I have a frightening backlog of posts and topics (especially after getting the bare minimum up during the traditional Christmas Traffic Crash,though in 2021 the whole year has been something of a crash, but “that way madness lies”), but this Comment of the Day by the ever-provocative and reasonable Extradimensional Cephalopod pushed it’s way to the front of the line on sheer merit.
Here is his/its (EC had never specified his pronouns, and for that I am grateful) COTD on yesterday’s collection of notes, specifically #3 on the ALCU pimping for student loan forgiveness:
I think the whole “student debt” issue should be re-framed.
Q1: Why do so many people need to go to college?
A1a: To learn how to think, in theory.
Rejoinder to A1: They should be learning to think in primary and secondary schools, and in their families and communities.
A1b: To get jobs that require college degrees.
Q2: Why do they need jobs that require college degrees?
A2a: So they don’t have to live in poverty.
Rejoinder to A2a: Something’s wrong with the economy if a person can work a full-time job, college degree or no, and not be able to earn a modest living. We might want to investigate and address the factors that cause that. For all we know, it could be we’re really that overpopulated, or automation really is replacing human jobs.
A2b: So that their community can have voices and influence among the rich and powerful.
Rejoinder to A2b: The rich and powerful already have undue influence, in my opinion; I’m not sure that changing their demographics is going to benefit anyone. A better version of my hypothetical answer is that it would enable members of a community who reach a higher socioeconomic status to mentor and connect other members of their community, increasing social mobility for the entire community. I can get behind that. If we know that’s what we want, there’s many ways to do that.
Q3: Why do so many jobs require college degrees?
A3: They don’t, but education inflation means it’s convenient to select for people who have college degrees over people who don’t. Most of the degrees aren’t even directly relevant for the work people end up doing.
Addendum to A3: Maybe we should have a way of identifying what core skills we want people to know and how they can build on them in different directions or adapt them to various purposes. That way people will be prepared for multiple types of career.
Addendum to addendum to A3: Picking up the basics of a new field isn’t hard enough to justify the expense of a college degree anymore, in my opinion; it’s calibrating those skills to effectively apply them to problems in that field that’s the difficult part. People barely get that calibration from college anyway, in my experience, so I’m not sure what the big deal about college is. Online courses seem to have have become as effective as college, if not more. Once a person has got the basics, they have to calibrate them on the job like anyone else. Companies failing to mentor their employees is another story…
In short, once again humans are arguing about how much money to throw at a problem when they don’t have a clear idea of how the solution is supposed to work or even what a desired outcome would look like. So much human potential is locked up in conflicts where people don’t understand what anyone wants, including themselves.
I’m going to have to step in so people can at least learn how to talk about how to run a civilization. Then we can start collaborating on the messy details.