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The New Indentures

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They are enthusiastically for elimination, these chilly, sodden folk who gather at my doorstep. Eliminate debt, eliminate taxes, eliminate property, eliminate poverty, eliminate wealth and the wealthy too and once in a while, publicly eliminate on the sidewalk. Who claims they lack coherence? They Occupy Wall Street and Main Street, meaning they reside there; sleeping rough, eating roughage and are roughly handled, so they complain, by the authorities, the media, the neighbors, business, academe and above all by harsh and increasingly cold Reality. I depart from most of the critics of the Occupiers however. No, their problems are not strictly speaking in their heads. There is, actually, an underlying, unifying rationality among the commies, hippies, dippies and loons. Finally polling has investigated our modern Bonus Marchers and found a diagnosable malady; not just debt but student debt.

All debts are NOT created equal, not lately. There are headlines across the land that express shock and horror that total accumulated student debt has crested one trillions dollars, edging out credit cards. This is appalling, apparently, but for reasons opposite to those I would submit. For one thing, generally credit card debt is at a much higher rate than secured student debt, that is loans for which you and I are the co-signers, willingly or not. More than this though we must examine for what purposes the debt was allegedly encurred. Credit card debt is accumulated for any number of purchases; some small measure of which are business related or yes, even educational but for the most part your credit card bill itemizes your consumption. Food, clothing, whimsical things of dizzying variety best described as “entertainment” constitute the charges on your outstanding balance. Student debt however is not supposed to be any such thing. In America an education is considered to be and sold as an investment in future employment opportunities more remunerative than would otherwise be available. The best exemplar and worst offender is certainly the law school market. When the inevitable question is asked of the undergraduate pursuing his BS in Melanesian Pottery; just what are you going to do with that degree? a ready answer presents itself. I’m going to law school.

And who can argue? That industry is one of our top three: Doctor, lawyer, indian chief. And admissions are notoriously NOT based significantly on undergraduate credentials but mostly on standardized tests. It is a chance for the truancy artist who muscled through their degrees on raw test-taking ability to extend what has perhaps become an easy life style of posturing, drinking and fornicating in that order. Do not look to the financial aid office or admissions at an level to discourage this view. Quite the reverse. It should not be surprising that the education industry sees its wares as the cure to all ills. What is surprising and dismaying and, as we see now, utterly destructive is that a credulous public, led by its government and governing elites has agreed that “education” is a commodity, like platinum or pinto beans, to be measured by weight, distributed by fiat and financed by public debt.

It has long been the assumption that almost any debt incurred in the pursuit of almost any “education” is the most certain of investments. Like the mortgage industry, the student debt industry has therefore been targeted for extraction by Leviathan government. Sallie Mae is a newer addition to Your Federal Family and she accomplishes a similar task to Fannie Mae which is to expand the total market for debt by making it less risky and less expensive for the lenders who remain, at least nominally, private institutions. What has happened with these step-sisters is identical and identically predictable. As the housing construction and home-loan industries expanded wildly creating our famously popped “bubble” so to has the education industry. The costs of so-called education have exploded even more quickly than medical expenses. Has the quality also improved? The volume certainly has; more people pursue and receive degrees than ever before but in liberal arts undergrads, especially, it seems that if anything the quality is diminished. Here the Occupiers offer their examples which are astonishingly dreadful. Not only do they demonstrate themselves ignorant of the simplest basics of history, government, law, finance and grammar they offer not even the most modest proclivity to critical thinking, self-awareness or practicality. Even Marxism is ill served by these minions and although the groups are small, as far as media can reveal, they are pretty representative of their generation and demographics. No, they are far from 99% of the populace but in their inchoate rage, ignorant entitlement and self-serving myopia they are a plurality of graduates and near-grads.

In short, these twenty and thirty-somethings are children. This is an indictment and exoneration in one. In the recent past a boy became a man in fairly rapid order, either through back-breaking labor or the rigors of war. No one longs for these days to return but in their absence we rely on education to take up the slack. This, to put things mildly, has not happened. In part it is because the education establishment high and low is no longer concerned with such things as civics or long division giving way instead to fashionable concerns of historical revisionism and moddish aculturation that seeks to stamp out bullying or develop respect for two-mommy homes. Development of character is not so much left out of the equation as it is perverted to political ends. A willingness to recycle is taken as a moral imperative; one that is quite easy to fulfill. Self-reliance is suspect if not profane as it makes the tyke or teenager less tractable. It is the logic of Trophies for All! which attempts to free us from the cliche of discipline and accomplishment. The crush of conformity, supposedly the poison of yesterday’s suburbia, is enforced and reinforced to a degree veterans of that time and place can scarcely contemplate. Self-respect is eclipsed by self-esteem; two concepts that could hardly be more antagonistic.

Failing to mature the children remain children and it is no stretch or innovation to describe the Occupation as an elongated tantrum; unfocused, emotional and self-destructive but not baseless. If our young citizens grow to the age of majority without maturation whose fault is that really? Like all children, they only know what they are taught. And what have they been taught? In the field of education they have been taught that falling in line, paying your dues and your tuition will reward one with a degree which is, according to the Edu-mongers, a straight meal ticket. The subject of the degree is immaterial. The doctorate in Bongo Studies is as virtuous as the doctorate in Philosophy or Computer Engineering. Thankfully medical doctors are still held in reverence and their studies quite rigorous but how long before they also claim their percieved right to the same credentials as everyone else who shows up (and even many who do not)? And always the escalating costs are met with escalating debt. Don’t worry about that, you will be earning more than your uneducated peers. But that is now not true, apologies to Herman Cain. Yes there is less unemployment among the college educated than those not but it is still less than necessary to keep the conveyor belt moving. Bacchalaureates are backing up like cartons on a loading dock. The overage has spilled out onto our parks and commons where the students do, unsurprisingly, what they have been taught to do; posture in terms of great aggrievement and demand their due. The authorities have been telling them for decades; pursue your studies of whatever. Seek your star, you can be whatever you want to be, even if you don’t know what that is. If you find a passion for theatre or film or archaeology or ever more commonly, gender/race/poverty studies, there is a productive and rewarding place for you in our society. If you do not find it so, get your masters! The educrats care little and they may even believe their blandishments. Their business is in recruiting paying students… sometimes athletes. And if the odd aspirant can still not find their bliss, there is always education as a career; something the educrats encouraged up until lately. Now the professoriate suffers the same predicament as the bricklayer; too few places sought by too many applicants so those with current positions are not much interested in encouraging their competition.

The time was that a young man or woman could sell their labors speculatively, coming into an apprenticeship to learn skills valued in the workplace or just a good, long-term reference. Many, many the American ancestor was bonded, not for life like the slave, but bonded all the same; voluntarily (if we remove the discipline of necessity) for their passage across the sea with the expectation of a reward in marketability. Benjamin Franklin was a printer’s devil, later to become a devilish printer. The shadow of this model of profitably indentured servitude is much of the logical and cultural foundation for the education as investment model, but unlike the indentures of centuries past, our modern boys and girls, currently experimenting in climate science, are ejected from their pallets by the fire with a debt they have accumulated during their “labors”, not worked off. Further they find that self-righteous dudgeon about the Trail of Tears is no job skill, not even in an indian casino. In fact the only milieu they can reasonably see themselves plying their trade is within the government/academia/media/non-profit world which is well enough but these exist as adjuncts to the world of building and trading which is currently and perhaps permanently unwell. So with debts as absurd for the individual as our national debt is to the country, with little prospect to gain from their “investment” and with nearly no knowledge of the practical world our New Indentures are cast adrift, even bankruptcy is no avail, unlike your accumulated bar tabs on your VISA. What will they do? Whatever it is, much of it will be underground. The debts cannot be cancelled and cannot be outrun but they can be ignored if one can simply live off the grid like a wily raccoon. We have here a new class of the over-credentialed semi-homeless; bound to nothing but their debt which makes any legitimate employment nothing but an invitation to garnishment. Student debt defaults will skyrocket. The co-signers, mostly parents, will also default losing even their homes, meaning the final co-signer, YOU, will be on the hook for another trillion which we cannot pay. New student loans will scarcely exist which means enrollments will collapse and then even the highest-flying professor will be imperiled if not cashiered. “Education” will dissappear in favor of learning. There might even be some wisdom gained, you never know. The road will be difficult but it is already paved, marked and stretched out before the oddly freed but permanently excluded. Still, only they can determine the destination.

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2 Responses to “The New Indentures”

  1. There should be an Occupy Academia. Universities and Colleges sell these meaningless degrees, and then push grad school. When I have kids, unless they want to be technicians (Engineers) or high skilled professionals (Drs), I’m pushing them towards community college. If they want to get into the arts or business, their is no reason for expensive university education.

  2. Thank you Robert…. I have pushed my daughter into medical school. For reasons known to me, we have pushed her headlong into pharmacology and pushing pills. She can go several ways R&D, pill pushing, compounding etc…. every state in this union is pushing their parole/probation/ outpatient… to drug up the ‘bad guys” every country in the world will honor her degree and she has a bright future….. my child was smart, intelligent, has a sense of humor and is a thinker……. but by God she will be able to support herself and have a future. If she chooses to mess it up, oh well, I tried. If she wants to pursue an arts degree (she writes, enjoys music and shares my love of ancient cultures) after her PHD … so be it….. but I tried and my tech school education provided….. the pompose azzholes on this site can kizz my azz…. I am trying to work in the world i am given and push my kid to do the same. These OWS hippies can crap on the street and beat on their drums, but since they cannot perform, or provide a service someone will pay for….. then let them starve.

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