Saturday, May 19, 2012

Robert Reich to New College Grads: "You're F*cked"

Robert Reich in a blog titled "The Commencement Speech On One Will Give" writes:
Members of the Class of 2012, 
As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today. 
You’re f*cked. 
Well, not exactly. But you won’t have it easy. 
First, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking. 
That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking them more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder...
But even when you get a job, it’s likely to pay peanuts.
Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year – lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.
This is all true, but what Reich doesn't tell you is that most of the problem is government intervention in the economy. The Fed manipulation of the money supply, which has gotten even more erratic under Ben Bernanke, makes it extremely difficult for businessmen to plan. Further, unknown future government regulated healthcare payments for new hires and other creeping regulations makes new hires even more risky.

At the same time, government has stepped in to promote the education racket to raise the hopes of recent college grads even more absurd levels. Yes, the government promotion of useless college educations has reached new heights. It is actually causing people to leave the workforce and spend money borrowed from government to get the useless education.

I ask you? If you are going to college to advance your employability, why exactly do you think an employer is going to hire you if you have majored in subject that has no applicability to the working world . At the University of Berkeley where Reich teaches, these are some of the majors offered:

Celtic Studies

Ethnic Studies

Gender & Women's Studies

Social Welfare

Peace and Conflict Studies

Some of these might be interesting topics to study,others are totally nuts, but none have anything to do with you getting a job. Further, even if you major in general business, it is unlikely to help in the job market since what you learn in these courses will have little practical application. Remember, teachers in general are the group that is generally farthest away from the business world. They have never had to be entrepreneurs to get their positions, they have done little to no marketing or sales. They have never had to meet a payroll. In short, they have no clue about business and are often business-haters. Do you really expect someone to hire you because you sat quietly listening to these characters for four years? Businessmen are really making wise decisions not hiring you except at very low level entry positions.

Government funded education is a scam. It supports the myth that getting a college degree will help you get a job, when in fact, all college education really does is promote the idea that government needs to be everywhere to help things move along properly. But the only result after four years of listening to mostly boring, business-hating, clueless professors, is that you are dumped on the sidewalk with your worthless degree, a ton of debt and without a clue as to how business works.

Bottom line: The sooner you get into the business world, the better. When Reich is starting to realize this, you know the college degree has become totally worthless.


  1. I have written quite a few times on my blog, that parents should raise their kids to become as self-sufficient at as early an age as possible.

    By mid-teens, the kids should have a part-time job. Unless they plan on going into medicine or something else involving the sciences, in which on-site labs etc. are necessary, then, instead of becoming a matriculating college student at university, turn the high school part-time job into full-time after graduation.

    In the later teens and early twenties, the youngins can work full time and, if they want college degree toward some sort of advancement, they can attend night classes, and it doesn't necessarily have to be four years. (I have a relative who did just that and she received her BA or BS in ten years, now she's getting her Masters. (I hope.)

    But college is a scam, and a complete waste of time and money. Becoming a debt-serf is definitely not worth it. All the college kids do now is get drunk and party, and waste time. And it's even worse now, with so many youngins addicted to Facebook and their G**damned texting!

  2. I'm confused. There isn't any greater advocate for government intervention in everything than Reich. And since this is mainly due to big government sucking the life out of the private sector, why isn't he pleased with the state of affairs?

  3. I have three sons.

    In the countries where they grew up there is government funded education.

    Year 10 of school is completed with what in my day was called a "School Certificate"

    Year 12 with what was called "Higher School Certificate" - if your overall score is high enough this gains you entry to university

    None of my sons gained the higher qualification

    Only one gained the lower qualification

    The oldest of them joined the army, went on to become an officer then took up university studies which has led to him gaining an honors degree in geophysics and then a good job with a well known firm

    The second went overseas for a year on a student exchange program and returned speaking fluent french. He then enrolled in a Neuroscience course and gained a degree then enrolled in Medicine and achieved excellent results. He funded much of his studies by becoming a talented barista (ie making espressos)

    The third went to work for a year or two then enrolled as an adult student and is studying science. He seems interested in both Architecture and robotics.

    Much of their lives they did not attend school. They did not do "correspondence school" nor did we do "home studies" - ie they were not "home schooled"

    Rather, during the time most kids were going to school we spent in relative poverty travelling and spending all our money on things like skiing and diving and canoeing and tramping and surrounded by music, martial arts and home-brewing.

    I sometimes worried that not pushing them to go to school and doing well there was robbing them of a future. I did not worry much mainly because i was selfishly more interested in having fun but having fun with them.

    Sure i schooled them in a way - i would point our geological formations and ask them how such things might have occurred. We'd sometimes sit during long drives and practice multiplying pairs of 3 digit numbers in our heads but mostly i just didn't "school" them - i just kept making them experience really challenging things like shooting rapids and hiking up tall mountains and catching fish to eat because we were hungry. The occasional poem recital and frequent reading of great books at bedtimes probably helped too.

    When they learned to read i fed them great books - books i was reading or books that led to the sort of things i was reading - which were pretty much always on the cutting edge of social science.

    I've been asked by peers, usually when their first child is born, what they can do to have their kids turn out like mine. I always give the same answer and not one has ever followed my advise.

    The answer i give is this - quit work, sell everything you have of worth to raise enough money so that you do not have to work for a year, abandon everything you want for yourself and spend every waking moment with your child. As they become toddlers keep them with you constantly and just walk around everywhere pointing out the world and talking about it. Learn to love being with a growing mind and enjoy how amazingly responsive they are to the provision of knowledge.

    Do it as long as you can - if you can manage it to 3 years - wow - you will have one awesome kid who will never need much more from you for the rest of his/her life. Every other chance you get from then on build around having fun with them. Fun does not require very much money. It just requires your time - and there's always ways to get enough money as long as you do not tie yourself down to a house and possessions.

    It's my belief that the flaw in our systems is not the systems themselves but our blind acceptance of systems to provide for us cradle to grave. If you abandon these systems and live in the many cracks in them you have enormous opportunity to live a very fulfilling life.


    1. i might add this - our boys born 7 years apart (yes that's 21 years) - so there was never any sibling rivalry and each got all the focus of the family. I think having kids all at once just makes things incredibly difficult for everyone. Sure you get your child-rearing done early so you can get back to your own life...


    2. Pop, what an amazing story. Those boys have a far superior education when compared to their peers who have been kept in cages and held hostage by the groupthink maleducators. Some employers will want expensive sheepskin, but the smart ones will recognize the value of the "real world" education (and the path of continuing education they are all embarked) that these men bring.

      Best of luck to you and your sons!

  4. Joining the Ron Paul revolution and getting America back is the only way out of the tunnel for young Americans.

  5. College degrees have always been status symbols. Your status is dependent upon the school you graduate from If you graduate from Harvard, Stanford, etc. you are in the "wow" class. If you graduate from a lesser of the "God" made schools you have less status. Of course if you graduate with a PHD you are in the top wrung of the ladder like Alan Greenspan or Paul Wolfowitz. However these two are good examples of education, "you can put the PHD in the man but you can't take the stupid out of the man".

  6. POP, that is an amazing story. How I wish my parents had given me that kind of life. I have been caring for autistic adults for 13 years which is about the most dead-end job in existence (as my excuse, I needed the security while helping my disabled parents). School was like a prison to me,and I always thought very differently from everyone around me. I feel that I was always a libertarian, just without the Rothbardian articulation. Unfortunately, we can't go back and fix ourselves. Just have to do the best we can now. Now I'll do anything within reason to develop a business acumen.

  7. So this is what amounts to "economic policy" these days? That most of the problem with college graduates getting jobs is government intervention in the economy? And that the Fed "manipulation of the money supply makes it extremely difficult for businessmen to plan"? Clearly you didn't pay any attention in your college courses on macro or microeconomics, and I find it laughable that you speak with any background on what business owners are really concerned about. I have spent decades as a businessman and of all the challenges I've had to deal with (a lot), I've never once thought about what the Fed is doing with the money supply.

    There is no doubt that simply getting a college degree is no promise of success, and there are a lot of degrees out there that have little business value (although I can find a reasonable business purpose for hiring a graduate from every single degree you mock). I agree that no one should expect to be hired just because they get a college degree. But this smacks of anti-intellectualism, and of all the top 1% income earners I know (and I know quite a few), they are all completely committed to continual, lifelong education.