A Conservative Case for Student Loan Forgiveness

Avatar

Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

Related Post Roulette

136 Responses

  1. Avatar j r
    Ignored
    says:

    IMHO, the personal responsibility aspect is a red herring. Between my wife and I, we’ve paid off six figures of grad school debt in the last five years. And it wouldn’t bother me one bit to see anyone else luck into having their existing student loan debt forgiven. Good on you! You’ll get no resentment from me.

    That said, it’s just not very good policy. The roots of the student loan situation lay in the fact that a whole cohort of young people was sold a load of credentialist nonsense that led them to over-pay for a bunch of consumption that was supposed to be an investment. Forgiving a bunch of student loan doesn’t really do anything to dismantle that system. It just kicks the can down the road.

    I think that a good deal of the enthusiasm for the Warren plan comes from the fact that the chattering class is made up of a lot of people who most absorbed the credentialist creed. To a lot of folks, the idea that you could get into your “dream school,” the one you “deserve” and choose to go elsewhere for financial reasons is an anathema. So be it, to each her own. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Either you’re going to pay for it or we’re all going to pay for it. And if we’re all going to pay for it, fine. Let’s just drop the investment delusion.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to j r
      Ignored
      says:

      Signing on to @jr here. I have no problem with the whole forgiveness bit (technically, we actually have it, it just seems to work hard to not actually forgive any loans), but it is important to recognize that unless we fix the education & credentialism issue, this problem won’t go away, and it will honestly give colleges even more incentive to raise costs.

      But it was a good venting of your spleen.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “Did any of you suggest a single free market reform at all – not symbolically, but viable policy suggestions?”

    See, I’m sure they did, but then we heard that this was union-busting, tearing apart workplace protections, allowing racism and sexism and homophobia and islamophobia and exploitation of the workers by the capitalist class to run rampant. We heard that trying to reduce regulations that kept costs and wages high was an attack by The Wealthy on The Poor, how it was just rich white men trying to keep poor single black mothers from getting enough money that they–gasp!–might actually move in next door to them. Society is an agreement we all make with each other and there have to be rules to keep everyone safe and if you don’t like it, move to Somalia.

    And, y’know. People are not entirely wrong to talk like that. “on-call hourly” isn’t some socialist invention. “we only take people with experience” is not an OSHA requirement. These are things that the free market did all on its own, and if we think it sucks then the only real way we have to address it is to not buy cheeseburgers from Wendy’s, which won’t hurt anyone but the Mexicans working there. (We saw what happens when we try to pass a law saying that workers are required to have benefits; the corporations do a massive reshuffling of employees and suddenly everyone is in a category where they aren’t required to have benefits.)

    That said…okay, so, they worked hard. So what? No, this is a serious question. So what that they worked hard? Why does that mean they get a good life? “if you slack off you won’t get good stuff” is not a statement that implies a converse.

    I mean, if you want to say “there’s a conservative case for loan forgiveness”, there is, but it’s not some morality play. If you think that homeownership and starting a family early in life improves the stability of society by encouraging the development of strong local-community ties (which I do) then loading young people up with insurmountable debt works directly against that.

    Of course, that means there’s also a conservative case for universal basic income and universal healthcare. If your sons hadn’t had to work to support themselves (and your family) they could have focused on their studies. If your son hadn’t had to drop out to care for your father-in-law, same deal. Or maybe both of them could have figured that they didn’t need the income premium from a college degree–seeing as how they could move anywhere and carry their healthcare with them, so they could find a community where the cost of living matched their income.

    I will add that you’re right about the free market, although probably not the way you’re imagining. If employers were allowed to not hire black people if they didn’t want to, then they wouldn’t have had to pretend that “must have a college degree” was a meaningful requirement, and there wouldn’t be as much pressure to have a degree. Which brings us back to the conservative case for UBI/UHC — like, if your whole idea is that you don’t want black people around, wouldn’t you want it to be easier for them to leave town?Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, I didn’t love that paragraph but wanted to get the piece out as quick as I could and didn’t want to stop to do research.

      Just want to clarify – he didn’t drop out. He didn’t work for 6 months when he was 17. Has been working since then and worked before.

      I bring it up simply because a lot of people assume “these kids don’t want to work”. That is not the case for mine. I’m not saying they’re guaranteed anything from this world. But the adults created a mess that has affected college and the workplace, and it’s disingenuous for the Republicans to invoke personal responsibility NOW when they’ve not walked the walk.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        There does exist a strain of bloody-minded conservative who figures that it’s always possible to succeed and if you haven’t got what you want then you just don’t want it bad enough to work hard for it (not like THEM, of course, who worked REALLY hard).Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      (I’m not entirely sure where you stand on this, DD, but I’m going to use your post as a launching point. 😉

      That said…okay, so, they worked hard. So what? No, this is a serious question. So what that they worked hard? Why does that mean they get a good life?

      Here’s the thing people need to realize (And I think you do, DD), is that if they _aren’t_ going to get a good life, at least if the system is not going to produce a good life on average…why should any of them agree to keep living under that system? The government, explicitly, and society, implicitly, are supposedly under the control of the human beings who live in it. If enough of them do not like a system, they will alter it. The really obvious way to change the system is towards what people seem to want to call ‘socialism’. (1)

      Well, that’s what the chattering class has apparently decided. ‘Oh noes! If things keep being this bad, people will pick teh socialism!’

      But…the problem is…this, actually already happened. People already decided. About a decade ago. People want a pretty serious change in how the government works. Young people, who are worse off, sometimes call this socialism, and actively frame it that way. Other people don’t. It’s the same thing. We’re going to have to _require_ the wealthy, via _some means_, start actually letting everyone else have money.

      Not to go too in-depth here, but the government has always been operated for the benefit of the wealthy. That’s nothing to do with any specific party, or time period, or anything. It’s just how it works.

      In the past, the wealthy were smart enough to a) try to make sure everyone had a good enough life that everyone else wouldn’t rise up in revolt, or b) if the times actually did get bad, they would compromise and change the system enough to get people off the street. Heck, sometimes they welcomed the change…things get bad enough, and even the wealthy can’t live like they want.

      The wealthy…uh…stopped this. They completely stopped caring under Reaganism. (2) The system we live under has been unworkable for basically three decades. Yes, that even includes the Clinton ‘good economy’. We should have had some sort of reckoning a while back, some sort of upheaval where the rich said ‘Uh oh. Better let this get fixed’.

      Except everyone got duped with the fact they had been given a bunch of loans (The exuberance in getting those is which is where the Clinton economy came from.), and told these ‘temporary’ loans would let them buy houses (Which of course only went up in value so they could sell later) and get degrees to get really good jobs (Which were just out of reach.) Neither of those were slightly true. The housing thing was inherently stupid, as markets can’t work that way, and obviously there weren’t that many jobs that needed college degrees, so everyone going to college just resulted in every employer asking for a degree, making everyone worse off on average.

      It took us two decades to realize how wrong all this was, and we suddenly started looking around in 2009 or so and asking what the hell had happened. And the wealthy, for [insert reason here], shrugged and made sure that nothing we tried to do to fix the situation could impact them.

      And thus…pitchforks and torches.

      Granted, we first pitchforked-and-torched our way into _Trump_, so I’m not saying that was a _good_ solution. I’m just laying out what happened.

      1) In my book, socialism is basically limited to the textbook definition and there’s very little that’s been proposed by anyone that should be called that. But whatever.

      2) Why, I’m not sure, I think maybe because changes in society allowed each individual wealthy person to completely disassociate them from everyone else, and allowed them to move somewhere else at a moment’s notice, whereas wealthy people in the past had some level of interaction with other social levels. Or maybe it was just Reaganism and then never getting called on it due to loans. But that’s a whole different discussion.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        “In the past, the wealthy were smart enough to a) try to make sure everyone had a good enough life that everyone else wouldn’t rise up in revolt, or b) if the times actually did get bad, they would compromise and change the system enough to get people off the street.”

        well…

        Kristen’s sons aren’t on the street, is the thing here.

        You say “the system should guarantee everyone a good life” but what if they’ve already got that? They presumably have security in life, limb, and property. Maybe they lack opportunities for material advancement, or for self-actualization in their preferred manner, but they also aren’t worried that tomorrow they’ll be shot in the street by a thug while trying to get to the market before it runs out of meat.

        The rebellion may start in the disaffected middle class, but the berserkers who build the barricades and swarm the police stations come from the workers, and they don’t do that stuff if they know that back home there’s a fridge full of beer and the game on TV.

        “We’re going to have to _require_ the wealthy, via _some means_, start actually letting everyone else have money.”

        We already do that. You can look up the tax statistics if you want exact numbers but the majority of tax receipts come from the income levels you’d consider “the wealthy”, and the majority of that comes from the one-percent fat-cat super-rich fuck-you-got-mine group.

        So what do we do? I already told you–universal income and universal healthcare. The reason these aren’t seen as conservative positions is that whenever liberals propose them, there’s always a big raft of Things That’ll Make Society Better stuffed in, and they’re the same things that get put in every other time liberals propose something, and it makes conservatives end up fighting against good ideas because of the bad ones glued onto them.Report

        • Avatar bookdragon in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not so sure of that last paragraph. Family medical leave is a a good idea, and one that a party claiming to be all about Family Values should have supported. BUT anytime it was proposed during the Reagan and GHWB years, the cries of bad for business from the right slammed it down. So this nice traditional family value idea couldn’t become law until there was a Democrat in the WH. (And then Newt and all the RW media types went ballistic about it being **SOCIALISM!!11!!**)

          Was that because there was a raft of other Make Society Better things stuffed in? Not that I can see honestly. As far as I can tell it was just a knee jerk reaction to anything that might give some kind of break and protection to workers in a bad situation, because by GOP definition anything that prevents businesses from maximizing profits and enriching owners counts as socialism.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to bookdragon
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, so, FMLA doesn’t require that you be paid for the time you take off, it just says that they can’t fire you for doing it. It’s actually not all that great an example.Report

            • Avatar bookdragon in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              To my point: FMLA was a good idea that conservatives fought against, even though it didn’t have “a big raft of Things That’ll Make Society Better stuffed in”. In fact, it didn’t even have the one truly relevant thing to the idea – requiring pay during the leave – and conservatives *still* opposed it.

              If conservatives only fight against good ideas because of bad liberal over reach glued onto them, what was the bad over reach glued onto FMLA?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to bookdragon
                Ignored
                says:

                Considering that the earliest concepts of FMLA included paid leave and healthcare benefits in addition to simple “you don’t get fired”, it does indeed seem that the attempt to introduce Things That’ll Make Society Better was thwarted and led to more contention than otherwise might have been expected.

                This conversation is not productive and I’m not sure why you started it.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                PS that was a not a request for further ‘splaininReport

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          You say “the system should guarantee everyone a good life” but what if they’ve already got that? They presumably have security in life, limb, and property. Maybe they lack opportunities for material advancement, or for self-actualization in their preferred manner, but they also aren’t worried that tomorrow they’ll be shot in the street by a thug while trying to get to the market before it runs out of meat.

          That is an absurdly low bar for ‘a good life’.

          People do not compare their life to some hypothetical worst possible situation. They compare it to what appears to be standard. What they were exposed to in growing up, what they were exposed to in fiction, etc.

          The rebellion may start in the disaffected middle class, but the berserkers who build the barricades and swarm the police stations come from the workers, and they don’t do that stuff if they know that back home there’s a fridge full of beer and the game on TV.

          It seems like neither of Kristen’s kids actually do ‘know’ there’s a fridge full of beer back home. Housing doesn’t just magically fall out of the sky if you don’t have employment.

          And I don’t know where you got ‘build the barricades’ from. I think I was fairly clear from the Trump reference that by pitchforks and torches, I meant ‘Voting for rather extreme candidates and demanding extreme positions’, not actual pitchforks and torches. That comes only when people are not allowed to elect the people they want to elect.

          Kristen’s kids, presumable, vote. One of them is apparently halfway to what she’s calling ‘socialist’. The other will eventually graduate and…end up getting the blue collar jobs her _other_ kid can’t get. So they’re not going to happy either.

          We already do that. You can look up the tax statistics if you want exact numbers but the majority of tax receipts come from the income levels you’d consider “the wealthy”, and the majority of that comes from the one-percent fat-cat super-rich fuck-you-got-mine group.

          This is one of those ‘People comparing two things that are not actually related’. Like…who cares how much taxes they pay? The fact they have so much income that they are basically operating the entire government with their taxes and still remain insanely wealthy rather indicates a serious problem! (Specifically, the fact that they have so much capital that they end up with the vast majority of government _spending_, which seems to never be mentioned when talking about how much taxes they pay, weirdly.)

          That said, you seemed to assume I wanted higher taxes. I didn’t say anything of the sort. I said the poor would start taking the rich’s money if they get angry enough. They will. Might be via taxes, might not. I don’t know, I’m not psychic.

          I rather hope it’s not via actual violence, because that never works out well. But this isn’t about what _I_ want. I’m not proposing anything. I am describing what is happening. I don’t have to justify it and prove the non-rich are ‘correct’ in demanding them money of the rich, anymore than I have to justify the color of a car that just drove past my house. It just is a thing that _is_. They _are_ starting to do that.

          So what do we do? I already told you–universal income and universal healthcare. The reason these aren’t seen as conservative positions is that whenever liberals propose them, there’s always a big raft of Things That’ll Make Society Better stuffed in, and they’re the same things that get put in every other time liberals propose something, and it makes conservatives end up fighting against good ideas because of the bad ones glued onto them.

          Uh, I can’t speak as to universal income, but the idea that conservatives want universal health care but liberals put too much extra stuff in is…absurdly laughable. Like, what are you even talking about?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            “That is an absurdly low bar for ‘a good life’.”

            Why does it need to be higher?

            “I don’t know where you got ‘build the barricades’ from.”

            From the history of popular rebellions?

            People voted for Trump, in large part, for the same reason people voted for Barack Obama. Maybe you’ve forgotten (it was, after all, a whole ten years ago) but people didn’t think very much of Obama as a policy-maker. They wanted change. They were voting for America’s First Black President ™ because they wanted something different than what they’d had before, and Obama certainly promised that both in potential and in his own words. Maybe they were deluded, maybe they were reading their own wishes into a blank slate, but please don’t go around telling me that people were voting for Barack Obama for crusty hard-numbers policy reasons. The best investigative journalist in the country thoroughly debunked that idea.

            “It seems like neither of Kristen’s kids actually do ‘know’ there’s a fridge full of beer back home. Housing doesn’t just magically fall out of the sky if you don’t have employment.”

            Nothing in the post suggests they’re in immediate material difficulty. Maybe they aren’t getting everything they wanted (which I addressed in my comment, maybe you forgot to read that part) but that’s different from actual despair unto death that leads someone to genuinely rebel.

            Voting for a weirdo isn’t rebellion.

            “Like…who cares how much taxes they pay?”

            Like…you do, when you say “We’re going to have to _require_ the wealthy, via _some means_, start actually letting everyone else have money.”

            I mean, did you mean something different there? Am I wrong to interpret this as “they should pay more taxes”?

            Actually, maybe I am. You keep telling me that you don’t mean actual violence, you don’t mean revolutionary overthrow, that I’m wrong to say that full bellies and warm fire are all that society really needs to stay stable and that those things are all that people should really be expecting, and then you drop little hints like “I said the poor would start taking the rich’s money if they get angry enough” and I’m left to wonder just how seriously I should take you in all this.

            “[The idea that conservatives want universal health care but liberals put too much extra stuff in is…absurdly laughable.”

            Antonin Scalia was nobody’s idea of a liberal hero and his opinion was that if the government thinks health care is a good idea then it should do that itself. If you had him on side it really shouldn’t be hard to get the rest done.

            (PS it was, in fact, not Republicans who shot down the notion of universal healthcare in the ACA.)Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              Maybe they were deluded, maybe they were reading their own wishes into a blank slate, but please don’t go around telling me that people were voting for Barack Obama for crusty hard-numbers policy reasons.

              I don’t know what conversation you think you’re having, but it’s not the one I’m in, where I literally didn’t mention Obama or 2008.

              Voting for a weirdo isn’t rebellion.

              You used the word rebellion. That is the word you used, not me.

              I said the phrase ‘pitchforks and torches’ once. That’s it. That’s what I said. And I _immediately_ said that those ‘gave us Trump’, so it was pretty clear I wasn’t talking about literal pitchforks and torches. The words ‘rebellion’ and ‘barricades’ are _yours_. You inserted them into this conversation, I not only haven’t used them, I’ve corrected your use of them.

              I mean, did you mean something different there? Am I wrong to interpret this as “they should pay more taxes”?

              What you’re wrong to do is pretend I that I am suggesting anything at all. I very clearly said I was making a prediction based on social observations, not making policy prescriptions. I am being descriptive, not prescriptive.

              Antonin Scalia was nobody’s idea of a liberal hero and his opinion was that if the government thinks health care is a good idea then it should do that itself. If you had him on side it really shouldn’t be hard to get the rest done.

              That’s such a weird argument I normally wouldn’t bother addressing it, but I will only because it’s the only point you made that is not based on you just inventing words in my mouth.

              So, here goes: The fact that Scalia suggested something was constitutional does not, in fact, mean it is a conservative policy. There are plenty of constitutional things that are not conservative policies. For a completely random example, taxing the wealthy at 90% is not a conservative policy, but no one has ever suggested it’s not constitutional.

              Additionally, having Scalia ‘on our side’ has literally no bearing at all on what sort of policies conservatives want. Scalia might be pretty powerful in a very specific way, but he is not even slightly a conservative policymaker.

              (PS it was, in fact, not Republicans who shot down the notion of universal healthcare in the ACA.)

              There never was any ‘universal healthcare’ in the ACA. That doesn’t even make sense. The entire structure of the ACA is to use the existing insurance system, not replace it with any sort of universal healthcare.

              You have, I think, confused universal healthcare with ‘the public option’, which was not there due to the _conservative_ Joe Lieberman. (For the record, we were discussing whether or not something was _conservative_, not whether or not it was ‘Republican’.)

              The last time we had a universal healthcare plan proposed down was actually under _Clinton_, and it was Republicans who shot it down.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    But it’s mighty peculiar to me how over the course of the last half-century or so (if not longer) that the Republican Party seems to only give voice to this belief when it comes to the little person.

    The argument I saw the other day was something like “Hey, those banks who made horrible decisions… did they get all of their debts erased? How much did *THAT* cost?”

    “Personal responsibility” is obviously *NOT* the paradigm under which we operate.

    Personally, I think that allowing these debts to be dischargeable in bankruptcy would fix the problem. Declare bankruptcy and rebuild for 7 years and then, 7 years later, start fresh.

    People for whom bankruptcy would be worse than paying off loans would, presumably, pay off the loans instead. Only the degrees that cost an onerous amount of money for a degree that couldn’t pay off the loan would have a problem.

    (And, most importantly, the people who went to college but only got “some college” to put on their resume rather than “Bachelor’s” would have a relief option too.)

    College would probably change in response. And I’d have to see why those changes would be bad instead of good before I’d see the bankruptcy option as being too bad to pursue.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Dischargable in bankruptcy, or kicked back to the University to eat. Perhaps what we need is a University Lemon Law.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        I would be 100% down with half being discharged in bankruptcy and the other half given to the university to eat (hey, they can pay it with their endowment!).

        I’d need more details about the University Lemon Law… that strikes me as an opportunity for Universities to argue that the students were just lazy and weren’t trying hard enough to find a job and here’s one in Watford City, North Dakota that the student didn’t even try to apply for.

        If my worries are misplaced, then I’d like to hear more about this Lemon Law.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Basically it would boil down to allowing class action suits against a school for failure to perform, with the default penalty being the school eating the loans. If you can get, say, 20% of a graduating class to swear affidavits to the effect that the degree is effectively worthless because reasons[1], then you have a case against the school.

          [1] Reasons being things like a serious disconnect between advertised information and reality (such as how much graduates can make, how easily they get hired by employers, etc.), evidence of the degree/classes not being accepted at other schools, evidence of the weakness of the degree with employers[2]

          [2] If none of the employers in Watford City, ND have ever heard of the school, applying for jobs there is unlikely to be fruitful[3].

          [3] The first school I attended after HS was like this. A handful of employers in Madison knew of the school and were willing to hire some of the graduates, but 10 miles outside of the Madison bubble, employers had no clue.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Not sure about part of this. Lots of schools are unknown to people outside of the local area. The school where i got my ba and ma is a generic middle ranked state school in NJ. Only D3 sports so nobody knows about. That has never mattered. For most things it never will matter if someone hasn’t heard of your school.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak
              Ignored
              says:

              It would matter if the school advertised that their graduates are desired by Fortune 500 companies all across the world, but the reality is that no one outside of that corner of the state knows who they are.

              But if they advertise that they are big in Japan, and they really are big in Japan, then graduates who are looking for jobs in Dallas can’t say they weren’t notified about the lack of recognition.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Gotta say, this sounds more like an argument against places like those schools that advertise during daytime television than the schools where people graduate with some obscene amount of debt for a degree in Speech Pathology.

            This might solve some of the problem, but I don’t see it as solving enough of the problem for us to say that the problem has been addressed.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              It all depends on what one would consider ‘failure to perform’. I mean, I’m picking off the low hanging fruit here, which would be scam schools, or even legit schools who play fast and loose with their marketing materials.

              The thing about college really is “what is being advertised” versus “what is actually the product”. If the $100K SLAC is selling it’s Speech Pathology degree as something that pays for itself, or the Career Guidance office is very careful to only show pay scales from NYC or LA, but represents those numbers as a national average, then you have a case.

              But if they sell the college experience as worth $100K, and the degree is just the end product, but not really the thing you were paying for, then, well, I have a hard time paying for their buyers remorse.

              I mean, I used the term Lemon Law for a reason. If you buy a Corvette because you need a car to get to work, you can’t claim it’s a Lemon just because the payments and cost of ownership are too high.

              Ultimately, of course, the problem is that we pump all sorts of money into the College/University systems, but make no other demands upon that system. There is no requirement to verify accreditation, or to ensure marketing materials match reality. Or, what we really should be doing, is insisting that if a school accepts federal education grants, or federally backed loans, that they have a plan to continuously expand enrollment to match demographics growth.

              The real issue here is one of scarcity. Colleges are expensive and quality ones are hard to get into, and the schools have little interest in expanding student roles and diluting their brand. Which is fine, but then they shouldn’t get those grants and loans.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                This strikes me as being off the mark. The problem is that we’ve got tons of kids fresh out of college with debts in the six figures and degrees that will not allow them to pay the debts off without living in the basement of one of their parents’ houses.

                The problem isn’t that the marketing materials they read 7 years prior overstated the amount of money a speech pathologist would make.

                If you looked up the marketing materials and the marketing materials were 100% trustworthy and nailed how much they were likely to make in the future down to the inflation-adjusted penny, we’d still have problems with kids living in mom’s basement unable to pay their college debt any other way that by living in mom’s basement.

                The problem ain’t the brochures.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Read my last two paragraphs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Diving down:

                Ultimately, of course, the problem is that we pump all sorts of money into the College/University systems, but make no other demands upon that system. There is no requirement to verify accreditation, or to ensure marketing materials match reality. Or, what we really should be doing, is insisting that if a school accepts federal education grants, or federally backed loans, that they have a plan to continuously expand enrollment to match demographics growth.

                The real issue here is one of scarcity. Colleges are expensive and quality ones are hard to get into, and the schools have little interest in expanding student roles and diluting their brand. Which is fine, but then they shouldn’t get those grants and loans.

                I don’t know if my conclusion from this is that I should want more people with college educations or fewer people with college educations.

                While I think that imposing accountability on colleges would be great (we should do that!), we’ve still got a ton of students with a mortgage payment worth of debt every month without the ability to land a job that would allow them to make much more than one mortgage payment.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                That depends on if you think education can be influenced at all by market forces. If schools who accept federal loans/grants have to continuously expand, then the scarcity problem has a chance to resolve, which should get schools to start competing more on price, or, alternatively, start offering lower cost education options.

                Perhaps MIT could offer Robotics Technicians programs, or Aerospace Machinist training. That kind of thing.

                If you tell a school that the federal money has some strings attached, the school has to decide if those strings are worth. HYPS could probably survive without taking federal dollars, but smaller schools couldn’t, and public schools would have no choice.

                Then we are just talking about what the strings are.

                All that said, we do have a program to discharge student loan debt, that I linked to above, and it’s doing an absolute shit job. Perhaps Warren could start there.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the “you’re on the hook if the kid declares bankruptcy” would be one heck of an influence on market forces right out of the gate for education product providers.

                That’s why I support discharging these loans in bankruptcy.

                I don’t know how many jobs require degrees instead of some measure of trainability. People are getting degrees they don’t need to get jobs that don’t pay enough because the graduates are doing tasks that don’t use the skills gained from the art history degree they got.

                I’m 100% down for education, mind. I just don’t think that people should pay a mortgage for a degree that loses value like a new car the second it gets driven out of the parking lot.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I support dischargability through bankruptcy. The problem is that it will instantly kill student loans for anyone whose parents (or themselves) doesn’t have a fantastic credit rating. Or the interest rates for those kids will be damn near punitive. It’s unsecured debt, otherwise.

                So bankruptcy alone won’t cut it, since the schools won’t have a ton of incentive to reduce prices, since most of their students are middle class or above anyway (the kinds of people who do have good credit). Just make sure mom and dad co-sign the loans.

                Now, if the schools had to eat half the cost every time a student goes bankrupt, that might encourage them to control prices, but it’ll also give them an incentive to keep bad credit risks out.

                However, if schools have to expand their offerings, and start offering alternatives to the traditional degree if they want to keep access to federal dollars (even if we limit it to just tuition assistance, and not research grants, etc.) so the supply starts to go up, then perhaps we’ll start seeing students opting for less expensive options.

                As an potential bonus, we might have less fly-by-night schools since larger, better known campuses will want to start offering non-traditional programs that are in that space. If you have a choice between Joe’s Aircraft Mechanic School and the MSOE School of Aerospace Service and Support, the bigger name might very well be worth the extra cost.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                This is one of those awful things where we see what really screwed up the system but unwinding the changes that were added will not unscrew the system.

                If we turn off the spigot of cash, it’s more likely to get rid of professors than administrators.

                At this point, I’m wondering whether stuff like Lambda School will replace traditional schools (and what that will mean) because the thing where degrees ain’t worth what people pay for them is eventually going to translate into people thinking that the person who got the degree is someone who deliberately did something dumb.

                An anti-signal, if you will.

                At which point we’re going to have a bloodbath. Figuratively.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Culturally, the anti-signal is already out there, employers just haven’t felt the need to listen to it yet.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                HYPS could probably survive without taking federal dollars…

                Not a chance the research programs at those universities survive if they can’t touch federal dollars. No CDC grants/contracts? No NFS grants/contracts? No NASA grants/contracts? No DoD grants/contracts? Note that “can’t touch” implies other schools that do take federal dollars aren’t going to do joint work with them. The UK is going through something similar with Brexit.

                When I was in graduate school 40 years ago the federal dollars touched almost everything. It’s even worse now.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Yep.

                And don’t forget those federal workstudy dollars either, while we’re talking about overall sustainability of making sure people Work For Their Educations….Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        “Dischargable in bankruptcy, or kicked back to the University to eat.”

        I am sure this will not make it more difficult for poorer people to get accepted into colleges.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Reformed Republican
          Ignored
          says:

          It might.

          I guess the question then comes to how awful six-figures of non-discharagable debt is for those poorer people compared to the middle or upper classes.

          (What are the demographic backgrounds of “some college”? Does it disproportionately hit poorer people?)Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            ” how awful six-figures of non-discharagable debt is for those poorer people compared to the middle or upper classes”

            frankly, not that awful compared to some of the other options.

            it’s the middle class folks that I think are most impacted by these prices, but only because being *really* poor is just as awful whether you have a theoretically enormous debt load or not…. and the subsequent employability hike is more useful to get out of dire poverty than to strive from one part of the middle to another (or slide from one to another, frankly).

            which isn’t to say being middle class is *harder*, it’s definitely not, just that the relative impact of this particular one thing is larger on them.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Maribou
              Ignored
              says:

              Good point, the relative impact is that a swing and a miss from the bottom still might provide a net improvement from previous generations, where the middle is experiencing a swing and soft contact with a decline in opportunity and status.

              Which is why this strikes me as the follow-up to Occupy Wall St… the grand bargain has been broken; college is no longer a ticket to middle class… only certain vocations or paths lead there, and that wasn’t the deal.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                To be fair, there was no deal. No one said, “If you go to college, we guaran-damn-tee you will make middle class wages”. It was more of a “college is your best shot at a middle class lifestyle, if you don’t want to be in the skilled trades”.

                Less of a deal, more of a marketing campaign.

                And it’s still true. But you have to be paying attention to what you are doing.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Fair enough, I don’t mean to imply an actual deal.

                Its one of those things that was true until it wasn’t.

                But nobody warned us it wasn’t going to be true until it wasn’t. So nobody did nothin’ to nobody. I’m not sure if that makes it better, worse, or indifferent…Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                Thing is, those jobs that your normal BA from a Liberal Arts college would qualify you for have been specialized into different schools. Now if you want your History degree to be worth anything, you need to go to grad school, or do a double major.

                So it’s still true, but the terms and conditions have shifted, and certain demographics aren’t happy with those new terms and conditions, but they also don’t want to step away from the game.

                Let me put it this way, if we were to look at a chart of degrees earned, and employment, which degrees will be under-employed*, and which won’t?

                *Either unemployed, or not using the primary skills of the degree in a relevant manner, or not in a career that pays sufficiently to be worth the cost of the education.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                So you don’t have to:

                10. Mechanical Engineering
                Median starting salary: $65,619

                9. Mathematics & Computer Science
                Median starting salary: $66,499

                8. Materials Engineering
                Median starting salary: $67,385

                7. Systems Engineering
                Median starting salary: $68,018

                6. Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering
                Median starting salary: $68,142

                5. Electrical Engineering
                Median starting salary: $69,039

                4. Computer Engineering
                Median starting salary: $70,120

                3. Chemical Engineering
                Median starting salary: $72,126

                2. Nuclear Engineering
                Median starting salary: $73,267

                1. Petroleum Engineering
                Median starting salary: $97,689

                The main thing I noticed is that all of these strike me as likely to have weed-out courses.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh my gosh, they’ve got the flip side too

                10. Biblical Studies
                Median starting salary: $38,170

                9. Animal Science
                Median starting salary: $38,148

                8. Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies
                Median starting salary: $38,138

                7. Education
                Median starting salary: $38,083

                6. Gerontology
                Median starting salary: $37,700

                5. Theological and Ministerial Studies
                Median starting salary: $36,791

                4. Social Work
                Median starting salary: $36,483

                3. Culinary Arts
                Median starting salary: $36,200

                2. Work and Family Studies
                Median starting salary: $35,858

                1. Child Development and Psychology
                Median starting salary: $35,457

                I admit: I expected fewer majors with weed-out courses than I see above.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The main thing I noticed is they’re all engineering.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy
                Ignored
                says:

                po-tay-to, po-tah-toReport

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Thing is, I knew this kind of information before I ever went to college, and that was back in the late 90’s, before EVERYTHING was easy to find on the internet.

                There is a certain amount of buyer-beware that students and graduates have to accept. Perhaps our parents or our older siblings can claim ignorance, but if you started college after, say, 2000, you can’t say you didn’t know without also admitting that you didn’t even try to find out.Report

              • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Same here. I started college in 99. I was under no illusion that ANY degree would give you a leg up. I did know the CERTAIN degrees would help you make more money in your career.

                I chose a degree that I thought would help me earn money.

                If people want to earn degrees that they find enriching, but that may not help with employability, that is fine. However, they should not complain that they overpaid.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Reformed Republican
                Ignored
                says:

                To an extent, I can sympathize with young people who find themselves under a mountain of debt and unable to make enough money to crawl out from under it. @marchmaine isn’t wrong, as such. There has been an awful lot of messaging in the form of:

                1) Get a degree.
                2) ????
                3) Profit!

                or, “just get a degree and the rest will take care of itself”, because that is what worked for everyone before.

                And that was true, before the degree became the new diploma. And as much as the rest of the world has acknowledged this reality, much to their chagrin, the academy still sells that ideal that a degree is sufficient for entry to the middle class, rather than a pre-req to the white collar world.

                So I get that, and I sympathize. But students still have an obligation to know what they are buying. Just because dad loves his Corvette, and the salesman really wants to sell you a Corvette, that doesn’t mean a Corvette is the best choice for the first car you purchase as an adult.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Reformed Republican
          Ignored
          says:

          Listen, we’ve tried putting easy money out there so people could finance college, and college jacked up their prices. What do you think will happen if we just tell everyone it’s covered?

          If we offer ‘free’ education, the feds have to crank down on the schools in one way or another, and the options available that don’t somehow make it more difficult for poor kids to go to college are pretty thin on the ground.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, they do. That is, as I see it, kind of the point of the reform.

            The result will probably make it harder for poor kids to go to college, especially in the short run. But is it better for them to go to college, and then come out with a mountain of debt and a degree that’s of limited utility for paying it off?

            Or is it better for them not to go?

            And note that I cleverly elided the essential context here of asking, “Better for who?”Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy
              Ignored
              says:

              As I said elsewhere, I think a viable option is to demand that existing schools, if they want access to federal student aid, need to offer more affordable options and programs. I think it would be awesome if MIT had itself a high tech skilled trades program.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Either that, or cramdown legislation — “principal reduction”, a part of the HAMP / HARP that didn’t get a lot of attention. The Federal Government buys the loan and pays some amount to the note-holder, forty or fifty cents on the dollar, and the rest just goes away.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        I vaguely remember HAMP/HARP’s cramdown portions. What would the process be for the student to get this going?

        (Given that this is a problem for individuals, I worry about solutions that were available for corporate entities being turned into options for individuals being waaaaay too unwieldy for people who don’t have a department devoted to following the process.)Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I imagine that the most straightforward way would be that the student presents information on their income for the past so-many years, along with the loan details–the date that the student loan was made, the original amount borrowed, and the current payments. If the payments are more than so-and-so percent of income then the loan is recalculated as though it had been for an amount that would result in the payment being exactly so-and-so percent and the current principal is reduced accordingly.

          Note that this also includes some portion of forgiveness–it bases things on what the payments *should* be, not whether you’ve actually been *making* them. Presumably you could take the latter fact into account but if the problem is that people haven’t got the income to make the high payments then you aren’t going to fix that by penalizing them for not having made those payments.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, there’s a bit of a tightrope that I’d like to walk: I think that people ought to pay back the non-crazy part of their loan. It’s the crazy part that they shouldn’t be on the hook for.

            And this is where I get all embarrassed and admit that I don’t know a lot about the bankruptcy process. I know that it’s onerous enough that there are bankruptcy lawyers who advertise on the radio.

            So I don’t know whether that sounds better than bankruptcy because it strikes me that two people who get two identical degrees but one becomes someone who makes just-above-poverty wages and the other one who makes holy-crap-ressentiment wages could both argue that their payments *SHOULD* be the same.

            And I’m not sure they should?Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              I think declaring bankruptcy isn’t exactly “debt goes away”, it’s more like “you go to the judge, the judge asks how much money you have, and the judge divides that between all your creditors, and if the creditors don’t get fully repaid that’s too damn bad for them”.

              Which is pretty similar to what I’m proposing only without the credit-history hit of having declared bankruptcy.

              Bankruptcy is actually really expensive–utilities charge more and often charge a deposit too, car loans cost more if you can even get them, apartments cost more. The only reason you do it is if you have truly astronomical debts that you *won’t* ever pay off, which fits most of these super-size student loans, but it’s also not like your monthly expenses go to zero after you do it.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Siegel
    Ignored
    says:

    Kevin Williams laid out a conservative plan on this which is basically end the loan system as it exists and allow existing loans to be discharged through bankruptcy.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/04/eliminate-federal-student-loans/Report

  5. Avatar Doctor Jay
    Ignored
    says:

    I went to the University of Washington. The last year, my tuition was $220/quarter, and that was after it had just gone up. It was the late Seventies, that number is bigger if adjusted for inflation, but still a lot less than it would cost me now.

    Neither of my parents had gone to college. I studied STEM, and it’s been very good to me in return.

    I don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t do whatever I could to make sure people could do the same thing as I (with my parent’s help) did. I’m not sure I could have made it at all in today’s conditions. I love the Udub, and think my education there stands up against all the Ivy Leaguers I’ve met since – even though I’m happy to report I like pretty much all of them.

    As for the charge that “Democrats throw money at corrupt institutions”, I’d have to say that is a pretty empty charge. Pretty much all institutions that have human beings in them are corrupt institutions. The military-industrial complex, I’m sad to report, is a corrupt institution, but we use it anyway, because we think we have to. And we put money behind things we care about.

    As much as we need a better path through college, we need better paths through life for people who don’t go to college, too.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay
      Ignored
      says:

      So I went to the Inflation Calculator. You said “late Seventies” so I put in 1979. $220/quarter would be $880 for four quarters.

      What cost $880 in 1979 would cost $3072.23 in 2018.

      Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2018 and 1979,
      they would cost you $880 and $230.36 respectively.

      So *THEN* I said “let’s look at what the University of Washington looks like today”:

      Cost of Attendance
      In-state: $25,948
      Out-of-state: $49,986

      Tuition and Fees
      In-state: $10,753
      Out-of-state: $34,791

      Room and Board
      $11,691

      Books and Supplies
      $825

      Other Expenses
      $2,679

      Something else is going on.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        What happened was there were drastic cuts in state budgets to universities and lots of people make assumptions that Dems are just throwing money at “corrupt institutions.”Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          Generally, there were no cuts in state funding. California used to offer about $500 a year for tuition, and that pretty much covered a student’s cost. Then, with bank loans available, the costs started skyrocketing while the $500 state subsidy remained about the same. The state-subsidy, which used to cover the cost, now just disappears into the round-off error.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          There’s a difference of more than 20 grand, Saul. Were the state budgets giving the equivalent of 20 grand (2018 dollars) per student in the past?

          (The equivalent of 45 Grand (2018 dollars) per out of state student?)

          Show me a number of subsidy in that ballpark (using adjusted dollars) and I will be dissuaded from my suspicion that something else is going on.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            What cost $5728.75 in 1979 would cost $20000.05 in 2018.

            Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2018 and 1979,
            they would cost you $5728.75 and $1499.64 respectively.

            Don’t forget: The tuition number given for 1979 was: $880.

            I doubt that there were $5728.75 (in 1979 dollars!) given to Doctor Jay (in subsidy) and I’d like to see evidence that the subsidy he got (which I don’t deny he got) was even in that ballpark.

            Something else is going on.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          In fairness, the universities have also exploded their administrative wings and have exploded their regulations/services to give their admin wings something to do (often with the eager approval of politicians).Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to North
            Ignored
            says:

            ” and have exploded their regulations/services to give their admin wings something to do (often with the eager approval of politicians).”

            This isn’t *always* up to them and often is a result of regulatory demands from the state or the feds, not just approval. That hammer swings both ways.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Maribou
              Ignored
              says:

              Oh certainly, there’re many reasons for administrative bloat. But we can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist or that it isn’t sucking up enormous quantities of university funds just because we liberals like universities. We’re trying not to become conservatives after all.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          That argument makes zero sense. Cuts in state funding to public universities can account for the rise in the sticker price (ie tuition). But it can’t explain the rise in the underlying cost of operating a university.

          The rise in cost is mostly a function of the fact that bucket of goods and services that constitutes what a University degree was 40 years ago has undergone a drastic change and now consists of a lot more perks and a lot more administrative bloat.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to j r
            Ignored
            says:

            ‘The rise in cost is mostly a function of the fact that bucket of goods and services that constitutes what a University degree was 40 years ago has undergone a drastic change and now consists of a lot more perks and a lot more administrative bloat.”

            This.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to j r
            Ignored
            says:

            There’s a chicken and egg problem issue, as more money made (especially) the administrative bloat possible. Schools were able to charge more, and the money had to go somewhere. The administration is almost always in the best position to capture it.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Doctor Jay
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t think I said “Dems throw money at corrupt institutions”. I think I said “hey democrats, when money is thrown at corrupt institutions it creates rich corrupt institutions”. You’re making an implication that I believe Dems alone to be throwing money solely at corrupt institutions – a point which is completely unsupported if you look above and see me mocking and criticizing the R’s for throwing money at the military industrial complex and the corn syrup manufacturers of America and telling them they act like they take money Ex-Lax, LOL.

      I fully agree that all institutions with people in them have potential for corruption.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    Defense is a legitimate role of government. The government spends money on the military because there’s no lower level of organization that can do so. That doesn’t mean that every defense dollar is smartly spent, nor that every use of the military is wise, but that the category of military spending is appropriate for government.

    Education spending isn’t a necessary role of government. It may be legitimate, but that’s a case that has to be made. It’s certainly something that can be handled potentially by the individual, or the family, or the community, or local government, or state government before it becomes a federal issue.

    The argument that we should throw money at a non-essential program because we’ve thrown money at an essential one is unpersuasive.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s not education spending at this point, Pinky. It’s a rescue mission. Through years of malfeasance we’ve allowed and even encouraged at least one and probably the younger gen-Xers too, to become basically wage slaves in a deeply flawed system.

      I agree with you fully that education should properly not be funded by the government. But the government is funding massive amounts of things (such as payouts to corn syrup manufacturers, and such) that they have no business funding, and a fair amount of this is under the umbrella of Republicans.

      At no place in my piece will you find a “The Air Force should have a bake sale, more money for schools” argument. These kids’ lives are being ruined by broken promises and a failure to govern and this is entirely outside of education spending.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t think you made the Air Force bake sale argument, and I didn’t accuse you of it (at least I didn’t mean to). But you brought up defense spending for a reason. I think you made the argument that Republicans might as well spend money on debt forgiveness because they spend it on other things too.Report

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          That wasn’t my intent. My intent was calling out the many Republicans who would suddenly like to row about personal responsibility while they’ve stood by and let their representatives borrow massive amounts of money to fund whatever things they happen to like (which for many is defense spending) and now have the temerity to bfring up fiscal accountability and not taking out loans. That’s literally how the Republicans have governed for the last 50 years if not longer – borrowing from the future to buy stuff they want.

          It’s only when it’s the little people they’re outraged by it.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      In the modern age, if we want to have advanced weapons systems than can compete with those of our primary rivals and meet future threats, then we need people with the education to develop those. The military academies alone won’t meet that need and aren’t designed to. We also need people capable of international policy analysis to identify threats and find ways to counter them other than war. Again, things necessary for defense that require higher education.

      If you want to say that on that basis the government should only help to fund majors related to those areas, okay there’s a case there, but the idea that education is uncoupled from national security is naive.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Dwyer
    Ignored
    says:

    I would only endorse Warren’s plan if it meant seriously dismantling or reforming the current system. It encourages far too much bad behavior, along these lines:

    Now, shout out to the Democrats who probably think this is a pretty great essay right about now. You ain’t off the hook here. Democrats are at least as guilty if not guiltier than the Republicans are because you’re the ones who have been telling at least 3 generations of people that college is not only a nice thing to pursue for those who are so inclined, but a necessity for everyone who wants to succeed in this world. You are the ones telling people that those who don’t go to college are guaranteed to be significantly less successful than those who do, and you’re the ones who’ve created a world where that is actually kind of true. Worse, you’ve taken it even further and claimed (maybe not openly, but in many covert and backhanded ways) that people who don’t go to college are stupider than those who did, and that they’re also human scum to be disdained, and you do this because you’re in love with the idea that our nation is a meritocracy in which you, and probably your friends and family as well, are comfortably ensconced. You’ve been dangling out college over the heads of poor and minority people like it’s the keys to the kingdom, when all along deep down inside you never had any intention of sharing your power with them.

    I do think the Left has mostly created this problem, but obviously the Right hasn’t done anything to help fix things, so bad on them too.Report

    • Avatar Philip in reply to Mike Dwyer
      Ignored
      says:

      like so many things we currently wrestle with, this system comes from the convergence of three forces -an ever complicated world requiring ever more complicated education (even in the trades); the loss of the idea of education as a public good and not a private investment, and policy making across a lot of economic sectors that sees private profit as the end all and be all.

      Neoliberal democrats are certainly guilty here as are allegedly conservative republicans. nut moving the game entirely back into democrats hands won’t solve much, since as we keep being reminded we aren’t in power at the moment.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip
        Ignored
        says:

        The problem as I see it is when you make a degree so coveted, people want a really shiny one. So instead of going to their local community college or State U, they want to go away to Fancy Pants University.

        I was the second person in my family to get a college degree. Like…ever. And I got two of them! I thought I was pretty badass. Then they told me I wouldn’t make much without a Master’s degree and a PhD would be even better. So now I work for a big corporation that could care less where my degree came from as long as I have one.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Mike Dwyer
      Ignored
      says:

      Yep. They’ve gotta do more than just throwing more money at it here. That’s not gonna work.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I took out one loan, my last year of college, so I could go to school full-time and finish things up. They offered me waaaay more money than I needed. Luckily I was 27 and not 18, so I politely declined. With that said, getting the money involved about 5 minutes of paperwork which a university official helped me complete. It was a LOT harder to get my first car loan.

        It shouldn’t work that way.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay. I think I have enough of a clarified thought here:

    We have a problem where there are *TONS* of people out there who have purchased something (and are in debt for something) that wasn’t worth what they paid for it.

    Any solution to the problem that doesn’t address that the seller needs to stop selling the something that isn’t worth what people are paying will result in the problem resurfacing again.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      “Any solution to the problem that doesn’t address that the seller needs to stop selling the something that isn’t worth what people are paying will result in the problem resurfacing again.”

      Are you suggesting we get rid of Liberal Arts colleges?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Reformed Republican
        Ignored
        says:

        I got a degree in the Liberal Arts. When I graduated, I was paying around $4 Grand a year.

        I lived at home (in my momma’s basement!) and went to school and worked and paid my tuition, more or less, out of pocket. (I graduated with between $600-$800 dollars debt. This was paid off by the end of the summer.)

        It was worth what I paid for it. Hell, it was worth *MORE* than what I paid for it.

        It was not worth the price of a house, though. It was worth less than that.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          We routinely joke around at work about how we should have played the odds and lied about our degrees. In the 16 years since I graduated I have been asked for a transcript exactly once. I could have lied about the institution or my major and I am certain I could have parlayed that into a higher paying job. If I was discovered at some point I could have moved on to another company (or industry) and likely no one would have been the wiser. So while I think I would have gotten busted if I didn’t actually have a degree, i really don’t think the details are important for a lot of jobs.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Dwyer
            Ignored
            says:

            I didn’t go to university. Likewise, when I interview candidates, seldom does their education really seem to make a difference. I’ve encountered MIT grads who really weren’t that great, and people with undergrad degrees from bumfuck-midwester-college who turned out to be some of the best engineers I’ve worked with.

            Education as “signalling” is a scourge.Report

  9. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    Your very long post deserves a longer response then i can give it, but I’m home with my three youngest on Spring Break and its raining, so I’m doing triple duty entertaining and refereeing as well as commenting.

    Two big misses in your swing – first many state university systems in Democratically controlled states are trying to make systematic change by either reducing or eliminating tuition costs at state schools, so long as the recipients remain in the state for a certain number of years and work after graduation. My grown daughters are benefiting form this in New York state right now. So Democrats have actually enacted solutions, which while hard for some conservative to stomach needs to be part of the equation.

    Second – and perhaps bigger – is your own cop-out on voting. If you have been voting Republican to “avoid socialism from Democrats” the last decade or so, then you have a very warped sense of socialism. See, most state and National level democrats elected in that decade (heck even in the four years before Obama) were economically centerists if not slightly right of center. Neoliberal economics is NOT classically liberal, as it focuses too much on corporate good at the expense of pretty much all else. Its why so many of us on the left are fighting so hard to pull the Democratic Party back to the left. By becoming neoliberals they essentially abandoned labor, which made it easier for Republicans to use economic anger to cleave off the middle states and regain the White House and a unitary Congress for two years.

    I don’t know where you live, but if you have Democrats running for statewide or national office I suspect they are mode centerist or center left then not. Which means they ARE NOT Socialists, any more then FDR was a socialist. So to say you have no choice is to ignore actual voting records and such, and engage in the sort of tribalism that is not beneficial to anyone. If you don’t want to vote for Democrats – fine. But don’t pretend its over socialism, and don’t pretend your vote is not a part of the problem.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Philip H
      Ignored
      says:

      I live in Washington State. So, yeah.

      Me choosing to vote for whoever I would like to vote for, is not a cop out. This idea that people who choose not to vote D when they feel the D’s are not representing their interest are somehow villains or bad guys is toxic. You know what you do when people aren’t picking your product? Make a better product. I call on both the D’s and the R’s to do exactly that.

      Re reducing tuition costs, that is not enough. It is not enough to address one small element of this problem because in no small part the problem was created, or at least very much fertilized, by a steady stream of money to the schools. That does nothing to solve the problem of “the unicorn” where now tons of employers now demand 4 year degrees for jobs that don’t need them, let alone countless other problems that are contributing to this sh-show. Thanks for reading and commenting.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        You are free to vote for whomever you want. I don’t think you are free to claim you are voting for people who – in the same post – you claim aren’t representing you in that they are not solving a major problem you happen to care about. And you are especially not free to do it on the basis of an appeal to . . . nothing. Calling on R’s to make a better product and then not penalizing them in the voting booth when they don’t is the hypocrisy I was calling out.

        I used to live in Washington, and I gladly paid the taxes and voted D because it meant I got services I wanted.

        Of course tuition cost reduction or elimination itself isn’t enough. But its not nothing and it at least an attempt from the left to do something. Which you keep calling for. So, you can either dismiss that something because its not your preferred something, or you can cheer for it and so “ok, what’s next?” But claiming NOTHING has been done is not true. And It earns you no friends on the left among those of us who care about this issue. Its like saying – as the President does nearly daily – that Democrats don’t support border security because they didn’t fund the wall – when they not only approved his initial border security budget request but added billions for more stuff during the furlough.Report

  10. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    I get the railing on credentialism though i think it’s bit overblown. But going to college has actually been a great ladder up out of poverty and the seeds of a good middle class life for plenty of people. It wasn’t’ suggested by many for so long because it didn’t’ work. There is also a reason why people from other countries want to come to Uni here in the US. Our Uni’s do a lot of great work and great research. A lot of the black middle class got where they are due to college doors being broken down in the civil rights era and loans that made it possible for them to afford it.

    I agree about a lot of the problems people see in the way things are now with college. I’m sure many of those people wont’ be able to fix it because they don’t’ see how frickin great it has been for lots of people to go to college The steep rise in college costs is a problem which needs to be addressed along with any loan forgiveness. True that, no argument there. But opening up college access has been a good thing. One that was demanded and fought for by poor people and minorities. It wasn’t done to them, they asked for it.

    I’m sure this is an argument we’ll keep having, but there is no socialist kraken coming. Talk of socialism is mostly twitter based, if there any substance to it far more about Norway capitalism with a strong social safety net kind of socialism ( ie: isn’t socialism) or just conservatives calling everything they don’t like socialism.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      But the world changes. Because something worked in 2000 or 1990 or 1980 or 1970 does not mean it’s working now, or that it will work in 2030. Telling me how great something worked for previous generations means bupkis to me here and now.

      Something needs to change because it is not working for a lot of the people it’s supposed to be working for.

      I went onto Twitter because I’m concerned about the way the country is going. Twitter had precisely ZERO affect on my opinion. I still like pineapple on pizza and cargo shorts on men too. Concern about socialism in the Left is not new, it’s not a fringe position, and it doesn’t make me an wacko bird because I don’t want socialism. I get to not want socialism. I get to cast my vote on that basis. If you want me to want socialism, convince me. Convince me it’s a goldfish and not a kraken. But as it sits here and now, the Dems aren’t selling me on their version of “norway capitalism” (that is adorable BTW). And the way to sell me is NOT to tell me that I am wrong and bad and stupid for looking at this wall that has obviously been written on and reading the writing on it.

      #Cthulu2020Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        The world changes; agreed. My point is that college is likely to still be an important thing for the foreseeable future and while we do have real problems with the cost of it now it was pushed because it led to tangible positive results. We aren’t’ going back to some 1940’s time when college was just for the few and the rich. We need to keep the good parts of having easy access for poor and middle class people to higher education.

        I’m not saying someone who likes pineapple on pizza is one of histories greatest monsters. But i’m not saying that isn’t a possibility. The twitter left is far lefter then the Dem base. I’m 53 i’ve heard every D prez and idea called socialist since i was teen. Carter was a socialist….Jimmy Carter?1?!. I don’t’ want to derail the post based on this but calling socialism is to the right what calling nazi is to many on the left.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        It has scales, fins, little bug eyes, a distinct lack of tentacles which rend and tear….

        What we had in the ’90s or ’70s or whatever may not have worked that well, but it didn’t not-work the way socialism not-worked. And some of the actual breakage happened more recently; a lot of the explosion in higher education costs flowed from huge cuts (and thus increases in tuition) due to the 2008 crash and its baleful impact on state budgets.

        Then the Dems (it’s mostly if not entirely on us, I hate to say) tried to plug the hole with loans, which sucked.

        But returning to the pre-2008 status quo, or a variation on it, seems like a step in the right direction. Not perfect, but not as bad as what we have now.Report

  11. Avatar pillsy
    Ignored
    says:

    So I am a lot less bearish on this plan than maybe everybody else here.

    The thing that struck me about Warren’s plan, more than the loan forgiveness, was this:

    She wants to provide free undergraduate tuition at all two-year and four-year public institutions, as well as boost federal grants to help students with other college-related costs like books and room and board. Her proposal would invest an additional $100 billion over the next decade in Pell Grants, too.

    So I’m skeptical of the grant part.

    I am much less skeptical of the part where tuition is covered for public institutions.

    Because ballooning out-of-pocket costs of public college educations is a huge part of the problem here. And a lot of that is because we’ve gone from public subsidies going to the institutions themselves to subsidies going to the students in the forms of guaranteed loans that they can only use to fund their post-secondary educations.

    This is kind of a problem because all those institutions have incentives to jack up prices to capture as much of those loans as possible. Because the people getting the loans can’t really spend them on other things.

    If you have 50 grand and the college wants 50 grand and you think it’s too much, you can spend it on something else. So the college may lower its tuition.

    If you only can spend that money on college, well, what the hell else are you going to do with it?

    If the tuition is covered by the government, though, they have so much power to keep that tuition down. This doesn’t solve the problem on its own, obviously, but it makes the problem obvious, meaning it doesn’t get swept under the rug as a diffuse problem with student debt that nobody notices until suddenly they’re being crushed by that student debt.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to pillsy
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah just let me clarify I am not on board with the Warren plan (unless it comes with some other reforms)

      You’ve spelled out beautifully the economic drawbacks of it all, thanks. Fully agree.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I think the best way forward is to drop or attenuate the grant part, keep the loan forgiveness part, and keep the free-or-much-cheaper-for-the-student part.

        It will not solve all the identified problems by any means.

        It will simply get a couple steps closer to solving them[1].

        Rome wasn’t burned in a day, after all.

        The other thing I’m a bit worried about is financing via a wealth tax. In principle, wealth taxes have much to recommend them. In practice, I think they’ll cause many problems that won’t be justified by the revenue they raise.

        [1] You mention the “unicorn” problem, and one thing that exacerbates it is college grads having much less ability to change jobs or wait for better ones because of student loan debt.Report

  12. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I feel like I’m in a camp that’s being trampled and one group is saying “We’re being trampled by buffalo!” and the other group is saying “No! They’re bison!” and it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.

    So, I… sort of agree with you here…

    What I mean is, when you talk about “globalism”, I’m pretty sure that’s just the term on the right for what people on the left call “neoliberalism” and both of them are just imperfect terms for the system of globalized capital flows and liberalized markets that comes directly out of the post-Bretton Woods era, which really starts in the mid-70s, although Nixon actually nixed it in 1971.

    And so you’re saying that the current system has worked out much better for the Walton family than it has for average Americans, which I think is pretty reasonable.

    But, while “Democrats” in Washington may have a boner for the current system, there’s really absolutely no daylight between, say, Barack Obama and George W. Bush there, or between Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton for this issue. You’re talking about what’s considered “common sense” within the beltway at this point.

    And it’s pretty amazing because the fact that the era of the Bretton Woods system (for all its flaws) corresponds directly to the greatest increase in productivity, standards of living, wages, and widespread prosperity in American- and thus world- history, is considered some weird and unexplainable fluke by those in the know. While its repeal and replacement by the current “globalized” system is heralded as a golden age in which a rising tide will eventually lift all boats. Just give it time.

    If it doesn’t seem that way for average Americans- or for those in the “developing” countries for that matter!- well, maybe they’re ingrates. We gave them cheap consumer goods- what more do you want? What more does anybody want?

    But, yeah, it’s a little silly to make this a Democrat vs. Republican issue just because Donald Trump was smart enough to capitalize on the dissent that most politicians have hitherto ignored. The next Democrat to be elected President will be smart enough to capitalize on the same dissent most likely. But, in the end, the house always wins.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      Great comment. Stealing that bison thing.

      Thanks for reading!!Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      The pro-globalization crowd would argue that the thirty golden years between 1945 and 1976 was because World War II caused such massive destruction that the only way to go was up and because much of the rest of the world made cataclysmically stupid economic decisions like Communism or even the License Raj in India.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, I’m sure they would.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Those are factors, but larger than those are the fact that those “golden years” were funded by unsustainable deficits and monetary stimulus that was toxic in the long run (where do you think the stagflation came from?). Everything looked fine for a while, and then the long run showed up. At that point the good times were over.

        There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be unhappy with the status quo and we need to find a way to help those economic growth is leaving behind, but the solutions will not be found in the illusions of the post-war period.Report

  13. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    To solve the student loan problem, simply stop giving student loans. Prior to the start of this a person under age 21 could not get a loan because they weren’t considered mature enough to understand the financial implications of signing a contract like that. Well, they still aren’t.

    Colleges couldn’t have raised prices without driving away all the students because the students didn’t have a giant pot of money they could tap. As soon as they could, the colleges realized that they could charge enough to not only take a student’s current earnings and high-school savings, they could take most of the student’s future earnings, too. And they did.

    So a few weeks ago Trump said he was going to make colleges eat part of the cost of student defaults. Essentially, if they produce degrees that don’t lead to good employment opportunities, they have to refund part of the money (debt forgiveness) by having the lending institutions bill them.Report

  14. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Argh. My damn comment was eaten. We still seem to be driven crazy by the hippies and if you listen to conservatives, they think that every college is like Evergreen State when Evergreen State is the exception to the rule. But right-wing media outlets are great at taking a handful of stories but college activists being too passionate and amplifying them.

    There are also these deep cultural divides which involve a lot of hurt feelings and perceptions coming against cold-hard fact and I am not sure what to do about that. The world is much more technologically advanced than it was during the mid-20th century and this makes even trade jobs require more skill. Lee pointed out that the golden years might have been a perfect storm variety of factors: You had the absolute destruction of WWII (which North America was spared from), you had stupid decisions by other countries cutting off competition for the U.S., and you also had people who remembered the privations of the Great Depression and deciding they wanted differently for their kids.

    The counter-version to your argument is people on the left who decry that lots of colleges are gutting their arts and humanities departments and turning university into a glorified vocational tech. I don’t think this is exactly right either. Lots of students (and their parents) decided they wanted more practical degrees.

    Other aspects of the pride involved seem to be strong feelings of people think that being ruralish and working with physical labor makes one more “real” than the urban classes whether they are urban white-collar or urban working class.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      Other aspects of the pride involved seem to be strong feelings of people think that being ruralish and working with physical labor makes one more “real” than the urban classes whether they are urban white-collar or urban working class.

      Those people are exceptions to the rule.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes. Exceptions, but in the same sense that the people Kristin broad brushed as representative of all Dems had “…taken it even further and claimed (maybe not openly, but in many covert and backhanded ways) that people who don’t go to college are stupider than those who did, and that they’re also human scum to be disdained…”

        Which is to say, stereotypes so widely perceived as legitimate wells of grievance that both sides keep carrying that water.Report

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to bookdragon
          Ignored
          says:

          It was a broad brush kind of piece. I brushed with many broad strokes about all kinds of things and people in there and I don’t think that one is any more egregious than many of my other brushstrokes.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Kristin Devine
            Ignored
            says:

            I didn’t say it was egregious. That wasn’t the intent of my comment. Rather that there are stereotypes of what team red thinks of how team blue regards them and vice versa. And both feel have chips on their shoulders based on those stereotypes, which as Jaybird pointed out, are based on the opinions of very few real people in either camp.

            It’s part of why we can’t have conversations w/o someone immediately getting their back up. There are a whole lot of unspoken assumptions about what people on the other side *really* think of us that result in jumps straight to feeling insulted even when no insult was intended or even (from the writer’s pov) even implied.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      I know this is an ongoing bone of contention for you, Saul, but as a person uniquely qualified to experience both worlds, I have experienced by far more of the “u blue collar people are dumb” prejudice than I’ve ever witnessed any “we’re the only real Americans” type thinking. I truly believe that’s far far far rarer than you believe it to be.

      I’ve said this on here in the past, but maybe not to you – my experience going from being extremely liberal to conservative-ish was not in any way informed or underwritten by right wing media. The right wing media exists because there’s an appetite for anything that isn’t mainstream. It’s not making people believe things, we already DO believe things based on stuff we’ve experienced in our lives.

      I don’t think liberals do our country any favors by assuming conservatism is some sort of Fox News induced insanity. There are actual beliefs here, a philosophy, even if you don’t understand that philosophy, even if it doesn’t make any sense to you.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I come from a mostly blue collar family and went the other direction you did, from more conservative to more liberal. In my experience, the liberals aren’t Real Americans’ was far far far more common than ‘blue collar people are dumb’ (which I have honestly never heard from any liberal I know in RL).

        Which isn’t to say that your perception is wrong. Only that you have only your experience and it is not necessarily any more representative than mine or Saul’s is.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to bookdragon
          Ignored
          says:

          I always find this conversation a bit puzzling because, while I don’t know tons of blue color folk, I know considerably more than zero, and a lot of them are pretty damn liberal.

          Likewise there are plenty of people with degrees who make six figures and wear suits to work who are really conservative.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy
            Ignored
            says:

            As we saw with the other thread, “conservative” doesn’t really correspond with any sort of policy proposals. It does however correspond very highly with ethnic and cultural resentment.

            There is a reason why folks in the IDW/ Quillette/ Breitbart crowd coin these bizarre terms like “cultural Marxists” and “Cognitive Elites” instead of just plain old “elites”, because the divide between liberal and conservative has almost no correlation with income or wealth.

            They demand a term that can distinguish a struggling Millennial waitress who reads Huffpost as an “elite”, as opposed to a struggling Millennial waiter who reads Gateway Pundit as a “blue collar worker”.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              … the divide between liberal and conservative has almost no correlation with income or wealth.

              True, but also it’s not just income we’re talking about. There are people with professional class jobs who make lousy money, and people in the trades, in particular, can do very well for themselves.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to pillsy
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think this contradicts my point or Chip’s point. It kind of prove sit. The term “elite” is not really about money or power anymore after many decades of successful right-wing propaganda. It is about cultural/hobby affinities and how one chooses to live. This is so baked into American discourse that questioning or pushing back on the assumptions leads to a “how dare you” response.

                Elite now just means anyone who lives in an urban area or an inner-ring suburb with Prestige TV tastes and a tendency to vote blue. Their job, pay, education, etc. does not matter. The aesthetic tastes might not matter either. But the Brooklyn public school teacher chooses to live in Brooklyn instead of eastern Washington or Oregon or Oklahoma and this makes her elite because how dare she. The paving contractor with the McMansion and the boat can never be elite though even if he has all the local politicians on speed dial and the local politicians say “how high?” when he says jump.

                But the cultural and ethnic resentment is very real even among smart people who should know better. Even people who try and fight it seem to slip into cliches about Democrats being elites because the pull is strong.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy
                Ignored
                says:

                @pillsy
                Perspective/philosophy, maybe they are based on different frameworks of truth.

                For the social well being folks, Social Objectivity based on constructs of social truth are the primary.

                For the religious folks, maybe Religious Objectivity based upon constructs of religious truth are the primary.

                For the empirical folks, maybe Empirical Objectivity based on the constructs of empirical truth are the primary.

                For the individual, maybe Individual Objectivity based on the constructs of individual truth are the primary.

                Objectivism I think, originally only allowed for the empirical truth, but almost no one thinks in that frame work 100% of the time. We construct our own truths, under different frameworks(maybe the ones that make us feel the most comfortable), but the objectivity of these different frameworks hide the resulting differences in objectivity from empirical objectivity.

                I think that that is how we are ending up in a postmodernism construct.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        Damn you should hear my former brother-in-law talk about “libtards.” You should see all his friends talk about “libtards,” and their friends, and friends of their friends, in this whole strange little community dance of hating smug latte-drinking metrosexual cucks.

        #####

        The funny thing is, though, he’s not actually blue collar. In fact, I’ve done more blue collar work than he has. Instead, he’s a middle-class techbro type who (in a sense) pretends at blue collar culture. He loves guns. He drives a truck that serves no practical role in his lifestyle.

        He is, I think, the modern incarnation of the sort of middle-aged douchnozzle who listened to Rush Limbaugh in the 80’s. Sort of. He’s a contemporary phenomenon, but not at all uncommon. These guys read Brietbart or whatever. They get upset when SciFi movies feature women.

        They aren’t blue collar. To them, the “real ‘murican” signifiers act like a fetish.

        Actual blue collar people — are usually perfectly nice to me, aside from the occasional asshole.

        Of course, these are Boston blue collar people. I have no idea what would happen elsewhere. It probably varies.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I can imagine how furious people must be when intellectuals airily dismiss entire groups of people’s intelligence, as if IQ were distributed along some sort of bell shaped curve.Report

  15. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    I think the criticisms of education miss the larger point of why everyone is so desperate to get one int he first place.

    On one hand it is trivially true that a degree commands a higher wage than all but the most skilled trades in most circumstances.
    On the other hand, its also trivially true that degrees are demanded for jobs that don’t really require them.

    So why do businesses demand them? It isn’t hectoring by liberals. It isn’t some structural function where a receptionist really really needs to have a BA to answer phones or operate the copier.

    I think it just demonstrates the overall softness of the job market, where employment is like a vast watering hole that is slowly drying up and young people are growing every more desperate to jostle for their place at the waters’ muddy edge.

    I’m not seeing a flush job market anywhere. There are occasional scare stories of “labor shortages” but those are oddities which disappear quickly.

    The idea that a young person can graduate college, find a job which pays well enough to buy a house and support a family was once commonplace, but is more and more a myth that is out of reach.

    But what keeps this from being a gloomy dystopia is that while wages are shrinking, the wealth produced isn’t. Most consumer products really are getting cheaper.

    But what we have is a bizarrely jagged landscape- Some wages (like manufacturing) have collapsed, while others (like health care) have held steady. Some prices (like electronics) have collapsed while other (like rent) have gone up.

    So increasingly the world looks like a confusing terrain with unpredictable pitfalls and snares. You might be a well compensated tech worker, but suddenly your field is eclipsed by some new software, or outsourced, or disrupted somehow, leaving you competing with a machine or 3rd World worker.

    So you fall, while the person next to you in a slightly different field continues on living the 1st World dream.

    I think it is this precariousness, the wild unpredictability of disruption that is generating so much anxiety and desperation to find a life preserver of a credential or signifier that drives the mad rush for a degree.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      I am not sure I fully agree with your points completely but I think it does go to something else. Humans like narratives and want things to make sense and for their to be causation with simple ways to say “X or Y is to blame for the current predicament.” But that just isn’t true for a lot of things and has been pointed out the current socio-economic-educational-jobs mess has a lot of different factors, many of which might be beyond the control of anyone like the damage from WWII finally stopping.

      People (myself included) are not very good at accepting “random chaos” as a reason for causation though even when it is.Report

  16. Avatar Maribou
    Ignored
    says:

    As rants go, I deeply enjoyed this one. Grounded and fierce. Thank you.

    Also, wanted to mention that readers interested in the topic who are relatively new to the site (or just want to revist) might enjoy some of the posts in our 2013 Symposium on Higher Education in the 21st Century: https://ordinary-times.com/?s=league+symposium+higher+education should bring up most of them. I thought “eh, that’s six years old already,” but was pleasantly surprised editorially (and depressed politically) by how relevant most of ’em still are…Report

  17. Avatar Kristin Devine
    Ignored
    says:

    Cool! Thanks! I’ll check that out for sure.Report

  18. Avatar JoeSal
    Ignored
    says:

    Ha, Good on ya Kristin.Report

  19. Avatar pillsy
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t think this contradicts my point or Chip’s point. It kind of prove sit. The term “elite” is not really about money or power anymore after many decades of successful right-wing propaganda. It is about cultural/hobby affinities and how one chooses to live.

    It does not. I really dislike the sort of alleged class analysis that pervades our politics that boils class down to these sort of superficial signifiers. It’s good for nothing but stoking culture war, and often does the alleged “Real Americans” or solid blue-collar folk a disservice by portraying them as Noble Savages, with an intuitive, authentic, gut-level understanding of what America is. And as with all Noble Savage mythology, any concern for what the people in question actually believe, or want, or do in their real lives is discarded for being inconvenient to the myth.Report

  20. Avatar bookdragon
    Ignored
    says:

    So this seemed like it might be relevant to the conversation:

    Why Canadian Universities Don’t Have College Admissions Scandals

    It talks about how Canada’s system is set up and the fact that their tuition rates have not risen nearly as much as ours even at their top rated (by international ranking) universities. Since they are right next to us and have a similar population and standard of living, maybe it would make sense to take a look at how they approach the issue.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to bookdragon
      Ignored
      says:

      Bad link?Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to bookdragon
          Ignored
          says:

          From a quick read, I really think this cannot be easily replicated in the US, precisely as it rests on fundamental differences in how the US and Canada structure our economies and social support networks. At a high level view, Canada has a somewhat lower GINI index than the US. But I think it’s more than that. The US these days is such a “winner take all” culture. Moreover, in many ways, we in the US are simply cruel, to a degree I think is very different from (most) other western nations. It’s hard to measure something like that, but people feel it, and thus they fight tooth and nail for even the slightest edge.

          It’s monstrous, actually.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *