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Thursday, April 03, 2014

OTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments

Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 03, 2014 at 01:59 PM | 4718 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 7 million aca signees and counting, i-95 south, nc, politics

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   201. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:00 AM (#4680775)
When people say things like "too many kids are going to college," it's clear that the speaker means too many kids are going to college and pursuing degrees with poor (or no) ROI.


Look the ROI in aggregate is positive for going to college (hey look an actual fact, something your posts on the subject are absent of). But only an idiot think ROI is the only reason to go to college. It is a reason, but not the only one.

Knowledge is great and learning is a plus. If some kid wants to go to college and study something with a bad ROI, who are you to judge and suggest they should not go to college? That is ridiculous.

Too many people are going to college? I realize that you and your GOP friends think that knowledge and learning are bad, but the rest of us value it.

I am not saying people have to go to college, but I think people should have the choice. And since in total it has a strong positive impact on lifetime earnings the most blessed free market agrees with me that college is valuable. better education citizens are a plus for a society. They earn more (for one thing) and know more. Human capital is the most important and valuable kind.

What exactly is the down side? Why is it so bad that "too many people are going to college"? What exactly are you preaching against?
   202. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4680783)
Bitter Mouse: The problem is that kids are being pressured (by parents, guidance counselors/teachers and peers) to go to college who really shouldn't go to college, and when they get there they usually take up liberal arts majors for want of anything substantial to study. They might enjoy the experience in the moment, but at the cost of enormous, life-smothering debt, all for a degree that is worthless in the workplace. That is the downside.

As far as the government paying for college for everyone, (a) no one in the United States who wants to go to college is unable to for lack of financial resources; the government has already seen to that by guaranteeing student loans; (b) the government doesn't have nearly enough money to simply say "you can go for free."

Tangentially, I think we're in the midst of a major transitional period in education brought on by the Information Age. Outside of the obvious technical fields, there is very little an undergraduate degree program offers that you can't learn yourself at your local library for free.

I'm a proponent of education, but the amount of education (that isn't freely available elsewhere) you get for your $100,000-plus is shrinking. And most people aren't in college to learn, per se; they're there to gain employable skills.
   203. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4680794)
The problem is that kids are being pressured (by parents, guidance counselors/teachers and peers) to go to college who really shouldn't go to college, and when they get there they usually take up liberal arts majors for want of anything substantial to study. They might enjoy the experience in the moment, but at the cost of enormous, life-smothering debt, all for a degree that is worthless in the workplace. That is the downside.


Evidence? Seriously Kids are pressured to do stuff by everyone all the time and have been since the dawn of time. Using "think of the children" is a BS argument generally, and especially so when we are talking about an activity that has a positive ROI and substantial non-financial benefits.

As far as the government paying for college for everyone, (a) no one in the United States who wants to go to college is unable to for lack of financial resources; the government has already seen to that by guaranteeing student loans; (b) the government doesn't have nearly enough money to simply say "you can go for free."


(a) is flat not true. Like no kidding it is false. So very false.
(b) Where did I argue the government should allow everyone to go for free? And if I were to argue it, why do you think there is not enough money? We spent billions on stupid wars the last 10+ years, feel free to compare and contrast the cost/benefit from those wars to universal free post secondary education and then get back to me about "too much cost".

Tangentially, I think we're in the midst of a major transitional period in education brought on by the Information Age. Outside of the obvious technical fields, there is very little an undergraduate degree program offers that you can't learn yourself at your local library for free.


Except the entire college learning infrastructure including professors, peers and learning centers. but other than that yeah, it is totally the same.

And most people aren't in college to learn, per se; they're there to gain employable skills.


Who cares why they are there? It is a good investment. It helps the earning power of the person learning and it helps society to have a well educated citizenry.

I am not suggesting it is impossible that it has been over invested in. Anything can be, diminishing marginal returns and all that. But I have seen zero evidence presented that we are in that situation currently. Present some.
   204. Ron J2 Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4680796)
#175 I know you were around when James Weisberg automated the Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan's commentary (see below).

Would be that tough to automate the various one note posters in the beta version of robocommentary.

(version one of James' script)

#!/usr/local/bin/perl

use JoeMorgan;

until ( defined &havewestartedyet; )
&banteraboutnothing;
}

sub sig_alrm {
$SIG{ALRM} = \&sig;_alrm;
&shutup;
}
$SIG{ALRM} = \&sig;_alrm;

$BSTIMEOUT=300; # Do not BS on any one thing longer than 5 minutes.
$SILENCE=2; # At most two seconds of silence.
$REPEAT=3; # Number of times to repeat same useless garbage.

for ( $now = time; ; ) {
next if ( (time - $now) < $SILENCE );
alarm(0); alarm($BSTIMEOUT);
if ( defined (($date, $names, $event, $stats) = &meaningless;_tidbit) ) {
&bullshit;($date, $names, $event, $stats);
} else {
$analysis = &situation;($menonbase, $score, $play, $teamA, $teamB);
if ( not defined $analysis ) {
&makeupshit;();
} else {
for ( $retries = 0; $retries < $REPEAT; $retries++ ) {
&repeat;($analysis);
}
}
}

last if ( defined &arewedoneyet; );
$now = time;
}

   205. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4680797)
You'd be hard pressed to find a more strident advocate for the benefits of college than me. With that said, I doubt the numbers behind it being a positive ROI for a lot of kids. Going $100K in debt for a 2.7 GPA in communications is not a grand plan.* When I say that too many kids are going to college, I don't mean college itself is hurting the kid, I mean that for what they get, they overpay and miss the opportunity to learn an actual employable skill. College itself is great in many ways both in and out of the classroom and I'd guess it's a very, very small number of kids who regret the time spent there. They very well might regret the money spent and the lost opportunities in more tangible professions. What we need isn't more college. We need more and better education at younger ages and more finanically rewarding steps for people who either aren't intelligent enough to benefit from higher ed or aren't intellectually curious enough.

Given where I teach, I don't teach a lot of unintelligent kids (the way I did when I TAd at a state school). I do teach a lot of kids who couldn't give a tinker's damn about learning about the world. They want to drink beer and chase tail.** But the outcome for either a hard-working curious kid who isn't very bright or a bright kid who is unmotivated is the same: a lot of money down the drain and either no degree or a fairly worthless*** degree.

When I hear a push to "get more kids to college" I have to wonder where all these kids are who would benefit from college but can't get there. It seems to me the millions people plan to spend on getting those kids to college would be better spent on pre-K and elementary school kids so that finishing, say, 8th grade, meant you were a solid reader with solid basic logic and arithmetic skills. From there, do what you can.

The other point that is obvious from inside the college system is that the push to expand college enrollment is driven entirely by the desire to expand revenue. No one I know - and I know lots and lots of people working in colleges - is sitting around saying, you know it's really a shame we turn away so many bright, talented kids. People for whom college is a great thing are here. I don't doubt there are lots of kids who would've benefitted from college if they'd had better families/schools/environments. But, if they didn't, shoving them into colleges and expecting good things is a bad idea. We are not equipped to deal with that. We're good at furthering the education of already well educated kids who want to learn. I certainly won't say we're perfect at that but we are very good. We are really lousy doing the kind of teaching that requires dealing with troubled kids, unintelligent kids or kids with an attitude that doesn't care about learning. Very, very few of us who teach in college received any kind of training in that sort of education. Frankly, we get almost no training in education. The idea is that we're experts in a subject and students interested in the subject can avail themselves of us. If you want college to be high school, you need to completely revamp how the profs are selected. It would be far easier to revamp how we do schooling at younger ages. And more effective, since it's easier to learn at younger ages.****

* that is exaggerated; but even $50K in debt and a 3.0 in many majors is a bad investment. When you look at how people who went to college vs. those who didn't in the 80s, not many who went had debts within an order of magnitude of today's kids.

** not that that is a bad thing - I like beer and tail myself. But the single most important element in education is the student. Trying to teach a student who can't or won't put the necessary work in is pointless (at least at the college level).

*** from an economic point of view. It's great to be more worldly but one can get there a lot easier and cheaper than going to college.

**** sounds like I'm ragging on elementary and secondary education. And I am. But not on the teachers (or just on the teachers). I think the system is rife with trouble. Much of it being the goal that every kid is capable of excelling at academics. Much of it being poor resources and overburdened teachers. The kind of teaching required at these levels - reaching kids who may not really want to be reached - is ####### hard and too much is asked of the teachers, many of whom themselves are undertrained despite hours and hours and hours of mandated "training".

   206. JE (Jason) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:59 AM (#4680801)
I blame exactly three people for insisting that, absent a college education, I was nothing:

1. Mom

2. Grandma

3. Thornton Melon
   207. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4680803)
I think we can all agree that Mom is responsible for pretty much all evil in the world. Grandmas are included as de facto mom's.

If only they didn't brainwash us with all that love and nurturing. Dammit.
   208. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4680804)
The context of this discussion, at least from the point I entered it, was liberal arts degrees. That you refuse to acknowledge that these are different from engineering degrees... I can't help that. There are a lot of people in college right now that will either drop out, fail out or graduate with a liberal arts degree that is absolutely without value in the job market. Some of them are there just because they can afford it and they enjoy studying English Literature or whatever; most of them are there because they felt like they have to go to college or they'll be losers, have neither interest nor aptitude for anything mathy or sciency, and are studying whatever looked vaguely interesting. My evidence for this is that I've been to college, I continue to tutor college students, and I talk frequently with faculty and staff (this is at Penn State).

(a) is flat not true. Like no kidding it is false. So very false.


I'd ask for your evidence, but I'm trying to cut back on being a snarky dick to people.

As for your assertions that we wasted billions of dollars on stupid wars during the Bush Administration... yes, we did. The current administration is kicking the can on that while also continuing to spike overall expenditures. The government doesn't have nearly enough money for this. You can't borrow forever; the bill will come due, and it will hurt like hell when it does.
   209. OCF Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4680809)
The problem is that kids are being pressured (by parents, guidance counselors/teachers and peers) to go to college who really shouldn't go to college, and when they get there they usually take up liberal arts majors for want of anything substantial to study.

That's often not the way it works. Here's a scenario I'm all too familiar with. The parents tell the kid, "You will be a doctor" or "You will be an engineer." They arrive on campus and dutifully become engineering majors or biology majors - and it doesn't work. They're getting bad grades in things like calculus or general chemistry, they're repeating courses, they're dropping courses. And some times you can't get them to budge - they insist that they're in the proper major and the will turn it around. The outcome may well be no degree at all.
   210. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4680810)
bunyon: Thanks for taking the time to write that post. It's worth reading, and I wholeheartedly agree that to whatever extent the government is going to spend money it doesn't have on education, it is best spent improving elementary and secondary education. Actually the entire elementary/secondary education system is an atrocious trainwreck that needs to be redesigned from the ground up. It is utterly paralyzed by bureaucracy and appallingly ineffective at educating.
   211. JE (Jason) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:12 AM (#4680811)
Never mind.
   212. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4680812)
Liberal arts degrees are not "worthless" per se.* A lot of employers require a degree for a job even if the degree isn't directly related to their work. What would really help education** is if employers started being a lot more realistic about what qualifies a person for their job. There is a feedback loop where employers want degrees so schools move in to supply them. That devalues the degree so employers want more or different degrees so those get supplied, etc. etc.

It's hard in the current environment to tell a kid not to go to college unless you think they are the sort that has the skill to be a plumber/welder/whatever. The BA/BS used to be sufficient for employment. It is now necessary but not sufficient. I think parents/students have not yet caught up to that. It isn't enough to have the degree, you need to really stand out in some way.***

* Even though I used that exact word above - I was thinking (investment - value) < 0

** Actual education as opposed to the business of higher ed (seriously, the best reason to keep the NCAA around is it makes the rest of the business of college look not slimy by comparison).

*** That gets said a lot but I don't think people believe it. The easiest way to move ahead is to be really good. In any field. Of course, not everyone is.
   213. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4680817)
I'd ask for your evidence, but I'm trying to cut back on being a snarky dick to people.


I know someone that did not go to college for financial reasons. I mean seriously there are plenty of people who want to go but can't because of money, for pretty much every activity that takes money in the world. Suggesting otherwise is silly in the extreme.

The context of this discussion, at least from the point I entered it, was liberal arts degrees. That you refuse to acknowledge that these are different from engineering degrees... I can't help that.


Then show some evidence that there are too many kids getting liberal arts degrees. Has the ROI on Liberal Arts degrees plunged in the last X years?

My default position is that more education is better than less education. Better does not mean just ROI though, learning is great. Knowledge is better than ignorance, especially in a world every becoming more complex and needed greater information skills. Sure you can learn outside of the structure of school, but structured learning is a different animal than self guided learning.

Does that mean I blindly support college for everyone? No. Do I think education can be improved, that as it is today there is huge waste and inefficiency? Yup. Do I value one type of schooling over others (like Liberal Arts versus technical)? Nope. Society does from a financial perspective, but personally I value learning and education, and I think a good use of societal resources is educating people. In fact it is a GREAT use of resources, much better than reducing taxes, having random wars of choice, subsidizing corporations and so on.

The assertion "too many kids go to college" with no qualification* and no evidence is extremely not compelling to me.

* Maybe you were talking about only Liberal Arts all along. No idea. I don't think it is a very important differentiator from a societal policy standpoint. I value freedom and think education should be subsidized and students should be able to choose what they study.

Your logic seems to be that college costs money and there is too much any way so we should have fewer kids go to college (or something). that strikes me a bit bizarre.
   214. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4680818)

The context of this discussion, at least from the point I entered it, was liberal arts degrees. That you refuse to acknowledge that these are different from engineering degrees... I can't help that.


The 'engineering degree' does all the work in these arguments. The average starting salary for liberal arts graduates is a little below that for other math & sciences majors, but not much. There are lots of chemistry and biology graduates who have a hard time finding jobs too. Engineers make good money, true, but engineering is a bit like the North Dakota of the academic world. Just because unemployment is 2% in North Dakota doesn't mean you can send 2 million unemployed people there and have them find jobs. Engineering is the same way; we graduate 70,000 engineers per year. Even if we double that we don't make any perceptible dent into unemployment. There is simply no capacity to absorb every liberal arts major into engineering. And the more that go into engineering, the more salaries depress, as we have seen in the law profession. So it's no panacea.

most of them are there because they felt like they have to go to college or they'll be losers, have neither interest nor aptitude for anything mathy or sciency, and are studying whatever looked vaguely interesting


This is completely wrong. Lots of engineers have taken my introductory art history class thinking it'd be an easy 'A' -- they flunk out at a high rate. If I had a dollar for ever STEM student who told me that my weenie 101 course was the hardest they'd taken in four years of college, I could retire. So many can't write two coherent English sentences to save their lives, let alone think independently.

And I can attest that the people who are unprepared for college tend to be from families where they are the first in their family to go to college -- and they don't flock to the liberal arts. They have bought into PASTE's framing lock, stock and barrel and sign up for 'practical' majors like Business, Engineering, math, communications, advertising, graphic design, etc.
   215. Shredder Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4680822)
There are a lot of people in college right now that will either drop out, fail out or graduate with a liberal arts degree that is absolutely without value in the job market.
It's hilarious reading this argument being made again and again juxtaposed with the fact that I'm about to move in with a girl who graduated with a degree in art history, recently left a job that paid her ~$250k/year (in her field, for the most part) and is currently deciding whether she should stay with her current start up consulting firm with the potential to make much more, or take a job in industry which will reduce her workload and pay her roughly what she was making before. Yes, those liberal arts degrees have no value whatsoever.
   216. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4680823)
You can't borrow forever; the bill will come due, and it will hurt like hell when it does.


Odd how this only comes up regarding liberal priorities. For war and corporate subsidy than it seems one can borrow forever.

In point of fact though a society CAN borrow forever. There can be too much borrowing of course, debt and deficits matter to a degree, but from an economic standpoint there is zero reason a government can't carry some debt and some annual deficit every year until the end of time.

People make the mistake all the freaking time (Hi Joe K!) of thinking about government finances like the finances of people. They are not the same. Nor are governmental finances like those of corporations. Governments are different. They manage the economy, create fiat money, and are not trying to generate profits. They are (in theory) eternal and exist "of the people, by the people, for the people" and running some debt to invest in the people is totally rational for a government to do forever.
   217. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4680826)
You'd be hard pressed to find a more strident advocate for the benefits of college than me. With that said, I doubt the numbers behind it being a positive ROI for a lot of kids. Going $100K in debt for a 2.7 GPA in communications is not a grand plan.* When I say that too many kids are going to college, I don't mean college itself is hurting the kid, I mean that for what they get, they overpay and miss the opportunity to learn an actual employable skill. College itself is great in many ways both in and out of the classroom and I'd guess it's a very, very small number of kids who regret the time spent there. They very well might regret the money spent and the lost opportunities in more tangible professions....

Amen. What's deadly is the combination of massive loan debt, the insane cost of housing in the cities that many students gravitate to, and the requirement of a college degree for jobs where such a degree is only marginally useful.

This combination works to channel students into fields that are individually remunerative but socially marginal, because the debt burden and the cost of housing make any other choice virtually suicidal.

That's on the higher end. And on the lower end, it's why we've got so many students crushing themselves with debt, only to wind up with jobs where the skills they acquired in college are of marginal use.

* that is exaggerated; but even $50K in debt and a 3.0 in many majors is a bad investment. When you look at how people who went to college vs. those who didn't in the 80s, not many who went had debts within an order of magnitude of today's kids.

When I went to Duke in the 60's, the total cost for tuition and board was about $15,000 a year in today's dollars. That cost is now over $50,000 a year. That pretty much says it all.
   218. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4680828)
That's often not the way it works. Here's a scenario I'm all too familiar with. The parents tell the kid, "You will be a doctor" or "You will be an engineer." They arrive on campus and dutifully become engineering majors or biology majors - and it doesn't work. They're getting bad grades in things like calculus or general chemistry, they're repeating courses, they're dropping courses. And some times you can't get them to budge - they insist that they're in the proper major and the will turn it around. The outcome may well be no degree at all.

And how. This is my point about being good at stuff. You're a lot better off being a guy with a BA in Art History with good grades, good rec letters, a couple of nice projects, than a chemistry major who hates chemistry and has a 2.7, having had to repeat several chem classes along the way. It's easy to say a science degree is more "valuable" than a liberal arts degree. And, on average, that will undoubtedly be true. But having a degree in a subject for which you have little interest or talent is not a recipe for success. And lots of kids get these degrees on the advice to pursue a "practical" degree. Just as lots of kids get liberal arts degrees because it is perceived as "easier". Which, again, it may be on average.* But I'd rather be a good historian than a bad engineer.

* An informal look at my colleagues suggest that profs in the humanities are softer on grades. I think they don't think they are, but they are. Your cold hearted organic chemist won't hesitate to fail 70% of the class if the class actually fails. We relish it. Give me blood. Anyway, the myth is out there that those majors are easier, whether true or not, and I know kids that move there for such a reason. Which isn't exactly a great move.
   219. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4680831)
The Solyndra issue is not about research; it's about subsidies for businesses. Two different arguments.

By "business", you mean political cronies?
Yes and no. It's inevitable that politically connected businesses will disproportionately benefit from such pork, but even if magically chosen by neutral criteria, it's still a terrible idea. The idea that politicians and/or bureaucrats are competent to decide where to invest is ridiculous, and given that the whole idea is to invest in businesses that the professional investors -- people whose livelihood depends on making good investment decisions -- have rejected, the entire concept is nutty.
   220. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4680832)
There are a lot of people in college right now that will either drop out, fail out or graduate with a liberal arts degree that is absolutely without value in the job market.


It's hilarious reading this argument being made again and again juxtaposed with the fact that I'm about to move in with a girl who graduated with a degree in art history, recently left a job that paid her ~$250k/year (in her field, for the most part) and is currently deciding whether she should stay with her current start up consulting firm with the potential to make much more, or take a job in industry which will reduce her workload and pay her roughly what she was making before. Yes, those liberal arts degrees have no value whatsoever.

More power to your girlfriend, but I kind of suspect that her personal qualities have a lot more to do with the extent of her success than her art history degree.
   221. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4680833)
I don't disagree that as a country we're way too college-obsessed and plenty of people out there would really be better off not going. The problem is that it's a trend unlikely to turn around any time soon and too often the simple act of going to college is considered "important" by employers even if the time there didn't actually do anything other than show that the person was capable of doing the coursework necessary to graduate college.
You can blame the government for a good portion of that. Civil rights laws outlaw most screening mechanisms that employers would otherwise use, levying them to rely upon college degrees as a proxy for other measures.
   222. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4680835)
It does bear mentioning that majors like communications, advertising and graphic design are... not quite worthless, but those are oversaturated fields where an undergrad degree won't do anything for you unless you really excel. Even in engineering, it depends somewhat on what specialty you choose, but just getting a B.S. isn't going to put job offers in your mailbox. You need to be demonstrably better at it than most of the sea of others who have the same degree.

It is not surprising that engineering majors struggle with art history (or anything that requires written communication, really, notwithstanding the fact that GOOD engineers are usually good communicators).
   223. GregD Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4680836)
The context of this discussion, at least from the point I entered it, was liberal arts degrees. That you refuse to acknowledge that these are different from engineering degrees... I can't help that. There are a lot of people in college right now that will either drop out, fail out or graduate with a liberal arts degree that is absolutely without value in the job market. Some of them are there just because they can afford it and they enjoy studying English Literature or whatever; most of them are there because they felt like they have to go to college or they'll be losers, have neither interest nor aptitude for anything mathy or sciency, and are studying whatever looked vaguely interesting. My evidence for this is that I've been to college, I continue to tutor college students, and I talk frequently with faculty and staff (this is at Penn State).

I get your point but it's very dissociated from what's actually happening.

Kids who don't know what they want to do are overwhelmingly majoring in business, communications, marketing, and some "new" majors that have combined these with different jargon words.

The liberal arts dynamic is exactly the opposite of what you stated; kids major in liberal arts when the economy is booming. When the economy craters, kids shift to more-practical-seeming majors.

The problem is that the seemingly practical majors are on the whole not well designed and at times are a joke. Kids in those majors don't do better upon graduation than liberal arts majors; some studies--there's variance out there--suggest they do worse.

I agree with the posts above that many people who are in college don't really care about being there. Some of them would be better off going in their late 20s or 30s. Germany has invested a lot in retraining and retooling, and I think there's some value in having some people work a few years to grow up and then going back to school a bit later.

One thing I've seen is that some of the very best students I've had--people who've gone on to Ivy League Ph.D.s with full fellowships--were kids who flunked out in their 1st year or dropped out to find themselves, then came back 5-6 years later on a mission. You want a system that makes that possible.
   224. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4680837)
It's inevitable that politically connected businesses will disproportionately benefit from such pork, but even if magically chosen by neutral criteria, it's still a terrible idea. The idea that politicians and/or bureaucrats are competent to decide where to invest is ridiculous, and given that the whole idea is to invest in businesses that the professional investors -- people whose livelihood depends on making good investment decisions -- have rejected, the entire concept is nutty.

Two relevant counterpoints to that little bit of theoretical reductionism:

Innovation: The Government Was Crucial After All

How Politics Makes Us Stupid
   225. tshipman Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4680841)
And how. This is my point about being good at stuff. You're a lot better off being a guy with a BA in Art History with good grades, good rec letters, a couple of nice projects, than a chemistry major who hates chemistry and has a 2.7, having had to repeat several chem classes along the way. It's easy to say a science degree is more "valuable" than a liberal arts degree. And, on average, that will undoubtedly be true. But having a degree in a subject for which you have little interest or talent is not a recipe for success. And lots of kids get these degrees on the advice to pursue a "practical" degree. Just as lots of kids get liberal arts degrees because it is perceived as "easier". Which, again, it may be on average.* But I'd rather be a good historian than a bad engineer.


Chemistry is a poor example to use for your point as it has one of the lowest ROIs of any degree (If I remember some piece in Wonkbook that I can't find anymore correctly). I think that Biology and Chemistry had relatively low returns. The humanities always do better in those studies that people give credit for, it's just a bunch of wankers whining that an English degree isn't related to office work.

Your example breaks down at the extreme, though. You're better off as a Petroleum Engineer with a 2.7 GPA out of school. You have a 100K job offer lined up instantly.
   226. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4680845)
I don't disagree that as a country we're way too college-obsessed and plenty of people out there would really be better off not going. The problem is that it's a trend unlikely to turn around any time soon and too often the simple act of going to college is considered "important" by employers even if the time there didn't actually do anything other than show that the person was capable of doing the coursework necessary to graduate college.


You can blame the government for a good portion of that. Civil rights laws outlaw most screening mechanisms that employers would otherwise use, levying them to rely upon college degrees as a proxy for other measures.

So companies were better run before 1964, when those "screening mechanisms" were in full force?

Since I know (or I hope) that you're not seriously saying that the outlawing of racial or gender discrimination forced employers to hire on the exclusive basis of paper credentials, maybe you should get a bit more specific in your accusation, and include evidence that goes beyond the merely anecdotal or assertive.
   227. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4680846)

One thing I've seen is that some of the very best students I've had--people who've gone on to Ivy League Ph.D.s with full fellowships--were kids who flunked out in their 1st year or dropped out to find themselves, then came back 5-6 years later on a mission. You want a system that makes that possible.


Indeed. These are often great students. I think a better argument than "too many kids in college", which I think can be defended, though it's hard to define, is "too many kids go straight to college".

I honestly don't know what I'd tell them. A stint in the military used to be thought of as a good idea but that was a sign of the cold war keeping hot war down (for a kid of a certain age - I had lots of friends do 4 years knowing they were very, very unlikely to see combat; not so now). There aren't oodles of jobs out there for a high school grad to do. But some growing up would be nice. I do think "we" as a society are pretty forgiving of kids who screw up early in college and rebound but that is an economic burden of it's own. Either on the kid or those providing their tuition dollars. It's an expensive way to grow up.

Again, this goes back to my first point: Higher Ed is "higher". It should not be a necessity. It should burnish one's knowledge in a particular area. In the US it increasingly is very broad and only sets a foundation. MS and PhD programs are then necessary for the "higher" part. That is okay in some respects but it does cost more. But to really get something out of higher ed requires a serious interest in the subject. I don't doubt that a student who really loves art history and devotes herself to it and has the skills could make a great career in the field. I do doubt that a student who takes art history mostly because they want to avoid math heavy classes will be equally successful. Likewise, a chemistry student who thinks it's a better way into med school is not going to make a great chemist.

The degree is not the point. Love, devotion and study of a particular area is. That sounds cornball as all hell but it's the truth. You've really got to know what you're about to make most degrees matter. A lot of us probably used a couple of years at least of college for that personal growth. I would argue there are more efficient ways to do that. Of course, I don't know what it is.
   228. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4680847)
Look the ROI in aggregate is positive for going to college (hey look an actual fact, something your posts on the subject are absent of). But only an idiot think ROI is the only reason to go to college. It is a reason, but not the only one.

Knowledge is great and learning is a plus. If some kid wants to go to college and study something with a bad ROI, who are you to judge and suggest they should not go to college?
The person paying for it? If they want to go on their own dime, that's one thing. But if they expect taxpayer money, whether in the form of grants or subsidized loans, that's another story. Or if they're going to sit around whining later about their unmanageable debts...

Too many people are going to college? I realize that you and your GOP friends think that knowledge and learning are bad, but the rest of us value it.
That assumes its conclusion. Are those people actually obtaining knowledge and learning? Or just spending money, wasting four years, and getting a piece of paper? (And that assumes that they actually do get the piece of paper, as opposed to dropping out before that point.)
What exactly is the down side? Why is it so bad that "too many people are going to college"? What exactly are you preaching against?
Well, if the primary function of their college attendance is signaling, then it's socially wasteful. It's a prisoners' dilemma situation, in which everyone is forced to go to college whether they (or "society") benefits or not.
   229. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4680848)
The idea that politicians and/or bureaucrats are competent to decide where to invest is ridiculous, and given that the whole idea is to invest in businesses that the professional investors -- people whose livelihood depends on making good investment decisions -- have rejected, the entire concept is nutty.


The fallacy here is that governmental investors and business investors are or should be investing using the same criteria. Business investors invest to make money (in theory). Governments invest for the betterment of society (to put it loftily).

Governments often invest in the people (education), infrastructure (including new industries) and basic sciences. Businesses use that capital created by the government to make money (and by the theory of capitalism) and efficiently use those resources doing so, which is a good thing (assuming one values efficient usage of resources).

Governments ARE NOT Business. Even when they are both spending money on the same thing (There was private money in Solyndra too), they are doing it with different objectives. And sometimes government will make bad decisions and bad investments. Breaking news, but sometimes businesses make bad decisions and bad investments also. Both are run by people, so expecting perfection is silly.
   230. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4680853)
Indeed. These are often great students. I think a better argument than "too many kids in college", which I think can be defended, though it's hard to define, is "too many kids go straight to college".


Amen and quoted for truth. Well stated.
   231. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4680854)

Your example breaks down at the extreme, though. You're better off as a Petroleum Engineer with a 2.7 GPA out of school. You have a 100K job offer lined up instantly.


Today, in an oil boom. I started school at the tail of an oil boom and heard the above line from a lot of my ChemE friends. Then the bottom fell out and they went on to successful careers as baristas (though we didn't call them that). If you're lucky enough to graduate with a degree in a booming field, then, sure, you're likely to do really well. It's generally pretty hard to predict that though and, if you're wrong, you're in a field flooded with applicants.

As to chemistry being a low ROI, it is definitely lower than engineering. I think, though, if you look at kids who mean to be chemists, we do okay. We have a lot of majors who buy into "it looks better to be a chemistry med school applicant than biology" who are lousy chemists and don't get into med school. Biology suffers much the same with the pre-meds who are pre-meds for no good reason and who don't become medical students.

I agree that the ROI disparities aren't as great as the public thinks. Again, good students tend to end up doing well. Bad students (for whatever reason) don't. It is often that simple (yes, you can probably find exceptions).
   232. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4680859)
Governments ARE NOT Business. Even when they are both spending money on the same thing (There was private money in Solyndra too), they are doing it with different objectives. And sometimes government will make bad decisions and bad investments.

Counting Solyndra, about 2% of business ventures partly financed by the feds have gone bankrupt.
   233. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4680861)
Also, I just want to say that "pre-med" students get a bad rap (wrap? what the hell is that word) based on the type of "pre-med" who is basically pre-med because a parent(s) told them to and because it lets them put actual decisions 4 more years down the road. They pick majors and classes based on what makes them most attractive to med schools, missing the point that what looks best to med schools are acheivement (or "achievement" - grades, MCAT, experiences, etc.). There are lots of pre-med students sharp enough to choose a major based on their skill and love of it and, with the chemistry majors that way that I know, they are excellent. I suspect the same is true in other fields. So the reputation of pre-meds is based mostly on a few annoying bad apples.
   234. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4680863)
But only an idiot think ROI is the only reason to go to college. It is a reason, but not the only one.


I am pretty sure I said that earlier, so we agree.

But if they expect taxpayer money, whether in the form of grants or subsidized loans, that's another story.


And thus far society has allocated money towards furthering education. Less than I would like and less efficiently than I would like, but there you go.

That assumes its conclusion. Are those people actually obtaining knowledge and learning? Or just spending money, wasting four years, and getting a piece of paper?


In aggregate learning is happening. Does every student learn? Well it would be nice and more efficient learning is better than less, but yes learning is happening so I think my assumed conclusion that more students in college means more learning is pretty safe.

Well, if the primary function of their college attendance is signaling, then it's socially wasteful.


Maybe, but I don't think that is the case. Though signaling is part of it.

For my degree in Econ I studied education in less developed countries extensively. At every level of education there was a strong positive payoff for the government for education. The ROI decreased as you went up the ladder (money spent on primary education had a higher payoff than money spent on secondary education), but it was positive the whole way up.

And I believe that as society, the economy, becomes more complex higher levels of education are the price of entry for a society.
   235. The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4680864)
I'm curious what areas of study BBTF folks think are apt for liberal arts majors, either in college or a technical college. (I deal with words and analysis, myself - English/History undergrad, now in law).

Also, in my smaller Midwestern college town there's a large software employer that hires people fresh out of undergrad with any major at all, and then pays them $45K+ (possibly a lot more) per year. Not everybody can get a job there (they like good grades), but their existence probably fuels some thinking like "I'll study what I want in undergrad, then work at [Software company] or get another office job somewhere else."
   236. Lassus Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4680865)
You can blame the government for a good portion of that.

David, this HAS to go into your username.
   237. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4680868)
Put another way, in modern society it is in a government's best interest to make sure there is an abundance of well educated workers (and citizens). You want highly educated citizens and all the benefits you get from them. If hitting that goal means over encouraging college, if it means subsidizing educations and some kids ending up in college that shouldn't, well it can still be worth it for society at large.

Education is changing. There are inefficiencies and more changes need to happen. But "too many kids learning" is not the problem, and neither is society is putting too many resources into its people.
   238. The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4680872)
The idea that politicians and/or bureaucrats are competent to decide where to invest is ridiculous, and given that the whole idea is to invest in businesses that the professional investors -- people whose livelihood depends on making good investment decisions -- have rejected, the entire concept is nutty.


Yeah, with rare exception this practice drives me nuts. (My state has done it for several years, and one of the claims is that we don't have enough VC networks in place so good ideas don't get funded just because of geography.) It's just another race to the bottom.
   239. Morty Causa Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4680874)
Despite what I wrote previously, in a certain sense education is pretty much win-win for the long run of your life. Especially now, when most persons entering adultivity can probably expect to have to change jobs/professions multiple times in their working life. A broad-based education facilitates doing that, I think. I don't think there will ever come a time when it won't be to many people's benefit to know something more than the threshold basics of language, math, science, history, etc. You have only been exposted to all that cursorily by the time you get out of high school.

The same arguments against the immediate and practical use of college used to be made about high school. It was not unusual at all for many guys where I come from to drop out of school. And they almost always did so because they had expectations of getting good jobs in the oilfields (oilfields including he Gulf). They wanted to get on with making a living and a life. In a very fundamental way it isn't natural to postpone doing that as America allows you to do that now. But they soon found that their advancement opportunties were limited. If you have that broad-based advance education, it's easier to lateral to another career. Especially, it's easier to go back to school and start over.
   240. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4680875)
Bitter Mouse: Yes, I agree with that and (repeating myself) bunyon's assertion that the problem is too many kids going STRAIGHT to college is right on the mark, I think. College is fantastically expensive for most people; it makes sense to put off starting it for a few years. In terms of knowing who you are and what you want, most people are vastly different (and better) at 23 than at 18, and at 28 than at 23. Even at 23 you're a lot more likely to make an informed choice on what to study in college and to take your studies seriously than you are at 18.
   241. GregD Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4680881)
Different data exists for salary by major, but this one is pretty good. Big problem: Past performance doesn't predict future results, so some low payback majors might boom in the next years or vice versa.

The "bad" ROI by mid-career median salary are Education, Religion, Spanish, Interior Design, Music, Nutrition, Criminal Justice, Drama, Hospitality, Sociology, Graphic Design, Psychology, Health Care Administration, Anthropology, Forestry. Then you get the run of English, English, Biology, Art History, Geography, Nursing, Film, Communications, History. Philosophy does well. Marketing does better than I'd expect.

Basically, your standard liberal arts/soft social science--History, English, Philosophy--do just fine. Obviously not compared to the very top but nowhere near the bottom.
   242. Shredder Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4680887)
More power to your girlfriend, but I kind of suspect that her personal qualities have a lot more to do with the extent of her success than her art history degree.
Well, I'm sure you could say that's true of anyone depending on how you define "personal qualities". But considering her first job was at an art museum, and she's parlayed that into a nice career working for and with non-profits, I'd say her degree was also pretty important.
   243. BDC Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4680892)
Higher Ed is "higher". It should not be a necessity. It should burnish one's knowledge in a particular area. In the US it increasingly is very broad and only sets a foundation

bunyon points to the oddity of American higher education (an oddity that goes way back, in fact). In Europe, even secondary education is nowadays specialized, and postsecondary education extremely so. The whole concept of "non-major" courses is alien to most European systems. University degrees in Europe involve the content of a specific field (which may or may not have great job-market value), and aren't about achieving some sort of broad acculturation. As a result, you don't wander into a degree. Nobody goes to, say, De Montfort University and does a three-year degree completely devoted to furniture design just so they can say "at least I went to university." There may or may not be enough jobs for graduates, and people may end up regretting their choice, retraining, and seeking out far different careers than they started in, but such degrees have a highly specific intent; they're not about the well-known and vapid "learning how to learn."

As an English professor I am well aware that I have a job because American colleges make everybody take English, whether academic approaches to language, rhetoric, and literature are of the slightest immediate use to them or not, and because lots of people thus drift into English as a second- or third-choice major (as I did!) But at the same time I don't think the current system is inevitable or ideal. A world with far fewer liberal-arts professors and fewer, more specialized and intensive degrees in the liberal arts is not only imaginable, but exists, just not in this country.
   244. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4680893)
In aggregate learning is happening. Does every student learn? Well it would be nice and more efficient learning is better than less, but yes learning is happening so I think my assumed conclusion that more students in college means more learning is pretty safe.
But the "in aggregate" is silly; you're treating it as if this learning is randomly (or evenly) distributed, and thus we have to let everyone into college so everyone who can learn does, even if there are some students who don't. But that's not remotely the case. Nobody is suggesting that people who can get into Ivy League schools shouldn't be going to college. But there are large swaths of people, easily pre-identifiable, where a regular, four-year college is going to be a waste. Individually and in the aggregate. That doesn't mean that they can't benefit from education, but not a generic bachelor's degree from a liberal arts school.


(Aside: Have you read "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower"? The Atlantic article is better, as the book -- like all such -- reads like a magazine article expanded into a book, but the book does provide more detail.)
   245. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4680906)
More power to your girlfriend, but I kind of suspect that her personal qualities have a lot more to do with the extent of her success than her art history degree.

Well, I'm sure you could say that's true of anyone depending on how you define "personal qualities". But considering her first job was at an art museum, and she's parlayed that into a nice career working for and with non-profits, I'd say her degree was also pretty important.


I'm not saying that her art history degree didn't get her in the door, but how many other art history majors have risen to ~$250,000 jobs? And how many art history degree holders are even employed in their chosen field?
   246. GregD Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4680909)
The new Vox article on how Germany sustains a low youth unemployment rate by good vocational ed and partnerships is relevant to some of these discussions. Obviously Germany is starting from a better overall unemployment place than we are, regardless of age, but still it is impressive.
   247. GregD Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4680913)
The uninsured rate is down 3.4% since the third quarter of 2013 and 1.5% since January according to Gallup

There are roughly 240 million adults, so a drop of 3.4% would be s bit over 8 million fewer people uninsured over the last six months
   248. Shredder Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4680933)
I'm not saying that her art history degree didn't get her in the door, but how many other art history majors have risen to ~$250,000 jobs? And how many art history degree holders are even employed in their chosen field?
In my anecdotal experience, 100%. :)
   249. OCF Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4680934)
I started talking about students stubbornly clinging to unsuitable majors, and somehow the replies to my comment jumped to the notion of a student graduating with a 2.7. That's not what I was talking about. A graduate with a 2.7 is a success story, as far as we're concerned. Or to put it another way: we don't give B's to insult people. A math major with a 2.7 could (depending on some other qualities not well measured by GPA) become an excellent high school math teacher.

A new buzz-phrase that has the attention of college administrators; "low completion rate courses." If 30% or more of the students who register for a course get D, F, or W, that's a Bad Thing, and we're supposed to find something to do about it.
   250. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4680946)
The new Vox article on how Germany sustains a low youth unemployment rate by good vocational ed and partnerships is relevant to some of these discussions. Obviously Germany is starting from a better overall unemployment place than we are, regardless of age, but still it is impressive.

Germany also has negative population growth. Our unemployment picture would be a lot better if our labor force was shrinking.

Not to say I'm against vocational training, I think the US should do much, much more of this. But, you have to compare apples to apples.
   251. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4680954)
But the "in aggregate" is silly; you're treating it as if this learning is randomly (or evenly) distributed, and thus we have to let everyone into college so everyone who can learn does, even if there are some students who don't.


We are talking at a societal policy level, so there is no way to talk about it other than in aggregate. In any large policy you can find exceptions, outliers, but so what? To make sense of the data you have to look at a large sample size, look at it in aggregate. I guess we could argue by anecdote (plenty of that happens), but really?

Does the policy result in a net benefit? And again I am not suggesting the current system is perfect, but education is beneficial (in aggregate) for the individual being educated (both financially and non-financially) and beneficial for the society at large.

So knowing that I am comfortable supporting education and pushing back against people saying "too many kids are going to college".

As to the question "Are they doing college right?", well I think freedom and choice are important and I don't think a centralized government is best for choosing what student goes to what college and takes which classes. Those are decisions made at a much more granular level and they should be.

So no kidding in aggregate, across majors and across students, is the only place it makes sense to talk about such policy, unless we want to burrow into educational minutia.
   252. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4680960)
There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the Constitution and is a constant in President Obama’s most stirring addresses. It’s what we might call the More Information Hypothesis: the belief that many of our most bitter political battles are mere misunderstandings. The cause of these misunderstandings? Too little information — be it about climate change, or taxes, or Iraq, or the budget deficit. If only the citizenry were more informed, the thinking goes, then there wouldn’t be all this fighting.

It’s a seductive model. It suggests our fellow countrymen aren’t wrong so much as they’re misguided, or ignorant, or — most appealingly — misled by scoundrels from the other party. It holds that our debates are tractable and that the answers to our toughest problems aren’t very controversial at all. The theory is particularly prevalent in Washington, where partisans devote enormous amounts of energy to persuading each other that there’s really a right answer to the difficult questions in American politics — and that they have it.

But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become.


Ezra, at Vox.
   253. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4680961)
Yes, I agree with that and (repeating myself) bunyon's assertion that the problem is too many kids going STRAIGHT to college is right on the mark, I think.


I am more receptive to that argument, but now we are going past the numbers and have to be much more nuanced. There are many incentives to start right away, plus kids are impatient. Also if more kids don't jump in right away, some won't ever go back (even if they could or would excel at it), for a variety of life reasons. So you might gain some with more delays, but you will also lose others. I don't know if it will be a net gain or not.

For myself I loved going to college right out of high school and became a better student every year. I took some time off between college and grad school and that was beneficial to me for a variety of reasons. Would college have been better with a break? No way of knowing, but given the choice I wanted college right away.

   254. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4680964)
As a Type I diabetic, I still grow annoyed being lumped in with people who gave themselves diabetes rather than getting it from their genes.

As well you should.

The "Don't judge" movement is at least partly to blame for the growing Type II diabetes epidemic.


So... intelligence = totally genetic. Type II diabetes == environmental.

(BTW: Heritability of Type II diabetes is ~70%, restricted to onset ages 35-60).
   255. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4680971)
But the "in aggregate" is silly; you're treating it as if this learning is randomly (or evenly) distributed, and thus we have to let everyone into college so everyone who can learn does, even if there are some students who don't. But that's not remotely the case. Nobody is suggesting that people who can get into Ivy League schools shouldn't be going to college. But there are large swaths of people, easily pre-identifiable, where a regular, four-year college is going to be a waste. Individually and in the aggregate. That doesn't mean that they can't benefit from education, but not a generic bachelor's degree from a liberal arts school.


This is an odd case where I apparently agree with David. We, as a society(*) need to acknowledge the value and usefulness of learning how to weld. And then, of course, likely ruining this budding love affair with David, we as a society(*) need to provide welders, electricians, machinists and other "tech ed" career track graduates with career opportunities that pay a living wage.

(*)far more existent than David's beloved market, of course
   256. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4680976)
This is an odd case where I apparently agree with David. We, as a society(*) need to acknowledge the value and usefulness of learning how to weld. And then, of course, likely ruining this budding love affair with David, we as a society(*) need to provide welders, electricians, machinists and other "tech ed" career track graduates with career opportunities that pay a living wage.

People with actual skills in those trades are doing pretty well. Probably much better than college graduates with mediocre grades from mediocre schools. The real problem is the semi-skilled laborers that used to be able to get factory jobs on the assembly line, not the skilled tradesmen.
   257. tshipman Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4680978)
Oh yay, Wonkblog is back! Although now I guess it's WonkVox? VoxBlog? Vox-a-Wonk?

The uninsured rate is down 3.4% since the third quarter of 2013 and 1.5% since January according to Gallup

There are roughly 240 million adults, so a drop of 3.4% would be s bit over 8 million fewer people uninsured over the last six months


This is one of those good news/bad news things. Great news! The rate of uninsured is back to pre-recession levels. Bad news! It took six years!
   258. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4680982)
Welders (industrial welders, at least) can make a killing. That field has had more demand than supply of workers for decades and pays very well. A skilled industrial welder can live just about anywhere he wants and work just about whenever he wants for upwards of $100 an hour. I heartily recommend any teenager with decent dexterity and capacity for physical work to take up welding. Even the intelligent ones; if you have any aptitude with the trade and are willing to work your ass off and save your money, you can be damn near a millionaire by the time you're 30.
   259. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4680983)
People with actual skills in those trades are doing pretty well. Probably much better than college graduates with mediocre grades from mediocre schools. The real problem is the semi-skilled laborers that used to be able to get factory jobs on the assembly line, not the skilled tradesmen.


A problem that David is also likely disinclined to address. After all, iPhones are cheap.
   260. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4680985)
We are talking at a societal policy level, so there is no way to talk about it other than in aggregate. In any large policy you can find exceptions, outliers, but so what? To make sense of the data you have to look at a large sample size, look at it in aggregate. I guess we could argue by anecdote (plenty of that happens), but really?
No, it doesn't make sense to talk about it in the aggregate, because nobody is saying that we ought to randomly slash college attendance by, say, 20%. People are saying that the bottom 20% (or whatever) of college students don't belong there. So we care about whether the bottom 20% of students benefit, not whether people benefit from college in the aggregate.
   261. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4680988)
This is an odd case where I apparently agree with David. We, as a society(*) need to acknowledge the value and usefulness of learning how to weld. And then, of course, likely ruining this budding love affair with David, we as a society(*) need to provide welders, electricians, machinists and other "tech ed" career track graduates with career opportunities that pay a living wage.


Coke to snapper. These guys are already making real good money. The issue is not providing a living wage to workers with valuable skills, its how we train as many workers as possible to have valuable skills. There's a separate issue of what do with folks who are so limited that there is no valuable skill they can learn, but we're also doing a terrible job of putting workers in a position to make higher wages by pretending that everyone has the intellectual capacity to be a historian, or a writer, etc.
   262. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4680991)

This is an odd case where I apparently agree with David. We, as a society(*) need to acknowledge the value and usefulness of learning how to weld. And then, of course, likely ruining this budding love affair with David, we as a society(*) need to provide welders, electricians, machinists and other "tech ed" career track graduates with career opportunities that pay a living wage.


I think this is a bit of a false dichotomy. It is not college OR trade school. As a society there is value in having enough tech ed people. However the original statement was about the numbers of people getting higher education.

A good friend of mine went back to tech school and became a medical imaging technician. he went to college, got a degree and was in the computer industry and then decided it was not for him and he looked around and choose where he wanted to go. I am pretty sure though that he values his degree and is very glad for the schooling he got.

There is no one size that fits everyone and people will go down the wrong track and adjust. We need a diversity of skills and educations to have a functioning society. I believe all that. However I really doubt as a society too many people are going to college.
   263. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4680992)
A problem that David is also likely disinclined to address. After all, iPhones are cheap.

Correct. You know where I stand on this.

I just wanted to point out that the problem isn't just giving more blue collar people actual skilled trades. It's much more about finding employment at a livable wage for those who are semi-skilled and unskilled.

That's why protectionism is the only answer. We need to create semi-skilled jobs that pay $15/hour plus benefits, and those can't be sustained in open competition against semi-skilled workers making $2/hour, with no benefits, and no safety or environmental regulations to boot.
   264. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4680993)
This combination works to channel students into fields that are individually remunerative but socially marginal


Like what... Law? I mean - seriously... socially marginal?

I do know that you could multiply the number of CS graduates seven fold and you would not increase the number of good computer programmers.
And "engineer" is basically todays short hand for "computer programmer" ... of course there are lots of electrical/mechanical/nuclear whatever "real" engineers or scientists (mostly employed in academia or pharma) but this is a pretty small fraction of the economy ...

I dunno. What jobs need doing? I mean, other than the ones that illegal immigrants do? I think that part of "the problem" is the the social stigma and low pay (too low to prevent high turnover) of crappy jobs (like working at the Enterprise counter).

   265. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4680995)
Yes and no. It's inevitable that politically connected businesses will disproportionately benefit from such pork, but even if magically chosen by neutral criteria, it's still a terrible idea. The idea that politicians and/or bureaucrats are competent to decide where to invest is ridiculous, and given that the whole idea is to invest in businesses that the professional investors -- people whose livelihood depends on making good investment decisions -- have rejected, the entire concept is nutty.


I kinda agree with David here. Government should not invest in for profit operations. If they want to do research, pay non-profit (Universities) to do research. At least there is some modicum of QC (Peer review) there.
   266. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4681000)
You can blame the government for a good portion of that. Civil rights laws outlaw most screening mechanisms that employers would otherwise use, levying them to rely upon college degrees as a proxy for other measures.


DavidBot2014 is functioning 9 by 9.
   267. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4681004)
No, it doesn't make sense to talk about it in the aggregate, because nobody is saying that we ought to randomly slash college attendance by, say, 20%. People are saying that the bottom 20% (or whatever) of college students don't belong there. So we care about whether the bottom 20% of students benefit, not whether people benefit from college in the aggregate.


What? People said "too many people are going to school".

Your post is the first I remember anyone talking explicitly about the top or bottom 20%. however I find it hilarious that you seem to want some sort of centralized group (government perhaps) to before the fact sort out who goes where.

I want to give people the resources to determine where they go. You seem to want to try to figure out who should go where and slot them there, no matter what they want.

You don't get to know in advance who exactly will succeed and who will will. And besides that I bet I disagree with your notions of success and failure.

has someone who goes to college, learns a whole bunch and then leaves without getting a degree failed? Tell that to a good friend of mine who is a VP of a major internet company and is in Taipei this week for work.

The point is you have to talk about it in aggregate because you don't know in detail, with perfect future knowledge, how each individual will benefit (or not). You can't do it and you certainly can't hand over full authority to a centralized group. You have to set policy and evaluate the results of that policy in aggregate, like every other policy in the universe.

Sure you tweak based on specific groups and subgroups, again like every other policy ever.
   268. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4681007)
I want to give people the resources to determine where they go. You seem to want to try to figure out who should go where and slot them there, no matter what they want.

That's how the Europeans do it. Free education, but ruthless tracking.

It's like any other "free good", like healthcare. If you want to have universal free services, you need to ration ruthlessly.
   269. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4681011)
This combination works to channel students into fields that are individually remunerative but socially marginal

Like what... Law? I mean - seriously... socially marginal?


I'd say that yes, it's socially marginal to have so many lawyers who are in it for nothing but the money. Or do you think we need even more corporate lawyers?
   270. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4681012)

I'm not saying that her art history degree didn't get her in the door, but how many other art history majors have risen to ~$250,000 jobs? And how many art history degree holders are even employed in their chosen field?


Why is that the measure? I reject the terms of the question.

A world with far fewer liberal-arts professors and fewer, more specialized and intensive degrees in the liberal arts is not only imaginable, but exists, just not in this country.


And since I do my research in Europe, I know a lot of professionals over there, and it's not at all clear that that leads to better results.

In the United States, college is seen as a means to build a broad-based, educated citizenry that are prepared to participate in democracy. That is very different than the way that the university system formed in Europe.
   271. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4681017)
This is an odd case where I apparently agree with David. We, as a society(*) need to acknowledge the value and usefulness of learning how to weld. And then, of course, likely ruining this budding love affair with David, we as a society(*) need to provide welders, electricians, machinists and other "tech ed" career track graduates with career opportunities that pay a living wage.

(*)far more existent than David's beloved market, of course
Uh, you realize that welding (or electricianing, machining, etc.) has no inherent value, right? These are only useful skills to the extent that people weld, electricate, or machinify things that other people want welded, electrocuted, or machinated. The career opportunities either exist or they don't; otherwise, you might as well just pay people to dig holes and fill them up again.
   272. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4681019)

Coke to snapper. These guys are already making real good money.


Welders and plumbers make good money in large part because they operate a guild system that severely restrict the number of people that are admitted into practice.
   273. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4681021)
In the United States, college is seen as a means to build a broad-based, educated citizenry that are prepared to participate in democracy. That is very different than the way that the university system formed in Europe.


DING!

That's how the Europeans do it. Free education, but ruthless tracking.

It's like any other "free good", like healthcare. If you want to have universal free services, you need to ration ruthlessly.


So K to 12 should be rationed? That is dumb. If the societal ROI is high enough then keep it coming.
   274. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4681022)
Like what... Law? I mean - seriously... socially marginal?

I'd say that yes, it's socially marginal to have so many lawyers who are in it for nothing but the money. Or do you think we need even more corporate lawyers?


Is this even a question? Our society has far too many lawyers, management consultants, I-bankers, traders, and hedgies.

We would unquestionably be better off as a society if we reallocated all that talent into industries that actually created value instead of just transferring it.
   275. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4681024)
That's why protectionism is the only answer. We need to create semi-skilled jobs that pay $15/hour plus benefits, and those can't be sustained in open competition against semi-skilled workers making $2/hour, with no benefits, and no safety or environmental regulations to boot.


This is a semi-serious economics question: Is protectionism some how better (economically - I don't think anyone has anything but a precomposed opinion on the "social" effects) than just paying NON skilled jobs $15/hr plus benefits? Or pay unemployment at $10/hr + benefits (so if you get a dumb barista job you increase your income 50%).

Do baristas get paid $15/hr? (I know they don't get benefits)
   276. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4681026)
So K to 12 should be rationed? That is dumb. If the societal ROI is high enough then keep it coming.

It is rationed. You have to live in the specific geography to go to the schools. At 18 they kick you out. There is a limit on the staff ratio and courses you can take.

In higher ed, you can stay as long as someone is willing to pay, and you can take any obscure field of study, even if there are 2 students for every professor.
   277. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4681027)
I just wanted to point out that the problem isn't just giving more blue collar people actual skilled trades. It's much more about finding employment at a livable wage for those who are semi-skilled and unskilled.


Well, the fact of the matter is all of you; paleocons, neocons, libertarians, liberals, progressives, rodents; all of you fail to address the real problem at hand, because it's too damned ugly for civilized conversation. I'd guess that the only person here willing to really take it on would be Good Face, who for all of his silliness and absurdity, isn't one to shy away from the ugly brute facts of the world.

The real problem is that 7+ billion primates all trying to live at the standards of the post-War west are just too goddamned many primates.
   278. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4681028)
This is a semi-serious economics question: Is protectionism some how better (economically - I don't think anyone has anything but a precomposed opinion on the "social" effects) than just paying NON skilled jobs $15/hr plus benefits? Or pay unemployment at $10/hr + benefits (so if you get a dumb barista job you increase your income 50%).

Yes, because people who work have far better social outcomes, are far better citizens, form far more stable families, and raise far more functional children than people on the dole.

Earning your own keep, and having the responsibility of getting up every morning and doing a job has tremendous positive psychological benefits. Just viewing yourself as a producer rather than a dependent is going to do wonders for a person.
   279. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4681030)
We would unquestionably be better off as a society if we reallocated all that talent into industries that actually created value instead of just transferring it.


Define, pleass - remember my last economics class was in high school in 1986. Value relative to what? Wait... is there something here about rent seeking vs.... uh .... other stuff??


We have so many lawyers because it's profitable to sue people -- or rather represent people who are suing / being sued. And the laws are written mostly by ex-lawyers in congress.
We have lots of people employed by the insurance industry - because our government and society are set up to require such services.

It's not an educational issue at all.



We probably COULD use more/better public defenders.
   280. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4681034)
The real problem is that 7+ billion primates all trying to live at the standards of the post-War west are just too goddamned many primates.

Utterly false. There is no sign of any realistic ceiling on human productivity. This scare mongering is no more true today than when Erlich predicted the "Population Bomb" in the '60's.

In any case, for the sake of discussions of political economy, I'm not worried about 7 billion. I'm worried about keeping the standard of living of 250 million middle and working class Americans from falling.
   281. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4681036)
The real problem is that 7+ billion primates all trying to live at the standards of the post-War west are just too goddamned many primates.


FUSION POWER
   282. zenbitz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4681040)
Utterly false. There is no sign of any realistic ceiling on human productivity. This scare mongering is no more true today than when Erlich predicted the "Population Bomb" in the '60's.


Sure there is. There are X Joules/M^2/day of solar energy impinging on the earth's surface. Oh. I missed the word "realistic".... the realistic ceiling is still an energy metric. Life converts solar energy into information. There are fundamental physical limits on this - as well as simple efficiency arguments.
   283. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4681041)
I'm not saying that her art history degree didn't get her in the door, but how many other art history majors have risen to ~$250,000 jobs? And how many art history degree holders are even employed in their chosen field?

Why is that the measure? I reject the terms of the question.


I apologize if I didn't express this better, but my only point is that the combination of student debt and housing costs have made it far more difficult for students to major in subjects that aren't likely to pay the bills and pay off the debt. Art History, as a rule, isn't a major that's likely to lead to as many high paying jobs as engineering or pre-law. I wasn't talking about any other "measure", and the problem obviously lies in the cost of tuition and housing, not in any inherent lack of value of art history.
   284. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4681044)
This is a semi-serious economics question: Is protectionism some how better (economically - I don't think anyone has anything but a precomposed opinion on the "social" effects) than just paying NON skilled jobs $15/hr plus benefits? Or pay unemployment at $10/hr + benefits (so if you get a dumb barista job you increase your income 50%).


No.

Protectionism has strong negative impacts on quality of life and relations between nations. The world is a better and safer place because of global trade.

Paying everyone (really every single adult) a set income has very few negative consequences, especially compared to protectionist barriers.

However in addition to guaranteed income (which I support) in order to address the real problem you have to look at income inequality. As it turns out Capitalism is great at efficient allocation of resources and terrible at income equality. So you need explicit government intervention if you want more equality in income. Progressive tax rates, wealth taxes, and so on all have a place at the table, as does a minimum income.

Note: Minimum income and minimum wage are different. Minimum wage is a good thing and should be increased. The empirical data on it is mixed in terms of how it impacts job growth, but very clear in terms of how it helps the recipients of the additional money. I choose to talk about minimum income though, because I find it more novel (and interesting) and because of the "on the dole" comments from snapper.
   285. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4681045)
Utterly false. There is no sign of any realistic ceiling on human productivity.


Resetting the timer of the bomb doesn't remove the bomb, kiddo. It's a single planet with limited resources. The data is very clear that we are taxing those resources beyond their limits already. You believe in the magic technology fairy who comes and saves us again because that's what happened the last time. That's what we call the "trending fallacy."
   286. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4681046)
Define, pleass - remember my last economics class was in high school in 1986. Value relative to what? Wait... is there something here about rent seeking vs.... uh .... other stuff??

Yes, rent seeking. A person who merely tries to earn a margin on a flow of economic activity, without augmenting that activity, adds no value. A middleman only adds value to the extent that they provide liquidity, or distribution, or credit to the system.

If you profit simply by buying and selling faster than someone else (e.g. the high frequency traders), or acquiring inside information faster (e.g. pretty much every hedge fund), you are adding nothing to society. It's a zero sum game. All your gains come out of someone else's pockets.
   287. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4681047)
ROI is a stupid concept to apply to college, because college isn't merely an economic investment (*) and the returns the attendee and society get aren't merely economic.

You pretty much know organized capital has taken over everything when few citizens can comprehend of an activity in which organized capital's template and nomenclature aren't used to describe and analyze it.

To the extent capital gets a return from colleges educating people, capital should finance the education. There's certainly no reason it should get it for free.

(*) As should be obvious when we remember that college students pay someone to make them work.
   288. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4681048)
I apologize if I didn't express this better, but my only point is that the combination of student debt and housing costs have made it far more difficult for students to major in subjects that aren't likely to pay the bills and pay off the debt.

Thus directly serving the interests of capital. What a shock.
   289. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4681049)
We have so many lawyers because it's profitable to sue people -- or rather represent people who are suing / being sued. And the laws are written mostly by ex-lawyers in congress.
We have lots of people employed by the insurance industry - because our government and society are set up to require such services.

It's not an educational issue at all.

We probably COULD use more/better public defenders.


Agreed on all counts. The problem lies with the incentives, not the people who respond to them, though in some cases some of them just make a bad situation worse by being so good as their jobs.
   290. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4681050)
I apologize if I didn't express this better, but my only point is that the combination of student debt and housing costs have made it far more difficult for students to major in subjects that aren't likely to pay the bills and pay off the debt. Art History, as a rule, isn't a major that's likely to lead to as many high paying jobs as engineering or pre-law.


On the one hand, we refuse to send tech-ed students to tech-ed. On the other, we have reduced the concept of university and education to upper class tech-ed. It's now impractical to get and education for the validity of becoming a better, more educated, well-rounded human being (i.e. liberal arts.) Now you can only validate your "education" if you are on a tech-ed track to law school, or STEM, etc.
   291. BrianBrianson Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4681053)
Earning your own keep, and having the responsibility of getting up every morning and doing a job has tremendous positive psychological benefits. Just viewing yourself as a producer rather than a dependent is going to do wonders for a person.


This is right on the money, and a weird thing for someone so interested in destroying productive jobs with tariffs to say.

But the problem is really that people are far too productive. Far more people want to work than there are jobs available. Hence Tennessee's extra schooling, even if it's just babysitting, is a good idea, because it usefully takes people out of the wave overfull pool of people wanting to work, without making them feel useless.
   292. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4681055)
We would unquestionably be better off as a society if we reallocated all that talent into industries that actually created value instead of just transferring it.


In theory, but how? Centralized management of resource allocation does not work very well. I am on board with things like a trading tax, a small cost added to each and every financial transaction to siphon some of the money out of the financial sector and reduce the "trade thrashing" that is too common and adds no value.

The financial sector is valuable in what it does, but it could use some additional regulation.

Utterly false. There is no sign of any realistic ceiling on human productivity. This scare mongering is no more true today than when Erlich predicted the "Population Bomb" in the '60's.


Human productivity <> sustainability. And there are limits to sustainability. Very clear hard limits. I don't know if 7 billion is too many, but I suspect it is. Fortunately birth rates are dropping worldwide as incomes go up, so if we survive the bubble (of DOOM!) we have a chance to make it through.

In any case, for the sake of discussions of political economy, I'm not worried about 7 billion. I'm worried about keeping the standard of living of 250 million middle and working class Americans from falling.


I care about all 7 billion. And I think we are all interconnected. The global economy doesn't care about just the US. The environment doesn't care about borders. Wars and strife have a nasty habit of spreading misery in all directions. Caring just about the US makes as much sense as caring just about your state, your county, your city. If you squint just right maybe it makes sense, but really not so much.
   293. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4681056)
No.

Protectionism has strong negative impacts on quality of life and relations between nations. The world is a better and safer place because of global trade.

Paying everyone (really every single adult) a set income has very few negative consequences, especially compared to protectionist barriers.

However in addition to guaranteed income (which I support) in order to address the real problem you have to look at income inequality. As it turns out Capitalism is great at efficient allocation of resources and terrible at income equality. So you need explicit government intervention if you want more equality in income. Progressive tax rates, wealth taxes, and so on all have a place at the table, as does a minimum income.

Note: Minimum income and minimum wage are different. Minimum wage is a good thing and should be increased. The empirical data on it is mixed in terms of how it impacts job growth, but very clear in terms of how it helps the recipients of the additional money. I choose to talk about minimum income though, because I find it more novel (and interesting) and because of the "on the dole" comments from snapper.


Wrong. Protectionism only really harms the economy to the extent that your market is too small. A free trade zone of the US, EU, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, would be amply large to ensure the benefits of competition.

As for world peace, enriching China is about the absolutely stupidest thing one could do. We're following Marx' prediction of selling them the rope to hang us, by subsidizing their military industrial complex and military expansion.

A minimum income is wildly expensive ($10K per person p.a. would exhaust the entire Federal Budget and more), and would require tax rates that would cripple the economy. Any phase out imposes horrendous marginal tax rates on anyone trying to work at a low wage, and would cripple the incentive to get a job.

It also has the same problem of encouraging sloth and bad behavior as current welfare programs. Able bodied adults who are dependents of the state behave badly. It happens in every country.
   294. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4681058)
I apologize if I didn't express this better, but my only point is that the combination of student debt and housing costs have made it far more difficult for students to major in subjects that aren't likely to pay the bills and pay off the debt.

Thus directly serving the interests of capital. What a shock.


In the late 1960's the DOD put out an internal memo called "Channeling", that described with scarcely muted pleasure how the pressures of the draft would "channel" college men away from protest and into their studies, in order to avoid being called into the Army.

Of course the professors at many universities countered that strategy by refusing to issue "F" grades to any male student who was in danger of flunking out. And thus was born (literally) the practice known as Grade Inflation.
   295. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4681059)
I care about all 7 billion.


No you don't. You can't. Your brain couldn't handle actually caring about that many. You probably care deeply about maybe 10-15, care generally about another 50-100 at most, and "care" in that faux hippie "love everybody" sense of "caring" about the rest.
   296. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4681060)
Yes, rent seeking. A person who merely tries to earn a margin on a flow of economic activity, without augmenting that activity, adds no value. A middleman only adds value to the extent that they provide liquidity, or distribution, or credit to the system.

If you profit simply by buying and selling faster than someone else (e.g. the high frequency traders), or acquiring inside information faster (e.g. pretty much every hedge fund), you are adding nothing to society. It's a zero sum game. All your gains come out of someone else's pockets.


Rent seeking is also the goal of most lobbying, and among the biggest growing outputs in the new, corporatist Washington.
   297. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4681064)
This is right on the money, and a weird thing for someone so interested in destroying productive jobs with tariffs to say.

But the problem is really that people are far too productive. Far more people want to work than there are jobs available. Hence Tennessee's extra schooling, even if it's just babysitting, is a good idea, because it usefully takes people out of the wave overfull pool of people wanting to work, without making them feel useless.


You're wrong. Our unemployment isn't driven by an excess of productivity, it's driven by an excess of cheap labor that has been introduced to the world economy in the last 25 years.

Prior to the end of the Cold War, well over half the world's labor force was effectively excluded from the global market by various forms of socialistic gov't. Since 1990, we've added something like 3 billion workers to a global economy that had fewer than 2 billion participants.

What we are seeing is the adjustment effect of a vast surplus of labor driving wages down in the developed world.
   298. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4681066)
Resetting the timer of the bomb doesn't remove the bomb, kiddo. It's a single planet with limited resources.

In the long-run we're all dead. That doesn't mean we should commit suicide today.

I'll bet on the ingenuity of mankind to keep resetting the bomb. We've been doing it for a long time.

If we fail, disease and famine will restore equilibrium, as they have many times before.
   299. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4681067)
ROI is a stupid concept to apply to college, because college isn't merely an economic investment (*) and the returns the attendee and society get aren't economic.


It is a too limited metric, incomplete, especially if we are only talking about hard dollars returned in exchange for hard dollars spent. More nuanced ROI discussions can and should include the additional value due to the "soft" benefits of additional education (some of which have been mentioned up thread).

What hard dollar ROI has going for it, is that it is measurable. And if the ROI is positive and we know (or believe) there are also many other soft benefits, then we would be stupid to call for less resources spent educating people.

And hey look the hard dollar ROI is positive for both individuals and societies*. And there are other soft benefits. And yet some people are calling for less spending on education.

* Last time I did studies on the issue rigorously anyway. It was a while back (late 80s) but I suspect education still pulls in good returns for societies. Given changes in the economy it might even be better than it was, I am not sure though.
   300. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4681070)
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