‘When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all.’
—Paul Simon, (Kodachrome)
Would Abraham Lincoln have been a better president if he had a college degree?
How about Cornelius Vanderbilt?
Or Jesus Christ?
In a recent survey, Americans favoured more education spending over all other categories of the federal budget. Spend enough of other people’s money on their little Jimmy, people must believe, and he’ll turn into Einstein, Erasmus, and Elvis, all rolled into one.
But where’s the evidence? Imagine that you had studied under one of the greatest economists of the 20th century, Paul Samuelson, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner.
Or another Nobel-winner, Paul Krugman. You might as well have studied surgery under the Boston Slasher or ethics under Heinrich Himmler.
Neither Samuelson nor Krugman ever understood how an economy worked.
Studies show that people with more education earn more money. But this is entirely misleading. People with private jets earn more money, too, but that doesn’t mean that you will get richer if you buy a Gulfstream.
Still, a lot of people think school is worth the money.
Here’s the LA Times:
‘Of the many outrageous allegations revealed by federal prosecutors in the college cheating scandal, one stands out.
‘Someone paid $6.5 million to get his or her children into elite schools. But the identity of that parent – and details about which schools were involved – remains a mystery nearly two weeks after authorities in Boston filed the charges against dozens of wealthy individuals.’
Even parents who aren’t crazy seem willing to spend a lot. Here’s a recent post on a private chat line:
‘My college, Trinity in Hartford, Connecticut, is similar to Wesleyan, Williams, Amherst, etc.
‘Here is what is costs, as reported by the college president:
‘“After projecting next year’s income from the endowment and gifts, we’ve determined that providing an outstanding Trinity education will require a 3.75 percent increase in our comprehensive fee.
‘“Here is the breakdown of the comprehensive fee for 2019–20:
‘“Tuition & General Fee: $58,620
Student Activities Fee: $430
Slave to debt
What do you get for that kind of money? We don’t know. But if you pay for four years of college at that rate, you’ve spent about $300,000. That would be enough to buy a decent house. And that would spare you about $1,500 in monthly mortgage payments.
If, on the other hand, you go to college, you are almost always condemned to debt slavery.
You begin with college debt. Then, you have to get a mortgage and an auto loan. And then, you need to get a job to pay your bills. As you grow older, your wages tend to increase; but so do your expenses. And there’s the federal debt, too — now growing twice as fast as GDP. You can almost never break free.
How much better it would have been to take that $300,000 and use it to start a business…or learn a trade…or simply give yourself a grubstake, so you don’t have to borrow.
In some cases, of course, going to school is a practical and/or required way to enter a trade. There are not many self-taught doctors…or nuclear engineers. If you’re going to practice rocket surgery, in other words, you’re probably going to need a diploma.
But most of the work done by most of the people doesn’t require any college at all. A smart, motivated person can do well with only rudimentary reading and writing skills. It’s grit and gumption that pay off; not college degrees.
Besides, you can find out almost anything you want to know online.
At least, that is the way it should be…and would be…in a win-win, free economy. Remember, capitalism is ‘what happens’ when nobody points a gun at your head.
Make things happen
You can make things happen in your own life. You can make a door. Or a pie. Or a business. But you can’t make an economy. That involves thousands or millions of people, going about their own business, with their own plans and own projects.
And the more you interfere with the private economy, the more wealth (time and resources) you destroy. And here comes presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren with a bazooka. The Boston Globe:
‘Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a sweeping plan Monday to forgive massive amounts of student loan debt for middle-class Americans as she tries to appeal to the young voters expected to play a major role in the 2020 campaign.
‘The Democratic presidential candidate from Massachusetts also called for free tuition at state colleges and universities as another way to relieve the higher education costs that have financially crippled many millennials.
‘“College shouldn’t just be a privilege for those who can afford to take on the significant expenses associated with higher education,” she wrote in a Medium post that announced the plan.
‘“We need to fundamentally change the broken system that created the crisis in the first place,” Warren wrote in the Medium post.’
There is a phony solution to every problem. Ms Warren has found one of them.