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"You said it, they stink on ice!" ~ Mel Brooks as Louis XVI

If you really think about the argument you're making (and the article you link about Tunisia), that spending more money in higher education is leading to a bubble in education, isn't that something like saying, spending more money on improving your population is leading to an improvement bubble?

My wife has a Masters degree in piano performance and pedagogy, but all she's doing with that degree is homeschooling our kids. Was it a malinvesment?

My sister got an art degree and she subsequently waited tables for a while while she painted on the side. She now raises a son and continues to paint. Waste of time?

Her husband waited tables for a while after getting a degree in philosophy while trying to figure out what to do with it. Well, he decided to go to law school, and now well, he's a lawyer.

I think the problem in the US is not that we're getting higher levels of education, it's that people are funding their degrees with higher amounts of debt.

I think many people at their core want college degrees. So, maybe we need more universities where we have more people teaching full time. Or find ways to allow people to get access to education without having to mortgage their future.

I'm nowhere near an expert on Tunisia so I can't comment intelligently on what's happening over there, but I can speculate can't I?

Maybe having a high percentage of well educated people have led these people to demand a stronger voice in how they are governed?

And that, ultimately, is another reason more education is a good thing - it strengthens our democracy.

Who knows? Maybe, all of those waiters with degrees in sociology are blogging on the side about how stupid our state legislature is for continuing to propose ridiculous "birther" bills that make no sense at all:

http://www.frumforum.com/az-birther-bill-looks-to-block-obama-reelection

Certainly we can't have that :-).

How $200,000 for a Sociology Degree?

http://www.google.com/#q=kelli+space+northeastern


Educators are their own political ideology or religion, believing the nobility of education trumps all else. This is an eternal truth and therefore only one solution exists, to place education at the top of our priority list.

My wife was a teacher and she always stresses to people that she is a teacher and not an educator.

We need to realize that college presidents are lobbyists. Their job is to lobby the state and federal government for more federal aid. They are acting rationally within their own sphere...why can't we?

I am hoping that someone will come along and pop the bubble.

If education leads to revolution Arizona is certainly on the track to stability since the state is gutting education. But I think your analysis is flawed. It's not educating the people that led to the people revolting. It was the lack of economic opportunity, repression and corruption, an economy that took care of a wealthy oligarchy while neglecting the working people, that led to the Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution."

The Tunisia analogy is an example of what people without proper education, and specially a scientific one, will write. In any comparison, one needs to make sure there is a control. In this case, there is none. I was born in the Middle East ( Lebanon), and you have the same problem in Lebanon too: too many educated people, but here is the Kicker. The ones that stayed there, like in Tunisia did not prosper as much because there is no capitalistic system, extremely high cost to start a business, and huge corruption ( think of it more high cost to do anything). But if you take the Lebanese and Tunisians who migrated to democratic/capitalistic systems, like the USA and France, there are abundant evidence they actually prospered more than the average American and French. On a broader scale, the world is catching up with the USA because the world is getting educated the American way! Unfortunately our elected leaders want to cut education and science. It may help them keep getting elected by uneducated people.

What does the individual do when they realize they have a "higher" education that they will never be able to really use or pay off.

What does the Government do when they realize that the loans they have guarenteed will never be paid back?

Garnishing wages and seizeing tax returns of individuals and families living at or below poverty level is never a winning proposition.

I make my coworkers uneasy when they realize I am doing the same job, but with more responsiblity as theirs, but with only a high school education and specific techincal training. We make the same money.

Education, especially higher education can be thought of as an investment good. You put in a lot of work, and you reap an annual return in the form of increased income.

It can also be thought of as a consumption good. You consume it, and although it stays with you, it doesn't provide an annual return in the form of income.

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the two types of goods. Those that insist that we "invest" in higher education seem to assume that it is always an investment and should be treated as such. Spend more money on it and we'll make more money later on.

But a lot of higher education spending is really a consumption good. Perhaps it returns benefits to the student, but it doesn't ongoing economic returns. In that case it needs to be treated as consumption and paid for as consumed.

that should read "doesn't generate ongoing economic returns."

I read the last link and I found the whole story odd. It isn't really anarchistic to walk away from a mortgage, if the couple winds up doing that. There is a financial agreement and part of the contract states that if the couple stops making payments the bank can take back the house. This sort of choice is made in business all the time - why are people feeling that making this choice in their mortgage is 'immoral' or illegal?

Part of the American Dream was that middle class families could afford to go to college if they were willing and able to work while going to school. That is no longer the case. The cost of higher education has risen so dramatically that student loans are the only way, and as Greg says, the jobs people are getting no longer enable most graduates to pay off their student loans in a reasonable amount of time. ASU is a perfect (imperfect?) example of a school that has gotten too big and too expensive because of its president's "vision" for some super university.

Patterson, what do you mean that folks with swishy degrees (e.g. Sociology, Womens Studies, etc.) can't find jobs? Who do you think works in federal government agencies? Or in university administration offices? Or in the non-governmental organizations that receive funding from the government? Last time I checked the federal government was still expanding.

Japan in the 1950s was hardly undeveloped, nor were they without engineering, medicine or agriculture.

If it were not for my aversion to property damage, I'd go scrawl "Who is John Galt" on a university wall.

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