Government Spending

The College Scam

Higher education isn't worth the cost.


What do Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban have in common?

They're all college dropouts.

What do Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, and Peter Jennings have in common?

They never went to college at all.

But today all kids are told: To succeed, you must go to college.

Hillary Clinton tells students: "Graduates from four-year colleges earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates, an estimated $1 million more."

We hear that from people who run colleges. And it's true. But it leaves out some important facts

That's why I say: For many people, college is a scam.

I spoke with Richard Vedder, author of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, and Naomi Schafer Riley, who just published Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Paid For.

Vedder explained why that million-dollar comparison is ridiculous:

"People that go to college are different kind of people … (more) disciplined … smarter. They did better in high school."

They would have made more money even if they never went to college.

Riley says some college students don't get what they pay for because their professors have little incentive to teach.

"You think you're paying for them to be in the classroom with you, but every hour a professor spends in the classroom, he gets paid less. The incentives are all for more research."

The research is often on obscure topics for journals nobody reads.

Also, lots of people not suited for higher education get pushed into it. This doesn't do them good. They feel like failures when they don't graduate. Vedder said two out of five students entering four-year programs don't have a bachelor's degree after year six.

"Why do colleges accept (these students) in the first place?"

Because money comes with the student—usually government-guaranteed loans.

"There are 80,000 bartenders in the United States with bachelor's degrees," Vedder said. He says that 17 percent of baggage porters and bellhops have a college degree, 15 percent of taxi and limo drivers. It's hard to pay off student loans with jobs like those. These days, many students graduate with big debts.

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who got rich helping to build good things like PayPal and Facebook, is so eager to wake people up to alternatives to college that he's paying students $100,000 each if they drop out of college and do something else, like start a business.

"We're asking nothing in return other than meetings so we make sure (they) work hard, and not be in school for two years," said Jim O'Neill, who runs the foundation.

For some reason, this upsets the left. A writer called Thiel's grant a "nasty idea" that leads students into "halting their intellectual development … maintaining a narrow-minded focus on getting rich."

But Darren Zhu, a grant winner who quit Yale for the $100,000, told me, "Building a start-up and learning the sort of hardships that are associated with building a company is a much better education path."

I agree. Much better. Zhu plans to start a biotech company.

What puzzles me is why the market doesn't punish colleges that don't serve their customers well. The opposite has happened: Tuitions have risen four times faster than inflation.

"There's a lot of bad information out there," Vedder replied. "We don't know … if (students) learned anything" during their college years.

"Do kids learn anything at Harvard? People at Harvard tell us they do. … They were bright when they entered Harvard, but do … seniors know more than freshman? The literacy rate among college graduates is lower today than it was 15 or 20 year ago. It is kind of hard for people to respond in market fashion when you don't have full information."

Despite the scam, the Obama administration plans to increase the number of students getting Pell grants by 50 percent. And even a darling of conservatives, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, says college is a must: "Graduating from high school is just the first step."

We need to wake people up.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at



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  1. The world needs ditch diggers, too. And Cornell University has a very nice four-year ditch digging program.

    1. see that’s the thing, it actually does

      owner of a landscaping company, like the kind that might dig you a ditch, can make like $100,000-$130,000 a year. And you need some real-life skills to do that, you need to know about horticulture, small engine maintenance, speak spanish, etc.

      what the world doens’t need is someone who doesn’t want to do an ounce of physical labor in his life and so lobbies the state or federal government to make more onerous regulations just so he can be hired to fill out paperwork

      Shakespeare said it best, first, let’s kill all the lawyers

      1. As owner of lanscaping company, you are not a ditch-digger, you are an employer of ditch-diggers. Analysis fail.

        1. Ya but you can never say “, first, let’s kill all the lawyers” enough.


        2. you think he never does some of the actual work himself? You think they just stand there and let the hispanics do it all? You can’t just stand there and direct everyone, you’ll never get anything done

          the point is real actual work needs to be done in the world, and you need actual skills to do them, not a “communications” or “English” or “Sociology” degree

          1. I think you insulted the lawyer.

          2. The occasional stint of shovel-work doesn’t make the owner a ditch-digger, any more than making the occasional copy makes a CEO a secretary.

            You can’t just stand there and direct everyone, you’ll never get anything done

            Everything will get done without you doing it personally if you know what you’re doing as an owner/manager.

            1. not for construction-type services. You very much need to spend at least a good chunk of your time on-site directing. And it helps to do one job or another yourself with the laborers to make sure they’re wroking fast and correctly

              my family’s landscaper does the work all the time, to the point that it may have contributed to him needing a hip replacement.

              1. I had a neighbor who was a construction site supervisor. He could just about anything – roofing, plumbing, drywall, etc etc because he had to fill in for anyone who called in sick.

                He was a great help when I was fixing up my old house.

            2. The occasional stint of shovel-work doesn’t make the owner a ditch-digger…

              I think the point is that even though he is not a ditch-digger, he knows how to do it and understands the necessity of *someone* doing it and can judge how well they are doing it.

            3. Spoken like someone who’s never owned a company or managed anyone. Push paper much?

            4. I think the point here is that going to college wouldn’t help you be that guy. You’d be better off working in landscaping for four years, saving your money, and playing with Quicken until you know how to use it.

              1. perfect plan, except you could also learn peachtree or the other one instead

                also you need to eventually raise the money for equipment

                1. That’s what the “saving your money” part is for.

      2. Everybody hates lawyers until they need one.

        1. If only there wasn’t a need to have a lawyer for every little damn thing you need to deal with in life.

        2. I need one right now. I still hate them and the system they’ve created that makes it necessary. Without all this nonsense, I could just take the weregild or say screw it and go for blood.

        3. yeah, the lawyers collude with the judges (who are also former lawyers) and lobbyists to make sure of that

    2. From my forty floor balcony in Chicago, I watch the little people go to work. I do not know if they are ditch diggers or lawyers. What I do know is that crime pays.

  2. Ditch Digging: a feminist perspective

    1. That’s not funny!

      1. “Ditch Bitch – One Woman’s Journey to Digging Herself”

        1. Digging The Ditch: The Joys of Lesbian Mutual Masturbation
          with forward by Amber Heard

          1. It’s a low down dirty shame, that’s what it is…

  3. Those anecdotes completely destroy the data

  4. Half the people I knew in college didn’t belong there. The BA’s they were chasing weren’t going to help them get good jobs. These people would have been better off saving the money on college and learning a trade.

    1. These people would have been better off saving the money on college and learning a trade.

      Assuming that college is all about vocational training, that is.

      1. It’d be pretty dumb to go for an enriching learning experience at a cost of $60-100k when a library card is free.

        1. Well, free except for the taxes to pay for the library, and books, and staff and…

          ROADDZZ! Sorry…

        2. But I keeeed!

          And, you’re right – the *card* and use of the material generally are free to the user.

          My mom and sister are librarians, and I spent an awful lot of time in our public library as a yute. So I have a soft spot for public libraries, and pretty gladly send off my tax (and voluntary contribs) gladly to pay for them.

          1. Hell, you don’t even need a library. You could spend a lifetime downloading and reading books for free from the Guttenberg project.

            1. Can you also get Steve’s Police Academy movies?

              1. Screw Police Academy, what about Cocoon?

                1. Screw Cocoon, Can’t Stop The Music is Steve’s finest film. Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine, Bruce Jenner, & the Village People, all in one movie. One fabulous, homoerotic movie.

        3. as a librarian i FUCKING HATE IT when people say it’s free. It’s not free. It’s low cost spread out amongst your fellow citizens by forced taxation. NOT FREE! It’s just already paid for.

          1. I agree, just forgot my SLD.

          2. It’s marginally free.

          3. NOT FREE! It’s just already paid for.

            We need a word for that.

            1. I propose “TAANSTAFL’d”.

      2. If someone comes out of school with 20 or 30 thousand in debt that they have no realistic chance of paying back, then yes it’s a really bad deal.

        1. The people who talk about the intrinsic value of a college education generally mean “people who go to college for useless majors tend to vote D!”

      3. The value of the non-vocational ed parts of college varies across the population, but I think its safe to say that it isnt worth it for most people.

        1. After people complete their 40 hours of gen-ed, they are supposed to be able to write a complete sentence, balance a check book, and understand why the sun comes up in the east every day. Most recent college grads would fail at least one of those three tasks.

          1. I may have screwed up one of those commas (does Joe’s law still apply).

            1. No, you didn’t.

            2. The Oxford comma has been ruled unnecessary, but not incorrect.

              The only time it is suggested is where it would serve to make the members of a series more discrete:

              juice, toast, bacon and eggs, and cereal.

              1. Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?

                1. College graduates?

          2. Back in the day, that would have been the expectation for high school graduates, if not high school sophomores.

            1. Beat me to it.

            2. I’ve got kids in high school, and there’s no question that the standards of education at that level have plummeted. Not sure why, though I suppose all of the attempts to standardize education and to make sure kids don’t feel like failures when they fail has something to do with it.

              1. When you standardize, you bring up in some areas and bring down in others; these standards meet somewhere in the middle. Where some don’t care to achieve, those with potential are wasting it. US public education should change its motto to “It may not be good, but that’s our standard”.

          3. Which reminded me of RA Heinlein’s
            A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

          4. No one needs to balance an actualy check book anymore. Just saying…

            1. I’d love to see your finances…

          5. Most recent college grads, let alone most people under 35, don’t write checks. But yes, the addition and subtraction of numbers to two decimal points should be something a college grad, high school grad, and 3rd grader should know. If there’s anything more to balancing a checkbook, I don’t know what it is. So I may very well fall under your fail criteria.

            1. Being able to understand and handle transactions that are in the register but that have not cleared/aren’t on the statement would be helpful.

              Quicken, for example, makes the process much faster but it still helps to understand the concept when the numbers don’t balance.

            2. Right, I only mail checks to pay my bills. I use the debit card for every in-person transaction. And I save every slip, enter the transaction into Quicken, and reconcile all the transactions every month when I get my statement — otherwise known as balancing the checkbook.

              Or do you youngsters just charge everything to credit these days and not worry about how it gets paid off.?

          6. Why does the sun come up in the east every day? To get to the other side.

            1. The earth rotates w to e to make it appear the sun is rising. Maybe you folks need to revisit 6th grade.

        2. My recollection (hazy) of the non-vocational ed parts of college involve parties and chasing women. None of which was covered by tuition. Since my tuition didn’t cover this, I see no reason to credit the manifold benefits of these activities to my tuition.

          1. Married with two kids. I did not have time for non-vocational studies such as these.

          2. And another journalism major enters the workforce.

          3. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Unless they fall into the “average Comic-con attendee” demographic, people in their late teens and early 20s don’t need to go thousands of dollars in debt to get drunk and get laid.

    2. It would be nice if a bright and enterprising kid without the classroom mentality or the desire to learn abstract and often useless information in a university setting could qualify for a loan approaching the same kind of money that he could be guaranteed if he decided to go the college route. Sadly, getting a business loan at 18 is hard, especially considering you likely have limited capital to put in there yourself to show the bank that you’re invested as well.

    3. The headline says “Higher education isn’t worth the cost.”
      That is a stupid blanket statement….sometimes it is well worth the cost.

      1. Hell yes sometimes it is worth it. Everything in life I wanted to do required a college degree– be a teacher, be a lawyer, be an FBI agent (without becoming a cop first). Speaking as someone who just graduated from college and just got their first “real job,” (as in one that comes with a salary…) college is over-priced. Especially if you go to private school like I did. However, I cannot deny that it has innumerable unquantifiable benefits (though I’m sure some accountants could make it quantifiable), including but not limited to: networking, a safe environment for self discovery, making friends for life, exploring different fields, developing critical analysis skills, and gaining a ton of skills that I could use for any job. Not every kid is going to get that out of college however, college is what you put it into it, one hundred percent. For me, college put me on a path to getting a career that I am passionate about. I am 100% certain I wouldn’t have been on that trajectory had I not gone to college because I would not have had the safe place to take risks in dabbling in and learning about different fields without having to worry about if it gave me a paycheck or not. That’s not a luxury that every college student gets, but its certainly not a luxury that most kids who graduate from high school and actually move out of their parents’ house at 18 do not get.

        1. The STEM fields are always worth going to college for.

    4. “These people would have been better off saving the money on college and learning a trade.”

      That’s being generous. In my experience, the people who learn a trade tend to be smarter than most people who go to college. The average college student is someone who despises learning or hard work and believes that getting a degree will somehow save them from that.

  5. There needs to be more emphasis on sending kids to trade schools in the US, I think. There seems to be a certain level of shame (especially among middle to upper middle class white families) that if a kid goes to a trade school instead of a four-year college, he’ll be worse off. Most plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc., make way more than the kids that get liberal arts degrees. Maybe I’m just a greedy libertarian whore, but I’d rather build things with my hands and make some serious coin than do some menial administrative job with my degree in the classics.

    1. As someone who works in manufacturing, ^^this^^.

      The level of mechanical aptitude – not to mention math skills – required to design, operate and maintain current production equipment isn’t getting easier.

      It’d be a nice subsidy to my bidness to not have to train EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE (with the exception of skilled trades journeymen hired off the street) on pretty basic shtuff.

      PS Of course, as a liberal arts grad who happens to be Teh Evul Mgr, I’m the exception to your example. I make WAY more than everyone except the ops mgr. Suck it, skilled trades 🙂 Of course, I learned my mechanical skills the old-fashioned way – fixing shit when I was a kid cause we didn’t HAVE any money.

    2. Which is larger? Percent of plumbers who become millionaires or percent of lawyers who become millionaires?

      Im pretty sure its the former.

      1. I’ve never met a poor plumber.

        1. In large part because they have no pretensions to live up to. They can wear jeans to work and drive a beat up pickup truck and live in an affordable neighborhood and no one notices they are swimming in cash in their bedroom.

          Lawyers have a nice car in a nice house, wearing nice suits while never paying off the student loans.

          1. My two posts above are pretty much the them of The Millionaire Next Door, which, while a decade out of date, is probably still pretty accurate. A copy should be given to every high school junior.

            1. I spent July 4th at my father in law’s union plumber picnic. If I would have worn a John Kasich t-shirt, I wouldn’t be alive today.

              1. Then fuck plumbers!

            2. If there would be one fundamental change to the cirriculum of high school I could make, I would require a class in finance be taught to all high school juniors or seniors by a retired, self-made millionaire from a modest income-earning background.

          2. Hadn’t thought about the pretense aspect. I think you’re right.

            That’s one thing my wife and I never gave a fuck about – probably saved us a ton of money over the years.

            1. Its not just everyday life. It applies in politics too.

              Which president all but paid off the debt? Andrew Jackson. Sure he may have been a genocidal fuck, but he understood how to balance a budget.

              1. Old Hickory also get rid of the Bank of the United States.

                He considered it unconstitutional – which it was.

                1. Yep. I would vote for Andrew “End the Fed” Jackson today if he promised to lay off the genocide.

            2. I’m still trying to break my wife of this. We live in a small home but have everything we need (2 cars, 3 computers, cable, etc) and our kids are well taken care of. We had our hard times when we were a bit younger but now we’re both gainfully employed and getting by comfortably. Of course she still believes the fact we live in a small house means we’re poor. I blame the Kardashians.

              1. My wife thinks the fact that we still rent an apartment means we are poor. The idea that we HAVE to own a house with a yard to be good parents is mind-boggling to me.

              2. Of course she still believes the fact we live in a small house means we’re poor. I blame the Kardashians.

                My cousin’s going through the same damn thing with his wife. She is for the most part very sweet, but she’s also a spoiled rotten princess with access to daddy’s wallet.

                Case in point–they are currently renting a townhouse and trying to pay off a large amount of credit card debt while saving up to buy a house. Of course, she wants the “Barbie Dream House” McMansion, and now they’re talking about buying a cabin up in the mountains as well. My cousin has a good job, but he ain’t wealthy by any standard, and all she’s good for is spending his money because she hasn’t worked in years.

                They’re having marraige issues after being wedded for two years (what a surprise), and it would be pretty ironic if they divorced soon and he saved himself a lifetime of debt peonage just to keep her happy.

                1. “American woman, stay away from me”

          3. That reminds me of the time some custom tailor guy called my office trying to sell me shirts and suits. I told him that, while I am a lawyer, I’m probably not his target customer base. He didn’t believe me so I asked him how much a typical shirts cost. When he responded $160 I told him that I’ve never paid more than $200 for a suit. He mumbled something and then hung up the phone.

        2. As I recall, the founder of “10 10 220” was a plumber. He sold the rights off to one of the Bells and then promptly built himself a huge house with the best plumbing fixtures money can buy (think Saudi style).

          Bankruptcy soon followed.

      2. I wouldn’t overestimate the number of lawyers who become millionaires. The vast majority don’t work for white-shoe firms. And another vast majority have the money-management skills of a gerbil.

        1. Granted, I hang with a less than savory crowd, but every lawyer that I have ever met has had an enormous cocaine habit.

          1. When you’re working 80 hour weeks, it helps.

            1. I worked at a place a long time ago that had illegal poker machines. The lawyers would come in at lunch, and blow a couple hundred dollars on those damn things. And the table by the restroom looked like white christmas…every day.

        2. I cant find the numbers for plumbers, but lawyers actual do okay.

          24.33% of lawyers make >200k. However, only 8.85% of lawyers are millionaires (assets > $1M).

          So they get a high percent but it most high income lawyers cant pull it off.

          On the other end, 2.53% of farmers have a high income, but 4.76% are millionaires.

          The best at the millionaire/high income ratio are mining engineers. 1.49% have the high income, 4.51% are millionaires.

          Doctors are actually worse than lawyers at turning a high income into assets.

          1. Me fail english, thats unpossible.

        3. lawyers make, on average, like $40k per year. The market is flooded with shitty ones driving the prices down.

          1. Lawyers make on average about $80k. Maybe the median is $40k, but the average is much higher (that 25% making over 200k pulls things way up).

            1. Around 80K sounds about right. There is a big standard deviation though. Lots of extremes–you have partners in fancy firms making millions, while public defenders might start out at 40-50K.

              1. The serious money is in the few, very few PI lawyers who do extremely well. Your generic partner at Cravath might have a summer place in the Hamptons, but his salary is still a rounding error compared to, e.g. the late John O’Quinn.

                There are quite a few lawyers not doing well financially. It will get worse as discovery gets more and more automated/offshored.

              2. Those fucking public defenders! If they weren’t so greedy and would work for minimum wage, or better yet, not bother, we could pay our prosecutors and expert witnesses more!

                1. Actually a GA supreme court justice suggested that a few years ago. Court appointed attorneys in a murder case were not getting paid because the public defender system was broke. This judge actually suggested that the attorneys work for free and worry about getting paid later. Didn’t suggest such a thing for the prosecutors, of course.

                  1. Fuck. Even my sarcasm can’t keep up with how fucked up the system really is.

          2. If you take out doctors in training (residents, interns, fellows, etc.), you would have to look very hard to find a doctor making less than 50,000 a year

      3. I meant people who stop their book learnin’ after undergrad. Professional school is a different story.

    3. I was hired on with a jet-leasing company in an aviation-maintenance gig at 22. Some of the other, senior mechanics were pulling in close to 100k. Vocational jobs are way undervalued by young twenty-somethings.

      1. As I have told my kids, a vocational job will wrok, but you need to have a plan. Crawling around on your knees is not bad at 22, but at 52 it is misery. You ned to have a plan so that later in life you are telling other people how to do the dirty work.

        1. Coincidentally, I worked with my father at the same company who constantly harped on me to get a “real education” so I could get a “real job”. Then again, at 62 and having to pull 110 lb Ni-Cad batteries off of racks, I can see where he’s coming from.

    4. I think that to most families, an administrative job is considered by its nature not menial. Or am I behind the times on that? Also, the great prevalence of the college degreed in such jobs — i.e. their co-workers — would tend to keep the status of such jobs in the not-menial category; after all, look at all the educated people working with them!

    5. I fell for that “college is necessary to succeed” crap when I was 18 and impressionable. I dutifully went to a state school, took out the loans, and got a degree in English. This was in the mid 1980’s; I have yet to use that degree to make a living. After graduation and kicking around for a few years I decided to do what I actually enjoyed — working with my hands. I went to a trade school and got certified to work on aircraft, and now earn more than many of those I graduated with, and enjoy my work to boot — no degree required. Makes a nice wall decoration though.

  6. Well shit if Bill Gates didn’t go to college and still made billions I guess everyone can.

    1. Yeah, go to college, incur $150K in debt and graduate with a degree in some social science and see how that works out.

      1. 150k? What college did you go to? I have all you suckers subsidizing me so I only owe 20k!

        1. Hell, when I went to college in the late 70’s it was a lot cheaper. I’m going by horror stories I’ve heard. I guess it depends on the level of subsidy you get and State v. Private school, etc.

        2. I graduated in ’88 and paid my own way. 150K sounds astronomical but at an expensive college in an expensive city a 100K debt is quite “doable.” And unlike most other ill-advised debt you probably can’t bankrupt on it.

          I remember that WSJ article about a girl who is 100K in debt for a degree in “religious and women’s studies.” It brought to mind the saying “it may be that your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.”

          1. “And unlike most other ill-advised debt you probably can’t bankrupt on it.”
            True that. I worked in student loan collections for a while, and gov’t backed loans will haunt you forever. With interest.

            1. Yeah Congress (after lots of lobbying and bribes, er, ah, contributions from the student loan industry) specifically exempted student loans. My understanding is that one can still bankrupt if paying them would present a “substantial hardship” and it is up to the particular judge to determine that. I think most set that bar pretty high.

              1. The most they will do for student loans is forbearance. The only way to actually discharge student loans is to die penniless.

          2. What lawyers and doctors used to do was get ridiculous credit card limits, pay off the student loans with credit cards and default on the cards. I dunno if that’s still possible or not.

        3. A friend of mine financed her BA with her credit cards. Her cards were all on that 0% interest rate. When the interest went up, she would just find another company that offered 0%.

          When that game eventually (and predictably) was no longer available…she simply defaulted on her cards. Not before she went on a shopping spree and charged 2 vacations…one to Mexico & one to Hawaii for her whole family.

          She is filing for bankruptcy….something she would never have been able to do had she taken out student loans.

          Her BA in social work may not make her wealthy….but she did learn how to game the system. I think the number one rule for that game is: Remember that you are always the victim.

    2. I don’t think he left Harvard until his junior year, and he did it to start a business. Which, of course, made him insanely wealthy.

      If he hadn’t gone at all, though, it’s pretty likely he’d have never become a multi-billionaire. Not that college made that impossible, but that’s where most of it started for him.

  7. I prefer an uneducated waitstaff, who treat food service as a profession, not as a menial chore that they’ll someday escape when the world recognizes their brilliance.

    1. “But what I REALLY want to do is DIRECT…”

    2. I’ve been in charge of new hiring at a few restaurants and about half the applicants have a degree.

      From my perspective these are the degrees that you will end up serving/cooking with:

      2.)Graphic Design
      3.)English (lit, comp, creative, whatever)
      4.)Chef schools advertised on teevee(usually not hired due to lack of experience/references)

      1. I worked for a bit after I got my B.S. in a crappy job market and spent some time managing a video store. My staff were all college graduates. One was an ex-Columbia university administrator (semi-retired)–not sure what his PhD was in. I also had a film school graduate (from a real university), who ended up being my assistant manager. After all, knowing film actually does help in renting movies.

      2. Bingo to #1. But the kid is an objectivist so he views waitering as a legitimate job that needs to be done well both for his employer and his customers. And the history degree puts him in great standing with the owner who is a fan of the founders and a foe of the current a’hole in the WH.

        1. A good waiter, or cook, can make as much as a cubicle worker, especially if you have a good local reputation. Also, you get free food, free exercise, and meet interesting people. Not to mention that restaurants are the closest to a meritocratic workplace that I’ve ever experienced.

          1. True, if it is an established and expensive restaurant. I’ve known waiters at fancy steak houses (where business deals are cut and everyone has expense accounts) who cleared 50-60 K a year AFTER taxes. Not a fortune, but more than most people with a degree in art history or women’s studies make.

        2. Unless the restaurant he works for is a shitty chain that believes socialism of the waiters is the best business plan in the world.

          1. I said a good waiter.

            Just kidding, but usually competent restaurant workers get themselves out of shitty situations pretty quickly.

  8. What puzzles me is why the market doesn’t punish colleges that don’t serve their customers well. The opposite has happened: Tuitions have risen four times faster than inflation.

    Oh irony. How does that work again?

    1. My degree in Misallocation of Capital works quite well.

    2. subsidies and a bubble mentality. same as every time.

  9. Thanks Mr. Stossel for another nearly fact-free column. A few interesting anecdotes, though. I’ll be interested to hear about that biotech startup. You know who is great at biotechnology development? High school graduates. No one learns about biotechnology in college.

    (There is a serious discussion to be had about the value of higher education and where resources are best spent. But this article isn’t it.)

    1. To some extent I agree with you — it really does require a lot of formal post-high school education to learn about the natural sciences. Stuff like generic software startups really don’t require that much formal training, though, and those grants would suit those kids well. I know that doing my CS degree helped me learn some things I may have otherwise not, but the skills I use for my job on a daily basis I taught myself when I was 15. The stuff they didn’t teach (which is a lot, and which I never expected them to) I spend time learning every day.

      1. Even with my CS degree, I could pretty much do my current degree w/o it. I was pretty much self-taught when I was a teenager and having a degree was just an easier way to get recognized as someone who can program.

        1. My son is a security director for an internet based company, making low 6 figures. He went for one year to a junior college, but dropped out after getting tired of setting up the networks and fixing the computers in his computer classes. Like most computer professionals, he has messed with computers since he was 10 and my brother gave him a non-functioning Commodore PET. I have a degree in behavioral sciences and one in theology and I barely make half of what he does. Fortunately, I went to college on scholarship, so I didn’t have a life-time of servitude to the student loan people.

          1. Never touched a computer until my first programming class in college.

            1. I’ve always said that “you can program or you can’t.” It’s more of a aptitude than something that can be purely taught.

              1. I was always good as solving problems (math, all the sciences, etc). So programming is first and foremost about solving the problem. The coding is easy after that.

            2. I never touched a computer until well after my programming classes in HS. Of course, that was in the days when we keypunched our programs on cards and sent them to be run….

              1. I was a late bloomer — 25 when I started college. In 1982, we could actually go to one of two rooms on campus that had terminals connected to the central computer in the academic computing center. We would submit our programs to the batch processing system to be compiled and executed. Then you’d have to trek over to the computing center to get your printouts a couple of hours later.

        2. I was working as a computer security expert for years before I got my CS degree. I ended up getting that degree, not for the education (though I did get some benefit from it), but to satisfy the expectations of clients. I have since moved on to security research and find myself in school again to fulfill the expectations of clients and partners that I have a PhD. Again, I do benefit from learning aspects of computer security outside my niche, but it is not necessary for the type of research I am doing.

          In essence, $50K and years of effort are being spent to satisfy expectations. These expectations are built upon (generally) incorrect assumptions of what is required to be an expert in a particular field.

          1. Roger that. I work in one of the few “industries” were advanced degrees pay off…but are not necessary to do the job.

            I’m a college instructor… 🙂

      2. I’m still working towards my Associates in CS and in the meantime I’ve been working for the last 15 years as a computer tech. I’m just going for the degree in hopes of being able to move up the ladder a rung or two in the future. Definitely one of the sciences where real world experience is more valuable than a classroom.

    2. He doesn’t say “don’t get a degree”. He notes that college has essentially become the new high school – but you get to pay a ton of money for it!

      For many people, college is a scam. =/= “Everyone, incl physicists and chemists and biologists.”

      Clearly, most people aren’t going to learn Bio-Chem or Physics through correspondence courses. Ergo, college may make sense for them. For bidness people? Not necessarily.

      1. Can we kill the MBA degree now?

        1. First, we kill the lawyers…

    3. Yeah, cause I REALLY needed that master’s degree (state mandated btw) to do the job I’ve been working at for the 8 years it took to finish the damn degree.

      1. Teaching? Library? Law enforcement?

  10. he’s paying students $100,000 each if they drop out of college and do something else, like start a business

    A BBA would be very, very helpful for starting a business. For most office/management jobs it is just something that looks good on your resume.

  11. Another reason for higher than normal unemployment as well. People who spend all that time and money on college are not going to take just any job they can get, they want the perfect job now. And because their parents are their best friends now they don’t have to worry about being tossed out to face reality.

    1. A perfect job is one in which you can change the outcome of an election.

  12. When the academic bubble pops, it’s going to be loud. There are already panicked whispers about for-profit colleges and a desperate rearrangement of core curriculum. The 4 year liberal arts education is teetering on the edge of return back to what is was before: a signalling mechanism for the upper classes to breed amongst themselves safely.

    Trying to explain the ways of the university to my students, I always have them envision a three-layered society: The top layer are filled with functional problem who make things and can deal with the world from a sane prospective. At the bottom, people in insane asylums, completely unable to function in consensual reality. In the middle, there’s academia… they don’t need to be locked up, but they aren’t ready for the real world either. Once the bubble pops, a flood of over-educated yet semi-functional people will hit the job market with no or minimal skills. It will make this unemployment-driven recession look like minor economic hiccup.

    1. My degree lets me breed with the upper class? Woo-hoo!

    2. In the middle, there’s academia… they don’t need to be locked up [in an asylum]…

      I understand your basic argument, but that part’s debatable.

      1. Actually, I’m no one to talk – I’m the king of useless degrees. However, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not paying for the next one.

        1. Ive got a Nuke Eng degree – the art history of engineering degrees.

          Still more useful than most crap people major in.

          1. Is this an actual prerequsite to starting a microbrew shop?

            1. I took a 3-day “start your own brewery” workshop at Siebel in Chicago. There were far more engineers and lawyers than brewery employees in the class. Now part of that may be that brewers already know the business side of the business, but I dont think that is entirely it.

              1. I took a six-month, hands-on winery operations course (48 hours total) at the local community college. That was enough to convince me that I don’t want own or run a winery.

                1. As it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, kinnath, which CC did you take the course from? And what about the work (besides the grinding poverty) made you not want to get into the winery business?

                  1. Kirkwood in CR.

                    It’s a lot of hard, physical labor that doesn’t result in a lot of income. And no where near as much fun as amateur wine making in the basement.

                    I can work as an engineer until I get Alzheimer’s and make way more money.

                    1. Des Moines Area Community College has an excellent program that leads to a degree.

      2. Oh, they should be locked up. But we decided as a society to put them all together in an open air economic prison and watch them fight it out. For the lulz, I guess.

        I worked in a series of various job before and during college. I know there is no such thing as a truly functional workplace (another lesson I try to teach my student workers), but none of them were riddled on every level with such pettiness, cronyism. blind hatred and just general nincompoopery as academia.

        1. Interesting – I worked VERY briefly for my Alma Mater before heading off to mfg. My sister is a professor – and my brief experience and her loooong experience sound exactly like you dscribe.

          When I think my company’s fucked up (and it is, of course, just like every other place I’ve worked), a call to my sister puts things in perspective.

          “Well, I could be working at a university….” *shud-d-d-d-d-d-d-der*

          1. Post-college, I’ve worked for two companies. One made software(ERP) and the other is a medium-sized company that does plastic-injection molding.

            Both are riddled with cronyism and just terrible management. I’ve always wonder how they stay in business – office politics being what they are – but somewhere, someone is paying us.

        2. A brief stint in an academic environment similar to SF’s has shown me just how political and inbred academia is.

          Fortunately for me, my boss appreciates competence (well, usually fortunately for me). Also, she’s kind of hot, which is nice.

          robc – my next degree is going to being in Education. I know that gets laughs around here, but the focus is on creating online training modules for corporations, so it should not only pay well, it might actually be useful.

    3. And higher ed still doesn’t get it, as they’re jacking tuition at a ridiculous pace like there’s no diminishing returns on the investment.

      1. That often happens in bubbles. RE prices were going through the roof at the end and then people stopped getting loans and stopped buying.

        1. Agreed. Yet there are plenty that pretend that a market with all of the hallmarks of a bubble is different this time. Really!

    4. When the bubble pops, we (taxpayers) will be on the hook for a massive bailout of govt-subsidized, ill-advised loans that no sane person would have ever made in a free market. Sound familiar?

      1. The groundwork is already laid. Part of ObamaCare was nationalizing the student loan industry.

        1. RC,
          The student loans always came from the federal government. Obama cut out the private sector middlemen servicing the loans and assessing unnecessary fees thereby saving both the government and the student money.

          1. Didn’t he then use the $68B in “savings” to further expand Pell grants?

          2. @Pete|7.7.11 @ 2:27PM|#

            True. I am no Obama apologist, but it is not accurate to accuse Obama of “nationalizing” the student loan industry. This has long been one of those situations of private profit/collective risk. The lenders and servicers made the money, but any risk of default was absorbed by taxpayers.

    5. How many profs did I have who couldn’t survive in the real world? Hard to guess, I was an engineering major, but most of them were seriously lacking in interpersonal skills even though their technical capabilities were impressive.

      1. And you were on the “customer” side of the interaction. Imagine how bad it is behind the scenes.

        1. By the time you’re in grad school, they pretty much drop the facade and expose their true personalities to you.

          They ranged from megalomaniacs to the quite normal to insufferable whiners. You could always tell which ones of them were getting laid.

          1. that would be none, correct?

            1. My advisor was a cool dude. Always wanted to talk about what was the best beer in town and how his kids kept wrecking the station wagon.

              I would have to talk with him for a good hour before we got around to approving my courseload for the next semester.

              1. That was my second advisor. The first one graduated from the Soviet Academy of Sciences and was different.

                He either wore a suit or jeans with a 9 inch buck knife on his hip. Even though my grades were great, he would constantly harass me about my one “fun” class every semester.

                “Vy do you vant to to take Portuguese? Vy don’t you take something useful, like RUSSIAN or CHINESE?”

                He just couldn’t comprehend that I had a serious boner for the Brazilian girl in the sophomore class and was trying anything to get into her pants.

                1. I just spent a weekend in Miami Beach with a Brazilian girl. All I can say is I hope you got what you were looking for, because that shit changed my life.

                  1. No dice. She was into the moody guys. I was too happy for her.

            2. Wrong. Some of them spend their office hours nailing students.

        2. My boss is the only normal professor I’ve ever met. The fact that he’s not a slave-driving prick, and has never gotten angry in his entire life, is what convinced me to stick around post-master’s. So there’s at least one professor who could make it in the real world, I guess.

          1. You should capture him for display at a museum or something.

            Actually, probably better he’s in his natural habitat – a rare, non-fuckstick professor spreading good in his workplace. Good for him!

          2. Oh, it’s not all of them. Some of them are not too bad, or would even be fine out their in adult land. Some people do the work because they enjoy it, but even more–maybe most–do it because they wouldn’t last two seconds at a job where they were expected to produce tangible work.

            For example, we have three or four in the library system that could do something else. That’s why my wife is finishing up a PhD on the university’s dime and we are getting out of here.

            1. Wow. So can’t type can today. Guh.

              1. So can’t type can today.

                You don’t say.

              2. No type I.

              3. I bet if you’d gone to a better college, you’d be a better typist.

                SF, you are among friends…I point out to others that I don’t NEED to have good typing skills – I’m a MANAGER and can have OTHERS type things FOR me 🙂

                Similarly, you are SugarFree, and have Episiarch to do your typing, laundry, take out the trash, etc.

                1. I mostly that I try to type far, far faster than I actually can. Fingercrash.

                  1. To obtain a special typing wand, please mash the keyboard with the palm of your hand.

                    1. “I wish I had my reaching broom!”

  13. let’s see

    a college history professor who literally every 5 minutes in the middle of talking about American history would literally yell and scream about George Bush, to the point where sometimes spittle would fly out of his mouth

    a “philosophy” class where there was no homework or tests or anything and the guy just sat there and had us “discuss” things, but only typical liberal talking points, where somehow he managed to mention that he has some sort of scat fetish

    Tons of friends who graduated and couldn’t get a job for like 2 years, some who are English majors, but can’t tell me exactly what it is they can do now that they couldn’t before

    Gee, maybe college doesn’t teach you shit (unless you go into a specific profession like law or engineering)

    1. Boy, you went to a REALLY shitty college.

      Sad face for you 🙁

      1. this is the modern college

        It’s all leftist indoctrination via reading and essay-writing, and no actual TRAINING

        1. Take a look at Hillsdale Univ in Michigan. Private, takes no gummint $$. None. Zero.

          There’s hope, and an alternative.

          1. Yes! I learned about Hillsdale just before I graduated from my college, and it made me wish I could go back in time and apply there. Or go back even further in time and work harder in high school so I could have gotten in.

            But the fact is that it’d be nice to have more than one school like that in America

    2. My philosophy class, specifically critical thinking, was lead by an unabashed libertarian whose PhD dissertation was on the constitutional thought of the framers. It was the best *&^%ing class ever!

      It was also one of the hardest classes I have ever taken.

  14. This is even worse overseas where college is completely funded by the government. My aunt, who lives in Spain, told me that at least two of her local supermarket cashiers have law degrees.

    1. I forget where I recently read an article about Spain and France – LSS, they’re basically concerned about riots in the streets from young people (mid-20’s-ish) with Masters Degrees who can secure NO job. Not even waiting tables. Nothing.

      Really interesting – I think the US bubble will pop before we’re at that point…here’s hoping 🙂

      1. Yes, but they can educate you on the evils of the capitalist systems.

        1. Very good point

  15. After high school I knew college would be a waste of time and money, so I worked in restaurants for a while while I figured out what I wanted to do.
    I worked with cooks with liberal arts degrees, a waiter with a degree in environmental science and a waitress with a masters in English. One of the bartenders was finishing up a masters in literature. Her goal was to be a waiter at an exclusive club and user her degree to be intelligent conversation with customers.
    I was like.. wtf?!?

    The cook who majored in Engineering left the restaurant a week after graduation.

    I studied C.S. and did the same thing.

  16. Just graduated from college in May with a BS in Finance. I do have to say that the formal course of study helped me discipline my mind. I have learned how finance, and business work. I have gained “legitimacy” within my peer group. And most importantly, my studies have lead to an increasing interest in Austrian economics, and libertarian principles. Before I started stuydying Finance, I just didn’t understand how markets work, and didn’t care. Now I care about free markets, free minds, and free people. I’m glad I went back to college.

    1. “I do have to say that the formal course of study helped me discipline my mind. I have learned how finance, and business work. I have gained “legitimacy” within my peer group.”

      These are definitely some of the tangible benefits of attending/graduating from college.

      ” . . . my studies have lead to an increasing interest in Austrian economics, and libertarian principles. Before I started stuydying Finance, I just didn’t understand how markets work, and didn’t care. Now I care about free markets, free minds, and free people.”

      Well hell, you can get all that right here in the Comments section of ‘Reason’!

  17. I got a BA in English and continued working as a bartender for six more years. It wasn’t until I took some individual computer science classes at a community college that I felt I had marketable skills and got my current job.

    1. I went to bartending school, and all I got was this lousy software engineering job. And T-shirt.

  18. One of the bartenders was finishing up a masters in literature. Her goal was to be a waiter at an exclusive club and user her degree to be intelligent conversation with customers.

    “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.”

    1. Now that’s funny.

      1. This^

    2. You quoted Dorothy Parker without proper citation. You are suspended for one semester, with no tuition refund.
      But please come back next semester, we need the Pell grant money.

  19. I dropped out after my Junior year in college. Spent 4 years working in the “real world” and getting married, etc.

    I will NEVER forget when I got my first paycheck from a “real” job and saw what was taken out in federal taxes. It basically put me on the road to libertarianism (a road funded by private contributions, not a ROOOADDDZZZ!! road, of course).

    After four years, I’d gotten my shit together, figured out what I wanted to do, determined I wouldn’t get there without completing my degree work, went back, aced the last year and a half of school, and headed on to fame and fortune. Well, fortune anyway. After much travail and suffering and having no money, of course.

    It was TOTALLY worth it.

    I’ve recommended this to my kids. Daughter #1 is presently on this path. We’ll see how it works for her…

    1. Can of green beans for lunch. Can of corn for dinner. Thermostat OFF cause I couldn’t afford heat – freezing in Michigan winter in a home I rented for $375 a month.

      Good times, good times Fucking SUCKED having no money. It did definitely make me a appreciate what came later 🙂

      1. Walked to school every day, barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways.

        1. This is TRUE!!!


        3. Whoa, whoa! You had feet? You lucky prick.

  20. For non-technical degrees (Arts, Social ‘Sciences’, etc.) what Stossel says is largely true. (Although a lot of employers are still on the “credentials” binge that values a degree just because it is a degree.) For medicine, engineering and other hard subjects, the degree is worth quite a bit. [A friend’s daughter just graduated with a Chem Eng degree and she has 15 job offers to pick from including some from Asia and Europe.]

    However, I cannot go with the ‘drop out of college and start a business’ bit. A huge proportion of businesses (80%+) fail in the first few years.

    1. on the technical degree bit I don’t think anyone’s saying anything different

      the problem is that college itself is being touted as valuable, even if you don’t learn a specific trade, which is just silly and false

  21. Without engaging in a discussion of alternative methods of financing higher education (like working your way through school, paying for your courses as you go); I found that the value of my education was learning how to learn new information and translating it in to practical applications. OK, so I also learned many pracitcal applications of getting high and how to entice members of the opposite gender in to engaging in pleasurable adult activities.

    What institutions of higher education have evolved in to are institutions of philosophical indoctrination and research in both the arcane and the relevant. The goal of most of these institutions is to convert income based on relevant research in to funding the arcane so philosophically motivated well educated bloviators recieve what may be considered a living wage. A subsidiary goal is to have poiliticans fund the school with taxpayer dollars and loot alumni bank accounts by inflating their worth to society.

    Most of the “professors” do not and won’t support the silly idea that the subjects they teach have or may contribute to a value added activity in our economy. That leads to nebulous education outcomes in such topics as Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Math, etc. Unfortunatley, students are left to figure out for themselves the applications of these topics.

    Also, most institutions, support the notion of a “balanced education” where conferrence of a degree (the recognized endpoint of attending such an institution) is contingent on completion of “soft” courses outside one’s interest area. English literature (determine the flavor yourself); media arts and sciences; human behaviorial history and other areas of study that have little or no relevance to, say, designing a mercury-free compact fluorescent light bulb, are touted as necessary to complete your intellectual development (As well as expose you to “educators” who attempt to interject Marxist economic theory in to topics where it has virtually no relevance other than to satify the ego of the delivery person.)

    Once you see through the facade of “Higher Education”, it becomes clear why the administrators of such institutions make every attempt to shield the institution from market forces.

    1. The idea of having a 4 year degree and not even knowing what a derivative is kinda ticks me off. When I’m dictator Calculus will be required for any 4 year degree, and English Literature will always be an elective.

      1. When I worked in Switzerland, my boss was befuddled that you could get accepted into a University without having taken Calculus in HS.

        1. What’s cal-COO-lis?

          1. It’s that shit that builds up on your teeth if you forget to scrape the barnacles off.. no wait… yeah that’s it.

      2. I managed to test out of English in college – blessed be the AP classes available at my high school.

        Of course I can barely write a comprehensible sentence…

      3. Calculus turned out to be the least valuable thing I learned in college. I don’t remember a thing about it, except that it involved derivatives and shit (and I was in the honors sequence). Many wasted hours. The stuff I learned in English Lit I need every day.
        (Your results may vary.)

      4. Calculus doesn’t have the kind of derivatives you should be interested in.

  22. Before I went to study my B.A. in Humanities, I realized that it wasn’t going to get me a job. I discussed this with my parents and we planned our finances accordingly, i.e. saving money for study in advanced degrees that would be marketable.

    My parents could afford the luxury of paying for their son to study philosophy, history, Ancient Greek and Latin, and modern literature. This was their greatest gift to me. I do not regret spending four years of my life studying something that I was interested in, as opposed to mere job training.

    However, I was also always cognizant of the fact that I would have to continue my education, on my dime, to be eligible for the job opportunities I desired. My advanced studies allowed me to build on the core knowledge I gained during my undergraduate studies, and apply that knowledge in a way that is useful to the marketplace.

    1. Cool! Basically did the same thing. I still remember making the decision that music would be an avocation, since it was too unlikely to be remunerative no matter how good I was.

      “I can play music anyway, so I’ll just go into something else for ‘work’ that’s much more likely to pay the bills.”

      Haven’t regretted it, grateful I was able to pull it off.

  23. The elephant in the room is the facts that government jobs — particularly the civil service posts with job security, annual pay raises, benefits, every other Friday off etc etc that require very limited practical experience and zero hard work while paying better than most private sector jobs — require college degrees … Not everyone can be a plumber. Anyone can be a government paper pusher with a degree….

    1. Anyone can be a government paper pusher with a degree….

      And, with Government expenditures constituting 30% of GDP and rising, everyone will.

    2. I believe they point to credentials to justify the higher average salaries in government.

    3. Hmmm. I may have to get me some of that sweet sweet government tit milk.

    4. Decades ago I turned up my nose at civil service. However, I’ve had a very hard time with employment, even with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. I worked as a temp for the 2010 US census, and I’ve taken several civil service exams since. A friend of mine who’s done mostly gov’t work in his life — US army, sanitation dept., court ass’t — convinced me. Just waiting now for an opening since I’m #14 on the list for environmental program specialist trainee 1.

  24. I’ve recommended this to my kids.

    You, Sir, are a heartless monster.

  25. Can anybody tell me what “Sociology” is anyway? Or “Communications”? Is it just me or are they degress that literally only really convey that you graduated from college, and that that is there purpose? (along with an easy way to introduce some leftist indoctrination to the students)

    1. Can anybody tell me what “Sociology” is anyway? Or “Communications”?

      It’s a four year rite of passage undertaken by young simians that signifies to the older more powerful apes that they can indeed operate microsoft word.

      1. “Sociology” = “Chicks Who Couldn’t Cut It In Psych”

        1. “Brains are HARD!”

          “No Barbie, brains are soft…and squishy.”

          1. “But you know what IS hard….”

          2. . . . and tasty!

        2. I so hated sociology majors, almost as much as the psychology majors.

          “How does that make you feel?”

      2. yeah, but New Horizons has classes for that all the time

        one of the most useful classes I’ve ever taken (it was for Excel)

    2. I bet a degree in Communications would teach the proper use of there, their, and they’re :). Sorry, I had to do it.

      1. Oh, they’re ewe go again, SPorky!

      2. I worked my ass off in high school and was rewarded with a full scholarship to a large state school. I still worked all through college, which paid for books and a couple summer courses and lots of beer and records. I graduated with no debt. At school, I messed around in EE for a couple years then decided that I wanted to relax and switched to Econ, then Comm. Communication is the nuts and bolts of how to put the big lie on big groups of people (and also how to manipulate people one-on-one). The classes were full of really, really stupid people. I went into programming, and having honed communication skills has put me at an advantage over my ESL co-workers. Also, when I was first hired, my fortune 500 employer brought me in two salary bands higher than a non-degreed co-worker, based solely on the fact that I had a BA. With annual percentage increases, that has translated into a decent ROI.

    3. Sociology is the study of society. Minority ( and women ) studies, industrial organization, etc.

      Communications is a mixture of psychology, advertising, and journalism. Basically, a degree in propagandizing. Most of the people who go for this are convinced that they are going to be on sports center. That a communications degree comes with some sort of left wing indoctrination is as laughable as the idea that my MBA came with one.

      1. “Sociology is the study of society. Minority ( and women ) studies, industrial organization, etc”

        The first explanation is so vague as to be meaningless. And your second examples are much more specific and are sciences in themselves (except for women’s studies, which is another made up stupid thingy)

        “That a communications degree comes with some sort of left wing indoctrination is as laughable as the idea that my MBA came with one.”

        No it’s not and yours probably did you just don’t want to think back on it and admit it. Look at my above comment on the professor who was literally screaming about Bush every 5 minutes in the middle of lectures.

    4. @Edwin|7.7.11 @ 12:44PM|#

      Sociology is assigning terms to phenomena that are common knowledge.

  26. A huge proportion of businesses (80%+) fail in the first few years.

    You learn more from failure than you do from success.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And I know plenty.

    1. I’ve failed a lot, when does the learnin’ start?

  27. You know when I attended community college for two years before transfering to a UC I had some very liberal professors (my major is poli sci). They would always tell us of the horrors of the state reducing higher education funding as according to them it would prompt the school to raise the cost per unit.

    Of course, they said all this while the entire school recieved a multi-million dollar rennovation, complete with a brand new Humanties building where these professsors taught.

    1. Similar experience with super liberal professors at JC in Poli Sci. Although, the most liberal among them, a hardcore sort of marxist-anarchist, was probably among my favorite professors of all time and we had a sort of mutual respect as he realized I was like him, wonky, dorkish, anti-authoritarian, and bright (dude was pretty bright, even if it somehow led him in the direction of marx).

      1. “a hardcore sort of marxist-anarchist”
        I still don’t understand how people can label themselves anything like this with a straight face.

  28. Leave it to John Stossel to make the case for a less educated America. The less educated we are, the less likely we are to caught the flaws in his argument. Stossel cites to big-name money guys like Richard Branson, but if you’ve got hundreds of millions in the bank, are you really worried about your $80,000 college expense? No. Stossel’s argument also falls prey to the same mistake Ayn Rand makes: his theory applies only to the preternaturally gifted. What about the working folks? How is the sewer plant or power plant going to get built without engineers (shortages would drive the price up astronomically, affecting Everybody’s utility bill)? Another shortcoming is his statement about bartenders. Tending bar, being a line cook, or other low end service job is, many times, the “entry level” in the restaurant management business. The point is that these people don’t stay bartenders their whole lives. John Stossel’s articles are a scam. But you’d have to have a college education to figure that out.

    1. all people who have techincal degrees, nobody’s saying that’s a bad investment

      the problem is that college has long been touted as a good investment period, when it’s not. Liberal arts degrees don’t teach shit about any trade or skill. An English degree or Women’s studies degree or communications degree won’t give you any real life skills and won’t help you find a job.

    2. Thank you for that timely example.

    3. less educated America

      Yes, because CLEARLY the only “education” comes with a college degree. People can learn nothing left to their own devices. I didn’t read any of the classics on my own, nor any mathematics – only because I went to college was I exposed to any of that – spoon fed by nurturing teachers only concerned for my intellectual growth. And suffering the normal trials and tribulations associated with earning a living, finding one’s way in the world, interacting with other people – surely no LEARNING can occur in people’s daily lives. They must be LED, by COLLEGE PROFESSORS, or no learning occurs.

      “Not Going To College” =/= “Less Educated”

      You, sir, are a fucking moron. Good day.

      1. But he’s a college-educated fucking moron, so there.

        1. Yeah, fuck me

          1. “Yes, because CLEARLY the only “education” comes with a college degree.”

            I’d like to be more civil, but if you can’t understand how formal education + informal education equals more total education than informal education alone, then perhaps this is a lost cause. Stated another way, having multiple perspectives provides more information than a single perspective.

            Stated yet another way, college takes you in directions you might not want to go, but are ultimately beneficial. Most individuals don’t seek out such challenges.

            Ultimately, your post is vulgar and low. You assume that I discounted the education of daily life, when I most certainly did not. And for that, I dismiss your ramblings.

        2. Am I supposed to apologize for being worldly and erudite? Should I start using curse words to emphasize my discontent? Instead of making a pure analysis, perhaps I should mimic the less-educated style of Almanian, and make snarky, ironic statements without much backup. A less educated style wouldn’t discuss the potential impact of fewer college educations on society. The less educated response would focus on how a single individual believes that he’s sufficiently educated, and somehow insinuate without stating as much that this is the norm.

          1. The problem is that we have far too many kids in college who are majoring in partying. We should have 15-20% of the kids in college, not 50%. and most are subsidized by taxpayers.

          2. “Am I supposed to apologize for being worldly and erudite?”

            Of course not. You should apologize for being a pompous asshole.

            1. I’m sorry that I am a worldly and erudite pompous asshole.

      2. One glaring problem with education continuing to skyrocket in cost all out of proportion to its value is the increasing availability of educational materials on the web. It’s obvious that a great deal can be learned without sitting in a classroom listening to a TA or professor lecture. At some point, if higher education simply must be subsidized, that would seem to be the place to do it, not in providing aid that helps inflate college costs.

        1. Just talking to my wife about this the other day.

          “Remember when finding out X would have meant a week’s worth of research at the library, maybe having information sent from another library if your library didn’t have a particular reference…I just found all this shit out in 15 minutes of Google search. Amazing..”

          1. I love the fact I can do that shit from my phone while I’m standing somewhere. I find out the wierdest shit driving around with the wife, because she throws off some comment and next thing I’m googling on the phone to find something out.

            1. Even discounting much on the web as unreliable noise, there’s a great deal that is as good as what we get in textbooks or in lectures. Including a lot of content provided by universities, of course.

              1. Don’t worry, the new IP bill in congress will put a stop to all that.

        2. Pro Libertate: Long time, no comment. Good to see a familiar handle. I view the internet sort of like a calculator. Remember how you used to have to remember multiplication tables, and all that? Then they decided that you need to be schooled in the methods of math, and the arithmetic could be done on a calculator? I view higher education as schooling in the systems of the world, and the internet provides the content like a calculator provides the arithmetic.

          1. So you are the Lamar–I was wondering!

            Yes, I see your point, but I think we could replace a great deal of higher education with web-based learning.

            1. I’m certainly not against web-based learning, and I wouldn’t criticize those who go out and find their success without college. Now here’s where I’m probably going to lose people. The value in college is only partially found in the subjects learned. In a way, it serves a similar purpose as the military draft used to: it forces people to grow up or get out. I also ascribe a very high value to the idea of a citizenry with a collective liberal arts education. Maybe the scam is that high school isn’t doing this like it does in Europe.

    4. Right, only completing your college education grants you enough indoctrination into the “right” way to think. This allows you to feel superior when you call everyone else wrong.

      Maybe it was your misreading of the article where you thought he said that nobody should go to college that makes you believe what you do.

    5. Not everyone can be the savvy, educated citizen you want them to be. Most people don’t have the combination of aptitude and interest. There are always gonna be people who want engineering degrees, and there will always be a demand for people with skills that require a college education. He’s not saying no one should go to college. He’s saying that it’s not the required stepping stone on the road to success that our culture has made it out to be, and that for a lot of people it’s just an unnecessary expense that won’t get them further ahead in life.

      Some of the dumbshit kids I went to high school with (in a middle to upper middle class white area) had reasonably successful parents who pushed them to go to shitty low-tier state schools to get BAs in pussyology or whatever the hell they could do. A lot of them dropped out. The one I can think of who finished works at an auto parts store (and not as a manager). Those guys didn’t have the aptitude or the drive to really take advantage of an undergraduate degree program. College wasn’t for them. I think we should be able to accept that those guys would be much better off being tradesmen (or just not getting further education at all) than trying to insist that they’d be better off by getting a BA in something.

      1. my college was filled with these types. And many of them dropped out after partying for two years.

        I remember my disappointment when I was a college freshman – I thought I was getting out of my boring suburban life and entering a “temple of learning” filled with nothing but smart people. Instead it was frats and sorority, parties, football games, etc. I was glad that I lived off campus.

        1. I had that delusion before law school.

  29. I wish I didn’t fall for the college trap almost a decade ago now. I would have avoided the 40k+ in student loans for a liberal arts education that has provided me with nothing but…loans. I also wish I wasn’t so indoctrinated into the education-is-paramount thinking that made me decide to get my masters, albeit for free.

    I now bartend.

  30. People can learn nothing left to their own devices. I didn’t read any of the classics on my own, nor any mathematics

    This brings up a good point. I contemplated getting a history degree because I love history. But then I realized that it’s easy enough to read Thucydides on my own, but it would be pretty hard to teach myself, say, differential equations.

    If you’re going to spend a ton of money on an expensive education, you should make sure that you’re spending it on things that are hard to teach yourself.

    1. My thinking exactly. I’ve read a great deal of history, philosophy, and even science and know as much about the first two as most with B.A.s in the subjects. To be fair, I did end up minoring in History, but that was not intentional–I just liked history classes.

      I had planned to get a JD all along, but I majored in Finance to avoid having a totally useless undergraduate degree. Looking back, I wish I’d done something technical (much more interesting to me than finance), but that’s a quibble.

      1. Word ’round my parts is that MBAs and JDs with technical(chem, phys, engin) undergrad degrees are writing their own tickets right now.

        1. Don’t know about the MBA and am dubious that it does much good, but with a JD, absolutely. Patent law is a nice gig.

        2. The MBA is nice to have, but doesn’t add much to the earning potential in my experience. I got mine because the company would pay, I despised our marketing department and thought they were full of shit, and to meet women.

          1. I’ve actually been thinking about pursuing a masters in econ instead of an MBA route myself lately. Masters in Econ would paper over my extremely bullshit Poli Sci undergrad degree that I regret majoring in, plus it would qualify me for one of these cushy academia gigs.

    2. I tried to go to school like an art student. It wasn’t so much that I was being taught much (although I did have a handful of professors that taught me quite a lot), but being around people who took the same stuff seriously that I did–the art studio experience–was pleasurable. I’d never really spent time with other writers until college. Constructive criticism from peers is hard to come by outside college.

      1. Constructive criticism from peers is hard to come by outside college.

        Well, here, let me help!!!!!


    3. Spending a ton of money is also a good motivator to learn things that you might not like but should probably know anyway. I don’t find finance or economics in any way stimulating but spending money on courses got me to learn it when I wouldn’t have on my own.

  31. Speaking of dumbass college grads, can we get some Katrina vanden Heuvel on the site again? I need a fix. Has she been on Spitzer and Spitzer with The Jacket lately? Anything?

    I know it’s wrong, but my love for her grows daily


    C’mon – just a little taste, A little Katrina for a parched, aching heart.

    1. Spitzer is no more.

      1. Oh noes!!! Where will Katrina go??!! Spitzer and Dumbass was the only show that let her on!! She’ll starve to death!!


        *runs roughly East*

        PS Thanks, Pro L!

        1. Also – I need to bookmark Urk. I see all the Reasonoids gather there as well – looks like fun!

          1. I submit drink recipes on occasion.

          2. Excellent. Our non-Austrian readership has increased by 20%!

      2. He’ll retreat to his weekly column at Slate, where he calls everyone policy he doesn’t like “Hooverism”.

    2. In the Arena was cancelled.

      1. CNN could do worse than hire entertaining posters. For example:

        “Up Yours” with SugarFree

        1. “Don’t feed the troll”
          “Fuck you MNG”

          1. ‘Sup, Bitches?

          2. I have figured out what MNG stands for:

            Mrs. Nancy Grace.

            1. Ye gods.

            2. Now I know there is no God.

  32. So, I’m not the only who hates John “Freddie Mercury” Stossel?

    If you look on YouTube, you can find an excellent anti-Drug War documentary that Stossel made.

    1. Don’t trash the stache. It could take down Thomas Friedman’s Mustache of Understanding with half the whiskers tied behind its back.

  33. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve worked with in terms of real world experience and fundamental market knowledge were high school graduates, many of them small business owners.

    Some of the most egotistical socialist fuckwits who have absolutely no idea how to earn a living outside the university nor how to relate to someone who isn’t familiar with Foucault.

    We need more of the former in our workforce and less of the latter.

    The bubble can’t pop fast enough.

    1. should read-

      Some of the most egotistical socialist fuckwits who have absolutely no idea how to earn a living outside the university nor how to relate to someone who isn’t familiar with Foucault were post grads.

      Stupid preview.

    2. I’m starting a post-modern plumbing business. We don’t actually install or fix anything, we just question the meta-thesis of plumbing, or “plumbing”, as a post-colonial patriarchical lingusitic construct in relation to the war of society, or “society”, against the natural functions of the body. P.S. Foucault, Derrida, Rorty, Lake and Palmer.

      1. Translation: everybody poops.

      2. Can you install the perfect form of a toilet for me?

        1. Yes, but he’ll take four (maybe five) years and charge you $200,000.

  34. My degree’s in engineering, and even within engineering, there were a lot of classes that I wish I wouldn’t have had to take. The Board of Regents required us to take six humanities credits and six social sciences credits, which is low compared to most states. The honchos always defended those classes as making engineers “more well rounded,” as if taking “cultural geography” would stop us from wearing collared shirts that look like tablecloths and sunglasses on our foreheads. I loved those classes, but they were subjects I would have studied outside of school, since they were interests of mine. I might take those classes when I’m retired, if I’ve got the money and feel like a class could add something, but they shouldn’t be required for a degree. College offers bad packages (sociology, etc.), but the fact that it makes you buy a package is bad as well.

    1. Not your board of Regents, the Accreditation Board of Engineering & Technology. ABET requires a certain minimum amount of fluffy courses to round out your degree and make you a better human being or something.

      1. It’s both, the Board of Regents requires specific areas, which are the same at all state schools. They just happen to overlap in this case. That’s part of the frustration. Required English credits can be customized to fit a major; in our case, technical writing satisfied those credits. There’s not a lot you can do with humanities, save for possibly economics.

    2. And yet, so many fucking engineers can’t write a simple, declarative sentence in a coherent fashion.

      1. Yeah, I think that’s a product of academia. Even in law, where we write everyday, most attorneys can’t write simple sentences. Professors encourage you to bloviate and cover your bases. I was lucky enough to do test engineering, where all the instructions had to be simple for anyone to understand anything.

        1. Yeah, trying to make things simple enough for the guys with the wrenches out back cuts out a lot of excess crap in your writing.

  35. The British are way better when it comes to vocational training.

  36. I’ll be the first the say that Stossel is right on. The only value that universities provide (that could not necessarily be acquired otherwise) are accredited seals of approval indicating that the student has done at least *some* work related to a given field of study.
    In the most innovative industries today, software for example, interest in college degrees is depleting rapidly. In exchange, employers are increasing their expectations in regards to project testimonials, high-intensity interview testing, probationary work periods, and references from other employees.
    As an employer of software engineers who is currently hiring, I can tell you that a college degree is just a minor comfort to me when I’m considering applicants. I am much more interested in a demonstration of competence, and a passion for the work. These two things alone would be sufficient.

    1. I see this a lot – my degree is in History, so naturally I’ve been quite a bit involved with buisiness development for tech start-ups (right?), and all of the owners I have spoken with have said when they are looking to hire, the most important question is “What are you working on outside of your job” – so they can see if the person really is passionate

  37. old joke:

    What do you do with an English Major?

    Throw her on the ground and f*ck her!

    1. WHat about an English Sergeant Major?

      1. run for it.

  38. Most of you are crackpots.

    1. It’s not illegal. Yet.

  39. I think it’s the employers that are part of the problem now. Any business I’ve worked in for the past 20 years or so requires college degrees on everyone except data inputters. Do the entry level people need degrees to work at my company? Absolutely not. Nor, after training, do they need it to climb the ladder. I’m in charge of hiring. I have begged TPTB to let me bring in non-college people. They scoff, they laugh. Frankly, given my druthers, I’d hire nothing but kids just out of the military. They know how to take orders, they’re not going to whinge at the littlest tiny thing, they’ll be grateful for the job instead if having the horrific sense of entitlement that I find with so many of our underused Ivy-league recent college grads, and, why not give a leg up to the kids who have put their lives on the line for us? Sadly, my hands are tied.

  40. It isn’t like the mantra just began. Kids have been hearing how they’ll dig ditches iffen they don’t go to college since the 1950’s

    1. If I ran a university, a mandatory course in something like ditch-digging would be part of every curriculum.

      1. What good is authority if one can’t abuse it?
        “Perspectives on mowing my lawn” 3 hours a week, must be able to drive tractor.

        1. Indeed. The president’s mansion must be maintained!

      2. There have been many days when I would trade my business executive job for digging ditches, if the pay was there. Just dig, no drama, no deadline, no B.S..

        1. I ran a printing press before I went to school. There are many days that I miss the simplicity of putting ink on a pile of paper. Of course, that industry was radically changed by computer scanners and low-cost printers.

  41. I agree somewhat with the premise of John’s article in that the vast majority of college degrees do not prepare students for any real world profession (i.e. – B.A. Art History). The more technical degrees in applied sciences (engineering) rather than basic sciences are more applicable to a business environment but also fail in doing so for the fact that the professors teaching the subjects rarely have public sector experience. A college degree is useful in that it shows a potential employer that said student can apply many hours of butt-to-chair time and accomplish a long term goal and that he/she has some sort of basic foundation for understanding concepts that are to be applied in the business environment. I believe there needs to be a complete paradigm shift away from preparing our future business workers in a research/academic environment to a more of a vocational education approach. Teach engineering as a vocation rather than as a purely academic exercise or at least offer it as a choice. Research and academia serve their purpose for furthering the knowledge base of man on a broader scale but do little for teaching the application in a business setting where a timely, educated estimate is more useful than an involved thesis-type response. I can speak from experience having my mechanical engineering degree that I have worked with advanced degreed engineers who couldn’t design themselves out of a wet paper bag. There are book smarts and then there are street smarts backed up by book smarts and it would behoove industry to promote and actively participate in shifting this paradigm of higher education in to being vocation based rather than sheltered academia based.

    1. Agreed. The kids on Indy and Baja teams had less trouble starting out than the ones who did research during the year.

  42. Wiki says Cuban graduated from Indiana University with a BA in BA

  43. Education ? credentialism

    This is something people need to grok.

    Education proceeds naturally from inquisitiveness, interest in the material, and availability of knowledge-building resources. Sometimes those resources are much more easily available in college than they would be otherwise, but the first two (inquisitiveness and interest) are often ground out of students by a decade of top-down schooling making the whole endeavor pointless. Like other posters have said, it’s often sufficient (and sometimes necessary, given how bad some professors are) to get a library card and start reading.

    Education is how you learn how to do useful things. Credentials get you a job.

    Credentials are required because most potential employers can’t tell jack squat about your abilities simply by talking to you. A diploma is one such credential (and one that can be very lucrative depending on the networking opportunities available through the name at the top), but so are documented experience and references. There is a perception that the diploma bootstraps the process by getting a young, inexperienced person’s foot in the door, but there is a growing realization that spending four years in a college earning a BA in beer guzzling is not sufficient proof of ability to do actual work.

    Entrepreneurism is another bootstrapping approach: Thiel wants smart, young people to spend their most imaginative and productive years trying to build a business, which will not only look great on a resume but will provide the young person with valuable experience in trying to create wealth by selling value, even if the business itself fails.

    1. interestingly vis a vis lawyers is that some of our most famous and storied lawyers throughout history (e.g. Lincoln) never went to law school.

      if you want to get libertarian lawyers to change their stripes, make an argument that people should be able to take the bar w/o attending law school . the grader doesn’t know if you went to law school. if you pass- you can practice law. if not, no go. law school aside.

      the problem with this (anti-credentialism) is the idea that no entry test (or interview) can be sufficiently broad so as to ensure the knowledge base, exposure to critical thinking skillz etc. that is (theoretically) ensured by law school. or medical school for that matter.

      one could also make the same argument about police or fire academies.

      most states have a rather rigorous set of POST requirements for officers in terms of # of hours in each subject AND challenging officers (from another state) still have to take written and practical tests (Cue: dog shooting jokes).

      should a person be allowed to perform (for example) rotator cuff surgery w.o a medical degree and license if the patient is made fully aware he has no such degree or license etc.? i guess the “pure” libertarian argument would be yes. not that i’d agree.

      1. I don’t know any lawyer who actually litigates who thinks that law school prepared him for it.

        Having a relative or friend who litigated before you and will walk you through the process appears to help more.

        In any event, our current law school system was designed when ready and easy recall of case law was required to function and so you needed prospective lawyers to have their asses kicked for a few years so they’d remember everything they needed to remember. This is now no longer the case. Computers have made all memory-based skills irrelevant. I’m pretty sure that if you showed me a template and set me loose with adequate database search capabilities, I could write a legal brief that would be indistinguishable from the work product of an actual attorney, and I never set foot in a law school.

      2. After I took the bar exam, I realized that I could’ve passed it by taking a bar review class (or reading the bar review materials on my own) without going to law school.

        That’s not to say that law school was useless to the practice of law, but I’m pretty sure that an apprenticeship could accomplish the same ends.

        1. right. but my point was more to the horror you hear from lawyers when you propose that people should be allowed to practice law without going through law school.

          it’s like a sunk cost thing with them “i went through it!!! so should they”

          even with (allegedly ) libertarian lawyers, you are hard pressed to find some (maybe outside these narrow environs) who would think it perfectly ok that any dingdong who passes the bar should be able to … compete with them for clients

          1. Well, I think we shouldn’t be allowed to prevent competition at the paralegal level, for instance. There’s no reason people can’t go get cheap legal help from nonlawyer legal professionals. There’s always the risk that you get what you pay for, but quite a bit of consumer-facing legal work is pretty formulaic.

            Also, noodle on this a bit: A person can represent himself in court, but no other nonlawyer can represent him. A little weird, if you think about it. And, of course, for much of our history, law school was not a prerequisite to the practice of law.

            1. paralegals have been seriously hampered by what services they can legally perform by lawyers. lawyers have used their considerable clout to lobby, bribe, pressure, etc. such that paralegals have been crippled significantly in many cases. it’s also ironic that in many cases they do all the work for tiny pay and the lawyer that “oversees” them gets paid for doing almost nothing

              lawyers have done to paralegals what the schoolteachers/unions did to homeschooling – although the homeschoolers fought back and have won, to a large extent

              1. Lawyers don’t have to lobby–they can just enact legislation, since they control many state houses.

                1. well yes. that is a good point. the ABA does have a lot of power and like ANY organization they seek to protect the gates of their profession.

                  1. The ABA is most significant in the law school accreditation business, which, as you say, gives them gatekeeper status. Not sure that it’s that important, otherwise, except as a trial lawyer lobby.

                    State bars are immensely powerful and create all sorts of barriers to entry and work very hard to squash competition. Considering that lawyers usually hold the majority of seats in the legislature, are 100% in control of the courts, and often hold the governor’s office, it’s not much of a surprise that we get our way as a profession so often. And yes, I’ve got a big problem with that. Not sure what the solution is, but we’re definitely past the point where the profession, as a whole, has become parasitical. I’m not saying attorneys aren’t something we should have, but there is such a thing as too much.

      3. “I’m not only a cop, I’m also an expert in canine biological function cessation via handheld lead propulsion device”

      4. A managing partner I once heard, advocated that law school be more like an MBA or MPA program. One year of mandatory classes, a semester or two of electives, and a 2000 hour practicum. Get rid of all of the journals, and get lawyers into the profession who at least knew the basics of practicing law.

        I think he had a point.

        1. Room for different paths. Legal scholars and judge wannabes could still get the terminal degree, but practitioners could probably take one year of law school then apprentice/co-op for 3-5 years.

          1. england does it a different way than us.

            they have one class of lawyers who do trial law (barristers) and another that does the other stuff (solicitors)

            1. A bifurcated bar is one option, but even that probably doesn’t solve the problem. We need a more robust form of paralegal, most likely.

          2. They should do that. My experience was that the school split the difference between vocation preparation and scholarly learning, and thereby made it so your time was spent so you couldn’t effectively be competent at either. Even at full effort, there weren’t enough hours in the day. I remember going to study legal philosophy and history and being stuffed into legal research and professional writing classes that took up most of one’s time as a first-year. Add the Socratic method to it (where rote recitation of facts are at issue) and it was a mistake going where I went.

  44. I have learned a lot from this story. Amber Heard is a lesbian. That’s what I learned. And I am very sad.

    1. Penis or no penis, you didn’t have a shot. But now in the shower you get to picture all kinds of things in your head with the knowledge that she might be doing those things with another lady. So there’s that.

      1. So a healthy dose of reality is counterweighted with a healthy dose of escapism? Nice. I like that solution.

    2. Easily up there on my list of hottest fucking lesbians ever.

      I was always a big fan of Portia Rossi.

  45. While we made a mistake in promoting university education for all at the expense of training people for whom it wasn’t a good fit in the trades, if you are a person who likes to spend time flapping his jaw about life, the universe, and everything, including politics, then it really really helps to have a background in the liberal arts. It would take a really motivated person not to need college-level education to truly learn how to think well. It’s mostly about learning what you don’t know that you think you do.

    1. There is a difference between learning how to think, and being taught what to think.

      You, being the latter, wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

      1. Yes in your universe, as I understand, obese alcoholics with a teevee show teach you how to learn, whereas university professors are nothing but liberal propagandists.

        1. They are of course, but that’s not the point. The point is that most people who would benefit from a “liberal” education, can do it on their own.

          1. No they can’t. People on their own tend to “learn” things that confirm what they want to believe. It’s really hard to bring yourself to a new understanding of the world all on your own without rigorous challenge from people like professors.

            1. There is nowhere in America where any humanities student whatsoever receives “rigorous challenge from professors”.


              College is a revelation if you have never read Plato before or never read any history other than your high school textbooks. If you are even semi-literate the humanities in college are redundant and boring garbage.

              1. Part of the problem with the humanities is…(drumroll)…there’s nothing to learn.

                University humanities instruction might – might – make sense if there was some kind of gnosis out there that you could discover after being led through it step by step by an initiate into the mysteries. But there just isn’t.

                I showed up at college half-expecting that they would have some actual information to impart to me, and you know what? They didn’t. “Nobody knows anything worthwhile or definitive about any of these subjects in the end, but let’s read some books and chat about them anyway, because it’s all about the process, donchaknow?” How about let’s not and say we did, you fucks?

                I think it’s telling that the university system was CREATED when it was believed that there WAS a gnosis out there to be grasped – when you would be taught a dead language nobody spoke outside of Mass, and then use that language to read texts that were supposed to contain definitive received answers about theology and philosophy and the rest of it, and these definitive received answers were taught by people who had proven that they knew them. It makes NO sense outside of that unique social and cultural context.

                1. Okay now that is an interesting point. The end result of my humanities education was to realize that most of it was “redundant and boring” if not total bunk, and to reject philosophy as a useful discipline in a world with modern science.

                  Still, there were corners of thought I got exposed to that I simply would never have known existed. Basically, if you’re not well read in the topics then you’re not equipped to reject them on grounds other than guesswork.

              2. Forgive me if I don’t take a libertarian at his word that he learned everything he needs to know (one of the most important things being resisting dogmatic belief) by himself. If all you’re doing is getting basic requirements out of the way, I can see how you’d think that.

                1. I took four years of political science and was never assigned an author I hadn’t read on my own before I showed up. Outside of extremely dry and purposeless public-policy stuff that was no better than the average content of a single issue of the Wall Street Journal.

                  I read more history in a given year for fun than any history major at my school read in their entire course of study.

                  In philosophy classes, I did read a couple of authors I hadn’t read before, but to what end? None.

                  And you obviously completely missed the point of this post, anyway. To recap it for you and make it so simple that even your tiny little Tony brain can understand:

                  Nobody who teaches political science, philosophy, theology, and even history in 2011 bothers to pretend that any definitive answers can be found in any of these fields. But when the university system was invented in the 1300’s, it was believed that definitive answers existed in ALL of them. The point of showing up at a university to be taught by doctors and to become a doctor yourself was to learn the set of definitive answers the university was keeping safe in its possession. And the entire MODEL only makes sense if that’s the case. If there is no gnosis to be conveyed, if nobody knows anything definitive, then the entire concept of having professors and students in a university context is hopelessly out-of-time and makes absolutely no sense.

                  1. Any value I found in a humanities education had nothing to do with “answers,” but in learning how to properly think. Congratulations for you seem to have been a prodigy who didn’t need any of that. God knows how you ended up a libertarian.

                    I will say I think it’s probably better for a person to be conversant in science and the skeptical logic behind it than with humanities, if one has to choose. But philosophies aren’t totally useless either because science hasn’t figured out the answer to the central question of philosophy (and politics): how should people live? The methods of science will surely inform the debate but there are a lot of cost-benefit scenarios in figuring out how to order a society that don’t lend themselves to objectivity besides the raw statistics used to inform decisions.

                    Basically, if you’re so smart that you already know what you need to know, and know what you don’t know, fine, but I think most people are at risk of thinking Ayn Rand has all the answers and it’s permissible to stop there, or something, and that’s a little scary.

                    1. Funny thing about Rand:

                      Because of her overwhelming hatred for all other philosophers other than Aristotle – I mean snarling, savage, frothing-at-the-mouth rage – she spends a vast amount of time in her nonfiction describing what those philosophers had to say and explaining in detail exactly why she hates them.

                      But because of that – because she wanted so badly to expiate that burning hate – she ended up writing some of the best precis’ of other philosophers I’ve ever seen, outside of Nietzsche’s – and he took aim at a much more narrow range of targets.

                      So one could do worse than “just” read Rand.

                      But the whole “learning how to think” bit is really a bit oversold. If there are no answers, and if no answers are possible, by what standard could we possibly determine if one type of thinking is better than another type? All types of thinking would still produce zero.

                      A university peopled by professors of Rand’s personality type – people who believe they are constructing systems of knowledge that are correct, and who are determined to intellectually break down all opposition – would be preferable, to me, than the mealy-mouthed reality we have now. That’s how you learn to think – either by building systems or by fighting against someone who is building a system. Showing up to basically hang around with a bunch of nebbishes to shoot the breeze really accomplishes nothing by comparison.

                    2. If there are no answers, and if no answers are possible, by what standard could we possibly determine if one type of thinking is better than another type? All types of thinking would still produce zero.

                      That’s interesting. So physics is only valuable because of the assumption that its unanswered questions are answerable?

                      I wonder if you studied the pragmatists. By now we surely must employ scientific-evidence-based thinking in any debate about how human being should live, but it’s almost certain that a) figuring out how to order society is a neverending process and b) figuring out how to order society is a worthwhile endeavor. I think you must agree at least on b), even though I’m sure you also think we can’t possibly know if there is one true solution to be found.

                      Rand’s personality type strikes me as pathological, and I’m not sure what value would be found in a university populated with dogmatic narcissists.

                    3. That’s interesting. So physics is only valuable because of the assumption that its unanswered questions are answerable?

                      Yes. The hard sciences can produce at least tentative and contingent answers.

                      And I still don’t think you’re getting it. We’re not discussing the validity or value of any one of the humanities – we’re discussing the viability of the university as an institution.

                      Physics in a university context makes sense because there is content to physics that can be “known” (if only contingently) and therefore it is possible for you to move from a state of not-knowing to a state of knowing by listening to a teacher talk.

                      If nothing in the humanities can ever be “known”, in the way you can “know” about the speed of light, then you can’t move from a state of not-knowing to a state of knowing by listening to a teacher talk.

                      If there is not one true solution to be found in a given area, then the university model makes no sense for that subject.

                      The reason a university populated by Rands would be valuable is because each of those Rands would at least be operating under the illusion that they either had found or were about to find the one true solution. And such people are actually worth traveling somewhere and paying money to listen to. In the absence of at least that illusion, I fucking may as well talk to you for free instead.

                      And we actually have a historical example of a university system peopled by Rands – the German university system of the 19th century. And I can understand the university model if you’re paying money to go listen to Hegel lecture. Lecture, mind you – not assign a bunch of readings and then soliciting a bunch of sophmoric opinions on them. Lecture. Telling the students a theory he thought was right and that they could not hear anywhere else. Because there was always at least a chance that Hegel would be right, and that you would benefit in a unique way that could only be obtained at his university if you showed up to hear him. In the absence of that chance and that unique benefit, a university is a credential factory.

                    4. If there is not one true solution to be found in a given area, then the university model makes no sense for that subject.

                      That’s such nonsense. The university is the proper place to study anything, even things without objective answers like political science, literature, history, and even public policy. Definite answers are almost completely irrelevant to the justification for higher learning.

                    5. “But philosophies aren’t totally useless either because science hasn’t figured out the answer to the central question of philosophy (and politics): how should people live?”

                      What libertarians and Austrians have come to accept is that that question can only be answered on an individual level. And once someone comes up with an answer it only applies to them. They may suggest it to others, or give advice when asked, but never does anyone have the right to impose their answer on others.

                      How should Tony live? Ask Tony. He is the only one who knows the answer. If he doesn’t know and wants to seek wisdom from others, that is his choice.

                      How should sarcasmic live? Ask him.

                      What separates libertarians from other political philosophies is that we do not pretend to know the answers, nor do we believe we have the right to impose our ideas through force.

                      That’s what liberals and conservatives do.

                    6. sarcasmic that’s lovely but it’s still a framework for society even if it is individualistic in nature. The fact that no libertarian societies exist is pretty good evidence that the only way you’d get people to accept one is to impose it on them against their will, thereby breaking your central tenet. It’s not extra-super-special with bonus points because it is individualistic. It’s just another idea among many about how to order society.

                    7. “It’s just another idea among many about how to order society.”

                      Uhhh, no?

                      It is letting society order itself.

                      Emergent order as opposed to imposed order.

                      It is not a framework because nothing is imposed.

                      Darkness is an absence of light. Cold is an absence of heat. Freedom is an absence of force.

                      You are trying to describe darkness in terms of light, cold in terms of heat, freedom in terms of force.

                    8. “The fact that no libertarian societies exist is pretty good evidence that the only way you’d get people to accept one is to impose it on them against their will, thereby breaking your central tenet.”

                      The fact that no libertarian societies exist is pretty good evidence that collectivists are able to impose their will upon individualists because there is strength in numbers. It doesn’t mean collectivism is right, unless you believe might makes right. It is possible to be right, but lose, because your oppressor is better at using violence than you.

        2. “whereas university professors are nothing but liberal propagandists”

          For the most part, yes.

          Your Glenn Beck comment makes for a nice straw man, but that’s about it.

          1. As you learned from all your years in liberal arts programs, I’m sure.

            1. Every class I took that was not math, physics or computer related was taught by a liberal douche. Even in the other courses the professors tried to put a liberal douche spin on when they could through jokes, analogies, etc.

              You can’t see the bias because you’re part of it.

              1. Probably true, but then I don’t have a stick up my ass about bias. I had conservative professors who were brilliant in their field. I was studying during and after 9/11 so there was no shortage of political conversation on both sides of the aisle. I just don’t get my panties in a wad when a professor disagrees with me, because I’m aware that being exposed to ideas that I don’t already possess is the entire fucking point.

                1. That is a nice straw man you created about my reaction to my professors’ bias.
                  You have no idea of my reaction other than the fact that I recognized that their bias existed.
                  Carry on.

    2. “It would take a really motivated person not to need college-level education to truly learn how to think well.”

      No it wouldn’t. And colleges don’t.
      There are a few heuristics that can massively help that could be tought in one or two classes, but college don’t teach such things. If anything, they teach the opposite: party-line liberal thinking.

      “It’s mostly about learning what you don’t know that you think you do.”

      I wish they taught that, they don’t. My brother graduated with a business degree, but he’d still be hard pressed to know exactly where to get the forms and file to, let’s say, start an LLC, or what form of accounting would be best (the whole cash/accrual thing), etc.

      1. While most of my liberal arts-type professors were certainly liberals and probably Democrats, they never engaged in any kind of political indoctrination. The only one I can think of who did that was the neocon I had for an honors course. Mostly they taught the subjects, philosophy or literature. I find that people who whine about liberal indoctrination in colleges mostly have never been in one.

        And I’m in no way defending business schools. Or even engineering or computer science programs. I’m sure they are fine at what they do, but the problems start when engineers and computer scientists start trying to talk about hard science or politics. They just aren’t equipped.

        1. if you didn’t or don’t see any liberal indoctrination you’re (probably willfully) blind

          “but the problems start when engineers and computer scientists start trying to talk about hard science or politics. They just aren’t equipped.”

          You’re kidding, right? And, what liberals are? You’ve got to be kidding me. Right. Because a “women’s studies” major understands more about science than a trained engineer.

          1. if you didn’t or don’t see any liberal indoctrination you’re (probably willfully) blind

            Nobody ever told me or anyone else how to vote or what to believe about anything. It’s simply a vicious myth that people who don’t go to university but think they’re educated have invented to make themselves feel better. If people come out of a liberal education politically liberal, maybe that’s because that’s the inevitable direction to go in once you become educated about the world. That most academics are liberals is not evidence of a massive conspiracy, it’s evidence that being liberal and being educated and intelligent go together.

            Because a “women’s studies” major understands more about science than a trained engineer.

            I wouldn’t expect this to be the case, but dear lord the engineers I have known in my day. Maybe there’s some kind of selection bias going on in my encounters but they are almost to a person creationists.

            1. Every blue collar Masshole I know is a liberal.

              Among the people I know, the highest average intelligence and education levels are found among the libertarians.

            2. Did you see my comment above about the history professore, Tony? I’m not kidding, every class, every 5 minutes in the middle of lectures, he’d scream about Bush. I looked closely once to see if he was so ridiculous that spittle would fly out of m=his mouth or he would foam at the mouth, and he did. This literally happened. Can you imagine this? How ridiculous that is?
              Now why would he make a point of doing all that Tony?

              Any why was everything I had to read in my electives rife with liberal bullshit talking points. Women are opressed, media controls society, etc. etc. No they didn’t tell you what opinion to hold, but they only expose you to one set of opinions.

              “If people come out of a liberal education politically liberal, maybe that’s because that’s the inevitable direction to go in once you become educated about the world. That most academics are liberals is not evidence of a massive conspiracy, it’s evidence that being liberal and being educated and intelligent go together.”

              Please. You know what it indicates? It indicates that people who can’t make it in the real world economy and thus have to become academics tend to be liberals. Those who can’t do, teach, and all that. And it indicates that people who are so god damned up their own assholes that they think they’re “educated about the world” just because they’ve spent time wiritng about ONE SUBJECT tend to be liberal.

              1. I’m sure there are professors who cross the line. That doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy to hire liberals in academia or that its tendency to skew toward liberalism is part of a conspiracy. Besides, go to a business school and the opposite is the case.

                What I’m not gonna do is disparage academia because they don’t “do” things. I have all sorts of issues with modern academia (particular the pressure to publish), but I think all evidence suggests that a decent professor is worth 10 hedge fund managers, though their pay is not even in sight of the decimal point on the latter’s.

                We can agree to disagree on the usefulness of humanities professors because the only important point is what the real-world evidence supports. Why would professors–or anyone with half a brain–support Republicans? I can’t even think of a single good piece of legislation they’ve passed in decades. I can’t think of anything they’ve done in modern history except try to make the country as big of a shithole as they possibly can. The irony here is of course that the prevalence of free marketeers in Economics departments owes itself almost entirely to corporate funding. There’s the conspiracy. Without the welfare and propaganda even economists would be overwhelmingly liberals.

                1. wow Tony, you’re so educated you that you act like your political opinions are facts and everyone who thinks differently is crazy. Right, ’cause that’s education, being incapable of understanding other people’s viewpoints.
                  (and here’s a hint before you spout the old canard, very few of the millions of people who vote republican are wealthy capitalists)

                  1. I have never said that Republicans tend to be wealthy capitalists. They mine votes in large part from religious fundamentalists and oldies. I’m just saying, I can’t think of a single good reason for an educated person to vote Republican unless he has psychopathic/anarchist tendencies. So why should anyone cry about professors being overwhelmingly liberal? IMO they don’t really have much of a choice.

                    1. Yeah Tony your “education” is shining through

                    2. I’m just saying, I can’t think of a single good reason for an educated person to vote Republican unless he has psychopathic/anarchist tendencies.

                      Once again, there is no principled opposition to Progressivism. Only mental defect, which Tony will be happy to see cured in a fun-filled re-education camp.

                    3. I wish that weren’t the case! There are respectable alternatives to liberalism, it’s just that the Republican party is not one of them. It’s currently threatening to destroy the country over an insane ideological crusade that nobody wants to participate in.

                2. Besides, go to a business school and the opposite is the case.

                  You mean the professor of Queer Studies has little practical experience or knowledge in making money in the market?

                  Color me surprised.

            3. “I wouldn’t expect this to be the case, but dear lord the engineers I have known in my day. Maybe there’s some kind of selection bias going on in my encounters but they are almost to a person creationists.”

              This is pure BS. As a scientist working for 30 yrs among other scientists and engineers, technical people are mostly agnostics, or philosophical Xtians. Water walking and virgin births are just not easily validated by expt.

    3. People should be trained for jobs picked for them by the government, and not be allowed to earn more than a maximum wage set by same.

  46. Maybe avoiding college works for some degrees or professions, but it doesn’t in any field of engineering. No four year accredited degree, no job. Want a professional engineering license, you need a few years of work, and oh yeah that engineering degree. Think you can submit any type of construction drawings without a PE stamp, sorry no dice (required by law in every state.) Same with boilers, pressure vessels, piping, etc. The four year degree is now institutionalized, and it’s not going away because someone thinks it’s a waste of money.

    1. I really don’t think anyone is making the argument that a college degree isn’t worthwhile for engineers (or medical doctors, as another example.)

    2. I don’t think that’s what Stossel is talking about.

      He’s talking about going to college because it is expected by society, because of the status of being able to say “I went to this college while you went to that one” in the most condescending tone possible, or for The College Experience?.

      I was disappointed that he did not talk about studying engineering, computer science, or some other targeted field for a profession.

  47. Oh, and I guess this is the part of the discussion where I point out that if you buy a Kindle and download 150 classic texts from Project Gutenberg for free, and assign yourself the task of writing a paper about each text (while drinking a six pack between each paper) for that $114 investment you will have duplicated all the learning that comes from a humanities degree.

    1. well, not really. who is going to review those papers, point out errors,logical inconsistencies, etc.

      the learning process involves (at least in a good university) a two way interaction between teacher and student

      of course the primary teacher, i agree, IS the classics themselves, but your experiment fails since it leaves out a valuable part of the whole college thing. feedback

      also, john houseman making sarcastic comments at you about the law

      1. The problem with your counterargument is that the feedback I received on papers never changed my thinking one iota. The point of turning in the paper was to get a grade on it. I never, ever, ever said, “Oh gee, I guess I will change my opinion of Rawls now because of your pithy little red comment in the margin.” And I had zero teachers who lectured after freshman year – they just assigned texts to read and then “Socratically” asked questions and then had people in the class comment on the answers. There was NO professor who was some kind of Hegel figure with a distinct worldview I could only encounter at college who would lecture and actually convey content. My experience would have been unchanged had the papers been written and then thrown in the trash, or had I read the texts and then talked about them with 10 peers chosen at random.

        1. ok, well your experience was very different than mine. my prof’s were very smart and especially in philosophy classes (where i wrote the bulk of my papers) their feedback was invaluable to me


    2. @Fluffy
      I made a similar point above, but you spelled ‘Gutenberg’ correctly so you win.

      I’m sure you could find someone online that knows what they are talking about to rip your paper to shreds for free.

      1. and of course that’s how online colleges work.

        i look at it this way. can somebody get as good or superior education in most fields w.o going to college?

        absolutely. zero doubt about it

        does that make college useless? even if it’s credential benefits were eliminated? no

        among other things, i got to see stuff in one of my anatomy classes (like a cadaver being slowly taken apart) that a non-college student save some very illegal shit would unlikely be able to see/learn about

        1. To your last sentence I agree completely.

          I’m currently in school for chemistry and there is no good substitute for laboratory guidance and experience.

          My experience with humanities classes has been a mixed bag, though. I’ve had good professors, like in my last phil class. But mostly I either get Prof Tony(anyone who doesn’t agree with me is obviously an idiot/crazy) or Prof Don’t Give a Shit. The ladder prof is the guy that has us read something then turns the discussion over to the class. Listening to 18-21 year-olds pontificate is not my idea of an education. In fact, I’d rather have my toenails pulled out then deal with that again.

          1. fwiw, i experienced FAR more liberal bias in grad school (from prof’s) than i did in undergrad

            granted, (1) private school (2) a field of study that naturally attracts libs

    3. actually yeah, you’d have “learned” about the same amount if we’re talking liberal arts degrees. That’s basically what all my electives were, reading crap and then writing essays, with the stuff we were assigned to read having a massively leftist slant.

      And that’s not to mention the ridiculousness of requiring someone learning something technical (like engineering, compsci, etc.) to take liberal arts electives. Why do they need to learn that stuff? The only writing classes should be teaching how to write business letters and how to communicate properly with laymen (i.e., still oriented towards the technical skill as it pertains to one’s future job)

      1. I’m sure that’s fine for some people, but if you’re interested in having a functional relationship with the ideas of the world, you have to have something of a familiarity with philosophy and its history. A logic course requirement would do a lot of people a hell of a lot of good too.

        1. liberal arts degrees do no such thing. If anything they lower such abilities by indoctrinating susceptible young minds to knee-jerk liberal leftist positions. Real skepticism is deliberately derided and shouted down.

          Colleges just do not achieve this goal you claim they do, and that doesn’t even address the fact as to whether they should (especially if public funds go to them).

          Oh and you know what else creates a functional relationship with the ideas of the world, ACTUAL REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE, especially at a JOB that ACTUALLY PRODUCES SOMETHING. For example, you might better understand the challenges of a creating regulatory scheme if you’ve actually HAD TO WORK THROUGH THE REGULATIONS. You’re never going to do that if you stay in academia or if you learn “women’s studies” and slut around for 4 years straight.

          If all these college kids don’t yet have “a functional relationship with the ideas of the world”, then shouldn’t we at least raise the voting age?

          1. Studying in the humanities and being indoctrinated into a political belief have nothing to do with each other. Granted, I haven’t been to every university, but neither have you. It’s just not something I see anywhere outside of the paranoid ranting of right-wing ideologues whose anti-intellectual streak I find incredibly dangerous.

            I definitely agree that it’s not for most people, and that this country would have been better served emphasizing trade learning and experiences over college-for-all. I’m just saying, if you spend time say on a blog pontificating about abstract ideas, it helps to have a background that prepares you for it.

            I don’t think you have to look very far to see that in the absence of those ideological zombies known as professors (i.e., the people societies tend to treat as its most educated) loud-mouthed propagandists tend to move in.

            1. how about the ranting of the above-described professor? And right wingers don’t have an anti-intellectual streak, they have a streak against people who CLAIM they’re intellectuals and educated and so can dictate to everyone else; people who think they’re better than everyone else.

              and professors ARE loud-mouthed propagandists

              1. look, i hate to (kind of) agree with Tony here, but i went to a public university in socal, and i suffered very little political indoctrination or bias of ANY leaning in my classes. the administration was a different story (they had no problem with hiring angela davis as a speaker, but thought sam kinison was too offensive to hire for comedy etc.), but i don’t really recall any incidents of prof’s pontificating on any matter political.

                maybe if i was a sociology major or god forbid women’s studies, that would be decidedly different. there is AMPLE evidence that those fields are filled with “the liberal pov is the only acceptable pov”.

                i took mostly computer science and philosophy classes and ideological crap really didn’t come up.

                btw, there are tons of examples of college’s leftwing bias over at FIRE

            2. Tony
              did you ever hear about when those miners were trapped in that coal mine a little while ago that the company had recieved numerous safety-regulation citations?
              What did you think of that?

              1. I thought we obviously need better regulatory enforcement and finding alternatives to dangerous and dirty fuels you have to risk human lives to acquire might be a good idea.

                1. and that’s my point exactly
                  if you were actually EDUCATED, you’d know that receiving citations is a REGULAR thing in the industry. But you’re not completely educated because you probably haven’t worked in the primary or secondary sectors of the economy. EXPERIENCE breeds REAL EDUCATION too.

                  and even your second part of your comment belies your true ignorance. Even a sursory understanding of physics would let you know that THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE FUEL that’s clean and safe (at least not to the extent that you’d like). There’s nuclear, but you liberals are against that, and there’s nat gas, but you guys are complaining against that too. Finding this magical fuel or technology you imagine will be a matter of pure luck from a societal standpoint, no amount of funding is going to make it happen. The basic physics of thermodynamics just makes it that way, it’s not a matter of debate.
                  If you were educated, you liberals might undertand that YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T EXIST. The people you put into power are using OUR MONEY to chase something magical, akin to alchemy or a free energy machine. THAT’S why right-wingers don’t like supposed “intellectuals”

                  1. Wait, so it’s just objective truth that coal mining companies regularly are convicted of acting “with malicious, willful, wanton, reckless or intentional disregard for plaintiffs’ rights” and being charged tens of millions of dollars in fines for violations? Seems to me if the problems are that widespread then my point is only more salient.

                    Second, clean energy is no longer all that pie-in-the-sky; the problems are more political than technical.

                    You’re illustrating THE VERY PROBLEM I was trying to get at. You THINK you know everything, but like ignorance of all stripes yours doesn’t come with an ignorance detection ability. That’s what I mean by “knowing what you don’t know” and how that’s one of the more valuable things people learn in the humanities. Because grown-up adults who don’t actually know that much never think themselves as ignorant as they are, and that’s a problem.

                    1. no, I wasn’t talking about the convictions, I was talking about the regulatory citations. They happen all the time to every company

                      yes it is. All your clean energy mumbo jumbo is pie in the sky. You’re talking to me about ignorance and education, and then in the same phrase saying there’s some alternative to fossil fuels or nuclear? That’s nonsense. It’s basic thermodynamics, try learning it. The only short term “solution” would be to let everyone fucking starve and die from exposure.

                    2. Basic physics isn’t a debate. Look at population distributions vs. arable land. Then look compare the cost of solar cells, which is like $1,500 for 1 square meter to produce only like 80 watts and then die out after 30 years, versus coal which is like 24 kj per gram, and is insanely cheap and abundant and easily harvested and transported, same with natgas. And none of that even addresses that vehicles need FUEL that can work in an engine.
                      Then consider that all those poeople need food shipped to them, and water pumped, and materials sent to maintain their housing, and electricity to maintain their HVAC (remember, both heat and cold can kill you, especially old people)
                      You do all that math and you come up with the FACT that there is no “alternative”, nor do any of the proposed new ones come close, or are they likely to come close any time soon.

                      If you want to tell me that you hope that putting more money into research might make whatever miraculous discovery happen sooner, then yeah, maybe. But it’s still mostly just a chance thing.

                      Facts are facts, Tony

                      if you’re going to tell me they don’t exist, then you’re not very educated

                    3. Edwin solar is not really beyond the realm of comprehension–not any more so than the promises of technological innovation that libertarians use as an excuse in all sorts of matters.

                      One estimate I read is that the US could get 70% of its electricity from solar by 2050, but it would take $420 billion in subsidies to build the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive. My view is that requiring clean energy to compete in the status quo marketplace is a flawed outlook since we don’t really have a choice, and the current market is hardly uninfluenced. Coal is not as cheap as you describe because of the unaccounted for external costs. Or are entire mountains something you consider cheap?

                      That is, we need a WWII of energy and in WWII you didn’t have a bunch of pencil-necked accountants going over every expense. Yes it will take massive effort, but it’s not technically impossible. You’re just throwing out excuses for the status quo, which is sad coming from people who usually put a lot of stock in the human ability to innovate.

                    4. absolute nonsense and nonsense numbers. Solar panels are INSANELY expensive and die off after 30 years, not to mention all the other problems. Hell, how much land would you have to clear just to put that shit down? Not to mention you’d have to completely overhaul zoning laws and force people to ignore what they consider a massive nuisance and eyesore, which you’re never going to do.

                    5. It’s strange that Tony is so desperate to argue that colleges nourish the ability to think critically and independently, and his example of independent and critical thinking is a completely uncritical recitation of the popular media narrative of this event.

                    6. And it’s decidedly humdrum that you guys have a ready-made narrative to defend the actions of one of the worst violators in one of the most dangerous and dirty industries in the world.

                    7. I’m not defending their actions, not to mention that it wasn’t an “action”, it was an accident. and like I said, every company gets those safety and enviornemtnal citations all the time. That’s generally how those regulations work, both state and federal. My jobsite used to get erosion citatios all the time.
                      If you had some real world EXPERIENCE you’d know this. That’s real EDUCATION.

                      Not to mention PHYSICS ISN’T A NARRATIVE.
                      On the enrgy issue, IT’S NOT A DEBATE. If you disagree that we’re saying that there is currently no alternative and none of the budding technologies are likely to come close, then YOU’RE JUST WRONG. If you expect all the people in the world currently alive today to keep surviving at typical survival rates for our species, then that’s the fact of the matter on alternative energy.

                      How about you LEARN THE ACTUAL PHYSICS FIRST and then talk?

                    8. Someone so well versed in physics but dead-set in the opinion that nothing can be done to decrease the world’s dependence of fossil fuels ought to be highly freaked out, considering what physics is telling us the burning of fossil fuels is doing to the world.

                    9. again, it’s not an opinion

                      literally the only way to lower our dependence on fossil fuels to the extent that I’d imagine you’d wish would involve literally just killing millions of people

                      people need their food, need building materials to upkeep buildings, need their water, or they don’t survive. That all takes fuels and electricity

                      And physics isn’t what tells us about global warming, it’s climatology, which is a much more loosely based subject and hardly as set in stone as basic mechanics and thermodynamics

                    10. Well, Tony, if you were going to critically think, in response to the question, “did you ever hear about when those miners were trapped in that coal mine a little while ago that the company had recieved numerous safety-regulation citations?” you would FIRST, BEFORE YOU ANSWERED, have to determine:

                      1. What were the citations in question?

                      2. Were they related to this event?

                      3. What evidence is there that this event was safety-related and not a freak accident?

                      4. Since the company already operates under a very strict regulatory regime, how can we know if any particular accident is the result of regulatory failure?

                      I’m amused because I have never seen you do that. You just say, “we obviously need better regulatory enforcement” when that is precisely what would NEVER be “obvious” if you were actually thinking critically.

                      Remember, Tony, the dominant social and political narrative in the United States at this time – the status quo – is a massive regulatory state. So you aren’t demonstrating critical or independent thinking of any kind when your snap answer is “Well, we need to do the status quo, only a little moreso.”

                    11. well put, Fluffy

                      THAT is why I don’t like liberals

                      I don’t have anything against appropriate regulation, but it’s clearly stupid when that’s your only perscription for EVERYTHING, along with massive taxes

                    12. Fluffy the evidence for such things tends to get worked out in our criminal justice system. Since Massey Energy paid the largest-to-date criminal and civil penalties for such a disaster, I would say that the evidence was found to disagree with you about it being a freak accident.

                    13. so just because a court says it was a matter of systematic, severe negligence, it necessarily was so?

                      but hey, it’s not like people get sympathetic over victims, especially people too stupid to avoid jury duty. And it’s not like a lot of people have an anti-business bias. Ignore all those ads on TV scrounging for every last person just to make some case against some company.

                      Is this your critical thinking skills you learned in college, Tony?

                      Not saying it wasn’t a matter of negligence, I don’t know for sure one way or anotherm, but from what I remember about the story they had the redundant fan systems and all the other crap in place that they were supposed to.

                    14. so just because a court says it was a matter of systematic, severe negligence, it necessarily was so?

                      For any useful purposes. I dunno, should I believe the criminal justice system whose job it is to determine these things, or the convenient alternative you just pulled from your ass?

                    15. A critical thinker would recognize that I didn’t say it was a freak accident.

                      You can’t be a critical thinker when you’re too stupid to read, Tony.

                      I said that there were questions you would need to know the answer to before you could provide a critical answer.

                      And making reference to a criminal finding doesn’t release you from the obligation to critically consider the evidence yourself, Tony. Have you read the entire transcript? Do you know the answer to any of the other questions I posed?

                      I’m sure you don’t.

                      I’m not actually demanding that you know them, either, Tony. I’m just trying to highlight that the whole “college teaches you to critically think” thing is a total fucking dodge. It’s a dodge invented to cover up the fact that the humanities are an empty shell. It’s a dodge because it’s yet one more content-free bit of nonsense that you can fit on a bumper sticker and learn in a fucking afternoon. I can teach a literate person how to be a functional skeptic in about an hour, Tony. It doesn’t take four fucking years of college. It’s also a dodge because NOBODY ACTUALLY DOES IT, for the simple reason that each of us has to make decisions and judgements on thousands of issues quickly and in the absence of perfect evidence, and so we take shortcuts. Your own, personal shortcuts here are “Well, more regulation is ALWAYS the answer” and “Well, nobody would have died if an evil corporation hadn’t made some kind of mistake” and “Well, I read in the paper that Massey paid big fines” and on the basis of those three Well’s you construct a syllogism. I’m not even blaming you, really – just please don’t come around and tell me what a critical thinker you are.

                    16. And making reference to a criminal finding doesn’t release you from the obligation to critically consider the evidence yourself, Tony. Have you read the entire transcript? Do you know the answer to any of the other questions I posed?

                      No, why isn’t the court finding good enough? They had access to all the evidence in a much more rigorous way than I ever could. Maybe they got it wrong, but it’s hardly irrelevant.

                      Your tirade against a civilized education is evidence only of your oversized ego-an unsurprising hallmark of libertarians. Because you didn’t learn anything, nobody can.

                      The obvious, incontrovertible answer to the Massey disaster is that coal mining is not regulated enough. That was obvious before the disaster. But you are always against any increase in regulations, not for any specific purpose but because it advances a utopian agenda.

                    17. Tony, you’re SHOWING us that a college education most certainly does NOT teach one to think critically with your statements. We never said we’re SURE that Massey didn’t act irresponsibly, we’ve just pointed out shortcomnings with assuming that a court ruling necessarily reflects reality, and we explained our reservations above. Such an assumption is SHALLOW REASONING and NOT CRITICAL THINKING.

                      “The obvious, incontrovertible answer to the Massey disaster is that coal mining is not regulated enough.”
                      That’s a huge leap to make from one case. That’s not critical thinking, Tony. Here’s a crazy thougt, maybe disasters happen no matter what you do, and you can’t act like every disaster is something that could have been made to not happen, that we could have a world free of disasters in our technologic society. That’s the rhetoric of your side, and that’s why that’s all you can say now on the subject, and that’s NOT critical thinking. All you’re doing is parroting a script that comes from your side.

                      I’m not saying I know anything for sure, I’m telling you that there is a lot to have reservations about with court rulings. So much so that, from what I understand, a lot of socialized countries have mandatory business insurance paid to the state, and accident reimbursements are paid from such funds. Yeah, those countries you love so much basically had the same issues I do with a court system, and did something about it.

                    18. So you’re not sure, here’s a pat on the back. I, however, am sure that the coal mining industry is underregulated. That sureness is based on lots and lots of evidence. Since a court of law determined that the Massey disaster wasn’t an accident, then it really doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking to realize that the burden is now on you to prove otherwise.

                    19. Tony: “grown-up adults who don’t actually know that much never think themselves as ignorant as they are, and that’s a problem.”

                      A brilliant, if ironic, statement of, and exemplification of, a truism. You made my day!

        2. “if you’re interested in having a functional relationship with the ideas of the world”….you should work in it for a few years.

      2. In engineering schools in the British Commonwealth, you’re expected to have taken all of that stuff in high school.

        When I was at the University of Toronto in the 1970s two non-technical electives before the end of their sophomore year was all engineers were required to take to get a “well-rounded” education. That might have changed since 1980 or so but that was all that was required then.

        Calculus in high school was required for admission to engineering at the University of Toronto but I don’t think it was in other provinces.

        “Engineers don’t need no English” was a common joke in Canada.

  48. ,,,,, I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshibalaptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by fedex. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores.I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff,

    1. See? Didn’t need college for that.

  49. So what’s Hollywood supposed to do if college loses popularity and becomes unrelateable? They’ll lose an entire genre of movies! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

  50. This article is full of half truths and omitted facts. Mr. “100k for dropping out of school” only gives money if you are younger then 20. What a load of shit. What about the rest of us who worked for a living but went back to learn a trade?
    “Too bad, Too old” is the answer.

    Mr. Stossel, perhaps instead of ragging on college, perhaps some alternatives to getting that vaunted experience? Humm? I have listened to you in the past and you made sense then, don’t start NOT MAKING SENSE now.

  51. I watched the episode about this.

    Out of one side of his mouth Stossel says that college is way too expensive.

    Out of the other side, he says that too many people go.

    Will more people go to college if it’s cheaper or more expensive?

    1. Too many people go, AND it is too expensive because of govt subsidies.

  52. This is sad shit right here:

    Atlanta schools announce changes after scandal

    By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press ? 5 hours ago

    ATLANTA (AP) ? As the Atlanta school district grapples with a cheating scandal that has drawn national attention, the interim school superintendent said Thursday that the district will automatically investigate suspicious test scores and require ethics training for all employees.

    The changes announced by interim Superintendent Erroll Davis Jr. come two days after state investigators said 178 educators had cheated on standardized tests used to meet federal benchmarks dating back to 2001. Davis reiterated Thursday that none of those educators will work in an Atlanta classroom again.

    The educators face possible criminal charges and could lose their teaching licenses for changing answers on students’ tests and helping students answer questions. Some may face charges of lying to investigators or tampering with state documents.…..adfb9e0c52

    Who here on reason threads will support what these teachers and administrators did?


    1. …state investigators said 178 educators had cheated on standardized tests used to meet federal benchmarks dating back to 2001.

      Seppuku is not without its merits.

      1. Crickets from the liberal wing, I see…

  53. college graduates are horrendously un-knowledgeable about everyday stuff in the world, I remember once reading that s urvey found that like half of the graduates couldn’t read a bus schedule.

    Which way does the sun go and tilt?
    How do plant/grow potatoes?
    How do you patch a wall if you bumped a hole into it?
    How do you change your oil?
    What are the biggest cities in the country? And geographic knowledge in general

    I’ll bet that a good chunk of graduates would fail at these things. Basic everyday life skills and knowledge.

    I remember once trying to explain tree grafting and seed overwintering to some chick in college, she became inordinatrely confused. Somehow at one point she though I was saying that two seeds would grow into one tree. WTF?

    1. Did they survey non-graduates?

      1. I don’t remember it was part of another article

        the point is that, even if they faired better than non-graduates, it doesn’t mean jack squat if you don’t know fucking BASIC things about life and the world, especially given the amount of money we as a society spend on this thing

        Trade schools and specialized classes would clearly be a better investment from a societal standpoint

    2. One time I was at a bar and some obnoxious, arrogant dickhead tried to convince me that “tree grafting and seed overwintering” were “basic everyday life skills and knowledge”. I pretended to be “inordinatrely [sic] confused” and he eventually left me alone.

  54. I think we could all devise a shorter college program for obtaining skill in any particular profession. For instance,I think you could turn out a pretty good cpa with seven ten week semesters (three of which were work-study). That would include some introductory courses in manufacturing, marketing, finance, economics which a future cpa would need to best serve his clients. The trouble with shorter degree programs is not many kids show up as freshmen knowing exactly what they want to do in life. Maybe it’s “be a businessman” but until the student is exposed to all facets of “business” she may not know which turns her on. Perhaps the last several years of high school could sort students out better?

    1. guido sarducci was WAY ahead of you

  55. “Do kids learn anything at Harvard?”

    Not if our current POTUS is any indicator.

  56. From upthread:

    you might better understand the challenges of a creating regulatory scheme if you’ve actually HAD TO WORK THROUGH THE REGULATIONS. You’re never going to do that if you stay in academia

    Yeah, cuz those in academia never have to interface with government regulations. /sarcasm.

    1. well I was speaking more of technocratic regulations

      but anyway for professors the point still stands, from what I understand they don’t deal with that stuff and the accreditation process as much – the colleges have separate staff for that, no?

      1. – the colleges have separate staff for that, no?

        Sometimes, for dealing with some of it. But anyone who is the PI on a research grant deals directly with a level of regulation pretty much unheard of in most private industries.

        1. @ Edwin|7.7.11 @ 5:43PM
          @ Neu Mejican|7.7.11 @ 7:04PM

          Accreditation has nothing to do with federal regulations. Most secondary and post-secondary institutions go for regional accreditation. These accrediting bodies are basically made up of the staff from accredited institutions. Unless something has changed recently, the federal government has nothing to do with their makeup, policies, procedures, or criteria.

          I’ve been through the regional accreditation process twice, and neither of the institutions had staff that was dedicated to accreditation issues. In both cases, a team was assembled from the existing staff–comprised of faculty, administrators, support staff, and students (parents in the case of the secondary school) to drive the self-study and interfacing with the visiting team. This is also the case at the university where my wife teaches.

          Caveat: I am talking about accreditation of the institution as a whole, not of particular programs. I suppose there may exist programs that rely on some sort of federal regulatory scheme to achieve accreditation.

  57. Well, I wouldn’t have gotten my CPA license without my college degree (or my last 3 jobs in finance) so for me at least it was worth it.

    Then again, I picked my degree with jobs in mind. So that probably helped

  58. Fluffy|7.7.11 @ 3:35PM|#

    The problem with your counterargument is that the feedback I received on papers never changed my thinking one iota.

    You never learned anything from feedback? I am skeptical.

    The point of turning in the paper was to get a grade on it. I never, ever, ever said, “Oh gee, I guess I will change my opinion of Rawls now because of your pithy little red comment in the margin.”

    So you’re ego didn’t allow you to benefit from criticism…most people actually consider input from others.

    And I had zero teachers who lectured after freshman year – they just assigned texts to read and then “Socratically” asked questions and then had people in the class comment on the answers.

    And you never benefitted from this discourse?

    There was NO professor who was some kind of Hegel figure with a distinct worldview I could only encounter at college who would lecture and actually convey content. My experience would have been unchanged had the papers been written and then thrown in the trash, or had I read the texts and then talked about them with 10 peers chosen at random.

    So you are endorsing the socratic process you went through in the classroom then?

    I am gonna call bullshit. This is a narrative you want to use to further your rhetorical point, but I don’t buy it as a description of your actual intellectual development during your college experience.

    1. I’d be interested in hearing some experience that you have had in which your professor/class has made you think outside of your normal modes.

      I’ve had really profound ‘AHA!’ moments, but they always occur in a math or science class. My experience with humanities classes pretty much mirrors Fluffy’s. Maybe it’s due to a difference in personality or temperament. Really, I feel more challenged debating people on the internet.

      1. Personal experience: Regardless of the broader political point here, I’ve definitely had “AHA!” moments in structured class environments within the humanities. I also personally need the structure and order a classroom setting provides, where the chaos and overarching themes are ordered for me, as it’s probably my weakest suit when it comes to cognitive power/processing/understanding.

        I also think I could learn the harder sciences with a good textbook, a videotaped lecture, forced homework, and an answer key.

        1. With my math and science courses I try to read ahead or learn the material by myself, but will not get it until someone does it on the board. Then after I go over it another time something usually clicks and it’s a great feeling. I just don’t get that in, say, a history class.

          With the humanities stuff I read it, consider different arguments/interpretations, and then think of ways to rebut those. Then I get to class and we’re supposed to do the same thing aloud and much much s l o w e r.

          1. I can totally see your point. I think it’s personal and also limited by experience. I’ve just had some darn good humanities professors, I guess. If anything, I think that after the basics, the syllabus is hugely important in the humanities, and the act of choosing the texts and explaining what holds them together is indicative of the intellectual prowess of the instructor. I guess I got my Hegelian instructors that you didn’t, and I think that what may be the issue is. Re-reading your earlier point, that’s what I mean by ordering the chaos — it’s that sort of dialectical understanding and historical ordering of the works that can make a class great, and the professor needs to both understand his material and convey that effectively.

  59. One of the things schools fail to do is prepare you for competing for jobs. As a degree holder who works in retail, I wish i could go back and tell myself that if I was going to put myself 35k in debt, I should have gone with a major with a “career path” laid out for me. My current career goal is a job that 3 years ago only required a diploma and for some reason now requires a degree without an increase in salary. I know this because my mother once had the same job and she never went to school. most jobs I apply for say that my degree is only good for the equivalent of 2 years of experience in a job. If only I spent those 4 years in college working instead…

  60. Oh yeaahhhh, an episode about Salma Hayek!

  61. Ron Paul in the house? No.

  62. Do I see Mein Kampf on the bookshelf behind the congressman?

  63. Thatcher turned Britain around? Literally? So the east coast no longer has to look at Europe?

  64. Maybe we should elect the market to Congress.

    1. No ways! That invisible hand would be worthless when it comes to punctuating key phrases with that weird presidential thumb-index knuckle point gesture. I mean it’s freakin invisible.

  65. A friend of mine was a collectivist of Beanie Babies.

    1. “From each according to his collectibility, to each according to his availability.”

      -Karl Marx Beanie

  66. ACORN sells stairlifts? When you get to the top of the stairs you find a voter registration with Democrat already checked off.

  67. I shut the cable off, this is how I now watch Stossel.

    You provide an invaluable service, Mr. Etiquette.

    1. I think my comments give you the jist of what’s going on, minute by minute.

      1. That’s what I’m payin’ for.

        1. Just don’t forget that all the props are comically oversized.

  68. They should hire people to blow at the wind farms.

  69. “Polar bear hugging ecological righteousness.”

    This guy is fun to listen to, even if he is stealing his accent from Varney.

  70. Holy fucking shit. This guy’s book is called “Watermelons”???

    Do I really have to say it?

    1. I can finally say it. That Van Jones is a total watermelon eater.

      1. Green on the outside, red on the inside, delicious on the tongue.

  71. The rapping economists aren’t sending us into commercial anymore? What a gyp.

  72. Spoilers about Glengarry Glen Close! No warnings.

  73. Mamet’s wearing Where’s Waldo glasses.

  74. “There’s only so much the government can do.”

    Someone tell Obama.

    1. Hey! I was lead to believe the squirrels would convert that to a hyperlink. Double gyp.

  75. The dude infected his laptop and his first reaction is to go to the store? For what? A Mac?

  76. First thing out of her mouth Godwins Stossel.

  77. You know who else had a mustache and liked to surround himself with tall blonds?

    1. Mike Godwin?

  78. Coulter name drops Cornell. Somewhere Olbermann’s head explodes.

    1. I wish I could have Olberman and Coulter fight to the death. Just so some portion of them would be dead without wasting any other resources.

  79. A college education is no guarantee of success in life.

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    Calvin Coolidge
    30th president of US (1872 – 1933)

  80. Tea Partiers are “thinkers”. They should think themselves up a better moniker.

  81. “Oh, you libertarians and the drug war!”

    You have been rebutted, Stossel.

  82. Hayek likes big butts, and he cannot lie.

  83. One thing that is very irritating is the assumption that if you didn’t stick around to get a college degree, that you are not intellectual, not professional, and somehow unclean.

    The reality is quite the opposite for many people.

    – College classes proceed at a stately pace…what if you’ve got other things to do than wait for the rest of the class to catch up with you?

    – Many (though not all) college professors are leftist pseudo-intellectuals with an intense, active grudge against American society…some students don’t really want to spend additional years listening to socialist spew from somebody who can’t get a job in the real world.

    The only thing I ever missed about leaving college was the girls.

    However, it is generally true that you don’t get paid as well as a college graduate for doing the same job. This is a symptom of the idiocy that is corporate culture – incompetent, nitwit HR departments whose personnel are incapable of independent thought and competent judgment instead relying on rigid, check-the-box policies to determine compensation. I got tired of correcting the work of colleagues with masters degrees who were making 5-10k more than me for the same position, and I started my own business.

    1. College is what you make of it. And we’ve got to have some sort of credentialing. It’s impractical for everyone in the workforce to have to prove his skill before getting a job.

      1. Let us guess… the credentialing has to be done by federally-approved experts.

      2. Is it though? Couldn’t we pass some laws to create a trial period for employees where for a while they aren’t taxed and severance pay doesn’t kick in if they’re fired? So that employers can actually find the employees who will be best for them, and help lower the country’s (and/or relevent state’s) unemployment. It’d be like internships, but more fluid and faster.
        Might really help the economy. Oh wait a minute, it involves lowering taxes even a tiny bit so Tony’d be against it. One consistent thing you can expect out of Tony is that actually helping the economy is secondary to the grand philosophy.

        1. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve stated multiple times that we should deemphasize 4-year higher education for people for whom it’s not a good fit. There are many, many problems with the way our job market is structured, among them a lack of apprenticeship-type programs in which upward mobility is actually possible.

          And certainly no credentialing system will be perfect. But as long as college offers an actual post-secondary education and fulfills the needs of someone interested in learning the things that come with that, it’s better than nothing.

          1. Oh fuck. A post by Tony with which I cannot find a single thing to disagree. Is this the real Tony?

            Let me try this: Who bears the blame for the problems in the structure of the job market?

      3. College is what it is, not what you make it. It is an unnecessarily long process bloated with irrelevant general distribution requirements meant to provide rationale for funding fringe subjects that would not see significant enrollment otherwise.

        With regard to credentialing, academic credentials do not prove your skills. As I stated above, I spent plenty of time correcting the work of people with masters degrees. Furthermore, I held the same job title, but got paid substantially less. Eventually, one might fight through to a more visible individual contributor or managerial slot where your performance is more obvious and you have greater bargaining power, but it’s silly to have to do that.

        I would agree that there are certain areas of endeavor in which someone ought to complete formal schooling – some forms of engineering and virtually all of medicine, for instance, but there are a lot of “soft skill” BS degrees out there that really don’t demonstrate anything significant one’s abilities.

        One of the major contributors to the college degree requirement and bias bloat is the absolute worthlessness of much of America’s high school education these days. A high school diploma used to mean that you could read, write, and do mathematics reasonably well, but it doesn’t convey any such assurances today. For entry-level workers, I think the bachelor’s degree has replaced the high school diploma for demonstration of basic, general skills competency and aptitude for further training and education. As such, jobs that once would have required only a four year degree now require a graduate degree.

        Finally, it is specifically the LACK OF SKILL among degree-holding professionals that irritates me. If they were all that corporate culture cracks them up to be, then I’d acknowledge that – but they’re not. Many of them just stink at what they do and more of them are only mediocre. Excellence, as alluded to in Stossel’s article, flows from something other than collegiate education. The degree holders who are really good at what they do would have been good no matter what they did – college educated or not. It wasn’t college that made them good, it was pride, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility to employers, coworkers, and customers to do the right thing and do the right thing well.

        Having said all that, any young guy looking to meet cute, smart, nice girls couldn’t go wrong by going to college – but that’s its only benefit for most of us.

        1. There are plenty of people with B.A./B.S. degrees who can’t read, write, or do math reasonably well. Just look at most of our politicians. George W. Bush and Barack Obama are college grads. Need I say more?

    2. Started my own business as well Mark. There is way too many incompetent people out there being backed by billion dollar corporations. It’s all about dumping the blame on someone else in corporate culture. Education is the biggest scam of all time. The ‘best’ part is that it is backed by the federal government

  84. Ultimately it comes down the basic economics; supply and demand. Pumping out gazillions of college graduates into a market that doesn’t need them ultimately ends in horribly underemployed and heavily indebted college graduates.

    Ideally tuition rates should be set on a course by course basis. Highly valued courses like those in the sciences ought to command more tuition than those with little value whatsoever like those taught in history or communications.

  85. As the world becomes more advanced and global, those that don’t have a differentiating factor are going to lose out. While college might not be for everyone, once you have a degree, no one can take it away from you. While the author talks about ten billionaires that never went to college, most people aren’t ever going to be billionaires or entrepreneurs. So when things get tough and you need a job, there’s a big difference in having a degree vs. not having one.

  86. Maybe the scam is that the first two years of college could be and should be standard high school curriculum.

  87. Higher Education is and always will be a scam. A scam run by mostly the government and the mainstream media. They are already in charge of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history with Social Security. The result of this education scam is simple. To reduce the United States Population into a service oriented nation. Force the masses into so much college debt that they eventually have to take any jobs to make ends meet. Realistically there are not enough well paying jobs for each person that graduates from an institution. A couple of guys at the top and everyone else at the bottom. What better way than forced poverty to police an already overpopulated nation. The knowledge anyone seeks can be found in a library and through plain old fashioned hard work.

  88. I have a BA and MS in communications. I was fired from 4 jobs and each time lowered myself in terms of resume. I became a carpenter/remodeling contractor. Did ok. I have a 7 figure portfolio and retired at 58. College did help me in terms of maturing and associating with smart people. That said my skills were entirely self taught and investment learning was by hard knocks. Lose $100 K and it is a big lesson. College? eh??

  89. Big talk from a gainfully employed Princeton grad. Are we supposed to believe that this guy would have his current career as a major journalist without his bloated, overpriced education?

    Just another well-off, highly-educated commentator who’s finished climbing the ladder and wants to pull it up behind him. Sorry John, I’m not going to let some eating club snob tell me I oughta be hanging drywall for the rest of my life.

  90. College can be very valuable, although its value is diluted by the large number of people in college who are not suited to advanced learning. Without govt subsidies – given on a need basis rather than a qualifications basis – many of these folks would start their careers earlier and mature sooner into responsible citizens. Govt aid also drives up costs. So govt interference has the perverse effect of harming everyone! What else is new.

  91. Stossel doesn’t get it. College, university, trade school? What is he talking about? These are very different things, if a student goes to a research university and thinks their profs are going to hold their hands while they learn, then that’s the student’s fault for not figuring out where they should go. Research universities are essential because they spit teaching and research, 40-40, service typical makes up the last 20. That research has lead to such things as, you know, modern physics, chemistry, medicine and basically everything technological. Are we to change this because some douche who got Cs in college is a bellhop. Stossel is an idiot.

  92. From my forty floor balcony, I watch the little people go to work. I do not know if they are plumbers or lawyers. What I do know is that crime pays.

  93. I never went to college and I am doing fine. College IS a scam!

  94. Of course it’s a scam. Unless your major is something very technical (math, science, engineering) or something very useful (computers/I.T., accounting/finance, business administration) college is a waste of time and money.

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