News & Analysis
What Would Samuel Johnson Think of Today's Western Education?
Study Tells Students What Their Major is Worth ... The choice of undergraduate major in college is strongly tied to a student's future earnings, with the highest-paying majors providing salaries of about 300 percent more than the lowest-paying, according to a study released Tuesday. Based on first-of-its-kind Census data, the report by Georgetown University in Washington also found that majors are highly segregated by race and gender. College graduates overall make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only high school diplomas, the study said. But further analysis of 171 majors shows that various undergraduate majors can lead to significantly different median wages. – AP
Dominant Social Theme: Education is a ticket to making a living and is best for aspiring wage earners.
Free-Market Analysis: Samuel Johnson is one of our all-time favorite literary people. He was truly a curmudgeon with a proverbial heart of gold. He wasn't a great poet in our humble opinion because he never entirely found his voice, which was mordantly humorous and irrepressibly aggressive. Ironically, the person who found Johnson's voice for him was James Boswell, and in his Life of Johnson, he presented Johnson to us in all his magnificent and flawed humanity. It is surely one of the greatest books ever written and perhaps the greatest biography.
What is the point of this "soft lede?" It is only to suggest that if someone explained to Johnson that the purpose of an education was to generate "future earnings," he probably would have provided posterity with another one of his dazzling, angry witticisms. It is true that Johnson is famous for saying that ""no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money ..." but this is different than putting a specific dollar value on an education in order to determine what "major" to choose.
Johnson would surely have found it baffling if someone had asked him to forego Latin or Greek to study the mechanics of shipping or even the art of goldsmithery. Johnson, a huge and puffing man with irredeemable twitches and grimaces, was in love with words and with poetry. That is where he intended to make his mark and he never wavered, even though his poetry might not have produced all the results he sought.
Johnson is dead; he might have had some difficulty with the modern day and with what his much beloved Britain has turned into. It is altogether a socialist exercise and Johnson famously hated "levelers." One thing Johnson was not great at was being politically correct. He was seemingly constitutionally incapable of lying about the most important things.
Boswell, for all his mewling flattery, understood this perfectly. They were such wonderful men, badly injured by life and yet still incapable of anything but the highest aspirations. Boswell, an uncontrollably lewd drunkard (today we might call him a sex addict) wrote one of the world's great work of arts. Johnson, a twitching, gruff shipwreck who tended to list when he walked, wrote the world's first dictionary by himself. (He also tended to house and feed the indigent, lame and ill even though he often lacked funds himself.)
How much has changed since then! Boswell spent most of his life chasing conversation with great men for the sake of his further education – an ephemeral sort of career indeed. Johnson spent years writing a dictionary without being sure of any compensation. Today, these two men would be counseled to chart a different course through life's rocky shoals. Today, had they gone to university, they would have spent a good deal of time smoking marijuana (Boswell anyway) and the rest of their educational "experience" would have involved imbibing the kind of socialist claptrap and fear-based promotions the Anglo-American elites have spent a century injecting into the West's larger curriculum.
Yes, the Anglosphere elites have been anxiously degrading education for at least the past century in our view through the judicious application of Money Power; the result, as the 21st century gradually unwinds, is increasingly the presentation of a dominant social theme that equates an education directly with a dollar amount. In the modern era, millions of potential undergraduates have been instructed to see an education this way. And this AP article (see excerpt above) provides us with a good example of this perspective.
It is relentlessly practical for one thing – almost to the point of absurdity. Petroleum engineering majors make about $120,000 a year, it informs us, compared with $29,000 annually for counseling psychology majors. Math and computer science majors earn $98,000 in salary while early childhood education majors get paid about $36,000. "It's important that you go to college and get a (bachelor's degree), but it's almost three to four times more important what you take," said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce. "The majors that are most popular are not the ones that make the most money." Here's some more from the article:
Still, Rachel Brown, director of the career center at Temple University in Philadelphia, noted that the average person changes careers three to five times in a lifetime. And while median salary is certainly something students should be aware of, it shouldn't be the deciding factor, she said. "Take that into consideration, but look at the whole picture," Brown said. "What are you doing every day? What are the job responsibilities? What are the values of the occupation in general? Advancement potential?"
Answering those kinds of questions is how Drexel University junior Meaghan Donchak chose her major of corporate communication and public relations. Donchak, 22, of East Windsor, N.J., said she knew her strengths were reading, writing and communicating. But even after settling on public relations, her own research showed such work at nonprofits paid less than corporate or government work, and she adjusted her track accordingly. Donchak hopes her career will allow her to travel, meet people and live comfortably.
The Georgetown study found communications and journalism majors earn $50,000 annually, rising to $62,000 with a graduate degree. "The most important thing is not the money. It's really hard to convince people of that, especially people our age," Donchak said. "It's doing what you love to do. You don't want to wake up every day dreading going to work.
Now it would be our belief that neither Boswell or Johnson dreaded going to work. But on the other hand, we doubt either of them would have lasted long in corporate public relations. We have written in the past on the collapsing economy of the West and its elements of Dreamtime. From our humble point of view, much of what passes for a career nowadays is unfortunately wrapped round a bevy of elite memes.
There are plenty who might take offence at such a suggestion, but we stand by the statement. Surely what has happened to education cannot be a coincidence. If one wants to teach (we wrote about this yesterday) one ends up instructing children about the benefits of regulatory democracy. If one wants to practice science, one will be encouraged to take up environmental science and specialize in global warming. If one wants to be a doctor, it will be necessary to practice good relations with pharmaceutical companies.
Education is not just about making a living! It is about aspiring to do something noble with one's life; something that advances the human conversation and enriches people's lives by showing them how they can fulfill their own hopes and dreams. (Sometimes just by example.) More than this, today's education is based on surges of fiat money that create in people ideas of white-collar employment opportunities that in reality – and in future – may not exist. Just because the elites can print enough money to create whole new industries that last only a few years, doesn't mean that one can build a career around them.
This article is actually a perfect fusion of two memes. The first is that education is a dollar-denominated activity. The second is that those majors that ARE offered are in fields that actually have a chance of sustaining themselves. Both of these may be a sort of wishful thinking.
Is the West's faux-civil society beginning to collapse, at least partially because of what we call the Internet Reformation? If so, much may change over the next years, including the idea of what constitutes a career – and even what constitutes modern civilization. What good is literacy when it spawns a militaristic society that uses this ability to spread Anglo-American authoritarianism around the world; what good is an education if you are in some sense contributing to your own enslavement? The West can be considered literate but its oppressions run far deeper in our view.
Conclusion: Perhaps the best thing to do at this point would be to apprentice oneself to a trade and then chart the course of the autodidact on one's own. (We have seen more and more suggestions along this line lately, and earlier too; John Updike was famously in favor of self-teaching.) With the Internet does one really need to spend four-years in a university spending tens of thousands of dollars for careers that may vanish with the next financial collapse? Just askin' ...
Posted by free on 06/05/11 08:35 PM
Well said, not a bad Idea at all. I have ask that very question, Who is AW? It could any of us. John Galt was a fictional character from someone imagination, he was an idea.
Posted by Wayne on 06/04/11 05:38 PM
"This is just the beginning, the first glimmerings of the dawn.'
I hope you are right.
I'm getting real tired of this never ending Funeral March!
Posted by David_Robertson on 06/04/11 04:52 PM
This is an excerpt from the blurb to this video which is entitled "College Conspiracy": "The system we have today turns everybody into debt slaves, while the Federal Reserve allows bankers on Wall Street to steal the wealth of middle-class Americans through inflation."
This I believe is the result of the deep underlying conditioning that has been taking place in all the educational institutions of our Western societies for many decades, possibly centuries. The subtle, and sometimes not so subtle message is "the meaning of life is Money". Once the seed is planted in the mind that everything has a price and everything can be bought if only one has enough money, including happiness, the nurture of the seed into the tree that will bear the corrupt seedless fruit of insatiable desires, unrealistic aspirations, despair and debt is constantly provided by all the institutions of society.
This is why the people play lotteries, why they seek the quick fix through gambling, why they look for short cuts to instant wealth in ubiquitous get rich quick schemes, why they keep filling and assuaging their growing despair with more escapist movies, games, sports, endless buying on credit and as the maelstrom tightens its grip they descend into alcohol and pharmaceutical or illegal drug addiction. Many commit suicide.
The aim of modern society is to create consumers, parasites of every description. They are being created in the image of the elites who control them, the ultimate parasites who infect everything they touch with their malevolent poisonous spores. The education system is just one of the media teaching the message. Lifelong education is just one of the means of achieving the goal of the complete enslavement of everyone. This is why the freedom message resonates with so many today. There is a growing awareness, an awakening horror of our true condition.
This is just the beginning, the first glimmerings of the dawn.
Posted by Wayne on 06/04/11 04:50 PM
Just remember to comply with the program here
Click to view link
Posted by WorkingClass on 06/04/11 10:22 AM
Young Americans should take up small scale agriculture and animal husbandry. If we are lucky we will again be agrarians. Otherwise - hunter/gatherers.
Job training for machinists and technicians is called job training. Job training for doctors and lawyers is called education. Actual education is life enhancing and like virtue is it's own reward.
Posted by scousekraut on 06/04/11 07:50 AM
Nice article. On the whole education is about creating cogs for the machine that comes afterwards. The economic system, system of government, etc. it is the same in every country but done a little differently from place to place. The outcome is always the same. people who are capable of DOING something, and some of their skills are very useful, but to a large intent are NOT capable of critical thinking and emotional free empirical research.
Furthermore the idea that you should aim to do something that you love is often quite foreign to many people. Work is generally not seen as something that you do because you love it but something that you do in order to have the money to be able to do the things that you love.
Posted by Angoose on 06/04/11 06:45 AM
I am starting my electrician apprenticeship by the way. 12 dollars an hour is better than welfare.
Posted by Angoose on 06/04/11 06:39 AM
I want to be a naturopath and help people remove causes of disease and heal themselves. But if I knew how to make money off that I would do it. Otherwise I have to do an electrician apprenticeship to survive. 12 dollars an hour for first year.
Posted by Wayne on 06/04/11 01:00 AM
"Are you aware that you, yes . . . you, just may be the new hyperactive feedbacker? Or is that HyperRadioProActive?"
Wow, is this like a promotion?
Mayne I'll get a cerificate, or medal even a medal?
Though I'll probably settle for a double Philly Chesse steak!
Seriously though, the point of Galt's Gulch is to retreat from the world.
Marxist doctrine actually states that producer must produce, and can't stop producing.
Therefore it is safe to just exploit them for the people!
Galt's Gulch was never meant to be a permanent colony.
And relax, UPS makes deliveries, should you make in in!
A more practical version for the long run may be what Peter Ragnar has built for himself, but then again he is a Randite!
Click to view link
Posted by Agent Weebley on 06/04/11 12:41 AM
Are you aware that you, yes . . . you, just may be the new hyperactive feedbacker? Or is that HyperRadioProActive?
Oh, and Galt's Gulch had some major structural issues. They had to rely on the "outside" for raw material input support, but they always had problems with delivery, because no-one could find the bleedin' place.
Ayn Rand rushed that part of the book, but spent 50 pages Ragnying out on the world for being so gosh darned imperfect.
Or was that Dagnying out?
Great novel though. A month well spent.
Click to view link
Posted by Don on 06/03/11 06:21 PM
I'm a big fan of lifelong learning, regardless of any immediate practical use. God wants humanity to hone its intellect for the sake of creation, not destruction.
Humanity's intellect quickened after the Inet removed most barriers to knowledge. In 2006 Grigori Perelman won the Fields Medal after solving the Poincaré conjecture and publishing the proof directly to Click to view link. Perelman bypassed all gatekeeping, which rightfully frightens those who thrive by obfuscating.
Posted by Wayne on 06/03/11 05:41 PM
Reading the feedback to this article, I must say that the DB has got some of the most aware readers of any site on the WWW.
The uniformity of opinion regarding the "Educational" System is amazing.
This site may just be an Internet version of Galt's Gulch!
Or a Training Academy for later entrance in to Galt's Gulch
Perhaps we should switch to the motto Who is Anthony Wile?
Posted by ranger on 06/03/11 05:04 PM
Gentlemen: Higher education is a scam since most majors do not translate into any usefull skill in the work place. This is even more evident in this age of "transgender studies" and political science. The lack of earning potential simply reveals the cost of additional training necessary to make the person useful. An engineer is useful right out of the classroom, as long as he actually did the work. Everyone else cannot read or reason, and usually are deeply in debt to boot. Once more, government is producing the citizen it wants-- a lump of clay with no ability to think--and no knowledge of the world in which they live, with a ten second attention span.
Posted by Siegfried on 06/03/11 11:33 AM
"The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did it would prove a serious threat to the upper classes, and probably lead ot acts of violence in Grosvenor Square."
Oscar Wilde , The Importance of Being Earnest
Posted by kenn on 06/03/11 10:42 AM
Exactly what would be the rewards of a corporate communication degree or for that matter any degree other than fiat? What is the contribution to humanity/society? Learning to lie with a smile on your face. Many of the greatest inventors, writers, poets in history barely made it through any government educational system, if there was one.
The present education system is nothing more than forcing the young to slurp the kool aid dished out everyday for 12 years. They are totally ruined by the time they 'graduate'. Most cannot read, write or do the simple math of figuring out change,,, but that is not the purpose of modern education which is to mold you into a blithering idiot that will blindly accept / do anything told to.
This is why the 'trades' are disappearing. A skilled person is a knowledgeable individual who knows what he is doing. A machinist. Skilled people are unnecessary in a service economy. Anyone can flip a burger or make a Taco. Today we are 'trained'. Monkey see Monkey do. Anyone, including a Monkey, can do your task.
Which brings us to upper education. The only way to make a decent living in such a scenario is to slurp more kool aid and join a 'management team'. Managers have far less skills than their counterparts. Difference is they we're willing to go the extra glass of juice! They get paid more for doing less and get all sorts of bonuses for ruining their company blaming it on the economy and a host of other things. Then they find another victim and the whole process starts over.
This also explains why the same useless government zombies get re-elected. The unskilled workers and their even more useless managers finally mature enough to realize they could not make it in an environment where skills and knowledge are required so unconsciously (assuming their capable of real thought) vote for the paradigm.
And this is where we're at today. Enjoy the kool aid.
Posted by rossbcan on 06/03/11 08:22 AM
"an apprenticeship serves as a much more efficient means"
...to instill real, useful knowledge and practical experience in dealing with reality, a method of inter-generational propagation of mankind's knowledge and skills. That is not the point of states. They want to instill lobotomized "knowledge" where the state and forceful goal seeking is "neccessary" (Machiavelli, falsely framed arguments) and no other options (such as peace and freedom) are capable of being conceptualized and all who hold these heretical "opinions" appear "insane" to the programmed hordes and thus, a threat, to be smited. This is also why they war on the family unit, to destroy parental influence (inter-generational "civilizated" knowledge transmission) to allow state "institutions" empty minds to program.
"THINK about it (sorry, Bill)"
Why??? Imitation is the best form of flattery and it should be clear I share my knowledge freely.
What states and elites want (ignorant masses), by their corecions is incompatible with scientific literacy, industrial civilization and a knowledge based economy. They want feudalism, with just enough worker drones to serve their whims. They appear to hope that by social / economic collapse and "divide and conquer", we will kill each other off and save them the trouble.
A collective change of focus to understand who is doing the actions and who is paying the consequences (cui bono) is mandatory.
Posted by rossbcan on 06/03/11 08:01 AM
When I state "short term goals" I MEAN "smash and grab" frauds to suck people into dubious social goals such as war by providing the illusion of faux threats / opportunities which provide an up front and ongoing "management" profit to the implementers who privately profit by the actions, but do not face the consequences (costs), which are socialized, which is WHY civilization is socially / economically collapsing to "war of all, against all".
It has been this way for quite some time because those who prey on us KNOW how to do it and, we have been educationally subverted to REJECT the knowledge by which they do so:
Click to view link
Simply restoring (personally, en masse, INSISTING) justice will fix this.
Justice Defined: We are all free to profit or suffer and learn (adapt to excellence) by facing the consequences of our OWN choices. Injustice is to be forced to suffer the consequences of choices of unaccountable (irresponsible) others..
"The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern. The law of liberty tends to abolish the reign of race over race, of faith over faith, of class over class." ~ Lord Acton
Posted by bionic mosquito on 06/03/11 07:56 AM
"With the Internet does one really need to spend four-years in a university spending tens of thousands of dollars for careers that may vanish with the next financial collapse? Just askin' ..."
Well, since you asked (and even if you didn't...)
Where to begin. Looking at the current model, education is driven almost entirely by state money, therefore by state policy. Even so-called private universities derive a significant amount of funding from government sources: research grants and student loans to name but two. It can be said, with little imagination required to grasp it, that the education system is fully co-opted by federal funding and therefore beholden to it. One way or another, the education system is bought, paid to toe the party line. There is little questioning of the true fundamental issues, as critical thinking is not taught, because it cannot be taught - as fundamental issues are not to be questioned.
And what of the careers. In most cases it would seem an apprenticeship serves as a much more efficient means to achieve skills useful in life, and also a relatively inexpensive way to determine one's interest in a field.
Finally, the cost. With all the government money floating around is it any wonder that education is so expensive? Is education the first place that government involvement has driven efficiencies? And what of the student loans? Graduates often carry a six figure burden with them into the real world. This burden cannot be discharged by any means, not even bankruptcy. All for a degree that often provides little in the way of skills useful to life (in any sense you care to apply to the word 'useful').
The end result is a population that in general has too much formal education with not enough practical skills, and absolutely no critical thinking ability.
While Germany is no bastion of free-markets and free thinking, it appears there is at least some understanding that the population does not all "need" four year degrees (and the burden of the unnecessary expense). Certainly, there is no virtue in the manner in which that country achieves these objectives, but at least the structure is set up more realistically.
Switzerland, to go a step further, is (to my understanding) one of the least 'educated' (in terms of formal schooling) countries in Western Europe, yet has the highest per capita income. Go figure. Most students in Switzerland finish formal schooling at 16 years of age, and then enter apprenticeship.
Please understand: I do not hold out any state driven activities as models to be followed. I only point these out to clarify some differences. In ALL cases noted (and others where the state controls education), the system is geared toward the purpose of creating compliant citizens, tools used to pay taxes, service debt, and further support the state.
How can it be otherwise? 'The state will educate your children.' Most parents are happy to be relieved of the burden of raising their children when in fact they should instead run from the state system as fast as possible.
I will quote Gary North: "R. J. Rushdoony had little patience with conservatives who complained about high taxes. 'They have tithed their children to the State, and then they complain against how much the government is costing them.'" Yes, indeed.
Education as it is formed in much of the west will undergo as fundamental a change as anything in the coming 20 years, driven by many factors.
The internet is one. Consider all of the learning opportunities. How many people, here at this site, can say undoubtedly that they have learned more about economics (among many other subjects) via the internet than anywhere else and at any other time in their lives?
Visit Khan Academy and see what one person can do to change education (khanacademy dot org). Spend time watching just one video on the site. Read the 'about' tab and grasp the vision and the implications for formal education (as 'formal' is currently defined).
Click to view link
The lack of government funding will be another reason for upcoming drastic change in education. What cannot be sustained will not be sustained, and certainly when more efficient and effective alternatives are available.
The unproductive cannot be sustained - we see this in the so-called debt crisis throughout much of the world. Many factors supported by the state will cease to be supported, because they must. The laws of economics will win on this. For education, add to this the effective (and free or nearly free) alternatives available on the internet.
While many of the top universities will remain (for several reasons), it is easy to see that half or more of the state schools will disappear. There is no benefit to the student, the state cannot sustain these, the parents cannot afford these, and the students will learn to avoid the debt when on-line alternatives exist.
The crumbing of the current education model is one of the many positive benefits we will see once we get through the financial turmoil we are currently in. Sadly, the abandoned campuses will make perfect prisons, as the design and construction of one is quite similar to the other. (The good news is the current prison industrial complex cannot be sustained either.)
Prisons equal schools equal prisons: THINK about it (sorry, Bill).
Posted by Kriss Robin on 06/03/11 07:11 AM
Hi D.B. Elves, have you watched this?
Click to view link
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks. Looks great.
Posted by rossbcan on 06/03/11 06:08 AM
Of what use are educational career prosperity stats when entire industries / social goals are created at elite / state whim, with particular short term goals in mind and then collapse due to economic unviability, such as social services? The only certain "career" is in the area of providing goods / services that people actually need and want and will therefore voluntarily (peacefully) pay for. Not by coincidence, this is why states will DIE, DIE, DIE!
The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America:
Click to view link
Methodology and goals of those who seek to subvert freedom and civilization:
Click to view link
The devastating (survival threatening) consequences of accepting unsubstantiated opinion as FACT:
Click to view link