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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Explaining the college bubble

Richard Cantillon explains some of the effects of the college bubble in An Essay on Economic Theory... in 1730.
The Labor of the Plowman is of Less Value than that of the Artisan

A LABORER’S SON, AT SEVEN to twelve years of age, begins to help his father either in keeping the herds, digging the ground, or in other sorts of country labor that require no art or skill.

If his father has him taught a trade, he loses his assistance during the time of his apprenticeship and is obligated to clothe him and to pay the expenses of his apprenticeship for many years. The son is thus dependent on his father and his labor brings in no advantage for several years. The [working] life of man is estimated at only 10 or 12 years, and as several are lost in learning a trade, most of which in England require seven years of apprenticeship, a plowman would never be willing to have a trade taught to his son if the artisans did not earn more than the plowmen.

Therefore, those who employ artisans or professionals must pay for their labor at a higher rate than for that of a plowman or common laborer. Their labor will necessarily be expensive in proportion to the time lost in learning the trade, and the cost and risk incurred in becoming proficient.

The professionals themselves do not make all their children learn their own trade: there would be too many of them for the needs of a city or a state and many would not find enough work. However, the work is naturally better paid than that of plowmen.
The key is in the second to last sentence. The problem that the USA and many other countries are facing is that they have encouraged too many young men, and far too many young women, to pursue college degrees, so there is now a massive surplus of degree-holders for the needs of the various nations where academic credentials have been subsidized and fetishized.

In a free and sustainable economy, the number of college students would be significantly reduced due to the combination of the cost and opportunity cost of a college education. But because demand has been artificially inflated by student loans, government grants, and the willingness of parents to go into debt on behalf of their children, the level of current malinvestment  in college education is extraordinarily high. The fact that student loan debt can no longer be legally discharged was the first indication that the education bubble had reached its terminal point of expansion.

Longer lifespans and longer working lives justify spending more time and money in acquiring professional skills than in Cantillon's day, but not indefinite amounts of either. And unless the student acquires skills that increase the value of his labor during that time, the entire process is a waste of both.

The irony is that the average college student is probably less valuable than the unskilled plowman now, because while he still lacks any useful skills, he also is unwilling to work hard at anything he is actually capable of doing.

UPDATE: "In 2008 there was $730 billion of student loan debt outstanding, of which the Federal government was responsible for $120 billion. Five short years later there is $1.2 trillion of student loan debt outstanding and the Federal government (aka YOU the taxpayer) is responsible for $716 billion. Using my top notch math skills, I’ve determined that student loan debt has risen by $470 billion, while Federal government issuance of student loan debt has expanded by $600 billion."

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72 Comments:

Anonymous Cryan Ryan November 10, 2013 9:46 AM  

Twas once a mediocre girl,
Who thought she'd give college a whirl,
Well, the carousel was fun,
But when it was all done,
She had STD's that'd make yer hair curl.

Anonymous Harsh November 10, 2013 9:59 AM  

And yet in 2012 we brought in tens of thousands technical workers on H-1B visas. We need to stop importing people from abroad to fill our highest paying jobs and start getting Americans into them.

Anonymous TBall November 10, 2013 10:07 AM  

"and especially too many young women,"

Why ESPECIALLY "too many young women"?

That aside, Cantillon isn't necessary to make your point. What I've noticed though is that you often make points along the lines of "This isn't good" or "That's bad" or "I don't like that", but rarely offer a realistic solution to the problem you think is important or pressing.

Anonymous Mike M. November 10, 2013 10:09 AM  

Ah, but that would imply paying engineers what they were really worth. Which would turn the entire social structure upside down.

Anonymous Mike M. November 10, 2013 10:13 AM  

It's not just a matter of college degrees, but the majors. Medicine, hard science, and engineering have retained their value. But colleges are equally happy to take a family's money to baby-sit their post-high-school child for 4-6 years and teach her basketweaving.

Anonymous Harsh November 10, 2013 10:14 AM  

Why ESPECIALLY "too many young women"?

He probably means women tend to pursue non-technical degrees with little marketability and that too many of them in the work force depress wages.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:14 AM  

Why ESPECIALLY "too many young women"?

I rephrased that as it was an awkward sentence. But to answer your question, because fewer women are needed in the formal labor force and more women are needed to bear and raise children. It is now abundantly clear that increasing the number of female workers, driving wages lower, and driving the birth rate lower is not a societally sustainable policy.

Ideally, the female labor participation rate would be around 30 percent. We are presently close to twice that. The end result is that young women who should be bearing and raising children are working to pay for the retirement of 55+ men who used to work.

Given that the choice is between older men working to support younger women raising families and younger women working to support older men playing golf, it should not be hard to figure out which system is sustainable and which system is doomed to economic collapse.

Anonymous Harsh November 10, 2013 10:15 AM  

but rarely offer a realistic solution to the problem you think is important or pressing.

Why is offering a solution a necessary part of criticism?

Anonymous Roundtine November 10, 2013 10:18 AM  

Free trade/high immigration means the cost of labor is dropping. Wages are under pressure and falling. There is no small effect from automation and the Internet finally delivering big productivity gains. What is rising in value? Capital. Yet Americans waste more and more capital chasing after rapidly depreciating degrees designed to boost their labor's value.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:20 AM  

What I've noticed though is that you often make points along the lines of "This isn't good" or "That's bad" or "I don't like that", but rarely offer a realistic solution to the problem you think is important or pressing.

The fact that there is no prescription doesn't mean that the diagnosis is not correct. It is much easier to find the flaws and point them out than it is to construct a valid and viable alternative. Is this simply an observation or were you attempting to score a logically invalid rhetorical point?

In this particular case, the solution is not only very simple, but borderline inevitable. The female labor participation rate is already falling courtesy of the economic contraction.

Anonymous TBall November 10, 2013 10:20 AM  

"Why is offering a solution a necessary part of criticism?"

No one said it was "necessary". It's just usually indicative of the writer's depth in my view. Plus, any essay that identifies a problem is much more interesting if it offers a solution.

Anonymous zeonxavier November 10, 2013 10:21 AM  

From where I stand in the Dakotas, young men with two year tech degrees seem to have a comparative advantage, assuming they pick up useful skills such as welding, machining, or diesel technology.

Less time sunk, and good pay from the start. Also, in the event of a collapse, these guys will be worth keeping fed for their utility. Only a farmer would be more valuable in that situation.

Anonymous TBall November 10, 2013 10:24 AM  

"The fact that there is no prescription doesn't mean that the diagnosis is not correct. It is much easier to find the flaws and point them out than it is to construct a valid and viable alternative. Is this simply an observation or were you attempting to score a logically invalid rhetorical point?"

It's just an observation about the writer's style and I think points to something about their interest in the subject as well as their intellectual techniques.

"In this particular case, the solution is not only very simple, but borderline inevitable. The female labor participation rate is already falling courtesy of the economic contraction."

It sounds like what y are saying is that the problem will take care of itself and there is no need to do anything about all.

Anonymous Harsh November 10, 2013 10:27 AM  

No one said it was "necessary". It's just usually indicative of the writer's depth in my view. Plus, any essay that identifies a problem is much more interesting if it offers a solution.

Fair enough, you didn't say necessary.

Anonymous Harsh November 10, 2013 10:30 AM  

It sounds like what y are saying is that the problem will take care of itself and there is no need to do anything about all.

All economic problems take care of themselves eventually.

Blogger Rantor November 10, 2013 10:30 AM  

TBall. There are two ways for this problem to end, one is economic and social collapse forcing the issue, the other is for politicians to take the unpopular position, cut college loan and grant aid to Zero, etc. which do you think your government will do?

Anonymous liljoe November 10, 2013 10:36 AM  

With all respect to Mr. Day, much time could have been saved on today's blogpost by just showing the Caddyshack clip featuring one of the great lines in cinema delivered by the late Ted Knight's judge Smails : "yes well the world needs ditch diggers too"

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:38 AM  

It's just an observation about the writer's style and I think points to something about their interest in the subject as well as their intellectual techniques.

In other words, the latter. You're utilizing passive-aggressive rhetoric to try to score a point that is logically invalid. And in doing so, you've done nothing more than demonstrate your intellectual inferiority, since your proposed metric is verifiably incorrect.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:40 AM  

Chances are that TBall is the usual suspect. Will verify shortly.

Anonymous Cryan Ryan November 10, 2013 10:43 AM  

Whenever a policy is criticized, a commenter inevitably challenges the person to offer a solution.

Often, the most practical solution is simply to stop doing what you're doing.

"Doctor...it hurts when I do this" (flexing elbow)

Then stop doing that!!

(from Hee Haw)

Blogger ThatWouldBeTelling November 10, 2013 10:44 AM  

I think we need to factor in the massive and continued devaluation of the high school diploma. Quite some time ago it stopped being a signal that its holder was even functionally literate, and as I understand it, starting in 1971's Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the courts have made it difficult to make job applicants take tests.

So a college degree, at least in theory, has some signaling utility. Which is not to say that other things can replace it for that, making e.g. the "Business" degrees a couple of my siblings got mostly for that reason an even less compelling proposition.

Historical note: my father found the business degree he got in the mid-50s from the University of Missouri to be of great value in following decades.

Anonymous Krul November 10, 2013 10:44 AM  

VD - Chances are that TBall is the usual suspect. Will verify shortly.

Ever since Vox took a more hardline stance against trolls, the comment section here has turned into a game of whack-a-mole.

Not that I'm complaining. This way the troll pops up just long enough to provide amusement, but not long enough to overstay its welcome.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:45 AM  

Yep. TBall is a troll. Don't bother responding, he's spam-on-sight.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 10:46 AM  

Ever since Vox took a more hardline stance against trolls, the comment section here has turned into a game of whack-a-mole.

And yet strangely, the comments have been more lively than ever. Funny how that works when people aren't permitted to hijack the discourse and turn themselves into the center of attention.

Anonymous dh November 10, 2013 10:48 AM  

Ideally, the female labor participation rate would be around 30 percent. We are presently close to twice that. The end result is that young women who should be bearing and raising children are working to pay for the retirement of 55+ men who used to work.

How do you calculate/figure/reference the 30% value? Is it primarily based on historical norms?

Anonymous The other skeptic November 10, 2013 10:48 AM  

It is much easier to find the flaws and point them out than it is to construct a valid and viable alternative.

Indeed. QA can often find the flaws (bugs) although they just as often find non-problems because of their lack of understanding.

It usually takes a full SD or higher IQ above that of the average IQ person to actually understand what causes the problem and to find a fix.

It looks to me like TBall has a QA-style IQ.

Anonymous Josh November 10, 2013 10:48 AM  

No one said it was "necessary". It's just usually indicative of the writer's depth in my view. Plus, any essay that identifies a problem is much more interesting if it offers a solution.

Chesterton talks about folk like you in "The Outline of Sanity", in a fable where a man drinks some bad beer, falls ill, and concludes that the publican is poisoning his customers. At which point, although chemical testing shows that the beer is indeed poisoned, the question is raised by critics. They ask that even if the beer is bad, the man has not suggested what should be consumed instead of the beer, and what building should take the place of the public house, so why should they cease drinking the bad beer? At which point the man starting screaming at the unbelievable obtuseness of his critics...

Anonymous Shutup, Tad Ball November 10, 2013 10:56 AM  

Tad Ball & his buddy are parked up having a beer.

guy notices his mates dog sitting in the corner licking its nuts

Tad Ball says to his mate -

"wish I could do that !"

mate goes -

"Bro, if you give him a biscuit, he might let you !"

Anonymous The other skeptic November 10, 2013 11:01 AM  

A little criticism never hurt anyone,

A little informed criticism never hurt anyone.

Blogger crazyivan498 November 10, 2013 11:02 AM  

Leftists have a hard time giving up stupid ideas . They just add one stupid idea after the next to try and cover up the first stupid idea. What may occur in the future is that since there are not enough jobs that require degrees the government start requiring more and more blue to require degrees for professional licencing. Like my degree in nursing. I see them going after home builders as easy target. They will start requiring
college degrees to hammer a nail. After all we need to be kept safe right? "sigh" They could even stage some fake home accidents that occurred because of "bad laborers"

Blogger crazyivan498 November 10, 2013 11:03 AM  

blue collar jobs correction

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 11:09 AM  

How do you calculate/figure/reference the 30% value? Is it primarily based on historical norms?

Historical BLS stats. That was the pre-WWII norm, when the rate began to increase until it peaked in 2000 at 60.3 percent.

Anonymous The other skeptic November 10, 2013 11:11 AM  

Female participation rate down and unemployment rate up

Blogger crazyivan498 November 10, 2013 11:12 AM  

"Ok, we can see that. We'll find someone who has a solution to the problem".

If the "free market" wants a solution, then problem can be solved without the government coming in with theirs guns to force the problem to be solved.

Anonymous VD November 10, 2013 11:13 AM  

I would estimate that we probably have to get down to 40 percent female participation in order to see wages start growing in a healthy manner again. The scary thing is the possible connection between the post-1973 falling wages, the stagflation of the 1970s, and the debt bubble of the last thirty years. As outlandish as my perspective may sound, it may actually be insufficiently cynical.

Anonymous Beau November 10, 2013 11:18 AM  

OT

Today is daughter Lydia's wedding day.

At the rehearsal last night, the pastor asked for the ring. Scipio standing among the men's party immediately and clearly said, "One ring to rule them all.." Not skipping a beat, his other sister standing among the ladies intoned, "One ring to find them.." Some good laughter arose. Then, in the proper cadence I finished, "..and in the marriage bind them."

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 11:20 AM  

Of course, your deepest suspicions are correct.
Unlike the artisans (and tradesmen), colleges routinely do a very poor job of steering college students into fields that promise any kind of future. Once on campus, even the most impulsive and distracted students can change their major at will, often for social or frivolous reasons. (An apprentice knows very well what to expect from his masters.) By contrast, too many students expect high marks and automatic graduation for having attended most of their classes.
Colleges do a poor job of matching students with the requirements of the occupation. If the work requires good math skills, for example, there is little effort to filter out those who fail to meet this requirement. Classes are generally open to anyone who wishes to attend and the serious students are mixed with the unprepared.
The quality and quantity of college work has declined as it has become more popular and there are a number of good reasons why that is true. But I also believe that trend is reversible and it will be reversed under economic pressure. Part of this I blame on the professors for caving in to pressure from the egalitarians in the administration, who were pressured by politicians to graduate more student athletes, to admit welfare moms who quit high school, to continue the "social promotion" of black and hispanic kids (to which they had become accustomed), submit to grade inflation, and reduce the number of students having to repeat a course. (Two-thirds of all students routinely failed principles of economics, the first time they attempted the course. The same was true for statistics and accounting.)
There were two major expansions of colleges in the first half of the twentieth century. The first was with the mechanization of agriculture at the end of the first world war, a relatively prosperous time when so many of the land grant (state) colleges were getting started. The second was the huge impetus due to the GI Bill after the second world war, when so many young men attended college from familes who had never done so before. The children of the GI Bill cohort (called "boomers" here) also attended many of the same colleges, roughly two decades later. The children of boomers, though fewer, went to college at a time when colleges no longer served the same purpose, largely on credit or government support (that did not require military service).

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 11:24 AM  

When I went to college, co-education (male and female students) was by no means universal. Universities (and even small colleges) still had entrance examinations and within the college, some schools and individual departments had their own entrance exams, separate requirements, and interviews. Once in class, the professor provided the material and the student was responsible for keeping up. (That meant, if the professor included matrix algebra applications, you may need to study a book or two on the subject.....quickly. Not because he told you to but because you hoped to pass the course.) A passing grade was by no means a certainty or a right, and questioning a grade awarded was a very bad idea. (There were no procedures for challenging a professor on a grade through the administration or dean's office.)

After a couple of years of general education requirements (not intended to make up for high school deficiencies, since there were no remedial courses), most students were prepared to apply for a major (or make application for upper division). These had to be approved by the department involved and signed by the dean, before you could take any upper level courses. Those approved were guided through the major by a professor in that department (not some twit over at the guidance center). If you worked hard in and out of class, did not take on a bad attitude or resentment when abused, you could manage to graduate.

I mention only in passing that I used a slide rule in college until I took my masters in economics. That month, Texas Instruments discontinued the SR-51-II statistical calculator and cut the price from 275 to 38 bucks and I bought two, one for a good friend in physics. We had computers and used computers and wrote batch programs (mostly FORTRAN and COBOL), but they were all mainframes. For homework and in class, the sliderule was still in common use.

Anonymous Will Best November 10, 2013 11:53 AM  

I think there would be almost as many people with college degrees now without the government subsidies.
1) The adult work life is now 40+ years so learning an artisan skill is less of an economic commitment.
2) Worker productivity, even low skill work, is substantially higher than the cost of survival so surplus is available for luxury or investment in self or family
3) The cost of college would probably be less than half what it is now without those subsidies.

Anonymous Josh November 10, 2013 11:58 AM  

When I went to college...

Dude, you forgot to tell you to get off your lawn!

Anonymous Anonymous November 10, 2013 12:15 PM  

When I went to college

When men wore leather helmets instead of polycarbonite shells, and women wore skirts and knew how to cook, and fathers taught their sons things like carpentry and hunting, and gas only cost a nickel...

Anonymous Ivan Poland November 10, 2013 12:34 PM  

Google: Mike Rowe Worst Advice In The World. I think the story is on Slate.com. The former Dirty Jobs star is promoting skills training over useless degrees that only get you debt.

Anonymous Bob Ramar November 10, 2013 12:53 PM  

Vox: You said "But because demand has been artificially inflated by student loans, government grants, and the willingness of parents to go into debt on behalf of their children, the level of current malinvestment in college education is extraordinarily high."

You forgot to mention the educational establishment myth that "Education is good; more education is better. Therefore the more education a person has the more value to society they have." I know ... I work in a college.

Anonymous Noah B. November 10, 2013 1:16 PM  

"Bro, if you give him a biscuit, he might let you !"

Alternate ending:

Well, you'd better pet him first to make sure he's friendly.

Anonymous vryedenker November 10, 2013 1:48 PM  

Pro tip: if your job doesn't entail making or repairing stuff, you're disposable.

Here's another: electricians can earn just as much and even more than accountants if they have the balls to start their own business. Especially if they specialize in industrial maintenance. I helped out a friend who is an electrician on a retro-fitting job once. We (well, he at least. I got paid an hourly rate) netted $15000 for a week's work. And that's in a third world country where labour is cheap.

Blogger James Dixon November 10, 2013 2:51 PM  

> Yep. TBall is a troll. Don't bother responding, he's spam-on-sight.

Ah, there you go spoiling our fun. :) I was going to explain to him that most of us can figure out that 2+2=4 without your assistance.

Anonymous zen0 November 10, 2013 3:19 PM  

Another view of student debt involving a solution as requested by the troll

The Subprime Final Solution

Anonymous Jack Amok November 10, 2013 3:30 PM  

The next time some nitwit prattles on about "the importance of a well-rounded liberal arts education" agree and amplify. Suggest that no education is really well-rounded if it doesn't include knowledge of how to do something useful enough to your fellow humans that they'll pay you for it.

Okay class, your Senior Project will be to weld from scratch your own amphibious pedal-powered vehicle that depicts your favorite character from Roman, Greek or Norse literature. The ten fasted across the finish line will receive As, the next ten Bs, everyone else who finishes Cs, anyone who does not finish will receive an F. Your grade will be lowered by letter if I can't tell which historical person you have chosen. Offensive weaponry is not allowed unless you are in the ROTC program (and then may only be used against other cadets)...

Blogger JartStar November 10, 2013 4:09 PM  

There's a lot of debate right now about the lower labor participation rate and one of the suggested possibilities of many are fewer women are entering the workforce due to the job market and instead are choosing to be homemakers.

One of the problems I heard this weekend from both a job seeker and an owner of a company is that the 20-30 crowd want management positions and promotions before they are 30. They literally skip entry level jobs and choose to stay unemployed rather than earn the positions.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2013 5:01 PM  

With snark: Quite a drop from 730 billion to 1.2 billion.

Without snark: Change it to trillion.

Anonymous dh November 10, 2013 5:51 PM  

UPDATE: "In 2008 there was $730 billion of student loan debt outstanding, of which the Federal government was responsible for $120 billion. Five short years later there is $1.2 billion of student loan debt outstanding and the Federal government (aka YOU the taxpayer) is responsible for $716 billion. Using my top notch math skills, I’ve determined that student loan debt has risen by $470 billion, while Federal government issuance of student loan debt has expanded by $600 billion."

I will investigate, but I think this may have something to do with loan guarantees versus issuance. Obama pushed a law I think which changed the way that most student loans are issued. I know in the past many more loans were nominally private, originated privately, but backed by the government and enforced by them if you go into default. I thought that some of that was replaced with direct-to-student government lending. If that is the case, then all we have done is cut out the middle man.

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 5:52 PM  

When I went to college

JDC....."When men wore leather helmets instead of polycarbonite shells, and women wore skirts and knew how to cook, and fathers taught their sons things like carpentry and hunting, and gas only cost a nickel... "

Not quite, but I have seen gasoline in the 19 to 22 cent/gallon range. Yes, women could smoke in public if they were in the seated position. (Could not walk around with a cigarette.) Women could not walk across campus without wearing a raincoat if they were dressed for gym class.
But we could smoke cigarettes during class, carry Confederate flags to sporting events, and go anywhere without having to pass through a metal detector. The local Pizza Hut would sell any college student a pitcher of rum and coke, without requiring any kind of identification.

Anonymous map November 10, 2013 6:22 PM  

Jarstar -

"One of the problems I heard this weekend from both a job seeker and an owner of a company is that the 20-30 crowd want management positions and promotions before they are 30. They literally skip entry level jobs and choose to stay unemployed rather than earn the positions."

That is all a myth. College kids are keenly aware of the "career tracking" problem they face, where the first job you get out of college determines the second and third job you end up with. If your first job out of college is working as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, then your second job is going to be an analyst and your third job is going to be an analyst.

If your first job out of college is flipping burgers, then your next job is going to be flipping burgers and the job after that will be flipping burgers.

There is no "working your way up" into anything anymore, unless you are in a proper career track. These kids are not being lazy. They are simply rejecting work that pigeonholes them into dead-end jobs.

Anonymous Concerned Rabbit Hunter November 10, 2013 6:40 PM  

High school birthday parties getting worse:

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Two-dead-more-than-a-dozen-injured-in-shooting-4971781.php

TMD.

Blogger JartStar November 10, 2013 6:44 PM  

map,

Your logic doesn't even pass the smell test as logically it would follow that all CEOs are hired out of college.

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 6:46 PM  

map......"There is no "working your way up" into anything anymore, unless you are in a proper career track. These kids are not being lazy. They are simply rejecting work that pigeonholes them into dead-end jobs."

I agree completely. If you are working as a security guard, or making burgers, or collecting shopping carts in the parking lot at Wal-Mart...... it is going to be very difficult to convince personnel clerks that your MBA or MPA has prepared you for professional work. Not saying it is right, but that is the truth. Maybe there was a time when you could work your way up the corporate or government ladder, but anymore that is pure baloney. Young people DO get typecast, regardless of how they dress or their haircut at the interview.

Anonymous map November 10, 2013 6:58 PM  

Jartstar -

"Your logic doesn't even pass the smell test as logically it would follow that all CEOs are hired out of college."

Well, that's an uncharitable interpretation. The more general point is that, from a career perspective, where you end up depends on where you start. Companies want a good pedigree out-of-the-box and they advance you accordingly. That is what a proper career path is.

Blogger JartStar November 10, 2013 7:14 PM  

Agreed, but that's not what you said and my point wasn't that Gen-Y should take just any mcjob but rather take an entry level job in your chosen career and realize that being a manager is unlikely in a couple of years.

The problem is that many young people (I've seen this with my own eyes) want the management jobs without having the experience and get angry a nd resentful when they can't have them.

Two examples: 1. An employment seminar I just heard about this weekend from a person had a section on how to deal with young workers who unreasonably demand management positions 2. The owner of the company I was speaking with (millions in revenue) stopped hiring people under 35 as he was so sick of dealing with this issue and some others with the young.

Anonymous Typical Kid November 10, 2013 7:52 PM  

Thanks for the post Vox. The question is what does a young man who made the wrong choices do now? I wasted my time in college (by then I had digested blue pill lies in HS and believed myself an evil white male and had given up) and have not held anything but a dead end job since graduating with a liberal arts degree.
I am now 27 and want to turn my life around. What are the careers that have a future?
What would you all do in my position?

Anonymous WG November 10, 2013 7:58 PM  

The problem isn't limited to the overproduction of undergraduate degrees. Have you seen the "100 reasons NOT to go to grad school"?: http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

It's not uncommon for 30- and 40-something Ph.D.'s to be in worse shape than 20-something college graduates these days.

Anonymous Daniel November 10, 2013 7:58 PM  

The numbers in the update may confuse some: One of Obamacare's earliest victories was the one that forcibly transferred existing privately-backed loans onto the feds - giving the federal government a huge boost in credits that would theoretically pay for Obamacare...as long as they were paid back. It jacked up the federal debt instantly...but of course, since default is illegal on student loans, it is guaranteed income. Cuz no one ever does anything illegal...

I honestly dont know if student loans have gone up significantly in the last 5 years - but a lot of that boost has got to be from the groundwork that was laid in the ACA that transferred so much debt from outside of the federal government right straight into its coffers. Direct Loans used to be one option...now it is pretty much the only one.

Anonymous Concerned Rabbit Hunter November 10, 2013 8:08 PM  

Frontline things China's Communist party will collapse next year:

http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/25-10-2013/125997-china_war-0/

Hang on to your hats.

Blogger JartStar November 10, 2013 8:39 PM  

I am now 27 and want to turn my life around. What are the careers that have a future?

Determine two things you are very good at and pursue both. One will likely work out, and don't give up on the other as in today's economy you don't want all of your eggs in one basket.

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 9:16 PM  

Typical Kid....."What would you all do in my position?"

My oldest boy just turned 25. He had some deadend jobs and started running around with his loser shitass friends. Sooner or later he would be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up in some legal crap or even jail time.
So I told him, you need something to do. Hopefully it will be something you enjoy, in a big enough organization that you can have a bit of variety and follow a decent career path and retire young. He asked for a few suggestions.
I recommended he consider the Coast Guard. Plenty to pick from, same benies as the military, and retire after 20. See if they will let you pick a warm water assignment in the Gulf of Mexico or anywhere south of Norfolk, Virginia. I would prefer the boats myself, but the air units would be great too.
Disclaimer: I was regular Army and never served in the Coast Guard, but I grew up on the Carolina coast.
Coast Guard is a great organization.

Anonymous map November 10, 2013 9:18 PM  

JartStar -

What do you think students are taught? They are taught that, through the magic of Ricardian equivalence, all the scut work jobs will go overseas and the value-added, self-actualizing jobs will be done by Americans. That's the brainwashing 4-6 years of college provides to them. They carry that over in the workplace and into their interviews. It's not their fault.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus November 10, 2013 10:33 PM  

map: "They carry that over in the workplace and into their interviews. It's not their fault."

It's their fault when they refuse to learn that the truth is otherwise, and vote accordingly.

Anonymous JartStar November 10, 2013 10:38 PM  

They carry that over in the workplace and into their interviews. It's not their fault.

I tend to agree with this assessment, and I think their Boomer parents convinced them that management necessary as well. Unless there's a miracle recovery in the next five years at least a third of Gen-Y will become a "lost generation" with such a pathetic work history the next generation will be hired before them. They will be a tremendous drag on any sort of recovery as well.

Anonymous Typical Kid November 10, 2013 11:04 PM  

"Determine two things you are very good at and pursue both. One will likely work out, and don't give up on the other as in today's economy you don't want all of your eggs in one basket."

One thing I am good at is writing. I am trying to pursue that but I do want a back up plan so I don't end up destitute if nothing comes of my writing career

I was good at law but I never finished my degree. In fact I was very good at the academic side of school. However, the college bubble leads me to believe that pursuing anything academic is a waste of time.

Long story short I was a sickly kid (hence why I was a nerd) then a doctor told me I have a chronic illness that is manageable. Three years later and I have done a Teddy Roosevelt. I am fit, strong and energetic. Working as a labourer was fun for a while because I could never have managed it in highschool or college. Apart from writing my interests have changed dramatically since improving my health. I do have an interest in building things, for example, that I never had before. I am still introverted but I can no longer sit inside and read for a whole day. I don't know anything about the trades or engineering or how to get started in these fields. I don't know if I am any good at them. I am too old for an apprenticeship. Does anyone know how to get started in mining, oil or gas?

@ DonReynolds: I am not American but I will look into it. Is the armed forces a bad idea for people who like their privacy?

@ Vox: Unrelated but I am not registered for alpha game and so cannot ask you this there: Its not enough to say you need honour. How do you develop honour? Being honourable is something I have struggled with as I've swallowed the red pill. I am of a generation where men are raised with no concept of honour. For example, why is there more honour in working for a drug cartel than a desk job?



Anonymous Josh November 10, 2013 11:33 PM  

Its not enough to say you need honour. How do you develop honour? Being honourable is something I have struggled with as I've swallowed the red pill. I am of a generation where men are raised with no concept of honour.

Rudyard Kipling's "If"

Or this by CS Lewis (from the Horse and his Boy):

"For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there's hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land."

Anonymous DonReynolds November 10, 2013 11:58 PM  

Typical Kid....."I am not American but I will look into it. Is the armed forces a bad idea for people who like their privacy?"

If you are not American, you do not need to look into the US Coast Guard.

Not many situations I can think of in the military where your privacy would be respected, regardless of country.

But if you are particularly interested in your privacy and want to be left along for long periods of time, I might suggest looking into working at a lighthouse near the coastline.

Lighthouses are maintained in England and Wales by Trinity House; in Scotland, by the Northern Lighthouse Board; and in Ireland by the Commissioners of Irish Lights. In Canada, they are managed by the Canadian Coast Guard. In Australia, lighthouses are conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Blogger Bob Loblaw November 11, 2013 1:40 AM  

I would estimate that we probably have to get down to 40 percent female participation in order to see wages start growing in a healthy manner again.

If we get to 40% because women are pushed out of the job market by economic conditions, as soon as conditions improve they'll dive right back in.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus November 12, 2013 1:29 AM  

Eric: "If we get to 40% because women are pushed out of the job market by economic conditions, as soon as conditions improve they'll dive right back in."

I wouldn't worry about it.

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