The bitter graduate

Via Mark Bauerlein over at CoHE’s Brainstorm blog, we are treated to a rant by an unemployed Master’s student in Seattle, directed to the institution that took the student’s money and gave him a degree in return.  A tease:

Really, that’s about all you did for us — gave us a lecture hall, gave us an arrogant bastard to listen to, and gave us a room full of computers we could use sometimes, and you gave us a degree that employers look at and say “This guy knows how to write reports. Amusing.” And I will be paying for this privilege until I am 51 years old.

Something is going to be changing in higher education soon.   Many have talked about a bubble bursting.  Between bubbles, the death of tenure and the rise of adjunctification, and overall economic decline… well, anyone who thinks they know what the university will look like in 15 years is probably fooling themselves.

Comments

  1. For at least the last 20 years, the sell for college & also for advanced degrees has been “get a degree so you can get a good job.” It has not been either “learn stuff because knowing stuff is good* OR “learn stuff that will be of practical value in your career.” The emphasis has been all on the credential.

    So it should be no surprise that students are highly ticked when the credential doesn’t pay off as the advertising implied.

    None of which excuses students for failing to do their own due diligence. Who, precisely, hires “public policy” graduates? What does one learn in this field that would be of actual value to a prospective employer? Should such a degree program even exist?

  2. Do a search for “Is college a ripoff?” with John Stossel, it’s an eye opener that every high school kid and their parents should watch before even applying to a college.

    According to Marty Nemko, the bachelor’s degree is the most OVERRATED product in america, and if we look back over the last 50 years, we would find that the cost of tuition has far outstripped the average persons ability to pay it.

    The quality of instruction also varies, due to the shortening of the instruction week (most classes meet twice a week for a total of 150-160 minutes), or approximately 40 hours per week (a typical semester is about 16 weeks, excluding the week for spring break).

    College content is also watered down compared to the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, as students admitted in 2010 are far less prepared than students were a generation or two ago.

    Folks, college today is a business (and that million dollar figure they toss around is more like 400 to 450 thousand in lifetime earnings).

    Hmmmph

  3. Define “soon” in this context. Ten years? Ten months?

    The K-12 system’s gone a great deal farther in the direction of vitiating education and putting the system in service of the most powerful constituencies then I think anyone would’ve imagined. There’ve been periodic outbreaks of the vapors about the shortcomings of the K-12 system since the 1950’s at least.

    The beginning of substantive change may be showing up in the K-12 system after about sixty years of hand-wringing so how long is it going to take for substantive changes in the higher ed system to show up?

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    allen,

    I was thinking something along the lines of ten years.

    If I was to take a fantastically out-of-my-you-know-what shot-in-the-dark guess, I would imagine that in 15 years typical 4-year bachelor’s degree attendance will be roughly a third of what it is today, and that there will be a proliferation of reasonably priced specialized trade schools with streamlined 2-year or 3-year programs.

    If I were to take a guess. But like everyone else, I really have no idea what’s going to happen.

  5. (David): “Who, precisely, hires ‘public policy’ graduates? What does one learn in this field that would be of actual value to a prospective employer? Should such a degree program even exist?”

    My first thought, upon reading Michael’s post was “What did this person study?”, so I followed the link. “Public Policy” is Econ for mathematical illiterates. I expect every State university has a Department of Public Policy. For four years you get to play God and redesign human society. The market for mathematically illiterate megalomaniacs is saturated. Your State Representative needs no more than one (other than himself) in his office.

    What does one learn in this course of study that requires the institutional machinery of a university? Could not this poor soul have learned everything his coursework covered for free, in the public library?

    Credit-by-exam would bust the college racket.

  6. Ten years seems an adequate time frame to work some wrenching changes in the scam higher education’s more and more coming to resemble.

    It’s worth remembering that the U.S. isn’t the only nation that has a higher education system or is concerned that they’re higher education system isn’t up to tomorrow’s demands.

    Given the breath-taking swiftness with which China’s developed, leapfrogging older technologies, the revolution in higher education isn’t necessarily going to occur in the U.S.

  7. I think people aren’t thinking of this the right way when the want to blame either the student or the cost of higher ed. The fact is that it’s still possible to go to a tier 1 research university for under $10,000 a year in tuition and fees. There are a number of these, all over the country. I’m thinking of University of Georgia, University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Florida, etc. Good, solid schools with little nonsense about them and degrees that stack up fairly well to the competition.

    The problem is with parents and students who get sucked into high-end, prestige universities where the prestige doesn’t pay off so easily. They also get sucked in to muddy degree paths that sound exciting and fun and important, but don’t translate very well into jobs.

    A $150,000 “public policy” degree from Dartmouth is pretty hard to make pay off relative to a $35,000 engineering degree from UT. The the engineering degree may pay for itself in as little as six or eight years. The public policy degree from the prestige school may never pay for itself.

    Oddly enough, we have an example here where Americans don’t know how to shop very well…

  8. Rob,

    Most of what you say is true… but even the state universities are more expensive than what you are estimating.

    4 years at UT Austin, including room/board is closer to $70,000 for in-state and $150,000 out-of-state. And public universities RARELY grant in-state status to out-of-state students who are under 25, even after they have lived there a few years.

  9. SuperSub says:

    Wondering what effect the bursting of the college bubble will have on the economy. The college loan system has pumped tons of money into the banks in the form interest as mortgages did. Once the demand for college degrees decreases, then so will the number of interest gaining college loans for the banks.

  10. Producing more for less cost is always a net plus for society as a whole. It’s a loss for the parasites who earn $80,000 for a 32 week work year with 6 hours per week of facetime with students.

    “Research” you say? Like “The Myth of the Individual in the Films of Clint Eastwood” by Professor Noel Kent, PhD or “Mumford, Mailer, and the Machine” by the Honorable Congressman Neil Abercrombie, PhD (his theses).

    Much as I like Math, you could probably get the entire publication output of one American State university at 1/10 th. the price from under-employed Russian academics. For the price of one Women’s Studies department, you could get the entire output of that discipline from a labor camp of dissident Chinese intellectuals, if you supplied them with 5 years worth of back issues of peer reviewed publications in that discipline. Just imagine 50 intellectuals surviving on rice, pickled cabbage, and dried squid, writing ten hours per day and cranking out “A Feminist-Marxist Deconstruction of 1950s Kitchen Appliance Advertising in the Sears Catalogue” and nonsense.

  11. I’ve worked with several people having MPAs (Masters of Public Administration), which are somewhat similar to MPPs, and, well, they are employed and seem to make decent livings. I don’t have the impression that their degree put them deeply in debt, either.

    Of course, I don’t know where this student went to school, how well he did, or why he can’t find a job…but based on his rant, I’m kind of thinking it might have something to do with him.

  12. Malcolm,
    Respectfully, STFU. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but I guess for the teabagger crowd, that’s par for the course.

  13. tim-10-ber says:

    SuperSub — banks no longer make student loans…they may service them but the feds make them…sure would save the taxpayers money to stop making them

  14. jab…from your comment, it sounds like you may be an academic. Is the quality of argument in your comment typical of that in whatever your field may be?

  15. No, jab is right. Malcolm is a fool. He uses a straw man argument (look it up, Malcolm) to try to show that research done at universities is frivolous. Clearly he has done no serious investigation to find out what research at a university entails. Instead he has made a guess at what professors do, gotten it wrong, and now looks childish. Malcolm, do some research yourself before you spout off so you avoid looking ill informed again.
    So far, the only ones who have really analyzed this situation correctly is PeterW.

  16. Swede, Jab, with all due respect, Malcolm is right where it comes to the humanities. I don’t recall any substantive research being done in the English departments I’ve been students of or have taught in. Most of the “research” I’ve seen has been designed and intended to tear down society to reshape it into something that Orwell would easily recognize.

    I will agree, Swede, that that isn’t all that’s going on. Some of the departments that do research in physics, biology, chemistry, or any of the other hard sciences and/or maths are quite useful. Some isn’t worth the money spent on it or the paper the results are printed on (a million-dollar study that focuses on squirrel mating/breeding habits, and concluded that squirrels are better off and happier in a suburban habitat comes to mind).

    Unfortunately, the humanities have really watered down the research pool, as well as public expectations.

  17. Heroditus,

    But he wasn’t just referring to the humanities, was he? He even refers explicitly to math in his diatribe. Look, I guess part of what rubs me the wrong way about his post is the general level of vehemence toward education and intellectualism that we see too often today (on sites like this as well as in other media, politicians, celebrities, etc). One guy complains bitterly about his degree and his lack of job (with 10% unemployment not too shocking) and out of the woodwork come comments about how colleges are awful and professors are, to again use Malcolm’s words, “parasites,” and the term “academic” is implicitly used as a pejorative (see David Foster’s comment). This kind of anti-intellectual attitude troubles me. Hopefully it troubles you as well.

  18. Oh, and the humanities have their place. We may scoff at the titles of their papers and feel their work is frivolous, but they are the ones who investigate deeply what being human is all about. i am not sure, Heroditus, where you get this idea that they are trying to tear down society and build an Orwellian state. Avoid making unsubstantiated comments. Finding new meaning and insights to poetry, art, literature, and music is a worthy endeavor, both in terms of examining the human condition and in terms of perhaps improving the quality and sophistication of future music, art, etc. Do some more research into it (with an open mind) before you slam it.

  19. Jab, Swede,

    When my mother brought me home from the hospital, she brought me to faculty housing on the UH campus. My father was an academic (economist). Several of my friends are professors of Math. One (a full Professor, respected in his department) agrees with my point that taxpayers could purchase the department’s research output from under-employed Russian academics for far less.

    I recommend Charles Sykes, Profscam, Broad and Wade, Betrayers of the Truth, Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science, Martin Anderson, Impostors in the Temnple: The Decline of the American University, Alan Sokal, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science, Gross and Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science.

    While it’s not exactly on the point, also Robert Wright’s Three Scientists and their Gods which quotes one physicist on Fredkin (approximately): “…most physicists are just Democrats or Republicans” (meaning followers of a party line and not original thinkers). Much research even in real scientific disciplines is trivial pounding of sand, adding a tenth decimal place of accuracy to something that only matters to the third place, designed to do nothing but pump up the cv.

    More generally, why suppose that even real hard science research needs tax subsidy? Mining companies and oil companies will pay for geology. Pharmaceutical companies will pay for microbiology and even anthropology. There’s a market for accessible science, as popular magazines like Sky and Telescope or Science News demonstrates.

  20. Where I get my ideas, Swede, is from personal observation. It’s not that I don’t think the humanities have their place, it’s more that the professors that I’ve been a student of, and those that I’ve worked with, are rather blinkered by their ideology, and don’t see anything wrong with an Orwellian society because many of them assume that they’d be the top class ruling the rest.

    Not to mention, a whole lot of the “research” tries to argue that the literary greats aren’t worthy of study, and have gone to the irrelevant works and authors to prove that their ideologies are far more worthy of study than the works of art created by Dead White Guys like Shakespeare.

  21. BTW, I worked for HIMB as a diver-collector on Johnston Atoll on their ciguatera toxin project, collecting gymnothorax javanicus mostly, and for PBRC as a diver-collector around Oahu, collecting sea urchins for their cytological studies. I have seen some research up close.

  22. Malcolm,

    I appreciate your reply and your contribution of literature that backs up your suppositions. I will take a look at them. I do have to say that I agree with you about the power of the market. If it is worth having, people will typically pay for it (your examples are pitch perfect). The arts and humanities can (and, in my opinion, should) be supported by private investors and sources of revenue. I also believe that sports should fend for itself in the private market (tax payer supported stadiums irritate me). So we agree on that point I think. Again, it is the anti-intellectual tone of the comments on this page that trouble me, and yours stood out, thus my comments.

  23. Swede…not sure why it would be a pejorative to call an academic an “academic.” My point was that jab’s content-free and vulgar comment suggested he had a dog in this fight. A similarly vulgar comment in defense of, say, investment bankers might make me think that the person making the comment was himself an investment banker, or maybe married to one.

    you say…”they (academics) are the ones who investigate deeply what being human is all about.” Some do, some don’t. There are plenty of old-style academic humanists who think that much of the current “research” in the humanities and social sciences is useless and even pretty close to insane.

    Do you think that the mix of teaching vs research in the humanities should be the same as that in, say, biotech or computer science?

  24. SupeSub, that’s an interesting point.

    And all those who commented that the free market will take it’s course, I agree with you and I hope it’s not hindered.

    Malcom, I think my father leveled most of the trees at Johnston in the 40’s, if I’m not confusing it with another place in the Pacific. As a humanities parasite who has about 5 1/2 hours of face time with students per day, I want you to know I make about $88,500 per year.

  25. Unfortunately, the humanities have really watered down the research pool, as well as public expectations.

    History hasn’t.

  26. The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition).

    “…(A) compulsory political organization with continuous operations wil be called a ‘state’ insofar as its administrative staff successfully defends the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order.” (Max Weber, 1921). The Harper-Collins Dictionary of Sociology, and the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology give similar definitions for “State” or “government”.

    “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” (Mao).

    Randall G. Holcombe
    “Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable”
    __The Independent Review__, Winter 2004

    Eduardo Zambrano
    “Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy
    Applications”
    __Rationality and Society__, May 1999
    “Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.”

    Joel Fried
    Pots and Kettles: Governance Practices of the Ontario Securities Commission”

    “2. The Government’s Principal – Agent Problem
    The principal-agent problem for the private sector is well known: the owner/principal delegates to a manager/agent the responsibility to provide some services for the principal. The problem is one of structuring contracts and institutions to insure that, in carrying out her duties, the agent acts in the principal’s interest rather than her own.

    Citizens of a country also face a principal – agent problem. Citizens “own” the machinery of government and employ bureaucrats to act as their agents in running this machinery.

    To reduce the costs of monitoring, the principals choose a legislature/board of directors to oversee the agents. Monitoring mechanisms are similar to those in the private sector: there are financial accounting standards that are met for each budgetary unit, and an external auditor checks these internal accounts. Transparency is maintained, in part, through freedom of information regulations. Compliance with procedures and other regulations are met both through internal monitoring and checks by units external to the bureau. Finally, contracts are structured, at least in a limited manner, to align the incentives for agents with those of the principals.
    There is, however, an additional problem in the public sector that does not exist for private firms. The firm has a well defined objective function – the maximization of profits – whereas the apparent objective for the government is the maximization of some index of a (weighted) level of welfare of the electorate. An unambiguous index of social welfare has been impossible to construct and, in its absence, monitoring the public sector is further complicated because data is generally lacking on whether or not the objective was actually approached and/or achieved and what the costs are that are linked to any
    specific objective. In effect, because of distribution issues and public goods, the cash flows measured with traditional accounting procedures will be, at best, only superficially correlated with that objective. Thus, looking at cash flows will provide the principals an extremely poor method of monitoring their public sector agents.”

    I recommend also Ivar Berg, Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery, which I review here, and Sheldon Richman’s Separating School and State: How to Liberate America’s Families, which I review here.

    “Homer was poor. His scholars live at ease,
    Inventing as many Homers as you please.
    And every Homer furnishes a book.
    Though guests be parasitic on the cook
    The moral is: ‘it is the guest who dines’.
    I’ll write a book to prove I wrote these lines.
    –J.V. Cunningham

  27. (Huxley): “Unfortunately, the humanities have really watered down the research pool, as well as public expectations.”
    (Mike): “History hasn’t.”

    We disagree. See Clayton Cramer’s essay on Michael Bellesiles’ fraudulent scholarship: “What Clayton Cramer Saw and (Nearly) Everyone Else Missed”.

    I have some personal acquaintance with bogus scholarship in Education. Browse the Education section of your college bookstore. Look into the index for “Kozol” and “Savage Inequalities” of these books. Many Education textbooks cite Kozol’s work, which is mistaken at best. Kozol’s thesis is that the mechanism of funding K-12 government schooling through local property taxes yields the “savage inequalities” he observed as dilapidated buildings and obsolete textbooks. The problems with this contention are manifold:
    a) As the economist Eric Hanushek observes, beyond a rather low level money does not matter much.
    b) Across the US, local funds generate less than 1/2 of school district revenues.
    c) Those inner-city majority minority school districts get more money per pupil than suburban white districts, on average.

    Dilapidated buildings and obsolete textbooks are not due to insufficient taxpayer generosity. The bureaucrats steal taxpayers’ money and poor kids’ life chances.

    Okay, Kozol was not a scholar. But the Professors of Education who cite him purport to be scholars, when in reality they are shills for their employer, the State.

  28. Richard Nieporent says:

    You don’t normally see a thread start off with ad hominem attacks and end up with a respectful exchange of comments. The posters here are not anti-intellectual. What they are doing is attacking the pseudo intellectualism of some of the people in academia. We are all familiar with post-modernism. It is hard to justify anything produced by post-modernists as having any intrinsic worth. Alan Sokal showed how devoid of substance is post-modernism. If you need more proof, I recommend that you read the book by Gross and Levitt that Malcolm referenced. The book eviscerates the pompous fools in the humanities that pretend that they have an understanding of the sciences.

  29. SuperSub says:

    tim-10-ber

    Last I checked, plenty of banks and other private entities provided student loans that were not backed by the feds. Also, even for fed-backed loans, the banks are the ones who collect the interest on the loans.

  30. Mr. Foster,
    please spare me your self-righteous indignation…
    Although Malcolm’s later comments were substantive, he started off with “substance-free” right-wing boilerplate idiocy that academics are “parasites.”

    And yes, I am an academic… I have a PhD in Astrophysics, teach a couple hundred students per semester in 2-3 lecture courses, supervise undergraduate research students and M.S. theses… my “face-time” with the students in lectures is approx. 12 hours a week + another 12 hours a week working with my student research assistants… the rest of the week, I am writing scientific papers, grant proposals, serving on academic committees, serving on national review panels… my average work week is 60 hours. Summers are no break either… i don’t teach lecture classes, but all the other things go full steam ahead. I’m not complaining… I absolute LOVE every minute of it…

    My salary: $60,000… I am not tenured… yet.
    I can make an additional $15,000 IF AND ONLY IF I raise it through bringing in multi-year grants from NASA or the NSF.

    Although my research is abstract… the classes I teach are for mostly for the engineering track…

    YUP, I’M A PARASITE ALL RIGHT… my high salary is just sucking the state dry. My extended family wonders why I work my azz off for such peanuts when I could go into banking or venture capital and make 10 times that much.

    So forgive me if I get annoyed with the really stale right-wing talking points that get spouted daily in the comments on Joanne’s otherwise excellent blog.

  31. I should add that that’s $60,000 in a major metropolitan city where the cost-of-living is in the top 5 in the nation.

  32. Soapbox0916 says:

    I frequently lurk here, but rarely comment. However, since I actually have a master’s degree in public policy, well alright technically a MPA with a concentration in policy analysis (same thing really), I will weigh in on this conversation.

    Is this a worthwhile degree? Yes! Am I glad that I got the degree? Yes! Do other people think it is worthwhile? Questionable. You still get out what you put in.

    In this case, I am fortunate that the university that I went too is ranked second in the nation for this degree, and while reputation is not everything, it does help in some cases. I had a job in policy within two weeks of graduation. Basically I worked as a quasi-lawyer for a lot less pay. However, the problem did arise when I wanted to move back to my hometown, and I was overqualified for everything, I had to do some major adjusting, and I did temp work for 16 months, in order to stay in my hometown.

    I am however employed. I don’t know if it is due to my policy traning or my personality that has an anal-retentive streak to it, but I just noticed a mistake in a state requirement that could save my employer a quarter a million a year, so right now I am personally feeling very thankful for my background including my degrees.

    The public administration degrees shared the same building with the business degrees, and I can honestly say my MPA degree had everything that the MBA degree offered and more (I checked), except for the reputation. The MBA really only focused on the private sector, while the MPA covered the public sector, the private sector, and the not-for-profit sectors. I honestly feel like the MPA degree is a lot more comprehensive than a MBA, but obviously that will vary widely with the university. Some argue that a MBA is worthless for business.

    Wow, I cannot believe the comments about math illiterates. My bachelor’s degree is in biology with a strong background in chemisty, physics, and math. I love math and my math skills came in handy during my courework. I took three different stats classes, cost-benefit analysis, planning tools, mapping, etc. I used my math skills. I cannot speak for every university.

    I will say a local university has started a MPA degree and I am not impressed with it at all, it is very watered down to what I took, and I am not sure what the students will get out of it. So not all degrees are equal.

  33. (Robert): “I think my father leveled most of the trees at Johnston in the 40’s, if I’m not confusing it with another place in the Pacific.”

    That’s probably the place. 16 N., 169 W. The US converted a low, uninhabited mound of coral rubble into a stationary aircraft carrier. Google Earth has some ground-level photographs. There was a grove of about five ironwood trees that people called the National Forest.

    P.S. Are you that Robert Wright? Good work!

  34. “Homer was poor. His scholars live at ease
    Inventing as many Homers as they please.
    And every Homer furnishes a book.
    Though guests be parasitic on the cook
    The moral is ‘it is the guest who dines’.
    I’ll write a book to prove I wrote these lines.
    –J.V. Cunningham– (from memory, so errors are possible).

    The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition).

    “…(A) compulsory political organization with continuous operations wil be called a ‘state’ insofar as its administrative staff successfully defends the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order.” (Max Weber, 1921).

    The Harper-Collins Dictionary of Sociology, and the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology give similar definitions for “State” or “government”.

    “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” (Mao).

    Randall G. Holcombe
    “Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable”
    The Independent Review Volume 8 Number 3 Winter 2004

    Eduardo Zambrano
    “Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy
    Applications”
    Rationality and Society, May 1999; 11: 115 – 138.

    “Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.”

    My favorite scene from the movie Good Will Hunting:…
    Bar. Will’s friend tries to impress Skyler and gets shut down by the academic snob. Will shuts him down and says “In about fifty years you’re going to do some thinking on your own and realize two things: one, don’t do that (humiliate people) and two, you just wasted $150,000 on an education you could have had for $1.50 in late fees at the public library”
    (again, from memory. Expect errors, but that’s the gist).

    If it is fraud for a mechanic to charge for the repair of a functional motor and if it is fraud for a physician to charge for the treatment of a healthy patient, then it is fraud for a teacher (or school or university) to charge for the instructon of a student who does not need our help.

    “Credit-by-exam would bust the college racket.”

  35. (Jab): “So forgive me if I get annoyed with the really stale right-wing talking points that get spouted daily in the comments on Joanne’s otherwise excellent blog.”

    Your annoyance is your business. There’s nothing to forgive, there. Vulgar sexual inuendo, however, is another matter,

    Also, “right-wing” indicates an unrealisic one-dimensional view of the political continuum.

  36. Richard Nieporent says:

    More Johnston Island trivia. Johnston Island was used for the destruction of chemical weapons in the 1980s. The reason it was done there is because it is in the middle of no place. If something went wrong it would only kill the people on the island. According to the link below it completed its mission in 2000 without killing anyone.

    http://www.cma.army.mil/johnston.aspx

  37. Richard Nieporent says:

    I guess I spoke too soon about respectful comments. I though it was only English and history Ph.D.s that worked as low paid “migratory workers” for universities by teaching extra courses that couldn’t be covered by the full time faculty. Dr. Jab, it is not for me to tell you what to do, but you are being screwed by the university you work for and you know it. That is why you are so bitter. Rather than take out your frustration on what you perceive as “right wing” critics of the university, maybe you should realize that it is your “left wing” brethren that are using you for cheap labor. Take my advice and get a real job, one that pays you a decent wage. With your background there are many companies that would hire you for two to three times the amount you are being paid now and you wouldn’t have to be working 60 hours a week.

  38. We disagree. See Clayton Cramer’s essay on Michael Bellesiles’ fraudulent scholarship: “What Clayton Cramer Saw and (Nearly) Everyone Else Missed”.

    He was a respected scholar whose work was initially praised, then exposed. He’s now used as a cautionary tale when teaching undergraduates the importance of checking citations and not making stuff up. I’ve yet to meet an academic historian (yes, I am one) who is anything but disgusted by that fraud.

  39. Richard,

    Now that jab has outed himself as an astrophysisist, I have to offer this concession: astrophysics (at least, the study of sun-like stars) and the search for Earth-crossing asteroids are two areas of astronomy for which one can make a good case for tax subsidy. It would be nice to get advanced warning if our star is about to enter another Maunder minimum or get slammed by a comet, up-front costs are high, and free-rider issues are large.

    For much other valuable research, either the case for markets is better thab the case for State subsidy and operation of research facilities or the case for tax-funded prizes for scientific solutions to policy problems (e.g., mosquito control, rabies control in wild populations) is better than the case for research subsidies. Read Dava Sobel’s wonderful book Longitude. The promise of a significant prize motivated the development of the marine chronometer.

  40. Mike,

    Professor Michael Bellesiles’ fraudulent Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture won the Bancroft Prize. The rules for the prize require that the committee wait two years after a book has appeared before they award a prize. Historians had two years to check his work, and did not, and they praised it. Before __Arming America…__ appeared, Professor Bellesiles had written journal articles that advanced his fraudulent thesis, that firearms were uncommon in early America. Clayton Cramer sent corrections to the journals, demonstrating that the works Professor Bellesiles cited did not say what he (Professor Bellesiles) claimed. The journal editors ignored Clayton Cramer.

    Until academic historians address the ideological monoculture in History departments that Clayton Cramer identifies as the root cause of the system’s protracted acceptance of Professor Bellesiles’ fraud, expressions of disgust look more like regret that Professor Bellesiles got caught.

  41. SuperSub says:

    Ok, here we go trying to draw the line.
    Yes, there are plenty, maybe even a majority, of academics who provide valuable research to society and work hard to educate the next generation.
    Yes, there are plenty, maybe even a majority, of academics who provide worthless research to society and hardly work to educate the next generation.

    The former will, and seemingly have, taken offense at claims of impropriety in academia. The latter will claim intolerance or ignorance amongst their critics.

    Unltimately, the problem is due to the unreasonable expansion of colleges over the past twenty years. Just as increased number of colleges and enrollment has effectively reduced the skill level of the average college freshmen to an eighth grader, the average quality of college faculty has also dropped significantly.

    Not only that, but with expanding schools, each department grows and becomes more isolated from the rest of the school. This allows some less-objective departments to become polluted with ideologues and idiots without the notice of the rest of the faculty.

    We need both the sciences and humanities in our colleges. Remember, our nation was not founded on the practicality of science but instead the ideals of philosophy. Since science is, by definition, testable by experiment, it is dificult for frauds and parasites to prosper. Humanities, on the other hand, necessarily reflect the individualism in each of us. Without someone willing to draw a line of what is reasonable and what is not, there will be an explosion of frauds and parasites if they can make a living at it.

  42. Well, I don’t know a thing about the current state of humanities teaching in our colleges. I did, however, read a book by Victor Davis Hanson (and a co-author whose name I can’t remember) called Who Killed Homer, where they make a pretty good case that various political and intellectual currents have led the humanities far adrift from the original mission they had for hundreds of years. Some of his well-documented examples defy belief, yet were actually published in peer-reviewed journals.

    These authors weren’t alone, either; they quote a number of other books and papers making basically the same point. According to them, the decline started in the 1980’s and sped up considerably in the 2000’s. Donald Kagan, professor of ancient history at Yale recently said, “Academia has become an arm of the politburo.”

    Since the humanities are supposed to be the bedrock to which our …humanity… is anchored, this seems like a problem to me. But, hey, I’m not an academic, so what do I know?

  43. Well, I don’t know a thing about the current state of humanities teaching in our colleges. I did, however, read a book by Victor Davis Hanson (and a co-author whose name I can’t remember) called Who Killed Homer, where they make a pretty good case that various political and intellectual currents have led the humanities far adrift from the original mission they had for hundreds of years. Some of his well-documented examples defy belief, yet were actually published in peer-reviewed journals.

    These authors weren’t alone, either; they quote a number of other books and papers making basically the same point. According to them, the decline started in the 1980’s and sped up considerably in the 2000’s. Donald Kagan, professor of ancient history at Yale recently said, “Academia has become an arm of the politburo.”

    Since the humanities are supposed to be the bedrock to which our …humanity… is anchored, this seems like a problem to me. But, hey, I’m not an academic, so what do I know?