Episode-578- Listener Feedback 1-03-11 — 117 Comments

  1. Jack, just want to say that I love the new look of your blog. And you’re not finished apparently? Great job! And happy New Year!

  2. Hey Jack,

    I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem. But I can’t find today’s show on Itunes. I’m listening to it on your site now, but I just wanted to bring that up.

  3. Hi Jack,

    Happy New Year!

    Like the new look. Atahualpa is my favourite theme – very versatile.

    Like Bryan, I also can’t find todays show on iTunes.

    Keep up the good work.


  4. @Bryan try a refresh or update podcast in iTunes, fricken feeburner reduced the allocation for the size of the feed again. I set it to show summaries only and it is working now.

  5. Hey Jack, like the new look of the site!

    The only issue I have with it is the Forum link, don’t care for having to go to a page that tells me about the forum and then have to click another link to get to the forum and then having it open in a separate window.

    But that’s just me. I should just bookmark the forum directly. 🙂

    Was really pleased to hear you mention that you are working with Patriot Nurse for an interview. Love her videos, and can’t wait to hear her on TSP!

    Happy New Year, and hope you feel better soon!

  6. I love tweaking WordPress themes, easy to customize the CSS and remedial PHP modifications. No need to start from scratch, up and running.

    Sheeple think I’m a terrorist for talking about fiat currency collapse, new world order, the growing poverty rate, and loose of jobs.

    Sheeple in NYC get what they deserve. Nobody with a survivalist mind would want to be in NYC when SHTF. Even if they are armed with the best firearms, they cannot possibly have enough ammo for the hordes of “zombies”.

  7. @TheNorthernSurvivalist

    “Nobody with a survivalist mind would want to be in NYC when SHTF. Even if they are armed with the best firearms”

    On that we could not be more in agreement, 8 Million people do not belong an island that is 13 miles long by 2 miles wide in the best of times. The most modest hiccup in NYC is a total disaster. That said I was there during the biggest black out in the history of the northeast and it was the most organized walk out I ever saw. Though I wonder what would have happened if it occurred initially after dark instead of mid day.

    • I am a big fan of the show, and have been for about a year now. I am also a person that lives in Manhattan who believes in self-reliance, and prepping. I know your beliefs on city dwellers (how wrong things can go if there is even a small disaster) since I have listened to most of your shoes to date. This is one of the only topics I don’t agree with you on. Prepping is universal, and being prepared for what you can control, and letting go of what you can’t applies anywhere in the world. You may think that living here is dangerous because there are so many people, but where you are about to live can be just as dangerous (New Madrid Fault line…). As long as you prepare for what is possible in your area, there is not much else you can do other then enjoy your time on this planet. Chances are, and you mention this often, there will be no “BIG ONE”. The country will suffer through small, to medium disasters, just as we always have. If it is economical, then we city dwellers will be somewhat buffered from economic down turns as people still have loads of money here. People in rural towns will suffer badly, if the economy gets worse. The truth of the matter is everywhere has pros and cons, all you can do is live, prepare, survive.

      I am currently writing a book and blog on survival/self-reliance in NYC called NYC Survival. Thank you Jack for your amazing podcast/blog/videos and I appreciate your thoughts and opinions. Keep inspiring!

      • @JV,

        I totally disagree, the disaster is an acute occurrence. Be it a natural or man made one, most people die in aftermath where your fellow man becomes the biggest danger and the less prepared he is the bigger the danger becomes. NYC may be the most unprepared groups of people in the US if not on the planet. I have nothing against “city dwellers” I have no idea where you got such an idea. I have plenty against cities as a whole. If the shit ever really hits the fan NYC and all other large cities will be crawling with death, disease and destruction. 8 million hungry people are dangerous regardless of geography, what increases their danger is their density.

        I am glad you are prepared and for a garden variety occurrence you can be just about as well off in NYC as anywhere because it is personal choice, in a real melt down though you are in serious trouble in any population center. As for the New Madrid it is the LAST thing I am concerned about, please look at a map of Arkansas that shows the New Madrid and its distance from the Hot Springs area. Additionally the Madrid is currently the subject of much tin foil hat hype right now, mostly nonsense. Sure a disaster can strike anywhere and you are welcome to disagree but I am telling you as someone who studies this stuff every day, more people equals more danger in a major event.

        I suspect you know what I am saying to be true and perhaps are trying to make yourself feel better about your current living conditions. Look I am not saying to get out now, I am saying you better pay very close attention and be prepared to get out if need be. If the nation goes into economic collapse, grid failure or pandemic you are in perhaps the worse place in the nation to try to hunker down in.

        • Thanks for the quick response Jack, I am honestly humbled. It is true that a good portion of New Yorkers are unprepared, and would not know what to do during a disaster, large or small. I am personally making an effort to change that by raising awareness. I let it be known to those that seem to be interested in self-reliance, and I try and share my knowledge with others (through my blog, book, and in person) just as you do everyday of your life (thank you again for that). One way I do that is by suggesting your podcast to the people I know and respect, who would appreciate the knowledge you can teach them. As you have said in the past, you wish that all the people around you would be prepared, that would make a disaster much easier to deal with for all involved, even you!

          I did not suggest that you had something against “city dwellers”, I was just pointing out that I have listened to your show, and I have a good idea of your thoughts of living in a major city. Moving to your B.O. location full time is a pretty good indication of that (and yes I agree that The New Madrid Fault line is tin hat BS, I was using it as an example).

          One thing you have to take into consideration is that a large percent of the American population live in, and around major cities. Which in turn means, a good percent of your listeners live in, and around major cities. Living in a high density of people comes with the territory in cities. Most people living here, choose to live here for various reasons. If they don’t want to live in the city then I suggest, just like you do, that they move. Instead of telling city dwellers that they are in trouble, how about we come up with viable solutions for them, just as you do with most calls, and e-mails you receive. You are a master problem solver, and I feel that if anyone can figure out how to help urbanites, it’s you.

          On a side note, I am looking into buying a B.O.L. out of the city, but I’m pretty sure I will always keep an apartment in NY. It is an amazing place to live, filled with unique experiences. If there is a disaster, I will bug-in with my supplies, which I can do for at least a year, until I am able to go to my B.O.L. if I choose. If I am forced to B.O. immediately, I am prepared for that as well. I also believe in owning firearms, unlike many New Yorkers, and will be able to defend myself if necessary. The idea for any disaster, and especially in the major cities, is to always do the opposite of the masses. So if the masses are bugging-out, I’m bugging-in. If the masses are staying put, I would B.O. You get the picture.

  8. Hey Jack
    My wife and I love your show but I am not able to down load the whole episode today just wondering if you could help me with that. It is only playing in the pop up window until 43:56.
    Thanks Jack

  9. Jack,

    Do you think a dramatic rise in oil prices($4-5 for a gal. of gas) will either:

    1. Also cause a rise in renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal) for a residential consumer?


    2. Open up the market for cleaner sources of energy, therefore making renewable energy cheaper for the average Joe?


    3. None of the above, if so, what then?



  10. Just a thought on college loans. God forbid should any parent go through this like my sister but my sisters only son died last year; My sister had co-signed on his 25k student loan. She had only a small insurance policy on him so now she is paying this off; who knows how long this will take her because she also has his huge huge doctor bills also.

  11. “And then the bankers with their derivatives peed in the pool…” LOL!

    Good show Jack, sorry to hear you are under the weather but honestly from a listening standpoint I don’t think it was negatively affected like you said. Hope you are feelin’ better.

    Thanks for including the Chris Skrebowski stuff, anybody who is still on the fence on the whole PO thing would benefit from reading some of his work. The guy knows what he’s talking about, he’s the editor of Petroleum Review and actually started out his work trying to prove peak oil was BS. After doing the research he did a 180.

  12. Spot on regarding college. Regarding computer programming, your points were also good. I would say it is one of the fields still worth going to college for (there is a big difference between a self-taught hacker and a trained computer scientist) – but go to an in-state public university; no need for overpriced private college BS. One word of warning though… companies are starting to outsource programmer jobs to India, China, and Russia for pennies on the dollar of what an American programmer makes. So, work as an intern during school for a very low (or zero if necessary) rate, prove your value before you even graduate, and that way the company can justify the higher salary after you graduate, since you already know their systems, code, designs, products, etc.

    Nice to hear you touch on a peak oil update today as well. Thanks.

  13. So, are you going to do any spin commentary on the dead fish and birds in Austin, TX and Arkansas? Personally if I was in the woods and birds fell from the sky, that would be saving ammo and arrows. If I didn’t get sick I would praise Allah (oops, I meant Jesus) for the manna from heaven.

  14. More on the college situation:

    Study less, earn more — at least in the beginning

    Graduates with career-driven degrees from a community college tend to out-earn those with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year school. At least initially. When it comes to higher education, more may not always be better — at least when it comes to starting salaries for graduates. State employment data that track the earnings of recent graduates show those who earned a career-focused associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate from a Florida community college are in many cases making more money than bachelor’s degree recipients at state universities.

    Bachelor’s degree recipients from the state’s 11 public universities earned an average starting salary of $36,552 in 2009. Meanwhile, those who received associate in science degrees from Florida community colleges earned an average of $47,708 — a difference of $11,000 more per year. The numbers prove “something like an associate’s degree certainly should not be dismissed as a meaningless level of education,”’ suggested Edwin Koc, director of strategic and foundation research at the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Long term, completing a more-advanced degree still tends to pay salary dividends. Continuing past an associate’s degree to receive a bachelor’s or master’s typically improves a person’s chances for future promotions — and, therefore, future salary bumps.

    Those who completed shorter non-degree certificate programs at community colleges also out-earned state university bachelor’s recipients. Graduates of the shortest certificate programs (six months or less) earned $37,356, while those whose certificate training took up to a year earned $39,108. Those armed with only a high school diploma were — not surprisingly — at the very bottom, earning less than $21,000 per year.

  15. This college stuff makes my blood boil. In my view, this is one of the most harmful scams that has been foisted on the American public ever (challenged perhaps by the would-be cap and trade scam).
    Our children are being bombarded by propaganda that insists that they are worthless unless they hand thousands of dollars to a bunch of “educators.”

    Just to make this clear–this isn’t sour grapes, I’m a college graduate who (luckily) didn’t have any loans, and have worked in my specific field from graduation on. So, I am not at all anti-college. I am anti-propaganda that devalues the THIRTEEN years we spend in Primary and Secondary education, insisting that we spend money (that we don’t have) in order to be respected.

    To hades with that. A college degree means nothing on its own, yet that is the meaningless ticket that employers use almost universally.

    Jack’s point is SPOT ON with this. If you have a purpose for going to college–great. If not, please don’t be intimidated into paying to sustain a bunch of (often) worthless professors.

  16. My kids are in that top percent of students. They’ve been fortunate with scholarships. Things we’ve learned:

    If you want an engineering degree it is best to start at the school you want your degree from, instead of a smaller college, even if pre-engineering is offered, or it’ll take an extra year. Better plan, get much of your general ed requirements out of the way while in high school, dual credit, AP, etc.

    If a smaller community college and a larger university offers scholarships, take the larger school. Not much in the way of transfer student scholarships. With that in mind, when applying for scholarships, apply several places, both kind of schools.

    Some degrees are more specific to jobs, ex. graduating with an engineering degree vs political science.

    Even if you have a full-ride, get internships during the summer, experience counts as much or more than the degree.

    You don’t have to receive a college degree to learn to program. My oldest son first taught himself how to program at 9 using a dialup computer. By the time he reached high school he’d created various apps people were using. A better education for him would have been how to run his own business, understanding of contracts, etc. He did get a degree, it was worthwhile, did fill in some gaps, he was almost through with his graduate degree when he left to work full-time. By this time major tech companies where calling him, asking what it would take to get him to work for them, speaking engagements world-wide, book deals as he became known as an expert in his field. This expertise was self-taught, a language he is helping to develop, not taught in universities. Degree helped but he is well paid for what he taught and developed by self, and using social media to become well known as an expert in his field. At some point he will have his own company, didn’t work well when he had no cash reserves to support his family. Gaining experience working as a senior software engineer while paying off all debt, building cash reserves. Speaking as time permits.

    Going to grad school, give it thought. Teaching assistant positions, research assistants can pay your way, but you have to stay on top of things and make sure you are covered for the next year. Next do you really need the grad degree? Most likely will take longer than you expect. Appling for grad school, make sure you take your GRE well in advance, apply several schools. Apply early, not barely meeting the deadline. One son would have had a good chance of having his grad school completely paid for and a nice stipend if he’d submitted paperwork early instead of just before final deadline.

  17. @txmom sorry but unless you’re talking about some kind of 1 in a billion prodigy, a self taught programmer is way behind a formally trained computer scientist. If your son is such a prodigy, congratulations. For the vast vast majority, that will not be true. Oh sure you can teach yourself a language and maybe get by, make a decent living, especially after a lot of experience. But studying CS in college does put you on the fast track to higher income. It is one exception to the rule that college is generally a money loser these days. There are millions of Indians, Chinamen, and Russians you’re now competing with as a programmer – you’ve got to go the extra mile to make yourself worth the extra $$$.

  18. College, just like any other purchase in life, requires a level of common sense. However, one statistic is irrefutable. Those WITH a college degree will out earn those without a college degree over the course of their lives exponentially. Sure, there are outliers that everyone can use as an example. However, on the whole, the stats are what they are. Now, if you want to go college for Philosophy or Women’s Studies or Religious Studies, you better get used to a life of poverty. However, a degree in the hard sciences, technology fields, accounting/finance/economics all prove to be “worth it.”

    And people who argue for a populace that is less educated, rather than more, is clearly not paying attention to our competitors in Asia and India. If you think the Chinese and Indians are preaching less education, you are fooling yourself.

  19. @marauder that is the MOST misleading statistic in the world. Those that complete college are the most motivated and most intelligent people out of those that try or even get in. OF COURSE they earn more but it is MORE ABOUT who they are than the paper they carry.

    I personally broke the 6-figure ceiling at age 26, I have spoken as a guest lecturer at colleges I could have never gotten in to. There is a place for higher education and TxMom gives some great examples but the blind statement of

    “One statistic is irrefutable. Those WITH a college degree will out earn those without a college degree over the course of their lives exponentially.”

    Is in my view total bullshit used to sell debt to a large portion of our society that has no business going to college at all. Further your claim is based on the past, the 1950s – 2000, if you think the next 50 years will be ANYTHING at all like the last you will be in for a rude awakening.

    I have hired people to work for me with Master’s degrees that were not even close to as valuable to me as a self taught programmer. I have known people with a 4 year degree I can only describe as mind numbingly stupid.

    College as intended – Higher education for the driven individual who is capable of true higher study and is sufficiently motivated to accomplish it. This is a great idea and a great investment in education for the student.

    College in practice today – A business that simply sells all on the LIE that a degree will automatically mean more money and puts people into life long debt for a piece of paper. This is a complete scam and it will be a huge part of the economic downfall of America via the slavery of debt.

  20. @metaforge the programmer that understands BUSINESS becomes today’s million and billionaires. The programmer that is really good with a CS degree will make a very good income, well for the next decade may be two anyway.

    The future of programming will eventually become so saturated and so easy to do that many such high earners will feel like elevator operators did at the turn of the century.

    Programmers themselves will put themselves largely out of business long term. In twenty years it will be harnessing technology not developing it that will create wealth. Twenty years is a long time though and it is a good career that is why I recommended it. I agree with TxMom fully though, focus on learning business no matter your trade.

  21. Not to pile on Marauder, but I disagree.
    First, I highly doubt when you take into account the lost years of earning, as well as the debt created by paying for college, one is definitely not earning “exponentially” more than someone who doesn’t go to college. A customer of mine who was a retired Doctor told me he would have been richer had he become a plumber than a doctor, with the same starting and ending points in his career. While anecdotal, I believe this to be true.

    Another point: You said “If you think the Chinese and Indians are preaching less education, you are fooling yourself.”

    True, but we are fooling ourselves if we keep perpetuating the nonsensical claim that “education” comes from a Professor at a University and nowhere else…at an immense cost. In my view, that assumption is wrong more often than not.

    The fact is tens of thousands of people are paying (or using someone else’s money) to obtain degrees that are A) worthless (in terms of utility/economics) in the first place, or B) are unrelated to their vocation.

    A college degree is very often a ticket to play, that is demanded by people removed from reality, who have bought into the “higher education” propaganda line.

    Lastly, I even if this “you will make more money” line were true (and a statistic used to perpetuate a lie), we need to ask why? Is it true, because someone has successfully twisted societies arm to make it true, or because it is a real need. I am quite sure it is the former.

  22. One other note:
    Marauder: You are correct–college can in fact pay off–if you choose the right career based on a degree that has some actual utility. Unfortunately, that isn’t stressed by either the University or Employers.

    Jack gave a number of examples of people with degrees who are working in retail, or other unrelated vocations. Why?

    I think the reason is that people have been brainwashed into thinking “I’ve got to go to college” period, rather than really thinking about what you are going to college for.

    Even science degrees are of limited value in many cases. See how far a Bachelor’s degree in Biology gets you without going further to a Masters or Doctorate. They’ve gone even further, pushing these people into 6 or 7 years of college instead of 4.

  23. On making “more money” let me ask a few questions…

    Do you really make more money if say you make a lifetime earning of 1,000,000 and the non grad makes 800,000 IF you borrow 100,000 to go and end up paying back 200,000 in debt plus interest?

    Do you really get a better “profit from life” if you spend what now averages 6 years to get a degree studying something you don’t care about and don’t use in your eventual career?

    When a student that has no real clear goal goes to school and gets a degree in a subject like “liberal arts” and does even manage to get through with decent grades in say 5 years. Who benefits the most from that action today, the school charging the tuition, the bank making the loan or the student who gets a piece of paper that doesn’t really apply to their future much at all?

  24. Dead birds falling from the sky in Louisiana now. Gotta love that Coreexit. Natural 100% organic Coreexit – yummy. Depopulate the south and turn it over to big corporations for their toxic waste dump.

    Programming jobs in the USA? Where? In India. You can learn more from YouTube videos than college. For the price of an Internet connection, or rising tuition costs, your choice.

    80% of college grads can’t find jobs, and they end up in remedial labor positions at Big Sis Wal-mart, McDonalds, or Taco Hell.

  25. The article you linked and quoted:

    Misrepresents the AEO report here:

    The report says that average prices will not rise above $100 in 2009 USD until 2015, NOT that they will not ‘hit’ the nominal $100 mark in 2011. What this report is saying is very different than what you and the article portray it to be saying.

    Thanks, I love your show!

  26. @James,

    I am not misquoting anything, I think if you believe we won’t see oil sustain 100 dollars a barrel until 2015 you are delusional. The article I cited I took to mean the same thing.

    Make you a deal James, I will bet you a hundred dollars oil averages over 100 a barrel in 2011.

    Better lets make it a gentleman’s bet!

    If oil averages under 100 a barrel on Dec. 31 2011 I will pay you the value on that day. If it averages over 100 a barrel for 2011 you pay me what ever the price of one barrel of oil is on the last day of the year as well.

    Want a piece of that action?

  27. The quote in the article is: “Somehow the government is sticking with an outlook that sees crude prices not hitting triple digits until 2015.” which then links the article I linked above.

    I only want to point out that this is not what the AEO’s report says. It says that the average oil prices will not exceed 100 in 2009 dollars until 2015. You see the difference? Regardless of whether I disagree with the estimate, I still think it’s worth noting.

    I will pass on the bet!

  28. The opportunity costs associated with pursuing a college degree vary. I happen to live in NJ. Rutgers University is among the best public schools in the country. One cannot major in “liberal arts” there. Current in-state tuition rate $9,950 per year if you live home. Figure a mid single digit increase over the course of 4 years and a student can graduate for about $45,000. If a student borrows half and pays half as he/she goes through some combination of work study, part time job and/or parents involvement that is $22,500. Current student loan rates average in the 6-8% range. Most loan programs allow, and in many cases mandate, that students pay the interest as they are in school so they don’t graduate with debt that has compounded past that which they borrowed.

    According to the US Census Bureau, a college graduate will earn, ON AVERAGE, $51,206 per year. A high school graduate will earn, ON AVERAGE, $27,915. A person with an advanced degree will earn, ON AVERAGE, $74,602. A person without a HS degree will earn, ON AVERAGE, $18,734. Looks pretty irrefutable to me.

    As I said, which all of you conveniently ignored, is that a prospective student needs to treat the purchase of a college degree with the same level of scrutiny that a savvy buyer would purchase anything. Work the system and pursue a field that has a high ceiling. I never said anything about majoring in “liberal arts.” In fact, I specifically said that those people should prepare themselves for a life of poverty.

    Also, if anyone thinks that the next 50 years is going to do anything but further expand the gap between the numbers I posted above you, not me, are delusional. The fact is, there are only so many people that have the skill set, mental make-up and desire to pursue a living though entrepreneurial means. No doubt a lot of the folks that hang out on this board of are those mindsets. The other 349,990,000 people in the country don’t.

    So, back to our student from Rutgers. That person, playing the averages, is indeed setting themselves up to earn exponentially more over the course of his career, for the modest investment of about $200 a month for 8 years. Assuming a normal earnings trajectory and some prepayments, it is quite reasonable to knock that down to 5 years. I know the feeling about debt on this board, but the fact remains, all of us take on debt for big purchases and investments–business debt, housing debt, hell, how many here have a car payment? Responsible debt is not slavery.

  29. Jack, check this out – it really brought home the reality of peak oil as more of a demand issue than anything else:

    Also, I have always been a big proponent of high school graduates learning a trade before starting out on the journey toward a B.S. or B.A. The ability to work with one’s hands cannot be underestimated in the rest of life’s pursuits.

    Love the show. Keep up the great work.

  30. @metaforge I still say anyone with a knack for programming can be self taught. College can help, but it is something that can be learned informally. They will not know everything the formally trained programmer will know, but they will also know things the formally trained programmer won’t know. My son was told he needed a master’s to compete with the crowd from India. Not true because of his unique skill set.

    Now his brother who is working on a doctorate in robotics. That would be very difficult to do without the university. Odds are good he’ll have that at age 25 or 26 and zero debt unless one of his internships convince him to stick around. After working the summer as a design engineer, the company he was working for made sure he really wanted to go to grad school for more than money, if it was just money they would have paid him much more. They even asked if he’d consider starting and running a division of their company near his grad school. His ability to solve problems and be creative serve him well.

    I understand my kids have been blessed, I tell them that also. Some things which come easily to them don’t to others. They often enjoy mentoring other students. I also know there are many bright young people out there, not just mine, and that you go to college because there is something you want to learn.

    Often a college degree tells an employer you are willing to stick it out and you’re teachable. Yet a skilled welder from a VoTech will often out learn out earn the liberal arts major.

    I know a lady with $100,000 student loan, which she does not intend on paying back, working off and on as a care giver, often on government support.

    College books are one of the big ripoffs. They make new editions most years. Bookmakers support the university, professors in some way, in return for changing a few words, problems, etc so the old books can’t be recycled. My sons learned they could save much by using older editions and copying problems from another students book when needed. If only more schools would got to ebooks at much reduced costs cutting out the publishing company.

    You should go to college because they teach something you value that you want to learn while doing all you can to avoid student debt as much as possible.

    Years back when I went to college, half my tuition paid by scholarship, other expenses paid by self. No student loan. I looked at it this way, I was paying my professors and after 1st year, I’d judge my teachers first day of class, do I want to learn from this person, is it of value to me. Fired several by dropping their classes and picking up someone elses, took every class by the ones I wanted to learn from along with classes that taught things I wanted to learn, which included rock climbing, creative writing and ceramics, photography, several business classes although I was sure I’d hate business and want nothing to do with it, but one of those special people teaching the class. I took a year off, worked at a factory, saved money, paid cash for a car, back to school. Treated myself to a summer school in the Tetons and Yellowstone. College credit earned in first aid, botany, survival class while backpacking, canoeing, horseback riding. I enjoyed college, taking what I wanted instead of sticking to a schedule. You go to college because you want to learn something, not because it is expected, nor is it the only way to learn. It was of value to me.

    I’m also convinced that if you graphed years in college or even IQ against $ earned in a lifetime you’d find they have little bearing on each other. It is what you do with who you are.

  31. A few notes about college… seems like a popular topic which you address often on the show and i just have a few musings about it

    1- Good story- our most recent hire.. i needed a PHP programmer who could also manage linux servers… I hired a bartender from buffalo wild wings based on the fact that he had established a personal brand (linux hardware review site), wrote a FANTASTIC cover letter(email), and demonstrated a compentancy in PHP via some custom stuff he did on his own website. BTW… the initial email is about 200x more important than the document attached(resume) which I most likely won’t read, don’t send me some generic shit and also make sure to address all of my needs explicitly.

    It wasn’t until after we hired him over casual conversation at lunch that I found out he NEVER GRADUATED COLLEGE (shocking!!!)

    2 – Why are these people taking more than 4 years to go to college? I graduated in 4.5 and that is including working for 3 of those semesters at a co-op (so that is on time for a co-op student) Almost everyone I know graduated on time… I’m only 33… is this a generational thing already or did I just hang out with ambitious people and not realize it… seriously it wasn’t that hard, just go to the classes and do the freaking homework… LOL

    3- this is a BIG tip for any engineering/computer student. DO THE CO-OP… you get paid REAL money while your in school and come out with REAL skills to get a REAL job… often times right at the company you co-oped with. In my case I went with a small company… but I learned a lot of relevant skills at the co-op and it allowed me to start at a salary about 20% higher than my class-mates.

    4- Sorry, I’m about to offend a lot of people… people that get marketing degrees are generally people who went to college and didn’t know what to do and just wanted to party, thats why they don’t get jobs when they get out… its too common and it’s like getting a general studies degree these days (don’t get me started on general studies degrees… I mean seriously… why???). Obviously there are exceptions and there are no doubt marketing majors who bankroll 80 times my salary… but I’m just sayin’. If you don’t know what to do and your hell bent on going to college then pick something that will make you marketable IE not marketing (ironically)

    4- Why would someone pay out of state tuition to go to another states state school? LOL While going to school at the university of Pitt I was always amazed when someone would tell me they were from New York… uh… your paying how much to come to Pitt… WTF??!

    5- why would someone in PA pay a private institution for an engineering degree when the Penn State engineering school is one of the top programs in the country and would be a fraction of the price

    5- Pick a degree with a high ROI like electrical engineering or comp sci… if you want to be an artist take 30k and invest it in an art fair booth, galleries, website, etc.. IE BE AN ARTIST!!

    6- Someone mentioned outsourcing IT jobs overseas… well there is some good news about this. As a small business owner a number of times in the past we have tried to outsource. Most recently we tried to outsource our linux admin tasks to ukrainian firm… at the end of the day it is easier to work with Americans and even though the hourly rate is higher they tend to do a better job and cost less in the long run. I’ve gotten the pulse from some clients that have tried other ventures and come back to my small firm and it seems to be the case that a lot of businesses are sort of sick of dealing with foreigners if I may be so blunt. I hope the trend continues, and I for one won’t be out sourcing outside of USA/Canada anymore.

    I’m sure it is the same when you are the indian, probably easier for you to deal with people from your own culture

  32. @marauder

    Enjoyed your last post. I wrote that same basic post today in notepad over my lunch break and forgot to put it up… I like my new post better anyway.. it’s more fun. But I second your opinions

    Go to a solid public school and invest in a high ROI career… OR just go directly into the field and skip college… good points!!

  33. @nick,

    I agree 1,000% with careers like “Art” or “acting” or “film” etc. Go act or paint or draw, etc. Although there is something to be said for formal training, it is not necessary to long term success. However, go try and be a nurse and make real money without a college degree. Or an engineer or an accountant. Sure, one can be a book keeper without a degree, but that’s not being an accountant.

    I admire guys like Jack that realize early on that “Doing” comes more naturally than “learning about.” That is great and the country needs a healthy dose of those types. However, people like Jack have an entrepreneurial spirit that the average Joe doesn’t have. Odds are, Jack would be successful on a college campus as well, if he decided to pursue it.

    That being said, nobody will convince me that “more” education is not desirable to “less.”

  34. 4- Why would someone pay out of state tuition to go to another states state school?

    Out of state tuition can be waived. Maybe because we live in the corner of the state, but Oklahoma (I think), Arkansas and Louisiana waive their out of state fees for local honor students. Much easier to get a full ride scholarship from Arkansas and Louisiana, than Texas. I agree on not paying the out of state fees, but is checking for scholarships, don’t rule out other states and private schools.

    My dad has an engineering degree from Pitt. Air Force paid that one, which brings up another way to finance education.

  35. @nick You brought up a good point. I always tell other parents when looking for scholarships to make sure they apply to their local community college, an in-state university with degree of choice, along with colleges on their dream list, neighboring state universities.

  36. Marauder: Contrary to your claim, I specifically noted your point about which major to choose. However, while stating that you seem to keep defaulting back to the propaganda put forth by those who are advocating something very different.

    Whether or not you advocate someone pursuing a “liberal arts” degree isn’t the point. The fact that people are being cajoled, bullied and intimidated into pursuing such degrees is due to the propaganda that you (and many others in our society) are repeating.

    Another point which you seem to refuse to acknowledge is that your statistics are not speaking to the “why” behind any of this. So, the AVERAGE salary of a person with a college degree is higher. Why? Well, it is because it is used as an access ticket, often completely unrelated to the actual work someone does. You can’t even get an interview in certain places without a degree, regardless of whether your degree has any relevance on the job you are seeking. Sometimes it does, but MANY times it is simply an arbitrary filter.

    In those cases, this false filter is causing people to spend money on “education” that has no actual utility, and results in “educators” draining money from individuals (and the public) for no reason.

    If you refuse to consider this, then that’s your choice. In my view, you are helping to perpetuate an effective (if not literal) lie that is draining billions of dollars of private and public money to line the pockets of “educators.” In my view, if someone wants to blow their own money…well, that’s up to them, but Billions of dollars of Taxes are spend on “education” in this country with diminishing returns, all because of the success of propaganda which tells kids that they will be poor and worthless unless they go to college.

    The ONLY reason this SEEMS to be true, is because people refuse to open their eyes and ask “why”?

    I mean no offense, and I understand what you are trying to say, but in the process, I think you are inadvertently helping to keep the perpetuate the problem.

  37. @KAM
    i’m not trying to gas the fire or anything, but sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles in life.

    Yeah college for me was one of those inevitable things that i sort of was just thrust into… but 18 year old nick was more interested in girls and beer than self teaching myself useful skillsets

    Say what you want about college but in my case it worked out… i realize this won’t be the case for everyone. If I had the knowledge I do today I would have chosen to forge my own career in something awesome like organic farming or permaculture or something… but unfortunately to say something like that to 18 year old nick would have been like beating a rock with a whiffle ball bat

    To possibly take the convo in another direction.. this is why I am going to homeschool my kids. So to me college is the inevitable result of a failed public education system, you almost need it at that point because you are so ill prepared to do anything after coming out of a public school.


  38. Another point in all of this discussion about College Degrees. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the concept of supply and demand. We are producing many people with a college degree of some sort–such that employers can be lazy and stupid and demand that people must have a college degree to even apply for a job–whether or not that degree has any relevance.

    So this excess of supply is effectively CREATING a barrier to people that may be perfectly qualified for many jobs. The ASSUMPTION is that someone who pays a lot of money and burns 4 years on “education” is somehow superior to someone who has a high school education. There is nothing inherently true about this.

    However, this line of propaganda is what is hammered into the brains of our kids constantly. If people think there is no cost and no damage being done to a society that is spending money (and worse yet, time) needlessly (in many, but not all cases) pursuing an empty degree with zero utility value because a bunch of “educators” have succeeded in fooling the world that it is “necessary” then it should come as no surprise that the world is in the state it is.

    Lastly, I will again state my opposition to the idea that “education” is only obtained by paying a lot of people a lot of money until they provide you a piece of paper that says you’re now more valuable than you were before.

    If anyone doubts how much they can learn OUTSIDE of a College setting, then I suggest they might not have been listening to things like TSP. I’ve learned a LOT of things from this show alone, and there are more opportunities than ever for someone to learn pretty much anything they want–all for free.

    Education is not only great, but essential. However, it needs to be made clear that a bunch of college professors are not the guardians and distributors of education. We can pursue it everywhere.

  39. Nick:
    I don’t disagree. However, what I want every “18 year old Nick” to know is that there are many opportunities out there, and the conventional “wisdom” is really not written in stone, despite many forces in our society trying to convince you it is.

    I think you make an excellent point about a “failed public education system.” Why exactly are we putting our children through 13 years of “education” at the cost of billions of dollars to get the results we are getting. To be clear–apparently those results (of a High School Education) are about worthless in this world, if you listen to some people.

    A high school education should be valuable, given that 13 years of life is spent pursuing that.

    I think our society really needs to start unwinding this problem. If you need a college degree, because a high school diploma is worthless, then we need to fix that problem as well.

    The last thing I want to do is waste my child’s life in 17+ years (through college) of “education” that benefits the educators rather than the student. I want to kick the stigma of not having a college degree to the curb.

    I mentioned this before, but I have a college degree, and actually am in the field I studied, and I’m sure I make more money than if I didn’t work in this field, but I’m one of the lucky ones. College may be a perfectly valid choice, but what needs to be made clear is that it SHOULD be a choice, not an inevitable requirement just to get along.

  40. @KAM – i can’t disagree with anything your saying. I think we are speaking the same language here.

    To me homeschooling is the solution for the individual to solve just the problems your talking about.

    I don’t really have answers for society as a whole, but in my own pond this is how I am dealing with it. Cheers!


  41. Nick: Yes, we are on the same page.
    I’m interested in home schooling/self education, but keeping all options open for the time being. I wouldn’t rule out some combination as well.

    This could be a whole subject on the forum I’m sure, and there is a lot to think about.

    One other point related to this is the NEGATIVE things one learns in public education. How much indoctrination to someone’s political views would my child be subjected to? I know a lot of teachers are ethical and do not do this, but I know for a fact others do.

  42. @KAM – I think you and other people on this thread might enjoy this podcast

    This is a larger topic than the comments of this episode, but I’ll just toss out one more point… my wifes professor for her PHD homeschools his children and they have networked with other homeschooling families in the Pittsburgh area… a few times a week they have “classes”

    To me this is the great mix of the 2 and something worth pursuing if you can network with other families in your area

  43. The problem with your argument is that you are applying a philosophical answer to a practical problem. Last I checked, you get one go around in this life. The reality of the world we live in, is a college degree is the ticket to substantially more earning potential. If that isn’t your thing, God bless you.

    I’m certainly NOT putting forth any sort of propaganda. I’m putting for the reality of the situation. People are free to do with it what they which. I presented an alternative scenario to the one presented by Jack, that a college degree has to lead to a life of slavery to debt, or a life working in retail, yadda yadda yadda.

    I’m someone who has a college degree, have run several successful businesses in the food industry and am now back in college (after having sold my last business) pursuing an advanced degree. Nobody “bullied” me into that choice. That is a cop out. If you are comfortable in your own shoes and think that your kids can make it in this world without a college degree, roll the dice on their future. I fully endorse your right and hopefully your ability to make that happen for them. However, that is not a choice I am willing to make with my two sons. I won’t force them to go to college, but I will certainly encourage it. Even in my primary business–the food industry–a college degree (in addition to a culinary school degree) have opened doors for me that would have never been possible if I just started cooking in the local restaurant at the age of 18.

    This place is starting to sound like an echo chamber and the minute somebody disagrees with the party line, they are part of some cabal that is trying to hoodwink everyone out of their money. It’s comical at times…

  44. My son, when he was in the Dallas area found many homeschool groups. They’d get together and teach various things. He taught a Ruby programming class on Saturdays to those who wanted to learn. Some parents also took the class. He refurbished a laptop to give away to whichever student had the greatest need and motivation.

    I was looking for an education board on the forum and couldn’t find one. Would be a great place to share experiences.

    Anyone have experience with volunteer work on a permaculture type farm or wwoofing? My thoughts is that it might be a good place for kids just out of high school who don’t know what they want to do, but want to get out and explore the world and possibilities.

  45. Nick: Thanks for the links.
    I think that a small network of other independent learning/home schooling is a good idea.

  46. @marauder

    See this is why you are getting resistance you keep going back to the “party line” a degree is always better. It most certainly is NOT always better, you either go there or you argue a point no one is trying to make. Not one person here, including me, has said that everyone should avoid higher education.

    Simply that the LIE that, “if you can get a degree by any means you should”, is a lie and a big lie. One being used to YES saddle Americans with debt. Perhaps you own investment worked so well that you are myopic to the countless thousands that go to school and NEVER SHOULD HAVE.

    Flatly NO a degree of any kind will not guarantee a better income. Again explain my success and not with TSP and my own businesses but 10 years with a high six figure income in corporate America. I can tell you flat, had I gone to college I would definitely have LESS today than I have, there is no doubt about it. Don’t try to play the entrepreneur card on me, I had a high paying job for 10 years before I started even my first real business of my own.


    1. Some people are not smart enough for college. Such people will have a mediocre job in main stream employment degree or no degree.

    2. Some with degrees get government jobs that are mind numbingly boring that any one with an IQ over 80 could do but they get them due to a degree. The only reason these people earn a higher salary is because people like me pay for it with taxes on real productivity.

    3. Some like me find formal schooling boring and can learn faster with a pile of books than with a professor that is more concerned with how his students think than what they really know.

    4. One doesn’t need a degree to be a farmer, a carpenter, a construction worker or hundreds of other trade based professions. Such professions are noble and we need to stop selling the idea that they make a person inferior. Loving what you do is far more important than your base pay.

    5. The college world today isn’t about education it is about profit at the expense of the student. In most schools especially public schools at 50-70% belong in college, the rest are simply there because they were told to go, handed easy loans and don’t know what else to do.

    6. You say it is up to the student to buy a degree wisely, choose a major wisely, not over spend, etc. While in theory I agree you are therefore asking the bottom 50% of the student body, the group with the least sense of direction, the lowest IQs to overcome what has become the most massive marketing and PR campaign in history. Funded by everything from large universities to public tax dollars. You are expecting this group to say no to what appears to be free money with the promise of a good paying job when everyone from their kindergarden teacher to the president of the country says, “everyone should go to college”.

    I think you are married to your own idea and you think that admitting the reality would some how devalue your accomplishment.

    The harsh reality is this nation is headed for a far more agrarian future then most of us can imagine. Unless it is in biology or engineering a degree will do little for many in that future. There will always be some good jobs for people with degrees, just the number of said jobs is in decline and the number of token degree holders is climbing exponentially.

    It is funny how you keep quoting the historical statistics from the past but ignore the current statistics for new grads.

  47. Marauder: I don’t think you are part of a cabal. I think you are merely echoing the propaganda of others because you see it fits reality to some degree. As I said–I seems you aren’t asking why. Why does a college degree lead to better pay (statistically)?

    When you ask “Why?” I think you might find that the answer is that there is an artificial (not essential) barrier created here. You mentioned in your last post that having a college degree opened doors. You didn’t say, that your degree gave you the skill and ability. So, while I don’t think this was your intention, I think you hit the nail on the head. A college degree is about buying your way in as often (if not more) than gaining actual education/ability/skills.

    The fact is a college degree is not an indicator of one’s abilities, but is treated as such by a bunch of lazy employers who don’t care that they are helping a bunch of “educators” drain individuals and the public of billions upon billions of dollars.

    There are plenty of highly educated morons in this world (to be blunt), and people with “advanced degrees” that literally don’t have the first idea on how to function in the adult world.

    I personally think that our society has its priorities very mixed up, and places value on things that have little or not value, because someone has successfully put it (a college degree) on a pedestal.

    Again–I don’t want to make you out as some sort of enemy, but every time this subject comes up, I find someone like you who is eager to defend the orthodoxy of “higher education.” That’s fine, but I think its an assumption based on acceptance of someone’s propaganda, rather than based on any inherent reasons.

    College isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it is a massive waste of time and effort, yet we’re told, and our children are threatened that if they don’t go to college they will be poor and stupid.

    When I was in high school, I told my guidance counselor I wanted to take Drafting Classes. “That’s not a college prep course” I was told–“That’s a ‘shop class.'” (implying for the dumb kids who weren’t going to college). I was told I’d be better off taking French. Yes, French Class is certainly more valuable to an aspiring Engineer than Drafting. That’s the same sort of one-size fits all mentality that you seem to be reiterating in regards to the need for a college degree.

  48. My wife and I have been a bit at odds over college. I mentioned that I felt my kids don’t need college they need a skill. If they get one at college that’s great, if they get on in a vo-tech school that’s great, if the pick on up in the military that’s great, if the learn on in the school of hard knocks that’s great too.

    I think the crux of this argument is that we all need to get skills that we can sell in the marketplace. The foolish part is to think that you can only get that skill in college. Those who have a good skill to sell will do great. See Jack. Those who don’t will not. No matter what level of education you have.

  49. Jack…I’m not ignoring statistics for new grads. Statistically, a 2 year sample is irrelevant. We are in the midst of the greatest recession in 80+ years, so yes, new entrants into the workforce–whether they be degree holders or not–are being squeezed. They are squeezed because the older generation–again, whether degree holding or not–are not retiring or being promoted. That effect trickles down.

    You are asking me to ignore 50+ years of statistical evidence in favor of 2 years of statical evidence.

    You cite biology or engineering among the few degrees that make sense in the future. Really? Are we going to stop needing doctors, accountants, bankers, nurses, teachers, researchers, etc, anytime soon? Sometimes I read this board and think that some people want to jump in their way back machine and end up in Walnut Grove with Laura and Charles Ingalls in the late 1880s.

    I don’t buy this idea that people that go to college are victims. And my view is hardly myopic. My entire professional career has been in an industry that is pretty much dominated by people without degrees. My father is a mechanic and learned his trade by doing. I have great respect for that.

  50. @marauder,

    Again you are arguing mostly what isn’t being said. My issue and the issue other have is you still walk the flat party line of a degree is always better then no degree.

    On your professions

    Doctors? Yes we need them, though they will be in short supply as the profession is being ruined. If you are going to be a doctor you better be a specialist surgeon or you won’t make much of a living as a GP in the future. The health care system force onto us has GPs quitting in droves. Spending 10 years and hundreds of thousands on that now seems to me foolish.

    Nurses? You don’t need college to be a nurse. My wife is a nurse of 25 years, no degree just tech school.

    Accountants? – Yes to be a CPA you need a degree. Should you? I don’t think so but only the nonsense of the IRS makes most accountants required anyway. But yes this is a decent profession if you want to do it, very few people really find it rewarding emotionally though.

    Bankers? Well the investment banking sector is dead. My cousin is a head of bank branch, started as a teller never went to college. He pulls down about 175K a year.

    Teachers? Well if you want to make the same pay as a good waiter does and spend four years in school fine. I don’t personally think teachers should need a degree. Hell if you graduate 10th grade with As you should be qualified to teach 8th grade, right? Thousands of blue collar home school parents have proven that a degree doesn’t make a good teacher by itself.

    Researchers? One of the more pointless professions if you mean it as I think you do, if you mean it in the relevant sciences it kind of fits what I was saying with bio or engineering.

    Victims? No dude the people like you that went to college are not victims. The large numbers who don’t belong there sold into the system are.

    I interviewed 85 people for jobs my last year in corporate America. Many had degrees and were people I would NEVER have hired in a million years. Some were complete morons, they had no business in an office environment, I would never have let them talk to my customers.

    Never having to look at a resume from such a person and think, this idiot will be in debt for 30 years and will never get a marketing/finance/web development/etc. job is one of the best things about quitting that life.

    Again I am not attacking degrees, I am attacking the assigned tactic of degrees for all, at all cost and it always being the better choice.

    I am also not asking you to look at two years vs. fifty. Look at 2000-2010. Hell look at 1990 – 2010 you will see a far different picture. Why? Because far more people that shouldn’t go today are going, there is a surplus of young idiots with a piece of paper that employers are caring less about.

    Argue with me if you want but I spent over 10 years doing the hiring and firing. At one time I had a staff of 37, many had degrees. In doing so I learned how little value many degrees really represent.

    So glad you are proud of what you did, glad you got a lot out of it, glad it worked out for you and people like you should probably go. Just don’t be surprised if you end up working for someone like me some day.

  51. Working for you some day?

    Why does every argument you get involved with end up in such personal bickering and insults?

    I’ve run and owned successful restaurants in the toughest market in the world. Sold 3 of them for a lot more than the $100k you’re so quick to let everybody know you were pulling down at 26.

    I’ll let you know if I need a job.

  52. @marauder

    First you are the one that made the entire thing about money, you entire argument hinges on making more with a degree. I only pointed out my income because I haven’t gone to college and yet I have earned far more than most graduates ever do. I know a lot of people like myself who have done it with jobs, business ownership, you name it. My only point is one can make plenty with out a degree.

    Second you will never work for me, not because I wouldn’t have you but because I won’t ever deal with having people work for me ever again. You are the one making this personal, I am arguing with your position, not with you personally. I said someone LIKE ME, as in someone with no degree. I can’t tell you how many grads out there today are doing just that.

    Again the only argument people have with you is your blanket claim. That blanket belief and its reinforcement by the system is what creates a ton of grads who have very little future in connection with their expensive degree.

  53. Look, when someone is having a heated debate with someone else and says, “you’ll work for someone like me someday” that isn’t a complement on my block. But that is neither here nor there.

    I never made a blanket claim, other than to reference the data. I never said college is for everyone, or that everyone should attend. What I did say, is that I don’t agree with the notion that less education is preferable to more.

    I made it about money, because the discussion began as one about the economic viability of earning a college degree. I conceded early on that college isn’t for everyone, that certain things that people do attend college to study are pretty dumb (art, acting, sociology) and that one can succeed without a degree. However when one evaluates any opportunity, one has to look at the results of similar situations. And the data is absolutely irrefutable. A person who graduates college is apt to earn almost 2x as much as someone who doesn’t on an annual basis. We can get into all sorts of philosophical arguments about whether that is “right” or “fair” or “necessary” or anything else, but that doesn’t change it. And that data includes the last 20 years that you asked me to post. That data is up through 2009. And assuming the US economy recovers, who do you suppose if going to benefit the most? The person with the degree or the person without? You see, all those grads working at Wal Mart will eventually get jobs in their fields as the economy expands and the people who historically work at Wal Mart (those without degrees) will get their jobs back–AT WAL MART.

    Sure, Bill Gates can drop out of Harvard and become the 2nd or 3rd richest man in the world. Incredibly brilliant guy who could have succeeded had he stayed or if he left. Same with these two Facebook kids. On the other hand, if you think the guys that run Google are hiring people who taught themselves programming in their basement, you aren’t paying attention-but I bet you know that already. CNBC has been running a special on Google. They interviewed a guy from the programming department. He was commenting on the brain power in the company. He said when he pursued his masters degree he had 11 textbooks. The authors of 9 of those books currently work for Google. I’m sure you’ll find similar sentiments in the finance, marketing, real estate, legal and accounting departments across all the other Fortune 500 companies.

    I’m glad that your wife has had a fulfilling career as a nurse without a degree. In my state, there are certain things she would not be able to do–therefore not being able to reach the ultimate heights of her chosen career–without the degree. Again, we can argue whether that is “necessary” or not, but it is what it is.

    I provided a perfectly reasonable example of how a person that WANTS to attend college can do so at a reasonable expense using leverage responsibly. It’s an investment and a tool. Not a golden ticket. It’s a key to the door, it’s not the house. Just like you would justify the purchase of a piece of capital equipment for your business with credit, one must evaluate the degree in the same manner.

    As for researchers and scholars being “useless” who ya think is gonna write all those books you are gonna teach yourself everything from, the book fairy?

  54. I am also in zone 5 and wanted to share a few things I learned last year. (my first year starting plants)
    We were given a 4’x8’greenhouse by my wife’s father and were excited to give it a try. Things we learned were:
    -start seed indoors, some seed needs upwards of 80 deg to germ
    -had to heat through mid may. at about 50 deg, just above freezing didn’t cut it.
    -4×8 is too small, I would at least double the size
    -don’t start too early. had some seed started on 3/20 and 4/16 that got too tall in the greenhouse, transplanted to garden around May 10 and still had to cover three times to protect from frost.
    -what was planted in garden after frost out performed what was planted early.
    -we had frost late and then heat early = bad for spring garden

  55. True, if you want to work for Google you need a degree, unless you could possibly by-pass their standard recruiting process. They aren’t very nimble in their hiring.

    Doesn’t mean you can’t get on with a startup company, even universities will hire programmers without degrees (not talking about student interns) with the right skill set and pay them well.

    Much to be said for an internship or any job experience with a start-up in the programming field. I’ve heard successful completion of such means more than a degree (except maybe to Google and a few other places).

    Programming new stuff, new languages, is a fast moving field, esp. in hand held devices. Stuff not taught in universities (slow to change). Companies will hire whoever has the knowledge, even if it means going to great trouble to get a bright young high school student from Australia a VISA. You may find these self-taught programmers (some with degrees but not all) holding camps teaching others new stuff. Unlike doctors, they don’t have to have a degree, it can help, but not required with the right skill set.

    Bottom line, go to college when it helps you learn things you want to know. I still remember one son being told by his summer job 2010 that if the only reason he was going to grad school was to make more money, not to go, they’d pay him well. He is going to grad school because he wants to learn more about robotics, do research, develop new things.

  56. Marauder: You have stated a variety positions agreeing with Jack and others here that only certain degrees are likely to be valuable, and that one can succeed without a degree, yet you also seem to keep reiterating the statistic that is designed to promote everyone going to college, without regard to what degree they seek.

    This propaganda (and I’m sorry if that term bothers anyone) isn’t taking this into account, or warning kids that their choice of major is vital in determining whether they benefit economically or not. It is an attempt to create a simplistic belief that if you go to college you will earn more money. The purpose of this (I believe) is to keep money flowing into colleges–for THEIR benefit. That’s pretty simple “follow the money” reasoning there.

    Despite your awareness of all the caveats, you seem to keep coming back to the simplistic line which again is “go to college, make more money.”

    You said that you don’t agree less education is preferable to more. Who here said “We need less education?” Your statement may be referring to formal, college education, and in that case, I will say again–why allow colleges to define what is and isn’t education.

    If you want to say “more education is great” then I’ll agree, noting that there are many places and ways to become educated that do not involve handing over ever-increasing amounts of money to colleges.

    I’m assuming I don’t need to tell you this, but a statistic without proper context is very misleading. That’s what I think this “go to college, earn more money” statistic is, and why I strongly oppose it being repeated without very heavy and specific caveats.

  57. @txmom,

    Let me expand on that. If you want to work for any company that uses the “we only hire those with a degree line”. Go find any competitor of theirs, no matter how small, get on board with them, work your ass off and bloody the nose of the company you want to work for in the market place. Get them to know your name as someone you who kicked their ass on any level, even a small one.

    Such large companies have all management teams meat over stupid bullshit every week and discuss all successes and failures. Be the cause of even one small failure for them by winning for their competitor and you go on the must hire list.

    At that point they could give a shit what degree you have or do not have. Three positions I held over the years required a degree, one was “masters preferred”. That one was for Fluke where I ended up the top performer globally for three years.

    The truth about degrees in Corporate America is all you have to is do the job for a small company that doesn’t care, get noticed by a major player and get in. Once you do a job for a major company no other major company will ever really care again. Why? Once your name is known positively in a space, it is better than any degree.

    Again does this mean most people should or should not go anywhere? No not at all, is just means college isn’t always the answer and the lack of a degree isn’t always the crippling problem most of the establishment claims.

  58. I certainly hope that people are able to overcome the barriers that employers use (out of laziness and ignorance), because the “we only hire people with a degree” is extremely dangerous. By dangerous I mean that the potential of individuals will be effectively held hostage by universities and these so-called educators.

    This is already the case to a large degree. The piece of paper you carry is considered valid, and what one knows isn’t even considered.

    God forbid that these barriers become MORE prevalent and succeed in destroying productivity and potential.

  59. @KAM

    I agree and would also like to point out how many people in careers that even seem relevant to their degree are still using almost NOTHING that they learned in school.

    Most grads would fail a test based on materiel they learned in school 5 years after they leave it. Yet if they work a real job for those 5 years they are far more valuable to an employer than the day they graduated.

    So we really have to ask what is the value of these so called educations? How many hours are wasted by students learning higher math and they are getting degrees in careers where it is never used. An engineer needs higher math, a biologist does too but why does a marketing professional need it other then some very basic formulas that are specific to marketing. Why does a business major need college calculus? Why does a computer scientist need an art class?

    The college will say to create a more well rounded person, they then want you to go to grad school to specialize.

    What if degrees we ONLY focused 100 percent on the career path? How many less classes would there be in a degree program, how much less would they cost and how much better would a grad be at an entry level position.

    When you go to flight school they teach you how to fly not how to appreciate French Art from 1630 or do calculus. Why? A pilot needs to fly not determine the distance to a star with trigonometry.

    To me while it is a good path for many it is poor for many others. Over all I find the entire thing to be a scam though filled with fluff that makes degrees take longer and worth less. I mean worth less as a former employer that hired and interviewed people with degrees. Worth less to the employer.

    The first to years of college are largely the same for just about every degree, I personally believe that half or more of it could be easily eliminated. Most degrees should focus on the damn point of the degree, economics majors should study money and how it works not literature from the 1800s.

  60. Jack:
    Some time back I argued the same points regarding Focusing on specifics in a career path in college, and was amazed at the push-back I got. The argument was that we need to be “well rounded.” Well, I’ll decide for myself in what manner I need “rounding” and am perfectly able to study history that interests me.

    College is alternatively being pushed as a key to economic prosperity, but also as some magical place to become “well rounded.” My question is exactly what did I spend 13 years of Primary and Secondary education for if not to have sufficient basis in general topics.

    People can say what they want, but I’ve lived through the massive waste that is our educational system. I could easily eliminate 25% of the college classes I was required to take for my degree that have ZERO to do with my career. Why? To keep some ivory tower professors fat and happy.

    I think we are getting less and less education at the cost of more and more time and money. If you believe people here, a high school education is good for nothing more than flipping burgers. That’s an atrocity. It is clear to me that our society is being sold a bill of goods in terms of “education.”

    The university system threatens us with economic doom if we don’t jump through their hoops, and pay to keep professors of utility free subjects in their positions by requiring everyone to take their classes.

    Billions upon billions of dollars that could be used for some productive purpose are instead spent paying off these frauds–all with the promise of some future payoff, which in many cases never comes.

  61. There is one other point regarding non-career related classes. These extraneous classes (to make us “well rounded”) can actually diminish our ability to learn the relevant subjects. A 16th Century Poetry Class counts just the same as an Engineering course, and therefore takes time away from learning relevant subjects.

    That’s brilliant. This system will produce a “well rounded” person but a mediocre engineer. Great for cocktail parties with a bunch of stuffed shirts perhaps, but not great for building bridges.

  62. This horse is long since beaten to death. But I’ll ask one final question. Jack, among others, has repeatedly stated that “if I want to learn about a specific topic, I will do it on my own without the need for college.”

    Assuming we made the changes you guys propose, where does that base of knowledge come from? who advances it?

  63. @KAM beautiful points not to mention most of the teachers in most of the universities (with some notable exceptions such as SMUs MBA program) have never held a real job in their lives. Then once they get tenure they all but must rob a post office to get fired.

    The other big scam is text books. With out “researchers” maurauder wants to know where all those books I read would come from. The books I read are not text books, but books by doers that have real success.

    Those text books sell for hundreds of dollars to a captive audience while the best books by people that have actually done something sell for 10-30 dollars in the free market.

    If you want to be wealthy and mostly useless to society, write text books in my view.

    But what do I know, I have guest lectured at two colleges I damn well know I couldn’t even hope to audit a class in.

    My hope is in time iTunesU and similar will help make some changes to this shit. You know right now you can take tons of college classes for free via many channels? You don’t get credit but you do get the education. Could one ask for more proof that the colleges sell the paper not the education then that?

    One could easily get a two year degree with free online classes and a few hundred dollars in CLEP fees today. More people should if they really want to go to college.

    I also still fail to understand shit like why a many colleges require 2-3 years of a foreign language in high school to get in. More nonsense!

  64. So people who write history books are “doers?” How does that work exactly? Time machine?

    And find where I wrote the word textbook even one time. I used the word “book.” The fact is, the majority of scholarly research, is published in traditional book form, not in text book form. A person attempting to get a PhD in history RESEARCHES a particular topic, puts forth some new original idea on said topic and writes a book. Rarely do they write a text book.

  65. The engineer takes English so he/she can learn to write, analyze the written word (as opposed to developing the other side of the brain that develops numerical analysis), etc.

    What good is having an engineer that can build a bridge, but can’t write a coherent sentence to explain the project?

  66. Marauder:

    Beaten to death…perhaps, but you’re still here talking about it.

    Who was the guardian of knowledge and saw to the “advancement” of knowledge before the current bloated university system existed?

    Also–what “changes” do you think are being proposed? I’m not suggesting that Universities be shut down, or eliminated. I’m merely advocating ending propaganda that scares people into attending college under the threat of economic doom. If this were somehow to occur, then perhaps employers wouldn’t be able to use the artificial filter of a college degree (relevant or not) to exclude people from opportunities.

    That’s my real problem–that people are being blocked from opportunities, because some “educator” has succeeded in their PR campaign in order to line their own pockets.

    What I advocate is real assessment of skill and ability, and success based on merit, rather than a piece of paper–and even that is being made more and more worthless (Master’s Degree now required for many things).

  67. So now companies are in on this education conspiracy? So they would rather not higher people with degrees, but are doing so in order to help prop up the higher education system?

  68. Marauder:
    Are you seriously sitting there telling me that someone entering college is incapable of using the English language sufficiently to perform as an engineer? That’s utter nonsense. If you’re illiterate and unable to comprehend language, then you’ve got no business being admitted to a college.

    What exactly do you think people learn in the 13 years of Primary and Secondary school? If people are coming out of high school with an inability to communicate, then there are much bigger problems in our education system.

    I think you’ve strayed into the absurd here.

  69. Marauder: There is no conspiracy–it’s simple laziness. If companies have broad brush filters (like a glut of college graduates) available, they will use them. They ARE using them, and have been for some time.

    I have a hard time believing you don’t realize this. Are you telling me that you don’t know or have never heard of someone in a position that required a college degree that didn’t have any relation to the job?

    A friend of mine was applying to be a manager at a retail store. She had YEARS of experience in retail, but without her associates degree in literature, she was not qualified.

  70. Nobody said illiterate. You guys have a strange way of reading a comment and assigning your own thoughts to other people.

    You asked why an Engineer would be forced to study a subject that would fall outside of their discipline. I provided an example. You disagree. Fine and dandy.

    Look around this blog and tell me that people that graduate HS have a firm grasp of grammar and are able to write coherently.

  71. Jack:
    Yes, many college professors are products of the “if you can’t do, teach” school of life. I was pretty lucky. Most of my Engineering Professors worked in industry for some time, and they actually taught their classes instead of having a teaching assistant do it.

    Text books…highway robbery. Some are good, some aren’t, but they are all overpriced.

    In terms of foreign language. I was told in no uncertain terms that I would never be accepted into college without taking a foreign language in high school let alone graduate. I was happy to prove them wrong on both counts, but it begs the question–why was I told this lie (intentionally or due to ignorance)? I suspect it is related to keeping a French teacher in their job.

  72. Marauder: Fair enough–you simply implied that someone entering college didn’t have command of the language enough to write a coherent sentence.

    I’m sorry, but that’s still absurd.

    First–I have no idea the education level of people here. Second, I have one of these wonderful college degrees, and I’m sure I made all sorts of grammatical mistakes. It’s a comment forum, not a formal report. Sometimes the language is a bit fast and loose.

    All that being said…being able to write reports and such in a clear and concise manner is important, and IS related to many jobs. I don’t believe I said otherwise.

    However, what about Theology? What about Literature? What about history–all things I enjoy studying, but wouldn’t advocate being part of an Engineering program.

    There’s a lot of padding going on at the university level (and I’d argue before that even), but if you disagree, I can’t convince you otherwise.

  73. It might be laziness, it might not. I spent about 8 years in corporate finance with two Fortune 250 companies. In 8 years, I never came across a single person in either finance department that had a non-business degree. There were plenty of people that fulfilled clerk and staff level positions that didn’t have a degree. However, they were never going to advance past that most basic of levels.

    A degree shows an employer that you have a basic understanding of your field, a discipline to study a variety of subjects and graduate and have a considerable investment in this industry–thereby justifying the subsequent investment they will make in training you.

    After leaving finance, I went into the food industry. That is totally opposite type of environment. We often joke, “have knives, will travel.” When an industry has no barriers to entry, businesses are forced to expend a lot of extra time, resources and money to weed out people who are not committed to the job. That is my experience in the food business. Sure, I could get a career cook who can turn and burn with the best of them that never went to culinary school. Odds are, when the next best thing comes along–construction, or landscaping season or it’s more fun to be drunk 5 nights a week, they disappear. On the other hand, the person who graduated culinary school has shown a commitment to the craft by going to school. They have invested in themselves on a higher level. They understand the vocabulary. Can they cook? Of course not, but that is the easy part. College is the same thing.

    Can I teach a person off the street how to be an accountant? Sure. But at what cost? When they have nothing invested in the process, what is to say that they don’t wake up tomorrow and want to be a hairdresser instead? Next thing you know, they are offering the salon down the street their services.

  74. The reason that a university requires things like foreign language, theology, sociology or other things that are unrelated to your discipline, is because at the undergraduate level, their mission is not to be a technical school. A common saying about law school is that it teaches you the law, not how to be a lawyer. There is a difference.

    If you have no interest in those things, then go to the local tech school and learn a trade.

    Again, are we REALLY having a debate that it is bad thing to be exposed to a wide variety of subject matter?

    Take schools like the military academies. Their sole purpose is to turn out leaders of their respective branches. They are beholden to no one and answer only to the Pentagon. In other words, they are free to alter the curriculum in any manner they want to produce the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. They all require roughly 50% hard physical sciences and math and 50% liberal arts, social sciences and foreign languages. Why do you suppose that is? They aren’t doing it for money.

  75. Marauder: No, a University requires things like Foreign Language, Theology and Sociology to make money and prop up professors in subjects that people otherwise wouldn’t bother with taking, specifically because they aren’t valuable to their chosen career path.

    What I’m saying is that after 13 years of droning repetition, college SHOULD be specialized. They aren’t and universities get away with draining people like me (and the public with State supported schools) of thousands of dollars to keep an unproductive profession in a job. It’s a great welfare program.

    Military Academies produce Leaders who are increasingly diplomats as well as war fighters. Perhaps for them a broader set of courses is appropriate.

    I’m not sure what you think you are debating, but I never said it was a bad thing to be exposed to a wide variety of subjects. In fact, I think it is a good idea. I think it is a bad idea to pay for something that one can easily accomplish on their own. I don’t need a college professor to teach me theology, if that is my interest–I can buy a book on Theology, or look it up on the internet for free.

    What I think is a bad idea is to rob people of their hard-earned dollars (or worse yet, of someone else’s hard earned tax dollars), and force people to study subjects unrelated to the career path they’ve chosen to pursue.

    If people believe they must go to college in order to earn a good wage (according to the statistics you state), then they are being taken advantage of by university tacking on extraneous classes unrelated to their vocation, because they can.

    If you think there isn’t any waste of time or money in Universities and colleges, great. Glad you were able to get such an awesome deal. In my experience, I know that isn’t the case (for me).

    I’m not going to lose sleep at night having been ripped off (partially), because I knew it going in, but it doesn’t make it right, and people who defend and justify this insure that others will continue to be drained of their time and money.

  76. So, in your perfect system, a student can go to college and order off a menu like McDonalds? If an accountant doesn’t want to take biology, than no biology. If a civil engineer doesn’t want to take organic chemistry, than no organic chemistry.

    Furthermore, we don’t need any foreign language study, theology (cause we can just google all we need to know about that) and no World Civilization (those Greeks and Romans have nothing to do with the density of conrete after all). Got it.

    I’m gonna forward this thread over the Chinese consulate. Maybe they will stop making their kids learn English before starting grade school out of respect for our new found methods.

    And nobody has answered one of my simplest of questions. In a system where all disciplines other than those that pass some nebulous test of utility, are going to fall by the wayside, who is going to write all these books that you guys are continually referencing (when the time comes for you to look these things up)?

  77. @marauder,

    Who is going to advance knowledge? For the love of God there is a place for studying English beyond high school. Say for English teachers or journalists.

    And yes a student should be able to order a la carte for fricken 10 grand I should get what I want from my education each year not what I am told to have. You say the engineer must study English to write specs and stuff, fine what does the higher study of 16th century poetry do for that? Anyone smart enough to pass engineering will have a sufficient command of English to write a spec or a presentation.

    Further if a person wants a to be a scholar and advance knowledge the current system may be fine for them. No one wants the existing system dismantled more the removal of the current monopoly.

    On foreign language well first look at what language everyone learns outside the US English. So we are mostly good to go there, now I am not oppose to learning a language hell I speak fluent Spanish but why require it for entry into college.

    I can actually tell you why, if you study any foreign language you understand your own language better. Fine if I want to be a poet, a literary author of great fiction, a journalist or what have you. That said even those fields are dying and people in the past considered “hacks” are taking over. There are blogs run by teenagers that compete with ESPN, blogs run by a few buddies competing with the NY Times.

    Times are changing and education should change to better SERVE THE CUSTOMER. In the current system the student honestly is expected to obey the institution and the banks making the loans are the customers being served by the colleges. Plainly put for 10 grand a year or more, I should have some say in what I am purchasing.

  78. You have near total control over what you are purchasing. There are many colleges in the country that don’t require any foreign language to graduate. There are many colleges that don’t require any foreign language for admission. When last I checked, you can study whatever you want at college. They don’t need to give you a degree, but that is a separate issue.

    I like to eat McNuggets in my underwear. Can I do that at the local Mickey D’s? I am a paying customer after all…

    Almost every major university in the country has the ability for a person to take classes in a “non-degree seeking” status. Sounds perfect for you. Yet, you want it both ways. You want to study what you want, not meet any of the universities standards and then walk away with the degree. You are in business, do you let your customers do that? I only like podcasts that deal with guns, food storage and bushcrafting, can I only pay you MSB dues on days you do shows on what I want? I promise I’ll only use the vendor discount on those days…

  79. @marauder,

    Let me tell you another absolute fact. As a business owner for a long time I talked to many other owners, CEOs, Presidents, etc. As a sales person selling at the C level more of the same.

    When such people come together they of course discuss business. As a non grad often paid to advise people with very distinguished degrees this was a subject I often had with people who owned or ran companies. I often asked about “degree required” and why it was done. Once you got past the typical answer and really drilled down, the main real reason given.

    “I know a person that completed a degree can stick to something long term and they are less likely to quit in six months”.

    Now when I asked about hiring an engineer the degree really served a purpose. And same with high level financial positions, etc. There are career fields where the degree itself really has value but for that bottom 50% that I feel probably doesn’t belong there, they will end up with some bullshit career and if the degree helps it will because they have proven they can show up on time after leaving mommy and daddy.

    There is also another malicious reason. Employers especially very large ones LOVE employees to have debt. Not stupid make them steal from the company debt but soul crushing immobilizing debt.


    Such employees are good drones, they live in fear, they seldom question authority. They take shit for years and years, they grovel and fight for a promotion, they work long hours at the expense of their families. They kiss your ass for a 3% annual raise.

    Debt free employees are a different story they work for you fully by choice, they will go the hell home when the job is done, they won’t kiss your ass, they will demand better pay and if you don’t pay them what they are worth then can and will spend 60 unpaid days on a mini retirement before going to work for your competitor.

    If you doubt anything I just told you I am sorry but you are simply wrong. I had my years working for and in the dark side. The stuff I just told you I would have never thought up on my own. They were told to me directly by the captains of American industry. I was always highly recruited once I got into these inner circles. These men were honestly fascinated at how I got into their inner circles with no initials after my name.

    Lastly you say we want it both ways, take the courses you want but still get a degree. No not really, what KAM and I are more saying is we would like to see an engineering degree be far more about engineering and less about poetry and Spanish. Kill off the unrelated crap (at least most of it) and add in more engineering (hence more value to the employer and the student) or shorten the time line (more value to the student).

  80. Marauder:
    Did I say that I had a “perfect system”? You sure are quick to complain about someone taking what you posted wrongly but are displaying a tendency for hyperbole and running with it.

    Let me try and spell this out for you in terms that you cannot willfully mistake.
    Yes, in my opinion it is unnecessary for an engineer to be forced to take Theology classes in order to study engineering. The same goes for a foreign language, or sociology or any number of other subjects. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    Apparently, you’ve somehow taken my statements to mean that no one should study those topics, but of course I didn’t say that. I’ve made no statement that says one CAN’T study those subjects–only that they are not related to Engineering, and shouldn’t be a requirement to get an engineering degree.

    Using your “logic” why not demand that Engineering students also take flower arranging, because we need more beauty in the world, and Theater, so they can really spice up their presentations, and art so their designs have great color composition. By your logic one can justify any requirement.

    I’m not sure where you keep pulling these things no one is saying from, in regards to books. Who said that these subjects must be cast aside? I’m saying that they should not be requirements for an Engineering Degree (for example).

    If in your world, they will “fall by the wayside” because an engineering student isn’t forced to take these courses, then perhaps they should.

    And you persist in forwarding the false notion that if it isn’t taught in a university, then it must not be possible for anyone to have any knowledge of it. Yes, unless some professor preserves this hidden knowledge, then it will certainly perish from the Earth. Ridiculous.

    You’re advocating a system that requires people who want to pursue a degree in a certain field study things in an unrelated field as if there is no cost or detriment to it. Well, there is. There is a time cost, a financial cost and a distraction cost.

    Which bridge would you rather trust your life to–one designed by the Engineer who got a C in Bridge Design, but an A in History of Art, or the one who got an A in Bridge Design and didn’t bother taking the Art History class at all? That of course assumes that the grades are indicative of knowledge, which is an assumption in itself.
    This is of course a simplistic example, but one I trust makes the point. Would you rather trust your life to someone who has a focus on the relevant subjects or one that is distracted by irrelevant ones?

  81. @maruder

    If you want to go there the reality is you don’t have to pay the MSB dues at all for the show, it is voluntary.

    As far and the days you use the discounts, don’t act stupid. My service is 50 bucks a year, no one could ever make the case that I don’t deliver far more then that. I sell value for value in the free market by choice of both parties.

    No one starts drumming it into you at 5 years old in kindergarten that you need to join the MSB. The president doesn’t use tax dollars to come on TV and tell you the same. Sitcoms run by hollywood elite don’t write it into countless episodes where only the guy with the degree can really get ahead.

    I also thought about something. This “rounding” colleges speak of is a dinosaur. Rounding was for the days when very few people traveled more than a few hundred miles during their lives when they were born. Today with airplanes and the internet much of that has past its usefulness.

    The system is archaic in my view, much of what is done is done as dogmatically as sacraments in a church. No one asks why a catholic priest can’t marry they just assume it has something to do with Jesus. Of course it is about land and inheritance. Same with college why study the poetry of the 18th century, well, because we always have.

  82. Maybe we know each other? I worked about 10 feet from the CFO of two companies that I guarantee you have stepped foot in within the last 90 days.

    So, let’s get this new line of reasoning straight. Companies hire college grads, not for anything they bring to the table, but rather because they are in debt? I graduated college debt free, where do I fit in?

    I’ve given you props on your success umpteen times. You are BY FAR, the exception, rather than the rule. Lets look at your field of consulting. You think Bain, McKinsey, Deloitte, etc are hiring ANYONE without an advanced degree, let a lone a BS/BA? Why? Because they want them to be saddled with debt?

    Lets also get back to this ala carte method of education. If I want to be a civil engineer, do I need to study any electrical engineering? Who makes the standards for graduation, me? a professional organization? or the University who issues the diploma?

    Lets say someone wants to study economics–your new found passion and just so happens to be what my degree is in. Where does political science fit in to the study of economics? How about philosophy? You realize some of leading philosophers were economists and vicer versa? Including guys you probably respect, like Hayek and Friedman. Sociology? Any place for studying Kant or Marx in this curriculum? Should anyone bother with any of that stuff, if all they want to do is run an economics blog?

    I know you did work for Trump University. How do you think Donald feels about education? You think he sent his kids to college? you think they studied foreign languages or poetry? Why do you think that is? How about all these other “captains of industry” that you rubbed elbows with? You think they went home and told their kids, “hey, I met this real go getter named Jack Spirko today. Cancel that application to harvard. You don’t need college after all.”

  83. College isn’t voluntary?

    I’ve laid out a system that should make you happy. Go study whatever you like on a non-matriculated basis. Somehow I don’t think that solution would be enough for you.

  84. @maruder you don’t or won’t understand a simple thing.

    There are at least two types of grads out there. Grads that should go, students you and I and most people would consider college material. Smart and driven people who know what they want and make a clear choice. They are well suited to college and when they come out they find great careers. They are the ones that eventually run things or get damn close. For these people I think the current system is fine, could be better but fine. Every facet of your arguments is defending college for these people.

    Then there is the other half, the bottom half, most of whom I feel should never have darkened the door of a university. These are the ones with degrees in generic disciplines, they get jobs working for big companies or the water company or say the social security office or any one of a million other places souls go to die and be a cog in the works.

    Now employers had very few of these low end graduates to choose from in the past. So at that time grad, no grad what ever. Anyone can learn a system, ride a desk, etc. Now there is a glut, a surplus of morons with degrees and if there is a surplus the industry will use it.

    So for my 10,000 man operation and the 7500 that are above sweeping floors but below any real decision making who is better suited to the task. The dumb ass who managed to fumble through 6 years of college to get a 4 year degree and is up to his ass in debt. The drone who has been sufficiently soul crushed to be obedient for the rest of his life.

    I certainly don’t want the hard working ambitious go getter in those positions, he sucks up what he can learn and moves up or out.

    Seriously do you not get that I have been and continue to be speaking about the bottom half of the current system of students?

    So yes if I want you to run my division in the Southwest and manage the companies finances you are damn right a degree possessing sharp person who is at the top of his game is who I am looking for. Who do I want under you directly, mostly not all but mostly degree holders with rare exceptions. Who do I want under those people, 80% or more drones that just follow the system the smart people create for them that is who. Such people don’t need a bachelors degree.

    In business about 2% are really high earners and leaders.

    About 8% are upper end managers who do very well.

    About 40% are key people that really use their brains

    About 50% can be trained to do their jobs in 5-30 days and anyone with an IQ higher than 90 who will just show up and do what is told.

    Now look about half of all people based on ability or choice stay at that level. The establishment is saying all people should go on to college but at best there is only room for 50% to really need the education and only room for about 10% at the top.

    As for the 10% that get to the top, degree or not they get there. College is probably best for that 10% but if it isn’t they will know it and act accordingly. As for the 40% that occupy the critical but not top positions, they should go to college.

    Again my issue isn’t with college is it selling something to 100% of people that is expensive and debt creating that half or more will never use or need.

  85. I think this last post is the first time that you articulated your position this clearly. To me, that is very well thought out and makes more sense then “taking a foreign language in college is bullshit” which is how you ended a previous post (I’m paraphrasing I know).

    I too think that college for most people could probably be trimmed down–say to 90 credit hours, instead of the 120 that most schools require. So, the average college degree seeking person should be able to finish in 3 years. However, I will still slightly disagree as it relates to a well rounded education. I don’t think the point of college is, or ever was, PURELY a place to procure a ticket to a “job” or a “career.” It may have turned into that and that is a problem, in my view. Within that context I have no problem with the engineer taking 5 or 6 classes in things like literature, sociology, etc. I think a person who is exposed to more things is just flat more intelligent than one who is exposed to less. Same holds true with a foreign language. Now, I don’t think that same engineer needs to spend 2 years taking courses like that. But a handful is not going to kill anyone.

  86. @marauder,

    What about the 40-50% at the bottom, pushed into the system in the first place? The bottom half? Those sold the idea again by everyone from the kindergarten teacher to the president?

    I am not worried about people like you and I am not worried about people like me. We are not victims. I am no victim of not going and you are no victim of going.

    My concern is for those pushed in. The side arguments about philosophy for a biologist are minor in comparison. The bottom half are the ones in surplus that I spoke about in my prior comment about conversations with fellow business owners and CEOs. These people are seen as “perfectly complaint employees”.

    This has been the core of my argument since I first spoke about it on the air. I don’t generally restate in print what I have already said in audio.

  87. I tread lightly on “pushed into it.” Who is pushed into it? As I’ve said a few times, I live in Northern New Jersey in one of the 5 most affluent counties in the country (Bergen County). Our area High Schools probably have a 92-95% rate of students going on to college. By and large, they will comprise your top 40%.

    On the other hand, I am still within 20 minute car ride of Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Elizabeth, New Jersey, which probably have a 20-30% rate of kids that go to 2 year schools and maybe 10% that go to 4 year schools. I don’t think college is being “pushed” on them at all. They are kids that will have a life long battle to break the cycle of government handouts and abject poverty.

    As you would imagine, we would pass through a bunch of transitional and blue collar towns on ride from my area to the “city.” Those are probably your bottom 40% kids. These are towns that probably send 45-60% of their kids to 4 year colleges, 15-20% to community colleges and the rest to tech school or the workforce. Are these kids being “pushed” into college or being sold a bill of goods? Maybe. would they be better served learning how to weld or repair an Audi or run a cat scan machine? probably. But if a kid exhibits a desire to go to college, even if their possibility for success looks borderline at the time, how much should the system push back on them to consider something else? It’s an interesting discussion. I’m not sure how I come down on it…

  88. @marauder,

    Pepsi, Google, Ford, etc spend billions on advertising, why, it works!

    College as a solution is marketed more than any of those products and largely with public funding. Pushed into may not be the best words, how about “falsely sold on the idea”.

    Lastly those inner city and rural kids are not the bottom 40% in colleges. I have interviewed plenty of degree holding idiots that grew up in areas like yours. Such kids are pushed in even harder, dad went, mom went, it is expected of you, etc.

    People are people and some are more gifted than others. Where we are born doesn’t really effect that much. There is an advantage to being in a good high school and having a good home but in the end, cream always rises to the top.

    You can take that to the bank on the word of the son of a red neck bootleg coal miner.

  89. Normally I would agree with out. Hell, I came from one of those blue collar transitional towns I talked about. However, where we are now is really the cream of the crop from a public school system standpoint. Kids actually like to excel. Sure, some will get pressure that college is “expected,” but by and large these are self motivated kids that see a value in college.

    There are idiots everywhere, no doubt about that. I went to what would be considered a pretty top tier university. Plenty of idiots. They weren’t dumb though. Difference between a little stupid and flat out dumb. If you get my drift.

    Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, check out Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serdom.” Bedrock, foundational work in Austrian econ. Can get it on Amazon for a song these days.

    Great discussion. I enjoyed it thoroughly once we got past the petty bickering that seems to precede any discussion on Al Gore’s Interwebs. lol

  90.  jack mentioned on the podcast that the specific repair skills he learned in the army weren’t the value of that education. It was learning how to troubleshoot and think that was the main take away.

    Colleges’ purpose isn’t to train you for a specialization.  It is to teach you how to think.  This is why you are challenged in a variety of subjects

    You can debate the effectiveness of this vs specialized training such as .net certification instead of a computer science degree, however this is the purpose. 

    In my case I found great value in studying history and philosophy.  I felt it enriched my life and expanded my interests to areas that don’t necessarily  effect my earning potential or career in any measurable way, however have a positive effect on me as person. For others it is a waste of time and money

    Having said all that, I can say as someone who hires people in IT.  I could give 2 shits about your degree or whether you have one if you can program php and know Linux to any extent. 

    If you decide you want to do programing you can absolutely learn it on your own without a comp sci        Degree. 

    If specialist education is your thing IT has plenty of that.  You could get .net certification or oracle or php or whatever and you would, in fact, be just as qualified or more qualified  as your average college grad for an entry level position.

    Now having said all of that an MIT grad is still, most likely, going to make shitloads more money than you and me.  So what?  There will always be people with more money.  

    At the end of they day money shouldn’t rule us. F your earning potential.  If there is one thing we should all agree on by now It is do what you love.  I look forward to the day when I can take a paycut to do something more fulfilling 

    I want to drill this into my children above all other things. I’d like my children to have new figured out than I did at 18. Not sure if this is a pipe dream or not.  Time will tell. 

  91. Marauder:
    In regards on who is “pushed into it.” Well, that would be everyone who buys into the PR behind the statistic that you have repeated here several times–that essentially being “Go to college, earn more money.”

    I think Jack mentioned it several times, but I’ve observed that college is pushed all throughout our society. Kids are told “get good grades so you can go to college” as if that is an end in itself. The radio played ads declaring the statistics you mention about earning more with a college degree.

    There is a dedicated effort in our society (from a variety of sources) to “push” as many people as possible into college, which costs a lot of money, and which is NOT right for everyone. Yet, when they are told “you’ll earn less money if you don’t go to college” that’s what they focus on. Do you really think that radio ads zeroing in on that are just happenstance? No–it is because that’s the message that accomplishes the goal of the advertiser.

    Let’s jump forward to today, where people accept the message of this PR. What does that lead to? Well, it leads to certain high-profile politicians saying that “everyone who wants to go to college should be able to” (at the taxpayer’s expense of course). The UK has riots over the prospect of tuition increases–because they have a “right” to their education (“right” meaning someone else should pay for it). The point is, this PR campaign that seeks to scare people into going to college has detrimental effects.

  92. @Nick there isn’t much I would disagree with as to what you said, other than I would say if the credit hours have to be 120 or what ever the engineering student should be able to fill as much of it as he wants with engineering credits. Enrich away if that is the students desire (with a minimum core competence as it is now)but over four years at 40-80 grand the guy that wants to stick with his core at 90% should be able to.

    Lastly though, this entire debate is about the bottom half, the idiots that are sold on the concept of college that are lack luster the entire time. People I think should never go, college does NOT teach these people how to think for themselves. Again the number of idiots with paper I have encountered staggers the mind.

    I think if many of these people did what I did and went in the military they would be better off, hell four years of that and if you want to you can easily come out with lots of college cash and two years of basics knocked out for free. You also will know how to fricken take action.

    My personal opinion is that over the years prior military service has generally been a bigger asset with people I have hired than any degree. Why? When I give most employees a task, it is just that a task, something they do their best to complete. When I give a solider or a marine a task, even one they have never done before, it is a MISSION, that means it will get done and it will be done on time.

    Again though for those who belong in school I have no issues, it all comes back to the fricken lie that everyone should go. Like you and eventually maurader said there are tech schools, specialized training, etc. Problem is the establishment spits on all of that with the singular message, college or bust.

  93. On the question of extraneous “enriching” subjects for certain degrees, I have some additional comments.

    Generally, I am against forcing students pursuing already challenging degrees to take unrelated subjects in some attempt to make them “well rounded.” First–a person isn’t “well rounded” and never will be unless they choose to be. Being forced to take a class they don’t want (and resent) is likely to have the opposite effect. Second, a person need not take a college class to become well rounded. So, the entire “well rounded” argument doesn’t hold water in my view (even if some people do enjoy those other classes). Heck, I enjoyed the History classes I took, because I love history, but it still doesn’t mean it makes sense to be part of an Engineering program.

    Jack mentioned this being a problem in relation to value. If I didn’t have to take those extraneous courses in order to get an Engineering degree, I could have saved money and time, and had an additional year of earning. OR, I could have taken more engineering classes and had more opportunities to broaden my knowledge base. Both of these are preferable in my view to an attempt to social engineer “well rounded” people.

    Lastly, I’d like to speak to the point of college from the standpoint of being a consumer who pays for a service. UNLIKE many other free market interactions, the buyer is limited by the system. This is proper, because an engineering degree must be about engineering, and standards must be met. However, those standards have limits. As I stated earlier, one would have a hard time justifying flower arranging as being vital to an engineering program. But reality is somewhere in-between, where engineering students (for example) are required to take classes in unrelated subjects.

    Now imagine, if you as a customer want to buy a car. You choose what make and model you want, and get your financing together and head out to the dealership. What would your reaction be if they said “we would love to sell you this car–all you’ve got to do is buy this boat as well.” I’m pretty sure the customer’s reaction would be to either laugh, or tell them to go jump. Yet, this is exactly what happens when someone seeks a degree (like in engineering), but is forced to take Theology for example. Yet, somehow this is justified as being proper, and even beneficial. Well, having a boat could be beneficial too–you’d have more well rounded transportation options available to you.

    So, in my view, this is every bit as important as whether or not one should attend college at all. Bottom line–a student can’t demand they be given a degree for something they don’t meet the qualifications for (like engineering), but shouldn’t be made to meet other requirements unrelated to what they are seeking (like theology).

    But hey, it might not be so bad. I’d know next to nothing about the Ainu people or their religion if not for that Theology class. Ah, I still feel well-rounded because of that. 🙂