The Balkanization of the Web continues apace.
I am part of an interesting discussion group over at Facebook. One of my childhood friends recommended inviting a friend of his, so I "friended" him on FB. We were short of an uber-Liberal in our group (we had several, but they each in turn became angry and left rather than support their positions... so I invited this gentlemen). He declined to participate, but I did comment a couple times on his threads. In each case "the line went dead" (that is Facebook speak for when the owner of the thread messages the other participants to cease communicating - this "Balkanization, or complete rejection of ideas, fairly sums up the American Body Politic at this time).
So.... I commented on the above photo as follows:
Me: I think that the larger issue is that the availability of the loans drove the price of tuition at several multiples of inflation for 2 or 3 decades... much the same as mortgage availability drove housing prices to unsustainable levels... How this works out will be fairly interesting, as under no circumstance will the debtors (the student borrowers) be capable of paying the nearly $1Trillion in student debt. As a practical matter, if I were in this position, I would repudiate the debt. Currently, less than 40% of student loan debtors are paying down their balances... the lower that number goes, the higher the probability of some kind of "forced" forgiveness of the debt.
Moving forward, we need to address the out of bounds costs of higher education and the harm caused by "prestige" educations rather than those that are measured empirically. After all, if the methods employed by the top institutions were truly better these institutions would want to expand their franchise... since that is not true, these institutions limit the supply of their graduates to maintain exclusivity - a logical strategy for the institutions... but not for our society.
correct: should have read "will the debtors be capable of paying the $1Trillion debt PLUS INTEREST".
Of course, by extension, this holds for nearly all debts... in 40 years, the credit system has expanded from $1 Trillion to $50 Trillion (50X increase), while world GDP has expanded 5X... like I said, should be fairly interesting.
At this point my comments were returned by an individual I have dubbed the "Professor".
The “Professor”: Not sure what's driving your argument there about the top institutions wanting to expand the franchise, Greg. They certainly do not, a significant portion of the value vests in the exclusivity - and consequent access to alumni networks, etc. It's not really possible to manufacture the kind of model most people are thinking about when they consider market forces and apply that to higher ed.My answer is fairly clear (and polite).
Me: I was saying that the top institutions have no incentive to reign in prices given the availability of student loans... and that they were charging an exclusivity fee, not a performance fee (other than the "performance" of exclusivity).
After all... if it was the empirical quality of the system of education that was resulting in better outcomes, then these institutions would be best served by "franchising", if you will, their "better" system. Of course, if it is exclusivity that they are selling franchising would only dilute the "exclusivity" value.
The “Professor”: It is certainly the latter. But, I should point out, that the higher ed product is not something that lends itself to franchising. Teaching college is an art, not a science, and is not replicable.
Me: The "benefits" accrued to alumni of "exclusivity" peddlers has a mirror image.
The Professor: “Eh? The benefits accrued to alums of exclusive colleges is access to social strata and consequently to lucrative employment.”
Me: Precisely! And it crowds out other individuals that lack the cache.(People that took the exact same classes with the exact same grades and the exact same IQ will be held in lower esteem by virtue of the cache their institutions lack.)
Me: "Teaching college is an art, not a science, and is not replicable." Not sure I agree with this statement.
The Professor: “Welcome to disagree, dude, but I gotta warn you, I'm not only a college professor, I'm the incoming editor of the primary education journal in my field.”
("Be Quiet!! Listen... Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government/education..." Cue the scene from Monty Python and Holy Grail "Well, I am King!")
(I am, after all, a Self-Educated (for the expense of library card), White Trash male that grew up between a gas station and the housing projects in Greenberg... and The Professor is a Female College Professor... and not that I am Steve Jobs, either... but by any measure, and especially given my origins, my "qualifications", such as they are, would be apparent to anyone other than the class that extorts from the masses for the purposes of handing out "qualifications")
and despite having absolutely no qualifications, that I have traveled the world, excelled in chess and music, maintained my health and weight with zero medications past the big 5-0(the ultimate qualification of one's intellect), read extensively, taught myself well enough in economic and security analysis to succeed at a place where people of my ilk are NOT welcome (only thing Wall Street hates more than an "uppity" and "Qualified" black person is a White Trash man with absolutely no qualifications (I did have all my teeth, and I looked good in suit... that did help) - well, all except for the quirky Jews at Bear Stearns who said they were looking for guys with PSD's (Poor, Smart, with Deep desire to be rich - I had that qualification in spades) that took a chance on me and to whom I am ETERNALLY grateful - much love to those guys), raised children (and in the process stroked many a tuition payment check), went broke (twice) and still came back three times... this "Professor" has none of these "Qualifications"... yet she is my superior. Go figure.
Me: I am confident in my capacities, too...
The Professor: On what grounds?
Me: Do not understand your question. But given my own background, I am speaking to the economics and cost/benefit analysis of higher education.Trying to give this hard case a way out.
The Professor: You're confident in your capacities to speak to the matter of whether college teaching is an art or a science and the degree to which it is replicable...based on what qualifications?
Me: I am confident in my capacity to speak on the cost benefit analysis of the education. The balance is anecdotal, and cannot be measured.
At least, I cannot measure it.
Me: We are speaking about the debt incurred on student loans, are we not?
Or the measurable benefits for those able to pay without debt.
Me: The subjective value of being "educated" I leave to the individual... measuring the earnings outcome versus the costs in time and money is empirically measurable.
Me: sorry... that was from the department of redundancy department.
Me: Oh, well... you seem to have lost interest in this discussion... I would have liked to hear the perspective of an insider. Given that less than 40% of the loans within the student loan system (total of nearly $900 Billion) are paying down their balances (this metric negates the "deferment" versus "default" argument) it would seem to me that the economic value of what the students' received was insufficient to finance their investment. This is akin to an investor in real estate whose rent roll is insufficient to service the debt on a particular property. It then follows, given the sheer size of the problem (amount of debt in default or deferment) that the costs/price of the education are out of proportion to its economic benefit... I would assert that what brought that unhappy circumstance about was access to too much credit (student loans) in much the same manner that too much credit (mortgages) poisoned the well of the housing market.
And in the final analysis, like the housing market, the student loan debt will NOT be repaid as agreed. The implications for the higher educational system could not be more stark.
So... as the owner of the thread prefers to halt debate on his page (which he certainly has every right to do) I have taken the time to invite this individual (the Professor, that is... the thread owner is clearly not interested in co-examnation of any facts in contradiction of his belief system) here for a full and open discussion. Not in anger but in the search for truth. I look forward to the debate with GREAT anticipation.
That this is what has happened to us and our abilities to listen and reason with each other leaves little doubt in my mind about the health or our Body Politic. We are very sick. Our establishment brooks no dissent. There is "The Way", and everything else is base and course and without merit. We all know the definition of insanity... yet the Keynesian and Social Policy Left has been in de facto control for over 40 years. What has been the outcome? Why is it verboten to question the outcomes?
Because the 2 headed 1 party, the REAL 1%, benefits at the expense of everyone else and they have perfected an environment that neuters all debate.