the ‘moral hazard’ of humanities

Blaustein Humanities Center
Blaustein Humanities Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He adds that the president’s approach “creates a moral hazard problem. What it signals to current and future loan borrowers is that I don’t have to take these repayment of loans very seriously. . . . I don’t have to worry too much about getting a high-paying job.” It encourages “sociology and anthropology majors compared with math and engineering majors.”

via Allysia Finley: The Real Reason College Costs So Much –

Overall, there is some good stuff in this article and it is well worth noting. I was agreeing with most of it until I get to this line.

Yes, these types of degrees rarely net wealth, but they provide a service to humanity as a whole.

But, we do not value service. We value profit.

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5 Replies to “the ‘moral hazard’ of humanities”

  1. One systemic difficulty with the United States is that success has become too narrowly defined. Despite some the very unkind things that the Bible has to say about those given to hording earthly treasures, wealth and status have assumed an exaggerated importance. While this is not the first empire to proceed down this path to destruction, nor will it be the last, the outcome of these things seldom serves as a warning to others anymore than is described in the concluding verses known as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.
    Under ideal circumstances, the United States would come to its collective senses, realize the error of its way, and redefine success. Yet, as continuing research reveals, the rich really do think differently than the rest of humanity. At the same time, their egregious disposable income facilitates their ability to influence the formation of public policy well in excess of their capacity to make truly rational decisions. Thus, in many ways, they are like perpetual two-year-olds turned loose in a candy store without benefit of responsible parental supervision. Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.
    Within the environment created by worship of wealth, certain academic majors assume an exaggerated importance because those positioned to hire and fire workers are able to increase their wealth by having access to a surplus supply of relatively cheap labor with the requisite technical skills enhance corporate coffers. Conversely, other majors tend to be discouraged because those acquiring that knowledge are prone to asked troublesome and difficult questions that the rich would rather not answer.
    To further compound the difficulties, the United States has recently recycled a myopic and typically short-lived fad in education. Commonly known as STEM (Science Technology Engineering [and] Mathematics), it is little more than a revival of the early 20th century vocational education scheme begun during World War I. Where STEM exists, liberal arts withers on the vines. This is the trap into which Lenoir-Rhyne, parent institution of Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary, has fallen.
    By the time STEM runs it course, absent any social upheaval such as that which disrupted the mid-20th century misadventure in technical education the United States is going to resemble a cartoon figure with one leg considerably shorter than the other. As might be expected in such a animation, unable to navigate a straight course, the unbalanced creature will simply hobble aimlessly around in circles.

  2. However, every freshman at college ought to be required to spend a day in their college placement center, reviewing jobs available, and starting salaries. Just to put reality into focus. Most students don’t even think about it until their senior year.

    1. If the purpose of higher education were simply to acquire wealth, universities would not be necessary. Anyone with a little greed and a scheme can, and has, become rich. These days, it has been suggested, the truly rational economic man or woman is a drug dealer. After all, the profits are high and, given the miserably failed war on drugs, individual risks are statistically low.
      Instead, the traditional purpose of higher education to to first challenge prejudices and assumptions by putting them through a trial of intellectual fire. In turn, this allows the creation of graduates better able to land on their feet after being thrown into a every changing world filled with ambiguities, complexities, and innumerable shades of gray. These are people more comfortable in diverse situations than those for whom platitudes passes for wisdom. More importantly, well rounded university graduates are better prepared to meet the diverse challenges offered by a post-modern world.
      In sum, the purpose of higher education is to develop the whole person into someone able to admit their ignorance and be willing to acquaint the gaps in their knowledge. This is not something that can be done without the mental dexterity acquired from exposure to a diversity of knowledge.

  3. “In sum, the purpose of higher education is to”…different generations have different views. Might be one of the few times I agreed with my dad. He told me many years ago, “go to college, get a good job, so you don’t have to work in the damn iron mines”. No deep philosophical meaning in that. Just peanut butter and jelly logic.

    1. That’s certainly why West Virginia native and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Sam Huff choose football as a career.
      More recently, howbeit before the Great Recession, a Kentucky coal mine supervisor told me that young men with college degrees applied for jobs in the mines because of the pay scale.
      Meanwhile, in the wake of the Great Recession, the difference in pay scale between college graduates and high school graduates is declining. Tuition prices, which have risen faster than even medical care costs over the past few decades, are also creating a scenario of diminishing returns on investment for college graduates.

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