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In 2010, I earned a Ph.D. in theology.  Within a year, I was on food stamps.    I'm not alone.  According to the latest records, there are 33, 655 people in my position.

In my case, the issue has been one of trying to break into a teaching profession.  I recently signed up for a sequence of classes in professional editing because I'm not seeing it as a wise move to keep putting off work that actually pays to do the things I need to do to get a teaching job (I've been doing informal editing work to keep a roof over my head, which I'm now supplementing with petsitting - in the meantime, I have a few research projects to finish up).  I've applied to private high schools and community colleges, everywhere the door is shut.

But, let's say I get that teaching position.  The likelihood is that my financial situation would not change....

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured an article, From Graduate School to Food Stamps, on adjunct labor that begins

"I am not a welfare queen," says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.

That's how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.

"I find it horrifying that someone who stands in front of college classes and teaches is on welfare," she says.

According to a recent Al Jazeera article by Sarah Kendzior,  67 per cent of University Instructors are adjunct teachers.  As Kendzior says, this trend is a symptom of the end of higher education as a path to prosperity in general, not just for those who wish to pursue academic research and teaching.
In most professions, salaries below the poverty line would be cause for alarm. In academia, they are treated as a source of gratitude. Volunteerism is par for the course - literally. Teaching is touted as a "calling", with compensation an afterthought. One American research university offers its PhD students a salary of $1000 per semester for the "opportunity" to design and teach a course for undergraduates, who are each paying about $50,000 in tuition. The university calls this position "Senior Teaching Assistant" because paying an instructor so far below minimum wage is probably illegal.
...
But all Americans should be concerned about adjuncts, and not only because adjuncts are the ones teaching our youth. The adjunct problem is emblematic of broader trends in American employment: the end of higher education as a means to prosperity, and the severing of opportunity to all but the most privileged.

In a searing commentary, political analyst Joshua Foust notes that the unpaid internships that were once limited to show business have now spread to nearly every industry. "It's almost impossible to get a job working on policy in this town without an unpaid internship," he writes from Washington DC, one of the most expensive cities in the country. Even law, once a safety net for American strivers, is now a profession where jobs pay as little as $10,000 a year - unfeasible for all but the wealthy, and devastating for those who have invested more than $100,000 into their degrees. One after another, the occupations that shape American society are becoming impossible for all but the most elite to enter.

The Joshua Foust article on the internization of labor states
Still, the internization of America’s college graduates should prompt us to ask: If going to college doesn’t improve your job prospects, why bother going? And what does it mean when access to government jobs is increasingly limited only to those applicants who can count on their families for financial support?
In an earlier diary, I tried to sort out the tension between having a sense of vocation and the realities of the job market.  It looks like the job market is winning, which is what happens when society makes the market its God.

Originally posted to dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  This: (34+ / 0-)
    One American research university offers its PhD students a salary of $1000 per semester for the "opportunity" to design and teach a course for undergraduates, who are each paying about $50,000 in tuition.
    It's obscene, for both instructors and students, and it's not sustainable.

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:50:17 AM PDT

  •  As someone with a liberal arts degree myself (9+ / 0-)

    It is a mystery to me why you thought you could have both a PhD in theology and financial success at a university or anywhere else.

    Having recently left a position supporting research scientists with both MDs and PhDs I do know how exploited the young RA's are but they do move on often to pursue work as scientists in both private and public positions.  But they have degrees in health sciences, statistics etc.

    •  Oh, I was aware of risk... (24+ / 0-)

      My mother got a Ph.D. in art history in the 1990s, and she was in the first wave of the shift to adjuncting.  But around 2008, when I was in the middle of writing my dissertation, the market for all academics significantly worsened.

      I always find it slightly irritating, to be frank, when I bring in personal experience to illuminate a structural problem and people fixate on the personal aspect and ignore the larger picture.

      It's not just a question of my personal comfort.  It's a question of the sustainability of higher education, the worth of the humanities, and the attraction of talent to graduate programs.

      If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:09:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I worked with the money (5+ / 0-)

        In the administration of medical research grants.  The majority of PhD investigators were clueless about money.  They had no interest in the financial issues confronting the organization.  They did not know how to manage anything - resource, people, contracts, etc. If you want an academic career learn about the money.  In your field you might have to pursue grants from right wing Christians.  I've seen investigators get funded that way.  

      •  "The worth of the humanities" (4+ / 0-)

        A big structural problem is that we're massively overproducing humanities PhD's who have no plausible use for their degrees other than teaching and doling out more humanities PhD's.  It's utterly unsustainable.  Shutting down or cutting back many, perhaps even most, such programs would be a great start to preventing young people from making a decision that's the education equivalent of becoming a teenage single parent.

        •  That's the problem right there. (6+ / 0-)

          That we haven't communicated sufficiently that financial, material worth is one kind of worth, a necessary worth, but not the only one.

          The notion of worth beyond financial worth is the very reason the humanities exist.  If universities can not (a) structure their missions so they can advance a mission beyond job training and (b) balance that mission with the need for preparing students for the market and maintaining their financial soundness, they should just throw in the towel.

          If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

          by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 11:31:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One can acknowledge the importance of the (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, lonespark

            humanities while still noticing that a lot of young people are spending a lot of their precious human capital on a doomed down.  There's no job, aside from handing out more degrees, that one needs a liberal arts PhD for and very few where it's even helpful.  Most people with an interest in the humanities would be far better off studying the humanities on their own time and doing just about anything other than pursuing a PhD in the humanities.

        •  I have a big problem with this: (12+ / 0-)
          Shutting down or cutting back many, perhaps even most, such programs would be a great start to preventing young people from making a decision that's the education equivalent of becoming a teenage single parent.
          I've looked at several posts on this thread, and this just chaps me. Count me very lucky, I have a 4 degrees including a PhD in Physics and an MBA. I count myself as very lucky, I have a unique job that is tailored to me that I love. I couldn't have gotten it without my education.

          However, I will be one of the first to stand up and defend the humanities. I had a serious background in humanities throughout my academic career, and it is part of the reason that I have a distinct appreciation of the humanities and the arts. These ideas help us understand who we are as a society. To just arbitrarily cut them without discussing even what their role in society is important for, is patently ridiculous on its face. If making the decision to understand what our origins as society at the highest level reduces you to poverty, then maybe we should be seriously reevaluating what our values are as a society. And the people to do that are precisely the people whose programs you have decided to cut.

          •  This: (8+ / 0-)
            If making the decision to understand what our origins as society at the highest level reduces you to poverty, then maybe we should be seriously reevaluating what our values are as a society. And the people to do that are precisely the people whose programs you have decided to cut.
            Worth repeating.

            If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:07:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What plausible employment would you suggest (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, lonespark

            ... for a liberal arts PhD, other than a university setting?  The problem is intractable precisely because the degree isn't designed to give one skills that transfer to the employment market.  One can be interested in or even study the liberal arts without the massive investment of human capital and opportunity cost that a doctorate represents.  

            •  I am arguing societal values. (8+ / 0-)

              Why shouldn't we exist in a society that has plausible employment for such people?

              My company is an educational software provider. Our biochem product requires elaborate drawings. The person who provides these drawings has a BS in biochem and and MFA.

              I'm saying that we should have a society that allows people who study drama and are good at it to have a career in it such that they can afford to live. So we can have more opportunities that exist for such a person as that employee.

              If the degree doesn't transfer to the employment market, maybe the problem isn't with the degree, it is with the market.

              One can be interested in or even study the liberal arts without the massive investment of human capital and opportunity cost that a doctorate represents.
              However, what level of expertise can these people achieve? I could not achieve my level of expertise in Physics by just "be[ing] interested in or study[ing] physics." But since Physics has a massive component of logic, I can safely say that I could not achieve the same level of expertise by just "be[ing] interested in or study[ing] philosophy."

              If you can't have experts in philosophy distinguished from any other chumps on the street without "massive investment of human capital and opportunity cost," then you know what you get?

              Ayn Rand.

              •  Drama majors (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lonespark

                "Why shouldn't we exist in a society that has plausible employment for such people?

                I'm saying that we should have a society that allows people who study drama and are good at it to have a career in it such that they can afford to live."

                ... specifically?  What policies would you propose that would give plausible employment prospects to every drama major?  How much would it be cost, and would it be worth it?  Vague romantic notions really don't cut in the policy arena.  

                •  Vague romantic notions? Whatever. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dirkster42, lonespark

                  Why don't you defend your position for the status quo? I've already shown enough reason to warrant changes in how we think about assessing the value of humanities.

                  Policy at this point is just a red herring. I'm not even interested in discussing that before closing my premise that a change in thinking about the market and it's relation to education and societal values is necessary.

                  If you are willing to understand why your previous assumptions have issues, I'm not even remotely interested in watching you just move the goal posts, because it is pretty clear that is where this is headed.

                  •  Last paragraph: Unless you are willing... n/t (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dirkster42
                    •  So... (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ladybug53, Flying Goat, lonespark

                      ... you have the vague notion that they "should" be able to get jobs and we should "think about assessing the value of humanities."  That does a lot of good to the people who are wrecking their economic futures by pursuing a dead-end PhD.  My policy prescription to this problem is that we should figure out which fields we're overproducing doctorates in, then reduce the number of PhD's we produce to a more reasonable/sustainable level.  In some fields this would probably be quite substantial-- the history market is particularly glutted, which is why I did not go to history grad school.  

                      You seem to think policy is a "distraction."  That's not remotely true.  Policy is very important.  If you have an argument about how the world "should" be but no plausible policy to get there, then what exactly are you trying to accomplish?  Yes, it would be nice if everybody who wanted a PhD could pursue one, then emerge on the other side with a well-paying job in their chosen field.  I suspect such a thing is impossible because the utility of the degree is so limited, but if you have a policy prescription to the otherwise, I'm all ears.  I just have little patience for "solutions" that take the form of, "It sure would be nice if.."

                      •  Nope - (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        rudewarrior, lonespark

                        you're missing the point.

                        "I'm not even interested in discussing that [policy] before closing my premise that a change in thinking about the market and it's relation to education and societal values is necessary" DOES NOT EQUAL "policy is a distraction."

                        That statement's about making sure we have some fundamental ideas about what the goals of policy are before we get into the nitty-gritty.

                        And of course we are never going to be able to guarantee that every last person is able to get exactly what he or she wants.  If that were the goal that made political efforts worth our time, we should have stopped millennia ago.

                        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                        by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 02:50:05 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  And there it is... (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        dirkster42, peregrine kate, lonespark
                        I did not go to history grad school
                        See, I've learned that there is more to having a PhD than just a job. Yes, I am economically sound and I have more economic potential having my education than the vast majority of people. But I do also understand that what you consider "vague notions" aren't. The arguments I make are very logical and sound, and I am sticking to my main point.

                        Here is another lesson. When I was in the Army I learned that you don't talk shit about what you haven't earned. I wasn't a Ranger, so I don't talk shit about Rangers. I wasn't a SEAL, so I don't talk shit about SEAL's. The reason for this is you then progress down a very bad path. It is very easily seductive to go down the path of "well, I'm not a SEAL, and I'm clearly a badass, so being one isn't a big deal."

                        The same goes for education b/c it's very easy to say "PhD's have no value, you know how I know? Cause I don't have one." And if you don't understand why my arguments aren't "vague notions," then maybe you should "get interested and study a little more," since that clearly works out so well.

        •  We also massively overproduce astronomy PhDs (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, ladybug53, jgilhousen, lonespark

          STEM degrees are not immune from this phenomenon.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:28:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  See my post above. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dirkster42, lonespark

            I come from the camp that says there is no such thing as "overproducing" highly educated citizens.

            PhD-level educated people are shown to be overwhelmingly against the madness of policies that encompass the GOP platform. Yes, there are exceptions at every turn, but there is absolutely nothing out there in our history that a highly educated society is a bad thing.

          •  I don't know enough about astronomy... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, lonespark

            ... but if we're overproducing those PhD's, then we should look at that too.  This has been a problem for years, yet the number and enrollment in grad school keeps growing.  

            •  It's always been a problem (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirkster42, rudewarrior, terrypinder

              There are maybe 1500 jobs in astronomy worldwide. You have to wait for someone to retire or die to get one. Or, figure out how to cobble your own funding together.

              But astronomy is really cool. People like studying it. Many astronomy Ph.Ds retread themselves into something more marketable, like computer programmers or financial wizards.

              My point is mostly that there's a cadre of people who stand up and say "What a loser someone is for getting a humanities Ph.D. and expecting that that means something." The fact is that your mileage will vary and that there are few fields of study that come with a guarantee, even in STEM.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 07:04:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Even though I loved teaching I got out and (8+ / 0-)

    stayed out at 68 because tapering down to part time would deprive a young person of sorely needed work.  But I have been thinking about what I might have to do to support myself if my pension and Social Security don't hold up.  I believe I would start a niche school, limited to what my certification and credentials will allow, and locate it in one of the many vacant storefronts in strip malls all over the nation.  Location would be as key as the educational service  available for a variety of reasons.  I would provide alternative course work, as opposed to being an actual alternative school, and would operate in the afternoon and evening, hours during which adolescents function best.  Assistants would be hired when necessary.  A "menu" course lab like this would evolve in cooperation with the areas public and private schools and could even be a respite site for home schoolers.  Funding streams would have to be determined, which plays into location.  

    Hate to see your talents and skills languishing, dirkster42, so I hope your will explore options of your own design that may be allowable where you live and which would be of your own design rather than continuing to knock yourself out trying to fit into a system that lacks opportunity.  A little bit of money and a lot of planning might take you far.  Having a partner might be advisable as well.

    Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

    by judyms9 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:07:46 AM PDT

  •  the only way to stop this (7+ / 0-)

    is for students to be advised not to go into PhD programs in the humanities. First off, it shouldn't really be necessary; there's no reason MA level instructors can't fulfill teaching needs at colleges, and second, there aren't any jobs. Schools should be clear to candidates that they won't be likely to get a job. I have two friends who earned PhD's in English and theology. Both teach part time at co. colleges for no benefits. High school teaching used to be a place to go if you earned certification but even that is being shot to shit with all the new attempts to privatize. It's really sad. I would have gone for the PhD myself in English or History but THANK GOD i didn't. I started at Fordham, had my tires slashed a few times at a middle school where I was teaching, and decided no way. I figured I'd have an academic degree and still wind up teaching middle school and getting my tires slashed. i went into social work, got accepted for an MSW, and still work in schools ( in a better neighborhood, though last year I did get a tire slashed after 22 years ). It has paid for itself, believe it or not. In fact, someone with a degree in theology is about the kind of student an MSW program would like to have. I'd check it out.

    •  Al fundamental (7+ / 0-)

      rethinking of the structure of education is needed.

      But I'm not willing to say that the value of a Ph.D. in the humanities is simply a luxury for people who have time & money to spare.  Actually understanding history and literature takes time and effort.  I have two masters degrees - what I learned in writing the dissertation was substantively and qualitatively different than what I learned in getting my MA degrees (one of which was from a program more rigorous than my Ph.D. program).

      I think having people who know how to think at that level is good for society as a whole.

      If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:34:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had a discussion in a previous diary regarding (12+ / 0-)

    PhDs.

    I was recently hired as a four semester lecturer at a community college after working as an adjunct there and at two other schools. Because of my precarious work situation, I thought about--and still contemplating--getting my PhD just to enhance my credentials on my CV and to find more full time work if it does not work out at the school. Someone mentioned to me that it might not be the best thing to do unless you truly want to do it and not to apply to a PhD program just for employment purposes. Why because this same person who has a PhD just lost a job at a community college and is looking for work as we speak.

    Sadly, academia needs us, but due to administrative costs (not to mention hiring administrators over educators), we are not being hired. It isn't fair and the upcoming freshman class is going to need to be taught critical thinking or we will have more Todd Akin types and Sarah Palin types graduating from American colleges and universities.

    "Do they call you Rush because you're in a rush to eat?" -"Stutterin' John" Melendez to Rush Limbaugh.

    by Nedsdag on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:25:41 AM PDT

  •  There was a study a few years ago. (9+ / 0-)

    It was published in a professional psychology journal.  A study was done by a team of educational psychologists to determine the best college majors.  The purpose of the study was to give high school guidance counselors something concrete to tell students as they planned for college.  It seems the ideal college majors (as of about five years ago) were as follows:

    Licensed Practical Nurse (called Vocational Nurse in some states)

    Registered Nurse

    Criminal Justice

    X-Ray technician.

    There was a fifth, but I cannot remember what it was and I cannot find that article.  I think it was something like math teacher.  

    Notice a commonality?  None of those jobs can be outsourced overseas, and no matter where you go, there is need for primary health care staff and law enforcement officers.  

    One thing I found interesting was that a college degree is not needed for some of those jobs.  For example, some are either technical school or Associate Degree entry level positions.  However, one can go all the way to a doctorate in nursing as well as criminal justice and X-Ray technology.

    I have a friend who is an attorney.  She used to be an Assistant District Attorney before she went into private practice.  I remember her telling the older of my two daughters to be careful of what she majored in.  She said that she was an English major, but when she got her Bachelor's degree she discovered that with a BA in English Lit. and fifty cents, she could make a phone call.  So she went to law school.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:27:52 AM PDT

    •  Statistics is another (7+ / 0-)

      An MS in statistics can take you in many directions.

      •  Notice the best college majors (4+ / 0-)

        identified by the researchers were ones with only a couple of years (or less) of college needed for entry level. Plus, jobs could be found in small towns from Maine to California.  And there is little or no chance the job could be outsourced.  For example, an X-ray technician needs to be present for the pictures to be taken; however, the radiologist who reads the films may be an MD in Calcutta, India.  

        A program that requires graduate school is not feasible for the majority of kids coming out of high school.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:35:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  engineering probably still good (4+ / 0-)

      I never lacked for good employment opportunities during my carreer.

    •  I tend to recommend plumbing (5+ / 0-)

      and becoming an electrician. Skilled, good paying work that can be done anywhere in the US and cannot be outsourced.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:30:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's fine and good. (6+ / 0-)

        What do you see the role of education in society as being?

        Is an educated populace something you think is worth fostering?

        There are questions to the individual - what is a prudent course of action?   The best answer may be "plumbing."

        There's other questions for a society - what collective goals are worth prioritizing?  That's a different sort of question.

        The crisis of education isn't simply a question of a glut of Ph.D.s  There's plenty of work to be had - it's just being done by low-paid adjuncts.  It's a question of whether or not we are willing to fund higher education, and whether we actually see that as an investment overall.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:45:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you are looking at two different issues. (8+ / 0-)

          And they cannot be conflated.  One is education for the sake of learning. That is a laudable goal.  On the other hand we have the need to make a living.  As in the case of my District Attorney friend, they are sometimes incompatible.  

          I used to know a guy. He was a self-employed handyman and contractor.  He was also a member of Mensa.  He was happy to do his work, think and go home to his formidable library.  He was never out of work.  

          Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman.  He was self educated. He wrote several successful books.  His papers were donated to the library at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford.  They occupy seventy-five feet of shelf space.  There are still thousands of pages of his handwritten notes that have not even been cataloged, let alone published.

          While education is important, and we cannot do without it, we also live in a time where a trade school diploma may be a better tool for finding work than a terminal degree in a niche occupation.  

          I also have an earned doctorate, so I do understand the problems.  I am now in the twilight of my career I love after doing it for more than a half-century.  My advice to young people is the same as that of elfling.  Major in something that is marketable and cannot be outsourced.  

          The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

          by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 01:12:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think very highly of you, O S, but here (4+ / 0-)

      I have no idea what you are getting at.

      I see dirkster42 attempting to raise questions like these: What do you think post-secondary and graduate education should accomplish? Who should participate in it (students and faculty and staff)? What degrees ought to be accredited and granted? How should such institutions be run, and to whom should they be accountable?

      What I read you as saying in oblique response is that post-secondary ed should be market-driven, basically a trade school for a very few professions. Did I miss something? Is there a back story about your own field and its trajectory lately that you have shared elsewhere?

      In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll announce that I have my own Ph.D. and some years of adjuncting under my belt--plus a couple of years of work in higher ed union organizing. I have no prospect whatsoever of getting a TT job myself for a variety of reasons. I also have an attitude of considerable ambivalence, let me say, toward Academia. But I don't think the solution is necessarily to dismantle the present system. (Well, I might make an exception for mega-versities). I may be over-extrapolating, but that's where I see you going. I'm quite interested in hearing what you have to say, and what I might have missed.

      •  Kate, I see two issues; (6+ / 0-)

        which I have at least partly addressed in one of my comments above.  I have no desire to dismantle the system.  In fact, I would like to see more money poured into it.  Did you know that India and China both have more kids with IQ's that qualify for Mensa than we have kids?  We need to make the most of what we have going for us.  We have to do better with less.

        We have the tension between the need to make a living and the desire for learning.  In the current economic climate, I see no resolution. Here is an example. I hired a guy to do some carpentry for me a few months ago.  When I wrote him a check, we started talking, and I found him to be a most interesting and articulate man.  He has an Ed.D. in secondary eduction with a major in Industrial Arts.  He is doing carpentry, plumbing and electrical work because he cannot find a teaching job. He said the public schools he has applied to will not hire him because they do not want a doctoral level person. Most trade schools prefer journeyman tradesmen to teach classes rather than formally trained academics.  So he is doing whatever he can scrounge at ten dollars an hour.  

        I know this does not help dirkster42, but I am looking at a macro picture rather than micro.  I am, quite frankly, worried about the future of our academic system.  There should be jobs for pure thinkers.  I know a couple of people who are paid to sit, doodle on a legal pad and read.  Those jobs are few and far between these days.  

        Eating being a habit most of us formed early in life, the first priority is to put food on the table and a roof over the head.  Recall Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 02:53:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  An afterthought (6+ / 0-)

          What I am trying to say is that thanks to the Republican economic fiasco that started under Ronnie Raygun, we are now in survival mode.  These are tough times and all to many of the 99% are stuck at the lowest level of Maslow's hierarchy.  

          The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

          by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 03:00:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unfortunately, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Otteray Scribe, jgilhousen, lonespark

            with the effects of Global Warming starting to take real effect, resources will be scarcer, feeding the cycle.

            Even with that fundamental fact in mind, I do share pk's bafflement that you and others are so resigned to the effects of the Republican economic fiasco, instead of thinking about ways to turn the priorities around.  I mean, this is a progressive Democratic blog.  Resigning oneself to the shenanigans of the GOP and their aftereffects isn't exactly what we come here to do.

            If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 03:05:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did not say I was resigned to it. (6+ / 0-)

              I am a scientist and a pragmatist.  I have also made a study of the seminal work of Abraham Maslow.  When you are hungry, it is hard to appreciate a Rembrandt.  We have to see the basic needs taken care of first, then we can move to the higher levels.  You do not start building a structure by building the roof first.  

              The Republicans as a group have deconstructed the social, economic and cultural framework of one of the greatest countries on the planet. If we wait for them to rebuild it, we are headed toward becoming one of the biggest third world countries.  So, no, I am not resigned to anything.  I hope the Republican party becomes so lunatic crazy that even the most dense low-information voter gets the message and deconstructs them.

              Before we can rebuild the country, we are going to have to start with the foundation.  The whole situation makes me seething angry.  But first, we have far too many people out of work, so the first priority is to get the economy moving again.  To do that, we need jobs and people to fill them.  There are far too many hungry bellies out there.  

              The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

              by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 03:17:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Many thanks for elaborating on your earlier (3+ / 0-)

                comments, O S. I have a much better idea about where you're coming from now.

                In large measure, I agree with you about the compelling nature of Maslow's hierarchy. Security (basic physical, not national defense) must be addressed first.

                On the other hand, I wonder if the flow between these stages isn't perhaps more dynamic than a simple progression upward. (Though I freely admit that I may well be oversimplifying his scheme.) I would argue that it is important, perhaps essential, to have something in mind at least about the higher levels to be able to escape the pull of the basics.

                The other difference between our perspectives at the moment may have to do with context. I think I share your apprehension, grief, and rage about the deconstruction of the great social and material infrastructure that the Reagan Administration and its heirs have imposed. We have been pushed down brutally, and it will take many years even to regain what has been lost, let alone move beyond where we were in the mid-1970s, early oil crisis notwithstanding.

                Although I am most definitely part of the 99%, I have at least the potential of scrounging scraps from the 1%'s table where I currently live. It's not pretty, and it's not likely going to last. For the moment, however, we're getting by.

                Forgive me if I am misinterpreting again, but I get the impression that your physical environment, while exceedingly beautiful, is also exceptionally depressed economically. You could simply be in better touch with how truly bad things are all over, and I may well be too Pollyanna-ish even about what I see close to hand. In any case, almost all material prosperity in this country is now extremely superficial, controlled by the 1%, or both.

                Some of the people now out of work are like your "over-educated" carpenter. Others are like dirkster, or like me. Or Noddy and her children. Just think of what a new WPA could accomplish! The resources are certainly harder to access now, but they exist.

                What comes to mind, finally, is that wonderful labor song, Bread and Roses. It's not only recreation that we need, but dreams, and a way (however remote initially) of working toward their fulfillment too.

                •  Not only Work (Bread) and Recreation (Roses) (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lonespark, Otteray Scribe

                  but also dreams, that is.

                •  Kate, the county in which I live (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  peregrine kate

                  has a per capita income of $18,000 and annual household income of $23,000.  Only 12% make $75,000 or more per annum.  We had three large manufacturing industries here: ALCOA, a box factory and a plastic fiber manufacturing plant.  Because those three shut down, the railroad service to this town, which had been here since shortly after the civil war, shut down.  The tracks have just been ripped up and there are huge stacks of crossties beside the road with a big "For Sale" sign on them.  There is one light industry left.  Those jobs went to Brazil, Mexico and China.  The largest business in the area is a medical complex.  They have 20 or more applicants for every job opening, no matter how menial.  The county just north of us has seen several clothing, glove and shoe factories shut down.  The per capita income there is $16,000 per year and unemployment is high.

                  The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                  by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 06:32:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes, those are desperate conditions. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Otteray Scribe, dirkster42

                    Enraging is maybe the mildest term to apply. No wonder you feel such intense urgency. The suffering must be hard to observe, let alone to bear.

                    In contrast, I live in a very insulated, very financially successful community, largely dependent on its mega-versity. Last time I checked, the median household income in town was over $70K, and households tend to be small. (I'm not sure whether that figure includes students.)

                    Now, my smug little college town is within an hour of one of the most financially distressed major cities in the U.S., and there are several cities and towns in my state that have gone into bankruptcy. I think that in the larger scheme of things, what you experience is far closer to the "national norm" than what I do.

                    We are rapidly approaching a point of no return, at least in terms of the current generations. Heaven help us all if we can't figure out how to take our country back. It's off topic for here, but I would be interested in your ideas about why people aren't already in revolt.

                    •  Based on my knowlege of social psychology (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      peregrine kate, dirkster42

                      which is relatively limited, there has to come a breaking point.  Years ago, Dr. Jerome Bruner at Yale did a number of studies on preconceived notions.  If a person (or group of people) have made up their minds that a certain thing is true, it takes a lot longer to dislodge than it would for a disinterested observer.  However, once people wake up, it will be pitchfork and torches time.  

                      This is a very red corner of the state, but I overheard a conversation the other day about Mitt Romney refusing to disclose his tax returns.  The two people, both Republicans, were agreeing that he is hiding something and if he was not forthcoming, they figured he had done something crooked.  

                      In short, once the dam breaks, it ain't gonna be pretty.  My concern is that the economy is like the oncoming climate disaster in many ways.  There will be a tipping point from which we may not be able to recover.

                      I am a child of the Great Depression.  My grandfather told me to always know how to do at least two things really well.  He had learned from painful personal experience that in hard times, you may not be able to keep your white collar job.  

                      So, I know how to do a number of things in addition to my regular job.  I am a pretty good welder and woodworker.  I am a high-time pilot (note my new avatar).  I am also a pretty good gunsmith, cutler and amateur luthier.   I took Granddad's advice to heart.  I can always find something to do if I have to, even though I am officially an Old Guy.  I have a feeling if the dam breaks, there may be a need for gunsmiths and knife makers, unfortunately.

                      Unfortunately, most of the population are not polymaths and have no idea how to survive if--or more accurately, when--we have another Great Depression.  There is one thing about the area in which I live.  Almost everyone here knows how to clean a fish or skin a squirrel.  I have no idea what the poor city dwellers will do.

                      My daughter's boyfriend is a prison guard.  He says when they get new prisoners who have never been out of the big city, they look around and are actually frightened.  They see high mountains and forests.  One new inmate told him yesterday that if he had any previous idea of escaping from a work gang, that was not going to happen.  Said he would get lost in the woods and starve to death if the bears and cougars did not get hm first.  

                      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                      by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 07:44:14 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Bruner may have something there, in terms of (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Otteray Scribe, dirkster42

                        reaching a tipping point. Once that happens, any patience will have been exhausted. Plus the desperation is one thing when it affects the adults primarily. If the safety net for children and elders gets any thinner, then that would be quickly provocative too.

                        (By the way, I ought to mention that my diss is an institutional history of the Merrill-Palmer Institute. Seems likely that you might be familiar with the place. Bruner had a tenuous connection with it for a while, IIRC.)

                        Your GF's advice was good. I have no extensive secondary skills to match yours, but I can do some fundamental household stuff like canning and sewing, and some rudimentary household repairs. Several people in the area have sponsored what they call "reskilling festivals" the past couple of years, which seem to be worth while. Anything that can be presented in a one-off then would require practice to do well, of course, but it's not a bad idea all the same. In part, it establishes a core group of fellow travelers, so to speak. I think with good training and lots and lots of practice, I could begin to identify wild food.

                        I like the admonitions that Noddy offers, though "like" is not quite the right word. I think they're timely now, and probably urgent soon.

                        I worry about my kids most of all. I can encourage them to develop practical skills, but so far they're not taking my suggestions to heart. The younger one really wants to learn how to shoot, and I think that's probably a good interest to foster, even though I am not terribly comfortable with the activity myself. We might not have the luxury of "comfort zones" much longer.

                        I'm not surprised that the newbies in a rural prison wouldn't relish being outside. Wilderness is pretty challenging territory.

                        •  MPI was Bruner's publisher. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          peregrine kate

                          I think his papers are housed there, but not sure.

                          If the kid wants to learn to shoot, do it right.  Get an NRA certified instructor.  I have a deep and abiding dislike for the NRA because of their extremist politics, but one thing they do have right, is the quality of instructors and the quality of instruction they provide in classes.  I believe a couple of the RKBA group members on DKos are certified instructors.  Some shooting ranges will rent firearms to customers along with instruction.  That way you do not have to buy anything until you are sure.  Air guns are good for practice, as well as being inexpensive.  One thing to remember about a good air gun.  It will have a muzzle velocity almost as fast as a .22 bullet.  They are weapons and are capable of killing or injuring if hit in the right place at close range, so all the usual safety precautions used with actual firearms must be followed.  

                          My daughter never was interested in shooting until she got to spend a day on the Sheriff's shooting range as a part of the Citizen's Police Academy.  That was a worthwhile effort.  If there is a Citizen's Police Academy program in your area, your child might find it interesting and educational.   After taking the course, my daughter changed her major from business to criminal justice.  She is now a correctional officer.

                          The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                          by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:06:53 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't recall coming across his papers, (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Otteray Scribe, dirkster42

                            but the M-P archive that made its way to Wayne State (the Reuther Library) was pretty compromised in the end. My own research focused on the early years of the school, its founding through the early boom, though if I turned it into a book I'd need to cover the whole span. We'll see. It's fun to discover that you have some idea of the place.

                            Thanks for your suggestions. She'll be 16 next month, which is a good age for being responsible about such things. I have no problem with encouraging her to take up activities that I myself cannot or would not do; all the better to have a diverse range of skills within the family.

                          •  I started flying lessons when I was 15. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            peregrine kate

                            My oldest son soloed a few days after his 16th birthday.  They turned him loose with a hundred thousand dollar airplane in a high air traffic control zone.  Sixteen is plenty old enough to start learning responsibility.  

                            The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                            by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:18:28 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  On this (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Otteray Scribe
                      but I would be interested in your ideas about why people aren't already in revolt.
                      I think unprecedented state surveillance technology is a bit of a damper.

                      Many factors, but from my own experience at least, that is one that plays into how willing I am to even think about open revolt.

                      If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                      by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 08:56:48 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  If revolt comes, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        dirkster42

                        it will not look like the civil war that many survivalists imagine.  I have no idea what it will look like, but if people become desperate enough, I fear they will turn to charming demagogues who will further inflame.  Think of what happened in Germany in the 1930s.  I fear it will become a lot worse before it gets better.  

                        Remember the plot to overthrow the elected administration of FDR, until General Smedley Butler blew the whistle on the plotters. That notion of overthrowing the government was a direct result of the Great Depression.  The big corporations were outraged when FDR wanted to add controls on them and start public works programs which the big banks and corporations could not profit from.  Prescott Bush, father of GHW Bush and grandfather of GW Bush was one of the ringleaders.  

                        We may be closer to Prescott Bush's vision now than ever before.  One of my concerns is that Obama is keenly aware of all the moles the Bush crime family left in place within the government.  

                        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                        by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:41:55 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I did not finish that last thought. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          dirkster42

                          Obama is keenly aware of the moles left by Bush, Rove and their owners.  He knows he will have to move cautiously.  I am thinking of how Harry Truman handled things once he was safely re-elected in 1948.  I suspect Obama may have been reading some history recently on how his predecessors managed during second terms.  

                          The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                          by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:46:19 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  I am in the middle of TVA country. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  peregrine kate

                  I have lived in several places around the country, including St. Louis.  I have lived in both urban and rural areas.  I see what is going on. The State and Federal governments are among our biggest clients, but their budget cutbacks have hit us hard. Payment schedules were just slashed another ten percent--they want the same work, with more documenting paperwork, for ten percent less money than they were paying us last spring.  

                  The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                  by Otteray Scribe on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 06:48:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I did the adjunct thing for a while (8+ / 0-)

    I liked the teaching, but in the end I don't think that it helped my academic job search very much at all. It also made me very bitter about the whole situation.

    - A stint as an adjunct can be used to label you a "loser" by your enemies on the hiring committee. (Okay, they probably aren't your enemies, just people pushing other candidates.) I don't think that this needs much explanation... it's just too easy for people to say "if he's so smart, why's he an adjunct?", especially older people who got their PhDs when universities were growing.

    - If you are really productive, your friends on the hiring committee can use a stint as an adjuct to cite "determination under adversity". So maybe the first point will be fought to a wash.

    - Do not expect to use an adjunct position as a "foot in the door" to getting a permanent job at your adjuncting institution.   Basically, people don't value things that they get for free. I've never seen attempts at this work out. I've seen people go from adjunct to tenured Assoc. Prof. at a more highly ranked institution, but never from adjunct at School X to TT prof at School X.  There could be special circumstances (you stick around a long time and somehow become critical and then have an offer from somewhere else and they need to hustle to keep you... but by then you have an offer somewhere else anyway)

    - The guy who did the adjunct thing to tenured assoc prof was already established in his field and "in town for personal reasons".  His adjunct institution just didn't want to grow in his area, so he left for another institution when the personal reasons "cleared up".  

    - The financial side of being an adjunct is brutal. If you are depending on your adjunct salary to survive, you will almost certainly not have sufficient time to publish enough to be competitive on the job market.  If you are being supported by a spouse, expect their patience to be thin. ("why are you wasting your time with people who are taking advantage of you? academics is like some kind of cult....")

    Basically, you probably shouldn't do it unless you have a clear plan to either publish a lot quickly while teaching a course per term, or you have a "sponsor" that you could end up getting a salary from (ie. you are in the sciences, and there is somebody that you could work with who could put you on grant support, I've seen this happen).  

    Tough job markets for PhDs seem unavoidable since schools overproduce PhDs in most fields. The only "fix" I could imagine is changing the degree itself and its expectations so that it would be valuable for employment for something besides being a professor.

     If you are in the sciences, it's not too bad, since the government and many big corporations like to hire PhDs and give us higher salaries (essentially making up for the seniority we lost by not working in industry during grad school).  

    For folks in the humanities or theology, I dunno.

    •  The problem is NOT "overproduction" of Ph.D.s (5+ / 0-)

      but a dramatic, draconian REDUCTION in the number of positions within colleges and universities that exist to offer faculty living wages, with benefits and stability.

      College enrollments have continued to climb, but permanent instructional staff have become a smaller percentage of post-secondary institutions' workforce. Instead, instructional staff (especially at community colleges and at R 1 universities) are "contingent" labor, adjuncts or grad students working for low pay with little hope of long-term professional stability and development. The numbers of administrators--and their rate of pay, particularly at the higher levels--have flourished in comparison.

      •  It is both. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lonespark
        •  Check out Marc Bousquet (4+ / 0-)

          If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

          by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 03:41:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great, great interview. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lonespark, dirkster42

            I especially appreciate his take-down of Bowen's projections in the 1980s (which I was suckered by, starting grad school in 1992):

            If you look at what happened in higher education and especially the efflorescence of job market theory, it took place in total isolation from what was actually happening to higher education employment. That was what was wrong with William G. Bowen's forecast about demand for higher education faculty through the 1990s: it took place without consideration of the massive evidence of casualization and permatemping. In fact he just swept all of the evidence of casualization and permatemping off of the table and said, in this Dink Stover at Yale sort of way, "Well, of course, any institution will hire tenure-stream faculty when it can afford to do so." You can hear him taking as fact the rhetoric of those who are intentionally permatemping. If you read what was actually going on in higher education administration theory, everyone is figuring out how to shed full-time faculty and full-time staff, and replace them with permanently temporary workers. So he developed a model based not on what was actually happening, not the actual experience of graduate students who were involuntarily dislocated, but on the rhetoric that university presidents like himself were pushing on the rest of us: "Oh yes, well, when this crisis is over, we'll start hiring again." As if that were true!
            Thanks for the link. Bousquet's a smart guy. I'm not sure that unions are gonna be the salvation, however.

            Are you part of the adjunct list serve? And I assume you're familiar with the New Faculty Majority group and site?

            •  I'm familiar with (0+ / 0-)

              New Faculty Majority.  Need to get on the adjunct list serve.  I'm completely exhausted from just trying to get my foot in the door, honestly.

              But, some things are starting to move a bit.

              If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

              by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:11:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  the sad takeaway from some comments is (11+ / 0-)

    "you should have done your PhD in something useful if you wanted a job" attitude is bipartisan.

    sigh.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 11:04:53 AM PDT

  •  The value and purpose of the university (10+ / 0-)

    and of education in general has been drastically devalued. The 'adjunct problem' has been growing for over three decades--I know, it was already a problem for me in the 1980's--it's abusive, it's bad for the students, it's bad for the progress of intellectual endeavors, and it degrades the department/university.

    The solution is to force universities to change their priorities. Right now, they are galloping toward becoming small corporations. Many public universities are using taxpayer funds to build "Tech parks" supposedly to attract business to work in conjunction with their research scientists, but this is just a boondoggle and most of these are sitting empty. And how does this model advance the needs of the public, anyway ???????

    And the administrator top-heavy salaries are obscene, just like they are in the corporate world.

    I love it that Obama's channeling Harry Truman: "I don't give 'em hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"

    by sillia on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 11:44:49 AM PDT

  •  I understand. (10+ / 0-)

    I have a Ph.D.  

    I thought my degree would improve my life and that of my children.  I didn't realize when I got my degree that I'd lose my great job due to downsizing, then my second job to corporate bankruptcy, and my third to outsourcing. I spent what retirement I had and my savings educating my children. I'm happy to have a low-paying receptionist job because it comes with a retirement - I'll have to work until I'm in my mid-70's to earn that pension.

    Only one of my degreed children has a well-paying job, the rest are doing OK - no significant debts, but the only one doing well is also the only one who was able to find work in his field. None of the rest are working in their fields, and three chose the military just to get a regular paycheck because they could find no other work.

    Their father, on the other hand, who has no college degree at all, was able to retire with a full pension at age 51.

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 02:11:42 PM PDT

    •  Holy crap, Noddy. (6+ / 0-)

      You really are my hero. All those practical skills you have, and a Ph.D. to boot?

      I hear you. I don't think my pursuit of my own degree helped my children or myself very much either, at least not in a practical manner.

      OTOH, it was not your fault that those three jobs disappeared from under you. Nor is it your fault--or your kids'--that the "market" is so constricted now that they couldn't find work in the areas in which they have specialized training.

      There's been extensive, prolonged discussion here @ DKos about the effects of a FIRE-dominated economy on housing and money flow. I don't think there's been enough discussion, except on a personal, ad hoc basis, about the contraction and sometimes eventual disappearance of many important industries and sectors apart from manufacturing. The impending collapse of higher ed is one of many.

      Now, thinking and writing about these issues aren't enough on their own of course. But I also find it puzzling that there seems to be a large measure of fatalism, for lack of a better word, regarding the losses our society has suffered already, and the efforts we might undertake to reverse them. Other countries--Canada, much of Western Europe--still support some of these sectors with public funds. I know, I know, the U.S. is "exceptional." Still, we seem to be willing to settle for less and less and less....

      •  There's a strand of fatalism (5+ / 0-)

        that's always been very pronounced in American culture - "let the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by" - it just surprises me to see it on a Democratic political blog.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 02:42:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know it's not (4+ / 0-)

        my fault.  One of the reasons I have so many survival skills is because I had to learn them the hard way - by living through figuring them out.

        I'm happy with my job because I know I'll only be at it for another 7 or 8 years, then I get to retire and do what I really want to do.

        Plus, I get to do things like OctopodiCon and forming up the Junior Sprockets, so there are compensations.  And if things work out right, this could become a nice "retirement" career.

        I also get to (have to?) continue with the activism I did back in the 60's and 70's, fighting fr women's rights and human rights, to argue for the basic governmnt services of housing and feeding the poor, educating our citizens, keeping our infrastructure strong, and giving our people every opportunity to excell.

        That's part of the impetus behind the Junior Sprockets - each kids science and engineering and critical thinking in fun settings with the trappings steampunk.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 05:41:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps a bit of levity is in order? (4+ / 0-)

    Your designation on your DK profile of "Unemployed Theologian" reminded me of this scene from "History of the World, Part I":

    As to the question of whether there is any metaphysical import to be derived from that clip, I'll leave it up to you, as your doctorate beats my master's degree without even having to play a trump card.

    I hope you know I'm not trying to trivialize the serious issues raised in your piece.  I, too, am disheartened by the implications for a society which seems to not only undervalue education in general, and the humanities in particular, but actually view them with hostility.  I have also grappled with crises of vocation, in both the practical and metaphysical sense, of my own.

    Diu vivere et prosperabitur.

    Ad crearent magis et melius Democratae.

    by jgilhousen on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 04:38:20 PM PDT

  •  I was supposed to go back to college (3+ / 0-)

    when my kids went to school. The divorce changed that, of course.

    And now I'm disabled, I've been unable to find work (Maine has the highest unemployment rate in New England), and my spouse is firmly blue collar, doing what amounts to hard labor every night, but she works for a small company, and enjoys it.

    And she keeps asking me what I'd take if I could go back. (I can't, of course, we can't afford it. But if wishes were horses...) And I have to say it would be medieval history (or a bit earlier) or medieval music, if I could ever get the money for the type of vocal lessons it would take to relearn to sing after the TBI (I wouldn't be able to rely on my hearing, but on my internal sounding board).

    Would it be useful? Probably not. But I would enjoy the hell out of it. And isn't that the point? Really, in the end?

    Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

    by LoreleiHI on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 06:17:08 PM PDT

  •  I Have a Ph.D. and Law Degree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Otteray Scribe

    Multiply my income by 4, and I'd be elgible for food stamps if I were married and had kids.

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