Saturday, February 21, 2015

Higher Education is Magical Thinking.

. Left Wing Utopian Fantasy. I'm in favor of education, but not as a theoretical automatic key to getting a good job. Huge numbers of well educated people are working in Burger Kings for 9 bucks an hour and whining about it. Educated and Employable are fully two different things. This is a truth the left simply doesn't understand.

A great deal of what the Left does amounts to conjuring prosperity by chanting magic spells. They have a set of theories that should produce widespread prosperity, equality, and social justice, without costing anyone except the uber-rich a dime. Those theories were designed by people with scads of impressive credentials. It’s all supposed to work, and faithful liberal rank-and-file types don’t understand why it doesn’t. (The actual goals of their leadership often involve long-term transformative plans that must be kept secret from voters on both Left and Right until it’s too late for the transformees to do anything about it. Those leaders aren’t really surprised when ObamaCare turns into precisely the expensive disaster they needed it to be.)

The recommended life-track of expensive college educations followed by automatic career success is a perfect example of utopian thinking. You spend years in college, racking up six figures in debt, and then you get a high-paying, interesting, emotionally fulfilling job, just the way it works in the “Life” boardgame. The possibility that those overpriced college degrees aren’t powerful enough to distort market reality doesn’t occur to unsuspecting utopians until it’s too late. No payload of credentials is sufficient to create jobs where opportunity and demand do not exist. American companies are increasingly turning to outsourcing and imported labor for high-tech jobs because they don’t want to pay what American college graduates demand, or don’t find their work ethic appealing.

Our political culture’s faith in education as a ritual that brings prosperity raining down from the heavens is positively religious in its intensity. Obviously a good education is enormously important to career success, as well as good citizenship and personal fulfillment, but we ended up viewing education as an expensive blended fuel to be poured into the engines of life – the more of it people get, and the more expensive it is, the further they’ll go.

Another aspect of ritualized utopianism is our loss of respect for vocational education and the “dirty jobs” celebrated by TV host Mike Rowe, who campaigns for young people to investigate skilled trade work. There are solid careers out there in trades where employers perpetually complain about a shortage of hard-working, eager apprentices, even in times of chronic high unemployment.

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