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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:43 am
 


Filibuster Cartoons
Title: Inflated Logic (click to view)
Date: February 19, 2013
As I note in Monday's Huffington Post column, there's increasingly little difference in the flavour of progressivism offered by Democrats in the States and the two left-wing parties in Canada. Case in point: post-secondary education — all of the above think it should be cheaper, more popular, and easier to get into. These are some of the most consistent commandments of North American liberalism.

"Most young people will need some higher education," said President Obama his recent State of the Union. "It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class." But alas, he continued, these days "skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education," so get cracking on that, Congress.

Justin Trudeau echoed Obama's words a few days later, in a HuffPo editorial of his own.

"It's time we took education more seriously as a driver of economic success and security right across the country," he wrote. "A Liberal Party led by me would make it the highest national economic priority to raise our post-secondary education rate to 70 per cent of Canadians."

Despite the fact that North America's left-of-centre parties are overwhelmingly favoured by young voters, few partisan dogmas are more directly at odds with youth interests than this one. Much of this continent's high youth unemployment rate — currently hovering around 13-14% in both the United States and and Canada — is, in fact, directly attributable to the consequences born from a higher education regime that's already far too easy to enter and too simple to pay for.

Take cost. Is tuition too expensive? Undoubtedly; over the last two decades, the price of a BA has increased over 100% in Canada and the US, with the average cost of a four-year, public university degree totalling around $25,000 in Canada and $35,000 in the States. (Attend one of America's swankier private colleges and the numbers can easily climb over 100 grand.) In both countries, yearly tuition hikes (around 5-6% annually) have become an entrenched market tradition that defies ordinary inflation rates. Since the 1990s, each subsequent generation of students has been screwed exponentially worse than the one before it.

But no worry! Student loans have never been easier to get. Canada's various levels of government spend somewhere around $7 billion annually lending out cash to help students pay for their education, while in America the number is closer to $200 billion. And that's not counting the billions more generously loaned by private firms.

All these giant loans to pay for giant education bills mean students have never been in more debt (today's grads carry an average load of around $25,000 in both countries, to be precise), but hey, at least everyone's going to college! Universities can barely keep up with the inflow, in fact — cranes, tarps, and construction crews are now as ubiquitous as backpacks and bongs on campuses across this continent as endless new classrooms, halls, dorms, offices, and annexes sprout from the soil just to make room for the ever-increasing parade of freshmen. Despite the recession, both Canadians and Americans are enrolling and graduating from college at rates unprecedented since the end of the Second World War.

A continent where "everyone" has a chance to get a high-quality university education isn't some far-off fantasy, in other words — it's as close to reality as we've ever known.

And the consequences have been profound. As we're endlessly informed by sob-story magazine features and heart-wrenching newspaper exposés in publications on both sides of the border, today's precocious alumni routinely enter the job market only to find that their expensive degrees have been rendered near-useless by virtue of over-production. Thanks to inflation, the four-year BA, it's sometimes snidely said, is the "new high school diploma." It affirms a minimal standard of competence in filling out student loan forms, but little else. Everyone's got one, so they're no longer cool.

University degrees are the last social good which the left believes can be overproduced and mass distributed without provoking the sort of severe economic dysfunctions that usually follow aggressive government meddling with the natural forces of supply and demand. Some critics have drawn analogies to the sub-prime mortgage bubble, and that sounds about right.

Politicians want more students to go to college, so they subsidize loans. Private sector loan sharks see profit to be made, and start pushing as well. Degree-granting institutions lick their chops at this mad rush for their product, and raise prices while lowering entrance standards. Cash-strapped legislatures then cut post-secondary funding because they think booming colleges should be able to pay their own way. But the colleges are now too big and luxurious and decadent and over-staffed, so they hike tuition even more. And they also need more students by the way, which is good, because the politicians still think so too. And so do mom and dad and the rest of the broader culture, who have been fed a steady diet of platitudes that college is where good kids go to get good jobs.

It's a bubble of naiveté and greed and ignorance and it will obviously have to burst at some point, just as the real estate one did. And when it does, guess who's gonna bear the brunt?

It would be nice if the parties of the left — the parties young voters consistently help put in power — could at least acknowledge this looming crisis of their own making. Instead, they plunge ever-deeper into denial.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:49 am
 


The answer is not to make school more expensive, but to only let high achievers in. And spend tax money on kids in K - 12 so they all get an equal chance at becoming high achievers. Feeding kids who come to school hungry would be a start. Giving poor kids the same chances at enrichment and extra school help as rich ones another. And build up a much better technical school system, like Germany's, so kids that can't make it to uni still get a shot at a good job.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:18 am
 


For once I have to agree with JJ on this one.

I'd like secondary education to be free for the sake of our populace in general having the ability to continually push themselves to be mentally challenged but to push degrees on everyone as a job solution is insane.

There is a little thing out there called underemployment. Most people that have degrees now can't find a job in their field as much as certain elements of Liberal politics may want to sweep it under the rug.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:21 am
 


andyt wrote:
The answer is not to make school more expensive, but to only let high achievers in. And spend tax money on kids in K - 12 so they all get an equal chance at becoming high achievers. Feeding kids who come to school hungry would be a start. Giving poor kids the same chances at enrichment and extra school help as rich ones another. And build up a much better technical school system, like Germany's, so kids that can't make it to uni still get a shot at a good job.



Your are begging to scare me. 8O

That post made perfect sense and is likely the only way we're ever going to break the entitled to University cycle for kids who shouldn't be working for Mickey D's as fry cooks.

Unfortunately, Universities are money making entities as seen by the large influx of foreign students they court. So, you're never going to see this happening as long as those same Universities need and want the money these under achievers and mentally inept students bring in.

The only problem may be that by restricting access to university based on mental acumen you'd run the risk of setting up a class system reminiscent of England in the 1930's where eliteism and favoritism were the flavor of the day.

The same egotistical type of society that felt, much like the Liberal Party used to, that their supposed superior intelect and advanced political views gave them the right to rule over and think for the poor unwashed masses. Warped views that many of their professors wouldn't try to discrediting simply because it would undermine their positions as elite educators and put their own ideals and reputations at risk.

So, to offset this eliteism you'd have to change the current trend of thought that the only truly intelligent people are university educated and that the only jobs worth having are ones requiring a university education.

Other than those concerns it just might work. [B-o]


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:30 am
 


More Education harms no one and benefits all. What really needs to be addressed is the excessive Cost and over hyped expectations.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:13 am
 


As usual, JJ skews everything to fit his own partisan viewpoint. Justin Trudeau never said that 70% of Canadians need BAs - although that's easily inferred after reading this drivel.

Here's what Trudeau actually said;

Quote:
So what should the federal role look like? It should be principled, specific and targeted at the overall goal of raising our participation rate from just over 50 per cent to 70 per cent. It should respect provincial jurisdiction. It should support the efforts of individual Canadians to achieve post-secondary education, whether university, college or in the skilled trades. It should support Canadians' efforts to continue their education throughout their lives.


Note the part I bolded - Trudeau is not suggesting everyone needs a BA/BSc, he states that we need to help people get post-secondary education, in all its forms (including the trades).

Of course, that doesn't fit into JJ's partisan narrative, so he simply ignored it and made it look like Trudeau thinks everyone needs a university degree, when Trudeau actually wants 70% of people (not all as JJ alleged) to have access to post-secondary education in some form.

Any idea why?

Probably because people with post-secondary education are far less likely to be unemployed, that's why.

According to StatsCan, in 2009/10 (at the peak of the recession), those with post-secondary degrees, certificates or diplomas had an unemployment rate 2-3% below the national average.

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/employment/e ... x1_6.shtml

In the US, it's even more pronounced.

Attachment:
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.03.36 AM.png
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.03.36 AM.png [ 36.91 KiB | Viewed 917 times ]


Not only that, but those with post-secondary education earn more and have more in assets than those without.

Attachment:
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.06.02 AM.png
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.06.02 AM.png [ 30.3 KiB | Viewed 909 times ]


Attachment:
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.06.08 AM.png
Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 11.06.08 AM.png [ 40.09 KiB | Viewed 914 times ]


http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=54

Clearly, post-secondary education is a boon to Canada, not the bane JJ makes it out to be.


Last edited by bootlegga on Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:21 am
 


Great post, Boots, well referenced. I'd +5 you but I can't. The best I can do is [B-o] .


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:29 am
 


Lemmy wrote:
Great post, Boots, well referenced. I'd +5 you but I can't. The best I can do is [B-o] .


Oh, sure, the tenured prof feathering his own bed. He won't have to compete with millions of applicants for the tenure track.

I joke, sort of. Of course education is good, and about more than just getting a job. At the same time, we can't just ignore that we're saddling many students with debts they're going to struggle to repay for years while unable to find a decent job to make those payents with. I think we do need to focus our system, and students, so we turn out the people the job market really needs and have students have realistic expectations and possiblities when they graduate.

We have a big mismatch, where some fields are crying for people. Instead of training our own, we import those people, while many young Canadians wind up with schooling that doesn't help them in their career path at all or very little. We can do better.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:37 am
 


Lemmy wrote:
Great post, Boots, well referenced. I'd +5 you but I can't. The best I can do is [B-o] .


Handeled. [B-o]


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:38 am
 


andyt wrote:
Oh, sure, the tenured prof feathering his own bed. He won't have to compete with millions of applicants for the tenure track.

:D ZING! I dream of tenure. I'm still well within the 'publish or perish' phase of my career.

andyt wrote:
I joke, sort of. Of course education is good, and about more than just getting a job. At the same time, we can't just ignore that we're saddling many students with debts they're going to struggle to repay for years while unable to find a decent job to make those payents with. I think we do need to focus our system, and students, so we turn out the people the job market really needs and have students have realistic expectations and possiblities when they graduate.

We have a big mismatch, where some fields are crying for people. Instead of training our own, we import those people, while many young Canadians wind up with schooling that doesn't help them in their career path at all or very little. We can do better.

I share some of your concern, particularly with the debt that's incurred by entering post-secondary education today. On the other hand, I think that if education isn't a costly investment, too many people will go into it who shouldn't. That's already happening. But I have noticed that university students are much more studious today than they were when I was an undergrad in the late '80s. When tuition was cheap (well, relatively), everybody went to university and most of them (us) didn't work nearly as hard at it as we should have.

But I disagree with you, fundamentally, on the purpose of education (at least at the University level). University is education, not job-training. If there's fault or disconnect in the job market, it's with the employers, not the universities. Employers SHOULD value English literature and History degrees. They're indicators of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some employers get that; others not so much. But I never want to see education, in its purest form, replaced by job training. Let the employers job train. My job is to make thinkers, not bean-counters or widget fabricators.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:40 am
 


Not the best stats. The uni bar conflates highly trained people with BA's and such, it should be broken down more. If undergrad were separated out, I doubt they would look any better than trades/college. And you have to ask what trade, vs what degree. An elevator tech is going to earn a lot more than most people with undergrad degrees.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:41 am
 


andyt wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
Great post, Boots, well referenced. I'd +5 you but I can't. The best I can do is [B-o] .


Oh, sure, the tenured prof feathering his own bed. He won't have to compete with millions of applicants for the tenure track.

I joke, sort of. Of course education is good, and about more than just getting a job. At the same time, we can't just ignore that we're saddling many students with debts they're going to struggle to repay for years while unable to find a decent job to make those payents with. I think we do need to focus our system, and students, so we turn out the people the job market really needs and have students have realistic expectations and possiblities when they graduate.

We have a big mismatch, where some fields are crying for people. Instead of training our own, we import those people, while many young Canadians wind up with schooling that doesn't help them in their career path at all or very little. We can do better.


I wholeheartedly agree with most of that Andy.

As a student, I watched my tuition skyrocket in the 90s and it sucked. Friends who graduated in the mid-90s left with $10k in debt, while I left with $25k in 1999. Part of that was the federal government cutting funding to post-secondary programs to cut the deficit, but a larger part was provinces doing the same thing (Alberta where I live had some of the deepest cuts).

I think that is one reason so many more people stay on for graduate degrees now, there is no point graduating with a general degree and 25-30k in debt to work at the Gap. However, if they stay in school for another couple years, they can leave with a MBA/MA/MSc and earn far better than their peers who only have bachelors degrees.

The one place Alberta is desperately short of trades, but a lot of that work is dirty hands-on work, and most people dream of sitting in a corner office ordering people around, not trudging outside in -20 degree weather for work.

It would be nice if more people went into trades than university, because that is one sector that is essentially impossible to outsource. Someone in a call centre in India can't weld, can't do carpentry, drive heavy equipment, etc.

And if we have enough of people trained ourselves, companies won't have to go abroad looking for people. Some people think that hiring abroad is a way to outsource these jobs, but the fact is that most companies pay international workers the same (or darned close to it) as they do Canadians.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:43 am
 


andyt wrote:
An elevator tech is going to earn a lot more than most people with undergrad degrees.

But an elevator tech with a degree in English literature is going to enjoy a fuller life than the elevator tech without it. There's value in education (limitless value) beyond earning potential.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:49 am
 


Lemmy wrote:
andyt wrote:
An elevator tech is going to earn a lot more than most people with undergrad degrees.

But an elevator tech with a degree in English literature is going to enjoy a fuller life than the elevator tech without it. There's value in education (limitless value) beyond earning potential.


Absolutely. But how much do we want to subsidize that BA? How long do we want him out of the workforce while he gets it?

Taking the German system, he would graduate with almost the equivalent of a BA from highschool, then get excellent training as an elevator tech once he graduates. Any further persuits of English as an area of study he could do on his own time and dime.

It was one of the dreams of the people who saw society progressing. A workforce with enough leisure time to engage in cultural persuits. In highschool I was told I could expect to work maybe 20 hours a week for a good living, so they had to teach me recreational persuits for all that leisure time. Then OPEC turned off the oil taps. And it turned out, most working stiffs watch UFC or hockey while slurping beer in their leisure time, not really the kind of culture that was envisioned.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:43 pm
 


sandorski wrote:
More Education harms no one and benefits all. What really needs to be addressed is the excessive Cost and over hyped expectations.

I agree to a point. More education helps all, but someone spending 4+ years as a full-time student studying a subject that will just land him back at Timmy Ho's after graduation isn't the most beneficial way to educate people. That's at least four years of that person most likely not earning a full-time income and paying taxes on that income.

Perhaps the answer is free higher education for all, but only one or two classes at a time. That way people can become further educated and can still contribute to the greater society.


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