“Give me your entitled, your spoiled, your huddled classes yearning to live for free, the wretched refuse of your indoctrination schools. Send these, the factless, cliche-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the student loan door!
But I paraphrase.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Let’s review the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The words of Emma Lazarus’ famous 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus” are, at least in some part, known by many people in America–and others worldwide. They are not an official statement of American immigration policy, or even a statement of non-binding belief that was voted on by citizens or politicians. Yet I am struck by the yearning to breathe free language. Yearning. Not a demand. No one marching with signs or trying to take advantage of a rich, generous neighbor. Yearning. Starting with 15-year-old Annie Moore from Ireland, 12M immigrants were processed at nearby Ellis Island between its opening in 1892 and when it shut its doors in 1954.
Today’s episode looks at a paraphrase of Ms. Lazarus’ poem, imagining what the words might be if they correctly reflected what is happening at our nation’s institutions of higher learning.
The implied immigration strategy used at Ellis Island, NY, was crude, but it clearly worked: ticket money. Everyone arriving came by ship; first and second class passengers were given a cursory once over, then disembarked to go through customs. Third class passengers, steerage, were transported to nearby Ellis Island where they underwent medical and legal inspections to ensure they didn’t have a contagious disease or some condition that would make them a burden to the government. Only two percent were barred entry. The country grew and prospered, and immigrants assimilated and found their places in American society. Together, along with those already here, they created the “New Colossus”, America. BTW, if you think it was unfair to separate immigrants by their ability to afford tickets, tell me about how that was worse than what we have now–chaos absent easy-to-do, sensible and workable immigration reform (EP. 301).
Immigrants were not coming to America to be supported. The social safety net was non-existent, then only in its infancy starting in 1933; the US offered an opportunity to work hard and succeed, little more. What are colleges and universities offering, and why are students going? These institutions have become businesses, and woke ones at that. Their intended product, outside of the STEM fields, is a woke, politically correct graduate who has no specific skills to offer an employer. And given that education is tilting more to teaching what to think over how to think, even having a thoughtful approach to problem solving is not a skill acquired in college. And good grammar and the simple ability to spell? Or even showing up on time? Where is that being taught?
Today’s Key Points: 1. It is much easier to pontificate than to teach. 2. It is far easier to parrot back politically correct cliches than to do a thoughtful essay on why you think Pip in Great Expectations was a good guy or not. Said differently, giving and receiving a good education is hard, necessarily hard. As is life. Do you remember how delighted we were in school when the teacher got himself off subject? And the things that we as students would do to make that happen? Class was so much easier when the teacher got off track. No subject matter learning took place, but it was fun and easy, and we loved it. Now the teachers are getting themselves off track, and staying there. Hey, it is easier for them as well. And the subject matter learning takes a back seat to pontification and indoctrination.
Think back with me and see if you can remember the sarcastic names we gave to the special classes that were offered to scholarship athletes, names like “Underwater Basket Weaving.” Students used to call the known easy courses “Gut classes.” Let’s hear from the Yale Wiki on this, “A gut class is a class that is known to have a light workload, easy grading, or both. Many students take these classes for these reasons. Lists of gut classes are often circulated among undergraduates during the class selection period, including among sports teams. Certain classes are often taken by entire teams. Others, especially those in the sciences, are highly demanded by the general student body to fulfill non-major graduation requirements.” Today, many colleges and universities are upping the ante by creating entire gut majors and gut degrees; light workloads, easy grading, enjoyable for four or five years, then useless. And expensive.
These institutions must know their customers because they do not want for students. Soaring costs, even costs that have nothing to do with the quality of education, have not slackened demand. Administrative costs continue to rise rapidly, with the number of administrators increasing at double the number of professors. Adding to costs that do not deliver a better education are the motel-style dorms, lattes on the way to class and multiple main courses and add-on options at the cafeterias.
Okay, Will, you seem to be saying that the value of an education is declining even as the costs of an education soars. Q. Why are people putting up with that? A. The primary answer is that we have uncoupled the cost of an education from its value. Student loans are freely given, and the chatter about forgiving them is increasing. Monopoly money is easy to spend. For example, many, many people would be more than willing to get a much better car if car loans were as freely given as student loans, requiring only a signature and no credit check. Even more so if it was common knowledge that you could take decades to pay back, had many ways to reduce those payments in accordance with your then current financial condition, and ambitious politicians were holding out the hope that you might never have to repay. Hey, transportation is a human right, they would say. The secondary, but important, reason is that we are losing our overall sense of what money means, how hard it is to acquire and how to get value when we spend it.
It is sad that after 4 or 5 years in college, finally getting a diploma, that so many cannot land a job that will pay enough to repay their loans they promised to pay when they signed and got the money. Of course, few of these graduates would be willing to live with 3 roommates in a two bedroom apartment, and drive a $2K beater car to economize. Hey, if they thought like that, they would have found a better way to pay for college in the first place, or at least have graduated in a major that paid well.
Chicken or egg question. Q. Did this careless, monopoly money approach to borrowing and repaying, and spending money in exchange for questionable value, originate with the people, the voters, and catch hold with our politicians, or did it start with the politicians and spread to the people? A. Yes.
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As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.