Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Loan Arranger Rides Again

In the film "The Paper Chase," Professor Kingsfield's blanket assessment of college students was that they enter the halls of learning with "a skullfull of mush." And because skullfulls of mush translate so directly into Democratic votes, Barack Obama just made his umpteenth campaign appearance on a college campus.

Unsurprisingly, the president told the students that mean Mr. Romney and vicious Mr. Ryan want to slash the amount of money being given away to college students. Booooo!!!!

But Obama understands the plight of the mushy skull crowd. After all, he and Michelle ran up "a mountain of debt" from loans to go to law school - and there would have been even more debt if "Barry Soetoro" hadn't received all of those "foreign student" grants as an undergraduate.

Granted, the records which would prove whether or not Barry declared himself to be a "foreign student" have been sealed under presidential order, but Harry Reid assures us that such secrecy is a sure sign of guilt - and who are we to question a bitter, partisan, and possibly senile old lemon-sucker of a Senate Majority Leader?

But returning to Obama's speech, he promised to help every working class kid in the nation achieve the new American dream: running up an unpayable amount of debt to the government in return for an utterly useless college degree.

Just how bad is it out there in the Obamaconemy? So bad that 50% of recent college graduates are either unemployed, or severely underemployed. And right about now, those kids may be asking themselves why they racked up so much debt for so little return.

And just maybe, Barack Obama isn't the one they should be turning to for answers. After all, the first family only paid off that "mountain of lawschool debt" eight years ago...and after borrowing all that money, neither Barack nor Michelle currently has a law license.
Turns out that they'd only need them if they were interested in upholding the law.

And there's plenty more where that came from!


Coon Tasty said...

Frankly, if I had a child who was considering attending university, my advice would be that they instead become an electrician or an aircraft maintenance engineer. Hell, even a plumber is guaranteed more work than the average liberal arts graduate. (And is actually a more useful member of society.)
My youngest brother gained a B.Sc. last year...he is now working as a labourer on a building site.

Velcro said...

High, lofty sounding words that carry no real meaning have long been the domain of the mushheads. Lorem ipsum absurdia ad nauseum. Let big bro dish out the dough; we'll take care of you! [Until the cash runs out]

Then, you're on your own, sucka!!!

Angry Hoosier dad said...

I just keep telling myself: (76) more days and we can tell the smartest man in America to take an aerial intercourse in a motivated, perforated pastry. It's what keeps me going, no matter the outrage du jour. Funny, though...Turdboy's campaign strategy always seems to be directed toward the basest instincts of the least educated and/or most immature among us. Yeah...funny.

SeaDog said...

After seeing the tuition for a semester at a private college near my home ($43K/sem - not including books, dorm, etc), I would have to say that if I was a student contemplating a higher education, I would go to a local community college to get my basic course requirements at a h*** of a lot less per semester then transfer. It would also allow one to see what the employment market would be - nothing worse than spending 4 years and finding technology eliminated your career goal. A liberal arts degree only ensures two things, an additional 2 years to get a marketable skill, or a career path of "paper or plastic?/super-size that?". I do have an extreme objection to taxpayers funding tuition loans for students - why should I have to pay for some one else's child to go to college? At least restrict the loans to students pursuing marketable degrees. Also, coincidentally, when the gov't took over the loan bidness, the schools raised their tuition.

As suggested above, there is nothing wrong with following a 'blue collar' career path, in fact Lockheed-Martin was advertising for many jobs on the radio last week - in this economy, actually advertising job openings? Granted, all were skilled craft, but still. From personal experience, I hired on with my company as a lineman after I got back from Vietnam and out of the Corps. Granted, I could have gone back and finished my degree, but I found that I literally would have had to start over, and I had sorta gotten used to some type of roof over my head and at least two meals a day, even if sometimes they were canned. In 30 years I had been promoted upwards to an area manager level - my only block for going higher was that I did not have the HR requirement of a degree. If you have the work ethic, nothing is impossible.

SeaDog said...

One other observation, shut down the law schools - we have enough lawyers to last until the next century. We have all seen the ridiculous warnings on products/advertisements - my current favorite is a carmaker's that shows a computer generated image of a car sliding sideways into a driveway, with the warning at the bottom "simulated vehicle motion, do not attempt". You see that, you can be assured of two things, 1) some idiot tried it, and 2) some lawyer sued the carmaker for it. Case in point, a person is suing the Dallas Cowboys because she 'received extreme burns requiring skin grafts' from sitting on a marble bench at their practice facility. If one is not familiar with Dallas in August, temperatures hover around the 105 - 110 degree range, and one does not touch anything non-organic that has been out in the sun. Lawyer sued, because the Dallas Cowboys have deep pockets, and are likely to settle out of court to avoid the expense of defending in court (alas - they don't know Jerry Jones!). Actually, thanks to Texas' tort reform, this will probably be thrown out as a 'frivolous' suit. Any any bets that the 'surgery' also included a butt reduction?

My Dog Brewski said...

@ SeaDog:
You reminded me of the scene in Devil's Advocate where Pacino tells Reeves that there are more people in law schools than there are lawyers practicing on the planet. Don't know if that's true, but it sounds about right. If any profession has the ability to perpetuate itself while screwing society, it's the legal profession. Second only to whores and far less respectable.

Irene Peduto said...

Ahhhh, @Sea Dog - he spoke of my concern for toooo many lawyers. When I was a guidance counselor in an urban school district, I often advised a community school for the first two years to minimize the cost - another counselor advised the same but did so because she was saddened that the illegal aliens had to pay for school - she must be happy now for the hordes who will continue to drain the system - that happens before more banks collapse from bearing the college & mortgage loans - such is Barry's America.

Colby said...

Perhaps going through life fat, drunk and stupid isn't such a bad plan. At least you don't rack up a quarter million in debt!

Thank God our president doesn't pander to college students, black people, illegal aliens and homosexuals!

SeaDog said...

If one noticed, the majority of the malpractice ads you see on TV are firms based out of Houston, because they would file the suit in Ft. Bend County, known for it's ridiculous jury awards until tort reform limited them. A friend who is a legal secretary also said those ads that say 'first consultation free' are to be avoided at all costs, they are 'settlers', they contact the defendant's lawyer, tell them they'll settle out of court for 50%, they take 33% for two phone calls, and you lose all future legal remedy.

OT - Drudge was reporting that the Democrats gave many dollars to Akins's primary election campaign, and probably (as they have done before) sent their people into the Republican primary to vote for Akins, to pollute the primary and ensure that a candidate that could easily be defeated wins the primary. Would it be surprising that possibly a deal was struck that said candidate would say/do something stupid to allow the election of the Democratic candidate? Claire McCaskill could have been defeated by a fire plug until Akins opened his mouth. Paranoid - with these clowns - Nah, not much.

SeaDog said...

@Colby - Ahhh - The Animal House Plan!

John the Econ said...

Romney and Ryan should slash the amount of money given away to college students. And that should just be the beginning.

Like with almost all of their economic and social agendas, the Democrats only answer to any problem is to keep doing the same thing, over and over and over. They keep throwing money at higher education, and it only keeps getting more and more expensive.

This can only mean two things: The Democrats are insane, or they are enjoying the ride. (And I suspect it's both)

American universities have been riding the gravy train long enough. There is an "education bubble" that is no different from the "housing" bubble that burst during the last Bush term. As long as the government keeps subsidizing the universities through grants and students through loans, the system has absolutely zero reason to change. They can keep raising tuition because they know a bamboozled marketplace will be able to get loans to cover it. And why should they change? It's a really sweet ride for them.

None of this will change until either the subsidies stop, or people en-masse figure out that they can't afford this. We now have people in the 50s and 60s still paying off student loans. If people do the math, they might discover that they'd be better off living debt-free making 30% less than they think they would with an advanced degree.

Want an example of modern academia at its most absurd? Look at Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren: She exploits affirmative action by pretending to be 1/32 "Native American" to bubble to the top of the food chain at Harvard. There, she makes $380,000 per-year to teach 1 class! (That is, when she shows up to even do that, which she hasn't since running for the senate) When she does show up, she rallies on about how awful it is for the students that have to go 6-figures in debt just so they have a chance to personally witness her wisdom!

Of course, the Democrats are quite happy with this state of affairs, mainly since the bulk of these overpaid slackers are apostles for the leftist message. It must be wonderful work a few hours a day, get paid 6-figures, and never have to be held accountable for your productivity. I'd take that job in a minute.

At the present, the Democrats desperately needs the "skullsfull of mush" vote. I fully expect Obama to announce some form of student loan giveaway and amnesty program any day now. Democrats have no problem buying votes with money that belongs to other people, and "skulls full of mush" along with the dumb-and-indebted have no problem voting to get that money.

@Coon Tasty: Good advice; professions that actually do something and can't easily be shipped overseas. A much better option than racking up 6-figures of student loan debt to become a useless "community organizer" or "occupy camper".

Emmentaler Limburger said...

@Coon Tasty: I have a nephew who is an aircraft maintenance engineer. The company he's working for is going bankrupt. 911, the TSA, and the Øbamaconomy are destroying the airline industry. I have a brother and several brothers-in-law who are in skilled trades. Their shops are empty. They are heavily dependent on manufacturing. The Øbamaconomy and the upward spiraling business taxes in the US have notably driven most manufacturing concerns to greener foreign pastures, and those still here aren't real keen on investing in developing new product for the short term. And I have a niece who has been out of college for two years with a teaching certificate who just now landed a job. Of course, that's government work, but, with the union structure for teachers tossed upon the Øbamaconomy, it still took a long time compared to when I got out of school. In any case and to my point, in this economy, it's not just the college graduates who can't find work...

@SeaDog: Precisely the strategy my two college-aged kids are pursuing. But even that is not cheap: two classes = $1000. I think that's 6 or 7 credit hours. When I started school in 1980 at University of Michigan university, tuition was about $450 a semester for about 22 credit hours. by the time I graduated in 1988 (took the long way around...) it was over a grand for half the load - close to a 700% increase in 8 years.

@Seadog: I think Atkins's slip was a genuine non sequitor - or, at the very least a transient non compos mentis event. The dems like him because he is (supposedly) ultra-conservative, so they expected to simply be able to defeat him by exploiting his "draconian conservative nature". But, if you wan to see true ballot interference, look to the special election in Michigan to replace McCotter, where the first entry on the ballot under Republican is someone who ran as a democrat in the last go 'round... The democrats raised a big stink about the Republicans requiring a special election - all the costs involved, etc. (like they care about spending money?) One name on the democrat side - makes them look good as a party and true to the "ideal" they screeched about; however, their discipline clearly does not extend to their minions as King simply switched to rino to get on the ballot... As a constituent of that district, I am appalled that I am without representation for any period of time. Particular since Michigan's senators don't represent me or my views in the least.

@John the Econ: You just saved me from having to type my "education bubble" rant. Amen, and spot on, my friend!

graylady said...

My plumber makes $105 everytime he spends 25 mins cleaning out my home's main drain. That's more that $200 an hour. I, with 4 years of college, make a little more that $10 an hour. Damn, I shoulda gone into plumbing.

Anonymous said...

My father told me, "if you want to go to college, you'll find a way." I guess I wasn't that interested or motivated. Instead, I worked in construction and eventually became a general contractor. Not everyone needs a college degree! Not everyone is intellectually suited to attending college. Of course, if a graduate goes to work for the government, their student loans will be "forgiven" - read that to mean the taxpayers will foot the bill!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Coon Tasty- These days, it seems like a huge mistake for kids to train for any job which can be performed primarily at a computer screen (and that's a LOT of jobs) - because those jobs will be given to people in India who will do a great job for a lot less pay. I think the best advice is to encourage kids to find jobs which require their physical presence - which means a big emphasis on learning a trade. Our "information economy" has made possible the outsourcing of almost all other jobs.

@Velcro- The Left loves soaring rhetoric... but it tends to be sorely lacking in actual meaning. But on college campuses, the innocent little mush-minds can't tell the difference. I don't blame them for their youth, I blame the predator who wants to take advantage of their naivete. It's like statutory rape of young voters.

@Angry Hoosier Dad- I'm counting down the days, too. And you're right that Obama's campaign has boiled down to 1) dividing America into small demographic groups, 2) promising each of those groups free money and other goodies, and 3) hating the Evil Rich and swearing to throw their money from the castle walls to the rabble below.

@SeaDog- There are way too many examples of kids graduating with $100,000 of debt and a degree in some lamebrain field like "Lesbian Poetry Analysis" who unshockingly can't find a job. And you're right that when government makes the loans, the costs go up.

A side rant: home schooling has been tremendously effective and, because there is competition, the costs to individuals for first quality books and other curriculae are minimal. At the high school level, you can buy interactive DVDs which will handhold you through learning everything you need to know for a GRE at a cost of under $100. I've got to believe that there could be great online and/or interactive technologies which could be used to teach all of the basic college subjects at very little cost - and I think there should be a college level GRE available for those who are willing to put in the sweat equity of studying. Even the government could see the cost-effectiveness of this if education was their goal. But it isn't: their goal is creating voters who owe the government tens of thousands in student loans.

Okay, back to the actual topic. I think it's time our culture rethought the "white collar" "blue collar" paradigm, and realizes that the proper labels for those groups are now "unemployed" and "employed."

And regarding lawyers, I couldn't agree more that we need to thin the herd drastically. A personal example of the lawyer-caused idiocy you're talking about: the companies that make plastic gasoline containers were being sued because when people pour gas into open fires, all hell breaks loose. Which apparently comes as a surprise to the nitwits holding the gas can. So NOW there's a new generation of gas cans which WON'T POUR unless you hold a clip with one hand, hold the handle with the other, and insert the spout into a rigid gas cap on your mower in such a way as to depress a "release" pin - after which gas gushes into your lawnmower's tank and the only way to tell the tank is full is when gas runs out the top and all over your mower. It's a pain in the butt, and probably a lot more dangerous (with the spilled gas) than the previous design. But the lawyers are happy.

@My Dog Brewski- Makes me think of the old joke about the small town that had only one lawyer, and there was so little to do that the poor man was starving. But then a second lawyer came to town, after which there was more than enough work for both of them...

@Irene Peduto- Community Colleges are fine things, and we need to eliminate any negativity about attending them. And you're right that there's a big "college loan bubble" that's about to burst - although so many OTHER things may burst at the same time that it won't be noticed.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Colby- Funny, concise, and on target.

@SeaDog- Any lawyer who advertises himself as "The Hammer," "The Chainsaw," or "The Junkyard Dog" should just be sent to jail on general principles.

@John the Econ- Excellent, as always. And you make a very good point that the time for "slashing" is upon us, whether it's college funding, entitlement programs, or anything else we're currently borrowing Chinese money to fund. I think there are a lot of Dems who are just too stupid to realize that we can't fund everything that "feels nice" without the resources to do so. And then there's Barack Obama, who I believe (and the film America 2016 makes this case quite eloquently) is deliberately trying to run up our debts and deficit to the point where America collapses. Why? Because he believes that the world would be a better place without American influence.

@Emmentaler- Great point. My recommendation that kids (and everyone else) concentrate on trades that require a physical presence still holds, BUT if our economy continues to stagnate and decline, there will be no employment in any field.

Regarding Akins, he said a stupid thing - but he didn't say an evil thing. He clarified that in the event of a pregnancy resulting from rape, he still wouldn't support abortion because he considers the fetus an innocent victim of the original crime. Plenty of people could disagree with that (me among them), but the man is honestly stating what he believes in - which is a quality I wish more politicians had.

@graylady- When our toilets stop working, suddently a plumber's high hourly fees seem like a bargain! There's a lesson to be learned there - if you want to earn a living, you'd better be fulfilling a need.

@Anonymous- These days, I feel like the choices are "do you want to get a college degree or do you want to learn how to do something?"

And thanks for reminding me of your final point: "forgiving" student loans if those graduates go into government work. You're absolutely right- this is another way of trying to grow government (and in fact, absorbing everyone into the government body), and the college loans are just the bait in the trap.

SeaDog said...

@Stilton - I've experienced the type of gas can you're talking about - for additional fun, try filling a gas line trimmer tank - gas everywhere; the next most fun was the 'explosion proof' cans I had with my generator - needs three hands.

Re: the online courses - many of the community colleges do offer degrees using nothing but online course instruction (Lone Star College in Houston being one). Costs are the same per credit, but you don't have all the associated fees, you pretty much set your own schedule/pace (not good if you are not a self motivator), and they have a good (as in usable) degree offerings. Three of my four clerks had degrees in education, and were certified to teach - they dropped out because of the mass of paper work, the lack of ability and/or support to maintain discipline, and the c*** they had to take from the administrators and parents. I remember one of my friends going to work for the NY public schools saying they had to use overhead projectors so they didn't have their backs to the class and had to search the students at the door (this was elementary school in the late 60's). I can't imagine them allowing a student search now days without having a law suit about civil rights violations.

Mike Porter said...

I had failed to understand the so-called 'importance' of a college education. I dropped out of high school after my junior year (and for all of the typical reasons of a shortsighted ass-hat teenager) and got my GED the following summer. After a number of jobs in the restaurant business, I eventually found myself gainfully employed in the data processing realm of corporate America - apparently it was at a time when one only needed the aptitude and an entry level opportunity to succeed. As the years progressed, however, the hard-nosed executives who made it all happen eventually moved on or retired, only to be replaced by college educated chimps who proceeded to cheerfully transform a reasonably challenging work environment into a bureaucratic crap hole (a variant of corporate romper room). It soon became apparent that an affinity for the facts no longer mattered as much as an ability to kiss ass and nod agreeably to bald faced lies. With this, I moved on to another company that was still run by reasonable people, only to eventually experience the same 'fundamental transformation' as before.

It now occurs to me that perhaps four years of binge drinking and hard drug abuse coupled with liberal progressive indoctrination would have better prepared me for what was to come.

SeaDog said...

@Stilton - re: 'The Hammer', 'Chainsaw', etc., refer to my comments about settler's, that is what these firms are - the cases they show are ones the 'defendants' did not want to settle. So the 'Hammer' gets you $300K for a settlement, you get ~$150K of that, only to find out your medical costs for that injury will run into the $900+K range, and you have no legal recourse.

CenTexTim said...

FWIW, I'm a college professor employed by a large state university system in Texas. Here's my $.02 worth on some of the issues raised in this discussion.

Should everyone go to college? Not only no, but Hell NO! Many graduates from the public school system are not adequately prepared for college. They end up taking a year or two of remedial courses, which just adds to the overall cost of their degree. If they do eventually graduate from college, many students end up with degrees that don't qualify them for anything but government work (Gender Studies is a perfect example). On the other hand, there is a growing need for individuals with vocational training and skills.

Education bubble? You bet. It's big and getting bigger. And who's going to get stuck paying off all those student loans when the kids can't find jobs? Those of us who are paying taxes.

Community Colleges? A mixed bag. In my experience some do a very good job of providing the basics to their students. Others are just an extension of high school; 13th and 14th grade. I've had kids from community colleges in my upper level classes who can't write a complete sentence, much less structure a coherent paragraph.

And don't even get me started on the dismal state of our public K-12 'education' system.

The universities themselves aren't without blame. They have a vested interest in keeping the model as is, rather than adapt, evolve, and improve. (Side note: at our university we have roughly a 1:1 ratio of administrators to faculty. That's a major reason why costs are escalating.)

Hope for the future? Maybe. Online education is becoming a force to be reckoned with. We offer some classes online now, and are exploring ways to offer an online MBA. Another option, at least here in Texas, is the $10,000 college degree program.

There's so much more to this subject than I can express in a short comment. It's a complex problem that does not lend itself to simplistic solutions like expanding the student loan program. But that's all we're going to get from obama and his cronies.

One final thought: like all good liberals, obama is claiming that college education is a right that everyone is entitled to. He's correct that no one should be denied the opportunity to get a degree, but so very wrong in his position that other people should pay for it.

justajeepguy said...

Over 40 years ago I worked at a hamburger joint and one of the managers there was a guy who held a Master's degree in history or English or something. He was qualified to teach but he said he could make more money managing the burger place.

Colby said...

Mrs. Colby and I have a counselor friend who has a BA and a couple of MA's; drives a Mercedes. But she seems to lock herself out of her car about once a week, and keeps the recipe for boiled water hanging on the kitchen wall. Mrs. Colby has a great way with words, and refers to this person as being "educated beyond her intelligence." So true, so true! I can think of many of our leaders and celebrities that fall into this catagory.

Am I wrong when I say a sweeping statement that ALL plumbers are more qualified to be president than BO? Plumbers know how shit works! ... literally AND figuratively!

SeaDog said...

I am on a committee that awards scholarships (granted, small, but would help pay for the books), and one requirement is a 250 word essay about themselves,their goals, ambitions, in other words let us get to know you. Up front is mentioned that this constitutes 70% of the score of the application. I would estimate that about 60% of the essays received from students (3.50 GPA min) exceed the word limit, some have such poor grammar that I wonder if the student was doing it as a joke, and a few that (and I will quote one - "Everybody else gets stuff, so you should give it to me!") are totally unbelievable. The purpose of the word limit is not because we don't want to read, but an exercise of thought organization and expression. Luckily, there are those that shine above the rest, but it still leads me to the belief that we are producing educated idiots.

Along those same lines, 1) High Schools should be required to teach a course in Life 101, such things as cooking/eating a basic balanced menu, balancing a checkbook, and basic investment knowledge; and 2) I think that it should be a requirement to receive a HS diploma to pass the same citizenship test you have to take to become a US citizen, maybe the 'humorous man on the street' interviews about American History would cease.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@SeaDog- Online and other self-directed studies aren't going to help the unmotivated. But then, neither does giving unmotivated students large loans so they can skip college classes while learning to binge drink and have casual sex. I'd like to make the opportunity and means available to anyone who is willing to put in the sweat equity, because without all the handholding the cost would be trivial.

And regarding those students in the NY schools... yikes!

@Mike Porter- I naively got my 4-year degree thinking it would plant my feet firmly on an escalator to success. HA! Since the day I graduated, I have earned every cent doing things that I wasn't taught in college (creative writing, in case anyone thinks I'm a gigolo or something), and I've never had an employer/client ask if I went to college. Let alone what my grades were.

@SeaDog- I have a very low opinion of these firms. And I could say more, but won't.

@CenTexTim- Thanks for the great insider's view of what's going on. I think the various points you bring up show the real need for a rethinking of the whole flawed system - and by "rethinking" I don't mean raping small business owners in order to sent young nitwits to college who have no business being there.

@JustaJeepGuy- And just look what happened: 40 years later, half of America doesn't speak English but everyone still buys hamburgers.

@Colby- Education and intelligence are a long way from being the same thing. And no matter HOW many books someone reads about plumbing, the toilet won't unplug itself. And yes, I'd definitely rather have a plumber in the Whitehouse than Obama. I'm not actually aware of ANYthing he's capable of doing other than golfing and eating ice cream.

@SeaDog- As a writer myself, it pains me to see the way today's students can't write. Because writing isn't actually about the words on the page - writing is proof of analytical thought. And making things even worse, today's youth spells in "license plate speak" (which would be LICNZ PL8 SPK, I suppose), putting together pointless 140 character messages using phonetic spelling with interchangeable numbers and letters. This isn't just laziness - it's a habit that is turning young human beings into lifelong morons.

By the way, if teens can't take "Life 101," then I recommend that they get a copy of the book The Teenager's Guide to the Real World. It looks like it may be out of print based on the link above, but it's worth tracking down.

SeaDog said...

@Stilton re: Teenager's Guide - yeah, they could, but they would be more apt to read it if it was an app on their I-Phone, and yes, I fear for the English language with the total takeover of thought by texting and Twitter. Luckily, I had an intervening period before I struck out on my own, and I was taught to adapt, invent and overcome, not to sit there and play 'Poor Pitiful Me' on my tiny violin (or perhaps there is an app for that?).

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Stilt, Everyone still buys hamburgers, just not at that burger disappeared long ago.

John the Econ said...

@CenTexTim, the explosion in the number of "(insert aggrieved group here) studies" programs over the last 40 years is proof of the existence of the bubble; colleges needed to create programs for the vast numbers of people who aren't interested or capable of programs designed for competition in the real world. Since financing could be secured, then why not?

A sure sign of a useless person is someone with the word "studies" on their diploma.

I recall the first graduation ceremony I attended at my state university; 80% of the graduates came from the (insert aggrieved group here) studies department; pretty much all destined for government service or "community organizing".

At my university, the hierarchy was solidly packed with people who made 6-figure salaries (which was a boatload of money at the time) and yet it was never clear what most of these people actually did. From my observation, all I could tell was that they occasionally sat in offices, wrote pointless double-spaced memos to each other that few actually read, attended meetings and junkets, and organized rallies for more funding.

Each week I would collect a what was literally a ream of memos from the inbox of a student organization I was involved with. Most of these memos were from these underemployed people; single-sided-double-spaced nonsense that nobody ever read; usually verbose yet brainless politically correct nonsense like "it's wrong to discriminate against people". Duh. Meanwhile, at the beginning of most semesters, professors would apologize as we'd have to hand-copy the semester syllabus off a chalk board because their department didn't have enough money to make copies. Clearly, they did not have access to the vast array of freely running copiers in the administration wing.

At one point, a provost (to this day I still can't figure out what a "provost" actually does) took a position as an interim president of a neighboring university while keeping his position at mine. This caused a bit of a stir, but this individual assured all that his responsibilities at this other troubled institution would not interfere with his duties at ours.

Now, I do not have a problem with people making large sums of money (even in the "public" sector) if they are doing large sums of important work at a free-market-set level. If this guy was working 40+ hours a week doing important and complex things, then perhaps he did deserve his 6-figure salary. But since this individual had so much free time that he was able to accept the position as president of another institution, (a "troubled" one at that) then that suggests to me that we were not getting our money's worth out of this individual and he should have been fired, and perhaps even his position eliminated. Neither happened.

It is episodes like this that solidified my impressions about academia being a scam. The only way to solve this problem is to de-fund it.

Our President has confused the real world with his insular academic experience. That is why he and people like Elizabeth Warren are truly resentful of honestly successful people; because the honestly successful actually did earn what they have whereas the President and Ms Warren know that they did not.

Coon Tasty said...

@Emmentaler - Maybe aircraft maintenance work has dropped off where your nephew is working but that's certainly not the case in the antipodes, specifically in helicopter maintenance. - Major passenger airlines can get their work done cheaper in Asia but helicopters *have* to be maintained locally.

SeaDog said...

@Coon Tasty - Reminds me of an instance - Northwest Airlines had a maintenance facility that performed annual refits/refurbs on their airliners - they did such a good job, both in cost and turn-around time that other airlines began contracting with them to do their maintenance. The Union Local decided that they wanted a 100% pay raise (from ~$ to ~$48/hr). Northwest said it couldn't afford that and still be competitive for the contracts or their own work. Union went on strike, Northwest sent the work overseas, the gist of the story was that these poor mechanics now were working at half or less of their previous wages at Walmart or the like. Lockheed-Martin in Fort Worth had a radio ad the other day looking for all sorts of aircraft assembly crafts - I know they have the F-35 contract, I don't know if they are doing UAV's, but it surprised me that they had to advertise for workers

Emmentaler Limburger said...

@John the Econ: ...pretty much all destined for government service or "community organizing". or a lifetime of government benefits without having to lift a finger (I know: pretty much the same thing as "government service and community organizing, but without a government pay-grade. I'm referring to unemployment, welfare, etc...)

@Colby: Heh. My USAF job was 2A5X2, helicopter maintenance - if my pitiful lungs hadn't forced me out and into that despicable university system... In any case, my nephew is working at a major metropolitan airport for the commuter arm of a major US air corporation. Being the local commuter arm, it is highly unlikely that off-shoring of maintenance is eating his job. Like whirlybirds, they are typically wrenched locally. Nope. This is the case of a market in collapse...

Per community colleges, my son and daughter attend two very different schools - one, a large, county-funded CC; the other a city/regionally-funded CC. The difference is like night and day, with the county-funded CC having instructors who are often absent, and are voting "present" when they show up, if you get my drift. The CC funded more locally is, apparently, more beholden to those around them, and are not simply providing slots for instructors who cannot make it outside of their little cocoon...

CenTexTim said...

@ John the Econ - "to this day I still can't figure out what a "provost" actually does"

As near as I can tell a provost's primary function is to impede research and teaching through the imposition of nonsensical bureaucratic requirements.

John the Econ said...

@CenTexTim: Well then, we were certainly better off with our provost distracted elsewhere. I only wish they'd eliminated his position and used the money to buy some more copier paper.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@SeaDog- Actually, that book should definitely be made into an app that kids would see. And I don't think there's a "Poor Pitiful Me" app yet - you still need to crank up Warren Zevon's original version to enjoy the benefits (and I'm doing exactly that right now).

@JustaJeepGuy- That burger place went out of business?! Damn Bain Capital!

@John the Econ- Interesting and damning insight into university culture. And as far as what provosts do, I know one of them named Jon starred in Lassie a few decades ago.

@Coon Tasty- When you find a good helicopter repair shop in your neighborhood, it's always wise to stick with them.

@SeaDog- The wonderful thing about Unions is that they can make sure that everyone loses their job at the same time.

@Emmentaler- Regarding community colleges, it's a shame that there can be glaring differences in quality. I'd like to see that change. And when you think about it, if college education is a national goal, then shouldn't the emphasis be on making it affordable instead of simply making sure more students get loans of too much money?

@CenTexTim- I just looked up the definition of "provost" and from what I can tell they provide the same function that sand provides in a gearbox.

@John the Econ- You may not have gotten the copy paper, but you certainly got "reamed." (Ba-da-BOOM!)

Colby said...


I don't know where one would find reliable statistics on this, but I'd wager that unions have killed more jobs, driven more companies overseas, and destroyed more businesses than ANY politician, ever. I have personally seen a guy who makes 75 bucks an hour to run a gear hobbing machine, and he basically started the machine up in the morning, then spent the day sitting in a RECLINER that he brought from home. This was several years ago, and that place is now gone.

My favorite union story (since I grew up in the West) is what happened at Coors Brewing in 1977. Nearly 1,500 union "workers" went on strike, and Coors basically told them to piss off and hired non-union replacements. About 700 of the ex-union workers came to their senses and got re-hired. A year later, the workers gave the union the boot.

Another one is what Reagan did to the air controllers union. "Screw you, I know of some people that will WORK for a living!"

Pete (Detroit) said...

Colby, I'll go you one better. Apparently the Detroit water dept has a farrier on staff. That's right, a person to shoe and care for the hooves of horses. I have NO idea how long it's been since the water dept had HORSES (I'm betting at least 50 years) but by golly they've still got a farrier!

John the Econ said...

Not necessarily, @Stilton:

As long as have access to taxpayers, some union jobs will just never go away!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Colby- The examples you cite are why so many jobs have gotten outsourced. Too often, unions price the services of their members so high (or make their productivity requirements so low) that businesses can't stay in business.

@Pete(Detroit) & John the Econ- In fairness to the city fathers who still keep a union horseshoer on staff, I'm sure there's so much horsesh*t around that they figure there's got to be a horse in there somewhere.

John the Econ said...

@Stilton: ROFL!

Thanks for the laugh. Teaches me for trying to have the last word with you.

PRY said...

Seadog sed....

"The wonderful thing about Unions is that they can make sure that everyone loses their job at the same time."


SeaDog said...

@Colby - A number of years ago, the union representing the workers in my company made excessive demands on wages, health care, and job security - company didn't give in and they went on a 3 week strike that ended when the union conceeded the Job/Healthcare and agreed to a $.04/hour raise. The job stewerd that we knew had been threatening the workers that crossed the line came back to work yelling "We Won" - I said "You won? You lost 3 weeks of wages for a $.04/hour increase. You will never make up what you lost over the life of the contract. You caved on the healthcare, and you agreed to allow contract labor to perform 'traditional' jobs. The company banked over $1B over the 3 weeks in what it didn't have to pay in wages and benefits. You won?"