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Let's check off some of the things this country is "all about," according to popular rumor:

1.A respect for our fellow man.
2.An appreciation of the finer things in life.
3.A high standard of education.
4.A respect for religion, regardless of what denomination.
5.An appreciation of good eating and drinking habits in relation to health.
6.An appreciation of the value of mental health, especially among the young.
7.Good commnication between those of different opinions.
8.The importance of the knowledge of how others live and their cultural values.

These are trumpeted by politicians, praised by liberals and conservatives alike and considered prime objectives of a literate democracy. Guess what?

In a recent article on the website Salary.com, some attention was paid to these and every one of them was mentioned. The name of the article was "Eight college degrees with the worst return on investment." In short, all of the eight values mentioned in the introduction  to this blog fit nicely in the bottom eight - a sterling record. More exactly, the dregs ranked, in order, Sociology, Fine Arts, Education, Theology, Tourism, Nutrition, Psychology (counselling) and Communication. These are the ones Salary.com judged would yield the lowest lifetime financial return on the investment of a college education. Of course, this isn't publicized too widely since there are fewer and fewer peasants who can afford the $40 - $110 thousand bucks it takes to graduate, except those who can get scholarships or become entertainers or dealers. That's why we have over a trillion bucks in outstanding student debt - not enough dealers.
 So what does this article say about America? Nothing we didn't already know. In the good ol' U.S. of A., what we want is "real" education. Banking, BIZNESS, engineering, something USEFUL! Eggheads who study dead musicians or artists, sponge off the taxpayers six hours a day while getting three months vacation, interfere with what we eat and drink, find out about people we don't even know ("furriners") - these folks are sort of like barnacles on the ship of progress. We want somebody we can have a beer with - not somebody who looks down the road and talks about what we can do for our country. We shoot these.
 Money makes the world go 'round, but when it becomes the entire reason for existing, we might be on the verge of losing the whole she-bang. Check off how many "famous" people are "famous" only because they have a great PR man (or woman) resulting from an excess of ego and money or a paucity of common sense. And, speaking of PR people, would a major in public relations be a "better return on investment" than, say, nursing? What is the definition of  "success" in our country measured by? Service to mankind? Benefit to our country? Or cold, hard cash?
 Perhaps the reason theology is one of the losers is that some religions teach that you can't serve God and Mammon. Remember the ones left behind - who were like the camel trying to get through the eye of a needle? No money in something like that!
 Teaching the future generations of Americans to value money above all - which is what Salary.com seems to indicate - doesn't bode well for the future.

Originally posted to boguseconomist on Thu May 09, 2013 at 09:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  For those interested (11+ / 0-)

    here's the article mentioned in the diary: 8 College Degrees With the Worst Return on Investment

    With the caveat that I wouldn't go to a site called "Salary.com" for an analysis of something other than, well, salary, I don't disagree with your rant... And I don't think the authors of that article would, either.  Their blurbs on each of the professions tend to be sympathetic about the needs for and awesomeness of these jobs, but sober about what it means for getting yourself out of debt.  For example, they call teaching "One of the noblest professions. And while it stands to reason we'd pay great sums to the chosen few who shape the minds of future generations, it doesn't quite work out that way."  

    So I don't know if the authors of that article (or website) are quite as tunnel-vision'd as it seems at first glance, but they do want people who are questioning whether the student debt is worth it to have the information about what it'll cost.  I think that's reasonable.

    For my part I wish we'd rethink the whole damned system.  Colleges and universities are too expensive and (at the risk of opening a really big can of worms) aren't doing that great a job for most students.   I've been in a grumbly mood about this for a while, but... it's the subject for another diary, not an excessively long comment.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu May 09, 2013 at 11:12:24 AM PDT

    •  I didn't see the diarist necessarily faulting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      the website or article writers for their conclusions regarding "Return on Investment" for degree choice. While I think the wording in this sentence is a bit misleading

      These are the ones Salary.com judged would yield the lowest lifetime financial return on the investment of a college education.
      since the article does say some "nice" things about under-compensated careers, the diarist seems to me to reserve criticism for the nation's, not the website's, values. I would point out, however, that the salary.com article does seem to reflect those same money-obsessed values, suggesting that "ROI" is a primary consideration for those considering a major field in which to get a degree. I saw language suggesting this both before and after the list of degrees. Considering the cost of college and growing student debt load, this might be a practical conclusion, but also stating the "party line" without serious questioning does indicate that not rewarding recipients of those degrees should not be a huge problem for students. The answer is to just choose a field with better "ROI." That solution, stated and implied in the article, would certainly suit a society that holds little value for these fields, but I think that's what the diarist focuses on primarily. The society that so elevates and focuses on pursuit of wealth as members' primary reason for living becomes a society whose values might be skewed. And it's a society whose members will suffer from the lack of pursuit of what the study of the undervalued fields has to offer, aspects of life in which lack of compensation reveals society's deteriorating values. That's what I get out of this, anyway.

      I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

      by dannyboy1 on Fri May 10, 2013 at 05:46:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Diarist (0+ / 0-)

        intended exactly what you so cogently stated. As an aside, it might be instructive to compare our country's educational philosophy and practice, as well as the "prosperity index" mentioned in a recent Forbes article, with those countries who employ a socialist form of education, especially as regards government-assisted tuition in return for work in needed fields after graduation. Using the idea that working for the good of the country is preferable to working in order to pay off debt and, eventually, enrich yourself, seems a lot better plan.

        Don't believe eveything you think.

        by boguseconomist on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:42:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Return on Comment (0+ / 0-)

      Your intelligent and reasoned comment begs for a series of diaries about the educational philosophy of the United States vs. the voracious appetite for money by the educational establishment. Oddly, the capitalistic demand for "more" of almost everything stops short when it comes to intelligence. The labelization of opinions and the insane desire to fit acronyms to anything we don't understand is making a mockery of education.

      Don't believe eveything you think.

      by boguseconomist on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:36:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When the reality of the situation is that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye Nut Schell, YucatanMan

    many college grads DO have to take out substantial loans, I don't think it's "money worshipping" to point out what degrees are likely to pay for themselves and which aren't.  Far too many kids are taking out substantial loans to get a degree in a field where jobs are scarce/nonexistent.  It's a bad idea to take out $160k in loans to pay for a "tourism" degree.  People should be aware of this.  

    There has been a similar push in the legal world.  Too many kids took out $150k+ in loans, assuming they'd land one of those $160k/year biglaw jobs, and when that didn't pan out, they were really screwed.  There has been a big effort to get schools to be more transparent with the employment statistics, and to be upfront about the fact that unless you're at a tippy top school, you're not guaranteed a huge salary.

  •  They want someone they can push around (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, OooSillyMe

    My background in Soc, and Humanities, and Religious studies, I am plenty capable of having a beer. I know dirty jokes that will curl your toes, and I can cook a mean chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes or a fine spaghetti dinner, al dente of course.  You want a beer with me? I drank my share in the military. But  because I can read, that makes me too snooty?

    What a load of shit!

    The problem with people who have an education background in the areas listed--basically the Arts and Humanities is this:

    They are taught too much history, too much context and they truly do make it difficult for those who have never had an original thought in their entire life, to reinvent the fascist wheel, and use it to run us over.

    So if at first you don't succeed, undermine education and change the rules.

    It's really not about being snooty. It's because education makes one subversive to totalitarianism, fascism, and other forms of abusive governance, and managing.

    •  --let me amend that to MICRO-Managing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan
    •  There is an aggressive anti-knowledge, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, OooSillyMe, Icicle68

      anti-educated current through the country.  People who have a deep understanding of literature, art, history, music, social sciences, and humanities are ridiculed.

      Where once, we had leaders who tried to inspire us to live richly and deeply through our appreciation of those topics (look at the Kennedy administration or the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).  

      JFK's words:

      There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The Age of Pericles was also the Age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the Age of Leonardo da Vinci, the Age of Elizabeth also the Age of Shakespeare, and the new frontier for which i campaign in public life, can also be a new frontier for American art.

       -- Letter to Miss Theodate Johnson, Publisher, Musical America, September 13, 1960
      ____________

      I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.
      ...

      I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.

      -- at Amherst College, October 26, 1963

      The cultural cretins who make up 99% of Congressional Republicans (and too many Democrats) are actively anti-Arts, anti-Culture, anti-Humanities.  They are degrading the public life of the nation and the daily discourse between citizens with their disregard for truth and all that is good in life.

      We need a new push to recognize and reward education in the arts and humanities.  We need a new push to recognize and reward education in basic sciences.  A lot of what Kennedy initiated 50 years ago would be a good cure for many of our ills today.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Thu May 09, 2013 at 10:23:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It this rate, we will have to reinvent The New (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan

        Deal first, and then Civil Rights for women and ethnic minorities, privacy rights, AND then finally, work our way up to Kennedy.

        If I could dig him, and his brothers and Eisenhower up and re-animate them I would.

    •  My condolences (0+ / 0-)

      You must have had a series of absolutely lousy teachers to give you this impression of what it means to be educated.
      Education should teach a person to read, to question and to come up with original ideas, using what has been written in the past as a base for what might come to pass in the future. To blame this on excessive content is only logical when accompanied by the absence of anything else.
      The history of fascism has invariably been the product of mediocre minds who carefully pick bits and pieces of whatever areas suit them (Neitzche, Wagner) and manufacture visions in which they can exert control. Education is best undermined not by people with excessive knowledge (an insult), but by people with insufficient intelligence.

      Don't believe eveything you think.

      by boguseconomist on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:50:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is we live in an artificial world (0+ / 0-)

    and it requires a lot of money to maintain: The house payments, car payments, phone plan, internet bill, cable bill,home owner association dues, etc. So much of your income is pre-spent.
       That's probably why the RWNs resent taxes so much. They feel like they're not making any money as it is.
       A little cooperation - say half a dozen households and one high speed wireless connection and one cable TV connection. Carpool to the grocery store, etc.-would stretch spendable income.
      But the system is set up so that each household is an autonomous spending unit.
      And in a world in which utility is derived from the purchase of goods, most of which are built to be obsolete soon, you need big bucks.
       In fact, though, people could be just as happy with less money, more free time, and fewer gadgets.

    •  artificial world (0+ / 0-)

      I agree with your premises, which I lament. However, it seems the  remedy might be to change the system instead of trying to adapt to the identification of human value with consumption.

      Don't believe eveything you think.

      by boguseconomist on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:53:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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