Too Stupid for Words… and Work.

Happy Hump Day!

I genuinely feel for those who can’t get jobs in their chosen field of endeavor.  I know.  I couldn’t get into writing for years.

But compounding that temporary failure by getting themselves into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt?  That’s plain dumb.

Charlie Munger once said, “Show me the incentive, and I’ll show you the outcome.”

Universities are incentivized to overcharge for useless degrees because student loans are backed by taxpayers’ funds and printing a lot of money.

If you can borrow $115,000, you’re not desperate.  You’re bad with money.

In the end, I think taxpayers will foot the bill.  It’s sad and counterproductive.

Let’s have a look.

Prestige is a Social Construct

Perhaps it’s because I’m an East Coast snob, but I never viewed USC as a prestigious university.

Like the Swiss national bank is just a hedge fund dressed up as a central bank, I always viewed USC as a football team masquerading as a university.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Yesterday, there was a nice little sob story in The Wall Street Journal, which often struggles between being a conservative newspaper and a leftist liberal newspaper.

It’s about how students who have enlisted in USC’s social work online master’s degree program paid $115,000 for that two-year degree… and somehow can’t get a job.

I must remind you that online learning is cheap. If you go to EDx, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, Skillshare, or even Google, you’ll see fabulously priced courses that teach real skills.

It costs practically nothing to do those degrees. Why you would plow $115,000 of money you don’t have into a degree with questionable earning potential is beyond me.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in 2020 for a social worker was $51,760 per year, which honestly is a lot more than I thought it would be.

So, it’s not that terrible of a career choice. Although, there are a lot of better ways to make money, in my opinion.

If you look at that $115,000 and pay that back over ten years, however, that median pay looks a lot less attractive.

When you pull out your taxes, living costs, and student loan debt payments, you’re not left with all that much.

And that’s where I get to my next point.

Would You Hire This Person?

All these people who are mired in debt, for some reason, talk about this stuff publicly.

For one, a 2018 USC graduate owes 307,000 in total student loan debt and makes $48,000 a year.

I honestly don’t know how you can put yourself in that position and still call yourself intelligent.

To be sure, I don’t mean to make fun of these people to drag them down, but would you hire someone who’d do that?

Why on earth would you hire somebody who pays 307,000 for something that will take them at least 10 – probably many more – years to pay back?

I certainly wouldn’t want them anywhere near my budget.

What’s the alternative?

Mike Rowe Works – And Wants You to Work, too!

Mike Rowe, television host, former opera singer (really!), and all-around good guy supports trade qualifications.  I think Mike is spot on.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is fantastic, and it lists real jobs for people who want to work in the blue-collar professions.

From the mikeroweWORKS about page:

Over the last 30 years, America has convinced itself that the best path for the most people is an expensive, four-year degree. Pop culture has glorified the “corner office job” while unintentionally belittling the jobs that helped build the corner office. As a result, our society has devalued any other path to success and happiness. Community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs are labeled as “alternative.” Millions of well-intended parents and guidance counselors see apprenticeships and on-the-job training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for the brass ring: a four-year degree. The push for higher education has coincided with the removal of vocational arts from high schools nationwide. And the effects of this one-two punch have laid the foundation for a widening skills gap and massive student loan debt.

Rowe continues:

America is lending money it doesn’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.

– Mike Rowe

Mike is correct. And there is a load of ways to make money.

I can understand people who want to help others from a social standpoint, but you can do that without making it your primary income source.

Make money first and then go out and donate the charity.

Or make money first and then volunteer on the nights and weekends to help other families out.

There is absolutely no reason to get $100,000 debt or more to be a social worker.

And you’re not even licensed as a social worker. It’s not like you get a professional qualification. 

I am a huge advocate of making money at what you’re excellent at, so you can make as much as possible and then be charitable with it afterward.

The Endgame

The consequence of this tomfoolery is the taxpayers will ultimately fund this bill.

In fact, hilariously, in the Journal’s related articles section beneath the original piece, you will find an article titled, “Is the US Student Loan Program Facing a $500 Billion Hole? One banker thinks so.”

That article, written in April 2021, details how Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education under Donald Trump, called Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, for help.

What she had told him was that repayments on federal loans had come in persistently below projections. And can you help us, Jamie, sort through the finances to determine just how much trouble borrowers are in?

Washington knows there’s a problem and has known for a long time.

But with Joe Biden in The White House, all education will eventually be “free.”

The thing is, we are not Finland, Norway, or Sweden.

There’s an enormous difference between countries with five million people and countries with 320 million people.

What these leftists inadvertently advocate as “government education are smaller entities able to handle the job where larger entities are not.

Finland isn’t better in education because the people there are more intelligent.  There’s just less to organize.

It’s much easier to put their population through a state school grinder than in the United States.

To me, this sounds like a great argument to give US states – or even better, parents! – control over education and ultimately abolish the Department of Education.

Of course, they don’t see it like that.

But to me, it’s just too big a problem for any national government to solve when you’ve got over three hundred million people to worry about.

The article further reads, “In reality, the government is likely to recover just 51% to 63% of the default amounts.”

It’s insane.

Betsy DeVos said at the time, “if you accounted this way in the private sector, you wouldn’t be in business anymore.  You’d probably be behind bars.”

With Joe Biden in The White House and with the infrastructure bill getting passed, America is on an insane spending spree – and it’s still peacetime.

Just wait until it really kicks off with China.

Until tomorrow.

All the best,

Sean

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