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  • Summer Rerun: Higher Education, Un(der)employment, and Dissatisfaction

    Posted by David Foster on August 22nd, 2018 (All posts by )

    Some thoughts from the great economist Joseph Schumpeter, writing in 1942:

    The man who has gone through a college or university easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work. His failure to do so may be due either to lack of natural ability—perfectly compatible with passing academic tests—or to inadequate teaching; and both cases will . . . occur more frequently as ever larger numbers are drafted into higher education and as the required amount of teaching increases irrespective of how many teachers and scholars nature chooses to turn out.

    The results of neglecting this and of acting on the theory that schools, colleges and universities are just a matter of money, are too obvious to insist upon. Cases in which among a dozen applicants for a job, all formally qualified, there is not one who can fill it satisfactorily, are known to everyone who has anything to do with appointments . . .

    All those who are unemployed or unsatisfactorily employed or unemployable drift into the vocations in which standards are least definite or in which aptitudes and acquirements of a different order count. They swell the host of intellectuals in the strict sense of the term whose numbers hence increase disproportionately. They enter it in a thoroughly discontented frame of mind. Discontent breeds resentment. And it often rationalizes itself into that social criticism which as we have seen before is in any case the intellectual spectator’s typical attitude toward men, classes and institutions especially in a rationalist and utilitarian civilization.

    Well, here we have numbers; a well-defined group situation of proletarian hue; and a group interest shaping a group attitude that will much more realistically account for hostility to the capitalist order than could the theory—itself a rationalization in the psychological sense—according to which the intellectual’s righteous indignation about the wrongs of capitalism simply represents the logical inference from outrageous facts. . . . Moreover our theory also accounts for the fact that this hostility increases, instead of diminishing, with every achievement of capitalist evolution.

    via the WSJ

    Reminds me of Francis Bacon’s assertion…way back in the late 1500s!…that one cause of sedition and mutiny in any polity is “breeding more scholars than preferment can take off.”

    (In the original post, there was also a link to a Theodore Dalrymple excerpt at the old Neptunus Lex site, but I haven’t been able to locate it)

     

    22 Responses to “Summer Rerun: Higher Education, Un(der)employment, and Dissatisfaction”

    1. David Foster Says:

      “Millenials say ‘America was never that great'”

      https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/305446/

      Likely very related to the phenomenon discussed above.

    2. Douglas2 Says:

      Via the wayback machine:
      https://web.archive.org/web/20130722001455/http://www.neptunuslex.com/2009/02/09/dalrymple-on-ideology/

      Linking to this Dalrymple article in CityJournal from 2009:
      https://www.city-journal.org/html/persistence-ideology-13158.html

    3. David Foster Says:

      Douglas2…thanks, good sleuthing! Very worthwhile reading.

    4. PenGun Says:

      “America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians… the evil was there… waiting.” Bill Burroughs

      But for a while America was great:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htwe0NBjq4c

    5. Mike K Says:

      A favorite.

      Millenial job interview.

    6. Kirk Says:

      The lesson ain’t necessarily that we don’t need academia and a college-educated section of the population. I see it more as “We’re doing it wrong…”.

      One of the problems with how we are doing things in this sector of the society is that we’re setting these young people up for failure. University and college educations originally were meant to keep the younger scions of the nobility busy, and fit them out for running estates and other things in the feudal and slightly-post-feudal world. As such, they were set up to inculcate a sense of entitlement and noblesse oblige. That last one? We’ve neglected doing that.

      So, a lot of academia is still operating as though its clients were the nobility, when the nobility and the role of the nobility no longer really exists. This has created a bit of a problem, because the product coming out of the academy still expects to find itself running things, when they have precisely zero positions to fall into, merely based on their selection of parents and the supposed “education” they have received. You look at a lot of our problems with this stuff, and the sad fact is that they really stem from us having successfully grafted the expectations of post-feudal petit noblesse onto the middle class. Without having created the necessary titled positions and sinecures for them to fall into.

      This is a recipe for trouble, especially since we’ve devalued the “nobility of work”, in the manual sense.

      We’ve gone down a wrong path, I’m afraid, and we need to reconsider the entire enterprise. Why should we send people to colleges and universities, when the product we get out of the satanic mills they’ve made themselves over into is so dysfunctional and essentially corrupt?

      I think what needs to happen is that we should be moving back towards the actual model we had about mid-19th Century, when the colleges and universities were more meant to be places to keep the young of the upper classes out of trouble than anything else. We need to work more towards a model of apprenticeship and certification, even in things we’ve mistakenly academized, like engineering. Engineering used to be something you worked up to, after real-world experience in construction or machine repair. Today, we treat it as a subject that absolutely must be taught in the schools, and we then produce engineers and architects who can’t poor piss out of a boot.

      Dear God, we just got in yet another set of plans where there is no provision for cold air return ducting in a timber-frame cathedral ceiling, and the architect/engineer team we’re getting them from is oblivious to the fact that we can’t do a forced-air heating system without something like that. Plans leave no provision possible, client doesn’t want their Great Room’s look “destroyed”, and we’re going “Uhmmm… Yeah. We’ll pass on building this place, for you guys…”. The designers basically told the client “Oh, the builder will figure it out…”. No. No, he won’t.

      The architect and engineer are still confused as to why we don’t want to accept any more of their plans for bidding…

    7. Jonathan Says:

      “America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians… the evil was there… waiting.” Bill Burroughs

      If an unknown degenerate junkie had said this it would have made no sense. However, a famous degenerate junkie said it so it supports Pengun’s anti-American prejudice. Also jazz is cool.

      Do I have it right?

    8. PenGun Says:

      Bill Burroughs is one of your national treasures. If you don’t recognize that, so be it.

      Bill Laswell another of your national treasures, with Bill.

      Words of Advice for Young People:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIB1-EeuZHI

      I have always loved that concert and it does portray a time when America was great. Things have gone downhill pretty badly since then.

    9. Mike K Says:

      it does portray a time when America was great. Things have gone downhill pretty badly since then.

      I can only imagine what you would consider “great” and “downhill.”

      I listen to audio books when I commute to Phoenix from Tucson. I am listening to Stephen Pinker’s “The Blank Slate again.

      I read it years ago when it first came out. Genetics was still pretty primitive then but everything I am aware of since ha s confirmed his concepts.

      At the time, I was on a trip with my middle daughter who had just graduated from UCLA with a degree in Anthropology.

      I suggested she read it as it refutes quite decisively the Stephen Jay Gould school of “Behaviorism.”

      That theory is beloved and defended by the Left and it supports their theory of “The New Soviet Man” who can be molded by the behaviorists.

      Pinker says that most behavior is genetic. The furious response to this resembles the response to “The Bell Curve” which is for similar reasons.

      The Left has never given up “The Noble Savage” and Rousseau. Even the Terror was not enough to convince them that they were wrong. What we see these days, with ANTIFA in Portland and the BLM protestors in the Baker Library while students try to study for finals, is a war on Bourgeois behavior.

      They are all children afraid of ghosts.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      Bill Burroughs is one of your national treasures. If you don’t recognize that, so be it.

      If we accept your appeal to authority we validate your elect status. But if we reject your appeal to authority you get to dismiss us as insufficiently enlightened, which validates your elect status. I feel so checkmated!

    11. PenGun Says:

      Wow. Oh well, the Japanese actually declare various people to be national treasures. Usually artists at a high level. Its a cultural thing and I meant it that way.

      If you want to tie yourself in knots over it, so much the better. ;)

    12. PenGun Says:

      I think its simplistic to argue genetics determine personal characteristics, in a social way. I agree the fundamental response to the environment, the person finds its self in and to other people, is largely determined by inherent characteristics.

      But the environment and the people involved will be very different as the person acquires experience, and the outcomes will be too.

    13. raymondshaw Says:

      national treasures => Usually artists at a high level

      I tend to think of W. S. Burroughs as usually at a high level high.

      I am not convinced that he has much useful insight into evil. After all, he did murder his common-law wife.

    14. Mike K Says:

      I think its simplistic to argue genetics determine personal characteristics, in a social way

      You are a follower of Stephen Jay Gould and the left. No surprise there.

      Behaviorists.

      You could read Pinker’s book, “The Blank Slate” and learn something but you won’t.

      The left is in love with the New Soviet Man who will be molded into the perfect communist.

      The same people, and I’m sure you are one of them, reject Charles Murray and “The Bell Curve”

      When I was at Dartmouth, the book had just come out and some people knew I was reading it.

      They asked if they could borrow it when I finished. They did not want to be seen in the Dartmouth Bookstore buying a copy.

    15. Anonymous Says:

      I have no idea who Stephen Jay Gould is. I don’t follow anyone. The level of idiocy displayed by so many with an agenda precludes that.

      The soviet man is interesting, what would that be? ;) Does that have anything to do with Vladimir Putin, who is one of the few adults left in politics? He’s not a communist though.

      I actually don’t hate the Bell Curve although I don’t believe some of its conclusions. I am quite smart but don’t care at all about making money. It seemed like such a waste of precious time, but I have done that for my family. Now they are doing well and really don’t need me. So I live in a field, with a pony, in my fifth wheel and am very happy nearly all the time.

      Today I will analyze the current international situation. Its what I do in the morning and probably work on my new Doom game for a while, a little later on. I’m 72, I need my games to keep me sharp. ;) Later I’ll go visit my son and have a beer or two and examine a new device he has for squeezing the goodness from marijuana. Good times.

      If you are going to write in single and double lines, like a couplet, at least make em’ rhyme. ;)

    16. Mike K Says:

      I am quite smart but don’t care at all about making money.

      Heard in every liquor store in every city,

      The nobility of poverty,

      Pardon me if I think it is BS.

    17. Grurray Says:

      Truman Capote once said about the Beat novelists, “they’re not writers. They’re typists.” He had Kerouac in mind, which wasn’t really fair because Kerouac was indeed a gifted writer, albeit with a tendency for too many run-on sentences. However, Burroughs could justly be characterized as not a writer, not even a typist, but as some sort of paper-mache artist. His pre-postmodern cut-up techniques were used to mask the fact that his narratives were as depraved as they were dull. In that way he was similar to Jackson Pollack, who couldn’t draw to save his life, but somehow tossed paint together in patterns vaguely identifiable enough to stimulate some subconscious lobe of the brain. I suppose that makes Burroughs not even an artist, but a technician. Like an MRI operator.

    18. PenGun Says:

      “Pardon me if I think it is BS.”

      I would expect nothing less. ;)

    19. Mike K Says:

      I know people like PenGun and their delusions well.

    20. Jonathan Says:

      I think its simplistic to argue genetics determine personal characteristics, in a social way. I agree the fundamental response to the environment, the person finds its self in and to other people, is largely determined by inherent characteristics.
       
      But the environment and the people involved will be very different as the person acquires experience, and the outcomes will be too.

      I actually agree with these statements by Pengun. However, they have nothing to do with Burroughs or anything else Pengun is talking about.

    21. Mike K Says:

      Befoe you decide on genetics’ role in behavior, you really should read “The Blank Slate”,

      Genetics has advanced quite a bit since it was written and I also recommend, “The 10,000 Year Explosion.

      The author has a blog called “West Hunter.

      It’s interesting to see that those who know more about genetics seem to get more conservative.

      I’m still trying to get through Lewin, Genes XII.

      It keeps coming out in new editions before I finish. I started with Genes VII.

    22. Christopher B Says:

      Highly recommend the West Hunter blog.

      The information that has been gleaned from DNA sequencing and comparison is really revolutionary, and would certainly upend conventional thinking on many subjects if it was widely known, which is probably why people are working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.