Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why College and Weddings Are Economically Identical

 An economic mystery was flummoxing me.

Why is it so hard for millennials NOT to go to college?

With college tuition being literally unaffordable, stories after stories about the plight of un/underemployed college graduates, horror stories of the same with crippling student loans, and it no longer being a secret that college is a bubble, why is it so hard for 18 year olds to say, "screw this, I'm going home?"

Furthermore, why MORE SCHOOL?  Didn't these millennials have enough?  Aren't they SICK of school?  Why are they willingly signing up by the millions for 4 years more?  And they get to pay for it this time!  Wouldn't you be RELIEVED you no longer have to go to college?  Shouldn't you be happy this HUGE added responsibility is no longer needed?  Shouldn't it be an easy decision NOT to go, and instead go find a job instead?

Yet still, there the lemmings are, lining up by the millions for their turn to jump to their financial deaths and ruin their lives.

But why?  WHY?

And I finally figured it out.

The problem was, as is often the case, I was operating from a wrong premise.  I was operating from the premise that the point of college, college's true economic nature was that of education.  People go to college, pay for tuition, and attend classes so that they receive an education which allows them to make more money over the course of their lives.  But whereas this was certainly the case before, it no longer is now, and I consciously knew this at some level because in the past I've said students treat college as a consumption good, not an investment. 

Still, while I knew college was no longer an investment good, this did not explain the unique consumption good behavior of millions of college students every year.  Nor did it explain the insane prices students would be willing to pay and go into debt for.  Ergo, college wasn't some kind of fad consumption good like Pokemon trading cards or Beanie Babies where you'd drop maybe at most a couple hundred dollars on.  It was something more.  It was TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars, 4 YEARS of their youth, MIND NUMBING CLASSES, for the past TWO GENERATIONS, all in the face of mounting evidence college was a losing financial proposition.  And then I asked myself a question that sent my brain down the path that would inevitably led me to discover it's true modern day economic nature.

What other consumption goods have these traits?  What things in the world do people:

1.  Spend 4 years of their lives investing/working on/preparing for?
2.  Go into debt to pay for?
3.  That have price tags from mid five-to-low-six-figures?
4.  That also have a fad-like, lemming-like, sheeple like conformity about it?

and this was the key trait

5.  And are pushed by all of society to purchase?

At first I was thinking sporting events.  Those are consumption goods.  Thousands of Minnesota's dumbest pay $100 a ticket and $100 in food and $25 in parking to see the Minnesota Vikings lose every year.  They probably put it on their credit card.  But it isn't a $75,000 price tag.

Then I was thinking larger sporting events, perhaps even once in a lifetime religious-like events.  Say the Super Bowl, Burning Man, Sturgis, the declaration of a new pope, or pilgrimages to Mecca.  Still, you may prepare years to attend, but even attending these events in luxury does not cost $100,000.

So what possible consumer good exists, that people can't afford, will go into debt for, that doesn't offer anything of tangible financial value afterwards, and has this societal push, borderline obssession to buy it regardless?

Then it hit me.


Weddings are the identical twin sibling of college. 

The reason why can be summarized in one simple phrase:

"It's my day."

However, whereas "my day" is the exclusive preserve of women on their wedding day, there is a similar sense of entitlement to having "my day" FOR BOTH SEXES when it comes to college.  And the reason why is that college is NOT sold to young kids today as the education it was supposed to be, but the "college experience" it is has successfully and falsely been propagated and inflated to what it is now (an industry that is more than TEN TIMES THE SIZE OF THE WEDDING INDUSTRY).

First, there is a HUUUUUGE element of Exodus and liberation philosophy and psychology that simply CAN NOT be understated.  K-12 school SUCKS.  IT SUUUUUUUCKS.  It is so bad and so torturous that it sucks the life out of normal students and is a veritable mental prison for high IQ students.  An entire artificial environment children are forced to attend that is managed and operated by the country's dumbest college graduates.  This environment results in a place that at best is a prison for college-bound students, but usually is pure torture as we prevent kids (of all intelligence levels) from achieving their best.  NOBODY is happy.  NOBODY like their pathetic sad saps called teachers.  And everybody cannot wait to leave.

However, the hope that is sold to college-bound students is that "college" is where the REAL smart people are.  That when you get to "college" everything will be better.  That when you go to "college" all this pain and misery will end and you will TRULY find "your people."

In short, because K-12 is so bad, college becomes a veritable second heaven, a Land of Canaan, a birthright that all intelligent kids are entitled to for enduring the hell of K-12.  And because they are so young, and because they have not lived in the real world, AND BECAUSE THEY LITERALLY HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO HOPE FOR, college is not a means to an education and a better job, but the finish line to freedom and happiness.  And that freedom and end to their slavery GREATLY outshines the purported educational benefits of college.

Second, nearly all authority figures lie, both consciously and unconsciously, to children about the realities of college.  Parents lie to their children because they don't want to hurt their feelings or destroy their children's doomed hope.  Teachers don't want to tell their students because...well...they're teachers and they NEVER LEFT the artificial environment of school.  For all they know school is great and the entire economy's GDP should be "teachers."  The media has no incentive to tell kids the truth about college because they need to sell good and being the bearer of bad news is poor salesmanship.  Corporations CERTAINLY have no incentive to tell kids the truth because they need those kids to not only borrow $100,000 to do the training that would otherwise befall on corporate training programs, but they need students desperately in debt so they make good, loyal slaves workers.  And colleges have every incentive in the world to lie to these kids for without them, damn well near 90% of the colleges and universities would close overnight because we only really need 10% of the college graduates we have. 

The exact same cacophonous brainwashing occurs with weddings.

Nearly every economic entity has the incentive to get people hitched.  Corporations, travel agencies, airlines, the government, divorce lawyers, divorce courts, day care, child care, the schools, nurseries, credit companies, pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, parents who want grandchildren, and siblings who want nephews, everybody wants to push people into marriage.  Furthermore, EVERYBODY lies to women that the most important day in their life will be their wedding day.  Thinking they're entitled to "their day" just like kids are entitled to the "college experience," nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to tell them any different.  GOD HIMSELF could come down from the heavens above and tell the bride to be "no, dude, this ain't the guy for you," just as the entire COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS could come out and tell all high school seniors not to go to college, it would not matter, women are going to have their day and millennials are going to borrow $100,000 to have the college experience. 

And then finally, the price.  To have this birthright, to have this entitlement, nobody cares about logic, reason, evidence, finances, or math.  College, just like "her day," is worth any price because up to this point in these kids' lives, we as a society have given them nothing else to live for.  We get divorced, we mock nuclear families, we value things over friends, we cripple the economy, we load up on debt, we hate our own country, we criminalize success - precisely, what do these kids have to look forward to after they graduate from college?  As far as they're concerned life is over at 22 and then they lead the lives you do, which, sadly, for the most part is pretty pathetic in their eyes.  Worse, you've made their childhoods so painful with the craptastic public prisons schools, any childlike idealism or hope has been squash and the only light at the end of that tunnel is college.  The price of tuition could go up another 300%, it won't matter, they'll still pay it because these kids have nothing else to live for. 

Alas, it should be no shock that college is no longer acting economically like the educational service it was meant to be.  It is one, big, huge ass party.  A birthright to all American teenagers.  A utopia society falsely sold it as.  And sadly, a lie bigger than telling American women "their day" is the most important day in their lives.  It is the "college experience."  And there's some Dotcom's from 1999 that have infinitely more value.
Aaron Clarey is the author of "Worthless - The Young Person's Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major."  He also runs a consultancy where he advises young men and women about finances, careers, education, dating, and divorce.  You may find his other books here as well as tune into his podcast here.


Anonymous said...

your best observation was about the corporations who want you to get into debt and them become a slave. I was so close to be burnt by employers who wanted me to spend money on things before starting employment...

You also might want to oppose the collapse, but have no chance, let it happen.

onezeno said...

Very interesting. I was one of those "imprisoned" kids you talk about, and after 4 years of sleeping through high school classes my first stab at college was a failure and I dropped out after 3 years. I did party a lot though. Sure got that college experience.

The Bloody Shovel blog recently looked at the question of why people really go to college, with a slightly different angle.

Tucanae Services said...

Clarey, you are over thinking it. College is more like baseball, not weddings.

The simple fact of the matter is the K-12 industry is nothing but the farm team for the colleges. K-12 has plenty of 'college placement advisors' on staff but nary a one called a 'industrial arts placement advisor' anywhere. So like the kid in the farm league there is no place to get traded. Either you cut the mustard to make it to the majors (aka college) or you are just cut (aka 'you like fries with that order?'). Now once you are in the system it is quite easy to transfer from one college to another. Fact so long as you don't change majors too easy.

Ras al Ghul said...

You are forgetting the biggest thing of all "Status"

Which is why the ration of college attendees is now 60 percent women and 40% men.

The most important thing in the world to women is status because of their pride and envy.

Going to college is a status marker. Having a college degree separates that person from 70 percent of the population.

That combined with the use of a college degree as a requirement for entry to many jobs (even when it isn't necessary) that are seen as higher status. Though this is changing. Any fool that hires a person with a race/gender/studies type degree deserves what's coming to them.

It is the same with weddings. There is a huge status marker gained by a woman being married (much less so by men, it used to be a necessity for promotion in the military for men and in the world of business because it showed stability and skin in the game but at this point it thought it is beginning to be seen as a disruptor in men's lives.

It is almost impossible to swim against this tide with women, I have explained to to relatives and they just don't care, the male ones though start thinking about ways they can either make money not doing it, or get it paid for so they're not slaves afterward.

The women though would rather be high status slaves than low status free women.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE watching two frustratingly stupid people get married and make poor decisions together, with the brilliant opening move being going into debt for the wedding. I'm on the brink of starting a hotshot career in military aviation with a killer salary. That combined with investments and a lack of time to waste my money will be the perfect thing to rub into their faces once the magic wears off and they're saddled with debt, faint memories of a wedding everyone else since forgot about, and fifteen extra pounds. All while I'm going on adventures and dating a series of beautiful women.

Anonymous said...

All very true. I'm 31 now and I'm still trying to recover from the mental scarring that occurred as a result of K-12 education.

First you're forced to wake up at unnatural hours for a kid (6 am) to pile off to school by 7:25 (when my first class bell rang in HS). Then, you're expected to pay attention for unreasonable amounts of time (once again, unnatural for young people) to people who often would never warrant such attention outside of class time. Some truly smart teachers, but almost guaranteed that they won't exist in your English, History, etc classes, where regurgitation is the primary skill required to get good grades. All the while, you live in a boring suburb that your parents picked to raise you in because it's "safe", but there's never anything to do.

Then you hit early senior year, and it's time to apply for college. All those boring high school classes will become more interesting classes in a subject you want to master. You can live where you want to live; you can go to a school like Ohio State or Wisconsin if you want huge sports and fun parties. You can move to Boston or New York if you want culture. The list is endless. And the people will be smarter.

The above obviously isn't true, but also, compare college to the other options the vast majority of 18 year olds have at their disposal:

- Join the military
- Learn a trade, live at home until enough is saved to leave
- Get a low paid entry level job full time

And it becomes obvious which one looks better? Take away their college? You're taking away their one salvation to monotony (never mind that being a skilled plumber or electrician, for example, could be quite satisfying, or that crushing the ASVAB could lead to military careers that are way cooler than anything you'd be doing in college or home).

But yes, kids are basically set up believing that every option is terrible except for college. After all, look at those people going to work downtown, with their designer clothes and air conditioned offices, and compare that to auto mechanic, getting all dirty and sweaty. Never mind that they make the same $, and that the mechanic has no debt, way more job security, and gets to leave at 5 on the nose every day while miss fancypants senior marketing girl gets requests from her boss at 4:30 on Friday that needs to be done by 9 tonight.

Anonymous said...

And then a job at The Department of Nice, by Z Man:

"Spend any time at a government facility and you quickly see, if you are the noticing sort, that it is a different world. The Department of Nice is pretty much an adult daycare center, like every college campus. Except it is not a college campus. It is a government facility allegedly doing necessary work. Trying to find anyone who can tell you what it is they do and why it is necessary is not recommended. It’s not that anyone will get upset at your questions. It’s that no one in government land is defined by what they do. They are defined by their credentials.

The people who find their way onto the college campus, or the government campus, are not there to confront life. They are there to escape it. Once on the campus they quickly forget about the rest of the world. They become institutionalized, like convicts that spend decades in the penitentiary. The government never fires anyone and there are never tough times, requiring the bosses to make hard decisions. For the career civil servants, death is the only thing that can get them off the payroll."

Faithless Cynic said...

My wedding cost 60 dollars, which was the cost of the license. We ate lunch afterwards at Bob Evans and my inlaws got the check. Honeymoon was hiking in West Virginia ( absolutely gorgeous ) We took the money that is normally pissed away on the wedding and bought a house for ourselves and a rental property. We are going camping at months end to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversery. I think your views about money have a huge influence on the longevity of the marraige. Luckily, we are both horribly cheap.

seattle said...

And this is what our young men are suckered into thinking is part of the American Dream "my day":

Kirby said...

I joined the military out of Highschool, and then got my degree via CLEP tests and online courses.

I never really "went" to college. When I was younger, I was kind of pissed. Now I'm thankful everyday.

It really is a super-expensive freedom-party barge experience, and I totally would have failed out miserably because I didn't have the discipline and focus for classwork until I was in my late 20s. The things I missed out on are the things that would have sunk me.

Of course, the sad thing for a lot young men is that the party has gone to crap. DJ-SJW is laying the feminist tracts, and the great grown-up party has turned into a preschool for tall and hairy children.

Omega man said...

The university experience is not all bad, but as you allude to so well, the choice of majors is crucial.

Perhaps, the choice of what to major in can come down to 4 simple questions;

The Science major will ask: How does that work?

The Engineering major will ask: How can I build it?

The Economics/Business major will ask: How much does it cost?

The Liberal Arts major will ask: Would you like fries with that?

Anonymous said...

I was calculating how many school years that Saturdays and summer holidays take away from 7 hour/day learning system. It's about 4 years (including 2 weeks of vacation).

So a person of AVERAGE intelligence who learned continuously from age 4-14 could technically be finished with "high school-level" material. Now since the minimum age to work in most parts of the U.S. and Canada is 14, an average teen working an average minimum wage job AND taught personal finance + investing at an early age would be far more financially secure by legal adulthood than most people 10, 20 years their senior. At 18, they could CHOOSE to get a college education, or put a down payment on a house, or start a business, or travel the world with their 4 years of work. And having the responsibility of work as a teenager probably builds character better than the entitled "rite of passage" that adolescence in the 20th century entails.

Even if they didn't have to work, those 4 years could've been spent becoming world-class at sports or music... or whatever it is that society pays money to watch in awe.

And this is just for the average person. Imagine what an intelligent, motivated, self-directed learner could do if they weren't influenced by the destructive, life-wasting noise of mass media and their sheeple parents who followed mass media.

Just a thought. Would love to hear Aaron's opinion.

PoCoTex said...

Can we say Ponzi scheme?

Well, I may not have got the description exactly correct, but you know what I mean.

Academics may be very bright - and they are - but they are not immune from being entirely self-serving.

deb harvey said...

totally correct about the education system.
swore in fifth grade that if a child ever came under my aegis it would never go to 'school'.
when that time came i homeschooled her, she went to design school at 15, and when she went to college she made all A's [chemistry major].
don't know about the wedding analogy, but the school may be skipped and kids will be healthier and happier for it.
omega man has it in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

My husband laughed when I said I would rather have a machine gun or a car or at least something practical instead of a wedding. We had no wedding and are happily married and not in debt. It makes more sense to join the army than go to college or university. Get paid and learn practical skills. I would have joined at 5 years old if I would have known what public school was like

Anonymous said...

The comment about joining the military after crushing the ASVAB is spot on. I joined after getting my degree, and partied far harder and better on Uncle Sam's dime than I ever did on my own.

Of course, that depends on your definition of a party...

Steamship Trooper