October 9, 2011

MARK STEYN: ANARCHISTS FOR BIG GOVERNMENT. “Underneath the familiar props of radical chic that hasn’t been either radical or chic in half a century, the zombie youth of the Big Sloth movement are a ludicrous paradox.”

This parody, seen on Facebook, says it all . . .

As I keep pointing out, if you’re not protesting against President Goldman Sachs, you’re not protesting against “Wall Street.” You’re just a hack. Sorry.

UPDATE: Reader Eliot Picard writes:

In observing the Occupy protests, including milling about the crowds in Boston near my office, it is quite apparent that the student loan debt bomb is probably the main impetus for these actions. It goes without saying that the students and former students facing non-bankruptable debt and minimal job prospects have a legitimate grievance although we may certainly disagree on what needs to be done. One question that keeps occurring to me is whether the colleges and universities that encourage degrees in various useless humanities disciplines bear some significant responsibility for this crisis.

One can only assume that presidents, deans, provosts, etc. know fully well that there is a limited market for degrees in Wommyn’s Studies, Language Arts and the like. My mother, ever the incisive wit, G-d bless her, called the graduates of such programs “unemployable at a higher level”. Indeed, when I finished a double major B.A. in Biology and Philosophy (Rensselaer Polytech, class of 1990) and expressed interest in graduate level philosophy I was told that the school had shut down the Ph.D. program to discourage students from doing much more in the field that I had done already. Clearly RPI knew that allowing and encouraging such a path of study was tantamount to academic malpractice. This sort of sane pedagogical judgement, from which I benefitted in my impetuous youth, has been missing across the rest of academia.

Is there some room for legal action to “claw back” arguably misspent tuition dollars from the universities (IANAL so forgive my obvious misuse of that term). I cannot but think that there has to be some sanction against those universities and their officials who were more than happy to take the big tuition checks while failing to look after the interests of the students in their charge.

One suspects that if this were deemed likely, the AAUP wouldn’t be endorsing the protests. But, of course, that’s right. If any other industry lured 18-year-olds into lifetime debt based on misrepresentations about the value of what it was selling, the executives would already be social pariahs and criminal defendants. I’m in favor of allowing student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy, and of forcing the universities to eat part of it in the process. I also think that prospective students should be informed of the percentage of enrolees who graduate, the average indebtedness of graduates (dropouts), and the percentage of that debt that is in default, or over 60 days late. Perhaps this could be subdivided by major to provide a more useful picture of what people are getting into.