Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do Today's College Students Prefer Jobs or a Free Lunch?

The New York Times ran a front-page article Monday on college students in Montana, noting how liberal Montana college students have become. College students under 30 voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2012, as well as for candidates down the ticket. Montana students joined them. The young tend to be liberal. Winston Churchill is quoted a saying “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 30, you have no brain.” He probably didn’t say it, but it sounds about right. The gist of the New York Times article is that the Montana students believe in the government’s ability to deliver. If so, then America may have passed the tipping point. The post-World War II model was to go to college, get a good career job, raise a family in the suburbs, and retire comfortably. College was the path to upper mobility. A rising economy offered hope to two generations. Last year’s grads only had a 50% placement rate. They face stagflation. Yet President Obama promised them he would cut the interest rate on student loans. Unemployed college students voted for him. Our economy is barely treading water, and the students voted for President Obama. They didn’t learn from economics or history. They never ask “Who’s paying for it? or “Where does it come from?” Too many are like the woman in Cleveland who said “I got my Obama phone!” Marxism failed, Communism failed, socialism fails everywhere, the USSR failed, Cuba’s failing, the social democracies in western Europe are failing. But college students are idealistic. The key to job growth is a growing economy. President Obama's policies cannot grow the private economy. Without a prospering private economy, the government's ability to deliver will drop. Even Ph.D.’s are having trouble in this market. With the recent exception of law schools, students in our professional schools, business, engineering, and medical, have high employment rates upon graduation. The students in the humanities programs are especially having trouble landing jobs. These majors are traditionally liberal, as in the “liberal” arts. No one talks about the conservative arts. The humanities do not equip today’s grad with the skills necessary to proposer in today’s increasingly technologically based economy. To some extent today’s students have come to depend on the government, starting with school lunches. Some schools have such a high percent of economically disadvantage students that they provide the free lunches to all the students. The state provides a free education from K-12, and subsidizes tuition at public universities. Yesterday’s students worked their way through college to cover the low tuition. Today’s tuition is high, even at public institutions. The federal government through loans and Pell Grants, and states though loans and grants, subsidize college expenses. 37% of all undergraduates in 2011-2012 received Pell Grants. 47.7 million Americans were on food stamps as of September 2012. Outstanding student loans now exceed $1 trillion dollars with $100 billion exceeded in one year. To the students receiving the loans it often doesn’t seem like a real debt, just as many Americans don’t appreciate the nation’s $16.5 trillion debt and the annual deficits of a trillion dollars. Only when they graduate deeply in debt without a job does the reality hit. I believe in public education. The problem is that it helps inculcate today’s students with the belief that the government is a source of good and delivers. In short, many of today’s students believe in the President’s Julia. Life comes through the government. I understand the traditional liberalism of students at Berkeley, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but this is Montana. Montana is still a state of farming, ranching, resource exploitation, and the individual. If students in Montana are this liberal, then America might be past the tipping point.

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