Wednesday, September 25, 2013

10 Years of Unnecessary Hoop Jumping

Embedded in this CPA update is the story of Walt Kofski.  Because it's not obvious where it is, I've taken the liberty of highlighting the relevant sections:

OK, lieutenants, agents, and economists.  Do you see what I see?

Yes, that's right, good ole Walt was able to test for the CPA without having to have a degree.

The other thing you might have observed is that in spite of this


disability he still managed to become one of the most successful CPA's and accountants in Minnesota history.

So riddle me this, riddle me, that,

why in the Patron Saint's Name of Frick are we requiring modern day CPA applicants to have not only an undergraduate degree in accounting, but also a certain amount of masters classes in accounting, oh, and not to mention the never-ending litany of CPE/continuing education?  If somebody can just pass the CPA out of high school, then why not let them?  Wouldn't it be more efficient for all of us???

I shall answer young lieutenants, and the answer is two fold.

First, there just plain isn't enough economic growth to go around.  When Walt sat for the CPA exam, economic growth was averaging around 4.25%.  Today is is only 2.5%, nearly 2 full percentage points lower.  This means without new economic growth, there is no new economic opportunities for any young up and comers.  Therefore employers have to find ways to screen you.  This means -  you guessed it - progressive credentialism.

While a million people in the state of Minnesota may have the raw talent and ability to sit and pass the CPA exam without going to college, that doesn't matter.  Employers just plain don't have the demand for that many CPA's.  So they throw in front of you unnecessary and unneeded hoops to test NOT YOUR SKILL, but basically, your compliance.  Your obediency.  And (ultimately) your lack of self respect.  

The reason why they are ultimately testing your lack of self-respect is because people with the least amount of self-respect are the cheapest.  So cheap in fact most employers know they can do away with training programs or certification programs and FORCE THE INDIVIDUAL TO PAY FOR A 4 YEAR DEGREE, MASTERS CLASSES, and FEES TO GET CERTIFIED.

But it isn't just the financial costs (which can well be into 6 figures), it's also the time.  And not just time, it is your youth you are wasting jumping through these hoops.  When all is said and done, I'd estimate with 4 years undergrad, 1 year masters, a year studying for the CPA, another year getting the necessary work experience to be able to test for it, AND let's not forget that oh-so-needed CPE and continuing education (all during your prime years, mind you), you are already agreeing to forfeit 10 years of your life merely TRAINING and EDUCATING yourself to get the credentials.

Understand there is no economic production that comes from training and education.  It is merely developing a skill that in the future will result in added economic production, but for those ten years it is a sunk cost the young, poor person pays.  Worse, as progressive credentialism expands and HR departments become more picky and requirements become more lengthy, the quality of that "education" decreases.  Matter of fact, it becomes nothing more than a big fat expensive joke (for example just look at what they're teaching in MBA classes now).

Now, this is just the CPA, but the vileness of progressive credentialism has infected nearly every aspect of the working world.  College degrees are "preferred" for jobs that 14 year olds can do at fast food joints.  Masters degrees are essentially required if you want to get into anything above "entry level," but said jobs will still be way below your skill and education.  A young man in the UK was required to dance to get a job at a GROCERY STORE.  And I'm sure every one of us would like to have back the 8,000 brain cells we've each lost every time we go in and suffer the inanity of the HR ditz asking us "if you could be a cat or a dog, which one would you be?"  But the insanity and psychological pain this all inflicts on us is nothing compared to the economic costs.

Understand there is a counterbalance to all this insanity.  And it is the fact that the young are wasting at least a decade of their lives, going to school, getting certifications, and getting accredited INSTEAD OF WORKING.  This of course bodes poorly for the young kids doing the Decade Long Hoop Jump Dance.  They're not at their full capacity, they're never "advancing" and rarely will they have a career.  But it bodes even poorer for the scum who instituted this dysfunctional labor market.  For the people in power need young people's economic production to pay for the social security and medicare ponzi scheme they've created.

Many of you are angry about this.  But may I point out, you can't pay for other people's stuff if you don't have a job, let alone a high paying one?  Because of the piss-poor management of the government and corporate sector, employment prospects are so poor for young people, there's no way they can tax you - you have nothing to tax.  Furthermore, with our "great leaders" from "the great society" instituting socialism, you are inoculated against confiscatory taxes on your income.  So yes, while you are forced to be poor or at least lower-middle income, you are also protected from high taxation to pay for other people's stuff (that is until bank accounts and 401k's are "haircutted" but that is another topic).  

In short, the "lost decade" of economic production is not solely going to fall on the generation forced to jump through hoops.  It's going to affect those guilty of setting up such a sadistic system in the first place.  The only true costs to younger generations is the time you wasted in school (which you don't have to do) and the fact, unlike say, your WWII counterpart, you aren't going to achieve your best so early (it's almost laughable to think of all the 18 year old pilots and engineers who had more responsibility and achievement during WWII compared to most 40 something cubicle dwellers today).

The second reason why younger generations have to suffer such inhumane treatment is one of simple malice.  Here I have no empirical proof, no data, no charts.  Just enough work experience and adulthood to come to the conclusion most of the people in power, be it government or corporate America, are petty and evil enough to do this out of entertainment.  Power is a corrupting force I will never understand, but I have seen it turn people into the most malicious and petty of people.  Adria Richards (though not older) is a perfect example of what just a little bit of power can do.  She ruined the career of two young men (not to mention her own) because of the lizard-brain taste for power.  And so when a younger, smarter, faster, better go getter is in the ranks of an old, ass-kissing, brown-nosing, has-been who "doesn't do that Excel stuff" hurdles and hoops must be put up to keep the young and talented from advancing, otherwise LEGIONS of old, obsolete, outdated, and inefficient managers would have to relinquish their positions OR (GASP!!!)  HAVE TO GET EDUCATION AND TRAINING!!!!  And we all know those hoops are just reserved for idiot young kids.  In other words it's just a delaying action to defer the inevitable giving the 57 year old blue hair that vital extra decade he needs to pay off his two ex-wives, pay down the 3rd mortgage on his McMansion and pay off that loan on his 7 year old 5 Series.

Of course, none of this solves the problem that many (if not) most young people are under/unemployed, in debt, and will never have society's institutions use them to their fullest potential.  But it does put into perspective as to how society treats its youth today versus that of yesterday.  And at least with this perspective, you can make wise decisions that are going to benefit you, and not the pre-made decisions that are going to benefit them.

First, refuse to jump through the hoops.  School, I've said before, is quickly becoming a waste unless you major in the right thing.  And even if you do major in the right thing, you are not going to be taken seriously until you are at least 35.  Again, this is not WWII where you are desperately needed to pilot that P-51.  This is the worst economy in 50 years where there is no need for you except to file and fax and be called an "assistant manager" and do all the other crap work your boss doesn't want to do.  You will never be challenged and you will never meet your potential.  Ergo...

Second, why you might want to consider the military.   Any posts about how "you could get killed" and "I'm not defending this socialist hell hole" will be ignored.  Because you would not be joining the military for "god and country" as much as it will be for "me and me."  The military is about the ONLY place that will take an 18 year old kid and give them the opportunity to achieve their best.  And since most employers are too sadistic and inefficient, this makes the military the BEST option for kids nowadays.  Free food, clothing, shelter, health care and education.  You outta kiss your drill sergeant on the lips for how kind and generous the military is compared to corporate America. 

Third, by god, have some self-respect.  I know this is tough to do if you have debts, but your youth and your sanity are not worth putting through the mental meat-grinders employers have become today just for a paycheck.  Job descriptions that are outright lies, job offers that are half of what they should be, psychotic bosses who never make tough decisions or provide leadership, resulting in feuds between the rank and file as they try to lead themselves.  Why even tolerate it?  Collecting a government check or working a low level security guard job or working as a parking lot attendance is infinitely better and more self-respecting. 

Again, very few of us will ever become that

top notch accountant
elite investment banker
super accurate actuary
or top sales guy

but nearly all of us can get by on very little, enjoy stress free jobs, and give employers the proverbial finger when they tell us to waste 10 years of our youth and at our expense, jumping through hoops.

(If you liked this post please forward it to a friend or consider purchasing one of Aaron's hate-filled, rant-a-licious books.  You can also listen to Aaron's podcast located here)


Carl said...

Nailed it again.

I kicked around when I was in my early 20's (30 yrs. ago) between a few jobs and a couple of years of college jumping through the hoops. I finally came to my senses (no thanks to counselors, parents, or employers) by remembering how much I enjoyed drafting in high school.

So I enrolled in a 2 year vocational school for Drafting & Design, graduated and eventually hired on at GE Aircraft Engines in Ohio as an entry level drafter. Through learning on the job I moved through the various levels of draftsmen then eventually designer. Learning descriptive geometry on the board was a huge benefit as we transitioned onto CAD.

Eventually I opted to earn my Bachelors degree in the UC night school mechanical engineering program as GE picked up the tab. As it turned out I really only graduated with my degree to prove to myself I could do it. I never pursued any job other than design as the CAD tools quickly became more capable and challenging. I loved where I was.

Shortly after I received my degree it became increasingly clear that now companies wanted 4 year engineering degreed applicants to hire as designers.
I saw many of my peers that did not have their 4 yr. degrees become marginalized despite years of on the job experience. Even to the extent that they could not move into new positions they were eminently qualified for since the sheepskin wasn't on their resume.

I learned that my degree was not a reflection of my capabilities but it's only value was to get me through the HR door.

It was a huge eye opener for us all to see designers that moved from the ranks of mechanics and machinists into design, where their previous experience was invaluable to create producible cost effective designs, were soon being replaced by college graduates, most of whom had never turned a wrench.

What's even worse is, today the focus of educators, HR, and corporations is not on tangible hands on vocational training and apprenticeships to seed design and engineering, but is instead directed towards finding cheaper college educated resources from other countries.

The decline is here and I've had a front row seat to see it happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm fortunate to be working with a very aggressive, self-funded start-up, but I had enough of a taste of the job market to become fed up. I taught a college course at Algonquin College in Ottawa for a semester, and even though they told me I didn't qualify for a full-time teaching position, (because I don't have a university degree), they were happy to accept the curriculum and syllabus I ended up having to write because no one else was available or qualified to do it.

What I really hate is the increasing demands made on job applicants that are almost never worth the effort. I once foolishly agreed to write a 3500 word paper as a "qualifying test" for a position, and my wife was recently asked to create an entire marketing plan as part of a job application.

To me, in addition to being a big upraised middle finger to job applicants, requirements like this'd an that prospective employers have probably already made u p their minds about a candidate, and simply want to discourage others while maintaining a semblance of an open process.

I ended up deciding to simply refuse to play along if an employer starts demanding that I jump through hoops. Instead, I'm focusing on demonstrating my competence through my work.

Quartermain said...

More truth and common sense that most business magazines not to mention the local newspaper.

Anonymous said...

I am going to jump in and mention the obvious: in addition to what Cappy Cap described, credentialism is also a very typical way for a group of people to eliminate the competition.

Lawyers, realtors, CPA's etc... all have ridiculous requirements to be part of the "guild" whose only purpose is to eliminate competition. These "guilds" are typically self-employed, so the HR factor is minimal, I'd think.

Anonymous said...

You are correct.

I'm a CPA in Australia, and I noticed all of this happening.

The funny thing is, recently, my old blue chip company hired a new CEO, and all he had was a Geography degree. You could see all the Masters of Accounting students looking confused.

For me, that was the day it all clicked.

Keep up the good work, I've been reading your blog for ages and this is my first comment, as your commentary just keeps getting better.

Boom said...

I don't know if the military is a viable option anymore. Every day the military is getting more and more PC. Women in combat roles, gays being able to openly serve, multiculturalism being the highest value, etc.

I think the only solution at this point is self-employment. Sure, you will make less money than working in corporate America, but you will have your self respect and be able to do what you want.

Robert of Ottawa said...

Chris Ivey,

You're the first Ottawan I've seen on the net. Apart from that:

I notice that employers demand exactly and precisely all the particular skills and experiences they think they need.

They never consider experience, ability to work problems through, self-actuation (as I call initiative).

The larger the organization, the worse it becomes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my garbled text... It comes fr trying to post from my phone.

Dr. Coyote said...

>>If somebody can just pass the CPA out of high school, then why not let them?

Yeah, I'm all for that. But is a high school education today as good as it was in 1951? Look, it's not just that most master's and bachelor's degrees are worthless, the high school degrees are largely worthless too.

It's a safe bet that Mr. Kofski and his classmates had a great deal more ability right out of high school than most BS and MS holders do today. The problems start way before college.

Breaker Morant said...

Mark Steyn-one of the greatest commentators on the passing scene says-the average education of Americans at the WW2 time was about 8.4 years.

As he says "8th Grade America won a war of global reach and 18th Grade America walked it off a cliff."

Breaker Morant said...

Mark Steyn-one of the greatest commentators on the passing scene says-the average education of Americans at the WW2 time was about 8.4 years.

As he says "8th Grade America won a war of global reach and 18th Grade America walked it off a cliff."

Anonymous said...

Dr. Coyote, I'm not so sure about that. I've heard multiple older folks say that the curriculum of today - particularly math - is tougher than they remember it. That's just hear say, of course. And I don't think there is any doubt that the teachers were better in the '50s.

Dan said...

While I agree progressive credentialism is a problem, it isn't quite that bad. It is certainly possible to get a BS/BA degree in two years and you could study for the exam while in school or working.

The work requirement isn't that much different than old-school union systems where people started out as apprentices or whatever. I work at a large firm and nothing special happens at 35. There are plenty of younger engineers earning six figures and a few younger executives. In general the more experience the more responsibility. HR is annoying but not in the way that much and there are a few young people with associates degrees in good positions.

Anonymous said...

23 and going for the Navy's nuke program. I fucked up in college getting my BSME. Having a 2.37 gpa makes the degree almost worthless. That it was ranked number one for there BSME program does not matter.

When I get tested I do fine. I got a 99 percentile on the military's test. There was one job I was trying to go for, they did programming tests, intelligence tests, and personality tests. I passed them all with flying colors. They even flew me out for an interview.

Of course they cut off contact as soon as my gpa came out. But at least I got close. Most company's use automated hiring systems. My resume never goes through.

So, you are right on the money with the military. Heck even with all the PC bullshit, being close to serious firepower will be worth it when it all falls down.

dance...dancetotheradio said...

Twenty five years ago I briefly audited a class at the School of Management, formerly called Commerce.
One day the prof started lecturing about the proposed Employment Equity legislation.
Nowadays, this means affirmative action because all employers are looking for visible minorites, women and aboriginals to comply with the legislation.
What was being proposed back in the late eighties was quantifying the value of work in sectors with gender imbalances and mandating the rate of compensation to remove perceived unfairness.
For instance, nurses were compared to electricians.
If it was found that nurses performed the same value of work as electricians and they didn't make as much money then the government would mandate that work be paid at equal rates regardless of market conditions.
I thought this was madness, and rather than ask this prof a simple question about supply and demand, I left and didn't come back.
I knew in that lecture hall, in that place and time, that everyone around me was resistant to hearing a simple 'abstract' microeconomic question about how markets set the price of labour and why the government needed to have anything to do with that process.

My kids are six years away from university.
I hope the internet pops the whole bubble by the time they get there.
Credentialism is wasteful.
I hope we can return to a merit based society.

Anonymous said...

Right, so the people inside a profession run that profession to their own advantage. They limit membership so they get higher wages, and don't have to work so hard to keep up.

And you're surprised at this? This has gone on for centuries. It may not be *right*, but it's rational economic behaviour: people are defending their own perceived self-interest.

Enlightened self-interest? No. But economic reality it is. People get lazy and want to ring-fence their position. So they do.

Unknown said...

Same thing happens in the Engineering field.


In the US, to offer engineering services to the public and use the title "Engineer", one must be a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). This is required by law.

For example, in Texas the use of the title "Engineer" by a non-PE is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $3000 and up to 1 year in prison. Each day of violation counts as a separate charge.

To become a PE, you need to first be an EIT (Engineer-In-Training). To become an EIT, you need to pass the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam. As an EIT, you must be in practice, under the supervision of a PE, for at least 4 years before you can take the P&P (Principles and Practices)exam to become a PE.

Basic summary: FE exam + 4 years supervised experience + P&P exam = PE.

My story:

I've been a software engineer working on safety and non-safety control systems of nuclear power plants for 7 years. I know more about software engineering, distributed process control/automation, and commercial nuclear power than 98% of people working in those fields. I can throw down and prove this when needed.

I could pass both the FE and P&P exams right now. In addition, I have been repeatedly asked by the IEEE to be a participating author/reviewer of the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK)--which is the text upon which the Software Engineering P&P exam is based.

But, because my computer science degree isn't from an ABET accredited institution, I am ineligible to even sit for the FE exam.

The ABET is pay-to-play pure and simple. They and their partners at NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) have successfully lobbied most state governments to make it nearly impossible to become a PE without a degree from an ABET accredited school. Additionally, they have worked it so that in a few years you will need to have a master's degree from an ABET accredited school to become a PE.

So here I am, an experienced engineer who has been asked to author/review the authoritative text in my field upon which the Software PE exam is based, and I can't even sit for the FE exam to become an "Engineer-In-Training".

Depending on what state I choose, I might be eligible to sit for the FE exam in 4 more years. 11 years of engineering experience to become an "engineer-in-training". An additional 4 years as an EIT, will make it 15 years of experience to become a PE. That's considered "fast track" for someone who "doesn't have a degree"--it normally takes 20 years. There are about a dozen states which will never grant me PE comity, because I "don't have a degree". I could have authored/reviewed the SWEBOK, both exams, be an IEEE Fellow, and a board member of the NCEES and they still wouldn't do it.

Anonymous said...

Aaron I think you should do a video or a post about how poorly informed the youth is . Its something I have noticed for some time. none of them have any idea whats going on

Anonymous said...

In the past even Lawyers did not need to have a college degree. Today you need to attend an expensive law school after obtaining an undergraduate degree.

As long as one could pass the bar exam, you could become a lawyer.
This is how Abraham Lincoln became a Lawyer without even attending High School or college

Peabody said...

Years ago I was a test engineer and second in command of an engineering lab. As the business grew, so did the lab. The lab manager wanted to get new lab technicians from on-site production personnel. I suggested we ask the different production supervisors to name their worst attitude problems, and interview them first.

The production supervisors wanted people that did as they were told, didn't ask questions, did things the same way every time and didn't take any chances that would jeopardize meeting the shipping goal.

To them, someone that tried a different approach or had original ideas or in any way questioned the status quo.

I interviewed their attitude problems and hired three of them into the lab. All of them became outstanding lab technicians for the same reasons they were problems in production departments.

I didn't look for degrees, certificates, or years of schooling. I looked for attitude.

Skill you can train. Experience only comes with time. If someone doesn't have the necessary attitude, everything else is wasted.

Anonymous said...

You're on a roll, Captain. Every day you are producing new awesome articles warning us about how shitty the corporate world is and how the baby boomer managers are trying to screw us young people over.

Damn good job, sir. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap, check out this link, it's about baby boomer women and how they have been negatively impacted by the recession:!

Check out the comments especially. It's typically older women complaining that they feel "invisisble" and that men only care about younger women and only want to hire younger women, LOL.

Nevermind that we young men are invisible until we hit age 30 and become economically valuable. Until then, women could care less about us younger men.

Webley Silvernail said...

I have an MBA (U Toronto, 1981) and can honestly say about +90% of my classmates that I would not have hired them on a bet. Time was, university seniors facing graduation with a degree in Transgendered Studies or Underwater Basket Weaving and a future driving a cab, were quick to sign up for teacher's college (one good reason why high school grads today can't read). In the late 70s, those same types decided (w/o any interest in or vocation for business) instead that an MBA was just the ticket to credentialize them for the fast-track corporate life and a Beemer in the driveway. My class was full of them.

toomanybytes said...

See "Disabling Professions" by Illich, et al. for a scholarly yet highly readable critique of the diminishing returns and segregating effects of educational and professional rituals.

CelticTigerDad said...

I'm a software engineer with a BA and MS in the field. I've been working for 30+ years at my profession and own my own company now.

My advice to the smart kid that knows .NET, internet SEO, or whatever else in in demand is to FORGET about going to school in order to be "credentialed".

Just lie about it on your resume. Just say you have a computer degree; nobody will ever check. And, make your lie a big one, say your degree is summa cum laude from Stanford or whatever. Again, nobody will ever check as long as you know your field.

Nobody has ever, not once, requested transcripts from me, or even any proof I attended the schools I went to.

Dave said...

For much of the movie "Catch Me If You Can", the FBI agent puzzles over how serial scammer Frank Abagnale could have passed the Louisiana Bar Exam. Near the end, Abagnale finally reveals his secret:

"I spent two weeks studying for it."

Nate said...

To the unknown guy commenting on the EIT and PE exams: Why do you even want a PE? I've been in the mech engineering field for 13 years and I've never known anyone who cares about the PE. I know civil engineers need them, but that's it. WTF would a programmer or EE need with a PE?

Anonymous said...

Credentialism is becoming atrocious. If you can find a small firm that believes in you, you may have a chance. If not, you are screwed. I jumped through some hoops to get my CFA charter - but, passing the tests was the biggest thing, not how many credits one had in class XYZ. When I was out of work (thanks Barry), I looked at trying for a CPA certification and found I had too few credits to sit for the exam. Not only did I graduate college with too few credits, I didn't have the requisite X (I recall it being 32 credits, but I may be incorrect) credits in accounting. My view is that if you can do the math, you should be allowed to be an accountant. Same thing with the law - if you can pass the bar exam, you should be able to hang a shingle. Nope, you can't, credentialism wins. You study law and know it inside and out and want to sit for the bar exam - good luck - you're not sitting for that test unless you received a law degree from an accredited school.

Anonymous said...

The military is still part of the corrupt system. The same bullshit petty personal politics rules within its ranks as much as the corporate or civil service worlds. I know being in it and having worked alongside most of the armed forces of the Anglosphere and beyond.

Are you a quiet guy but competent and a hard worker? You get nothing.

Do you network well and the right people laugh at your jokes? Competentcy and hard work optional.

And that's the combat trades I'm talking about.

Jennifer said...

Awe Cap! You're petting my peeve the wrong way!
This pisses me off everyday. I work in accounting, but I do not have an accounting degree. I teach CPA's basic T-accounts as part of my daily grind, and yet I can't sit for the CPA exam. I can run circles around the kids with the letters. It's such a racket.

beta_plus said...

The engineering posts here are terrifying. The whole point of studying engineering used to be as long as you passed, your GPA didn't matter.