to talk about books, not read them or write them. Physics majors use their studies to do things, even if it's something silly like figuring out how to pull a prank. Computer majors will make mods of their favorite games.

My personal advice would be that you look at the economy and look at the stuff you do that no one knows you're doing. What is it that you do when no one can notice that you do it, and how can you do that to make money? Do that and you'll be fine.

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Re: the line regarding the ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 5:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Judge Wilhelm's comment, by Bruce N. Stein: | Reply

Re: the line regarding the married couple staying together.

It's that way because by walling themselves off they're insulating themselves from change. Narcissism is about identity, and identity abhors reality, i.e., what you really are. And what you really are is determined by your actions. If you can postpone those actions then you can still be anything.

So by existing in their own psychic worlds, the two individuals are able to preserve their identity precisely BECAUSE they don't engage in determinant action.

He is creating his own identity by determining her worth in relation to himself ("I'm not that dumb, she must be dumb. Silly women."). She is doing the same, ("God he's so boring, I'd rather read vapid words about people I've never met. I'm glad I'm not that boring."). Is she dumb? Is he boring? Who knows - it doesn't matter and that's the point; it's real (read: sufficient) for each individual even if it's not real-real.

By allowing themselves, and each other, to create their own identities where only the self exists and everyone else is a bit player, neither has to question whether they should even be together. Each person exists in the world that FITS their identity. For example, you can imagine him saying, "How can she even know what boring is when she's so vapid?" The partner becomes whatever the individual needs to preserve the identity - status quo continues.

Think of it like mutual masturbation. Every night instead of sex, each party goes into a separate room and gets themselves off on what they THINK the other person is (hopeless romantic, filthy whore, WHATEVER), which means they get themselves off on whatever THEY NEED the other person to be. It doesn't matter if he actually is romantic because he is in her fiction.

Assuming that satisfies your psychic and physical need, which it seems to for a great many people, you never have to figure out whether you're actually compatible, what you actually like, what's feasible, etc. You can exist in two completely separate fictions, together, in perpetuity.

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I'd be willing to pay a sub... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:16 PM | Posted by Gary: | Reply

I'd be willing to pay a substantial salary to citizens with IQs below 100, if they pursue a life-long career path named Avoiding Pregnancy.

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Inherently the problem stem... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:25 PM | Posted by David Klemke: | Reply

Inherently the problem stems from the capitalistic way that the USA has structured its tertiary higher education system. In Australia for instance higher education can be undertaken with loans provided by the government which are then paid back in the form of additional taxes once you reach a certain income threshold. The difference here is that people are then not crippled for choosing certain degrees if they are unable to make enough money from it.

This is not to write off the idea that the idea of a University education is overblown, as it can very well be for a lot of people, more that the problems that lead up to hipsters recieveing food stamps are a symptom of the larger issue of the USA's fixation on capitalistic principles regardless of the damage it does to everyone else. I'm not about to suggest that we all convert to communism however, just making the point that capitalism has its place, and its not in education.

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If there were not guara... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:31 PM | Posted by Max: | Reply

If there were not guaranteed student loans, up to any amount, available equally across majors and across colleges, independent of skills or promise or societal need, none of this would have happened.

Forget food stamps, what are the odds those hipsters will ever pay off their loans? Think the rage is strong now, wait until the government writes off the $1 trillion in debt it guaranteed when it created this mess.

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This series of articles is ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 6:55 PM | Posted by StephenD: | Reply

This series of articles is speaking directly to me in a schizophrenic way. As someone insane enough to take philosophy as a major, who now stacks vegetables for minimum wage, this is better than seroquel and sex. I keep telling my parents my degree was a complete waste of my time and their money, and they won't believe me... The madness never ends... N >1

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"philosophy as a major, who... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 7:05 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"philosophy as a major, who now stacks vegetables for minimum wage"

Do something else.

Get a skill.

If I'm to believe your post you are still wasting your time and being a drain on your folks.

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hehehe....college ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 8:18 PM | Posted by 8===D: | Reply

hehehe....

college is a racket....

there's a creepster male feminist named Hugo Scyhwyzer who berates men for "opting out."

If womyn are getting more degrees and mostly in useless fields, a few will be able to marry rich guys and a few will be able to pay off the loans as strippers or escorts but for those who can't find a way, they just might cause the education bubble to burst-not that that would be a bad thing.....

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What kind of rum do you lik... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:07 PM | Posted by Randy L: | Reply

What kind of rum do you like? Have you tried Appleton? I love it.

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This reminds me of somethin... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:21 PM | Posted by bbrodriguez: | Reply

This reminds me of something I read that alleged that Eisenhower wanted to call it "the military industrial educational complex" not "military industrial complex" but someone told him to simplify it.

It's interesting that TLP/Alone points to 1965, because when you say "America 1965" and talk about university, I think "even studying whatever the hipsters in this article studied has to be better than getting my legs blown off in Vietnam".

Not that I don't agree with all the factors TLP suggests, I'm just saying that it was an interesting accident of timing.

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Finals are impending and I ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:31 PM | Posted by Lucas Gray: | Reply

Finals are impending and I don't have time to read this one in toto, Alone, but please just reply to the following.

My intention, since I was about twelve years old, has been to teach English at high school level. I'm currently in the second year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, and studying my ASS off so that I can (hopefully) get into the tenth best Master of Education program in the world, and then attain registration as a teacher. In my spare time I ride my bike all over the state to tutor in English, in order to pay for my living expenses. My university tuition fees are covered by a scholarship I have received for achieving high school results in the top 0.5% of the state. As should be obvious, the aforementioned degree I have to complete if I am ever to become a teacher.

I'm still a fucking stupid hipster for a) going to university and b) doing a degree in anything other than medicine or engineering, though, right?

Right?

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Well, not ... exactly? ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 9:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by bbrodriguez: | Reply

Well, not ... exactly?

To the extent that university has "a use", you "need" it if your career goals require professional certification. So that's drs/engineers/lawyers/nurses/architects/, and yes, _teachers_.

The really stupid suckers are the people who don't want a career in one of those AND STILL get a BA.

You might or might not be stupid, it sounds like you... want to fight about that question? It sounds like you think going to "the best school" will matter, and I'm not sure the fact that you ride your bike to tutor matters to anything here. Maybe you just wanted another excuse to project your identity by talking about your scholarship, academic performance, and environmentalism?

There's a word TLP uses a lot to describe that, can anybody remind me what it is?

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Part of the problem with th... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:08 PM | Posted by HippyLongStockings: | Reply

Part of the problem with their willingness to go on public assistance (the hipsters) is that there are people who are really hurting and need far more assistance than society can provide. But those really disabled, hurting people aren't getting it...because the hipsters are not supporting themselves. That is why that middle aged woman will not go on public assistance, even though her back hurts and she can only get temp jobs. She understands that things could be far worse, and there are very needy people in this country who need help more than she does.

With that said, it would be nice for colleges and parents to sit back and reflect where they went wrong. Should colleges be more proactive about preparing their students for the working world? Should they mandate that everyone, including ones with worthless majors, take a class about planning for their futures and creating a career plan? Should parents realize that they prepared their kids for college...but now it is time to teach them to support themselves...we shall see.

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In reference to: And One A... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:25 PM | Posted by Jennifer Frances Armstrong: | Reply

In reference to: And One After Another They Fall | Clarissa's Blog

I find it interesting that he defines narcissism by virtue of its being against change. That is a very interesting and useful definition. One could retain that definition and at times accept a relatively less pathological view of narcissism than is the norm. For there are many people who have experienced too much change of a useless sort -- change for its own sake -- and who no longer trust anything, because the changes they've experienced have happened too fast. If one understands capitalism to be perpetual revolution, then no doubt many who live in its hub are shell-shocked by it. Hence they are narcissists by dint of material and historical circumstances. They're trying to protect themselves, but the only options available are dangerous and/or pathological. Such is USA, in large part, and Australia, too.

Intellectual shamanism of course pursues the possibility of change in order to uncover intellectual wealth. That's why it's necessarily non-narcissistic, and why you won't be able to pursue this path, or even begin to understand it, if you have a lot of narcissism in you. That would load you down, not to mention blind you.

If you don't have anything inside you -- which is what narcissism means -- then you will not want to move a muscle, nor take any risk. It would be better to be stuck with one's illusions and an environment that is at any rate familiar to one, than to risk total, physical annihilation. Growth is change.

George Bataille appeals to people to encounter such annihilation or in other words, to face up to nothingness. I realize this could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand this means "facing death", which is fundamentally the death of the narcissistic self and one's pathological tendency to choose safety over risk. On the other hand, "facing death" would also appeal to people's death instinct -- what Freud called Thanatos. Bataille's form of shamanism makes its appeal to the desire for destruction.

In using his set of terms, Bataile is not being naive or random. Bataille reads Hegel and Nietzsche -- and he reads Hegel through Marx and Nietzsche. Nietzsche said that Hegel's concept of God was nothing, because it was the reduction of the physical into pure idea. Consequently, when one embarks on a religious journey, one is, in effect, seeking "nothing". Nietzsche also said that when one is miserable one seeks excess rather than moderation. One of Bataille's main motifs is "excess", which he deems to be necessitated by the unhappiness that results from meaningless forms of wage slavery. Thus, he invokes Thanatos (destruction) through his appeal that one should not remain in moderation, but should go into behavioral modes of excess.

My interpretation of all this -- and it may not be Bataille's -- is that for some people going into excess may be self-destructive, but for others it may be redemptive. I guess it would be down to what kind of person you are, whether this trial by fire ends up stripping you of your non-productive narcissism, or ends up simply destroying you entirely so that you meet your God and become "nothing". Of course, this also applies to women and sexuality. Who you are to begin with might be the most determining factor as to outcome, should one experience with sexuality in one's youth. Notably, Bataille also invokes the idea of Icarus, so one's skill in flying -- but not too close to danger -- may be another determining factor as to whether one gains or loses strength.

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How about $1k in cash if th... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:26 PM | Posted, in reply to Gary's comment, by justme: | Reply

How about $1k in cash if they are willing to get sterilized?

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Alone, what are the best le... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:33 PM | Posted by slow: | Reply

Alone, what are the best lessons then for learning How to want?

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What I want to "fight" abou... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:34 PM | Posted, in reply to bbrodriguez's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What I want to "fight" about is the reification of all Arts and Humanities students (usually made by medical students such as TLP) as imbecilic hipster losers. TLP would have you believe that the hipsters on food stamps represent far more than the tiny, TINY minority of Arts and Humanities students that they make up in reality, and that teachers and lawyers pop up out of holes in the fucking ground, fully formed.

The "bike" I referred to is actually my 250cc Kawasaki; I wasn't making a claim about environmentalism.

Most of the seemingly trivial details in that post are there to illustrate my situation for TLP as clearly as possible, so that he can see that I am doing an Arts degree and inevitably condemn me as a dumb hipster welfare queen.

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The problem is that if the ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:46 PM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

The problem is that if the "easy money" goes down the drain, it isn't guaranteed to take the bullshit down the drain with it. There would certainly wouldn't be as many medieval studies scholars without guaranteed student loans. Hopefully, there would also be fewer students at degree mills--the kind of places where you can earn a "nursing" degree for $40,000 and then it turns out you can't actually work anywhere because they never taught you how to use a needle or a thermometer. Hopefully, there'd also be fewer students in places like journalism or business school, where there's a good case to be made that you can learn just as well on the job.

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Lucas:No, you are ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 10:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Andy: | Reply

Lucas:

No, you are not stupid, but you tipped your hand when you implied that graduate school would be necessary for teaching English at the high school level. It isn't. Your dream - assuming it is your dream - is within closer reach, so why set the bar so high for yourself? (Master's in education? Jesus. At least shoot for a degree in your subject area - are you not aware that's what private schools want anyway?)

Look around you. Do you know any English teachers? I'm married to someone who has a bachelor's degree in a useless field and still managed to become a high school teacher. A friend of ours has the same useless degree and is, in fact, a high school English teacher. It can be done. That you must jump through these many contrived hoops, all the while traveling statewide by bike, is more a function of a belief you have about the world than a reflection of reality.

Do you want it to be this hard? What happens when things don't work out the way you hope they will?

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In my state (I'm not Americ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 11:23 PM | Posted, in reply to Andy's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

In my state (I'm not American, by the way) a graduate degree is actually required for registration as a high school teacher. So that kind of deflates your entire point.

Also, the Master of Education I'm looking at is, in any case, tailored to specific subject areas. So in my case it WOULD essentially be the equivalent of a degree in my subject area. The Master degree is actually the standard path to teaching in my state.

I'm not assuming that things will "work out" a certain way; I'm just working as hard as I can to improve myself and improve the odds that things will work out alright.

According to TLP though, the fact that I'm doing an Arts degree makes me just another lazy, image-obsessed, cancer-of-society hipster scumbag. This is what I am calling into question.

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Alone, one thing I've been ... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 11:34 PM | Posted by bbrodriguez: | Reply

Alone, one thing I've been meaning to ask is what do you think of "peak oil" theories?

You point out that "there isn't enough". Well, the plan with debt was always to grow/inflate your economy out of the debt, a la ww2. But what if that was only possible given abundant cheap fossil fuels?

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Me again,Just afte... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 11:39 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Lucas Gray: | Reply

Me again,

Just after some medical advice from TLP:

I exercise several times a week, but seeing as I'm doing an Arts degree (and we all know Arts-studying welfare queen hipster scum are incorrigibly incapable of improving themselves) I'm pretty sure that my exercising won't have any effect. When an Arts student exercises, he/she surely gains cellulite.

How do you recommend I get around this problem, doctor? Is it a case of taking the reciprocal of the worth of an Arts student relative to a Medicine or Engineering student and applying that number to my exercise regime. By my calculations, I would need to exercise 20 times as much as a Medicine student of the same age (given that an Arts student is worth 1/20 of a Medicine student, as a human being). Have I done the math correctly here? The 1/20 is a conservative estimate, of course. The fraction might be much smaller if Gregory House is taken account.

Please respond. I need urgent medical advice.

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I meant "taken into account... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 11:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I meant "taken into account", of course.

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"According to TLP though, t... (Below threshold)

November 15, 2012 11:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Andy: | Reply

"According to TLP though, the fact that I'm doing an Arts degree makes me just another lazy, image-obsessed, cancer-of-society hipster scumbag."

No, actually, I don't believe that was the implication. Anyway, forgive me for assuming you were American... I incorrectly surmised that your comment was relevant to the actual topic of this blog post.

This isn't about you. Indeed, it is not about any individual in particular. The world needs good teachers and yours is a noble pursuit. Once you actually manage to believe that, you might spend less time making left field comments defending yourself from non-attacks.

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Using nominal retail sales ... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 12:42 AM | Posted by horn: | Reply

Using nominal retail sales is cheating.

And using non-log charts is just plain 'wrong' as Tufte has written.

http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Retail-Sales-in-Review.php

http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/charts/indicators/Retail-Sales.html?Retail-Sales-adjusted-for-population-and-inflation.gif

Great writeup, otherwise.

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Anon, according to the Inte... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 12:56 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by horn: | Reply

Anon, according to the Internet there are NO states that require you to have a Master's or Grad degree to begin teaching. Unless they changed their rules this year.

3 states, including NY & MA, require you to receive that degree within 5 years, however. Spc Ed teachers may be required to have an advanced degree in Childhood Development, etc.

That leaves 47 states where a degree from the local State U would be sufficient to obtain the job you seem to desire.

But the fact that you either hid or were unaware of these requirements make you either perfectly suitable, or perfectly unsuited to be teaching.

GL,

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I suppose this is ... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 1:03 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I suppose this is just naive, but: I don't understand why an obvious solution to the problem isn't free (or at least low cost) University education. After all, the things people learn in high school aren't especially useful for job training (ignoring vocational school). But I don't hear people arguing that kids who aren't going to go to college, or shouldn't, should opt out of the last two years of high school. Presumably that's because high school is free. Unless TLP is suggesting that even if it wasn't a financial burden then people shouldn't go to college and should just enter into vocational training.

Also, there is definitely a type (call them hipsters) who go to liberal arts schools, select a major that doesn't lead directly to a job, and then hang around expecting success to fall into their lap while they barista. I know these types. But, in my experience, they tend to be bratty entitled kids, their problem doesn't have much to do with reading Beckett and a lot to do with how their parents bought them new cars when they turned 16.

But there is also a type who went to a good school, majored in something "useless" and then got a good job (say in insurance or something else corporate) largely because of the rep of the good school and their own hard work. It happens. (Disclosure: not to me.) You are better off with a degree from a better school and since most of what you'll need to know for most jobs is learned on the job, the useless degree isn't necessarily much of a hindrance. So why all the hate?

Of course, the chance of things working out this way (useless lib arts degree but a good job afterward) might not be enough to justify taking on tons of debt. But then, again, the problem is the debt.

Finally, I remember reading that Chronicle article. Grad school seems like a totally different animal. First, universities rely on grad students and adjuncts for cheap labor. So they have no incentive to stop letting in students even though they know that most of them won't be able to have a career in their discipline. This is terrible. Second, grads know that most people shouldn't go to grad school and its depressing etc, but its hard to then think "I shouldn't." (It gets harder the longer you're in.) Third, when you go to grad school you're told not to do it unless you would be happy studying medieval history no matter the pay or the circumstances. So, then, bad pay and bad circumstances can perversely confirm for the student her own dedication.

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"Now she is forced to swall... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 2:30 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Now she is forced to swallow that these people are not merely as good as her, but more valuable-- they get an article, they get defenders like you, they are praised for their intrinsic human value, and all she gets is mocked, belittled, "she's too stupid to know what's good for her!"-- all she can do is comment on their life-- and her small act of rebellion is to at least use the space to tell the world she exists. Rage is her defense that keeps her intact while the world seemingly ignores her."

Except the views she espouses in her idiotic comment are those of a much larger and more politically relevant demographic of predominantly white people (not the white professors in Jacobin, writing about a politically irrelevant income guarantee) who actively support the status quo through making rage-filled comments (and rage filled trips to the voting booths) such as these. Since we're resorting to crude media stereotypes ("hipsters"), I propose a few for these folks: let's call them republican voters, blue dog democrats, teabaggers, or the spite-filled redneck bourgeoisie. They do actually matter more than hipsters, or writers for Jacobin magazine.

And you're right - the system does treat her like irrelevant chattel to be worked into the ground and discarded - that's the system she demands, that's the system she voted for every time in the last 30+ years. The social, economic and environmental costs of this system she is shilling for and guarding against change are infinitely worse than some suburban dipshit with a sense of entitlement "abusing" food stamps. In other words, her pious self-flaggelation over "not resorting to charity" isn't only loathsome, it is a view that actively harms the lives of others because the government has to respond to those cultural demands. So no, the problem isn't that she can't identify her own interests, it's that she votes, and it harms the interests of others who would gladly take the help she forgoes.

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If college education were 1... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 2:37 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

If college education were 100% publicly funded, there's definitely more of an incentive to at least publish the job placement metrics they gather on graduates, if not create quotas/incentives to study things that the private sector demands. The university could also run up the standards in something like liberal arts so only the best students are afforded the opportunity to learn something "useless" and participate in academia.

I've heard about this in in Europe, they just track you - you go to polytechnic or you go to a more traditional university that offers liberal arts depending on your level of academic achivement and career goals. So at least theoretically it serves the needs of the public better.

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"even studying whatever the... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 5:22 AM | Posted, in reply to bbrodriguez's comment, by Or: | Reply

"even studying whatever the hipsters in this article studied has to be better than getting my legs blown off in Vietnam"

And I think their professors concurred. In an earlier post, Alone left the explanation of the earlier of the two bumps in this graph as an exercise to the reader: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/images/grade%20inflation.jpg

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"Think the rage is strong n... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 5:28 AM | Posted, in reply to Max's comment, by Or: | Reply

"Think the rage is strong now, wait until the government writes off the $1 trillion in debt it guaranteed when it created this mess."

Makes inflating the problem away seem much more reasonable by comparison, right?

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Lucas, don't take it so per... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 6:57 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Wisegirl: | Reply

Lucas, don't take it so personally. It sounds like you are on the right path, graduating with no debt and a practical degree that will lead to an honorable profession. You may be a hipster but an employable one.

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"TLP would have you believe... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 9:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"TLP would have you believe that the hipsters on food stamps represent far more than the tiny, TINY minority of Arts and Humanities students that they make up in reality, and that teachers and lawyers pop up out of holes in the fucking ground, fully formed."

Given the over-inflated labor market of lawyers and teachers, and the mass of bureaucracy and government debt that seems to closely follow, I don't think you're helping your case. The *problem* is that people are encouraged to go into the Humanities with a belief that applicability doesn't matter, one can just get a J.D. or a M.Ed. and be sitting pretty. Just because you really, really, reeeeealllly want to be a teacher or a lawyer doesn't mean that we need any more.

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You're taking this too pers... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 9:59 AM | Posted by Bruce N. Stein: | Reply

You're taking this too personally. Just because someone shouldn't drive a non-4 wheel vehicle in a snowstorm doesn't mean that all 2-wheel drive vehicles are going to crash. We're talking about a trend here. As with all trends, there are outliers.

You yourself said you were in the top 0.5% in your state. Extrapolating a bit, this means that 99% of people getting an English degree are worse than you at English. A good portion of those people aren't going to have fully paid scholarships, they're going to get degrees from less "prestigious" universities, they're (assumably) not going to work their ass of to the degree you did.

So the overall trend here is that it's turtles all the way down.

I'm glad you've found something you love to do, and you're getting recognized for doing it. Sometimes the correct pieces do fall into place. But you, yourself, sarcastically quipped that obviously [English major pursuit] is a good idea because you're so exceptional. I.e., It was a great idea for me because everyone else isn't very good.

I'd hope a college grad would understand the inherent irony in that sentiment.

That still doesn't mean English

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I can get on board with the... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 10:04 AM | Posted by dave: | Reply

I can get on board with the whole citizens dividend thing. However, it has to be the sort of thing that doesn't go away when you earn more. Many of these hipsters could retool for more lucrative jobs, but it would take time and effort. And in the end they would lose their benefits. It's not surprising how they respond to their incentive structure that destroys the value of work.

I buy the idea of limited work to go around, but its not like there still isn't a lot of work. I see plenty of people turning in 60 hour weeks at jobs they hate. And not even to make more money, just because they are afraid of getting laid off. If Gerry the hipster could learn some accounting maybe they could both work 30 hour weeks and be able to support themselves, rather then one person working 60 hours and the other zero so that the money can get split 70/30.

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If it were "free" it might ... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 10:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Bruce N. Stein: | Reply

If it were "free" it might be a better option in that someone can graduate without crippling debt, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem that the graduates are, themselves, useless. You're just shifting the cost from the individual to the many.

I'd actually be curious as to what the uptake on liberal arts and similar types of degrees are in countries with fully subsidize education, and if the employment numbers are any different. There's a lot of factors that are in play (average productivity, available alternatives, etc.) but it'd be interesting none the less.

Just for fun I used a compound interest calculator and found out that, if instead of going to college a 20 year old instead put 15K/yr for 4 years (60K) into a 3% interest instrument then by the time they hit 65 they'd have $200K. If they did that until they were 30, they'd have >$425K. And we're talking about the income from a minimum wage job here.

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That's great except for a) ... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 11:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Bruce N. Stein's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

That's great except for a) Inflation and b) where were they supposed to get that money? 15k a year is a lot to put away if you are on minimum wage (that's why so many people take out loans just for 15k).

Having enough to put away 15k a year would require you to make a comfortable middle class salary.

Don't get me wrong, saving money is definitely preferable to incurring debt with no hard plan for how to make money. It's just that it seems quite unrealistic to suggest people should save more money than they make.

Also, putting loaned money into savings was a fad for a while. When the economy was in a bubble it worked and people were able to get away with crazy tricks like that. But right now that would be really really stupid.

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I used 15K precisely becaus... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 12:01 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I used 15K precisely because it's right around the entire take-home for a minimum wage job. For the 4 years you save your $60K you can live with your parents.

So the scenario I presented is essentially, instead of going to a moderately priced state college college for 4 years you stay with the 'rents for that time and pack away your income from a full-time job. Shouldn't be too hard for a good chunk of college-bound, plus you're going to save all your extraneous costs (travel, room/board which is damn near the cost of the college itself, etc.) and have actual work experience.

This doesn't have to be loaned money put into savings, but actual income. You'd have to find a 3% CD though (a recent bank was advertising 1.01% for a 10 year... *sigh*).

Obviously this isn't what all college-bound should do. But it's never thought of as an option. It's always been you HAVE to X to Y. Completely ignoring that Y can come about for many reasons and X may not even be the best route for it. It's a way to show you're a "good parent" (Well I sent him to a good school...) and a way to show you're a worthy individual. The education is largely secondary.

I think hard sciences are a bit different here because you can't really fool yourself. Either you're good a trigonometry or you fail completely. Grade inflation and cheating and what have you can get you through it, but it's way hard to tell people you're a better person than them when the topic isn't something obscure no one cares about, and your opinions are empirically testable.

That doesn't mean all hard science degrees are immediately more worthwhile, but I definitely think they're more representative of knowledge than liberal arts degrees.

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Here's what I've boiled dow... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 12:48 PM | Posted by JohnMcG: | Reply

Here's what I've boiled down the story to:

Yes, these hipsters are worthy of ridicule, but it's not entirely their fault they're where they are. They were implicitly promised that if they invested time and money to acquire a bachelor's degree, even in the humanities, they would be assured a middle-class lifestyle. Since the job market did not make good on its end of that promise, they are instead extracting it from the welfare state.

Ok, fair enough. I think that's a bit of a caricature. I'm a little bit older than these hipsters, but roughly in their generation. I got a more marketable degree (computer science), but don't think I was ever under any illusion that this was a guaranteed ticket to Leafy Suburb. I would get a job for what I did (or maybe in some cases who I was) not what I knew. The degree may open some doors, but it would then be up to me to keep myself inside.

But let's stipulate this is true. Then what was the problem. It seems there are two possibilities:

1. The implicit promise was never good or possible, and the grown-ups knew it. The hipsters should have recognized that, and the grown-ups should have never extended it.

Enough blame to go around. The grown-ups suckered these hipsters, and the hipsters were dumb enough to fall for it. Fool me into bad lifetime decision, shame on both of us.

But I think this raises the question of why the grown ups would extend this raw deal. What's in it for them to drag their kids along on a doomed pathway?

TLP might answer it is a narcissistic disorder on a large scale. We want to believe we're the type of society that gainfully employs humanities majors, even if in reality we're not. So we conduct affairs based on this inflated sense of who we are instead of reality.

On a small scale, while it is true that the number of jobs for humanities majors is small, it is nonzero, and because of the "everybody gets a trophy" culture, parents and children believe that they will be the exception, that their child will be the 1 out of 1000 applicants to get the tenure track professorship when it opens up.

Seems plausible, but let's keep going.

2. The promise was good at one point, but wasn't once the hipsters reached adulthood.

This could be for one of a couple reasons:

a.) The time when this promise was true was historically anomalous, and we're now back to usual.

We've baselined our society on the 1950's and early 1960's -- a time following a huge world war and mobilization for it, a Cold War, build up, etc. This was unwise, and we haven't adjusted our expectations yet.

b.) Something has changed in the time since then, making what was once a reasonable expectation no longer reasonable.

In short, maybe rich people used to use their wealth to patronize the arts and build up cultural institutions, and now they hoard it and buy technological gizmos.

Each one of these probably holds some portion of the truth.

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Why don't they just increas... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 12:50 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

Why don't they just increase the funding for universities, research, etc. so yeah, these guys are still getting the same gvt money, but at least they're doing something like producing knowlege

sure research on whatever history or language or whatever doesn't produce a tangible good, but at least they're doing something that you could argue benefits humanity over all, instead of getting free stuff from the government

instead of using funding for like, food stamps

increase professors salaries, more money for research, more money for grad students.

I don't think TLP gives a convincing argument.

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"We've baselined our societ... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 1:10 PM | Posted, in reply to JohnMcG's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"We've baselined our society on the 1950's and early 1960's -- a time following a huge world war and mobilization for it, a Cold War, build up, etc. This was unwise, and we haven't adjusted our expectations yet."

The college scam is only predicated on this. The notion that everyone can go to college, pay their tuition on a considerable amount borrowed money, earn a credential in literally anything and get a middle class job is predicated on a different narcissistic presumption. It's the one that underlies the idea that America exceptionally meritocratic, fair, and just place where the Horatio Alger narrative even applies to academic and creative/bohemian types. The Dumbest Generation of Narcissists in the History of The World aka the parents of these hipsters still grew up during this boom, around people who made their way then. S

o it's not really a culture of everyone gets a trophy here. Because shit, if you fail to fulfill the Horatio Alger story with your English degree, and you'll have thousands (mostly older) people showing up and opportunistically saying "I told you studying X was useless!" when every last bit of what they said before that point was actually the opposite.

And yes, statistically, social mobility no longer exists in the sense it did in the postwar era, which brings us to the following -

"b.) Something has changed in the time since then, making what was once a reasonable expectation no longer reasonable."

Here's what happened: the welfare state was thoroughly slashed from 1980 to present (It culminated in welfare reform of 1994), management crushed organized labor in that same space of time, and through the magic of the global marketplace millions of American jobs moved to areas where labor costs are lower and easier to keep cheap. Consequently, the rich are the only class of people to have actually become richer since then. The solution: millennials just have to wait for people who got while the getting was good (1947-1979) to die off or become an irrelevant constituency. The latter is a real possibility, but one that may come too late.

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"TLP would have you believe... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 1:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"TLP would have you believe that the hipsters on food stamps represent far more than the tiny, TINY minority of Arts and Humanities students that they make up in reality, and that teachers and lawyers pop up out of holes in the fucking ground, fully formed."

uh huh...so that's why he said there were only 73 or 74 of them, right?

did you even read the article?

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Marcus Aurelius, Meditation... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 1:54 PM | Posted, in reply to slow's comment, by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

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On the budget deficit, fami... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 2:38 PM | Posted by horn: | Reply

On the budget deficit, families with adjusted gross income above $250k are in the crosshairs of the debate. Higher tax payments by this demographic appear a foregone conclusion, but let’s look at the data anyway.

The first chart shows the progressivity of the US income tax code; the dispersion between effective tax rates by income category has increased over time. Not exactly the Dickensian system it is sometimes described to be, is it?

http://imgur.com/T6FoO

http://imgur.com/qOckG

The last chart shows how the US stacks up vs. other OECD members. The author’s methodology incorporates income concentration in addition to tax concentration (in other words, how progressive is the system after accounting for unequal distribution of income)

Even after doing so, the US tax system still emerges as one of the most progressive, although you might not get anyone in Sacramento, Albany or Omaha to acknowledge it. The US does not tax citizens as much as other countries do, but of the tax dollars raised, they are raised in a comparatively progressive fashion.

Progressivity can of course be increased further, but it would be unlikely to solve the budget issues by itself. What will the President do then?

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Fed Res Bulletin June 2012<... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 2:52 PM | Posted by horn: | Reply

Fed Res Bulletin June 2012
www.federalreserve.gov

Changes in US Family Finances:
Pre-tax median income, pg 6-8

Lowest quintile of income rose 6.35% from 2001 thru 2010.

Highest decile income *Fell* by 1.20% from 2001 thru 2010.

Lowest quintile mean income rose 5%.

Highest decile mean income *fell* 6%.


[N.b. the study broke the top quintile into 2 deciles, I used the highest to account for the top 1% -- aspirational 14%. Obvs the mean is driven by the top 1% by a wide margin.]

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"I'm sorry but you are a se... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 5:00 PM | Posted by Silent: | Reply

"I'm sorry but you are a selfish, whiny leach. I can say this because I a middle-aged woman and have been trying to find work for two years without success though I have a masters degree in a fairly desirable field...I am proud of my fortitude and resourcefulness, because we will make it through this time and my kids will learn valuable lessons from me about self-reliance."

The problem with this view is that it is exactly the thing that allows the extremely wealthy to get away with what they do. I don't know the numbers, but I bet most of the money this woman is not receiving is going to people who need it less than her, and much of that is going to people who don't need it at all. Trickle-down doesn't work; the majority of the assistance she and those like her refuse to accept will directly or indirectly be absorbed by those at the top, not those at the bottom.

One of the major purposes of public assistance is to prevent collective activity from the dissatisfied among the underprivileged. A poor miserable person who takes pride in it is a politician's wet dream, because then they and other overprivileged individuals don't have to take any responsibility for benefiting from the world that put that person in the position of being poor and miserable (that's not to say all politicians are corrupt, but I suspect the higher up they are the more corruption there is. I worked in the 2010 census, and liked my boss and his boss, but heard that boss^3 and up, the people who dictated policy, were insane).

So this woman's view isn't benefiting her or her children or the people worse off than she is. Instead, it is directly supporting a system that benefits from her being in the unfortunate position she's in, which is precisely what I think Alone is talking about with Narcissism. The beliefs she accepts don't tangibly benefit her and don't make her a better person, they merely prevent her from changing and allow her to take pride in it, leaving others free to benefit from her detriment without consequence. Needless to say, those that choose to benefit themselves in such a way are not likely to positively influence society's course and should not be encouraged.

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"The problem with this view... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 5:22 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"The problem with this view is that it is exactly the thing that allows the extremely wealthy to get away with what they do. "

So true. Once a long time ago it finally dawned on me. Almost no one *wants* me to hurt and suffer. Not because they care, but precisely because they DON'T care.

This woman assumes her suffering makes her noble. In reality she's just teaching her kids how to abuse themselves and be taken advantage of.

Nobility, virtue, blah blah blah... all that pageantry is just marketing for the power people want to hold on to. If you're clapping, prancing with the ponies, or standing on the sidelines jeering congratulations... you're still in the pageant.

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"Nobility, virtue, blah bla... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 5:51 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by thecobrasnose: | Reply

"Nobility, virtue, blah blah blah... all that pageantry is just marketing for the power people want to hold on to. If you're clapping, prancing with the ponies, or standing on the sidelines jeering congratulations... you're still in the pageant."

Where do you think you are? And to what do you aspire? While it's true I don't particularly care about you (and don't reckon you do about me, so no hard feelings), your hostility puzzles me. What are your alternatives to “nobility, virtue” and self-reliance that would (sorry to be corny) make the world better for you or anybody else?

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You confuse acceptance with... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 6:51 PM | Posted, in reply to thecobrasnose's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

You confuse acceptance with hostility. I don't expect or need you to care so there could be no hard feelings. However I've observed a tendency in some to believe that their suffering is noble. That it matters.

I went without help I could have taken and live in pain! I'm good! I starved myself, abstained from meat and gave all of my money to the homeless though it was my parent's money really and my nutritional deficit has caused me to be hospitalized twice! But my suffering is so important! SO IMPORTANT!

Do you see what I'm getting at? The delusion that hurting yourself actually makes a difference is toxic, and not particularly helpful to anyone.

As for me? I'm right here, experiencing the same period of time as all the other living creatures. Depending on how I feel or what I see as useful I'm wherever I need to be or trying to get there.

What does it matter to what I aspire? I'm not important, but I'm not sad about that.

I aspire to get where I want to get because why not? I guess I aspire to be honest with myself where and when I can, and perhaps to be honest with others where and when I can?

If that seems useful I might keep it up. If not, I might drop it.

So long as nobility and virtue are fed to you, and you don't understand why and how they work or what purpose they're serving... so long as they are prescribed, then they are just methods of control.

Not evil, not good. Just methods of control. But chances are you are not the one who set those parameters. We help enforce them because we comply then we need to believe we are significant so we need others to. Sometimes this works well. Sometimes it is just stupid.

If you are living in pain, lowering the standard of living for your children, bitter to the point of raging at others, then it is stupid. You need to wake up and take care of yourself.

Thus, I say what I did in response to the mindset of the woman in the article. She's both stupid and vain. The selfish one is her, for letting herself believe that she's helping anyone by suffering more.

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"I went without help I coul... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 7:21 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by thecobrasnose: | Reply

"I went without help I could have taken and live in pain! I'm good! I starved myself, abstained from meat and gave all of my money to the homeless though it was my parent's money really and my nutritional deficit has caused me to be hospitalized twice! But my suffering is so important! SO IMPORTANT!"

How much does it matter to you that the woman you conclude is "both stupid and vain" didn't claim most of the above? How is her "rage" directed at the welfare hipsters different than what you have directed at her?

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The difference is that I wi... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 7:31 PM | Posted, in reply to thecobrasnose's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

The difference is that I wish she'd take help, so that she'd have less suffering.

She wishes other people would suffer more because she did.

I'd like to see her more free.

You imagine rage in me there. But I'm just being brutally honest. I'm being insensitive, sure, but that's not the same as rage.

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Perhaps I can put it anothe... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 7:40 PM | Posted, in reply to thecobrasnose's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Perhaps I can put it another way:

the people who do well in this world do so by taking advantage of every opportunity they can.

And they do so by recognizing both opportunity and risk, which is much harder. Much harder.

If you believe this makes them bad, and you believe they should be punished if they succeed as a result then you wish to see a world where others are limited by the limitations you put on yourself.

We (societies) make exceptions for almost every rule we set. Even for murder. Yet we want people to follow the rules we follow. Why? Because not following them gives people advantages we don't have. These may not be even particularly good advantages, and they may limit others in ways we don't understand.

But just look at how upset it gets people.

Me? I'm not upset with her, I just think she's stupid. Being stupid and vain is something we all are some times. That doesn't mean we should avoid saying so, unless we just don't ever hope to become less so.

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The last chart shows how... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 10:17 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The last chart shows how the US stacks up vs. other OECD members. The author’s methodology incorporates income concentration in addition to tax concentration (in other words, how progressive is the system after accounting for unequal distribution of income)

Clicked, can't see the charts.

I presume it's the one here:

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.ca/2011/03/what-nation-has-most-progressive-tax.html

I have seen the argument go around. Peter Whiteford, the source of the chart noted some things that makes it clear that the information doesn't mean what either side -- liberals and conservatives -- think it does.

"Progressivity is measured as the rate of increase in taxes, not the level of taxes. This is simply the widely accepted standard for measuring progressivity used in the technical literature."

"As other have pointed out, however, the progressivity of the tax system will be greater if the distribution of income is more unequal. Using the concentration coefficient and adjusting for inequality of market incomes it is actually Ireland that has the most progressive tax distribution in the OECD, but the USA is fairly close behind at number 2."

"If you look at Nordic countries, they all have much less progressive tax systems than the USA, but they collect a lot more in taxes (including in VAT). They then spend this much higher tax revenue on social security and services, and it is this side of the equation that is most important in reducing inequality."

"As a non-American, I am not in a position to argue that the USA either needs to increase or reduce the progressivity of the tax system. But I think it is important to understand why it is that most other rich countries have lower inequality than the USA. This is not because they have more progressive tax systems – they have less progressive tax systems, but ones that collect more tax overall and then spend the additional tax revenue on progressive social programmes. "

"In addition, the least unequal countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway have had high employment rates (like the USA used to have before the GFC) and they also have much more compressed wage distributions than the USA."

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Yes, that's correct. And, b... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2012 11:52 PM | Posted by horn: | Reply

Yes, that's correct. And, believe me, I understand perfectly the difference btw level and progressivity of taxes.

My post is to put the lie to the liberals who say they just want a 'progressive' system like Europe or Canada or etc, the US is already more progressive than they are w/r/t taxes.

'As others have pointed out this measure includes all direct taxes on individuals so it includes income taxes and employee social security contributions, but not employer payroll taxes.

It also doesn’t include sales taxes, but these are much heavier in most other OECD countries, and not as progressive as direct taxes, so if you added indirect taxes in through some sort of modelling it is almost certain that the USA would still have the most progressive overall tax system.'

What libs really mean, is that they want to punish the rich by taxing them more, and frittering away the money on their pet projects.

Of course, the majority of Billionaires and millionaires are registered Dems, you can look it up [Census], and yet they never pay the extra taxes they loudly demand that they should supposedly pay.

Buffett, Soros, Gates Sr, Saban, Spielberg, Geffen, can increase his tax rate anytime he chooses, to complain and not do so is the very definition of hypocrisy or chutzpah, if not both.

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So really what you're endor... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 12:33 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So really what you're endorsing in this post of yours, tornpapernapkin, is sociopathy (or at least narcissistic callousness toward society's standards) and an ethos of the lame market Darwinist platitudes Ayn Rand.

This risk reward calculus basically involves "to what extent can I exploit the system and the others who rely on it without getting caught, while making the most money possible?" Conscience might enter into at some point after the fact. Whatever consequence it might have for other people's lives isn't their problem.

I guess that sounds good if you think you're the most capable sociopath in existence, but chances are you're not.

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Love your blog. Always a gr... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 3:30 AM | Posted by Paulo: | Reply

Love your blog. Always a great read. Thank you!

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Yes. Ayn Rand exactly (roll... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 7:13 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Yes. Ayn Rand exactly (roll eyes).

Or you could quite being so black and white about it.

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consider this:The ... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 7:17 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

consider this:

The woman complaining isn't HELPING anyone. She's only hurting herself and being angry that other people get help.

I said nothing about refusing to help people. I simply said that people who refuse help and then want to be praised for being hurt while being angry that others take help offered... are selfish and stupid.

Yes.

Sociopathy indeed.

There will always be some help offered. It's nice to offer help. If you want to sit and cry about it, refuse to take what is available for you, and drag people down with your problems while being praised for it though, you're not helping anything. Not even yourself.

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By the way, Rand would have... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 7:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

By the way, Rand would have approved of her. In a Randian universe she would be noble, and we'd all be doomed to 50 pages of her whining.

"exploit the system and the others who rely on it without getting caught"

It's as simple as this. If you meet the criteria you do, and if you don't you don't.

If you aren't lying, you aren't exploiting anything.

And if you don't want what is available to help you, quit crying about it.

And no sociopaths are smart, not even me.

lol

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Off-topic.The stor... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 9:37 AM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

Off-topic.

The story of Liz Murray sounds impressive, until she tells us that "Daddy came from a middle-class, Irish Catholic family in the suburbs." and "Daddy abandoned school when he was two years into a graduate degree in psychology." A huge factor in determining a child's future is the past.

It also kind of helps to be white and conventionally beautiful.

Imo Ercilia Stanciany comes closer to the Horatio Alger ideal.

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You write, "The woman compl... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 10:21 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by thecobrasnose: | Reply

You write, "The woman complaining isn't HELPING anyone. She's only hurting herself and being angry that other people get help."

The woman writes, "I am proud of my fortitude and resourcefulness, because we will make it through this time and my kids will learn valuable lessons from me about self-reliance."

Clearly she finds worth in being an example to her children. She seems to have planned in anticipation of lean years ("I have dwindling savings"), she sizes up a difficult job market ("I stayed home with [two kids] for a few years I don't qualify for unemployment and that has also damaged my marketability in the job world"), does not yield to inconvenient pain, and prefers to accept temp jobs and "cut back in many ways" rather than seek government assistance. Which seems to be the only type that matters in this context. We have no idea if she has a supportive family, social, or church network to draw upon and no indication that she would refuse the help of those in her circle. Maybe she's the type who believes welfare from the government should be reserved for the tragically disadvantaged, and in fact receiving welfare from the state proves that's exactly what you are.

Anyway, that (to whatever extent she exists beyond my own strawman musing) is what she calls pride and you call vanity. Okay sure: both are Deadly Sins.

Otherwise, I find her values stack up rather well against those of the welfare hipsters (and I do understand that they exist in the article for just that purpose). That you and Frase lash out against her strikes me as decadent and defensive.

But that's just me. Now back to the Matrix. I'm expected in a parade....

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Are there many jobs for med... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 11:31 AM | Posted, in reply to David Klemke's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Are there many jobs for medieval study PHDs in Australia? If not, then people will still be crippled for choosing a worthless degree.

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This view I don't get. They... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 11:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

This view I don't get. They didn't choose a worthless degree. They chose an incredibly narrow focus in a field that is prohibitively competitive.

You don't go through a PhD in a narrowly focused academic field and then expect to be a CEO. The degree isn't worthless, it's just that only so many people will be able to build a career in that field.

It's hard, but here's the rub, it requires the same skills that would be required to succeed without a degree.

IOW, the PhD who can't cut it in academia is just having the SAME problems they already had.

The degree is not helping or hurting. It's just not really the issue. They are.

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"I'm expected in a parade..... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 11:36 AM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"I'm expected in a parade...."

Me too, or did you think I didn't know?

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"Inherently the problem ste... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 11:49 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Inherently the problem stems from the capitalistic way that the USA has structured its tertiary higher education system. In Australia for instance higher education can be undertaken with loans provided by the government which are then paid back in the form of additional taxes once you reach a certain income threshold. The difference here is that people are then not crippled for choosing certain degrees if they are unable to make enough money from it."

Some people will never get the axiom that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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It's difficult to discern b... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 5:06 PM | Posted by Bob: | Reply

It's difficult to discern between this website and the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren".

You know when "The Last Psychiatrist" was actually a psychiatrist? Never.

But hey, if you're reading it, it's for you.

Right? RIGHT?

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Man, who would teach a clas... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 7:51 PM | Posted, in reply to HippyLongStockings's comment, by John: | Reply

Man, who would teach a class about preparing for your future career? Would there be a department for that? Could you major in preparing for your future career?

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Nah, the Whole Foods on 3d ... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 9:16 PM | Posted by DudeMan: | Reply

Nah, the Whole Foods on 3d is too easily defended. Best bet is taking the one on National. We can take it from several directions.

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Nah, the Whole Foods on 3d ... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 9:18 PM | Posted by DudeMan: | Reply

Nah, the Whole Foods on 3d is too easily defended. Best bet is taking the one on National. We can take it from several directions.

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" I don't know the numbers,... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2012 10:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Silent's comment, by Trollumination: | Reply

" I don't know the numbers, but I bet most of the money this woman is not receiving is going to people who need it less than her, and much of that is going to people who don't need it at all. "

No, Silent, don't think it works that way. Remember that the people who get public assistance don't get to KEEP it. It goes to Wal-mart. It goes to their landlord, who in turns pays it as mortgage interest to Bank of America. Welfare recipients are not accumulating savings or they'd no longer BE welfare recipients. They are a conduit. Hell, Wal-Mart and many other employers now figure public assistance into their business model - on one end, they pay below-subsistence wages and provide 'application assistance' to get their workers onto Food Stamps/EBT - on the other end, they accept EBT. In the end, it ALL goes to the top. Whether people nobly suffer, or whether they don't.

In the end, we will all get near-minimum wage jobs and receive gov't assistance as well. We'll all make the same amount of money, whether we have a BS or a PHD or a useful skill or nothing at all. Only those with financial vision who serve The Market (PBUI) as loyal acolytes will be better off. This isn't Communism, it's anti-Communism! The Empire.

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I'm a 25 yo triple drop pou... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 12:48 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm a 25 yo triple drop pout with no debt and several skilled trades and lots of varied work experience which tends to get me nicer more exciting better jobs than my degrees and indebted peers. If your ultimate can't live without it dream career requires a career then go for it but understand you are making a choice and a sacrifice and don't act like its your right to be a dolphin doctor.

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Some people, unwittingly, r... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 3:44 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Lucas Gray: | Reply

Some people, unwittingly, remind us of the real value of a college education.

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Many of these 17 year olds ... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 4:34 AM | Posted by .....: | Reply

Many of these 17 year olds back then are parents with teenagers now.

Qnd yes, SOME of us have learned from what happened and are not leaving the job to some overworked "career counselor".

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It does hurt if it costs $1... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 8:52 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It does hurt if it costs $100,000 and the best years of your life. Would they have chosen their path if you told them beforehand that they would be collecting food stamps 10 years down the line? Hey, at least they're pursuing their dreams.

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Do you think it is easy or ... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 9:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Do you think it is easy or simple to go through a PhD, or that you don't have to fight to finish it?

Seriously.

If you spend 100k and the best years of your life and NEVER ask yourself about the next step, or what you're doing, or why.

Then the problem really is YOU, and the stupidity and poor planning you exhibit would likely have been your problem no matter what.

Be honest. Frankly, dropping 100k on a degree you know is a long shot and will require a lifetime of dedication potentially at no pay (most academics know they are not going to get rich) and then AFTERWARDS you notice you've committed 10 years of your life and all your money...

you DO need government assistance because you are seriously disabled mentally.

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In other words, if you do t... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 9:24 AM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

In other words, if you do that to yourself you have hurt YOURSELF.

I'm quite tired of people wanting to lay back and have a risk free life in some kind of massive padded cell of a society.

If you touch a hot stove and it burns a little, poor you. You deserve some sympathy for that. Hopefully, it won't happen again and you'll heal.

If you touch a hot stove, holding your hand on the burner till your bones are charred, screaming WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THIS WAS HOT OHHH GOD STOVES SHOULD BE OUTLAWED LOOK AT ME I'LL NEVER PLAY PIANO NOW OOOOOHHHHH MOMMY WHY DID YOU NEVER LOVE ME THIS IS YOUR FAULT and all the while you are still holding your hand on that burner...

well then, you have deeper issues and all the dismantling of social systems to save you in the world isn't going to help until you fix some of them. Best of luck with that, but please pick up your food stamps and reflect on your decisions thus far.

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I agree with the folks over... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 10:57 AM | Posted by Phil A.: | Reply

I agree with the folks over at learn liberty. We have about ten years. That's ten years before we either wipe the slate clean, restructure government, and fix these problems that are gonna send us the way of Greece (citizens protesting to have their government further destroy itself and the country for their benefit), or it's too late.

Well, that's not quite what they said because they were a bit more optimistic. However, the tipping point is coming soon if we haven't reached it already. At some point you can't stop the benefits and the destructive incentives because people will not just take advantage of it, they'll fight tooth-and-nail to keep it from going away - because for some it's all they know or all they can have and they're completely dependent.

This is why it's so obnoxious to hear the right and left debate over taxes and spending. No combination of higher/lower taxing/spending will fix a system that forces any combination to lead to failure. But I guess that's the author's point, all of these debates are just a way for us to express our rage at others and their idiocy while the train keeps chugging along to the edge of the cliff.

My favorite part of the post is the bit about how we've given money to people getting any degree, no matter what the social need, and what the skills of the person. I think we've had this utopia in mind where people are all supposed to just "find themselves" and do what makes them haaaappy regardless of the actual needs of our community (society) itself.

This wouldn't be so bothersome, except the economy is getting ready to tank again as the student loan bubble bursts. Real people are going to really suffer for our idealism and lack of foresight.

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BTW, the only thing I disag... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 11:05 AM | Posted by Phil A.: | Reply

BTW, the only thing I disagree with is the way a lot of the blame is apportioned to the older generation. As a somewhat younger fellow myself, I still think a lot of the blame lies with the younglings who decided they should get a Ph.D in historical literature. Yes, the older generation sold a lie, but the younger generation also bought it. The blame rests equally on both old and new's shoulders.

Take that woman with the useless Ph.D. What's stopping her from starting a business to pay off her useless loan and make something of herself. The great part about starting a business is that you don't need a degree. You can teach yourself a skill and then create the business. It's risky, but those minimal risks are outweighed by the costs of living a life of dependency, and she's choosing the life of dependency.

There's all sorts of ways to make money without a useful degree, but she's just sitting there saying, "Uh, your path to a job didn't work, so I'll just take your hush money and scratch a living from it."

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FT's Alphaville blog did an... (Below threshold)

November 18, 2012 11:57 AM | Posted by Rufus: | Reply

FT's Alphaville blog did an interesting series on post-scarcity. It started with this one: "The crisis is only for those who used to have an advantage in the system." Worth a read if that aspect of all this is of interest. If you'd rather think more about robots, start with this one.

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

November 18, 2012 3:52 PM | Posted by Vanonymous: | Reply

This norwegian chronicle, written by a hipster caused extraordinary (aggressive) response, particularly from the upper demographics.

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Yeah, I gotta say I got mor... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2012 8:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Bob's comment, by sunny day: | Reply

Yeah, I gotta say I got more out of it when it focused more on psychiatry than on "game" or whatever the frame of reference is here. I'm waiting for one of the authors to refer to the "cock carousel."

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Well, as far as why we're a... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2012 12:42 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Well, as far as why we're all pushing college, I think it goes back to the parents. Parents all love to brag about how junior is studying X in college. Would they be as excited if he was an auto mechanic? That's why so many chef schools are opening as well. It screams "unique" in a way that "welding apprenticeship" just doesn't. So we tell kids that college is the future, or failing that, becoming a chef or interior designer or something like that -- something that isn't boring menial labor (which is for stupid lower class people). So everyone goes to college. WHICH IS THE PROBLEM. How is college the way forward? It's not. Everyone who graduates high school goes to a college, the dumb ones go to community college, but they all have "some college", which according to outdated statistics, means that everyone will be middle class.

Add to that, the younger generation starting in the 1980's sort of rebelled against the idea of being in boring corporate culture, in other words the kinds of things that 90% of them would be doing otherwise. So they became starving artist types. Which wouldn't be so bad if it had been nipped in the bud at the cute 14-year old stage rather than encouraging the kids to spend thousands of dollars to persue a degree in art or literature because Auntie Junie thought those poems written in jr high were really good. Besides it sounds good to say that Dave is in college studying the Arts rather than working at Wal-Mart and drawing Anime characters in notebooks.

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PhilWas struck by ... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2012 4:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Phil A.'s comment, by Ed S.: | Reply

Phil

Was struck by the following comment: ten years before we either wipe the slate clean, restructure government, and fix these problems that are gonna send us the way of Greece .

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Not gonna "restructure" the government, "wipe the slate clean" (whatever that means) or "fix these problems" (problems for who? Jamie Dimon?). And we're most assuredly not going the way of Greece.

And with respect -- there's NO solution of higher taxes / lower spending that can't "fix the problem"? Umm, how about:

1) A 50% reduction in defense spending (all of it)
2) Earned and unearned income treated equally (no Mitt Romney 13.9% effective Federal tax rate, no "carry trade"),
3) Return rates to the 1990's rates (that's gonna happen -- although it will not last long)
4) All income subject to Social Security and Medicare tax?

Betcha that would get us a long way to "fixing the problem"................but that would require taking different actions. For a guide on taking action (and why it doesn't happen), consult almost any essay by "The Last Psychiatrist"..........

Lucas,

Do you really believe what you wrote that TLP stated (or implied): (and we all know Arts-studying welfare queen hipster scum are incorrigibly incapable of improving themselves)....... Because if you do, may I suggest that you spend less time riding around on your 250cc (branding) motorcycle and more time in the library learning to read for content?

Your sarcasm only demonstrates that you didn't understand the topic of the essay -- and if I'm wrong, I apologize in advance but please QUOTE where TLP says or implies that "Arts-studying welfare queen hipster scum are incorrigibly incapable of improving themselves" (no out of context phrases, please).

The closest I come up with is: If you want to tell me a 30 year old hipster should be lashed for not trying to better himself, I'll bring the whip, but the 30 year old chose his pointless major when he was 17 and you think the outcome is all his fault.....When he was 17 the system incentivized him to destroy his life, tempted him with beer, babes, and BS-- and the promise of an upper middle class lifestyle provided he went to "a good school".

Sounds to me like TLP is a focused on the system, not the individual (and is throughout the essay)............

Horn:

The question isn't how progressive US Income Taxes RATES are, but the progressivity of the total tax burden. Income tax is only one component of total tax -- and if you consider at total tax, it's not progressive at all. (for example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/files/2012/09/total-tax-bill-income.jpg )

I'll save you the trouble of looking: in the middle (40% to 60%), total tax (state and federal) is 25.2% of income; in the 95 to 99% it's 30.4%; for the top 1% it's 29%. Not a whole lot of progressivity going on there................

Income tax does not equal total tax.............

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"This reminds me of somethi... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2012 7:50 PM | Posted by jimmy james: | Reply

"This reminds me of something I read that alleged that Eisenhower wanted to call it "the military industrial educational complex" not "military industrial complex" but someone told him to simplify it."

Close, but no cigar. Eisenhower's original term was "military industrial CONGRESSIONAL complex," which makes more sense, at least from a poli-sci, Iron Triangle perspective.

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Hey man, I'm doing a PhD! A... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Rookie: | Reply

Hey man, I'm doing a PhD! And.... well... you're totally 100% right; it's a semiotic trick that makes people go "wow" and has no necessary connection to knowledge or ability. Luckily, in Australia, there's no cost for PhD's because we're 'advancing society's knowledge.' I'd guess maybe 10% have any useful value at best.

Naturally I include mine in that 10% :P I feel a desire to explain exactly how and why its not fluffy bullshit. The urge to self identify and justify is fairly strong, eh? Yet nothing has convinced me so much of the utter valuelessness of a great portion of university study than hearing the marking stories around me, seeing shitty essays with two internet references scrape through as passes and absent minded students stumbling around like zombies with dull excuses for their poor work and plagarism.

Yet even a hundred perfect references would make no guarantee of value, only the content. Same as any fancy sounding degree, the value is in what it teaches you, conrete skills, abilities, economic potential.

So, if I rage against that, can I stay the same, mark myself as different and keep doing my extra valuable PhD? :D

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I'm still wondering when th... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 9:12 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

I'm still wondering when the 3-dimensional chess will be uncovered. Part 3 perhaps.

"Your college major matters less over time". Quote: "the advantage possessed by career-oriented majors may be short-lived. Once in a career path, the more general skills of communication, organization and judgment become highly valued. As a result, liberal arts graduates frequently catch or surpass graduates with career-oriented majors in both job quality and compensation."

I've seen this play out time and again. Liberal arts major working in IT, hired for my communication and research skills, btw.

Like a woman who squandered her youth on fun but disreputable men, she will find herself at 45 wanting to marry, but alone. "That is such a disgusting, sexist, archaic thing to say." I feel your rage, and you are right. Alone nevertheless.

Yeah, because this totally doesn't happen to men who squander their youths on fun but disreputable women. And it totally doesn't happen to women who marry reliable, reputable men who end up squandering their middle ages on fun but disreputable women (hint: divorce), or alcohol, or drugs, or mental illness. And of COURSE it doesn't happen to men who marry reliable, reputable women who end up squandering their middle ages on fun but disreputable men, or alcohol, or drugs, or mental illness. Phew, we haven't even gotten to LGBT couples yet... boy, sure seems like there are a lot of ways of being alone at 45 and the mere fact of being a single woman is just one of them! Good thing there are so many ways to be right, makes the sexism easier to justify huh!

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To be fair, anyone who thin... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 9:38 AM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

To be fair, anyone who thinks they know what other people will want at 45 is kind of an idiot.

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i think as far as basic tem... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 6:16 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

i think as far as basic temperment, you can know what you want at 45. It's the kinds of things you like now. If you're constantly drawing stuff now, and you did the same as a kid, chances are fairly good that you will be drawing something at 45, 65, and even 85 (if you can still see). If you've always been reading books, you'll be reading books as long as you can see. If you love sports, you'll always have a place for sports in your life. It also means that the quiet shy 5 year old is going to be a quiet, shy, adult. People do have a core personality and core interests. The thing is that we try to be cool so we hide the stuff that isn't good for our social life.

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I believe Kurt Vonnegut dea... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 7:52 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

I believe Kurt Vonnegut dealt with this issue in Player Piano...about 1952

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Oh I agree in the sense tha... (Below threshold)

November 20, 2012 10:28 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Oh I agree in the sense that you can probably estimate what YOU yourself might care about at 45. It's other people that have too many variables to make those kind of assumptions about.

I imagine at 45 I will still be driven by some of the same things, and still struggle with some of the same problems because they are core aspects and key wounds etc.

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That's it, direct all your ... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:01 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

That's it, direct all your rage at these people..these "poor mentally disabled" people. There, feel better? Now please continue supporting them by continuing to support the system. After all, how else will you be able to prove that you are "above" them?

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No rage. Wow, people really... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

No rage. Wow, people really want to believe I care! Oh poor pathetic useless people, I guess that's how you see us mentally ill right?

Guess what, I think you are a lot more destructive to those of us with problems with that attitude.

Yep, people can recognize they did something stupid and still be ok. It's not about how I feel. I'm not above them.

But if you want to make it about me, I think it sounds to you like you hope the blog owner will throw you a bone for being smart!

Now who wants to be above some one? Me or you?

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Speaking of jerks who think... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Speaking of jerks who think they're better than people, did you just call everyone who completes a useless degree mentally disabled?

Wow... you are a twit with a serious sense of self importance!

Hope I'm helping you get your rage out :)

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Dude, chill.... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:34 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Dude, chill.

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Meh... just trying to oblig... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Meh... just trying to oblige.

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Ps. I'm sorry for making yo... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 10:14 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Ps. I'm sorry for making you feel bad. We all have our demons, this is mine. It can be quite satisfying to disprove you logically, yet it gains me nothing else except the knowledge that my actions have hurt another human being. I'm sorry.

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Worry less about my feeling... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 10:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Worry less about my feelings. You really don't understand them.

And if you want the apology accepted, it is. I'm not much for them.

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As far as what you need to ... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 10:58 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

As far as what you need to believe about yourself it is none of your concern.

I've assessed what I need: you intended to be a threat, you need to feel superior, you like to manipulate people into an arrangement where you can get this feeling gratified.

Good for you for knowing this about yourself. But it's really none of my concern. Because I know how to dance backwards doesn't mean I'm not doing it by route in a safe environment where I can test the things I may find useful somewhere else.

Hurting me is more important to you than me. Besides, that is something I'm much much better at than you ever would be.

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1) You kind of lost me comp... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted by MZ: | Reply

1) You kind of lost me completely at the end there, where you question if a PhD in medieval history actually knows more than a D&D player, and that he questions the worth of MDs. Of COURSE she knows more. The whole point of accreditation is that it is, at the very least, a proof that you've successfully completed a course of study and therefore no what you're talking about, or at the VERY least did know what you were talking about at some point. Are there dumb PhDs? Sure. Are there bad MDs? Sure. But ask yourself this: If you need medical attention, and you're given the choice between two strangers - one with an MD, one who claims to be competent but is self-taught, who do you choose? Do you EVER choose the latter? Questioning the validity of credentials like that just smacks too strongly of a failed academic.

But more to the point...

2) I completely agree with the premise that the baby boomers first created the mess, and now enforce it, by a) promising jobs to those who study hard then work hard; and b) clinging on to jobs they should have moved on from a long time ago, guaranteeing the falsity of the promise. But here's the thing: No one gets (after paying for) a degree expecting to be on food stamps afterwards. Do you think Philosophy majors don't know they'd be better off as electricians? But here's the thing: Not everyone is built to be an electrician. And in the world where everyone COULD be one, how long before the market is flush with electricians, and we consider trads school to be a one-way ticket to food stamps? People do what they're good at, or at least like, or at very least are interested in.
I'm presently in Western Australia, where everyone knows that getting a job in mining is your ticket to unlimited riches. So you get students heading into the Geology degree programme in droves because they're the SMART ones (according to you), tailoring their studies to the job market in "useful" ways. But it means a lot of failures and dropouts because they can't handle it, and a lot of barely-squeaking-through students who just aren't that interested in the subject to care about more than getting the piece of paper at the end. This leads to a pile of bad geologists out there - the big miners don't want to hire local students, because they know the above to be true. But they do hire Aussies to "feed the machine", stick 'em up on the mine site where they can log core all day long and not do too much harm, and as soon as the price of iron gets below $70, they will have zero problem with putting these people on the Aussie equivalent of food stamps. Does that make them dumb-in-the-future for doing what they're doing now?

3) When you go on about how guaranteeing a living wage isn't valid because these hipsters HAD the money, they just chose to blow it on an education that wouldn't get them a job, you're missing the point. If you agree that every human has the right to the basics of survival - food, water, shelter - then you don't get to say that some people don't deserve that right because they made what appear TO YOU to be poor decisions with their lives.
Some people say that you shouldn't give money to panhandlers, you should buy them food or clothes or something. It's supposed to be more "considerate", I think it's poorly concealing the fact that you think they're just going to blow your money on drugs or booze - which you do NOT approve of. Look: if someone asks you for money, and you don't want to give it to them, don't. But don't simultaneously deny them their request while making your judgement of them super-obvious. I remember when a newspaper reporter followed a panhandler home and found that she had a big TV or something, and it was this BIG SCANDAL. My reply is: So what? Anyone can ask anyone for anything. If I get my money by simply going up to people and simply asking for it, and they give it to me, then what's really wrong with that? There's no contract there. I can ask, you can say no. But if you say yes, then you don't get to tell me what to do with that money - it's no longer your money. Maybe it's dishonest of me if I ask for money so I can get some lunch, then take your money and buy a TV, but again, nothing's binding. You can say no for any reason, including the reason that you think I'm going to spend it in a way that you consider irresponsible, and I have to live with that, and that's fine. But how I spend my money - either a handout or a student loan - is my business, and an entirely separate issue from what basic human rights are guaranteed to me (and you).

4) Related to the Baby Boomer False Promise is the fact that most jobs require post-secondary education. Can you even get a receptionist's job without a degree? So even if you're not cut out to be a great student, you have to take SOMETHING to get a piece of paper, so why not take something you're interested in but doesn't necessarily advance the needs of society? Right? You're not going to be a carpenter, you're not going to be a professor, you just want a job that you can put in 9 to 5 and come home from without thinking about it. So you get a degree in Art History with that in mind, because hey, you like art and you want a degree. But what if they're not hiring receptionists? Then yeah, you go on food stamps until the job market opens up. Is it the fault of the "useless" degree?
And consider this: Plumbers get jobs, but they will never make it to the 1%. Even if you expand your plumbing operation, hure a bunch of guys, do everything right, it's the guys with university degrees - not necessarily in business - that make it into Forbes magazine. This means that if you're at all ambitious, you know what you need, and it's not what this writer would consider "useful".

5) Do we really need to have the discussion about the actual value of degrees in things like Medieval History? I hope not.

6) OK, last one, and the biggest. It's so sickening when people get mad at the poor for receiving such a basic level of support ON MY TAX DOLLARS. Really? You think they're getting a sweet deal, a free ride? YOU try living on $150/month for food. Oh, what a royal life you'll lead! Your envy is well-placed!
I remember not too long ago they started a program where the state goverment (California?) bought school supplies for kids who had at least one parent in prison, and there was a huge outcry about that. "I never broke a single law in my whole life, and no one's paying for MY kid's school supplies, but this guy goes to jail and I have to support HIS kid?" Oh yes, that kid's a real lucky duck. You would very much enjoy trading places with THAT family, I'll bet. Do feel free to knock over a liquor shop and remove your family's sole source of income and deprive your child of one of his parents so your kid can get $4 worth of pencil crayons. So when this writer says that narcissistic rage and judgement are the ways to condition people into helping others, I'm saying it's the opposite. What's needed is LESS rage and envy, because thinking for just an instant about someone else's situation is what leads to realizing you can't deprive someone of the necessities of life just because YOU think they're unworthy because they didn't make decisions that YOU want them to have made. Seeing a Philosophy PhD on food stamps should make you say "damn, that's a terrible situation, I hope she gets help" rather than "dumb bitch deserves to die because she should've become an electrician instead".

And I do take your point that different types of people have different perceptions, and they're going to think they way they do because of those pre-existing perceptions. But why cater to the worst parts of human nature? Why would you basically say that we should structure social policy to suit the most dickish part of the population?

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The No. 1 goal for obtainin... (Below threshold)

November 23, 2012 1:28 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The No. 1 goal for obtaining a college degree is to learn how to think critically. Clearly many of you failed your education.

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It's a pity that your Engli... (Below threshold)

November 23, 2012 7:44 AM | Posted, in reply to bbrodriguez's comment, by Eipa: | Reply

It's a pity that your English is too bad to understand statments but good enough but good enough to insult people... Isn't it?

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I absolutely love that Goog... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2012 1:23 PM | Posted by drbluedevil: | Reply

I absolutely love that Google supplied an ad for an online university to support this page. :)

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except that you really don'... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2012 4:27 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

except that you really don't. I never learned to think critically in college -- mostly because it's never actually demanded. The classes never ask you to show why something is wrong, just why the texts that the teacher chose are the truth and the stuff that disagrees is a lie. if you take a course on history, you'll learn the approved version, which is the version you must spit back out on tests to pass. The American Civil War is about slavery, and any source that fails to mention it is wrong. Some critical thinking -- yes the civil war was about slavery, but spitting that back out because it's in your textbook or your teacher said so during a lecture is not critical thinking.

What would be critical thinking would be to have a student in a class read lots of different opinions on a subject, and then use logic and reason to argue for the position that the student believes is right. Going back to history for a moment. A question requiring critical thinking might be to write about why Rome fell -- there are dozens of theories out there, each one having some mutually exclusive elements as well as other elements that could go together. A moral failing doesn't preclude environmental catastrophe, however it would mean that Christianity is not to blame. So you'd have the students read a few sources from all of those camps. Then without having an officially sanctioned version of "why Rome fell" have the students explain, based on the arguments in the sources that they read, which explanation makes the most sense and why. and rather than grading, as most classes do, based on hitting the high points of what the teacher thinks is important, judge based on the logic and historical soundness of the argument presented. That's critical thinking.

That's not what college does. Most courses tell you what the official answer is, then present you with sources that agree. You won't read any versions of American History in which America wasn't instrumental in winning the 2 world wars, even though Russia was instrumental in winning WW2. No invasion of Russia, Germany is Aryan North Korea -- and probably contains most of continental Europe. Won't read that in most American texts that insist on the John Wayne version in which we won the war for Europe. So kids are not taught to critically think, just rephrase textbooks that have the answer.

So if you're planning to go to college to learn to think, I can save you thousands right now. Go to Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com and buy a book on logic. Then pick a subject you like. Personally, I like history, but whatever topic, and read as many different viewpoints on the subject as you can afford. Then simply use the logic you learned from the logic book to write an argument about why you think X author is right and Y author is wrong, using the facts from all of those books you read on the topic. Keep doing that, and you'll learn to form your own opinions, and know how to spot BS when you hear it. For best results, join a group that talks online about the topic of interest. I've learned more critical thinking arguing a theory about nerdy TV shows than i have regurgitating the lecture back to a professor for a guarenteed B.

I'm not saying that college and credentials are worthless, but unless you're going into something that requires a credential to get in, you're not necessarily doing yourself a favor.

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Strange, my education seems... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2012 5:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Strange, my education seems to have been exactly what yours wasn't. Then again, I studied things that are virtually impossible to do in the manner you describe.

I've taken a course or two like that, sad really.

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Woah... you won't have any ... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2012 5:46 PM | Posted by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Woah... you won't have any useful college coursework that uses standardized textbooks.

You definitely WILL be doing your own research.

Wow. I never thought my school was that good :/

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"I'm not saying that colleg... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2012 11:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Lucas Linchar: | Reply

"I'm not saying that college and credentials are worthless, but unless you're going into something that requires a credential to get in, you're not necessarily doing yourself a favor."

You're assuming that all universities are the same as the 50th-rate one you attended.

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I've heard that financial a... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2012 3:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I've heard that financial aid is being cut from some suspicious vocational programs (I don't know about suspicious academic programs). There are a million vocational schools that charge outlandish prices to teach a person a skill. There are even programs that are designed for things such as learning the Microsoft suite for about- this is 1990s prices- $9000.00 for seven months of schooling (Mcrosoft suite of programs and some basic schooling in professionalism and how to keep a job). After all this, the 'graduating' class still can't find jobs, so they sign up for an additional 7 months of schooling, this time in networking. They don't get a degree, they get a certificate.

My CNA is a good example- it took one month and i got it for free by working in long term care. the local community college charges $1000.00 for about a 3 month program. Vocational schools might charge $3000.00 or dress it up to pretend being a Patient Care Tech means so much more and charge $5000.00. Financial aid will no longer pay for any of this (I checked). That's weird; it should pay for the community college. But WIA grants, Workforce Investment Act grants, will pay for it if you are poor and 'displaced.' (Which as far as i can tell means if you're poor).

It's not just academia.

The thing is though, as much of a ripoff as this stuff may be, it's all apparently necessary because the schools and families are apparently not teaching their kids how to survive in the real world, or maybe it is an economic necessity that some people must fail. (Econ is not my subject, for sure).

Which brings me to the question that interests me the most- sure this may be a long list of problems, but they apparently answer to legitimate needs, --- self esteem, self actualization, or just dire economic necessity or a path, any path, after high school--- so how to fix the broken system? Because i didn't really hear that theat was addressed in this post, at all.

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For the record, the CNA has... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2012 3:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

For the record, the CNA has always kept me employed when i wanted or needed to be, although I keep hearing the market is saturated. It was certainly worth, in terms of having a job and getting some self-esteem and whatever, a free month of schooling plus working night and day, plus some additional hours for the practicum. I also got paid for all my classroom and work experience for the entire time. I don't get paid well usually, but I always have insurance and hours, so all things considered it was a good move.

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Which brings me to the q... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2012 9:48 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Which brings me to the question that interests me the most- sure this may be a long list of problems, but they apparently answer to legitimate needs, --- self esteem, self actualization, or just dire economic necessity or a path, any path, after high school--- so how to fix the broken system? Because i didn't really hear that theat was addressed in this post, at all.

I think at some point, we're going to have to go to a skill test of some sort. What college proves is that you could pass a class. That's not going to work as a way to prove that you know the material. I think you have to come up with real certification tests -- something that makes sure that you know and can do, rather than that you sat and took notes.

I'd also like to see more apprenticeships as a bridge from school to work, perhaps even in place of college. I'd rather hire a kid who spent 3 years running a business than a kid with a 4-year management degree. Just like I'd rather hire the guy who's built his own deck rather than a guy who sat in a class and took notes on how to build a deck. Most skills are better learned by doing, not watching and certainly not by reading about them. I think the same is true of some office and business jobs. The guy who's been doing is usually better at doing than the guy who's been taught a theory.

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By golly, you're right. I d... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2012 11:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

By golly, you're right. I don't need this Neuroscience degree, or any of this egghead book-learnin'. I should be out there learning by doing!

Thank you for opening my eyes.

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I agree. I also happen to f... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 12:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I agree. I also happen to find myself learning better when it is mixed in with real work and when the skills i am learning are extremely practical. I refer kids to job corps a lot for that reason. Shameless promotion of a program I like: free for kids with financial need, teaches a range of vocational skills, often also provides for living expenses while the kids are learning a skill and training for a job. Ages 16-21.

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I'm not talking about docto... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 10:06 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I'm not talking about doctors, I'm talking about people who are getting things like business degrees or English lit degrees because they think a college degree is the key to middle class even if they learn nothing while getting it. Part of the reason such degrees are worthless is because it's not all that hard to BS through while knowing nothing about the subject.

And just so you know, anything you do in the health field has a pretty strong apprenticeship aspect anyway. You'll spend a lot of time as a resident before you get your first real doctor's job, and it's the same thing for pharmacy and nurses. Kinda strange that when it's absolutely critical that a graduate know their stuff, the program itself contains an extended apprenticeship (even if they call it something else), while most other degrees content themselves with the usual rote learning and regurgitating system. I think it's because it's really hard to fake. You literally cannot bull your way through an internship. If they insist that you know how to do a catheter -- you will demonstrate it, and you will do it right the first time, or you don't pass that nursing course. If the courses on business were run the same way, you'd be designing a strategy for a business -- and it had better work or you flunk. That's what's appealing about the apprenticeship -- it's not necessarily a replacement for a degree, but it's a system that test whether you actually have the skill rather than asking if you passed the related coursework.

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actually nursing exams suck... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 11:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

actually nursing exams suck. doctor exams, at least if my 2 books for residents are any indications (psych and pediatrics) are a hell of a lot easier. that is mainly because teh judgment calls for nurses, reflected in teh exams, are close- you can get three answers to a question that are all correctish and you have to chose the most correct one. with my residency books, things are a lot clearer cut, there is generally one correct treatment choice and one correct answer. It is very memorize and regurgitate. I guess that might be because it would be an ungodly amount of material to teach otherwise, but i don't really know. anyway, my understanding is that intern to resident is only four years. so- 8 years to be a doctor versus three years to be an R.N. or maybe two years if you took HS AP classes.
Maybe teh dr is easier too because they expect you to learn a lot as a resident. I was shocked when i learned tehy get paid, like $60, 000 a year. I mean...only four years of real school, then you are workingish, plus you get paid? Sign me up. It makes med school sound reasonably affordable, maybe more than reasonably, considering what you get paid after. But i guess because of teh type of person who in reality is willing to tackle this shit, we are running out of GPs, supposedly because they don't make teh kind of money and anesthesiologist does. Which is insane- who counts after $100,000.oo a year? I am willing to not count after that.

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Seriously, Alone, stop talk... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 4:09 PM | Posted by DrModern: | Reply

Seriously, Alone, stop talking about subjects you don't understand. It's really strange to say simultaneously that the problem is that a generation of narcissists "over" (compared to what benchmark?) incentivized liberal-arts education and that liberal-arts degrees are not attuned to societal values, since presumably the self-same narcissists comprise a significant proportion of society's consumers.

The really simple question to ask yourself is this: if college education is systematically overvalued by the market, such that you can obtain competitive advantages by declining to go to college, why aren't people already doing so? Your answer appears to be something along the lines of "some narcissists tricked them," which, seriously? Or "there's too much government-guaranteed credit," which, you evidently have zero comprehension of how the student-loan servicing industry works. Or "they're too invested in being seen as smart," which can't be true, since in that case, there would be people to actually see them as smart.

If highly-educated white people receiving public benefits makes you angry, it probably has something to do with your values, your prejudices, and your self-image.

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Uh pretty sure obongo won b... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 4:31 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Uh pretty sure obongo won because the non-whites voted for him and there are too damn many race traitor white liberals who can't recognize how important race is.

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? Lost with just the first ... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 4:59 PM | Posted, in reply to DrModern's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

? Lost with just the first paragraph. you equate narcissists values with society's values but narcissists are out for themselves and themselves only (more true than not); they don't care about society's values. So, wha---?

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No, it's because the GOP ga... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 7:07 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

No, it's because the GOP gave Ron Paul the shaft early in the race.

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You're assuming that I inte... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2012 8:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You're assuming that I intend to become a doctor.

You're also assuming that Business and English Literature degrees don't teach a person anything.

Why don't you just come right out and admit that you hate intellectuals?

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I hate intellectuals. I thi... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 7:40 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I hate intellectuals. I think he just kind of wants to be hard on people for some reason. But: I really, really hate intellectuals, they dress stupidity up and parade it around. happy?

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I said "intellectuals", not... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 8:28 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I said "intellectuals", not "hipsters".

Don't make me throw a jack-o-lantern at your back.

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I don't think so. You have... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 10:30 AM | Posted, in reply to bbrodriguez's comment, by Gottafang: | Reply

I don't think so. You have a specific goal and the aspiration to achieve it. You want to teach, not sit around and talk about teaching. You are putting your skills into practice by cycling thorough the state and tutoring. You're not cycling around Central America and popping mushrooms with the natives. You will also be better prepared to recognize opportunities when they present themselves. You are passionate about what you want to do, and your passion and aspiration separates you from the hipsters.

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In the past few years, food... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 5:20 PM | Posted by peterike: | Reply

In the past few years, food stamps have represented the largest direct bribe of voters in history. You think it a mere coincidence that Team Obama was handing them out like candy? No, they were little electronic "Vote for Obama" cards. Bribery, served straight up and in your face.

The Obama years saw over 15 million NEW EBT recipients. That's one hell of a bribe, folks. Especially when you realize that Obama beat Romney by 3.2 million votes.

Food stamps also serve the very useful purpose of eliminating soup lines. Imagine the imagery in the media if everyone with an EBT card had to line up to receive a box of groceries every week? Then we'd know just how horrible the economy really is.

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No, this is absolute nonsen... (Below threshold)

November 27, 2012 6:11 PM | Posted, in reply to Gottafang's comment, by Lucas Gray: | Reply

No, this is absolute nonsense. How do you know those "hipsters" you're condemning are not also teaching? Why the hell else would they be doing degrees in literature, art or music? You're assuming a BA in Philosophy is pure self indulgence, when it's actually the best pre-Law study available. You'd never, NEVER subject pre-med or physics students to the "HURR YOU'RE ON FOODSTAMPS NO JOBS NO JOBS SHOULDN'T HAVE FOLLOWED YOUR DREAMS" line.

This isn't about a lack of ambition. Liberal arts students have plenty of ambition. What this is about is institutionalising contempt for culture and the humanities, and deification of narrow, utilitarian, technical engineering and medicine courses. If you're not majoring in Bio-Nuclear Astrophysical Medical Engineering, you might as well be Occupying Wall Street. And fuck education, fuck book-learnin', fuck thinking outside the box, because that shit ain't gonna pay the bills, son, and you've got to start learning by doing so you can please your boss, and his boss, and his boss,, and so on, all the way up to the Bilderberg Group.

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... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 10:47 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

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my entire post just got del... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 10:50 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

my entire post just got deleted instantly and I'm a little miffed. that is weird. all I said was I like you even when you are wrong, which I am not saying you are, but just in case it ever happens. and I did a little heart symbol out of a less than symbol and a three.

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Presumably if an entire gen... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 2:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by DrModern: | Reply

Presumably if an entire generation is comprised of narcissists, and a generation comprises a significant chunk of the population, then the society itself is significantly narcissistic.

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Teaching? Teaching what, th... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 5:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Dr. Overman: | Reply

Teaching? Teaching what, the same useless garbage that we paid for them to go to college for? Teaching people how to get on welfare? How to work at Starb*cks? Or Bebe?

THAT IS THE F--KING PROBLEM. We don't need more law students, there aren't enough jobs for the ones we have. We don't need more Medieval History PH.Ds, at all, ever. We need people who actually use their brain to contribute something meaningful to society, screw your narcissism and entitlement.

The point isn't that they shouldn't "follow their dreams"; the point is that they should be held to the consequences of trying to pass off their "dreams" on society as anything meaningful or useful to the rest of us when they aren't, AND expecting us to pay for that.

You want to pursue your dreams? Awesome. Do it without becoming an entitled, consumerist parasite. Aim higher.

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What I'm objecting to is th... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 6:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

What I'm objecting to is the notion that it's worthwhile to go thousands of dollars in debt for something that is not going to get you anywhere. That's my objection. People need to think about college as preparation for a future job. It's foolish to waste money on a degree that you'll be paying for for the rest of your life -- when any unbiased person would notice that such degrees really don't get you much farther. I'm not particularly anti-intellectual. I'm against poor and middle class kids wasting large portions of their future income on a degree that will be of very little use, and in many cases counterproductive.

I'm in favor of real study. You want to study philosophy, you can do that. My recommendation is that you save 65K and do so by reading the books on your own. It might take longer, but at minimum you won't be in massive debt while still only being qualified to stock shelves and use a cash register. In fact, if you read the books while working for a business, you'll get good business experience AND learn a lot about philosophy. Do the same for literature. You can get a lot of used textbooks at book fairs, often for very cheap (and unless you're trying to learn a science skil, the age of the text doesn't matter much), and read whatever subject suits your fancy. I'm not saying don't learn, I'm saying don't go into debt for the purpose of intellectual development for its own sake. I think it's the same as most other debt -- it's not smart unless you're going to get an asset. Going into debt to buy a house or a car is okay, a normal part of life. Going into debt to vacation in Aruba is not -- you don't have anything to show for the money other than the suntan.

I suppose if you really have the means (Hi Mitt Romney) to go and get a degree in a subject just for fun and can do so without getting into massive debt, go for it. I envy you in some ways, I think it would be a lot of fun to study literature that way, but understand that for most kids at 18, you get one chance at 4-year study, and you will graduate with a lot of debt, so if your coursework doesn't net you a good job, not only have you wasted time (you'll be 4-5 years older), but you'll be sending 20% of your check to the bankers forever. So if you're taking this as "I hate learning", not really. I hate the idea of more kids being taken by an education scam that will make them debt slaves for the next several decades while giving them nothing of use. If that's not you, it's not you. The opinion I'm giving is based on an 18 year old kid who is going to go to college on student loans. For that kid, the wrong degree is worse than not having one, because he's going to end up doing the same job either way, but without the degree he doesn't have the debt. Its about making sure that the education you get is going to translate into enough economic power to be an asset that justifies the expense.

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Teaching primary school chi... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 6:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Dr. Overman's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Teaching primary school children how to read and write, so you can go fuck yourself.

And you can go fuck yourself for using the "hurr Medieval History PhD" strawman as if that degree is representative of the humanities.

And, once again, you can go fuck yourself for thinking that students of the humanities don't contribute to society in a tangible way, and that what they do isn't "meaningful".

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Yes, stratifying the educat... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 7:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yes, stratifying the education of a society according to which class they belong to doesn't sound like a bad idea at all.

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This is just silly. Of cour... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 11:18 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is just silly. Of course children need to be able to support themselves and of course preparation, realistic preparation, should start around age 18.

In the example above, the disgruntled former student says she does not blame Yavapai college for her troubles, but rather 'the systematic defunding of public education." She allegedly has a Ph.D. in medieval Studies- Yavapai college, from the looks of it, doesn't even provide an advanced degree in medieval Studies, but whatever. It's not her parent's, society's, or funding's fault. It's her own damn fault; if she is smart enough to earn an advanced degree in Medieval Studies from, of all places, Yavapai College, she is sure as hell smart enough to figure out that that is not going to place her on the fast track to tenure at Harvard.

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Ed S,From the Klei... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 12:20 PM | Posted by horn: | Reply

Ed S,

From the Klein Op-Ed cited, the person in the 95th% pays 20% more taxes than someone at the median quintile. That's the definition of progressivity, to pretend otherwise is foolish and absurd.

More importantly, the simple, undefined bar-chart you attached does not include negative taxes, i.e. the cash payments that those in the bottom two quintiles get, along with tax credits.

After all, if you pay 17, but get rebated 20, you're receiving 3 from the Gov't, not paying anything at all. It seems like your argument was purposefully misleading to not mention that salient fact:
http://www.aei-ideas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/9.26.12-Mankiw.jpg

What does this chart show? For the lowest income group, income after taxes and transfers was four times that of income before taxes and transfers.
Only for roughly the top half of income earners do taxes and transfers result in an after-tax-and-transfer income that is less than their market income — for which the ratio is less than 100%.

In popularizing “the one tax graph you really need to know,” Mr. Klein hasn’t even artificially truncated the distribution over taxes at zero. Instead, he seems to include some transfers from government to individuals — for example, the EITC — but not others, like food stamps, Social Security, TANF, veteran’s programs, worker’s compensation, Medicaid, CHIP, and many other transfers. Not including these transfer payments is a significant omission." ~Strain and Veuger

Of course, those at the bottom *should* receive benefits from the gov't, but it is patently absurd to say someone in the bottom 10% of income is paying a net 17% tax rate, when they are in reality receiving $4 in benefits, Social Security, cash, SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Section 8 for every $1 they put into the system.

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I don't think anyone is say... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 12:23 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I don't think anyone is saying that. It's simply a matter of choosing something that's reasonable if you're going to be paying for it for the next 10 years. Perhaps as simple as trying to tie the arts you love into something that people will actually pay you for. Couple your love of Japan and all things Anime with an international business degree. Couple your love of literature with something business related. Use art and marketing together to get a job in advertising. Do ethnic studies and marketing if that's what suits you. If you understand the culture, you can use that in business. But you have to know something about business to get there. Or you could simply choose something reasonably marketable and keep some of the art stuff as hobbies. What I do think is that you have to have a pretty solid plan as to how a degree in X is going to be marketable -- how seeing a BS in your major with a decent GPA is going to make the boss want to hire you. Know the types of industries that you'll be working in, and what kinds of things they look for. And do that.

That's not to say that certain majors should only be taken by rich people, just that you need to have a really good reason for that degree. Which is true unless you're the 0.001% who are going to college because you literally have nothing better to do. I doubt they need to worry about economics.

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Horn,Negative Inco... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 5:22 PM | Posted, in reply to horn's comment, by Ed S.: | Reply

Horn,

Negative Income Tax?
American Enterprise Institute?
Greg Mankiw (Romney's economic advisor)?

Life's too short to provide a point by point rebuttal to the Tea Party/Koch Brothers talking points you've provided.

But here are two quickies:

Next time you go into Wal-Mart, make sure to give the stink eye to the 72 year old greeter making $8/hr -- because she is the parasitic beneficiary of the "negative income tax" in the bottom quintile -- since the Social Security she receives (paid into their entire working life) is now being redefined as some sort of government handout.

And if you believe that a household in the 40-60th percentile making $54,200 and paying 25% compared to a 95th percentile making $166,000 and paying 30.3% compared to a top 1% making $1,219,600 and paying 29% is progressive, you need to go back and take Algebra 1 again to understand linear vs. exponential equations.

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Fine, I'll play along with ... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 5:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dr. Overman: | Reply

Fine, I'll play along with your rage.

One question: If these people are not "meaningless" to society, how does their unemployed status and collecting welfare/SSI/EBT/etc. contribute POSITIVELY.

It doesn't. Again, that is the point.

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"2) Earned and unearned inc... (Below threshold)

November 30, 2012 4:58 PM | Posted by Politically_Inept: | Reply

"2) Earned and unearned income treated equally (no Mitt Romney 13.9% effective Federal tax rate, no "carry trade"), "

Isn't double taxation part of what turned 13 colonies into this country?

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Overman? Like Nietzsche? Wh... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2012 12:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Dr. Overman's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Overman? Like Nietzsche? What, did you choose your name to reflect your politics?

In other news, i have ntoiced nobody has discussed what the exceptional things that might come out of educating many people in a given subject are worth. In other words, what is an exceptional work of art or literature worth- is it worth educating two people out of necessity because you have a system that cannot determine in advance who will be an exceptional artist and who will not? And so, one of those people goes on to gt married and raise kids--- it itself a worthwhile thing, and her educational background no doubt influences her kids positively no matter what they go on to become, but--- one of those people goes on to create an exceptional work of art that is placed in the permanent collection at the guggenheim. What is that one very exceptional piece of art and meaningful culture worth- is it worth educating two people so get the one recognized significant work?
This is the sort of depth people might want to consider.
Just so it doesn't turn into petty bickering of the sort Republicans and Democrats get into.
Sorry- I realize that sounds unbelievably conceited of me.

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Again, you're equating libe... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2012 2:44 AM | Posted, in reply to Dr. Overman's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Again, you're equating liberal arts students with welfare recipients, and you're too stupid to realise how inaccurate that is.

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You dodged the question aga... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2012 4:59 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dr. Overman: | Reply

You dodged the question again. Replace the words "Liberal Arts Students" with anything, and my question still stands. If you had read my comment, you should have understood that.

How does anyone, regardless of what you want to label them, contribute to socitey by choosing to be unemployed and collecting social services? Specifically, through those actions, because that is the issue. Nothing before that, nothing after that.

@other Anon: Nietzsche indeed. It has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Alone's post. If you don't see the parallel... My lips are not for these ears.

I don't think anyone doubted the merits of learning XYZ; my issue is about who gets burdened with cleaning up the mess in the end, and with the willfull ignorance of the ones creating that mess.

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Well, lets' flip that. Wou... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2012 3:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Well, lets' flip that. Would you be willing to put your children into debt for the rest of their lives on the off chance that they might be a great artist? That's one of the worst parts of this -- that these kids are not poor because they're stupid, or unable to work, but because they were sold a bill of good on a degree that all of the adults pushing them knew or should have known was going to end in either an adjunct teaching position at a community college or a posh career making mocha lattes at Starbucks.

What if that was your kid? What if someone was trying to sell your kid a degree to Baseball University to major in Shortstop and you and they both knew that only 0.001% of all students who majored in Shortstop ever did anything with that degree at all? And what if it was at the low low price of half of your child's income for the next 20 years? Most people would say something. At least if they weren't so narcissistic as to see their kid majoring in a "cool" subject meant that they'd be soaking in the reflected glow of the admiration the neighbors had for their child.

How many starving artists can the nation support? How many kids are supposed to fall for the line that Arts degrees are worth something, when in reality no one wants to hire a freshly minted art history major? How many people would send their kids to hollywood to wait tables with headshots in their pockets considering the odds of them making it into movies? Even for the few true artists out there, I don't think there's a huge market for art majors, and you don't need a degree to paint. You just need ... to paint. You don't need a literature degree to write, you don't need courses on writing, you need to write. If you're really the diamond in the rough, I think you'' be fine

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I mostly agree, but here's ... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2012 9:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Dr. Overman: | Reply

I mostly agree, but here's the thing: You said that it isn't because they are stupid or lazy. Fine, I can pretend that I agree, even though I don't. But if I pretend that I do agree, those supposedly "smart" and "not lazy" people have no excuse not to have the awareness and drive to question that "bill of good,"

The fact that they didn't is why I think they are stupid. The fact that the majority have done nothing to get themselves out of this situation is why I think they are lazy. The adjectives might be my own opinion, but that doesn't change the fact that Noun+Verb=X.

Alone and you are right, that the parents are to blame for setting this up. But no one put a gun to their kids' head and said, "Liberal Arts or Vietnam."

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Well, yes and no. If virtu... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2012 5:12 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Well, yes and no. If virtually every adult is encouraging this, then it might not occur to a kid to question that. You have to understand that for my generation and onward, (gen X) you were told that you either went to college or you lived on food stamps while working as a waiter/waitress at Denny's. Your teachers, your parents, your friend's parents, TV shows, pretty much everyone with any message to the youth was identical "GO TO COLLEGE". They even went so far as to pretty much tell these same kids that they could be whatever they wanted to be, meaning that they're being told to go to college and that major doesn't matter by the entire culture. There wasn't a single dissent on the topic. When you talked about your future and about going to college, they were happy, when you talked about skilled trades, the same people were saying "you're smarter than that". So what you're expecting is that a 16-17 year old with very little real world experience is going to know to reject the message of his entire culture. It's a tall order, especially considering that most grown-ups don't do a good job at that.

Yes, they were nieve to not question it more than they did, but these kids were sheltered from any exposure to any other message. What a 15-17 year old kid in America knows about the grown-up world is about what a North Korean knows about the outside world. Most of it comes through media, and they believe what the leaders tell them about the outside world. Would you blame a North Korean for thinking that Americans harvest organs from 3rd world babies? They have no other sources of information, and they can't really see for themselves. So they obey. That's not stupidity, stupidity means that if you're given the full information, you still can't figure it out. The problem is your brain lacking the power to observe and deduce from those observations. If you're being lied to, being smart has nothing to do with it -- bad data makes for bad decisions. Yes they freely made those decisions, but they didn't make them based on facts, but propaganda that they mostly had no idea was propaganda.

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part 3 pretty please. This ... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2012 5:40 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

part 3 pretty please. This shit is changing my life

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Firstly, let's not underest... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2012 6:49 PM | Posted by James_G: | Reply

Firstly, let's not underestimate the costs of schooling before 18. Those 14 years are a disgraceful waste of time and a dissipation, just like the 3 or 4 years of college.

Secondly, young people are forced through the worthless college system (NB: As a BEng, I'll vouch that STEM degrees are also a waste of time apart from as signalling) by regulations. For example, the minimum wage law means that I can't offer to work for £3 an hour, until an employer thinks I'm good enough at CAD or Python that he is willing to pay more. Most grads aren't worth £6 an hour immediately. The laws that prevent workers from waiving their legal rights to sue for unfair dismissal, discrimination etc. also discourage employers from taking a risk with young people.

If USG and Western governments were suddenly to become libertarian, and less worried about "discrimination", the average hipster could jump onto the first rung of the latter that very afternoon. Here's a great means of finding a promising but unskilled hipster for a STEM job: invite 100 of them, give them an IQ test and sack everyone who scores below 120, employ the rest for £1 an hour for a week cleaning the toilets and sack everyone who complains, then start the remainder on £3 an hour for 3 months paired with an experienced employee. The remaining recruits who are worth more than £3 an hour after these 3 months can be promoted to a slightly improved wage and are now on their way to a successful career. Any intelligent, conscientious person—i.e. your average underemployed hipster—should have no trouble finding a suitable job in these circumstances.

Don't forget that the Fed needs to be abolished, along with the government's implicit loan-guarantee for fractional reserve banks. In this stroke, the government is prevented from diluting the currency and thereby wasting hipsters' precious dollars on bombs for Libya. In addition, the boom-and-bust cycle comes to an end, allowing corporations to stop laying off their employees every 5 years and to increase their investment in long-term projects such as the training of unskilled 22-year-olds.

That's the stick dealt with; the carrot includes the tendency for degrees to be a requisite for government jobs. In the UK, even NHS nurses must have a degree now. The solution: abolish these wasteful jobs, and let ordinary Americans revel in the consequent windfall. That would be painful for those currently employed by the state, but need only be a one-time curative.

The answer is not to occupy Wall Street, or to demand even more burdensome regulation and state interference. We need real capitalism and sound wu wei governance, not even more socialism. Of course, to get there from where we are now is some task.

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To clarify, most college gr... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2012 7:01 PM | Posted, in reply to James_G's comment, by James_G: | Reply

To clarify, most college grads aren't worth £6 an hour, but the employers are more likely to take this penalty (and the legal risk of treating incompetent hires "unfairly", whatever the terms of their contract) when they have a good college degree to signal their high intelligence and conscientiousness. A smart high school graduate isn't worth £6 an hour either, but is likely to lack a credible signal of his intelligence and other positive traits. If it were legally feasible for employers to hire youngsters in the fashion described above, this signalling game could be bypassed.

So a STEM or other relatively "good" degree is, regrettably, a slightly better option than skipping college for many 18-year-olds (especially since schooled kids are dumbed down). Yet many college graduates still aren't worth an hiring under the legally required terms.


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"To clarify, most college g... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2012 3:51 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"To clarify, most college grads aren't worth £6 an hour"

If laboratories and clinics are willing to pay virtually any Honours student in Psychology from my university $65,000 a year to carry out research, they are in fact worth that much; the monetary value of work is arbitrary, and is determined by the paymaster.

It isn't really your place to say that college grads should be stooping to manual labour for lousy pay, when in reality there are actually great opportunities for graduates out there (yes, including Arts and Humanities students; so everyone can stop conflating Arts students with hipster welfare queens). They just need to know how to do the research and find work that will advantage them. For many, college is where they learn how to do this. You aren't going to learn networking and presentation by breaking your back cleaning a toilet for Joe Schmoe.

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I agree, which is why I thi... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2012 8:20 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I agree, which is why I think apprenticeship would be a great option if it were really made available. It allows employers to "try out" perhaps a dozen or more potential recruits. By having them do the kinds of work that you actually want them to do, you can tell who's worth it, and once the term is up, you have a well trained employee who knows how to do what you need him to do. And since it's offically training it might be possible to do so without paying the premium.

I don't know whether college itself is going to be valuable for the next generation. As it stands, you need an IQ of 80 or so to buy a degree from a university, which means that eventually people will see college as like high school. High school used to be the barrier, then everybody graduated high school, so it moved up a rung to college, now everyone is getting a BS. and so now it's going up. I don't know if the point of the diplomas was to promote the idea that you had a skill or if it was an off the record way to signal that your family was upper class enough to have you not working until later in your childhood.

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so kool breakdown... (Below threshold)

December 7, 2012 10:31 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

so kool breakdown

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The traditional function of... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 1:21 AM | Posted by Some nerd: | Reply

The traditional function of a classical education was to facilitate the democratic process. You know, well-informed citizens and stuff.

Regarding the topic; there are these gales of creative destruction caused by the interwebs, probably the microchip too since its still an improving technology. Slow moving institutions like education, big-business, and government take time to understand and take advantage of these technologies. The more revolutionary the technology the greater the displacement. During these periods of transition economies usually sustain higher unemployment. People are going to college and not finding jobs because those jobs might not exist in our economy right now. So until we learn to create new jobs, create new pricing structures, and employ people, welfare payments are inevitable.

Too bad America blew its collective load on real estate. All that capital the last paridigmal technology created (Oil/micro chips) ,poof, we totally could have utilized it to help create more entrepreneurs. Would have employed more people and created more technologies.

Hey, who knows? Googzon- Mobil... Private Socialism!!

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In regards the James_G comm... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 12:06 PM | Posted by Some Nerd: | Reply

In regards the James_G comment; be careful of using terms like 'real capitalism'. Capitalism as defined by who? Joseph Shumpeter? Adam Smith? Historically capitalism is a vague concept, and I don't think any of the competing definitions are real-er.

Also, any argument that promises the 'end of the boom-bust cycle' is going to raise some eyebrows. Quick: name a point in time after 1750 when we haven't been boom-busting. You can't', it's an inevitability of life. Like...

I'm RCA, its 1950, and the vacuum tube business is booming. What incentive do I have to aggressively pursue transistor technology at this point. No one knows how to mass produce these things or if its even possible to do so, so why spend on R&D when vacuum tubes are profitable now. Especially when the technology is moving faster than the patenting process. Any time you make a break through your competitors will be all over it before you can turn a profit. The established company is inheretenly disadvantaged to the start up (as long as those federal $$$ keep coming). Fast-forward to 2012 and RCA (vacuum) is dead and Intel (transistors) is a big deal. It's not regulation or the fed that causes this, just good ol' fashioned innovation. Of course I'm sure RCA had plenty of opportunity it was just squandered.

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smoke weed, all day everyda... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 4:25 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

smoke weed, all day everyday. . . . yeah man

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Fuck you you piece of ignor... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 5:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Fuck you you piece of ignorant scum I don't even want to know what you are doing every day. Save it for hell.

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Yes, that's the function of... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 5:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Some nerd's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Yes, that's the function of classical education, but that's what K-12 is intended for. Ideally, a person graduating high school should be able to read and understand enough to be a good citizen. Same with math and all the rest. It's what public schools are supposed to be doing. They do a bad job.

But College is supposed to be advanced, specialized education. Which is why you pick a major and minor in college -- not everyone is taking the same courses as happens in K-12. You're supposed to be specializing in a subject area and learning skills related to the subject you're studying. Art students and Physics students are not taking similar courses, so you can't use the college to be the classical education that everyone is supposed to be getting. It's not possible because you cannot force people all into the same courses before the major and minor subject courses and graduate them in 4 years.

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Hey anonymous' reply to ano... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 8:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey anonymous' reply to anonymous, this is once again another anonymous person responding. Why are you so irate about someone's freedom to smoke marijuana? Does it infuriate you that the country is about to legalize the sweet leaf? What will you do when your neighbors, your co-workers, your employers, all take a big fat toke and blow it right in your face? You are a sad person. What will you do when the whole world is on the green, and you are left alone angry and mad at everyone else? Why not join us, and smoke a big fat bowl? Lord knows, you need it.

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Hey buddy, I don't get the ... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2012 8:34 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey buddy, I don't get the animosity. For your information, I am a PhD student in a fellowship program conducting research on the beneficial effects of marijuana and brain function - specifically on the correlation between the GABA and Dopamine neurotransmitters. Don't continue to perpetuate the stereotype of the typical weed smoker as one who sits on the couch all day long, eating cheetos and playing video games. 20 percent of Americans are on some form of psychiatric medication. One out of five individuals in your life is interacting with you while "stoned" on some prescription. Their neurons are destroyed through axonal degeneration, in a far worse deleterious manner than cannabis. And, yet, you are here to cast judgement on someone who is utilizing a product that comes straight out of our mother earth. The times of prohibition and obstinate thinking are coming to an end. Wake up and open your mind; it will do you some good.

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mmmh most of my friends who... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2012 10:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

mmmh most of my friends who smoked lots of weed in high school (I don't mingle with potheads anymore) were kinda stupid. Funny and friendly but very, very stupid. Just my two cents (to be fair they really smoked a lot)

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"For your information, I am... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2012 11:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"For your information, I am a PhD student in a fellowship program conducting research on the beneficial effects of marijuana and brain function - specifically on the correlation between the GABA and Dopamine neurotransmitters."

The "beneficial" effects, you say? Shouldn't you start by simply describing THE effects of marijuana, both good and bad (and trust me, it's mostly bad) and THEN make value judgements? As opposed to assuming weed is beneficial from the outset. Pretty unscientific of you, don't you think?

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Gots to love the haters up ... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2012 6:22 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Gots to love the haters up in here! Rum Sucks. Weed for life! A lot more "beneficial" effects of weed than alcohol - so smoke that one up, sucka!!!

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Where the hell is part thre... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2012 9:12 AM | Posted by Pro-Crastinator: | Reply

Where the hell is part three!? I'm almost out of Haterade.

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Foh Real Yo!... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2012 12:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Pro-Crastinator's comment, by The-PoPo: | Reply

Foh Real Yo!

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My question is what about j... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 1:01 PM | Posted by Jenan: | Reply

My question is what about jobs that in previous years didn't require a college degree that now are? Employers know that in this economy they have an upper hand and jobs that even five years ago didn't require a college degree are now listing it as a requirement. If it isn't so valuable anymore, then why are employers asking it of potential employees? Also, colleges/universities are different from trade schools, but peoples' expectations are the same for both-you should come out of them with a concrete skill. Well employers should be looking for trade school experience rather than asking for a four year degree from a university to be a secretary. Also, what about those who make their living teaching English Lit, art, philosophy , etc. at the college level? If more and more students stop majoring in those areas, then they themselves could be out of a job. What then with all those unemployed former liberal arts professors?

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Thanks for sharing your tho... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 1:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Thanks for sharing your thoughts but I really didn't get the message. Different issues just keep on popping out of nowhere: first the hipsters, then the society.

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Saying that a chunk of the ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 2:06 PM | Posted by Jenan: | Reply

Saying that a chunk of the problem is having a "useless" degree being an obstacle to getting a job and that college as a whole is a waste seems to contradict what quite a few employers are now requiring. It's all well and good to say that it makes little sense to go into massive school debt only to end up in an underpaying low level job, but now even some of those jobs are requiring a degree. Some don't even care what the degree is in, just that you have one when in previous years that job didn't require education beyond high school. So how to bypass college and avoid the debt if you can't even get your foot in the door of a decent place without a degree? Not everyone has the aptitude for STEM careers, but they are beyond being a cashier or working in food service for their entire careers. As for the hipsters choosing one of those pointless majors and not being steered away to pick something else, of course they wouldn't be. There are people and entire schools whose career is teaching those liberal arts courses to those majors and they want to keep their jobs so they'll make sure they have enough students. If they didn't then they too would be out of jobs and adding to the unemployed.

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The employers are using a c... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 2:11 PM | Posted, in reply to Jenan's comment, by JohnMcG: | Reply

The employers are using a college degree as a blunt proxy for a number of things. By doing that are they missing some quality candidates? Sure, but that's not their concern. A false positive is much more costly to them than a false negative. Applying this simple filter gets them a pool of candidates that have at least demonstrated they have the social capital and discipline required to get a four year degree. Then they can see if they otherwise have what it takes.

If everybody with a four year degree already had a job, then they'd have to start digging around in other places to find people. But as things stand now, they don't.

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Maybe it's because I'm youn... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 2:17 PM | Posted by Karin: | Reply

Maybe it's because I'm young and not as cynical as most people seem to be nowadays, but I'm not going to give up. I'm majoring in English, and I'm planning on editing. And no, not just books. I'll edit anything: websites, magazines, whatever. My point is that yeah, a lot of people will laugh at me and call me stupid to my face, and maybe they're right, but that isn't going to stop me. Sure, I could let this get to me and throw in the towel right here and now, but what am I going to learn from that? I've been told my whole life I have to work hard to get what I want, and I have, tirelessly. Were they preaching a lie? Probably. Is there a very good chance that I'll be doing something I hate or have no interest in for the rest of my life just to get by? Yes, possibly. But I'll be DAMNED if I let myself quit now. The world doesn't owe me anything, but I owe it to myself to at least TRY.

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Fascinating series of artic... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:13 PM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

Fascinating series of articles. I can't say that I disagree at all. I have 3 kids, and my wife and I tell them that when they figure out what they want to be when they grow up, it should satisfy 1 criterion first, and then everything else. #1. Fund the life you want. If you want the "starving artist" lifestyle, then make enough money for it, for I won't be funding it for you. If you want something better, do something better. Numbers 2 and 3 are that it should be something you enjoy and something that makes the world a better place. But the first one is the most important as no matter what you do, you can't truly be happy or truly improve the world being a taker.

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This piece is simply glorio... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:15 PM | Posted by Sulla: | Reply

This piece is simply glorious.

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You are a thought architect... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:33 PM | Posted by matt: | Reply

You are a thought architect, you are a perspective painter. And you're very clever. But like every genius architect, you have a tendency to build to high and heavy on unsure footers. Here I see two weak footers: 1) you make the assumption, and it is just that, that folks who chose 'aspirant' careers in things such as literature had some way to be assured that their choice was flighty, 'avocational' as you put it. yet your backgrounds, which on an extremely cursory glance are collegiate, psychiatric and literary, are not exempt from the rafters of flightiness that you've drawn the "hipster" border around. 2) - and this is a more dangerous footer to find less than solid, for the integrity of your above statements - the people whom you've collectively painted as hippies, are by no means hippies. they are the sons of middle classers, nouveaux riche, of dwindling familial assets, and their parents were often hippies, or the case can be so made. but there is NOTHING about these individuals that should guarantee the average armchair politican like yourselves that you are in no danger. It is inevitable that if one group is armchair-bound and rhetoric-mouthed, holding Rand aloft and writing rage pardons for their ilk on the basis of "hipster laziness," and the other is living in brick basements in the bedroom districts of crumbling metropolii, eating ethnic food on government paper and playing their guitars to keep warm, that the latter will go from Whole Foods -> Stealing Food -> Killing You For Your Food in the same matter of months it took in any other case in history ... A good look at old Russia, young psych major, will tell you that. The frightening part for you should not be that this will happen, but that TRUE hippies, like myself, seeing the justice in it, will look the other way when it does.

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If we admit that college is... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 3:38 PM | Posted by pinkfizzy: | Reply

If we admit that college is not a almost-guaranteed ticket to success and riches, it means the American dream of working your way up from nothing is that much less believable. People want to believe they can improve their lives. Parents want their kids to be lawyers, not plumbers.

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There are no defective coll... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:03 PM | Posted by David D: | Reply

There are no defective college degrees, just defective people.

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The thing is, karin, that y... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Karin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The thing is, karin, that you're planning on providing a service, editing. That is a relatively valuable skill, you will provide something to society, you will produce. Being an English major isn't the actual problem, its being an English major with no reasonable skill set that will make you worth something to society.

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So...What is your magical m... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So...What is your magical major of choice that is "relevant"

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excellent essay, sir.... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 5:12 PM | Posted by jasonfifi: | Reply

excellent essay, sir.

after working in sales to put myself through 6 years of school for guitar to leave school to do sales full time, i completely hate seeing people without jobs because they feel "unemployable."

mow lawns. suck a dick. whatever. i can't even imagine taking from the system while my body and mind can still function well enough for me to scrap a living together for myself.

fantastic article, sir.

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I don't think liberal arts ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 6:10 PM | Posted by Jenan: | Reply

I don't think liberal arts degrees are worthless (I have one myself). I think too many students in these areas fail to take more "practical" courses along with their courses for their major and that's when they are left with a degree, but not a lot of practical skills. This link is from a blog I read regularly and I wholeheartedly agree with this point she makes: "Take classes (or learn skills) that will make you employable and set you apart from other job seekers.
You don't have to switch your major to Marketing or Accounting, but no one will ever regret taking a class in social media, basic computer programming or bookkeeping. And these skills will make you approximately a million times more appealing as a job candidate. Work for an arts non-profit? Help manage their Twitter account. Using your Women's Studies degree at a shelter? Manage their mailing list and newsletter. History Majoring it up a museum? Help them balance their monthly budget.

Here is the link to the full entry. http://www.yesandyes.org/2012/04/how-to-actually-get-job-with-liberal_17.html

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Grumph. I came here from an... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 6:55 PM | Posted by Rolleyes: | Reply

Grumph. I came here from an article I agreed with (and which quoted that one), but I can't say I agree with what's said here. I do agree that occidental societies lack a sense of purpose that would make the sacrifices it currently asks to its members - because it's the crisis - acceptable and meaningful.

But it seems to me your diagnosis here writes off any kind of social aid as something driving uniquely self-entitlement and narcissicism, and this I can't agree with.

It seems like you put emphasis on personal choices while not taling into account huge societal evolutions. For instance :

- The fact that students are not magically given the money for college but most often have to get into debt - huge debt - to pay for it, debt that they will have to repay for years. Do they rob society with this ? No, they repay more than they've been lended (not to society, though, one might say), if everything goes well.

- The fact that college and university costs increased greatly and sometimes more than doubled in less than ten years. Did the service college offer also increase in similar proportion ? I doubt it. Why such an increase ? Who's benefitting from it ?

- The comment singled out in he Jacobin does indeed raise questions. I mean - welfare exists, and the person commenting would probably benefit from using them without shocking anybody. Yet she seems to imply she'd find it shameful. What lies here is a political disagreement : the idea behind promoting welfare is that it's a social safety net that allows those in difficulty to recover, for society's eventual greater benefit. Yet, the anti-welfare people say that it goes against personal responsibility and don't want to use it (although, surprisingly, these usually aren't opposed to support by communities, close ones or individual charities). If you ask me, I'll always be of those who say that it's better, both for individuals and for society, to have safety nets that can help the unemployed single mother (even if she doesn't want it), and health care that can allow her to take care of her back before it's ruined to a point where she wouldn't be able to work at all or take care of her and her kids. There are times where your fortitude alone won't get you out of troubles.
I can understand the logic behind that person's reasoning - she views resorting to welfare as a shame - and I for one, despite what I just said, would not be all that glad to have to ask for support, but nonetheless acting as she does might be, in the long run, more harmful for her, her kids and society as a whole, and therefore is not all that rational.

To tell the truth, what absolutely infuriates me is to see the proponents of self-responsibility are, for many, people who could contribute much to society and not only don't (by asking taxes to be lowered, by doing everything they can to avoid paying them), but actually push society in a way harmful to the majority through the importance they let finance take in the economic world, at the expense of actual production, and at the expense of their fellow citizens who, through credit cards much more than welfare, become the always indebted consumers of things they don't need. Few times in history have riches been so inequally reparted. A CEO in the 70s earned, at most, 70 times more money than the lowest paid guy in his company. Now it's often 700 times more. This makes no sense. Management researchers - serious ones - say that such discrepancy is actually harmful for overall productivity. This is not natural. This is a problem.

- As a side note, I have been taught some things through academic training, I taught myself others through other kind of training, and these are not the same. They both have problems and strong points, but these are not the same. There is more to university than the content of the classes you attend to.

PS : just to tell were this come from, I have never been on any kind of welfare, but I estimate that I have benefited in many ways from society's help (cheap education - yes I'm not from the US) and I intend to be productive enough to repay it.
Also, I am a government worker, but I work overtime because I'm want public money to be spent wisely and productively. And many of my coworkers do the same.
Finally - I really disagree about literary studies. I did some, and while I didn't know where it'd take me to begin with, the more I go on in life, the more I see how they were useful in what I do every day - and these skills would be useful in many other jobs, I think. Not in the actual knowledge - in the training and the way of analysing things.

Finally : because I do agree about the problem that too much individualism represents, here is a nice article about the Strauss and Howe theory of generation which thankfully rises above just telling that kids nowadays are way too entitled : http://artofmanliness.com/2012/07/12/the-generations-of-men-how-the-cycles-of-history-have-shaped-your-values-your-place-in-the-world-and-your-idea-of-manhood/

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The whole premise of your a... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 7:13 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

The whole premise of your argument is based off of the fact that food stamps and other forms of financial forms of financial assistance are easy to get. I know families that make less than $10,000 dollars a year with three kids that can't get enough financial assistance to get by without charities and food banks, and you're telling me that these single, child-less hipsters can be unemployed and make it?

Maybe you've never had any experience with this kind of assistance and so you just assume that it's essentially free money to whoever is lucky enough to fall into the lowest wage bracket; it's not. It's a bitch to get on and sometimes even harder to stay enrolled in. I can see where you are coming from in regards to the whole "paying people to not work" bit, disguised as a made-up medical issue or assistance for food, but that idea is just completely incompatible with how those systems actually work. (Qualified: based off of my personal experience and the experiences of people I know.)

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RE: uselessness of (some/m... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:29 PM | Posted by Rural Mom AR: | Reply

RE: uselessness of (some/most) college degrees: this is why I am trying to talk my 16 year old into looking into apprenticeships. She is currently looking at College of the Ozarks, because it is essentially tuition free as long as you participate in workstudy (but room and board still need to be paid - OY!)

I am also trying to drive home the idea that hobbies are hobbies and a job is a job. I don't care how smart she is, if she can't find a way to turn that into money to take care of herself, she fails. She doesn't have to get rich, but she does have to take care of herself.

It makes no practical sense to spend money learning about something you are interested in. Even without the ubiquitous online classes, wikipedia, and niche sites devoted to every gorram pasttime under the sun, there was still the Library. When you are motivated by genuine interest, you will find a way to learn that skill.

But if you are going to spend money on an education, you are better off using it to learn a high-paying skill. No matter how much you love something, if you have to do it day after day after day to put food on the table, you aren't going to love it as much. It is better to put effort into learning a useful skill that earns money, can earn money in most areas of the USA (and/or abroad), has upward mobility, and doesn't have soul-killing hours.

Why? Because if one has money and downtime, one can spend said money and downtime enjoying one's hobbies without the pressure of trying to earn money.

I work with computers, and I am good at what I do. I am not a hobbyist, which may mean that I am not a household name like Cem Kaner or Scott Hanselman (because I do not eat, breathe, and sleep my job), but I do make good money. And I do have downtime, which I can spend writing poetry. And occasionally I can express my love for writing by creating user manuals and other technical communications - but I don't *have* to do that to earn my bread, so I can still love it. I have marketable skills, and I get to do what I love - there just isn't tons of overlap between the two.

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I would be quite happy if e... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 10:42 PM | Posted, in reply to pinkfizzy's comment, by Rural Mom AR: | Reply

I would be quite happy if either of my children were plumbers. Plumbers are needed EVERYWHERE in the US, and they earn a decent wage. They often have opportunities to start their own businesses and become entreprenuers. It even has a relatively reasonable start up cost - you need to get licensed (in many places, if you want to rise above "handyman"), and you need some tools and a vehicle.

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Those involved in teaching ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 11:44 PM | Posted, in reply to horn's comment, by TD: | Reply

Those involved in teaching as a profession know that most American states now "strongly encourage" graduate degrees for teachers. Officially, this is usually couched in terms of greater initial pay at hire and correspondingly larger step increases. However, in practical terms a master's is required to be competitive for jobs in decent, good, or excellent school districts. The master's may not be very good, and in fact often isn't. But you definitely need one...and for the best assignments, you need a good one.

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No, you missed it. But fear... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:11 AM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Melultu: | Reply

No, you missed it. But fear not; you are free to hate the author anyway.

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I do think getting a degree... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:37 AM | Posted by Jenan: | Reply

I do think getting a degree in liberal arts can translate into very meaningful employment, but what's lacking in the curriculum of these programs at the college/university level are courses that teach business skills for the arts. A lot of times these graduates leave school and have no idea how to market themselves because they were never taught that aspect of their major.

For some insight from those in the creative fields the following are some answers from an arts group I belong to. The question posed to the group was "For those of you who are working in the arts or a creative field, what is one thing you think college students should be taught before they graduate and begin their careers in the arts?" The following are some of their responses.

"Schools need to be realistic with students to tell them what an arts career will look like. A lot can't find jobs at major orchestras, operas, universities, etc and wonder why after they have all these degrees. They don't know that they will most likely have to cobble together a career out of several part time things. Also, arts management training would be great. I had a college professor this summer actually ask me why anyone would want an internship in arts management, like it's not a real job or it's a place you go if you can't make it in the arts. Some people do, but the good ones of us in arts management often love what we do. We don't just wish we could have made it as a performer/artist. But training in that is a side performers/artists really don't see in universities."

"I also wish I would have been introduced to a realistic idea of what an artist's career looked like beyond just hearing 'it's hard' and 'either you make it or you don't'. It took me a looong time after I graduated with my fine arts degree to even realize what I had to do work-wise to support and continue my own creative work, let alone figuring out how to put it into action. "How to be realistic without being defeatist 101" would have been great! I think a lot of people get frustrated with the reality of 'making it' as an artist and just give up totally."

"More than a business of art class focused on accounting and marketing and fundraising, etc I wish one person throughout my entire grad school education had said to me 'you are about to become a small business in which you are the boss and all of the employees and you will have to do the work of three people and for the first five years you'll be lucky to make the salary of one part time person."

"Non-profit management. With so many arts based jobs in a non-profit work environment, it is very practical to include this in the curriculum. Nearly every artist will work in, exhibit in, or perform in a non-profit venue at least once in their career."

As stated in one of the above responses, schools do need to be realistic about employment prospects/options for what lies ahead after graduation. I also think part of the problem lies in these curricula not requiring the more "practical" classes as well so that students in these majors have to take them. Too often students in these areas are focused on the creative side and not too keen on the administrative side, which they'll need. The peoples' answers I quoted show that they weren't told these things as students and they had to find these things out after graduating.

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Part 1 had some merits to i... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 1:45 AM | Posted by Anon: | Reply

Part 1 had some merits to it, but I felt this article turned into a full blown rant by part 2, and at times a ridiculous, pitiful rant at that.

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I'm afraid I have to disagr... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:43 AM | Posted, in reply to Rolleyes's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

I'm afraid I have to disagree with just about everything you suggest in your post.

The problem, in my view, is that you assume your basic assumptions are correct, ignore the possibility of a different paradigm existing, and proceed to support your views by...I'm really not sure.

For example, do you understand that the answer to the question you posed regarding the ever increasing price of admission is to be found in the fact that more and more students go into debt to attend?

Further, the point is that future earning may in fact not be enough to justify the investment....for the society or the individual.

Not to mention I question your point regarding single mothers...

In any event, just my thoughts.

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This article rips ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 3:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by carlito: | Reply

This article rips on two hypothetical hipsters with a lack of motivation, who use food stamps. That's not you. But thanks for taking it personally because you're so insecure about your own situation.

You get hate from medical students etc. because they value what they pursue (money, prestige, and the women that come with those), and you obviously aren't pursuing those (if you are, you have no idea what you're doing). Though I might note here that many med students don't realize they're digging themselves into a deep, deep pit of debt.

Nonetheless, You can't come on here looking for a fight on the basis that you're some hipster who's actually employed because you're NOT. Who gives a toot what you "plan" on becoming? Do you realize that your "plan" requires you to pay for and attend school for many, many years just to become an English teacher?? Oh, and that's the best case scenario for you. So even if your plan DOES unfold, you're below the desirable average as far as tangible success goes. If that's your passion, though, I do admire you for making it practical.

People of more practical majors find your major foolish because some of them are going to college for 4 years and making $60k right out of the gates. Maybe you're pursuing your "passion" but you can't possibly think you are practically putting the money you spent on college to use. "Pursuing your passion" means exactly the opposite, as a matter of fact (at least as pertains to an English major). Sure you're making your English major as practical as you can, but there's a whole realm of more practical majors.

Good for you for working your ass of to get into that grad school. But remember in the back of your mind that I'm graduating from an average university with a job already lined up that pays twice the average salary of an English teacher. The fact that you're so defensive says more about your insecurity regarding how well your little plan will go than you realize. I'm just sitting back and sippin' on a brew, in the meantime (im secure).

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This is a fantastic article... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 3:57 AM | Posted by J. Mitchell: | Reply

This is a fantastic article, I'm very glad I found it. A few things first: My reaction to Baldwin's performance is that it is a masterpiece. I graduated in the top 20 people in my high school class but college immediately after felt ridiculous. I knew the things that were being taught because I'd taken AP / honors & college credit courses in high school - I showed up with enough credits to put me halfway through my second semester. I was not impressed with the mandatory "Study Skills" lecture nor the required "Physical Fitness" course which had me doing step aerobics when I ran 5k every morning before breakfast - in short, I was pissed off at how much debt I was incurring to simply put checkmarks in boxes. I did, however, fall in love with my Intro to Logic course and my Programming course. Within two weeks I'd seen the connection between them and began spending all of my time focused on logic systems: Digital logic, programming, dialectical logic and how to represent arguments using circuitry. I dropped out during my second semester - I can't stand the idea of going into debt and after doing the math I just couldn't justify the cost. I was learning FAR more by reading and experimenting with my computer and breadboards. I realized quickly, however, that no one wanted to hire a programmer simply because he loved logic systems. Everyone wanted a piece of paper saying that Someone In Charge had validated my abilities. Understandable, I get it. So I tried working and paying for a Community College education - but the classes required there meant I was now being taught how to turn a computer ON. So I joined the military, and excelled as an avionics instrumentation / micro-miniature circuitry (2M) / cabling and fiber optics technician. When it came time to re-enlist though, they wanted to take me out of my job and put me in a "B-Billet" (recruiting, Marine Security Guard, Drill Instructor) - and I thought "No thanks, I enjoy working on equipment. If I stay in, after I complete the B-Billet they'll make me a supervisor - anyway you slice it if I stay here I'll never touch gear again." I got in a couple scrapes in Iraq, so I draw disability from the VA. Other than a bartending job (where I walked in, talked my way into a job as a security guard on the first night and was a manager 6 months later... before the owners had a falling out and the place closed) I haven't had employment since - especially not in my field, except for what work I can secure by advertising through flyers and word of mouth. Why? Everyone wants a degree, an MCSE (or insert other acronym) certification, et cetera. I have been steadily taking classes at different colleges for the past ~16 years, I passed 6 courses during my 2nd tour in Iraq alone. Unfortunately, they are from so many different institutions that transferring them is hit or miss - but here's the REAL kick in the danglies: Every school I have encountered requires that 50%+ of courses be taken at THAT school in order to grant a degree. GI Bill money will only cover classes that count towards graduation, and since I've had all of my basic studies courses and advanced courses like cultural anthropology, programming theory, calc II, applied physics, research based composition and so forth... Well, I can't get a job that won't require me to work during the times classes are given and I can't qualify for full-time GI Bill funds due to prerequisite conditions on classes (kind of tough to take intro to Java and Advanced Java during the same semester...). Finally, no bank or investors will front me capital: No degrees or certifications. I have been stuck like this for three years. I have NO idea what to do with my life, and if I don't use these GI Bill benefits by 2016, they're gone. Yes, they have a deadline. Does anyone have any suggestions here? If I could do anything in the world I would love to teach at the college level: I want to share the feeling that I experienced when, in that first Logic class I realized how philosophical logic related to mathematical logic, which then related to circuitry, which form digital logic gates, which are related to the statements and methods used in programming... I just can't figure out how to make that happen, and 5 advisors haven't made any progress either. I just figured I'd ask here too - one never knows where a solution can be found, although the method is simple: Seek knowledge. All responses are graciously appreciated.

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I understand that this arti... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:35 AM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I understand that this article is trying to simply outline the problems and why things are the way they are, not provide solutions, but saying "get a skill" and then staring at me blankly doesn't actually suggest a skill, a direction, or a job market.

College education is a scam and a waste of money, yes, but without that education you have little chance of finding a better than minimum wage job. If you the "right" education, you're fine, but if you fell for the line you now have thousands of dollars in debt and next to no chance of finding a job to feed yourself, let alone feed yourself and pay off that massive debt.

So--it is already too late. Someone has the useless education and the massive debt. But they're agreeable to acquiring any new skill (as long as it's free, they have no money) in any market. The skill should be what, and the market should be what?

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This almost makes me want t... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 6:03 AM | Posted by Carl: | Reply

This almost makes me want to drop out and self-teach myself.

Almost. But then I remembered the system is still going to force me to play by its rules...

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J. Mitchell, It soun... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 6:08 AM | Posted, in reply to J. Mitchell's comment, by Mike: | Reply

J. Mitchell,
It sounds like you have the ability, but lack the time. To be honest, your life for the last 16 years sounds like you have lacked a coherent plan to get you where you want to be. Dropping out of college because it was expensive was your first mistake. Debt incurred learning something useful is a worthwhile cost. I ended up paying back 120k for my medical degree and it was worth every penny. Not finishing community college because it was easy was your second. An associates would have given you a starting point to get all those certifications that you need and lack. And, while I have personal experience with the military not exactly making the best use of its people, not re-upping because they wanted you to be a recruiter was your third. You could have easily gotten tuition assistance AND had the time for classes during a tour as a recruiter. Unfortunately, your letter reads as if these things were done TO you rather than BY you. You did things without a viable plan for the next thing. The GI bill is you last best hope. That money, combined with your disability and a part time job, combined with a lot of frugal living, should be enough to get some decent computer training. Sure, it might be basic to start out. SUre the job you get might be entry level with low pay, but what else do you have going on? Sounds like you need to sack up, brother, and get after it.

WRT to others comments: YOU have to assess your skils and ability and the market and figure out what to do. No one else can tell you what your next step should be (esp over the internet). It is in the striving (not the suffering) that we find our self worth.

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The original line was to be... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:36 AM | Posted, in reply to bbrodriguez's comment, by Dav: | Reply

The original line was to be "military-industrial congressional complex"

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I have to wonder, wouldn't ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 11:57 AM | Posted by CombatMissionary: | Reply

I have to wonder, wouldn't it be a simple fix to make all student loans contracted from now on dischargeable in bankruptcy? Suddenly you'd see loan officers saying, "I'm sorry, but student loans for Liberal Arts degrees just don't make you employable enough to pay back this loan. If you want to talk about going into welding, or diesel repair, we can talk."
Unfortunately this wouldn't be effective with loans already given...

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Sigh. A psychiatri... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:20 PM | Posted by Valarius: | Reply

Sigh.

A psychiatrist will tell you that you're being screwed by the system, and give you advice on how to minimize the pain as you're being screwed. A sociologist will tell you that you're being screwed by the system, and give you advice on how to stop the screwing and prevent it.

That's all this article gives me.

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You don't get the point and... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 12:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by alex: | Reply

You don't get the point and are choosing to rage.

You obviously understand that higher education is a tool to be used to reach a goal. The whole point of the article was to point out that higher education is a tool to reach a goal. Just because there is a lot of overlap between what people study who use higher education not as a tool, but as an end, and what you study is just circumstance.

The really sad part is that you do seem to understand the article. This understanding is explicit in your earlier post.

So why are you looking so hard for a fight? Does it hurt your sense of self to have someone attack what you choose to do? (in this case a perceived attack, not a real one)

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I'm not going to debate whe... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 1:11 PM | Posted by X: | Reply

I'm not going to debate whether or not University teaches critical-thinking, objectivity, rationalism, applied ethics, the scientific method, logic or rhetoric. It doesn't. The argument that "University is about more than employability" is so amorphic, the speaker disproves their own point with their own lack of substantiation for the argument in the first place. It's an argument that makes the speaker feel good, but has no value - it minimalises their failure and worthlessness through escapist fantasy. "I may serve coffee, but I bet I'm smarter than all the rude customers I have to put up with." They're not smarter. They're instructed with the exact same information as every other graduate in their class. Intelligence is not an instructable.

That aside, *if* University were able to teach intelligence, how much would that be worth? Does a wash-monkey or coffee-jockey need to understand and apply inductive vs deductive logic? No. They need to wash dishes and keep their mouths shut. If they have a liberal arts degree it benefits society by the fact that in their short 60 years of adult life, they can at least remember an accomplishment that has meaning to themselves, but only themselves.

There was a time when superfluous populations were sent into the military as a means for them to at least demonstrate some value. Subscription has of course ended, and the individualism of this demographic of people prevents it in most cases.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiRGRvE_Wqg

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This essay rails against a ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 2:45 PM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

This essay rails against a number of points without questioning the author's assumption that people should be "given" jobs, which is as equally old-world thinking as the points railed against. Guess what; someone else does not have to employ you.

You don't need to look to corporations for jobs. You do not have to work in "English" because that was your major, and majoring in a subject that leads in thought development is not a waste of time simply because factories belts aren't metered in iambs.

Sure, college is too expensive and grade inflation cranks out Harvard grads with little more than MRS degrees. But this is like saying all board games are lame because you played chutes and ladders. Give the "old college try" with the skills forged in your studies to figure out how to Play a Different Game.

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I applaud you and this arti... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:05 PM | Posted by Dan: | Reply

I applaud you and this article. It is fantastic. College is not a waste though. Perhaps BA degrees are. I recently obtained my degree in civil engineering, and I do not know anyone who didn't find a career/job within 3 months of graduation (they like their work as well). If the degree describes a job title in the economy, it is a good bet you will find a job when you graduate. I love art, but how many famous artists went to college to teach them how to be great?

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I'm afraid I have to dis... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 4:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Aaron Investigates's comment, by Rolleyes: | Reply

I'm afraid I have to disagree with just about everything you suggest in your post.
Well, thank you for replying still, I was afraid nobody would even read the comment.

The problem, in my view, is that you assume your basic assumptions are correct, ignore the possibility of a different paradigm existing, and proceed to support your views by...I'm really not sure.
The points I brought are backed, but it's true I didn't bother to come up with links and sources for them. I can if necesary.
The link I posted in the end is not supposed to back up what I say, it's just that's pretty interesting in the description of a state of unraveling in society, in which people don't worry about society as a whole but mainly about their own immediate interest. That's what the author reproached to the hipsters.

For example, do you understand that the answer to the question you posed regarding the ever increasing price of admission is to be found in the fact that more and more students go into debt to attend?
I don't see how you find it to be the answer. As in, "more people are willing to pay, so universities can raise their fews", in a offer and demand logic ?
If that's so, then it's heinous. Society needs educated people and many people get an education to have better chances on the job market. You're not in a purely commercial logic. By increasing artificially the costs, without providing a better service, you skew the system - you create indebted people who'll have little chances to repay their debts. All the more as students loans are easy to get - the system as it is puts people into debt, and those benefitting from it are universities and banks making student loans.

Further, the point is that future earning may in fact not be enough to justify the investment....for the society or the individual.
Well, indeed, a society which take cares of the weak has less weak people dying and therefore, even if many recover or grow up, will nonetheless have to take care of an increasing number of people in weakness (the elderly, for instance).
The political question is, "do we want to live in such a society, enough to try and find a way to afford it ?" (I say yes, one may say and vote otherwise).

Not to mention I question your point regarding single mothers...
Which point ? I told about the single mother quoted in the article, but have made no point about single mothers in general...

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My personal opinion/advice ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted by Jenan: | Reply

My personal opinion/advice is that liberal arts programs change their curricula to include some more practical/business courses. Unless they are required some students wouldn't take them. Some of these hipsters can't find work because they came out of college with a degree full of classes that taught a lot of theory or creative practice, but not skills that they'll need to carry out the business side of their major (and the vast majority of careers in creative fields have that component). If you don't understand the basics of how to market yourself or even something like bookkeeping you're going to find a hard time working in the creative fields because even though these aren't "sexy" things you'll still need to know how to do them. For example, whether you want to be an arts administrator or try to make it as a musician, or do research on ancient civilizations, it helps to know how to write a grant proposal, but that's not often taught/required of the very majors who will often be seeking grants. What those with liberal arts degrees who want to work in creative/arts fields need to understand is often their work won't just entail the creative side of producing art, it will include wearing many different hats, several of them administrative. Knowing this part can also help get your foot in the door of a creative organization because they need people with this skill who are also creative thinkers.

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This rant reminds me of Viz... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 5:32 PM | Posted by Man in Black: | Reply

This rant reminds me of Vizzini: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yJH7GSJQvv8/UBbq8x3OavI/AAAAAAAABxg/rDFc0f7xgFI/s1600/PrincessBride_115Pyxurz.jpg

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The authors two part articl... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 6:18 PM | Posted by Ryan W. : | Reply

The authors two part article make an interesting very very rough first draft for a blog post, though many assertions are wrong, needlessly inflammatory or full of holes.

Parts that I would save if rewriting, or add; (since I wasn't able to reply to the original post on facebook)


1. "...his entire identity is built on college, academia. He is college. Take that away, he disintegrates."

There are going to be some people who would not maximize their economic utility by getting a college degree in any subject and some college degrees that aren't going to break even
for most people, economically, on average. Instead of common dogmatic arguments like "no country ever went broke funding education" we as a society should recognize that going broke paying for college is, in fact, now a common occurrance. The solution is cost benefit analysis on who gets a degree and which degree they get, where the analysis controls for IQ and ability. We should also consider that self justifying beliefs regarding status and group identity often play subtly into the arguments people make about formal education and the need for universal college education.

Stated more generally, the upper middle class has a bad habit of generalizing "strategies that worked for them" to "strategies which will work well for all people."

2. There is a sort of tragedy of the commons aspect to education. Back when few people were college educated, there were many intelligent people who did not get degrees.
As a college degree became more common for people to have, a lack of a degree became more of a signifier (problematicaly and in many cases misleadingly) for a lack of middle class socialization to the point that people needed a degree as a social and economic signifier even if they didn't actually rely upon the skills the degree imparted.

TLP: ""I have a degree." No one assumes you're smart because of it, so what was the point"

I disagree entirely. California and the tech industry are much better in this regard than some locations and professions, granted. But some employers will pass you over if you lack a degree unless you have considerable experience in the subject.
And the more formal institutions will pass you over even then.

3. OP says he's not a deconstructionist. While deconstructionism is associated with what's termed "the left wing" (I hate terms left and right wing, incidentlally. They fail as the basis for a useful time-period-independant taxonomy in so many ways) there's no reason a conservative anti-establishment stance (like a criticism of academia) can't be deconstructionist.

Colleges are businesses and their interests should be deconstructed like any other. Many have dishonestly mis-represented the value of their product.

4. We are rapidly approaching an economy where, unlike most of history, the talents of a minority (maybe 15% or so) actually do produce the majority of wealth. Labor supply exceeds demand. Minimum wage laws, to the tiny extent that they actually raise real wages, further this trend towards mechanization and offshoring. Education is not a solution because there's a limited number of people who can be educated to the point of subsidy-free interaction with a market economy. Which means that either they'll be subsidised or disenfranchised or institutionalized.

A point I'd add; wages for laborers HAVE risen as expected, but for overseas workers, not Americans. As an aside, I take a dim view of economic analyses which fail to note that my smartphone would cost over a million dollars 20 years ago, except that it couldn't be produced at all. As lifespan continues to rise for native born Americans it seems problematic to assert that standard of living is decreasing.

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I don't understand why this... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 6:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Andy's comment, by Joe: | Reply

I don't understand why this Gray person is getting so agitated over what amounts to an analysis of American high education, considering he isn't even American.

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I am on food stamps and I w... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 6:32 PM | Posted by Jane: | Reply

I am on food stamps and I would like to know what people think of my situation. In June, I graduated with a BS in Biochemistry from a fairly reputable university, without any loans, I might add. Next Fall I am going to start medical school at one of the best medical schools in the country and yes - I have already been admitted.

Currently (for my gap year), I am working full time as an AmeriCorps member with the Red Cross, teaching disaster preparedness. I get paid a stipend that is large enough to pay my rent (even though my place is shitty, I live in a big city, so rent is high)and utilities, but still amounts to less than the equivalent of 40 hrs/week of minimum wage. Adding the value of food stamps onto my monthly income makes it about equivalent to what I would be earning if I were making minimum wage.

Is this any different because I will one day be making good money contributing to society? Is it okay because I know I will only be on foods stamps for one year?

Or should I have chosen a different job?

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Spoken like someone who doe... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 8:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Dan's comment, by Anne: | Reply

Spoken like someone who doesn't know much about fine arts. Trust me, the number of people who require no formal education in painting, sculpture, music, acting, or anything else under the heading is extremely low.

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You're right. College is a... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:01 PM | Posted by Mr. Ogre: | Reply

You're right. College is a way for academics to keep from working, by selling the idea to others that going to school, borrowing money to keep studying useless subjects, is somehow magically going to make them money. Instead of being honest and saying that this Professor needs to live, because he was stupid enough to major in Medieval Basket Weaving and now has to justify his existence through the propagation of passing on his venereal disease (the belief that being knowledgeable makes you a better person) to a future generation. Oh, and to pay for his Ramen noodles.

This is the same useless pipe dream that the real estate market sold us. That investment bankers sell us. That the whole damned system tries to sell. Buy this, hold on to it for a while, and it will increase in value, then you can sell it to another chump who will believe the same thing, ad nauseum.

At least comic books were entertaining to read and didn't need a new roof every ten years.

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Come now, the entire educat... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 9:39 PM | Posted, in reply to David Klemke's comment, by Ana: | Reply

Come now, the entire education system in Australia is a scam.
The Higher School Certificate is a marketing scheme that benefits the selective and private schools, which always end up getting the Commonwealth Supported Places for courses like vet science, law and medicine. By the time their poorer counterparts qualify to do the same courses at postgrad level - ie after they've already accrued an undergraduate loan - they only have access to 'FEE-HELP' which has a lifetime limit, that won't usually cover all the required tuition fees of the university the candidate wants to apply to. So if your limit is, let's say 90K, that won't cover law at Sydney university, because their annual tuition is 32K.
Yes it's nice that we have loans in Australia, but if you've screwed up by following the uni hype and enrolling in degrees that have no further scope, then what are you left with but a debt and few prospects for employment.
I think the problem that is described is a common problem, it's not just an American problem. Despite offering loans and the like, Australia still exploits the disadvantaged so I don't see how your argument works. It's as though you're saying that Australia operates their education system better when it fails miserably. Let's take the example of the disadvantaged communities: The government makes the gamble and they know they have a higher probability of winning. When the government ensures/maintains a lower literacy/numeracy rate for its indigenous population, it doesn't matter how many funds are allocated to the indigenous for higher education for the eyes of the media and the public, the reality is that this community will not use all the funds because they won't gain the grades required for university entry.
Our system in Australia is just as capitalistic and duplicitous.
The government gets the students in, to give them student loans as commonwealth supported students, but when they realise that they need to do honours, masters or doctorates, then the government steps back and says, 'we'll only approve a limited number of courses and tough luck if your course isn't on the list'.
So the student either cannot qualify or cannot afford to, or whatever else and still has problems gaining employment.


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Way to justify your useless... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 10:23 PM | Posted, in reply to Mr. Ogre's comment, by BoogieOnUp: | Reply

Way to justify your useless need for comic books.... But we get your point.

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I'm sorry - I didn't mean t... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 10:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Mike's comment, by J. Mitchell: | Reply

I'm sorry - I didn't mean to imply that I'd dropped out of Community College. I re-read and understand that it's unclear from my writing, but I *did* complete an associates degree... Which is the reason that I am having so much trouble enrolling as a full-time student now: With my associate's degree completed all of my basic studies courses are also, therefore completed. This means that in order to receive GI Bill payment as a full-time student, all of my classes must count towards my major. In other words, I am faced with the impossible task of having to enroll in, say: Intro to Programming, Intermediate Programming, Advanced Programming, and Senior-Level Programming ALL AT ONCE. I've done some clever things such as switching my major every term and taking the classes towards my intended major as electives, but this has left me taking sometimes as many as 18 hours of classes, all at the 300+ level, and STILL only getting half a semester's worth of school out of each semester in which I'm enrolled in 1.5 semester's worth of hours. It's ludicrous! Also, the Associate's Degree has done nothing but complicate my life. The only good it truly did was - thanks to North Carolina's 2+2 program - guarantee me entrance to any school in the state system.

I apologize for the confusion, thank you for reading and also for your reply. I apologize for my lack of clarity.

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Nietzsche's polemic rants c... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 1:53 PM | Posted by Westin: | Reply

Nietzsche's polemic rants conveyed a coherent idea and conclusion in each Roman numeral.

You hate the Hipster because it's the hated white youth subculture. The same reason the youth are so awful now, so disrespectful to their elders and the Gods, so haughty and arrogant... You are mad because you are not young any more.

We have a problem of induction when we pretend college did or did not help a contemporary author write... of whom practically all are college-educated. Your 2000-word-per-day Stephen King was one of them. He was published first when he was in a master's program in college, and the ever-supportive wife he has he met in college. Those factors likely contributed a great deal to his prolific career, non?

Which brings me to the next point -- yes, college is bullshit. You know what the most bullshit degree in existence is? Business. It's basic econ, basic finance, basic accounting and advanced networking of the people variety. Practically every other college major is the same in this respect. Your white collar buys you influence and networking.

Other than that, the "English Lit" major you so decry is not the idiocy you pretend it is. In 2040, China will eclipse the United States economy. Between then and now, the value of English teachers (I concede they are the inevitability of an English degree) will rise while the value of the monolingual American engineer will fall. China and India are filled with bilingual and trilingual engineers willing to do the same things Americans will at a fraction of the price and likely many times the work ethic. Globalism does not bode well for you engineers. It's economics, right? Supply and demand?

Of course, your polemic attacks the hipster's education in the abstract. After all, a person with no field experience in a recession (/"recovered economy") whose age demographic's employment numbers are quite below the others -- this person's choices are under scrutiny here as this person's environment is entirely his fault. Easy to cast that stone, innit Dr. Babyboomer? You've had a retirement to lose in this crisis, we've had an upbringing to behold. When the recession says you're not going to get a job, college -- with its student loans aplenty -- is an attractive option. To that end, the English lit person can become an English teacher, an English-second language teacher (this is going to be a bigger deal than it already is) a tech writer, a journalist, an editor or copyeditor, or advertising-paid, racist, sexist, narcissistic, get-off-my-lawn narcissist nagging old bitch of a blogger.

The last one doesn't require education, just a bunch of bullshit preconceived notions and no commitment to allow such fortified ideals exposure to dread artillery of reality.

For this reason -- because I don't want to be full of shit like that 'narcissist generation' you speak of -- I've gone to college and become a grownup. I'm no fucking bourgeois cunt who's going to request food stamps unless I can't find a job either. I am already well aware that college is more an exercise in vocation than one in vocational job-site training... Unless you're an engineer or in a science. But college has given me the skills I need to spin my experience into something people will pay me for.

I also really liked Shakespeare. So for me? Fuck you, it was all worth it.

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You're exactly what the TLP... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 2:30 PM | Posted, in reply to Westin's comment, by 2012isOneDayAway: | Reply

You're exactly what the TLP was writing about. . . best of luck with that promotion at Starbucks.

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Ahhh....when all else fails... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 4:38 PM | Posted by CaliMark: | Reply

Ahhh....when all else fails, go after the intellectuals. You forgot to yell at me to get off your lawn, btw.

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"The intellectuals??" LOL. ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted, in reply to CaliMark's comment, by RZIA: | Reply

"The intellectuals??" LOL.

Indeed, please find me an actual intellectual, someone working to prove or disprove string theory, researching cancer cures, or creating a new calculus theorem and you will find someone gainfully employed and making an actual living wage.

Society doesn't owe medieval history PhD's (among others) anything other than a pat on the back for actually completing their dissertation on our dime.

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Well, thank you for replyin... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 6:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Rolleyes's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

Well, thank you for replying still, I was afraid nobody would even read the comment.
Yes, we all evidence that same little bit of narcissism….:)

The link I posted in the end is not supposed to back up what I say, it's just that's pretty interesting in the description of a state of unraveling in society, in which people don't worry about society as a whole but mainly about their own immediate interest. That's what the author reproached to the hipsters.
It seems we continue to interpret his remarks a bit differently.

I don't see how you find it to be the answer. As in, "more people are willing to pay, so universities can raise their fews", in a offer and demand logic ?
Absolutely…it’s a very basic economic concept related to supply and demand. One only needs to take a loan out for those things which he/she cannot afford. Likewise, prices always rise when loans are available to pay for the good or service.

If that's so, then it's heinous.
An irrelevant value judgment about a fact of life.
Society needs educated people….
Assuming I agree, this is a completely different claim than one claiming that “society” needs all of its people to be educated which is your implication.

and many people get an education to have better chances on the job market.
Yes, they do. The question is why this is so. At least one of the points of the article is asking that very question. Is it necessary to have an English Degree to work at Starbucks?
You're not in a purely commercial logic.
Hmmm…..
By increasing artificially the costs, without providing a better service, you skew the system - you create indebted people who'll have little chances to repay their debts. All the more as students loans are easy to get - the system as it is puts people into debt, and those benefitting from it are universities and banks making student loans.
You’ve got two competing narratives going in what you suggest above.
Further, the point is that future earning may in fact not be enough to justify the investment....for the society or the individual.
Well, indeed, a society which take cares of the weak has less weak people dying and therefore, even if many recover or grow up, will nonetheless have to take care of an increasing number of people in weakness (the elderly, for instance).
The political question is, "do we want to live in such a society, enough to try and find a way to afford it ?" (I say yes, one may say and vote otherwise).
I’m going to have to admit that you completely lost me. From what I can tell, no offense, but we veered off track and into fantasy land.

Not to mention I question your point regarding single mothers...
Which point ? I told about the single mother quoted in the article, but have made no point about single mothers in general...
I beg to differ….
If you ask me, I'll always be of those who say that it's better, both for individuals and for society, to have safety nets that can help the unemployed single mother (even if she doesn't want it), and health care that can allow her to take care of her back before it's ruined to a point where she wouldn't be able to work at all or take care of her and her kids. There are times where your fortitude alone won't get you out of troubles.
It seems to me you simply accept the existence of unemployed single mothers in the first place without wondering looking any further…
Thanks….

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For fucks sake people. Coll... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 9:22 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

For fucks sake people. College IS important. There is stuff that is not work, that is not monetizable, nor can it ever be made to produce anything that can ever be monetized. And that stuff is the most important stuff: work, economy and society exists for the sake of that stuff, not the other way around. All of it exists just so that there would be space for this stuff to grow, and universities is where it lives. Visiting one of these sites for 4 years is priceless. Some people fail to see this, some people think that colleges are there to prepare you for a job. These people are shit, they are glorified robots, barely human. Yes, some people go to college and get nothing. Some people go there and learn a vocation, but this bunch really doesn't get anything out of it either, they should have gone to a technical school. But many glimpse the wonders that are possible if one is equipped with a human mind, and many others take bits of these with them into the world, and plant them, and we all benefit as a species. Quit telling people there is no such thing just because you failed to see it, you stupid, stupid robot. And quit pretending like there is some intrinsic value to the circle jerk that is "the economy", and that people should just bend over to it's divine will.

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So let me get this straight... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2012 10:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So let me get this straight. I'm being told that college is an overpriced ripoff designed to sucker in people who are addicted to feeling better and better about themselves--by a psychiatrist?

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

December 19, 2012 11:49 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/what-is-irony-with-examples/

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Just found this blog. Alrea... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 12:13 AM | Posted by Joewhatshisname: | Reply

Just found this blog. Already love it. The comment board abounds with the academic rigor of people who have overpriced education. I went to school in the states for bFa which just means I'm not just a big ass hole. I'm a big FUCKING asshole.

I would just like to reiterate the nice lady with Phd in medieval history has a worthwhile degree. Who else will be able to tell the Harvard Educated options trader about the ancient artifacts he puts in his guided tour museum that he uses as a tax wrote off.

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In today's news: "After Rec... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 1:11 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In today's news: "After Recession, More Young Adults Are Living on Street" (http://www.cnbc.com/id/100325373), and "Are Today’s Graduates Unemployable?" (http://www.cnbc.com/id/100305387)

Maybe universities should start being responsible for building homeless shelters and subsidizing food stamps and tight jeans.

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"Because to The Chronicle, ... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 1:52 AM | Posted by Anonymous Rex: | Reply

"Because to The Chronicle, the PhD has value. It doesn't. I'm not saying she isn't smart, I'm saying the PhD in no way communicates to me she knows medieval history better than any D&D player. She may know more, but how do I know? I don't even find "MD" particularly valid, but at least you can sue a doctor."

This paragraph (as well as a few other minor ideas) nearly renders this entire article void. This is such a ridiculous assumption. Why would a D & D player (ie someone predominantly occupied with convenient romantification and sheer imagination) even be consider to be more knowledgeable about medieval history than someone who has spent upwards of seven years studying it analytically? That's, for lack of a better term, just fucking stupid to say. It is the perfect irony of hipster philosophy. The one thing that is unimpeachably hipster-esque is to deny being a hipster. I don't know who the author of this article is, but he/she is a hipster. This is largely disorganized, unqualified information that is based on weak logic with varying bases. Just because this author isn't on food stamps personally, he/she is claiming some kind of amnesty. This article is so pointedly anti-university in an attempt to make some anti-establishment point that it fails to note even the most basic logic flaws in its reasoning. Not least of which is the profoundly stupid assumption that our "English Lit" major cannot possibly hope to employ herself in anything other than English literature (which is to say, non-distinctly, nothing) or part time barista. Anyone who isn't stupid enough to miss the teleology of said English BA (unlike--possibly?--the author of this article) is critical thinking, analytical thought and reading comprehension. There isn't a single office-based job where all those abilities would not be helpful if not paramount. So the English lit major isn't then a best selling novelist with talent as well as an extensive knowledge of literary canon, or isn't a revered new poet. That hardly matters. It is still entirely possible that that degree is NOT innately useless, therefore a wasted of money.

Finally, to say that an M.D. doesn't mean much is intensely ignorant. I hope this author needs an appendectomy and the surgeon reads this article and decides, "Fuck it, let the janitor do this one. After all, what is an M.D. worth anyway? Have at it, Lou."

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"I'm Secure"As you... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 2:19 AM | Posted by Anonymous Rex: | Reply

"I'm Secure"

As you proceed to rationalize, unprovokedly expound upon and defend your own decisions for no reason. Notice that your image of you basking in your alleged self-actualization in your vaunted career is actually you escaping said career into stress-releasing post-work relaxation time, not fulfillment from actual work-related accomplishment. Unless of course your chosen career is being paid to leisurely drink a beer in colloquial terminology.

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I see why we don't understa... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 2:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Aaron Investigates's comment, by Rolleyes: | Reply

I see why we don't understand each other much : it's because we have different philosophies on society. From what I read from you, you come from a laissez-faire point of view : in your opinion (correct me if I'm wrong), economic laws are like natural laws, they just are, and we must deal with them as they are.

I say this is inaccurate. There has never been an economy which didn't function within regulations and laws. I can find without going far in thought three example of US government actions usually backed by people in economy : agriculture subsidies, anti-monopoly regulation, bank bailout (admittedly this one is controversial, for good reasons !)

The question is not economical, it is political and ideological. The political choice is to choose exactly how the government will interfere with the economy ; it is based on ideological bases, to of them (the most dominant in US) being that :
- The state should be as little involved in the economy as possible, because the economy will self-regulate itself better if left alone - that's the laissez-faire ideology
- The state must get involved wisely in the economy, because economy itself can only self-regulate itself well if boundaries are put to stop it from going awry.

Let's take a simple example : in France, for instance, a banker is obligated, by law, to give advice on someone wanting to take a loan and to refuse a loan that would obviously be above one's means. That stopped subprime loans from appearing, and doing so in US would have prevented the subprime crisis.

The thing is, the easy to get housing loans in the subprime crisis existed not only because of economic supply and demand, but also because of a government decision (that of not forbidding this kind of dangerous loans, or more exactly of suppressing the regulations that existed on it), that was a conscious, political decision aimed to unleash economic development through the rise of the housing market.
The problem was that this increase in housing market was artificial - it was based on financiary reasons, but not on the actual production of value : neither the houses were of better quality, nor the people were richer enough to sustain buying a house, they were just able to get more indebted.
The system crumbled when it became obvious that most people just couldn't repay.

The upcoming university crisis is just the same. The easily available loans are making prices increase in universities, although neither the people attending are richer (they're just able to get more indebted), nor the university itself is providing a better service. Nothing is actually produced to justify this increase in price - loaners and university are just able to squeeze more money out of the people who try to build themselves a future. Societally, it is a failure : instead of producing competive, moderately indebted graduates, university produces debt-striken graduate who have to deal with an existing economic crisis and are unable to repay their debt ; or worst, debt-striken drop-outs who couldn't afford to finish their studies.

If nothing is done, this system will also end up crashing.

(PS : I chose to focus on two economic dysfunctionments caused by deregulations ; I left aside crisis, which did exist before deregulation but that deregulation did not solve, and I also didn't cover the part in which, economic success set aside, in taking these kind of decisions, society takes decision on what level of equalty it wants among its individual, and all kind of big, political, societal, ideological decisions)

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I see why we don't... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 4:59 AM | Posted, in reply to Rolleyes's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

I see why we don't understand each other much : it's because we have different philosophies on society. From what I read from you, you come from a laissez-faire point of view : in your opinion (correct me if I'm wrong), economic laws are like natural laws, they just are, and we must deal with them as they are.

Economic laws aren’t “like” natural laws…but, yes, just as with every other area of reality, economic realities must be understood and dealt with. The problem here is that you believe that those realities are subject to change based on different philosophies. Point being……The answer to 2 plus 2 does not depend on which philosophy you or I may wish to espouse.
This is turning into more of an economic discussion, but I have to admit I don’t really have much room to complain. In fact, aren’t the economic realities precisely what TLP is attempting to point out?

I say this is inaccurate. There has never been an economy which didn't function within regulations and laws.

It seems to me you are arguing against yourself. As you pointed out, my entire argument is that there are economic laws. Where you may be going wrong is in injecting your assumption that the method of dealing with those “natural” economic laws, ie. laissez faire, is the same thing as suggesting that one has to take them into account.

I can find without going far in thought three example of US government actions usually backed by people in economy : agriculture subsidies, anti-monopoly regulation, bank bailout (admittedly this one is controversial, for good reasons !)

I’m afraid that your examples, and appeal to authority, again point out your confusing natural laws with the ways people and governments react to them.

The question is not economical, it is political and ideological.

Not really sure what you are specifically referring to in the above statement…..I’m assuming it has to do with the statement below.

The political choice is to choose exactly how the government will interfere with the economy ; it is based on ideological bases, to of them (the most dominant in US) being that :
- The state should be as little involved in the economy as possible, because the economy will self-regulate itself better if left alone - that's the laissez-faire ideology
- The state must get involved wisely in the economy, because economy itself can only self-regulate itself well if boundaries are put to stop it from going awry.

Perhaps, not sure what kind of response is appropriate so I’ll note it and reply to your example…
Let's take a simple example : in France, for instance, a banker is obligated, by law, to give advice on someone wanting to take a loan and to refuse a loan that would obviously be above one's means. That stopped subprime loans from appearing, and doing so in US would have prevented the subprime crisis.

The thing is, the easy to get housing loans in the subprime crisis existed not only because of economic supply and demand, but also because of a government decision (that of not forbidding this kind of dangerous loans......
......The system crumbled when it became obvious that most people just couldn't repay.

Well, yes, as a result of the excessive involvement of the government, which completely refutes what I saw as the point you were attempting to make. Frankly, in the housing debacle, laissez faire economics would have worked better, not worse.
Are you sure you understand what you are saying?

I won't really quote your response regarding the student loan crisis as i see it as saying essentially the same thing...and agreeing with my analysis. It seems to me that we aren't that far apart, except that you somehow go off the rails at the very point the conclusions become the most obvious.

Thanks.

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The ad I got toward the beg... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 8:32 AM | Posted by Ameer: | Reply

The ad I got toward the beginning of page 2 was that "From Homless to Harvard. Ambition. Pass it on." ad, which I think is pretty awesome.

Also, this article is excellent.

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Google Thomas Edison State ... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 1:22 PM | Posted, in reply to J. Mitchell's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Google Thomas Edison State College. They offer degrees completely online but its also a legit brick&mortar state funded college in NJ (ie its NOT University of Phoenix). They will accept credits from just about anywhere, including CLEPs, DANTES, "Prior Learning".. Go to degreeforum.net for more info on this type of thing

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Ok, I see what you mean. </... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2012 6:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Aaron Investigates's comment, by Rolleyes: | Reply

Ok, I see what you mean.

When I say that there are no economic "laws", I don't mean that there are no economic realities and patterns, but I that I disagree with the classical economists that these patterns can be taken as irrefutable laws as maths, and that you could predict economics. The thing being that economics exist in a complex system with many factors and that it would never be possible to isolate a "pure economy" in which nothing would influence the directions it'd take.
But ok for economics as a social science (like history and sociology, in which patterns can also be found and in which facts exist).

And of course, what one thinks will not magically change the economy, but we can agree that the government action (or lack of) on economy will have an impact on the economic paradigm.

Admittedly, the government's only options are indeed not only to either act wisely or not to act : it can also act stupidly. (of course, whether some actions are wise or stupid depend on the viewer ; and the will of not taking action can also be seen as wise or stupid)
But to say that because government action is sometimes nefarious, one should refrain government from acting at all on economics would be far too much of a stretch.

I see your point on the subprimes, indeed upon looking further some government regulations probably didn't help. I don't think that the laissez-faire narrative that it was solely government involvement that caused it is accurate (it's at the very least controversial), and these actions were made to correct problems caused by deregulations (which attempted to correct other problems), but I don't want to enter in that whole debate.

I think we see where we stand ?

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First, thanks for reading, ... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2012 6:46 AM | Posted, in reply to Rolleyes's comment, by Aaron Investigates: | Reply

First, thanks for reading, or at least acknowledging, my last response. Apparently I need some help on the use of HTML tags...sorry.

Perhaps the best thing for me to do is thank you for the discussion, agree that we have a better understanding of each of our respective positions and suggest that I look forward to possible fruitful discussions in the future.

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My only question to you is ... (Below threshold)

December 22, 2012 2:11 AM | Posted by Eeks: | Reply

My only question to you is whether you think college is completely worthless or if you think it's not worth the price? Because I, despite my college debt, discovered some pretty amazing things about the world in college, along with developing good research and critical thinking skills that I more than likely would not have developed through the work force. That's part of the catch-22, is that you need a college degree in most places to get any sort of stimulating work. However, the cost is absolutely gotten ridiculous, and the monetary value isn't there anymore. The universities know we need them, so they jack up the price and collect more government funding. If it were cheaper, I don't think there would be any question that college would be worth it for most people.

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The monetary cost of colleg... (Below threshold)

December 22, 2012 9:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Eeks's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The monetary cost of college isn't an issue if you can get a scholarship (and if you can't do that you're either: a) incredibly lazy b) incredibly stupid; or c) both, and shouldn't be at college in any case.)

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A large part of the problem... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 7:10 PM | Posted by macdaddy: | Reply

A large part of the problem is the cultural idea that one needs to define themselves as a person with their 'career'. Think of Sartre's concept of “bad faith”, with the famous waiter example. A lot of people think about it the same way as Sartre, and that way is wrong. They think that by being a plumber part of the time they're alive, they're never going to achieve anything great in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Einstein was a library clerk that would work on theorems in his free time. There are tons and tons of examples of people in similar situations: Ramanujan, Kurt Cobain, Bill Gates, etc. You don't need to find a 'fulfilling career' to accomplish things, which I think is lost on hipsters.

Think of most of your favorite musicians, writers, and artists. How many of them have degrees in their respective field? I would define myself as a mix of all of the above, and yet I have an accounting degree with a minor in computer science. But rather than devote my life to becoming a CPA, I work 45 hours a week as an internal auditor for a company (which is about the bare minimum in the world of accounting). I devote my free time to recording a Gnostic concept album (I play guitar), and writing a philosophical treatise on the future of humanity. I'm at work only to get money for food/shelter – get in, get out – not to “find myself”, “follow my dreams”, “be fulfilled”, or any of the other tripe I was fed as a child.

I just graduated in May of 2012, and have a lot of hipster friends, as well as friends that are the complete opposite. My straight laced CPA friends work 60-70 hour weeks, because by God, they just have to become CPA's someday, because otherwise they won't become CFO's of a major company someday, and if you make less than six figures a year you're considered absolute dirt. Money and status control their life. Then I have my other hipster friends, who got their humanities degrees, and guess what? They're all working minimum-wage, dead-end jobs. Money and status control their life.

It's not that hard of a concept. If you spend all of your time making/spending money, you'll never have time for anything else. If you spend all of your time scrapping for/worrying about money, you'll never have time for anything else.

Humanities majors, riddle me this: Why is it that, even with your food stamps/dead-end jobs, you still seem so incapable of creating all of this value to society you're always going on and on about? What's stopping you? The whole bit about the man keeping you down is bullshit – pretty much all great masterpieces were created by people in unfavorable conditions. I think that humanities majors need to put-up-or-shut-up: getting a degree teaches you how much others have contributed, but it doesn't make you anything. If hipsters were unemployed but turning out great stuff, that would be one thing. But they're not.

Just because you like music doesn't mean shit. Everyone likes music. Same with reading and philosophy. But here's the rub. We already have tons and tons and tons of great books and albums, the vast majority of them made by people without a degree in literature or performance arts. Two things should be apparent from this. First is that, unless you have something to offer, no one gives a shit about your self-expressive works, just like you don't give a shit about anyone else's in your Brit Lit class. We have plenty of other works to enjoy, made by people who have demonstrated their capabilities. And secondly, it's really, really obvious to everyone else that most masterpieces are accomplished by people without a degree, so why, on God's green earth, do you think you need one?

Humanities majors, you need to understand that no one cares about your services, in the same way that you don't care about your classmates services. You want to read Shakespeare, not Joe Schmo. And proving yourself worthy has nothing at all to do with a degree. So please, PLEASE, stop playing this whole martyr card; about how the system lied to you, you were just an innocent bystander who loved art, etc. If you really, truly care about art, then you'll realize that it is more honorable to become a plumber/library clerk/internal auditor for eight hours a day and write your masterpiece in your free time, than to study Medieval Theater for eight years and then bitch about how the world won't recognize your genius.

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I didn't know that people g... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 7:41 PM | Posted by thestage: | Reply

I didn't know that people got english degrees in order to write novels.

but then again, I guess I'm not the one with a philosophical treatise on the future of humanity

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The ones that didn't get an... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 9:30 PM | Posted, in reply to thestage's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The ones that didn't get an English degree to write novels probably aren't the ones living on foodstamps. They probably got their degree for more practical reasons, and probably found a job. I know quite a few of the "short story writing" type, and they also happen to be the foodstamp type.

As for the philosophical treatise, I fully realize it may turn out as utter shit, but I still have to try. Until it's completed, I'll contribute to society as an auditor, and in ordinary conversation won't identify myself as a "philosopher" or "writer", but as an auditor. My point was not that by virtue of writing in my free time that I'm some sort of genius. My point was that working for a living and contributing to the world through your art can be mutually exclusive categories. You don't have to make a living off of your art.

I make this point because the article is titled "Hipsters On Food Stamps", and I think that the 'starving artist' mentality a crucial part of the hipster ethos. (Did I really just say "hipster ethos"?)

I reread my post, and understand that I lumped all humanities majors into a category. I generalized. And I'm okay with this, because in my experience, being a humanities major is the most likely indicator that you're a hipster. Attacking the problem at the hipster source. Stereotyping at its finest. And no, I don't care.

I can't believe anyone read all of my drivel. As you were.

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you could probably call me ... (Below threshold)

December 24, 2012 1:43 AM | Posted by chris: | Reply

you could probably call me a hipster. but my degree was in russian. i moved to russia and now i'm a copywriter. i only make $700/month for the time being, but that number should double by february and increase again (depending on performance) by the end of summer.

i have a useless degree, but i found a use for it. people have this notion that the point of college is class. go to class and get smart. but fuck that. classes didn't teach me shit. college gave me time to mature and develop as a person. it let me grow into who i now am. and now i have a fun job with virtually endless room for growth.

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I think there's plenty of t... (Below threshold)

December 24, 2012 3:44 AM | Posted by Grey: | Reply

I think there's plenty of truth in original post (dipped in a fair share of hyperbole), but the situation is not so black and white. It's not just 'be $80 - 100+ k in debt" or "skip higher ed altogether. Through a combination of community college, state grants for that, going to an in-state school, getting academic scholarships and financial aid (my family was low-ish income, though certainly above poverty level), I got both a BA and an MA without any debt. I did several internships in grad school, and now have a non-profit job that is somewhat related to my field. It's not a dream job, but it pays the bills.

Part of this was luck and circumstances beyond my control, but perhaps people should be more open to CC's and other such options as well as trade schools.

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Biology degree, got my jobs... (Below threshold)

December 25, 2012 8:47 PM | Posted by Bryan: | Reply

Biology degree, got my jobs with it, used nearly everything I learned in college on those jobs. College isn't useless, only a fool believes that. Mis-use of college is useless.

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Was paying your college 10-... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 12:46 AM | Posted, in reply to chris's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Was paying your college 10-20k a year worth it so you could "not learn anything in class" and "mature"?

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This article points out wha... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 8:23 PM | Posted by Vaga: | Reply

This article points out what I have in a way always known, even when I was going to college, in reality a trade school, that the American Dream is a sick lie. My entire generation (I am 30) was tricked into going to school at a 100% financial loss, with the promise of reward if we just did that. Get a good job, so we can buy useless shit that added nothing to us as people. We never questioned what actual value school would have later. Now we are all paying for this as a generation of the lost. The indebted. The narcissistic consumer. We borrowed enough money to become a bunch of fake millionaires.

I was at least trained to be useful as an IT professional, which I had done for many years. My friends with Sociology degrees didn't do squat after college, because they couldn't. The only thing you an do with Sociology is teach Sociology. I recently rejected my career, because I realized how much I hated it. How much I hated myself for inaction. I used to be a creator of art, until I slowly degenerated sticking to my job, because I thought I was supposed to suck it up like a good little consumer and keep going. High in financial and mental debt, the only thing left to do is start fighting back, or there is no tomorrow for any of us.

The label Y Generation could not be more apt, more the Why Generation. We all want to know why our predecessors did this to us. Why we are here now. Im not pretending this is ok anymore, it isnt.

I started my own business so I can start fighting back, be a creator and a leader, the world would be a much better place if we all did that, and told these colleges and narcissists to get bent.

If Obama wants to fix America, he should motion write off the student debt and free all of us, and destroy that system forever. Otherwise we are indeed spending our living wage on the worthless years of college, and most of us will never escape it otherwise. The record setting of 1 Trillion dollars in defaulted loans is proof of this.

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The author appears to simpl... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 1:05 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The author appears to simply misunderstand the value of education.

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Your article is very inform... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 1:51 AM | Posted by Joephus: | Reply

Your article is very informative. Eye Opening, it is simply amazing. Awaiting part 3....

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This was a pretty interesti... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 11:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This was a pretty interesting article. I couldnt read all the comments, and I apologize if someone already mentioned this. someone mentioned the education bubble. I saw that, and thought of the housing bubble, when people were given loans for housing with 100% financing, then it crashed, and now we have the real values of homes, people electively foreclosing, and more strict mortgage requirements. Maybe when the education bubble pops, we will have loan requirements for education, stating that you will only get so much assistance for pursuing a career that is only going to be so useful for the benefit of everyone. Who determines what is a useful education will have a difficult task ahead of them.

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The "American Dream" tradit... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 12:31 PM | Posted, in reply to Vaga's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

The "American Dream" traditionally had nothing at all to do with college. Under the "American Dream", one was supposed to go into a well-paying job in manufacturing, maintain life-long security, amass enough money to buy a house, and then eventually retire on a pension that would see you through for the 5-10 years you might have remaining in your life. Lather, rinse, repeat for each generation.

That "American Dream" dropped dead in the 1970s, so the "American Dream" was then revised to be "go to college and live a good life". When the college students exercised a tiny bit of common sense and left the rich man's majors to the children of rich men, it wasn't too bad.

The one thing that bothers me most about the article is that it boils down to "We have this class of erudite parasites, so we must continue to let them parasitize us because, um, because, because, well, BECAUSE". How about just cutting 'em off and seeing if their "education" really did teach them anything. The allegation behind any "value" for these types of majors of study is that they produce "well-rounded" or "complete" people. If they're so "well-rounded" and not just whiny brats, then finding their own economic mean should be a piece of cake for them. If they're really childish burdens, then they'll whine about how someone else is always to blame and how someone else should fix things for them.

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>TFW meme arrows... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 7:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by popckorn: | Reply

>TFW meme arrows

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>TFW meme arrows... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2012 7:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by popckorn: | Reply

>TFW meme arrows

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The underlying values of th... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 4:42 AM | Posted by RayJay : | Reply

The underlying values of this article are sorta... well, to put in my own way "embittered dumbfuck conformity." Though I do agree with the entire criteria of looking at the tippy-top regarding economic stuff -cheers!

The entire "learn to serve" spiel always reminds me of the coal miner family from Zoolander. Not that I particularly like chilling with Zoolanders, but still. Yes, many "hipsters" are pissworthy but many more are just marginalized by people they don't like. Disconnect plays a larger role than anything else. Working for or with people you don't like sucks - anything less than a three figure salary isn't worth the building frustration and resentment. That's why I freelance (and make around the equivalent of some of my economist friends -the dumber ones from that fold, but still.).

Assertiveness matters. Degrees in the humanities offer perception,research skills, and mastery of syntax. That knowledge isn't vital for earning an entry level position, but is solid for future advancement. Intelligence plays second fiddle to habit -any damaged success story can tell you that. Skills related to English, comp lit, history, etc. aren't quantifiable (aside from grammar) and therefore overlooked. Besides, such values can also make office types feel...well, sorta more pointless and stupid than they already do when working their vapid job. Of course, these same shitheads don't only feel belittled because they don't know about the given subject (which is valued by smart people and shitheads don't like seeming ignorant or stupid), but because it challenges their precepts of worth, value, and purpose.

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These articles ignore anoth... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 10:33 AM | Posted by Heyfoureyes: | Reply

These articles ignore another possibility: having earned a liberal arts degree, going back to tech school or community college to acquire more practical skills. Being older than 18 makes you more likely to judge the market wisely the second time around.

This strategy worked for me. I was underemployed until I accepted that money is useful, and took a few programming courses at tech school. Those are extremely useful when paired with 4-year liberal arts degree. Five years ago I was a parking attendant. Now I work as a database developer in medical research.

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Just wondering - why the bl... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 11:35 AM | Posted by Bud: | Reply

Just wondering - why the blog entry in 2012 for a story that was published in 2010? No picks or digs - just wondering...

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That is almost exactly what... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 8:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Mike's comment, by Laura: | Reply

That is almost exactly what I told my daughter. She majored in biology and, at 25, is night QA supervisor at a food processing plant, making sure that the product that leaves the place is safe, tastes good, and matches the label. Proud of her. (She's also self-supporting, paying taxes, and helping feed the folks on food stamps.)

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Interesting article - I had... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 12:16 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Interesting article - I had a hard time "getting" parts of it (so much irony, I couldn't tell for sure what was meant and what was ironic)

Anyway, whoever wrote it does not know the world I grew up in (50's, 60's):

Our parents, in my post-WWII neighborhood, all went to college and were professionals, or owned their own businesses, or worked for a company like Pfizers, which, at the time, had INCREDIBLY good supports for all their employees: great wages and benefits and an attitude of caring for their workers. (They no longer do.) Admittedly, Electric Boat, though it paid well, wasn't so benevolent in the long term to its employees.

The only homeless people I knew about were in New York City.
We lived in tiny houses with small yards to play in. Group games were played on the street. There were too few cars to worry much about traffic.
We took our lunch money to school on Fridays for the following week. If we forgot to bring it, we brought our own lunches every day that next week; no exceptions. We had a weekly savings program. Each student brought in a dime to the classroom that was deposited in an actual bank account.
The biggest drug problem was alcohol, until my teens when pot started to be spoken of. (except in New York City - heroin!)
Only the men worked for pay, (except school teachers, nurses, and secretaries, all of whom were paid almost nothing.) The women did all the day care, made clothing on sewing machines, saved coupons, cleaned their own houses and got dinner on the table every night. Going out to dinner was a very rare and huge event. Friendly's and local diners were the only "fast food" restaurants. I think I went to Friendly's once for a grilled cheese with my mom.
No family had more than one car. On shopping day, moms loaded their children in the car to drive their husbands to work so that the moms could take the car to the store to buy groceries that day.
No stores were open on Sunday, except maybe a pharmacist and a gas station. (CT Blue Laws)

The entire economy was designed around having the economy work for everyone (except African-Americans: witness redlining, "urban renewal", de facto segregation, etc. etc. etc.) . Communism was considered a palpable threat (remember McCarthysim?) and the main objective, post WWII, was to make sure that 20-30 somethings were all too busy with productive lives (going to college, having good jobs, living independently in tract housing) to start a revolution. The threat of "Communism" is supposedly over now, and without that threat, there seems to be a lot less concern for keeping the 20-30 somethings busy. That hipster "rage" that keeps showing up in the article existed in our parents and our generation (e.g. James Dean), but for different reasons. Our parents told us to pursue what we loved to do, and for our generation it really didn't matter what we studied; college was for learning how to think, to analyze, to communicate. Any liberal arts degree was sufficient for that. And we were hired, generally speaking, and trained into the job/corporation we were hired into. That formula worked for our parents and for us, but suddenly, it does not work for our kids.

I am not angry with the kids who are left with huge debts and no way to earn a living AND pay back student loans. I see these kids as indentured servants or even slaves; it's just a different system of slavery.

By the way, we often think of these loans as government loans, but believe me, there are bankers behind these loans, profiting from them. I suppose our parents, and our parent's parents thought "It seemed like a good idea at the time," when the student loan system was developed, a way to get our youth educated, but that good idea pre-supposed a growing economy, a valid assumption post-WWII. It also pre-supposed responsible spending by colleges. No college I ever saw in the 1960's and 70's had a Starbucks-style coffee house built into it's student union, and there are endless examples of exorbitant spending by colleges that did not result in an iota of better education, but rather in being more competitive at attracting students. Very few colleges held the line and kept their tuitions reasonable and their amenities modest.

Today I notice that companies and governments no longer feel an obligation to pay the pensions they promised, or help families pay their children's college expenses as so many did in the past. I also notice that the prices of antiques and art work are through the roof. Most unemployed kids' parents are not pushing those prices up. Who is? Follow the money.

~~
I know the point of the article is to assess the value of a college education. So what do kids need at that age? Good question!

Kids do need a chance to earn money, get a taste of, get some confidence in some adult financial responsibility before going to college. Even a gap year, pursuing an earnest interest with some independence, would probably be better for most kids than going straight to 4 years of college. Sometimes I think colleges have become drinking academies, not really set-up to give kids the best chance at creating a future they would love to live into.

Kids need to socialize, yes; they need to continue to improve their minds, yes; most of all, they need to feel useful and know they are needed by other people/organizations that they care about. Can colleges do this? I don't think they are designed to do this well enough. There needs to be some reinvention of higher education, a reinvention that includes some serious mentoring of individuals, some new structure for students to teach themselves what is useful to them and develop sale-able skills, but also passions, AND TRUE CITIZENSHIP!!! (a whole other story here!)

BTW - I have no doubt that by the time your kids go to college, you will not send them to colleges that charge ridiculous tuitions and teach them useless skills. A highly trained mind, and a matured ethos will be even more important if and when fewer people have it.

Also, I am grateful every day (literally) that you and your sister were so persistent in your pursuit of your independence and your dreams. As I often say to my friends, if our kids aren't happy, we're not happy. That equation started in your infancy and it never ends.

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Your theories are compellin... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 2:28 PM | Posted, in reply to JohnMcG's comment, by Stephanie: | Reply

Your theories are compelling. I'm going to copy and paste them for future use.

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Hmmm. I really think everyo... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 5:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Tim: | Reply

Hmmm. I really think everyone is missing the point on this. I'm an engineer at a power plant now... but I started with a degree in history. I went back when I was 34 because I wanted to be able to work in renewable energy, and I'm doing that on the side while I get the real world experience in a plant fixing the conventional grid. I also moved from NYC (where I was born) to an extremely rural area where self-sufficiency is not optional. So... some things I think as a genuine producer.

1) Doctors are providers of services, not goods. I don't think the ultimate market for doctors is going to improve if the "entitled" are deprived of health insurance. In other words, your employability runs just ahead of theirs or our interest in paying for their health care. There's a reason there are more of you (shrinks) here than in Uganda. I wouldn't say health care is exactly a luxury for those who need it, but it's not heart surgery either. The streets of NYC are filled with people who could use your services, but are getting by without them.

When I traveled through Argentina (see www.ezrndm.com) one person I met said "We used to be as rich as you, but then we started thinking we could have an economy where we all cut each other's hair and psychoanalyzed each other". And before you say "right back atcha" ask yourself how many people in Sicko didn't have electricity. Personally, I become unemployed after all of us stop having this discussion on the internet (and then again, electricity is desirable but is hardly a need in the hunter-gatherer sense.)

So if the liberal arts degree is useless, it might perhaps be also true that we only need a RN to prescribe our mental health meds and it's almost as good. Or maybe we just won't have a medical system as we've known it - remember a century ago in the US the medical system was a barber/dentist/surgeon with a bone saw. I don't think anyone wants that. However, we should ALL of us be careful about calling others useless. It's all relative.

2) I did a capstone engineering project in robotics... and what it taught me was a that a group of half assed engineering seniors and some open source software can destroy say 10 million professional driving jobs - see also Google's self driving car. This is not a maybe, it's a definite. There are very few jobs that I think can't be replaced before I retire. I'm in one of them, I think (very unstructured environment, very high need for availability). I can also program and build robots. I am also able to a) build small off-grid power systems b) garden c) hunt d) build other stuff like machinery - but I'd say at that point any economy as we've known it will have ceased to exist. So then what?

3) Being assholes to people because they chose "useless" degrees is good for maybe another year or two of hippie/hipster punching, but it's already a little threadbare and is going to look increasingly stupid, because even people who took jobs that we need - teachers, cops, firefighters - are already fairly insecure, and are becoming more so. Wait for the next round of austerity and a lot of places are going to go the way of Camden or Stockton - cops and firefighters losing their jobs in large numbers. So then... how did people who specialized in things our civilization really needs choose to be useless? A lot of these folks are simply unemployed, and will never be employable, because the tax base is declining, which in turn is happening because these hipsters can't find jobs. As we eliminate bricks and mortar retail even those barista jobs are going to get hard to find. I dunno, I don't think anyone should go after someone just because they went to college and ignored some economic trends, when all of what I said above is also true and are the impending economic trends of the next 30 years... it's not exactly an easy problem. While I personally went for the hardest, least sexy and most necessary of jobs (utility worker) I wouldn't say things are any better for me ultimately if the rest of you are screwed...

4) A lot of these folks wound up in grad school because of "credentialization". For instance, I've got a masters in electrical engineering. It allows me to outcompete someone who just has a bachelors. Neither of these degrees are needed to do this job - my mentor is someone with no college degree whatsoever. He's a lot better at what I do because he started as a technician - he knows how to turn a wrench and he knows the theory. However, to our HR dept - who know nothing of what we actually do or how we do it - I seem like a more valuable person. I'm doing both paths - getting my "professional engineer" license, but also building solar power systems myself - pouring concrete, etc. However, I have to do this... I can't just be competent. As another example, I was once an IT guy, and realized that while I was highly valuable to the people I worked for, I couldn't easily move to another company, because while I'd gotten certifications - MCSE, MCDBA, OCP, a whole fucking alphabet soup of certificates - and I had real world experience - HR "professionals" and MBA "businesspeople" believed that they had some competency in selecting people within my world - at a minimum of filtering candidates to any job I'd like. I had to either get a comp sci degree, or get out. This is especially true for highly desirable jobs with no describable skills - like editor at the New Yorker or curator at an art gallery or anyone at a dotcom. So I again would not bash people for pursuing a good strategy for the 80's far too late in the game... we're all fighting the last war.

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Ultimately, the problem app... (Below threshold)

January 2, 2013 6:00 PM | Posted by sid: | Reply

Ultimately, the problem appears to be credit backed by the state which is backed by the belief of the people that the state really has or will have the money that it lends; or the belief that there is some skullduggery which only a few magicians know that can make one carrot as valuable as a 1000.

"Society is nothing but individual psychology multiplied by billions" is as relevant and as limited in its explanatory power as saying we are cells multiplied by billions.

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Re:"It's a simple ... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 7:38 PM | Posted by Johnny Devoid: | Reply

Re:

"It's a simple thesis and no one wants to hear it: hipsters may lack drive, but the world they live in wasn't set up by them, it was set up by their parents, i.e. the Dumbest Generation Of Narcissists In The History Of The World, the ones who magnified the importance and cost of college without having any idea of what should be its purpose, let alone its content."

This may be the single most brilliant paragraph I've read in 10 years.

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Thought provoking article. ... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 5:50 PM | Posted by B: | Reply

Thought provoking article. Education, capitalism and self sacrifice are the themes I got from it, well and angry author as well. I do agree times are changing, but being angry about it should be the flag waving that inspires the angry person to make a change. That is the only thing anger should do, evoke change. The fact is the world is moving/changing rapidly, a dizzying pace really. So we must change with it. Yes I have a degree from 1986 tha I haven't ever used, and now can't. So I'm reinventing myself after grieving the loss of my old skills. But I willnever regret getting my college degree. It was one of the hardest things I ever did and wanted to quit many times. The process showed me what I can achieve with pesistence ( and a lot of prayer!) I loved the whole experience, meeting internationalpeople broadeniing my world view, learning awsome things, getting away form home and growing up. It was not a waste, and I believe those benefits are still there. However it is not a means to a job anymore. Granted. This is where the change comes in. Gaining knowledge is always a benefit to the individual and the society, but not a job guarantor. Remember before the web, you learned from a live person or a book from the library, so don't knock the old schoolers. That's all we knew.
I still think pure unadulterated captialism is a good system of commerce. Greed is it's biggest enemy, and that is a human problem. Bartering goods and services may be the new hipsters economy. do something, make something useful and trade it for wht you don't supply or can't supply yourself. Just a thought.
Finally self sacrifice. What is the standard of living? The Mom with two kids is willing to sacrifice before taking charity. Nothing wrong with that. How little can you live with? Maybe the oldsters had a little more grit than hipsters, after all what hipster has lived through the depression or the holocaust for that matter. I do agree if you think life is bad, think about it realistically, it could always be worse.

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<a href="http://m.youtube.c... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 10:01 PM | Posted by Scott: | Reply

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=onRCY8xoODI

Just look at that college commercial, disgusting.

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-1, 'reification'... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 10:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by ElSteve: | Reply

-1, 'reification'

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"It's a simple thesis and n... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 3:12 AM | Posted by TheWiredWorld: | Reply

"It's a simple thesis and no one wants to hear it: hipsters may lack drive, but the world they live in wasn't set up by them, it was set up by their parents, i.e. the Dumbest Generation Of Narcissists In The History Of The World, the ones who magnified the importance and cost of college without having any idea of what should be its purpose, let alone its content."

That is absolute perfection....I seriously feel like, after reading that, I can die a happy camper. As stupid as that'd be. Bravo.

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How funny that this article... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 5:20 AM | Posted by Kitty Duval: | Reply

How funny that this article bashes college and has an ad for University of Phoenix on the front page. Pff.

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great job boss... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 8:46 AM | Posted by jhonatan: | Reply

great job boss

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Problem with my use of that... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 10:23 AM | Posted, in reply to ElSteve's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Problem with my use of that word?

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The catch-all cop-out is "W... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 10:45 AM | Posted, in reply to TheWiredWorld's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

The catch-all cop-out is "We didn't make the world we're in, so we should get to sponge off everybody else." NOBODY made the world they live in, NOBODY AT ALL. Why should parasitical hipsters get a free pass but everybody else has to work to support them?

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The creation of adding mach... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 10:49 AM | Posted by Bryan: | Reply

The creation of adding machines and, later, digital computers, put the original computers out of work. At one time, a "computer" was a person who computed for a living. There were offices full of people who did nothing but calculate all day long, by hand/head. There is no such profession, anymore. Should we banish computers and adding machines to put these people back to work?

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Yes Bryan, I understand tha... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 1:13 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Yes Bryan, I understand that... and what I'm saying is whatever you do, odds are we can automate that also (of course I don't know what you do, so I'm just guessing here). There's been an economic idea of "progression" - agricultural jobs to industrial jobs to "information age" jobs to service jobs - that shares much of the flawed thinking with people who believe humans are the "end product" of evolution - evolution has no end and no products. So there's been an article of faith among economists about creative destruction - eliminating the "computer" job was a good thing, because now we all have computers, and they've opened up possibilities that we could not imagine in advance. (This is also related to the concept of the "singularity".)

The problem with all of these ideas is a) they imply some almost divine plan exists in all of our "progress" and b) they assume that a trend they've observed should continue forever. An exponential curve is often used... that is thermodynamically impossible to continue forever, and even at slight rates of increase starts looking stupid in a century or two.

So at some point we're going to automate whatever you do. What do the people who own the machines or the materials to feed them owe you at that point? These hipsters a symptom of this problem. When you think about them, you should think about yourself. Because as we go a desire to work is not in any way going to guarantee that there is anything for you to do.

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So let me get this straight... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 3:01 PM | Posted by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

So let me get this straight: the corporation sends jobs overseas, the corporation hires illegals, but the university provides the education so, obviously, it's the universities fault for our countries massive unemployment rate? Yes, let's have the masses be passive and uneducated so we can convince them to accept lower working standards. GOD, JESUS, GOOD OL' RED WHITE AND BLUE, AND THE BIBLE IS ALL I NEED TO SURVIVE! YEEEEEHAAAA!!!

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meh, what's a 'hipster' any... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 3:02 PM | Posted by Paul A. Rothchild: | Reply

meh, what's a 'hipster' anyway?

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Yeah, the author kind of lo... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 3:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Paul A. Rothchild's comment, by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

Yeah, the author kind of lost credibility when he used Alec Baldwin, one of the most Liberal voices in media, in James Foley's movie -- another Liberal, who recently made an anti-capitalist movie with Sean Penn, another Liberal -- which all of them owe their success to their and prior generations attending Liberal universities.

But he's not satisfied with only bashing on a "hipster" keeping up the economy with $200 a month, he's also dissatisfied with the Liberal education helping them score a job at their local coffee shop or food co-op. Universities have set a standard even in the most remedial jobs: an employer will choose the college educated individual over the high school individual any day of the week, so why is he criticizing a Darwinian tool, when just paragraphs earlier he was saying "lift yourself from your bootstraps" and make yourself stand out?

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They aren't specifically cr... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 7:22 PM | Posted, in reply to Solrac The Barbarian's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

They aren't specifically creating that situation, however, what I do fault them for is basically fleecing kids by selling an idea that isn't true. If I was selling a computer, and I said that it could connect to the internet at 4Gs, and it only did that under perfect conditions and that was maybe 10% of the time, I could be reported for fraud, and I'd have a lot to answer for with my angry customers. Colleges are in many cases doing much the same thing. They tell you that a degree is a ticket to the middle class, that you can get a great job right after graduation in your major, (and it doesn't matter what you study or what your grades are). It's a lie in many cases. Especially if you're not in a high demand major.

I don't find it unforgivable that colleges are selling degrees or that they accept students who in former generations would have been apprentice plumbers and auto mechanics. I DO find it unforgivable that such degrees are sold under the false pretenses. If they were honest about what a degree was going to get you upon graduation, I don't have a problem with people selling the degree. If you tell people that philosophy degrees are good as pre-law training and perhaps as a vanity degree, that's fair, everyone goes in with both eyes open, so no one gets hurt. When the same degree is sold as the ticket for a lower middle class person to get a solid middle class business related job, it's a lie, and since it's a lie that people will be paying for decades after they graduate. The vast majority of students get one chance at a 4 year university degree, and the university isn't telling them what they need to know to make a good decision.

Yes the environment has changed, the large middle class was largely a historical accident, and now with our labor surplus, we're going to look a lot like Latin America -- a large underclass with a tiny upper class living in gated communities. The economic situation is not the fault of the university system, but when they decided to profit from poor people's ignorance of the system and the situation, they crossed a line.

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So you're just blowing your... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 7:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Solrac The Barbarian: | Reply

So you're just blowing your whole argument out the window? University is OK in some situations, let's all follow a capitalistic villains lead that was played by a Liberal - the same Liberals that you try to discredit - and American prosperity was a fluke!

It is common knowledge that Philosophy, English, Art - to name a few - degrees aren't employable. There is no "conspiracy" that is trying to dupe kids into pursuing these degrees under false premises. I'm a tri-citizen, I hold citizenship in 3 countries, so when I decided to go to university I shopped around a lot. Most universities websites that I visited, or advisers that I spoke with, always offered me career statistics.

So since you've gone way out of your way to rant about a whole host of issues that is as strong as a straw-man, then where is your evidence? You just offer a rant and no supporting evidence.

You idiotic Ron Paul Libertarian supporters think that "only if we can cut taxes down to zero - to take away entitlements - then I'll be successful", then WHAT will your excuse be when taxes are at zero and you're still a complete loser with a barely passable website?

Fluke, my ass, what's caused this "fluke" was not a fluke, but rather a well devised plan from Libertarian conservatives and Ayn Rand followers to have dip shits like you build mediocre websites to convince the youth that they should be passive, uneducated, and followers; if they do that, they say, they'll too be rich, but if you actually watched the movie that you used in attempts to strengthen your argument, you would understand that capitalism breeds criminals. The university is the only way out of the individuals disposition. Sure it's a hail-mary, but I'd rather be in a shitty situation with a college education rather than a high school education. You can't even believe your own worlds - you're bull shit.

So, to close, if you admiringly peppered your argument, then your whole argument is little more than propagandist bull shit, the same propagandist bull shit that you're trying to argue against.

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We told everyone they would... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 4:37 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

We told everyone they would be rockstars so they wouldnt notice the manufacturing jobs slipping away.

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"Before that article in Sal... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 12:12 PM | Posted by AngryJerk: | Reply

"Before that article in Salon, this mother was allowed to believe that her staying off the dole had some honor in itself-- some validation of her identity-- and it allowed her to survive her hardships. Now all she gets is mocked, belittled, "she's too stupid to know what's good for her!"

She IS stupid. Fuck the protestant work ethic and all the millions of people who mindlessly flagellate themselves with it. Sometimes I work hard and sometimes I do my best to steal back whatever I can from a government whose authority I never recognized in the first place. Work and productivity were ends unto themselves in the stone age when it meant survival but everybody knows the vast majority of the economy today is pointless busy-work and the production of useless shit designed to make a few yuppie fucks even richer and distract the rest of us from this simple fact.

The difference between you and Frase is just optics versus socialist economics, grasping for something like objectivity as opposed to knowing just how spiteful most people really are (which I salute you for).

Fact is, you're mostly right about the future of a society built on narcissism. I look forward to the inevitable explosions of pent-up rage. It's all too easy to shit on the hipsters because they're skinny cowards who won't defend themselves but who else is waking up to this no-future thing?

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It's time to derail the gra... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 1:09 PM | Posted by Bryan: | Reply

It's time to derail the gravy train. If our society truly "needs" some kind of "explosion of pent-up rage", then it would be better for the handouts to be cut off in order to force the issue. Bismark imposed one of the most comprehensive "cradle-to-grave" system of his day, not out of any love for the "common people", but because he despised social change and despised democratic principles. He knew that all he had to do was pay off the masses, and they would happily let the Junkers run everything like a feudal society. A society with massive handouts is necessarily a very hierarchical society--somebody is going to be in charge of those handouts, after all.

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In many English as a Second... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 2:20 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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And what good do you expect... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 9:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Bryan's comment, by stefan: | Reply

And what good do you expect such an explosion to do? As Alone has said elsewhere, the reason these people aren't employed is that the pace of global commerce is too fast - nobody has the time needed to train them in a useful skill. It's more efficient just to kick the problem into R&D, and let the engineers (social, software, or other) engineers design and implement systems to replace them. This is just as true for white collar jobs (modern computing has made file clerks and the mail rooms charming anachronisms) as it is for blue collar jobs (between robots and China, there are barely any factory jobs left in the US).

So they riot, and then? They vote a radical new party into office, who do what, exactly? I promise you any solution you allow them to devise will cripple business and cut off your gravy train as well as theirs. The technological genie is already out of the bottle and granting wishes left and right, consequences be damned. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where a sizable and growing chunk of the populace simply has no valuable role to play, and no amount of rage will change that.

So better to give them food stamps and prozac and disability benefits. The net cost to you - or should I say us - is relatively tiny. Business decided they wanted the welfare state - in all of its lazy, self indulgent glory - just as soon as they started engineering jobs away. After all, how else will people afford their Spotify subscription and their iPhones?

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What are you talking about?... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 10:59 AM | Posted, in reply to Solrac The Barbarian's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

What are you talking about? I'm not talking about whether the current system is good or bad, but the mere fact that it's our current system means that you have to deal with it and learn to survive in it. That's a fact. You don't get to opt out of a system you can fight to change the system, but even then, you need the capitalist system to get money so that you don't starve, you need to get money to not live in a cardboard box, you need money to put clothes on you back. That has nothing to do with morality, it would be the same in the soviet union or nazi germany -- job one is to live long enough to change the system. If you live in North Korea, that means the spawn of Kim Jong Il is God, and you love him -- because if you don't you disappear.

Secondly, I've yet to see any school list job rates on the web page. The admissions officer spends more time talking about the cool coffeehouse in the student union than about the prospects that a diploma in your major is going to translate to an actual job. Once you're in, as i said before, they don't warn you about lower scores being a problem. they never said that a BS in Biology without a MS and preferably a PhD was pretty much a vanity degree. So maybe it depends on the school, but most universities I'm familiar with don't tell you the odds. They're too happy to take your money with an implied promise that the degree you're buying is a ticket to the middle class.

https://www.transfer.org/uselect/browsePrograms.htm?_flowExecutionKey=e1s1 (show me the job stats)

It's not about being passive. It's about learning to live in the real world where you have to actually be hired by someone and earn a paycheck. You aren't going to survive on rage and bile. Sure the system might be fucked up, but at this point, the system is what it is. We've already shipped most manufacturing overseas, so acting like that hasn't happened is stupid. Also acting like you're living in 1955 when having a degree was rare enough that any old degree was impressive to a boss is stupid.

Another reality that you love to ignore is that in a global society, a business or rich guy who feels that taxes are too high in the US could easily move the entire business headquarters to another country or offshore the profits. Has nothing to do with morality -- again, it's how things work now. So what happens to Americans when not only do we not have factory jobs, nor lower level middle class jobs, but begin to lose corporate headquarters and the money they bring in? What happens when we overtax and Microsoft or Apple decide that they can triple their money by moving from America to some tax haven with good internet access? What happens when whichever Walton who runs Walmart decides that he can make more money by running the company from somewhere not America? Think it through. If we drive off the 15% or so of people who are making money for the country, where do we get the cash from to run the benefits? Detroit is the first victim of globalization, but unless you want to have the entire country look like Detroit, you'd best find a way to keep corporate headquarters in the US.

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I expect no "explosion". I ... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 12:08 PM | Posted, in reply to stefan's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

I expect no "explosion". I expect whiny hipsters to continue to whine even when they don't get handouts. These people have adopted learned helplessness as a virtue. However, the non-explosion would shut up the losers who keep claiming that some "explosion" is imminent if we don't immediately implement their socialist dogmas. I once had to move somewhere that my degree wasn't useful. I still found work. I still get promotions. Why? Because I'm not a whiny, self-disempowered hipster parasite.

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To add to the WalMart state... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 12:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

To add to the WalMart statement: Leaving the USA won't hurt WalMart's business among its target market. Not a single large-market beer brand is owned by a US corporation. The smaller guys are still US-owned, but not the Big Three that pretty much totally control redneck beer purchases. Coors: Canadian, Miller: South African, Bud: Belgian/Brazilian.

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You are not a hard-working,... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2013 9:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Bryan's comment, by stefan: | Reply

You are not a hard-working, self-sufficient self-made American ideal. You yourself said it - "promotions" - a true self-made man would not require the approval of his boss to move up in the world - he'd start his own business.

No, the hipsters are not the ones whining. It's you, parasite. It's always been you. You woke up one morning and realized, deep down, that corporate tedium was the most you could ever achieve.

So you started lying to yourself. You quietly told yourself that this was an accomplishment - that in these though times, having a job at all, much less getting promoted, was something to be proud of. You were so eager to soothe your bruised ego that you never imagined the damage you could do. In the process, you sold your soul - not by working the job, but by becoming the job. By allowing the mere fact that you have a job be your reason to look down on everyone else.

Now, my generation has grown up having learned that corporate tedium - a desk job, for God's sake - represented a real achievement. And you did absolutely nothing to stop us. Now, the world has moved on, and it's you screaming and crying about how things have changed. The hipsters - and the inner-city blacks, and the immigrants, and what have you - they've found a niche for themselves that will be around for a long time. Unlike desk jobs, "welfare leech" isn't likely to go out of style for decades to come.

You may not like it, but forgive me if my heart isn't breaking for you. You - or people like you - created this world. You had the power and the money, and instead of building something worthwhile, you hid from reality, you squandered it all. The reason hipsters have nothing is because you spent their inheritance, parasite.

But it's too late for people like you - it will be twentysomething hipsters that will build the new world, and I promise you, your place in their world will be far, far worse than their place in yours.

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Would you like some cheese ... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 1:28 AM | Posted, in reply to stefan's comment, by B ryan: | Reply

Would you like some cheese with your whine? You're nothing but a pathetic little parasite who has to sponge off people who work for a living. Then you congratulate yourself for being a mooch. You are nothing, you will remain nothing, and when you die, only your fleas will mourn you.

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why don't they keep the eas... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 2:15 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

why don't they keep the easily available student loans the same, but impose a "tuition cap" on colleges?

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I don't think "promotions" ... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 9:37 AM | Posted, in reply to stefan's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I don't think "promotions" represent achievement, I think that being self supporting is an achievement. You are no better because you refuse to get an office job or fight for promotions. You aren't much of anything because you haven't yet done anything of note. Sure corporate work is tedium. Guess what -- all work is tedium eventually. Pick your famous artist, and guess what, he's doing all kinds of boring tedius stuff that is needed to make his paintings better. Writers spend weeks doing the monotonous work of editing. It's called work for a reason. What you want is the fantasy, the one where you only have to do fun creative things and people simply hand you the money when you've done nothing but sit around all day thinking deep thoughts. There are 7 billion humans on the planet, and we are not all unique little snowflakes. We told you that, and we told you that you could be "anything", and we told you to despise the desk job. We also never told you the difference between a fantasy and reality. You swallowed all of that stuff lock stock and barrel, you think that you're too special to work a "boring desk job", and that you are going to set the world on fire by refusing to work a job that you don't love every second of. Congratulations on being exactly what 1980's media told you to be.

I think that is one of the greatest disservices that we've done to the last few generations of kids -- we've told them over and over that they should only do the stuff they want to do, and that they are very very special, so they shouldn't settle for such a mundane life as "feeding the kids" and "paying the rent" as goals. I'll never tell someone to give up on a dream, I still have them, I still want to create something that will make life better, I want to build a better world.

But I think the reason most of the well-meaning world changers never really do what they set out to do (be it in art or music or social change) is that they're doing it blind. If you want to create a realistic work-setting with realistic characters, you may want to experience actual office life so that it doesn't sound like some professor's idea of what an office is like. If you want to know how to make work work for the poor and the downtrodden, I think I'd personally recommend that you spend at least a year or two living on the system as it is, so that you can find the parts that don't work. If you read the bios of most famous authors, they had other jobs until they made it -- and it helped. Frank Herbert working in the desert for ten years in the Army created Dune, it wouldn't have worked if he'd just looked at a picture of the desert and said "Sand is cool". He wrote speeches, thus he knew how politics works, rather than trying to make it sound realistic using his high school civics notes. Point being that the starving artist day job is part of making you a great artist -- working those boring jobs and making paperclip chains is part of understanding what that kind of life is.

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Inheritance? You think you... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 2:08 PM | Posted, in reply to stefan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Inheritance? You think you're entitled to an inheritance? You mean everything someone else worked for? The only reason welfare is even possible is because people work. When all of the people who suck it up and work a crappy job because they have to are gone, your welfare will dry up too. If nobody is going to work crappy jobs they don't like in your new world, you're all going to starve to death.

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I don't think I'm entitled ... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 2:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by stefan: | Reply

I don't think I'm entitled to anything - you may find this difficult to believe, but I'm not on food stamps. I'm lucky enough to be one of an ever-shrinking number of young people to have a real, marketable skill. I even support my wife, just like dad did. Maybe you and I have that in common.

Here's what we don't have in common - I know that this job, and the life it provides, was a matter of dumb luck. A hobby I happened to enjoy turned into my real job. You know what didn't? All the shit I did because my parents wanted me to do it. School, college, extracurriculars, I'm sure you know the drill. They told me that doing all of those things was responsible, and that the weekends I spent coding were irresponsible.

This is the inheritance I'm referring to - a generation of kids raised not with their future in mind, but only to reflect well on their parents. To get good grades, have a strong application, and go to a prestigious private college. The hipsters you feel so much better than did all of that and more, not because they're idiots, but because their parents told them to, told them that a "good school" was their best shot at being self-sufficient adults.

But when we graduated, what we got was debt and employment. Because the world had changed - and everything they, and you, had taught us was wrong. You were too wrapped up in your own egos to notice, so you threw away our only hope and lived for yourselves instead of us.

Trust me, there will be plenty of people working shitty jobs in the new world. Taking care of miserable old bastards with your selfish, self-aggrandizing worldview is an industry I project to grow and grow. And trust me, they will be miserable, deriding "whiny hipsters" and their "gadgets" even as those same hipsters put food on their tables and master ever more sophisticated technology.

I hope your assets survive the coming economic upheaval, I really do. I hope you work in something with a future. You see, it's not people working that pays for welfare. It's work getting done. Machines are going to do more and more of it. Soon there will be three careers left - engineer, entertainer, and welfare leech. If you're not an engineer (and current with all the latest tech, oh my) or a entertainer (and fame is a fickle thing) I expect you to be on the public teat soon enough.

The irony is that you'll still be calling me a whiny parasite, even as my taxes pay for your check.

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"I don't think 'promotions'... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 3:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by stefan: | Reply

"I don't think 'promotions' represent achievement, I think that being self supporting is an achievement."

I am self-supporting. And from where I'm sitting, it's no achievement. I'm happy I'm not living with my parents, happy to be able to afford nice things, but I'm not proud. My unemployed friends did exactly the same thing I did - what our parents told us to do. I just happened to have the right hobbies...

"It's called work for a reason. What you want is the fantasy, the one where you only have to do fun creative things and people simply hand you the money when you've done nothing but sit around all day thinking deep thoughts."

I'm sure this person you're mad at is a horrible person, but it's not me. I'm not too good to work a desk job - desk jobs have nothing to do with being "good", they have to a lot to do with being lucky. But if you admitted that, then you'd have to give up congratulating yourself for your mediocre job.

"Congratulations on being exactly what 1980's media told you to be."

I wasn't even capable of speech until the early nineties. Maybe you're mad at someone else?

"I think that is one of the greatest disservices that we've done to the last few generations of kids -- we've told them over and over that they should only do the stuff they want to do, and that they are very very special, so they shouldn't settle for such a mundane life as "feeding the kids" and "paying the rent" as goals."

Those aren't goals - those are bare necessities. Raising capable, independent children is a goal, as is building a better world for them to live in. But that's too hard, so let's just revise our exceptions downward so that everyone - most especially you - gets a trophy.

"I'll never tell someone to give up on a dream, I still have them, I still want to create something that will make life better, I want to build a better world."

Is this world better for you or better for me? Be honest.


" Point being that the starving artist day job is part of making you a great artist -- working those boring jobs and making paperclip chains is part of understanding what that kind of life is."

I'm not starving and I qualify as a hobbyist more than an artist. To reiterate, a desk job that pays the bills is a comfortable thing - hell, I'm posting from the office, and I'll buy my own tequila tonight. But it's not a great thing or even a good thing. It's not a major accomplishment, and it sure as shit does not make you morally superior to unemployed hipsters whose only crime was trying to be the people their parents wanted them to be.

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Hold on a second, I seem to... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 3:07 PM | Posted, in reply to B ryan's comment, by stefan: | Reply

Hold on a second, I seem to be in the way of your projector. There we go, that's much clearer.

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I'm not that old at 36. My... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 4:23 PM | Posted, in reply to stefan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm not that old at 36. My parents were boomers. I haven't taught you a thing as I'm closer to being your peer, not your parent. I support myself, my wife, and my 2 kids and we live paycheck to paycheck. I went to a cheap state school, worked while I was there and got my degree with only 13k of debt. I do software development, which I don't enjoy, but I also don't expect to. I've worked since I was 14 and never liked any job, but I do like being self-sufficient, so I work. It's not dumb luck you got a job in software - jesus, read any job forecast over the last 20 years and it's been a sure thing all along.

I won't be able to afford to send my kids to college. All I can offer them is advice, which will be do something vocational and if you decide to go to college, start at community college, then work while you get a BS and never, ever go to graduate school because there is no bigger waste of money.

I expect that life is hard and the default is that you're going to suffer and appreciate when anything good comes my way. I don't blame anyone for the way the world works or for my situation, I just make the best of it.

You babies have a lot to learn from the buddhists.

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"I'm not that old at 36. My... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2013 8:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by stefan: | Reply

"I'm not that old at 36. My parents were boomers. I haven't taught you a thing as I'm closer to being your peer, not your parent."

Sadly, I was never really yelling at you. You're a symbol, a stand-in. Narcissism is a bitch that way.

"I support myself, my wife, and my 2 kids and we live paycheck to paycheck. I went to a cheap state school, worked while I was there and got my degree with only 13k of debt. I do software development, which I don't enjoy, but I also don't expect to. I've worked since I was 14 and never liked any job, but I do like being self-sufficient, so I work."

It's shame you don't enjoy the job. It's one of my greatest joys. I'm glad you're doing right by your wife and kids. Please forgive me - I don't aspire to live your life, and I don't think my peers should, either. That's not to say they won't live it but we shouldn't think of things like supporting our families or paying rent as accomplishments worth of praise.

"It's not dumb luck you got a job in software - jesus, read any job forecast over the last 20 years and it's been a sure thing all along."

It absolutely is. My degree is in liberal arts, and I wanted to be a writer or a lawyer. My friends had exactly the same aspirations when we all went into school, and now we're all out and there's nothing for us. Imagine if my hobby had been music instead of programming - I'd be on a street corner right now, barely scraping by on what passing programmers decided they could spare.

You can look at the forecasts all you want, but I was actively discouraged from pursuing my ultimate career to write papers and read textbooks.

"I won't be able to afford to send my kids to college. All I can offer them is advice, which will be do something vocational and if you decide to go to college, start at community college, then work while you get a BS and never, ever go to graduate school because there is no bigger waste of money."

I'm glad you're being practical. Just remember to remind them that once they've paid the rent and graduated debt free, that they need to keep striving for a better world for their kids. I can't say for sure whether it will work, but we can at least try.

"I expect that life is hard and the default is that you're going to suffer and appreciate when anything good comes my way. I don't blame anyone for the way the world works or for my situation, I just make the best of it."

Truth be told, a lot of the "hipsters" have more or less the same mindset. They may be idiots, but it's unfair to accuse them of not trying - my unemployed friends are practical people because they have no other choice. Even when they find work, they get screwed out of most of the benefits - they're paid so little that just driving to work eats up most of their earnings, they work no set schedule - and their employers dick with their hours to keep them from getting benefits. And unlike you or I, there is no ladder into a better life for them. Who promotes greeters and baristas? Better to just hire someone with management experience.

"You babies have a lot to learn from the buddhists."

Some of them did learn - they learned that clinging to things and identities like their parents will only lead us to them neurotic, self-obsessed lives. They're trying build solid relationships and finding what joy they can in a world that has no use for them. But people like you and I, like our parents, who had a world of opportunities they were denied, shit on them because it makes them feel better about themselves.

I leave it to you to identify the parasite in that situation.

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I have got an MA in Ancient... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 2:06 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I have got an MA in Ancient Greek History.

My life is pretty awesome, I feel pretty happy about the whole thing.

I have no idea what a hipster is and this whole thing is hilariously dim.

Now, it will be interesting to see what assumptions and wild generalisations are made next.

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I completely agree (Vassar ... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 2:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I completely agree (Vassar English major 1979, currently underemployed). But my Dad DID tell me so....

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hating on the service class... (Below threshold)

January 10, 2013 4:26 PM | Posted by crumbskull: | Reply

hating on the service class twenty somethings for leading a degenerate lifestyle is like the dumbest possible thing to spend time doing

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I could write a lot of word... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2013 2:07 AM | Posted by Flying Tiger Comics: | Reply

I could write a lot of words about hipsters- having been stalked by one of them for years now- but I will simply close with this.

People keep saying malignant narcissist like there's a non-malignant kind. There isn't.

They are lazy people with too much time on their hands, and as one cop put it, "They spend 25 hours a day online. They don't even know how sick they are."

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It is same problem in both ... (Below threshold)

January 13, 2013 4:22 PM | Posted by Kimmo: | Reply

It is same problem in both cases. No matter how you structure financing. Some might even argue it is moreso when you have no direct responsibility to yourself for making bad decision for higher education.
People get unwanted education.
And in both cases people could be steered in different directions. What ever they might be. By helping them make more informed decisions.

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Because consumerism is not ... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 12:52 PM | Posted, in reply to M's comment, by Nilkad Naquada: | Reply

Because consumerism is not a basic emotion. It is a response to basic emotions, e.g. greed, desire, but it is not a basic emotion in itself, which envy is. In the same way discipline can stop a person from throwing a punch but not from becoming angry, discipline can teach a person not to buy unnecessary things, but cannot teach a person not to be envious.

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Actually, envy is not a bas... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2013 2:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Nilkad Naquada's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

Actually, envy is not a basic emotion. It's a derived emotion. "I wantX and do not have it." is the situation that drives the basic emotion of "dissatisfaction". That then must go through several steps to become envy. Dissatisfaction could instead be expressed as "I need to get smarter" (motivation) rather than "I hate you for having X" (envy).

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Wow. I'm late to the party ... (Below threshold)

January 15, 2013 1:30 AM | Posted by The 73rd Virgin: | Reply

Wow. I'm late to the party but there is some bad writing in the original articles. If this food processor blend of misplaced commas, misused colons and run-on sentences is what's valued in the market, then we're in bigger trouble than I thought. My 30 year old state college Entomology degree was reasonably valuable, but its value was multiplied by the ability to formulate complete sentences - and thoughts.

The biggest complaint, still, among technical supervisors out in the real world is that tech grads can't write. Not to say we need more English majors, but young'uns, do NOT head out into the world as ill-equipped as this guy.

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This is excellent, but neve... (Below threshold)

January 15, 2013 12:16 PM | Posted by Zoe: | Reply

This is excellent, but never once you've explained this: college degrees may be useless, but employers still require them. In my office job, I was the objectively the most qualified for a promotion, but was denied because I did not yet have a degree.

Since employers still put false weight on these degrees, what are we supposed to do? How do we contribute without wasting all that money on college? The option I've found is that I must spend more to stand out - I've studied abroad, I've done unpaid internships, to show my worth because a college degree does not, yet it's still required.

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To put it delicately, the b... (Below threshold)

January 15, 2013 12:28 PM | Posted, in reply to Zoe's comment, by Bryan: | Reply

To put it delicately, the blanket requirement for "a degree" is simply a way for lazy and incompetent HR wonks to make an easy cut. In my own field (which I have very recently rejoined, finally), the HR department will never have the faintest clue about the work to be done. They don't know an miRNA from an amygdala. They're flat-out clueless, but they have to retain dictatorial control over hiring. Thus, they impose easy-to-count "requirements" that may have nothing to do with the job.

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Exactly, but then what are ... (Below threshold)

January 15, 2013 2:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Bryan's comment, by Zoe: | Reply

Exactly, but then what are you supposed to do? Get the degree and be a good sheep? Or don't get it and stock at Trader Joe's?

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In 1965 I am old enough to ... (Below threshold)

January 17, 2013 8:04 PM | Posted by abbeysbooks: | Reply

In 1965 I am old enough to remember that student loans and grants were THE way to get the young off the streets and silence their radical protesting. I watched them all fink out to get the chance to go to college that many would not have had otherwise. Deserving or not, smart or not, whatever. IS WAS A FUCKING STRATEGY. It still is. If you graduate owing a huge mortgage on your soul, you are not going to backpack around the world anymore, see how others live and work and play. You are not going to delve into poetry, writing, music, art, etc. You are going to put that nose of yours to the grindstone!

Hey wait. Where is the grindstone. I can't find it. Help. Help me look for it. Sorry. So now that there is no grindstone, except flipping McDonalds, we are back to square one. Young people educated beyond their ability to understand, with lots of leisure to protest and rebel. But they are not interested in that anymore. They were "good boys and girls" did what they were told and now there is no payoff. OH oh. What if......

But no. Now they have been brainwashed. They think they are smart because they have those pieces of paper. They want to work in the universities, the community colleges, etc but there aren't enough slots. They are would be careerists competing against the careerists higher up on the ladder.

We are awash in certificates for applying plastic fingernails etc, and no one knows shit. Don't talk Rand to me. I know her inside and out, no pun intended. She never meant cyber-capital, "floating capital" which is what we have now. She really meant free-enterprise, not capitalism. She was in a life-long love/hate relationship with Nietzsche. And a greater mind than hers, Heidegger, said at the end, "Nietzsche ruined me."

Food Stamps are not to give people food. that is the "mask". Food Stamps are for Big Ag. Just watch checkout at Wal-Mart for a couple of hours: Frito Lay, Pepsi, Coke, Pretzels, Instant mash potatoes (just add water and milk), well you know. Food Stamps are subsidies for Big Ag and all the Food Lobbyists from the big corporations. Nothing to do with feeding the poor but only poisoning them with bad food.

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The middle aged woman who w... (Below threshold)

January 17, 2013 8:24 PM | Posted, in reply to HippyLongStockings's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

The middle aged woman who won't take help has been brainwashed to think it is beneath her, bad, socially unacceptable etc. Do any of you notice that Goldman Sachs and the rest of the pirates think that way?That's how they get you. they control your thinking with sound bites.

In 1964 I think it was I was in NYC and met some Libertarians who took me to Murray Rothbard 's apartment for a social conversational evening. For those of you who don't know, Rothbard was a young PhD in economics of the Austrian school. He said something about his apartment and rent control. So being the good Randian that I was then I asked why he lived in a rent control apartment and wrote the classic standard text on economic freedom.

He said, "You use the state against itself. You take everything you can take or get. You want to cripple it."

Anytime I have forgotten that, or disregarded that, or thought I knew better about integrity, I have been snookered. A state that has a huge portion of its budget going to its citizens does not have the resources to vote for and wage wars. That's the real reason they are against national health care.

This is a great blog. But the wind of clearer thought needs to blow through here. Psychological interpretation is not going to cut the check.

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I'm a 51 year old high scho... (Below threshold)

January 18, 2013 12:13 PM | Posted by Ken: | Reply

I'm a 51 year old high school drop out with no debt. I was so proud of myself when I walked into the local community college last month and without spending one second in study passed the GED tests and finished in the 99th percentile - getting the highest score possible in two of the five tests (I'm the sux at math). When discussing this with my friend that has a Masters Degree from MIT he had two things to say to me. "That just goes to show you that education is pretty much worthless" and "PhD stands for Prostituted Him/Herself Diligently".

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Thanks, old'un. Lets all fo... (Below threshold)

January 18, 2013 4:00 PM | Posted, in reply to The 73rd Virgin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Thanks, old'un. Lets all focus on the messenger to avoid the message.

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To the extent that I can fo... (Below threshold)

January 18, 2013 6:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by The 73rd Virgin: | Reply

To the extent that I can follow the message, I agree with it entirely. To the extent that I can interpret birdshot on a paper target, I admire the pattern. But I would admire a single bullseye rather more. Especially from someone who thinks I should listen to him about how to shoot.

Scattershot writing is scattershot thinking, mixed with narcissism.

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I've rarely read such a smu... (Below threshold)

January 19, 2013 6:48 PM | Posted by Michael: | Reply

I've rarely read such a smug, ignorant, convoluted, reactionary article. Manages to misunderstand the positions of the right and the left.

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Hey, I stack produce too! B... (Below threshold)

January 20, 2013 11:00 AM | Posted, in reply to StephenD's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey, I stack produce too! But Im a highschool dropout who never went to college. Pushin for managment now, and friends and family keep sayin I should goto buisness school. Bosses tell me its a waste of time Ill get promoted anyways.. Lol

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My charity is not pity for ... (Below threshold)

January 20, 2013 12:10 PM | Posted, in reply to thecobrasnose's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

My charity is not pity for a man's poverty, but instead acknowledgement of the virtue of his struggle against it. Poverty is not a problem, but a consequence. The problem is injustice. If the consequence of poverty is from an act of injustice, then let us adjudicate setting it right. If the consequence of a self-inflicted act, well, then there is justice. "Government ''charity''" is no charity. It is force and violence.

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Of course we don't need any... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 4:46 AM | Posted, in reply to The 73rd Virgin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Of course we don't need any English majors. Why would we want English teachers to know anything about English.

Same goes for all humanities subjects. Why would we want our History, Philosophy, Art or Politics teachers to have a solid understanding of those areas (which requires at least three years study, of course)? No, fuck that, liberal arts majors are obviously to blame for the state of the economy, not corporate greed.

Study something useful study something useful study something useful study something useful study something useful oh god i'm 50 what have i done with my life *BOOM*

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This is a consequence of co... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 5:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

This is a consequence of confusing a liberal arts education with market place mojo. That technical education is not separate from liberal arts is making it worse. The new tech colleges are often wonderful. No admission, just take a course. You can pursue a certification or pile up credits to transfer, but you have much more of a choice and these colleges are doing very well. Their tuition is affordable too. Liberal Arts was instituted as a degree for students of secure families who wished their children to be culturally broadened. Much as the journey abroad used to be. It should not be evaluated as a stepping stone to more money. Classically the former student had family contacts that ensured that for him - not usually her - when they graduated.

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No it goes to show that the... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 5:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Ken's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

No it goes to show that the GED has been dumbed down so everyone can do well on it. That way they get to get you to take our huge student loans to take courses and employ their faculty. Not saying you are not totally gifted with no education, just tempering it a bit eh.

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Which would be fine if the ... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 9:43 AM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Which would be fine if the course catalog or the admissions application would tell you that. That's the beef -- the colleges are being dishonest about what liberal arts degrees do for graduates. If they would say "doesn't add to employment marketability" then there's very little to complain about.

Since what they actually care about is getting you to spend 30K on a degree, they don't tell you that, and so we end up with a bunch of kids with huge loans and few prospects beyond "barista"

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Started by being the way th... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 4:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Started by being the way the govt got the hippies off the street, stopped their protests, put them in holding tanks for a few years until they calmed down. When they got out they owed a mortgage on a house. Clever. Was it planned that way? NO. The system we are in is irreversible and it works that way. Ever tightening the Matrix, making the Foucauldian Grid tighter and tighter, finer and finer.

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"oh god i'm 50 what have i ... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 9:30 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by The 73rd Virgin: | Reply

"oh god i'm 50 what have i done with my life *BOOM*"

You and most everyone else will feel that way at 50 anyway, no matter what you do. Most of us keep it under control by looking at what we may have done right. Raise a couple kids who aren't sociopaths, hold down a good job, etc. The feeling passes. Money helps.

If you want to teach, by all means teach. My grandmother, mother, and wife all did. For a while.

I didn't say we don't need any English majors. I just don't think we need any more in the mix than we already have. One of the biggest influences in my life was a history professor. But he was a professor, not someone with a six-year bachelor's degree hoping to make six figures working for a non-profit.

And if you think that "studying something useful" equates with "Boom" then you may be beyond advice. Most of the extreme left-brained engineers I work around seem pretty happy. The bed feels about the same at the end of the day whether you've completed the magnum opus of the over-gazed navel or designed a sewer system. The money spends the same, too.

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Smoking a lot of weed helps... (Below threshold)

January 23, 2013 12:32 AM | Posted, in reply to The 73rd Virgin's comment, by Bob: | Reply

Smoking a lot of weed helps pass the time, too. When in doubt, do like Willie does. . . . roll me up, and smoke me when I die.

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I just want to state that t... (Below threshold)

January 24, 2013 3:35 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I just want to state that the comment section on here is as interesting and entertaining, if not more so, than the actual article.
Thoroughly enjoying this.

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The grass controversy goes ... (Below threshold)

January 24, 2013 4:52 PM | Posted by abbeysbooks: | Reply

The grass controversy goes on. It began by lobbies from the logging industry for paper and the liquor industry for recreational use. Grass cuts in on their territory so they wanted to eliminate it and we got the very campy documentary Reefer Madness to put fear in the hearts of men and women everywhere. Fear is a powerful weapon of control. And Americans now fear every goddamn thing you mention.Much of it is worth fearing and much of fit is not. But most cannot tell the difference. Look at kids in the supermarket when you say hello to them and make contact. OMG a stranger talked to me. They are going to kidnap me. And many will cry in fear. There is no chance now of knowing older people who are strangers to your family. I think of all those I knew sho gave so much to me of themselves. Marge who did Little Lulu in our apartment complex used to do drawing with me. Not now. Marge would be afraid to let someone else's child in her apartment for fear of being accused of a sexual come on.

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Great article. So many of m... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2013 11:26 PM | Posted by the tacoman: | Reply

Great article. So many of my friends are going to Uni(I'm Canadian) with lots of loans that they don't have to pay off for a long time. Unfortunately, I think about 1 in 5 are actually taking their education seriously. They go to school to party, have sex, and live the easy life. Guess how many people want to hire someone with a degree in General Studies? Someone with no work experience, a serious disrespect of authority to the point where they are flipping off police officers and teachers, and a whimsical attitude. No one. Not even the local Timmies wants them. Maybe for part time or as an unpaid intern. Which means borrowing more money to pay the bills. And the most scary thing of all? I asked about 50 of my former classmates what their career plans were. The response 98% of them gave? "I dunno, something fun."

I said "Screw that", hopped on the workforce at 18 with a high school degree, got a room with my own money, and still had time to have fun and party. To this day, I have not accrued one dollar in debt because I am a goddamn American. That's right, I'm a dual citizen. My parents raised me American and American I am.

I was taught that to get anything in life, you work at it. A lot. The job might suck, but it has to be done. Welfare, in my mind, was for the sick and the old. To go on it is the lowest of the low. Unfortunately, my mental health degraded to the point where I had to quit my nice cushy 40 hour a week job. So now, I was back at square one. Nobody is hiring right now because many people have fled to warmer climate. I did the most shameful thing I have ever done or considered doing. I applied for welfare. I couldn't even look the clerk in the eyes. I do not want to be on welfare. Every day I hand out resumes. To be on welfare, as an able-bodied person, still rests in my mind, as a shameful thing. I did work enough that my taxes went into the system, but I hate it. So, I decided to join the Marines. Screw welfare, I'm going around the world and kicking ass for Uncle Sam. Every-time I went into the unemployment office I saw at least 5 able bodied people for every 1 disabled person. AND THEY SEE NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Society has babied them to the point where they can justify themselves! This is what is wrong with society! It should not be acceptable in any way for a full fit and healthy person to be okay with welfare. When, and I mean when, I get a job again, I am personally going to mail a check to the government for the amount I receive. Welfare is for the disabled and the old. Period.

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David Mamet: educated at Go... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 6:27 AM | Posted by Stephen Sudia: | Reply

David Mamet: educated at Goddard College, a private liberal arts college in Plainfield, Vermont where about 800 students design their own curriculum and are only required to attend class once every six months for about eight days.

"[Goddard students] are encouraged to question received knowledge and the status quo and to create new understandings of the world and of human experience. As a collaborative interdependent learning community, we respect, include and appreciate differing perspectives. We challenge ourselves and each other to embrace uncertainty, experiment, and imagine unexpected outcomes" ("About" section of Goddard College website, where the college promoted its upcoming "Police State Cabaret Puppet Show").

Sounds about as hippy-dippy a place as possible, one that would oppose almost everything mentioned in this article.

David Mamet, of course, wrote the script for Glengarry Glen Ross, both play and movie. Alec Baldwin's speech speech from the film cited in Part I, the inspirational linchpin behind this article, does not appear in the play, but was written in by Mamet as an afterthought for the movie to lengthen it.

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Well, if I could ask Memet ... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 10:39 AM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Well, if I could ask Memet a question it would be this: What specific thing did Goddard teach you that you couldn't have picked up elsewhere? If you say "question everything", I think you've been drinking the kool-aid. There's nothing unique about any school that makes you question the status quo. In fact, even in that quote, he admits as much -- they TOLD him to think critically and question the status quo. I think that's an obvious blind spot of our educational system -- we tell people that the only way to make a critical thinker is to send them to 4-year universities. It's not a good system, as any institution is by its very nature regimented. They set the agenda on the first day of every class, you know all the topics, you go buy the $90 textbook, etc.

Regimentation doesn't help to make you question that status quo because you are only shown the parts that the system wants you to see. You only see the stuff that you read in the textbook and gets mentioned in class. You don't hear about the black swans of history. You don't read anything in English lit beyond the Big Names and only their Important Stuff. Look at reading lists -- they're all the same people. Sure we read Shakespeare and Chaucer and Milton and Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, but what about other writers? They aren't important, they aren't in the book. Same with philosophy. Ayn Rand's philosophy is the basic philosophy of the American GOP, yet no university survey of philosophical history touches her. Sure I think she's wrong, but when something that powerful isn't talked about in a classroom of people studying the ideas that created our matrix, it seems that a philosophy that's driving a major political party in one of the most powerful nations on the planet deserves a mention. Alas, she's also not in the textbook. Regimentation doesn't help to encourage critical thinking. Knowing how to look at sources, and more importantly how to seek out those sources is what helps.

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I'd like to reply to you ab... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 5:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

I'd like to reply to you about Rand. Zizek has BTW. But I've been told not to post here anymore. Ah regimenatation comes in many guises.

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That's because Objectivism ... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 5:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

That's because Objectivism isn't actually a philosophy, and Ayn Rand wasn't a real philosopher.

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Wrong. Only she wasn't the ... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 5:33 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

Wrong. Only she wasn't the philosopher she thought she was. She is a post modern philosopher, way ahead of her time. She is/was a profound Nietzschean only she didn't know it. What Lacan and Zizek call the "unknown knowns" of a person. Zizek and his JARS article explain her very well and so do I. Objectivism is just a "floating sign" for her fiction.

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Huh. I liked this. Thanks.<... (Below threshold)

January 30, 2013 10:34 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Huh. I liked this. Thanks.

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You are painfully stupid.</... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 5:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You are painfully stupid.

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Mamet may have needed to go... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 9:47 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Mamet may have needed to go there for educational reasons, to get a job, you have no idea. He's in a quotation at one of the libraries in chicago as saying something to the effect of, he got his real education at the Chicago public library. they engraved it in stone at one of the libraries. In any case, universities and colleges and everywhere else including just living life don't present great thinking pretty uniformly and the problem is probably just people. Or you could say that if a bachelor's is doing such a bad job with people, maybe they should go even further, get a master's. i have no idea. Maybe you could look up what mamet says he got out of Goddard.

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You know, I really think yo... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 9:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You know, I really think you might want to go to college, come to think of it.

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Allan Bloom once said the p... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 10:03 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Allan Bloom once said the point of a liberal education might be to teach one to think for oneself. Rather than say that this is best done by following the example of so-called, oh, non-traditional thinkers perhaps, he suggested it was best done with a more traditional education and he wrote a book about it called The Closing of the American Mind. Here is a lengthy summary of sorts you might appreciate, it comes from wikipedia. he also wrote a wonderful book about love. Perhaps others might care to note Ayn Rand appears nowhere on any school's reading list and never has, as well:
Bloom's Closing of the American Mind is a critique of the contemporary university and how Bloom sees it as failing its students. In it, Bloom criticizes the modern movements in philosophy and the humanities. Philosophy professors involved in ordinary language analysis or logical positivism disregard important "humanizing" ethical and political issues and fail to pique the interest of students.[23] Literature professors involved in deconstructionism promote irrationalism and skepticism of standards of truth and thereby dissolve the moral imperatives which are communicated through genuine philosophy and which elevate and broaden the intellects of those who engage with them.[24] To a great extent, Bloom's criticism revolves around his belief that the "great books" of Western thought have been devalued as a source of wisdom. Bloom's critique extends beyond the university to speak to the general crisis in American society. Closing of the American Mind draws analogies between the United States and the Weimar Republic. The modern liberal philosophy, he says, enshrined in the Enlightenment thought of John Locke—that a just society could be based upon self-interest alone, coupled by the emergence of relativism in American thought—had led to this crisis.
For Bloom, this created a void in the souls of Americans, into which demagogic radicals as exemplified by 1960s student leaders could leap. (In the same fashion, Bloom suggests, that the Nazi brownshirts once filled the gap created in German society by the Weimar Republic.) In the second instance, he argued, the higher calling of philosophy and reason understood as freedom of thought, had been eclipsed by a pseudo-philosophy, or an ideology of thought. Relativism was one feature of modern liberal philosophy that had subverted the Platonic–Socratic teaching.
Bloom's critique of contemporary social movements at play in universities or society at large is derived from his classical and philosophical orientation. For Bloom, the failure of contemporary liberal education leads to the sterile social and sexual habits of modern students, and to their inability to fashion a life for themselves beyond the mundane offerings touted as success. Bloom argues that commercial pursuits had become more highly valued than love, the philosophic quest for truth, or the civilized pursuits of honor and glory.
In one chapter, in a style of analysis which resembles the work of the Frankfurt School, he examined the philosophical effects of popular music on the lives of students, placing pop music, or as it is generically branded by record companies "rock music", in a historical context from Plato’s Republic to Nietzsche’s Dionysian longings. Treating it for the first time with genuine philosophical interest, he gave fresh attention to the industry, its target-marketing to children and teenagers, its top performers, its place in our late-capitalist bourgeois economy, and its pretensions to liberation and freedom. Some critics, including the popular musician Frank Zappa, argued that Bloom's view of pop music was based on the same ideas that critics of pop "in 1950s held, ideas about the preservation of 'traditional' white American society."[25] Bloom, informed by Socrates, Aristotle, Rousseau and Nietzsche, explores music’s power over the human soul. He cites the soldier who throws himself into battle at the urging of the drum corps, the pious believer who prays under the spell of a religious hymn, the lover seduced by the romantic guitar, and points towards the tradition of philosophy that treated musical education as paramount. He names the pop-star Mick Jagger as a cardinal representative of the hypocrisy and erotic sterility of pop-rock music. Pop music employs sexual images and language to enthrall the young and to persuade them that their petty rebelliousness is authentic politics, when, in fact, they are being controlled by the money-managers whom successful performers like Jagger quietly serve. Bloom claims that Jagger is a hero to many university students who envy his fame and wealth but are really just bored by the lack of options before them.[26] Along with the absence of literature in the lives of the young and their sexual but often unerotic relationships, the first part of Closing tries to explain the current state of education in a fashion beyond the purview of an economist or psychiatrist—contemporary culture's leading umpires.

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I also have read very much ... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 10:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

I also have read very much of Bloom and agree with him and you. As for Rand her "philosophy of Objectivism" is not a philosophy but a floating signifier for her fiction. Her philosophy is in her fiction and it is all Nietzschean. This is what puts her directlyly into the post modern world which her followers abhor. What is more Nietzschean or Baudrillardian than Francisco's monologue to Dagny about the San Sebastian Mines that he has just revealed to her, his investment of 15 million to evaporate hundreds of millions from the "looters" or second handers as Rand calls them. In DeLillo's Cosmopolis DeLillo leaves cookie crumbs all through the book to help you follow Rand whom he has silently acknowledged in Eric Packer's destruction of cyber-capital in one day. The prevalent thought on this book in academic worlds is different as continental philosophy is not yet embedded in our universities, but severely resisted in many departments.

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Florence king wrote a wonde... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 10:55 AM | Posted, in reply to abbeysbooks's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Florence king wrote a wonderful piece about ayn Rand, i think it may have been in her book With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look At Misanthropy.
I thought about it, and why is Milton on any great books lists? He seems like such a buffoon. Have you read Mark Twain's writing about Eden? Much nicer than Milton.

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Not encouraging kids to pur... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 11:19 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Jensen: | Reply

Not encouraging kids to pursue a dream is a double-edged sword, because it entirely depends on what the dream is, and not every child has a dream of being an artist. It may be just as difficult to get the dream job in science, but it is honestly much better to pursue it and end up with a mid-level tech job than to get the useless sure-thing/easy-money business degree that our parents' generation promoted as the reasonable alternative to pursuing any dreams, ever. (The exception is biology -- the field is too crowded with kids who wanted to pet dolphins for a living or failed pre-health. Just about any other science or technology degree is much more useful.)

Not everyone was told to chase their dream, even if it's a more practical dream. I was told that all that science stuff is hard, boring, and dangerous (look what we're doing to the Earth!) and you're rubbish at math, but that's okay, you shouldn't try to learn because everybody hates those nerds anyway and some people just aren't born to do it, so don't try to change. Study management, politics, foreign languages, et al., and get a well-paying secure corporate job. Except that this is what every other bum with low aspirations or who failed pre-law did as well, the people who couldn't care less what their job was as long as they got paid in booze at the end of the week, and that think they can schmooze their way through anything because they cheated on their entry-level poli-sci courses (you didn't think anyone could see you?).

I wish someone had told me to try a little bit, don't think you're worthless because you had some bad experiences in K-12, you might get to do something cool one day if you actually dream that you can, and you can do that harder stuff if you apply yourself. Here I am now, having figured that out on my own in my 20s and getting a science degree after the useless one, and I'm already working in my chosen field, and being a lab tech assisting with valuable research is a million times better than making a slightly higher wage selling routers.

Tell kids to dream. Just encourage them to have constructive dreams. Not every kid thinks she's going to be a fashion designer or pro-gamer or whatever else is the fantasy trend right now. Expose them to stuff that they should actually aspire to, show them that they can change the world by studying something like chemistry or computer engineering instead of economics and poli-sci (make things instead of manipulating others!), and then let them go find themselves. I know this might be hard to do in the cultural milieu of messages where the rich and successful are Katy Perry and Stephanie Meyer, but goddamnit, the world is going to continue to suck for everyone until somebody does this.

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I know this comment is comi... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 1:02 PM | Posted, in reply to Lucas Gray's comment, by Victor: | Reply

I know this comment is coming late, but there is a flaw in your logic. I did what you did, but instead of the scholarship I did community college to duck insane tuition costs and then bounced to a name university. The flaw is in getting the Masters degree. If you are a newly minted teacher with no experience and you show up with a Masters, then they have to pay you more for the Masters. Why hire you when there are a stack of kids outside with just BA Ed.s who will work for less?
Welcome to being overqualified and unemployable.

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There is a wonderful little... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 2:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

There is a wonderful little book written in first person by Milton's daughter. Evidently the research shows he was vile to her, just vile, leaving her penniless after she cared for him. As to King on Rand and charity toward None I am guessing King is responding to the Nietzschean in Rand as that is certainly Nietzsche's POV. Let me know please, tho.

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Had this happen a lot. Then... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 2:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Victor's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

Had this happen a lot. Then after reading Foucault I understood since the schools are part of his razor cutting in discipline and Punish and his Lectures on Abnormal 1974-75 as an institution for enforcing normality. Schools say they want learning, creative thinking blah blah blah but they are there for ensuring "normality" and obedience. So a new teacher is going to be far more malleable than one with graduate degrees who really wants to teach what schools say they want to teach, but in fact do not. Question authority children is never in vogue.All this falls in the Foucauldian Grid which commentors here call The Matrix aaafter the film I guess, which is loosely after Baudrillard (Simulacra and Simulation) and Zizek's Desert of the Real.

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thanks for info on book by ... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 4:50 PM | Posted, in reply to abbeysbooks's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

thanks for info on book by Milton's daughter. yes, it kind of makes sense he'd be a jerk.
Teh essay i read by King was wonderful, kind of--- i read it many years ago, but--- took her apart and explained why she was the way she was, explained that she was trying to be a certain kind of person in reaction largely to her childhood. Along those lines, anyway. there is a page online of Florence king quotations about Ayn Rand.
http://www.cyberussr.com/adg/rand-king.html
Florence king is very amusing even if she did write for The National Review (God, I hope I never have to admit that about anyone else ever again, it pains me)

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This is the problem with Ra... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 5:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

This is the problem with Rand when people try to psychologize her. Yes, it's all true I think, but it all falls in the psychological Discourse, the Dominating Discourse. Rand in her fiction and a lot of her life is really a Nietzschean strategist. Dominique certainly is. She chooses the "worst" husband she can think of. Her strategy at the end by reporting a theft to the police when Roark is there having obviously spent the night together is her strategy. She does not go through a long divorce with lawyers etc. She brings it all down.

Francisco uses the same strategy in bringing down the dozens of people with their money by using the San Sebastion mines as a mask. This is Nietzschean. Rand's style is Nietzsche's style: aphoristic, fragmentary, non linear. She read Nietzsche starting at age 16 because her cousin told her Nietzsche had all her ideas first. Beyond Good and Evil was the first book she bought in English and she underlined all her favorite passages. Her written style is Nietzschean. Her Journal talks about her readings in Nietzsche all the way through The Fountainhead. After that Nietzsche is scrubbed out as World War II and Hitler's love affair with Nietzsche makes him anathema to the western world.

It is impossible to understand Rand without reading her through Nietzsche. Otherwise she is just an exciting novelist who became very influential, mostly due to Greenspan. The passion of her disciples comes from Nietzsche sifting through everything she wrote.

She is a philosopher of major importance, but not because of Objectivism which is a footnote to her fiction just as Borges made up footnotes to his fiction. She is great because of her fiction and a philosopher because of her fiction. ONLY. As influential as Harriet Beecher Stowe was for the abolitionists. Not great literature, either one, but definitely making a Foucauldian Cut in best seller fiction and the mind of English readers and in the translations afterwards. She is a post modern philosopher who happened to write fiction. Like Bataille or Roussel for Foucault and Baudrillard.

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Thanks for the link. King i... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 5:18 PM | Posted, in reply to abbeysbooks's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

Thanks for the link. King is funny. LOL! I studied Objectivism with Barbara Branden in 1960-62. It took me a long time to get it out. But it helps to understand the world in a certain way. For awhile anyway. Evidently King took her cue from the fiction. Dominique has been critiqued as a woman who is a self-destructive masochist. So has DeLillo's Eric Packer in his Cosmopolis. Cronenberg has portrayed him also as a suicidal masochist. I seem to be the only one fighting this universal trend with no help but condemnation from the Randroid Belt. These are the same people who would label Jesus a suicidal schizoid instead of the revolutionary he was. And Che who has done for Bolivia what Castro cannot do for Cuba.

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I'm not against dreams, but... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 6:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Jensen's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I'm not against dreams, but the fact is that we never bother to teach kids the difference between a dream and a fantasy. Almost every kid with a keyboard dreams of being either a game designer or an author. Any kid with a notebook and a pencil fantasizes about being an artist. that's all well and good, but it's mostly a fantasy -- at best they're dillitants who aren't seriously into art for art's sake, writing for the sake of writing or making mods of games for the sake of the game.

My thing is that too many kids end up with a fantasy -- they fantasize about being an author but they don't really like writing, they like being the kind of person who is an author. They don't like coding, they want to be the kind of person to design the next Skyrim or Saints Row. They don't want to draw, they want to be an artist. They don't want be a teacher, they want to be the kind of person who gets English lit. The difference is that the kid who wants to do something will do it when no one is looking, the kid who wants the lifestyle won't do it unless they get credit for being the kind of person who writes, draws or codes.

The trick is to teach kids the difference -- the difference between a dream (I want to sing, and I'll work my ass off to get there) and a fantasy (I want to get famous from American Idol and sign autographs, but don't want to spend a life time learn to sing). The difference comes when you realize that you don't want to do the hard parts. You don't want to code if you won't debug, you don't want to write if you don't want to edit, you don't want to sing if you don't want to learn how to read music or take voice lessons.

I won't say "don't dream", but what I will say is that there's a difference between wanting to be an author and wanting to be an author. There's a difference between wanting to be a game designer and wanting to make a game. If it's about wanting to do the work, it's a dream. If it's about the life style, it's nothing more than a fantasy.

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In dreams begin responsibil... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 7:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Flying Tiger Comics: | Reply

In dreams begin responsibilities. Or at least so it used to be.

Blueprints for great achievements is the way it WAS-- and now in a culture where everyone gets a "thanks for turning up" medal it subverts the entire basis of western civilisation.

Every colony or outpost was someone's dream.

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Follow your dream has been... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2013 8:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Flying Tiger Comics's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

Follow your dream has been so corrupted by mass media garbage that it no longer means anything at all. The word f%#$k has become such a common word used as a noun, an adjective, an adverb, a verb that it has lost its meaning. It means nothing at all. Sex as it circulates with hook up after hook up no longer means anything at all. This is what it means to enter what Baudrillard calls Simulated Reality. When it is total we will be in Virtual Reality. From that there is no escape. Dreams have become Orwell speak. The word has no representation anymore.

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"They"--- the kids this, th... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 8:38 AM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"They"--- the kids this, the kids that. do you often view people and or kids this way? What about *you*? and it's dilettante, and it's Mamet. i just wonder if you are leaping before you look, at the expense of possibly learning something. I've heard you do that thing where you talk about kids as "they" before, in a manner that suggests to me you view them as something quite different than yourself, and negatively as well.

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I view it that way because ... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 11:23 AM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I view it that way because I did that. I wanted to be an "author" so I collected a bunch of books on writing, I even did a few of the examples in the book "write about the moment you did X" or "describe a sunset" or some such. I did the same thing with coding, got freeware game making software and went to work on the "next great RPG", I wasn't so much into art, but it's much the same. What I finally got through my head (about at age 25) is that I never actually liked doing the activity. I like reading about writing, talking about making the next great RPG and how I could make something better than Skyrim or whatever, and I was never actually doing that thing. That's what I had to figure out, but THANK GOD I never spent myself into financial slavery getting a degree in those things, as I'd be unemployable as well as in massive debt.

As to kids, it's pretty much how college works, probably 80% of the people on a college campus at any given time are kids under 25. If we're talking about recent graduates, odds are the person in question in under 25. And especially for them, such advice is critical. They're deciding their entire future at the ripe old age of 18, having never held a job outside of retail. They don't know anything that we haven't told them, and I think we've failed them by not telling them that not every idle fantasy is a career, and not everyone is meant to be an artist or something along those lines. We like that stuff because we're a "fame" culture. If you get famous, nothing else matters -- we like to think of our kids as future artists because it's more exciting than them being the next accountant. Which is fine if you're really putting in the work, really willing to put up with almost anything to get there, willing to put in thousands of hours in practice to hone the skills. That's not been my experience either with myself or with other "budding artists" I talk to. Most of them don't spend lunch breaks writing or drawing, they don't go to parks and draw the lakes or people or anything else. They just take classes. Most budding authors don't even write for their high school paper, they don't submit to the community college literary magazine, they don't submit it anywhere, mostly because they spend time coming up with the "idea" which of course is going to be awesome -- if they ever start telling the story.

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At age 18, I hadn't done mu... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 2:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Jensen: | Reply

At age 18, I hadn't done much of anything except play games and write fanfiction (never anything publishable, of course), so I never could've told you what I actually enjoyed doing *because I hadn't tried anything.* I've seen an argument for altering the high school system to allow for kids to actually /do/ more with apprenticeships and work, instead of learning these modeled behaviors from parents and teachers that are exactly what you're talking about: take a class, buy the kit, but don't ever accomplish anything of value on your own. I didn't start getting some clue that I might enjoy things beyond reading and writing until I was in my mid-20s and had incidental exposure. And yes, it was around age 25 that I realized that I had to actually do things and find something that I enjoyed doing, not just be like "what if" while spending my time trying to guess what it was that others thought would be good to do. How I got through college like that, I don't know. It seems like I'm looking at another person when I think back to then.

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This is very sad. And our c... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 2:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Jensen's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

This is very sad. And our culture is responsible for it. The only thing that can help if you are struggling with wondering what to do is to read writers that know what is wrong, say so, and I mean fiction, not self-help books. Start with Barbara Kingsolver.

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I wonder if people simply s... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 3:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I wonder if people simply suffer from a tendency of not wanting to waste any time ever, of feeling they must be productive and be accomplishing in the 'real world" to such a degree they simply do not have the ability to see whatever it is they *are* accomplishing, which is kind of difficult to do. learning to see things is learned. I know for myself that if i get overly involved with wanting to save time, not squander it, and accomplish things in material terms it probably means I *am* depressed--- it is an indicator, not a cause. It can become quite profound, as well. Really there is a blessing in that in this country we *can* waste such time, are allowed to, and yet still get by. to 18 year olds, I just say, any skill is better than no skill for surviving. I have a stupid CNA certificate and have literally never been unemployed when it wasn't my choice- actually, the same can be said for my entire life including the the years I only had a GED. What a great country we live in, for that.... look a the Bureau of labor website for statistics. We might be doing better than we think we are, all things considered. Or at least it is a resource for making decent decisions.
If kids are doing stupid majors and then regretting it, part of that is just being kids. there is no way parents can be blamed for all of that all the time- no way. If anything, if parents have any blame in sending a kid to college--- which with the stupidest major still sounds like a significant life accomplishment, really--- it is probably in putting so much pressure to achieve on them in HS and college that the kid grabs onto a major, any major, in default just to halfway do teh right thing. But at any rate, to any parent whose kid at least got through college, i think they've done enough, no point whatsoever in blaming them, kids have to grow up some time. You can't force them to make perfect decisions at knife point- i know, I have tried. Nowadays they'll call CPS. Encouraging anyone over 18 to blame their parents for anything is encouraging the kid to be miserable and maladjusted. *That's* reality. That is *the* reality. I notice nobody seems to be willing to admit their parents did a fair enough job but it's to their own detriment.

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Well, yes it is kids just b... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2013 5:01 PM | Posted by Dovahkiin: | Reply

Well, yes it is kids just being kids to a degree, but it also seems that the grown-ups are not giving the proper feedback and reality checks. We aren't teaching kids how to look at their interests realistically, we aren't teaching kids the difference between fantasy and reality. We aren't telling kids that college is not all beer pong and frat parties. We aren't even tying continued presence at the university to decent grades. We just tell them to GO. We don't give any advice beyond that for kids to navigate by, nor do we set a real limit on what kinds of things we expect kids to get out of college. Then we sit around and blame them for doing something nieve and stupid. we wouldn't do that for a forgeiner. If an 18 year old from North Korea came in to study in the US he is in the situation of doing exactly what he's told -- he doesn't know any better. He can't say "gee that doesn't make sense" when they tell him that art is as useful to the economy as accounting. But kids are in about the same place -- they have almost no interaction with the economy beyond a part time job at Target or McDonald's, and a head full of stuff the grownups told them. they can't make a good decision at 18 without a lot of guidance. So either we should require a year or two between high school and college or something else that will give them a hint about the real world, or we give a lot more help to kids picking majors.

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I thought this article was ... (Below threshold)

February 11, 2013 5:07 AM | Posted by Julia: | Reply

I thought this article was fascinating. I have friends who utterly despise hipsters and I never understood why; I always saw them as silly people who wore stupid clothes yet were ultimately harmless. This article finally made me see why they're so looked down upon, and I appreciate that TLP did it in a way that examined the rage against hipsters as opposed to simply bashing them.

I also think that the people who reacted negatively to the article might be reading it too literally. I majored in English and have a master's in Creative Writing; I should be furious with TLP. But I don't think he's *literally* saying that if you major in Liberal Arts/English you are a automatically worthless hipster; he's saying that if you consciously major in something and have no plan to use it; if you expect other people to take care of you because you deliberately didn't think something through, if you also expect to live the high life while having done nothing to deserve the rewards, you are a worthless hipster. He chose English majors as an example because they're the traditional example of "useless", even if, in actuality, we're not: an English major lends itself to teaching, writing, journalism, etcetera. Because I always planned to go into those fields - and because I have done so - my English major has never been a hindrance to me (although in hindsight, I wish I'd double majored in journalism). My friends who majored in English with me also went into teaching and writing; we're not rich but we live comfortably and, hey, not everyone can make 600,000K a year. We've never resorted to government aid. We've worked hard to get to where we are. The point TLP is trying to make is that society demands that its citizens produce, and if you don't produce, well, then you're a problem. Hipsters are so hated not because they like art: it's because all they do is talk about it. It's well-established that art is a vital part of society and history. Look how much the entertainment industry makes. How many people have been moved by music, by literature, by art. But that's because people got off their asses and fucking produced it.

For the record: I have friends who - forced by their parents got law or engineering degrees and who, after graduating, never went into law or engineering. By definition, those degrees were also "worthless" since they went unused. Those friends are now stay-at-home mothers or went into entirely unrelated fields; had to work their way up from scratch. I think the underlying moral here is: Have a plan, people. Contribute.

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" If the porn isn't high re... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 12:53 AM | Posted by Mooderator: | Reply

" If the porn isn't high res you can't get horny, but you can hate a guy at 1000 paces without a scope."

If I didn't get anything else from this site, that one line is worth a thousand clicks.

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I like this. You could say,... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2013 4:02 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I like this. You could say, "Don't do what you love, but do what you love to actually do." The rest is just what you love to talk / fantasize about. I won't argue for 'do what pays well and the rest be damned' - that's just as miserable, generally, as 'do what you love'. If you can learn to love doing what actually pays well - like as in, to learn to love excellence itself - I think that's probably a step in the direction we need to go. But most of us, let's face it - aren't really great at what we do for a myriad of reasons. One is how our society and culture speaks about these things now and the second is our acceptance of it. The third is addiction.

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Davohkiin, that was poetic ... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2013 10:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by Infinite5oul: | Reply

Davohkiin, that was poetic bro! I agree 100% with your reasoning on the subject matter, and I don't agree often. We need more plain logic like that in this ostentatious world. My own little twist on it would be "do what interests you if you can make a living at it" if you can't make a living at your first interest, then do the second one, or third, and so on, until you have a financial foundation to do the first one, which is more than likely what you truly love to do. I believe this is what the author is trying to convey, and if we look at the meat of the matter, it makes perfect sense.

Life is a choice, and an enormous one, often made at an age where we have not yet identified WHO we are. Most of us are our friends, or even our enemies because we do not yet have an identity of our own, and then we’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Really? How about asking us that AFTER we grow up and can give you an answer based on a few experiences, or how about just letting us grow up. I’m by no means rich, but I have had a few rich friends, and let me tell you, their lives are shit! You think these two have it bad, or are so wrong because they’re on food stamps, HAH! Try having more money than you know what to do with, and then being told, “You are EXPECTED to live a certain way and failure results in disinheritance!” Hell, I thought we were watching the football game! No kid knows how to accept that responsibility, (unless he’s a friggin recluse or something and lives by reading Economics) and the only way to quote/unquote guarantee that you’re prepared is to do exactly what the author is stating begins the downward spiral, “Go to College”, and unfortunately, I’ve seen more college students ending up downtown under the bridge living in chicken-wire fenced-in cardboard boxes, then successful entrepreneurs. Go take a look sometimes; you’ll even see entire families in that situation, husbands and wives, and their children, all because that degree in BS101 didn’t quite pan out.

I won’t repeat everything the other has stated, he is doing an excellent job of getting the point across, but I will say this: Bullshit, breeds Bullshit, and if you don’t understand what that means, here it is: Buying a car and changing a flat tire does not make you a mechanic, and the second you take something off your engine, and the car stops functioning, you will quickly realize that fact. Go and take your sparkplug wires a loose, just pop them off, doesn’t take much force at all………Now…Put them back on…. correctly. Did the car start? Is it running smoothly, or backfiring more than Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang?

My point is this: if you are taught nonsense, or are fooled/forced into it, or even worse chose it, you will hate to learn, there is no market for it. Used to be you could get a degree in basket weaving (yes, that was a major), and get paid $80,000 a year simply because you had a paper that said you went to college, sadly, that was the Industrial Age, we now live in the Information Age, POWER so readily available that a 13 year old kid can break into a national communications company (Time Warner circa 2000) and steal all of its information, never having left his living room.

Change is a choice, there are those who truly deserve the help, the benefits of our assistance, because were it not for us as a community, they would perish, but know that there will always be people out there who prey on you for no other reason then they can, but don’t hate them, you’re giving away your power, teach them something new, and if they accept it, you have helped them to better themselves, if they don’t, then you have placed in their mind forever…the thought of what they could be, had they listened to that one person who wanted to teach them something for their benefit. Nothing hurts worse, than missed opportunity.

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h... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2013 5:40 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

h

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The current economic system... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2013 5:49 AM | Posted by Maria: | Reply

The current economic system, which is built on the premise that we live on a planet with infinite resources, is failing.

Its only surviving through the circulation of debt. The cracks are now beginning to appear, rising inflation, movement of wealth to the very few, greater divide between rich and poor, boom and bust economies, inflation, currency devaluation and so on.

We need to rethink how we live from here on. We need to stop consuming and buying crap we don't need and giving over the control of our lives to banks and politicians.

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I don't blame parents for a... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2013 8:19 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I don't blame parents for a person's bad decision if they made it despite good advice in general. What I do blame the adults for is not providing any "reality checks". If my kid came and said he wanted to be an artist, I'd tell him he could, provided he could spend 5-6 hours a day on the art and that by the end of the summer he should have submitted 5 pieces to an appropriate contest (they exist). Same with writing. If said child doesn't have enough desire to spend 5-6 hours a day writing and won't submit to a lit magazine (or a genre one), I would tell him exactly what I'm saying here -- I think he's in love with the idea, not the job, and it's not a good investment. That's what grownups guiding kids looks like. If I tell him what I think and he ignores me, that's fine, but he's going to bear the costs of that decision, not me.

It's something that I think a lot of us are falling down on the job with. We aren't being objective, we're not telling kids need to know facts about the grownup world, we're not telling them the costs of picking the wrong thing. I get why banks/colleges don't care -- they need lots of warm bodies racking up debt in order to keep the lights on in the physics lab or in the college president's mansion. We probably should tell kids that part too -- despite what college university people say, you could calibrate scientific instruments to the indifference that anyone at their "alma mater" has to them getting any sort of job after graduation. It's no longer a place for education, it's a business, and just like the stock broker who tells you how deeply he cares about your retirement, the college's first priority is to sell you a product. Art identities are easy to sell because it's seen as subjective, so you can't point to your kid's art and objectively say it's not "pro quality" the way you can with programming (if you can't make it run, you aren't a good programmer) or science or business (if you can't make money, you're out). So I think we need to start saying that.

My advice to my younger self would be to take a year or two, work full time, and try every version of the kinds of things I think I want to be doing. The stuff that I give up on for lack of time, I think would have been the things I liked the idea of doing more than I liked doing. I'd have experience under my belt in a business as well, and I think that would help me to understand what kinds of things are valuable in an economy. At 18, making your one and only free decision about what larger industry you want to be in is silly. I had a head full of 1980's movies, college ads, and had worked part-time at mcDonald's for a year. I was a North Korean exchange student -- at least as far as what was in my head. I was clueless, I only knew what I had been told, and half of what I was told was at least a half-truth (for example the idea that education doesn't cost, it pays -- half true, education has a cost when you start paying money for it, especially if you end up not making the cash back.) to omissions and I think a few people lied (mostly the culture and the college admissions office). That's why I'm not hard on the kids, they're flying blind with a cartoon map and that map isn't helpful.

Our economy is also a problem, not just because of the wrong major problem, but because we're automating so many things that we're concentrating most of our workforce into the same types of jobs. Secretaries are a thing of the past, in the near future, most retail jobs will be as well, and on and on -- there are 300 million Americans and there are not 300 million jobs especially once robotization really takes off. We have an economy that will have CEOs and engineers and computer scientists, but not much else beyond what few things those people need that cannot be done by a machine.

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Your thought on this comes ... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2013 3:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Your thought on this comes from your strategy of reading writing books to find out how to write. You are a product of an authoritarian upbringing and education. If you want to write, then you read good writers or at least the kind of writers that publish the kinds of books you want to write. Any writer will give you that advice. The only way to learn how to write is to read. Period. The writing books are to sell you something, to get you to consume something.

So naturally you think "we" the govt somebody should do something so that "these kids" will not be led astray as to what is valuable for them to know. Well, how many adults around you that you see everyday are capable of knowing anything at all much less of communicating it to "kids."

Go buy some new thinking.

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So if you are North Korean ... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2013 5:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

So if you are North Korean then you come from a totalitarian govt controlled country and it is now interfaced with how you think. You have been manufactured to obey and now it isn't working. So have American children. University used to be for education. Now it has morphed into employment opportunity, when every idiot job requires a real high school diploma (read not a GED) or a certificate or a college degree. I have done medical studies where people laugh at the news discussing this issue because they are taking a pill, letting their blood be drawn for blood absorption rates, and leaving after 2 weekends with $2000 laughing all the way to the bank. I watch well trained certified people sitting at desks all night long unlocking the bathroom door and handing a pee container, then taking it to a room where some well trained certified person can measure it. I have asked them, "Did you think you would be doing this after studying all that physiology and neurology?" They smile wearily. Well educated people with degrees and certifications to hold responsible positions are reduced to giving you a plastic bed pan to pee in. This is mind killing but it is a job that pays very very well in a medical research facility. They open up overseas because those people are cheaper. But then the big pharma tells them that the subjects must be diverse so genetic effects can be controlled for. And so it goes as Vonnegut says.

And yes it is all about built in human obsolescence which is still masked, but the mask is shredding more every day.


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Just wish to say the postin... (Below threshold)

March 25, 2013 2:57 AM | Posted by College Resume: | Reply

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your writeup is outstanding... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2013 6:57 AM | Posted by alhire: | Reply

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Can you give some more info... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 1:12 AM | Posted by seo4tricks: | Reply

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I think you misunderstand w... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 9:36 AM | Posted, in reply to seymourblogger's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

I think you misunderstand what I meant by that. What I meant is that I was READING ABOUT WRITING instead of WRITING. In other words, the thing that should have told me that I didn't really want to be a writer is percisely what I said -- I wasn't producing short stories or novels or essays even. I was studying writing, not writing. It's the Tao thing again -- if I was happy "just writing", I would know I'm a real writer, but I wasn't writing, I was building a fantasy about writing, I was identifying with the identity of "author" -- the two things are different. You're right, but of course, I think we're kind of saying the same thing in different ways. I'd say if you aren't doing it because you enjoy doing it, to the point of it taking up a fair amount of your free time, then it's not your thing. Programmers that I know (my brother is into CS) were writing programs even in junior high school, they make mods of their favorite games. They do it because they like doing it. they write mods for Morrowind and Skyrim because they enjoy it. It's not about persona, it's about "just doing" if you like.

As for what adults or government should be telling kids about the adult world, it should be the truth and it should be the facts needed to make decisions about college the way it actually works. Whether or not college is no longer about education is relevent, but more important is that you are essentially buying a credential that should ideally be a "floating sign" as you put it -- something that tells other people what you can do. That isn't bad necessarily, but it is bad if colleges can get away with selling a persona of themselves or ready-made identities for students because we don't tell kids what colleges really do now, and what role they really play in the economy. Colleges and Banks are the beneficiaries of the lies we tell about college, about the real job market, and about the abilities of the students in question. When colleges can portray themselves as disinterested seekers of knowledge, who are in the business of making you your best self, and who are able to take any student in any state and turn them into anything else, the loser is the student.

It's one thing I do respect moreso about community colleges -- they are more honest about the role they play. They don't sell the image of themselves where they're storied institutions seeking to make students independent thinkers, do disinterested research into "deep questions" and take a kid who draws stick figures and make him Van Gogh. In a community college, it's made clear that this is credentials and job training. they don't pretend that they're making you an enlightened human, they tell you, we'll make you a CNA so you can work as a nurse, we'll make you a computer techie so you can update servers and do backups. It's how we should think about college -- it's been job training for at least a generation, yet we still don't want to say that. It's weird, no one pretends that the most upscale restaurant in France is anything other than a restaurant -- the product is perhaps better than McDonald's, but they both have the same product -- food. Colleges are permitted to pretend that they are not trade schools even when the product is literally the same -- perhaps MIT is a more upscale version of Mineral Area Community College, but they both sell certifications.

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I have more to say about th... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 2:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

I have more to say about this but not in answer to your reply. So for you here:

The ONLY sure way - unless you are born a writer - to be a writer (that is published because everyone can write to their advantage) IS TO READ. All the how to books are just that. How to..., a product in a consumer marketplace designed to sell you in one easy book, how to do what they do - write and publish a book. And many untalented people tweet me on all their self-published books these days and now there are e publishing sites for gathering them in one place such as a bookstore window. You read to write, and you write to read. Once reason I read and comment here. It clarifies my thoughts. I have not been able until now to really clear out the debris in my thinking about this website simply because it is so very well done. The best writing advice I ever got and took BTW was from the writer Houellebecq who did not tell me but inspired me to write again. It's online, for free from an admiring translator - so google around and you will find it if you really want to read it.

You are misunderstanding what a "floating sign" is. And you will continue to misread it at your own peril. A "floating sign" is the same as a "floating signifier" which is a signifier that has been detached from its signified, because representation no longer exists. The "floating" part comes from the fact that the signifier "floats free" unattached to ANYTHING. This is what TLP is saying with certifications, PhD's, etc and you are saying it also. They no longer mean anything because you see through them now that TLP has made it clear to you.

What TLP has NOT made clear is that "floating signs" act as MASKS! The MASKS can assert, deny, confuse, emphasize, and importantly signal "emptiness." This is what TLP is saying. That these are EMPTY signs. Zizek does this. Borges fictionalizes it in a story that illustrates the map and the territory. In the story the map obscures more and more of the territory until just little traces of the territory can be seen, until nothing of the territory can be seen. It is all map. Houellebecq recent novel is titled The Map and the Territory. Just as the fish is the last to discover water, and air was our last element to be SEEN, Americans have the most difficulty in understanding this because the MAP has obliterated almost everything. The Map is Simulated Reality. When Simulated Reality is total we will be in Virtual Reality. And then how the fuck are you going to read any floating sign masks at all ever. There will never be any territory to nail them down to.

And no adults cannot point this out to their children or tell them. When have children ever believed anything adults tell them is the way the world works. If you project an image yourself that you in your life understand how the world works, you may have a leeetle bitty chance.

The Community Colleges are "holding tanks" - as the public schools are - to keep the youth confined, off the streets, until they become consumers. EVERYONE is being bred for obsolescence. TLP is already obsolete to anyone who thinks the way I do, and I am not unique. The way I respond to it may be individually unique, but my thinking is not. It's just not mainstream. YET.

TLP is spending his awesome intelligence, his profound education, her creativity, her amazing abilities to perceive the hypocrisy in these "floating signs" and connect dots to expose them as EMPTY to bring all of you along in your thinking. What I am doing is saying that food stamps, make - up etc are not narcissistic psychological problems that if only we perceived them and recognized the narcissism involved, we could maybe FIX these problems, but are instead extensions of THE MAP and a little more obliteration of THE TERRITORY. Baudrillard calls this The Perfect Crome in his book of the same name. Reality is being stolen from us in homeopathic doses - read the territory - and there is not victim, no criminal, no crime, no crime scene, no punishment, no justice, no cessation. Go see The Hunger Games as the movie presents you with this. Who the fuck wants reality? Who the fuck wants the TERRITORY? Do you? Do I? Because that's the choice we are faced with and the masses are rushing to embrace THE MAP with open arms as fast as their keyboards will take them. Going back to the land, raising your own food, homeschooling your kids is not going to get you out of it, but it will lessen its impact on you but it will also present you with a great number of unforeseen serious problems. The Grid, the System is total. It is in the Order of Production. By definition it is irreversible.

The question, the real question, now presents itself. It is not to spend one's extreme learning and writing ability to fug around with "floating signs" and critique each one. But that is exactly what the system wants TLP to do. The system NEEDS his protest, her critique, her gathering together of disgruntled individuals to argue and discuss these "floating signifiers" AS IF THEY WERE REAL. To belabor the MAP as the territory of reality shrinks and then shrinks some more while we don't even notice.

An object does not exist until and unless it is observed. - William Burroughs

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Zizek on Zero Dark Thirty: ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 3:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Dovahkiin's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Zizek on Zero Dark Thirty: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/25/zero-dark-thirty-normalises-torture-unjustifiable

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So what is your alternative... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 3:30 PM | Posted, in reply to seymourblogger's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So what is your alternative? Just drop out? Stop participating in society? We were raised in a prison for our minds; TLP is just rattling and pointing out the cage.

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I am not required to point ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 3:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

I am not required to point out an alternative. Who am I to say what you should do about it. TLP is not pointing out the cage, just a number of obstacles in your way to move around and talk about. Simulated Reality is the name of the game. Do you know any gamers? You know the ones who play Virtual Reality games? You can't know anything in them. Anyone can wear a costume to mask intentions. Does this PHD know anything? Is she still ignorant? What institution gave her that PhD? Why did she want to get it? Why does TLP not see that h/she is part of the problem? The system needs coherent, intelligent, creative, exposure of these "floating signs acting as masks." When they are understood there will be new ones to confound us and for TLP to point out their hypocrisy. It will keep us busy and ensure that we will not be really subversive. This is why in 1965 hippies were seduced off the street and into the universities to "get an education" they could not have afforded otherwise and so it began. But it sure stopped the effective protests, didn't it? Nice strategy.

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So you think the issue isn'... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2013 4:27 PM | Posted, in reply to seymourblogger's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So you think the issue isn't the cultural myths that TLP points out; it's the ones he doesn't point out? That the "system" - ironically comprised of the self-interest of separate individuals who don't talk to one another and have probably never met - the system wants people who are just narcissistic and smart enough to see *some* of the myths, pat themselves on the back for being "wise" and "enlightened" and "noble", and consequently believe their job is done and miss all of the other delusions to which we are subject?

It's a chilling thought. And I'm not sure there's a solution.

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It's as simple as not playi... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2013 8:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's as simple as not playing. If we're in a game, we should stop playing the game to the degree that it's possible. I don't think complete freedom is possible, but you can be less a part if you know you're in the cage.

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Knowing you are in the cage... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2013 6:57 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Knowing you are in the cage is the beginning, yes. Next the way you think must change from the classic Hegelian Dialectic - the Dominating Discourse. For that you need to read Foucault, Baudrillard's Forget Foucault, the start on the rest of them which will never end as more of them come out everyday. At the recent Drury University's Subverting the Norm we heard an incredible number of them I had never heard of before applying this thinking to "Radical Theology" and they were something else.

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Yes you got it. The looking... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2013 7:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Yes you got it. The looking for a solution is the wrong questioning approach. In the Dominating Discourse of the classical Hegelian Dialectic the questions posed and the answers given are useless, but they do require intelligence, sophistication, cultural understanding and reach us so that we ponder their thoughts and reasons and statements of causes. If you invert the narcissism and consider how it is possible to survive in this system without being narcissistic or psychopathic you enter a far more interesting world of thinking. A world that is Event driven instead of one of cause and effect is offering a challenge of extraordinary excitement and fascination accompanying a different Discourse, a different way of thinking that is joyous. Nietzsche's The Gay Science. Here is a painter doing it in the art field of painting:http://www.evl.uic.edu/davidson/CurrentProjects98/ET_VisualInfo/Mark_Tansey.html Tansey has CUT into art history revealing a new Discourse in paining. One which tosses a lot of preconceived thinking about art under the bus: color; representation; the use of the brush, the touch; beauty; shocking; conceptual because it is about a new Discourse of perception. I heard a "radical theologian" present a talk on Tansy at Drury University's Subverting the Norm conference. Drury BTW was founded as a religious institution with a strong emphasis on art. It is independent, takes not federal aid, and has an extensive overseas study program to widen the perspectives of its students as well as a considerable program in offering scholarships to students from overseas as well as here in the States. It is a very interesting place to study, and not your typical profit oriented institution. When you go after govt grants and subsidies, you will eventually have to dance to that piper and that is what has happened. All that govt money that went into new construction on campuses throughout the US has come home to roost. Symbolic Exchange and Death, the name of Baudrillard's first book offers the understanding for this deterioration of higher education. Folks, it's payback time!

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Yes. TLP is providing what ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2013 8:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Yes. TLP is providing what Baudrillard names as "Deterrence." An example is 9-11 being turned into Deterrence to begin the institutionalization of the fascist state via the HOmeland Security legislation. William Burroughs warned against this and also said it in his cameo in My Own Private Idaho by Gus Van Zant, an aware filmmaker.

Example all the inspecting when you board a plane now is to "make" you feel looked after and safe, when the govt cannot ensure your safety from terrorism. It forces the terrorists to be more creative, to not attempt the same action twice, to not repeat, to not manufacture the same Event, which would then not be an Event, only a replication.

If you dig beneath this "Deterrence" what is most chilling is that there is now an entire generation that thinks getting inspected whenever they enter certain facilities is "FUCKING NORMAL!" I was talking to the official standing at the head of the inspection line for a friend boarding for a flight. I just shook my head and looked at him commiseratingly and said "I remember when it was so different." He was older and glumly said, "Yes, things have certainly changed." The perception one gets looking at the inspection line is of being in a state of "war" - like Israel - where no one can be trusted. Then the real horror is that young people think this is perfectly normal and are not upset by it or even commenting on it or feeling anything out of the ordinary about it. Yes, people are disgusted it has come to this, but blame it on the terrorists, not their govt. Then those who have known nothing else assume it is normal BECAUSE they never experienced it otherwise. People that think surveillance is normal will work in an environment where they are under surveillance without thinking twice about it and they will also do it to others without even questioning it. This is far far worse than a bomb going off in a plane. My ex-father-in-law was in a plane in South America that exploded. It was thought to have been a bomb. This was in the late 1940's or early 50's. It did not create a wild reaction because it was not as outrageous a spectacle as 9-11. We are now a country under siege and surveillance. The movie The Hunger Games is presenting this to young adults. The capitol is a piece of Simulated Reality, the Districts where people are confined and under surveillance are harsh reality. Neither alternative is at all attractive.

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As an unmarried woman, who ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2013 10:26 AM | Posted by michelle: | Reply

As an unmarried woman, who graduated a women's art college, I went to school for reasons you think make me a sucker. I didn't go for a MRS degree (women's college, remember?), but I did go on a scholarship & got an education for reasons women used to go to college- to better themselves. Don't forget that colleges once were segregated (hence the reason my college was all women- it's an old college & it's in our charter) so women went to be more well-rounded individuals. Sure, it may have been b/c their parents wanted to marry them off to a gentleman and gentlemen didn't marry dummies, but at the end of the day, some went on to do great things, be great & worldly educated people who contributed to society. I went to college for art, knowing it wouldn't get me a job, but knowing I couldn't learn it from a book or the guy who does caricature drawings in the main square. I recognize I live in a capitalist system I choose to remain in, so I paid off my debt within 5 years by pinching pennies in jobs that were low-paying, difficult & unfair, but I enjoyed. I was lucky to grow up with parents who taught me to budget (I've never had credit card debt, ever), encouraged my dreams (art college, hello) & support my good decisions (good jobs) while allowing me to make bad decisions (shitty jobs). I'm an alpha-female, I guess, so, as usual, I have to read this article like a man b/c it wasn't catered to my specific persona. And I do it with pride & acceptance b/c that's called getting by, not getting hung up. So, man up, get a job in your non-chosen field, learn something that will pay your bills, anything, &, while you do that, get the help you need from the government if you must (we all pay into those food stamps & unemployment, we should all be entitled to what we've put in at SOME point or else, who's the sucker now?) but, for God's sake, have some pride, desire to make a legacy and get it together. At a very early job, a young me did what teenagers do when they're caught making a mistake- blamed & made excuses. A straight-shooting manager called me out & told me to "stop making excuses, I'm sick of hearing them, don't let another one come out of your mouth", and it was formative. I'm taking this moment to thank that person & to encourage everyone to do someone else the favor of not letting them get away with shit that sets them up to be a failure.

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Amen! Perfect.... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2013 6:30 PM | Posted, in reply to michelle's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

Amen! Perfect.

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The largest & most sophisti... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2013 1:42 AM | Posted by RobFromChicago: | Reply

The largest & most sophisticated research universities in the world are almost exclusively in the US. In a way we (tax payers) are all subsidizing much of the worlds research all under the guise of a four year baby sitting service. On a separate note, I think personally a world with phd's gaining, anyzing , storing & furthering that collective knowledge isn't all bad.

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I agree.... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2013 2:57 AM | Posted, in reply to RobFromChicago's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

I agree.

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Just had a gamer run down H... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2013 3:02 AM | Posted by seymourblogger: | Reply

Just had a gamer run down HALO for me. Awesome game that is now infecting all those who play it regularly. Nice reprogramming going on in it. Made me feel hopeful.

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Thanks for the information ... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2013 4:40 AM | Posted by alhire: | Reply

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You can't just ask customer... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2013 1:41 AM | Posted by Jason: | Reply

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You can't just ask customer... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2013 1:43 AM | Posted by Cabo Fishing: | Reply

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.
Jason

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Thanks for sharing this won... (Below threshold)

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Thanks for the concepts you... (Below threshold)

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If you live near the Mexica... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2013 1:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Michal's comment, by seymourblogger: | Reply

If you live near the Mexican border there are great dentists just over the border to get money from us Americans. They are good and much cheapter. Much. Also one blogger on health and insurance at the dailykos mentioned that she had gone to a "private" dentist in Chinatown New York City to get her work done very reasonably.

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Quality content is the key ... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2013 9:40 AM | Posted by home care: | Reply

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Quality content is the key ... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2013 9:41 AM | Posted by home care: | Reply

Quality content is the key to invite the users to go to see the site, that’s what this website is providing.
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I spent my entire young adu... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2013 11:27 PM | Posted by Jeremy Evans: | Reply

I spent my entire young adult life in the hipster mentality described above. I was obsessed with cultivating my precious meaningful self. I have gone from one bad job to another never being a particularly valuable employee at any of them but because I fancied myself an artist so I thought that it didn't matter. What mattered to me was producing that sublime piece of music that fully expressed my views about the meaninglessness of the universe and blah blah blah. Even this might not have been such a bad thing if I were trying to create music that was beautiful and made people feel good. But I was instead obsessed with "experimental" music that was deliberately hard on the ears and difficult to appreciate. So if you appreciated it, you could be admitted into my private little aristocracy. So I was refusing to be valuable as an employee and I was busily going about refusing to be valuable as a musician. Why didn't anybody just grab me and start beating the shit out of me? Maybe the brain damage might have lowered my IQ and thus less able to do all of the extraordinary feats of self-deception that I needed to engage in in order to carry on with my useless existence. But this was how I viewed the world. THe truth was always right in front of me but I have watched too many movies growing up. Most of those movies were made by baby boomers. Most of those movies wanted to have me believe that things are not what they seem: that weak people are secretly strong, that ugly people are secretly beautiful, THAT WORTHLESS THINGS ARE SECRETLY PRICELESS AND VICE VERSA. The truth is this: things are mostly EXACTLY THE WAY THEY SEEM. I say "mostly" as a disclaimer because every so often people surprise you. But that's not very often. Only now, at 42 have I realized how horribly horribly mistaken I have been in almost every way. I'm about to graduate from law school. I have no employment prospects. However, the dismal job market just may serve to save me from what could have been a continuation of my mediocre existence under the dole of an employer. I have no choice but to incorporate and start my own solo practice. I will either succeed or I will fail and the consequences of failing at my age would be horrific. So I'm scared. I MUST contribute. I must be able to achieve a valuable result for clients or I won't have any. I have to be fierce and competitive. I have to be bottom line oriented. This is my opportunity to not be a loser anymore. I am counting on the high stakes to scare me into being a better person. God I wish I had opened my eyes 20 years ago. But it's useless to wish that. I was too deeply entrenched in a certain way of experiencing the world. Money is not an evil. Money gives people freedom to specialize. Money brings resources. People can do evil things for money but that is not money's fault. That would be like saying that food is bad because somebody might kill you for it. I only hope my parents remain alive long enough to benefit from my change of heart.

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"The truth was always right... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 1:16 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"The truth was always right in front of me but I have watched too many movies growing up. Most of those movies were made by baby boomers."
So the baby boomers are to blame...good to know.

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Yeah. Sorry. That was car... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 2:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yeah. Sorry. That was careless of me to say. I should have just said that I watched way too much TV and that I think it had an extremely distorting influence on my way of perceiving the world and my expectations of myself and life in general.

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Good luck with your practic... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 2:40 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by RobChicago: | Reply

Good luck with your practice! I think you are being awfully hard on yourself. Very few mistakes are fatal. If you do fail, it might be horrific but only fatal if you let it be. And you are not a loser. People can lose a million competitions but that doesn't make you a loser. It isn't a trait, it is a state of being that can always be changed. There are a ton of cynics on this board. A cynic might often be proven right, but what have they really gained at that point? Anyways, congrats on taking a chance and facing the unknown. When failures inevitably come, don't let them define you and keep living and looking for happiness. unsolicited advice rant over. :) (as a complete side note unrelated to this post, a lot of people are saying there are too many lawyers. I respectfully disagree. One look at the backlog in many criminal systems, or the increasingly complex nature of how humans contract with one another prove otherwise. There are not enough lawyers, it is the protectionist economics in the system that is creating a major deadweight loss in supply and demand in my opinion. There are plenty of people that need a lawyer, they just cant afford the rates that lawyers have to charge to justify the Law school/Bar/licensing/insurance costs etc...)

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*are not is. also some er... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 2:43 AM | Posted by RobChicago: | Reply

*are not is. also some errant comma use and missing periods. Sorry, I typed that fast. I hope that doesn't distract from the message.

Night all.

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Eeek, what a painful read.<... (Below threshold)

May 17, 2013 5:09 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Eeek, what a painful read.

I agree with most of the points made more than I disagree with them, but I still think college educations play a strong role in the workforce. No doubt some might call me biased - I've spent the last decade earning a handful of English and Literature degrees with the intent on going BACK into the college system to teach. However, I didn't go back to the university to teach - I went back to the community college where I first started down the academic path. Community colleges and similar institutions don't deserve the same type of rancor that's aimed at the big universities; many community colleges operate as vocational and trade schools to help students looking to work labor jobs. In other words, community colleges DO help students learn to PRODUCE things - there are lots of electrical/engineering/automotive/agriculture programs at the college where I teach.

I think what we as a society need to change right now is this tightly-held belief that an education leads to prosperity. It doesn't, at least not for everybody. My sister, who is not so academically inclined as I am, would have wasted thousands of dollars if she had gone to college - it would have slowed her down. We need to tell our high school graduates that the most important thing after graduating is to find a niche. Find a necessary niche, a job or trade that your community or economy needs, and fill it. That doesn't mean all art or literature will fly out the window - it just means that only those who are truly suited to those jobs, only those who will actually make such activities JOBS will pursue them.

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I came here via the cracked... (Below threshold)

June 6, 2013 6:20 PM | Posted by Michael Oxenrider: | Reply

I came here via the cracked article about having value for society. What I can get out of this article is to just work harder at having value. I was on disability for a year and a half after non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma sidelined me and took me out of the employment market. They wanted to give me money indefinitely until I had to fill out a form to say "stop giving me money, I'm healthy now." Now, with the gaps in my resume I'm a little unhireable. But I don't think disability should be used for those who aren't disabled anymore.

That being said, I don't think the author has the best understanding of English majors. At least I feel the discipline needs to be defended a bit. Not that money is the only barometer of success, but I feel like it speaks symbolically, I was making 60k as a copywriter three years out of an English undergrad. English majors should have skills. They should be able to research and write effectively. Also, one of the things that employers used to do was "employer training." Now, with it being an employer's market, they expect an already skilled workforce. College used to have a different role, it wasn't only skills based (and technical at that) it showed discipline, taught study habits, and socialized people. I admit it doesn't really serve those roles anymore. However, this is a hugely motivational article.

Thanks.

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tl;dr... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2013 3:40 PM | Posted by Cupid: | Reply

tl;dr

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The best art was always wri... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2013 4:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The best art was always written to some degree by people who were doing something other than art. I think it's really necessary, because you can't have something to say when you've never experienced life as it is. When you've never been a truck driver, the truck driver (or working class guy) in your book doesn't seem real, he's just a stereotype. Or some other person. A person who has never struggled cannot make art about struggle and meaning. You don't know what it means yet.

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A man may be a pessimistic ... (Below threshold)

September 23, 2013 6:03 AM | Posted by comprar Cialis: | Reply

A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after it. ~Aldous Huxley

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I live in the UK and over h... (Below threshold)

September 28, 2013 9:17 AM | Posted by Domikko: | Reply

I live in the UK and over here, certainly, even Art Majors seem to be able to get a job if they want one; not necessarily a good job but there is something going. Technically we don't even need to pay for our degrees; we get a 9% tax on whatever we earn over 21K (e.g. if I earn 22K I pay back £90 a year) until we've paid off our debt or 30 years, after which it's written off.

I also know some who live on government welfare but also do the equivalent working week volunteering for various charities, which is A-OK in my books.

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Why is a job better than co... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2013 3:23 PM | Posted by Shtanto: | Reply

Why is a job better than college? In college I get free counselling. Not many jobs have free counselling. I don't like this article. Money isn't worth as much as knowledge.

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Because most 4 year college... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2013 4:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Shtanto's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Because most 4 year colleges are a long con. They sell the idea that a degree gets you a job, and then you pay with loans and graduate with nothing that you didn't go into college with, skills-wise -- at least not unless you were really really careful about majors and self-study.

True money isn't as important as knowledge, but the sick thing is the reverse is true and rarely taught (on purpose). You DON'T NEED A DEGREE TO BE EDUCATED. If you have internet, google, and a few good books, you can self-study enough to be an expert on almost any topic you could think of. You could teach yourself philosophy, woodworking, Russian, programming, anything you like. College may make the process easier by handing you a set of courses and assigning readings, but it's not something you need college for.

In truth, the point of college is not the education, which as I said, you could get to a large degree (though more slowly and with more difficulty) without ever paying a tuition. The only thing of value is the degree, which is be devalued by pretty much handing them out. If college was rare, and most people were self-taught, the education level would not really change, but any person with the degree would essentially have a more valuable degree -- because it would be hard to get and rare enough that having a degree is impressive. When even the self-stocker at Costco has a degree, it loses the only power it ever had -- a PROXY for "this person is smart and hard working and knows their shit." Once a BS stopped being a proxy for "smart and knows their shit" and became a proxy for "functional literacy" it became roughly worthless. It doesn't get you the interviews, it doesn't get you promoted, it doesn't even get you laid. It's just paper, and it's paper that you'll be paying for for the next 20 years of your life.

And this is the problem. People are going into what could be called debt-slavery -- giving over their future earnings for 10+ years -- and getting literally nothing for it. At least when they had indentured servants who paid for the right of passage by selling themselves for 7 years actually got to America. They were only in debt for seven years, and the boss was honest enough to call it servitude. We have it worse now, we get on a boat that promises to take us to the "new world" of careers instead of jobs, of economic security, and so on. Then we find that not only did the boat never leave the dock, but that instead of 7 years, it's a life sentence. And you can't do anything about it.

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Universities are as much ab... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2013 4:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Universities are as much about research as they are teaching and the two are not mutually exclusive.

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I agree with this. Degrees ... (Below threshold)

October 8, 2013 7:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I agree with this. Degrees and certificates circulate like Information, sex, cyber-capital, etc. The degree refers to nothing, just as the members of Congress represent nothing - certainly not you - except for short stints a lobbyist. The signifier and signified have separated. There is no such thing anymore as representation. This is why degrees and certificates are worthless. They are just paper circulating. The awful thing is that those of us who have degrees that worked very hard for them also find ours worthless.I have two graduate degrees from Ivy League universities and cannot teach part time for an online college because I didn't get them in the last 10 years. They have phased out anyone who may know something and want to teach it. I read a comment somewhere about an English professor who taught English literature and she took a recent test on Middlemarch, a book she knew very very well having taught it for years, and she scored poorly. The questions they asked were rote and irrelevant and that the answers to them are what counts. Save your money. Your local library has wonderul language tapes, great textbooks, and unless there is someone you particularly want to study with at a particular institution, don't take on a mortgage for that worthless piece of paper in the job market and/or the intellectual market. The careerists who teach now are rarely intellectually competent. They are sweating for tenure and prizes, and acceptance in journals.

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What about research? Are al... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 4:33 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Domikko: | Reply

What about research? Are all the comments here referring to arts majors; does this all hold water for people studying mathematics, physics, chemistry? Why is it that only about 6.5% of people who graduate physics end up unemployed, while it's essentially impossible to get a job as a physicist without a degree, if a degree is totally worthless. Again I'm from the UK and things aren't as bad even for Arts majors over here.

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I live in Ireland. College ... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 11:25 AM | Posted by Eoghan: | Reply

I live in Ireland. College all told cost me $150 for 2 semesters, and they want to give me a $100 rebate. I don't think this debate has much traction outside the U.S. Do we even have hipsters in Ireland?

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I noticed the same mate; I ... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 1:28 PM | Posted, in reply to Eoghan's comment, by Domikko: | Reply

I noticed the same mate; I don't think it does.

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I've got a biology degree. ... (Below threshold)

October 9, 2013 2:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Domikko's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I've got a biology degree. When I couldn't find a job in biology, I took whatever I could find, even if it actually meant >> WORKING WITH MY HANDS OUTDOORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I met other people with hard-science type backgrounds who did that, too. The whiny entitlement mindset seems to be less common among those of us who prefer those fields. Maybe it's because we get a great big dose of "The universe just is what it is and it is not obliged to care about you." in our education.

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Followed a link from cracke... (Below threshold)

March 20, 2014 1:21 AM | Posted by RxPlastic: | Reply

Followed a link from cracked.com, David Wong wrote a great article referring to this one. I'm a young entitled prick of some kind (call me a hipster if you must), and just, thanks for writing this. I read it at a good time.

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If you’re scrolling this pa... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2014 10:26 PM | Posted by Neal: | Reply

If you’re scrolling this page and haven't yet figured out why David Wong sent you here, I’d like to believe it’s because there are some vital lessons shared down here in the comments - when grasped together with the above post and its Cracked uncle, the importance of taking great care and consideration in selecting a set of skills to acquire (buy and develop) becomes decisively clear.
www.16personalities.com

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This article series is exce... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2014 6:19 AM | Posted by Daquan: | Reply

This article series is excellent. Moving on...

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I have over 100k in student... (Below threshold)

July 29, 2014 3:12 PM | Posted by Sean: | Reply

I have over 100k in student loans from my Masters in Religion and Psychology. I fought with my mother about how I didn't want to go to college, but that didn't fly. In the end I decided to study for the betterment of my own psyche and not to achieve monetary success. I work as a preschool teacher for the homeless and believe I contribute more to society than most BS graduates. I have never made a college loan payment and might not be ready to for some time, but I firmly believe (as a hipster, though I have never called myself that and hate labels which probably confirms me as a hipster) that we can not let the economy dictate how we live our lives. If I stand by and allow non humanities majors to dictate what is valuable about my life, it is not worth living. I have devoted my life to helping other people with theirs. Perhaps that 100k was what I had to pay to become self actualized, freeing me from a system that treats economics as though it were a metaphysical religious force. Baseball players make more money than all the teachers and administrators at my school put together, but how many families have they helped through poverty. When is the last time you heard someone thank their lawyer for improving their quality of life. I don't have a lot of money, but my kids and wife eat the best food ( for them) and if we need food stamps to do that so be it. I contribute to society in a very tangible way and my quality of life is good. How could I forfeit my will to an economic minded system that puts money first and people last.

As for the hipsters on food stamps, you need to mind your own business, if they don't get their food from the government, they might eat you!

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If the system can keep you ... (Below threshold)

July 29, 2014 4:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Sean's comment, by abbeysbooks: | Reply

If the system can keep you believing