Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not all education is created equal.

The Great College Degree Scam

How many have degrees in subjects that are of no use to anyone?

A degree in early childhood development MAY be of use to someone raising a child, depending upon whether or not the knowledge they gained from their studies is accurate and honest, as opposed to political radicalism couched in academic terms. But it will not prepare them for an intellectually challenging career in a field requiring mastery of difficult concepts. They are only marginally more employable than someone with only a high school diploma, as this study has found.

When someone goes off to college and pursues what might best be called a recreational degree, they are doing themselves a greater disservice than they would by simply not going to college at all.

They are wasting time pursuing education that will not benefit them. The opportunity cost is considerable.

They are wasting money, often a great deal of money, borrowed at interest that they will have a hard time repaying in the menial position their "education" will guarantee them.

They are reducing the likelihood that they will ever actually attain a degree that will be of use to them. Whereas someone who went into the workforce out of high school might return to school in their twenties and get a real degree, someone who has earned a worthless degree will likely spend the rest of their life trying to get a return on that unwise investment.

There was a news story a few months ago about a woman who could not understand how her degree in women's studies, obtained at a cost of $100,000 in student loans, resulted in her working at Starbucks with no hope for anything better. I honestly don't know what she thought was going to happen, but somewhere along the line she got the idea in her head that there would be a meaningful career in her future. If she were a fluke that would be one thing, but cases like hers are all too common. Academic departments are flat out lying to their students about the value of the education they are receiving, especially departments whose justifications for even existing are sketchy at best.

I have a friend who pursued at Ph.D in Political Science because he had been assured that there were jobs to be had. In truth a Poli-Sci professor in a tenure track position will be lucky to earn 50k a year. Full professors don't make much more than that. Because the field is dying, placements are hard to come by in the first place. Meanwhile the starting salary for most Business professors is about 120k a year, with full professors in many disciplines clearing over 200k. Business schools are flourishing. What did he do when he discovered all that? He switched to marketing and is now at UGA making over 140k a year as an assistant professor.

A college education isn't a college education. It has no value except to the degree to which it prepares someone for what comes after: life, and especially a career. There is no magic pixie dust that gets rubbed on someone just because they came to campus and took a series of general studies courses that ultimately resulted in a degree of some sort. There is no "experience" to be had from this that would make a person better somehow. The days when someone could just "go to college" and somehow wind up with a good job are long gone. No one is impressed by a bachelor's degree in sociology. That and a hair-cut will get you a job as a bank teller.

Meanwhile there are degree programs that are worth pursuing, and virtually everyone knows what they are. Business, engineering, hard sciences, medicine, law. Fields that, even if you don't find a job doing what you studied directly, require a mastery of difficult concepts and the ability to apply them. Something an art history degree simply doesn't provide.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Abortion as a counterintuitive social virtue.

There has been talk of late about states with Republican majorities using that political power to ban abortions. I think this is a mistake. This is a partisan issue that will only seek to alienate people who might otherwise support them.

There are a good many people who are in favor of smaller government, lower taxes, and a society where busybodies from the state aren't sticking their nose in everyone's business. But when this is tied to a platform of outlawing abortion, you lose a whole lot of people who have nowhere to go but into the arms of the left. It doesn't have to be this way.

Abortion is an issue that most people feel very strongly about, one way or the other, and the only way to reach those whose beliefs are different is through communication. The desire to save the lives of the unborn is admirable, but attempting to hijack the state and use its monopoly on force to achieve that goal is not. People are not made more virtuous through tyranny. Abortion opponents should work on using the soap box to persuade, not the ballot box to coerce.

Abortion is also good for society. Let me explain why. The value of abortion comes from its long-term effect upon the quality of our gene pool.

Lets say you have two women. Woman A is a responsible and conscientious. She generally makes good choices in life, and learns from her mistakes so they are not repeated. She doesn't sleep around. If she does have sex, it is with someone she loves, and she always takes care to use effective contraceptives until such time as she chooses to start a family. If she does become pregnant unintentionally, she either finds a way to make motherhood part of the plan for her life, or at the very least works to ensure that her child is adopted by a loving family.

Woman B is irresponsible. She engages in self destructive and self-limiting behaviors. She does not understand how the choices she makes affects herself and others. She is incapable of learning from experience. She seeks to blame other people for her own mistakes, or at the very least throw the consequences of those mistakes onto others instead of shouldering them herself. If she becomes pregnant, she pushes the consequences of that choice onto her unborn child in the form of an abortion, or onto her family who then have to raise that child, or onto the taxpayers who now have to subsidize her dysfunction through the dole.

Which woman do YOU want to see passing her genes on to the next generation?

The left makes a great deal of noise about abortion in terms of a woman's right to choose. This is an interesting argument. It is dishonest in that it pretends a pregnancy is something that simply happens spontaneously. A pregnancy is not a cold. It isn't something you catch because someone standing in line behind you at Starbucks sneezed. Pregnancy is the result of a deliberate act that requires a deliberate choice: the choice to have sex. Abortion (as birth control) isn't about a woman's right to choose, but about a woman pushing the consequences for the choice she already made onto someone else, in this case her unborn child.

Freedom is power. With power comes responsibility. Women have the power to sleep with just about anyone they choose, any other consenting adult. Worthwhile women accept responsibility for the choices they make. Women who aren't so worthwhile attempt to avoid that responsibility. Which woman is going to make a good parent? Which woman is going to raise a child to be a productive and responsible member of society? Which woman is more likely to be a conservative or libertarian and produce a child who will be the same, both genetically and by virtue of upbringing?

In most cases something that allows people to shirk their responsibilities would be a bad thing, but in the case of abortion it helps keep losers from breeding, which makes it a net positive. Let conservative and libertarian women have kids. Let leftists and their victims among the underclass have none. Rinse and repeat until such time as the latter are rare and the former ubiquitous.