Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/12

1

Don’t go to college, please!

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Hurricane Sandy has provided yet another reminder of our practical and psychological dependence on a steady supply of electricity.  Granted, the current devastation to the energy grid is a distribution, rather than a supply, crisis.  Nevertheless, utopian greens should take note.  Undoubtedly many of the Brooklynites and Lower East Siders desperately searching for ways to recharge their cell phones and iPads share their cohort’s usual scorn for coal, fracking, and nuclear.  But nearly every one of them would jump at the opportunity to crank up a greenhouse-gas-spewing generator, if that would get their wired (and lighted and refrigerated) lifestyle going again—and understandably so.  Even a desert-sized bank of Solyndra-built solar panels is unlikely to do the trick at the moment.

But Sandy is also a reminder of the ongoing necessity of blue collar workers—all those hard hats trying to repair power lines and pump the water out of miles of homes, tunnels, and subway tracks.  A universal population of college graduates, the desideratum of nearly all Democrats and far too many Republicans, composed as it inevitably would be of marketing and ethnic studies majors, would be of little use in rescuing the tri-state area from its catastrophic blow.  Yes, more engineers are also needed–in the long run, to try to design more resistant infrastructure, and in the short run, to diagnose the current ruptures and plan a strategy of attack.  But manual labor is a crucial component of the current recovery.  To be sure, many of these hard hats belong to recalcitrant and budget-breaking public employee unions.  But their power is slight compared to the teachers unions.   And unlike teachers, who enjoy regular paeans of praise from politicians and advocates, utility workers rarely are the object of aspiration and admiration.

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16 comments

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    This is an Excellent post with which I agree 100.0001%.

    Two of my favorite social postulates are as follows:

    1) Governments usually allow their citizens just about as much freedom of speech as they feel they can afford to (or can control).

    Most Liberals are about as Liberal as the reality of their evolving circumstances allow them to be…

    …the grasshopper wishes he or she was an ant sooner or later.

  • Secular Traditionalist · November 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Our society has dumbed college down to the point where it’s basically high school. High school means nothing. As a result, almost every job requires a “college degree,” and HR works out some mystical math as to what constitutes an actual college versus a quasi-college for the sake of that position.

    We shouldn’t send so many people to college, but the root of that is that we shouldn’t send so many people to high school. The education system serves those to whom we norm it, and no one else. Who is that in modern America? An IQ of 115, or of 90? If we teach to the 90s, we’ll bore anyone else and force everyone to go get four more years of expensive real schooling to replace the ersatz high school schooling.

  • nazgulnarsil · November 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    I’m of the opinion that liberalism is like any other narrative that departs from pragmatism. It is a story you purchase with surplus wealth.

  • Natalie · November 2, 2012 at 12:08 am

    If the teacher’s unions are so powerful, why was my mother’s school district in Georgia able to dock her pay $500 per day for attending her mother-in-law’s funeral out of state? (I assure you, she does not make $500 a day teaching public high school in Georgia.)

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 2, 2012 at 1:39 am

    … or your parents surplus wealth, or the taxpayers surplus wealth, taxpayers’ childrens surplus wealth…

  • D · November 3, 2012 at 8:22 am

    And yet despite all this Bloomberg’s task force has reduced NYC’s carbon footprint by 16% just in the last few years.

    Making strategic public policy decisions in the midst of a crisis is usually a bad idea.

    It doesn’t all have to be about green power. I was in NYC during the hurricane and stranded in a Chelsea hotel without power for three nights. You know what I did? I walked. A lot. And I also noticed all the new bike lanes that have made it easy for people to commute on skateboards. It reminded me of Berlin.

    Remember when bike messengers were organizing protests? Bloomberg didn’t need a Solyndra to make real improvements in people’s lives.

    I do agree with you 100% on college vs. blue collar work. The whole idea of higher ed needs to be re-thought. But even there I think Obama is doing something besides issuing more loans. The education department is doing some good things with community colleges.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    A robust economy will provide more seed capitol to start adding Green Technologies, which can be phased in. When we start mining the (“rare earth metals” is actually a throwback misnomer) elements needed for Solar, wind, and advanced batteries, we will not be held hostage by China which right now is almost the sole source. What nobody wants to talk about is that solar manufacturing in the US simply can’t compete price wise with china because they hold the cards in regards to some basic materials. Solyndra was doomed to fail before it even got off the drawing board.

    Romney has already said he will go through every program instituted under Obama, keep the ones that are succeeding, change or lose the ones that aren’t. We haven’t tried electing an actual CEO-in-chief like we would get with Romney… doesn’t it seem like a reasonable gambit considering the last four years?

  • D · November 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Romney is not a CEO. He’s an investor. W had more experience actually running businesses than Romney.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Romney was the CEO of an investment firm, and Manager of a State. It is not as if Bain Capitol simply sat back after investing in a startu a failing company and said “There is the money, keep failing”.

    Also “Arbusto Energy” which Bush started was a miserable failure, and sold out to a larger but not great company, of which Bush became a board member, not CEO or even board director… he held a large percentage of stock (was an “investor”). Probably dont want to mention that he was being investigated for insider trading while he was on that board

    If you want to tout the Rangers, I don’t follow baseball, maybe he was useful maybe he wasn’t. He put together a group of “investors” to purchase the rangers, was given the title of managing general partner. He actually did not have that large of a “personal” stake. Having his family name attached to the investment group, undoubtedly helped secure political momentum needed to get taxpayers in Texas on the hook for building a new stadium. Iffy stuff went down there too. Given he was a cheerleader in college that may have been his strength.

    So if you use success as a factor, I will still argue that Romney has MUCH more successful experience at business than Bush did.

    However I will take your point that I may have been trying to forget (wishful thinking) Dubya.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Correction he was one of the directors, but not chairman. Nevertheless, Bush was NOT a successful business man in the vein that Romney has been. He was a CEO only briefly, and only as a term of sale of his company.

    He was a fairly successful politician (two terms as governor, two as president). His theme song might be “get by with a little help from Karl Rove”… who I actually like.

  • TStockmann · November 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I’m sorry the comments veered off to the usual shallow comments the election, specifically whether Romney’s private sector experience is a plus, minus, or nothing when it come to be the President of the United States.

    Not when the original posting is so incoherent in an interesting way. College doesn’t make one ineligible to be a utility worker. Given good compensation (which intersects with the snotty anti-union aside), the degree may irrelevant, but it’s often an artificial, signaling credential for even white collar positions. Or is the point to drive down the compensation so we’ll have hordes of utility serfs, paid in that easily mintable coin, expressions of respect?

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    The wording of your reply demonstrates your political leanings in what is currently an inescapably political environment, so disengenuously protest all you want, it doesn’t wash. I find your implied accusations about the original post to be similarly shallow and politically biased.

    It appears obvious that your personal politics have skewed your perceptions to the point that you are incapable of grasping the thrust of Heathers original post.

    Far from denigrating or being condescending to blue collar workers, she was championing them. Her point (and correctly so) is that our education might be well served by a comprehensive restructuring of emphasis, with the financing thereof also restructured to encourage such a shift.

    You are correct, however, that there has been too much emphasis on fancy degrees from prestigious universities. After all, did Tom Morello really need to waste money on a Harvard degree to become a millionaire guitarist?

    Ok, shallow jab… except for the number of expensive Political Science degrees that are useful for what? For spreading paranoid and unfocused anti-establishment chants “so they do what they told ya” nonsense which can be tweeted endlessly over Iphones by snotty little kids who have no idea how the economy works, and whose development and marketing were largely financed with investment money channeled by wall-street?

    I know all of that liberal claptrap as well or better than morello, and I didnt need a fancy Harvard education to become so indoctrinated. This is because I used to be one of those self-righteous liberals until I started reading everything I could get my hands on and educated my self. That is when I inevitably lost my tunnel-visioned, dogmatic, self-righteous Liberal religion… I have felt very liberated ever since.

    Back on topic. As I was saying, you are correct that the expensive degrees are seen as an elitist signal to hire. That is partly “good ole boy” network, partly legitimately good programs, partly because the “common man” is still perhaps unduly impressed by what school someone has gone to. Universities have become way too expensive, and the price increases have far outstripped any economic factors or (legitimate) value drivers.

    Never-the-less the cost of a university education has only accelerated over the last four years, and nothing was done by either side of the aisle sufficient to discourage much less curb this trend.

    Perhaps it was a leadership issue where the emphasis was in paying off previous campaign supporters, and lining up new supporters for the next election.

    Good luck with your new job as fascist arbiter of what is or isn’t off-topic. You might be careful, however, in labeling something as incoherent. It says more about you than it does Ms Mac Donald.

  • TStockmann · November 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Ah, Steve, you’d be so wrong to believe you understood my political leanings, and particularly on some kind of simple-minded left-to-right scale that the very existence of Secular Right calls into question. You’re also a surprisingly poor reader of something that doesn’t match your expected response: her “championing” is what I would call “sham-pioning” – acknowledging the value while indicating that basking in the esteem of her and her cohorts alone would be a good substitute for the kind of hard, useful compensation wrung out of the State and the utility customers by the collective unions of the pleasingly grubby blue collars she praises. But do come back to praise any progeny you might have for their decision to forego college, or is that a decision for the little people?

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    ummmmm….. Okay;-) I’m convinced. I do not understand you, or your political leanings. Every test I’ve ever taken suggests that my reading comprehension puts me well into the 98th percentile of presumptuous conservatives… but it clearly has not served me in this instance. You are clearly a complex and nuanced individual.

    Perhaps someone else cares to take a crack at it. Just proposing that in the interest of fairness you might consider… just consider… I know it’s waaaayyy beyond the realm of likelihood, but maybe as i have with you, perhaps you have unfairly misjudged Heather in this case.

  • John · November 5, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Wishful thinking aside, the fact is that the percentage of people who are both willing and able to handle real college-level academic work is no higher than 20%. Yes, we can hand out more degrees, as we already do, but that is not the same as making people more educated.

    Probably no more than 2/3 of the population could even get anything resembling a good high school education. But high school has been dumbed down so much that it is virtually impossible for anyone with an IQ above 70 to fail unless the student wants to fail. Parents complained that their kids were failing, pressure was put on administrators, and viola!: no child shall ever be left behind. The same pressure is on colleges now, with predictable and disastrous results.

    What should the left half of the bell curve do? I don’t pretend to have the answer, but I know that the answer is not to pretend that differences in ability don’t exist.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 5, 2012 at 4:03 am

    John – you raise an excellent point. One that I also think about a lot.

    I am predicting a divergence where the bell curve peak will remain static or shift left, while the right side will stretch out even more.

    I think obviously there will be a need to identify those who are not likely to succeed in college, and provide incentives for more vocational training programs in every area of need.

    This can work if liberals don’t insist in promoting unrealistic expectations of economic equality, or entitlement. That sort of self cannibalism has gone on long enough.

    My fear is that a sort of totalitarian capitalism may become necessary if the left insists on undermining the repair and progress of our current system.

    If you are curious what I am referring to, watch Russia over the next few years. Skolkova will beget many similar models for technology centers. Within these high-tech hubs there will be plenty of need for Delta’s and epsilons, but they will not get equal status with the Gamma’s and Beta’s.

    It was discouraging to watch the teachers on strike in Chicago. When I heard random interviews with these teachers all I could think was “These are the people educating the next generation?” They could not put one grammatically correct sentence together, even as they were explaining why they deserved more money, and didn’t want it to based upon performance… what a fine example for the upcoming generation.

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