Friday, December 05, 2008

Big Oil vs. Big Education

Goldwater's Ghost has a great point. If you look at the price of oil vs. the price of a college education, why is it "Big Oil" is the villain and not the spoiled brat college professors that request more and more money for progressively marginal educations?

He cites a report, which I perused, and poached this great chart which makes his point all that much clearer.

About the only thing I could add to this is beyond a 4 fold increase in the cost and nowhere near a 4 fold increase in quality, it is a pity that more and more students choose worthless majors. This basically makes education nothing as much as a vital tool to help poorer classes escape poverty and achieve wealth, but makes higher education a luxurious hobby for the upper classes. If all sociology majors, political science majors, hyphenated-American studies majors, etc. were wiped out, more resources could be poured into accounting, engineering and computers, bringing the cost down for these vital degrees and enriching many more Americans, particularly the poor.


Anonymous said...

One time I met someone who was majoring in "peace studies." I laughed at them heartily, knowing they wouldn't fight to defend their major.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with you that some of the degrees offered today may not lead to a job, but in this capitalistic society, if people want to spend their money on that type of education then it's their right. After all, they didn't recieve a well-rounded education in public school, I can assure you. Therefore, many of them may feel like they need to seek a decent education elsewhere.
However, that seems to be a distraction to what's really upsetting you.
As for the oil companies being the villains, I don't believe that they are. However, these "Big 3" don't want to play by the rules of capitalism. In a true capitalistic society, as America is supposed to be, if a business fails - whether due to inefficient management or a poor product (and I believe these "Big 3" are guilty of both corporate sins) then that business closes and it's employees lose their jobs. If we truly believe in the power of capitalism - as most of Americans claim to - then we need to let these businesses fail. The C.E.O.s have dug their graves. I'm only sorry that many, many families may be buried with them.

Anonymous said...

As long as people pay for themselves they may study any crap they want. What angers me is that many politicians are so stupid that they want to introduce even more student loan programs and practically push more and more people into colleges, as if there were not enough college students.

I mean, there's no way 40% of the population are bright enough to go to a university. Let us rather privatize the elementary and secondary schooling in order to improve quality of those two.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

Wow. Johnny has called me over to the couch. I've arrived.

Huge fan, Captain!

Hot Sam said...

If you look at the required curriculum for a minor in "Peace and Conflict Studies" at UC Berkeley, at least three of the courses are a form of independent study. In other words, college credit for leftist activism - in particular, anti-war protests. Meanwhile, the Executive Committee for the College of Letters and Sciences denied a minor in Military Science to R.O.T.C cadets who take more than 21 hours of bona fide leadership courses.

If tuition and fees have baked your potato, wait until you read this story:

This worthless affirmative action hire was working for the Office of the President of the University of California in Oakland. In order to cut their budget, the president's office offered a severance package to employees for early retirement.

This low-life collected that money and then immediately took a job as an administrator for UC Berkeley which was just a few miles away.

What's worse is that she was among several people who received perks to which they were not entitled while the UC system was operating under a massive budget deficit.

UC recently amended their policies to prevent this from happening again, but it's shameful that they let it happen in the first place, and shameful that it took a public outcry to change the policy.

Hot Sam said...

Another comment about all these "soft" sciences and arts departments. They are basically monoliths of leftism.

There are no conservative women in any Women's Studies departments. There are no conservative blacks in any African-American studies departments.

Anthropology, Sociology, Library Science, English, Theater, Art, and other departments are systematically packed with liberals. They have miniscule expectations for tenure and often use their time for political activism.

By virtue of their hegemony within departments, they get to elect like-minded people to the faculty Senate who then make rules which suit themselves.

These departments with low-value educators produce low-value students who amass large amounts of student debt so most can take a job as a receptionist or work for a non-profit after graduation.

The interest deduction for student loans is phased out as income increases, so those with high value majors (Engineering, Computer Science, etc) get almost no benefit. Those with low-value majors are heavily subsidized by the taxpayers.

And with Obama trying to increase college "affordability", mark my words it will NOT lower professor pay or union employee pay. He will merely increase student loans and grants. But with constrained capacity, tuition will be hiked further. In the long run we will educate more leftists with more taxpayer dollars and higher liberal administrator and faculty pay.

Sallie Mae will be the next GSE to fail as student loan defaults rise.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if "easy, government-backed student loans" had any impact on the cost of tuition...

Anonymous said...

It's a mistake I make all the time. (Until I sometimes catch myself.)
A 450% increase if more than a 5 fold increase.

Anonymous said...

Education needs to be fixed in the primary grades. I once read a bundle of letters to my grandmother written by her numerous brothers and sisters. All of them showed better command of grammar and vocabulary than the college compositions I see nowadays, and none of the authors went past the eighth grade. It would be pleasant to think that my relatives are all freakin' geniuses, but that's not likely. Ordinary people can be taught; all it takes is a decent teacher and an orderly environment.

If you bring back proper primary education, the university problem will disappear, as incoming students will have the intellectual equipment to see things like ethnic studies as the craptastical buffoonery that they are.

Anonymous said...

After yesterday's big announcement of huge budget problems here in Minnesota, the graph shows an excellent target for the spending cuts.

I'd like the Board of Regents of the U of MN respond to this.

Anonymous said...

That higher education costs have far outpaced the CPI, higher even than medical care has been mentioned only rarely in the MSM. But the last coverage of it was on Glenn Beck's show on CNN. Neither he nor his guest could come up with any real justification for the huge cost increase.

It's not like there's been an infusion of new and expensive advanced technologies into higher education (as is the case with medical care). Colleges have about the same type of equipment as a modern office, and the costs of that equipment has gone up very little or even become less expensive.

My only guess is that a college education consists almost entirely of domestic labor content, and has not suffered from the global price arbitrage of other fields. But that should apply to the medical care field as well (and they've had to buy expensive new equipment).

So, does ANYone have any idea why education costs have risen so much more than even medical care?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: You're describing baumol's cost disease and I think thats definitely one of the reasons college is so expensive.

I also would credit the luxury arms race for who can have the most useless stuff for their students like rock climbing walls and game rooms. Time Magazine's History of College Dorms is telling.

We recently had this discussion about the costs of education on my blog when someone posted this article about rising college costs from CNN Money Magazine. Its very thorough.