Ah, the great Panda Bear Premier Dad McGuinty. We here in Ontario are just so lucky to have this guy engineering our future.
So yesterday he brings his dog and pony show to Waterloo, complete with the very serious glasses and the slick 30% Tuition Rebate logo, and his canned “dream big” speech, that if you’re like us, you’ve heard delivered ad nauseum by just about every other so-called leader or celebrity trotted out to speak at a commencement ceremony. Queue the reference to Steve Jobs Stanford University address that made the rounds a few months ago.
But it’s a great segue into one of our Regressive Axioms; Not All University Degrees are Good. Not all University degrees are even useful. As a matter of fact, most of them are worth shit.
Oh wait now, you can’t possibly mean that, says you. After all, don’t myriad studies show that people with university degrees earn more? Isn’t education the path to our success in the “knowledge economy”? Don’t you have a university degree? Hasn’t it served you well? Aren’t you being a hypocrite?
Ummm, yes and no.
There’s a lot of mythology wrapped up in the push for higher education, and you see some of the damage that drinking the Kool-Aid has caused when you hear some of the discontented Occupods, complaining about the fact that, in spite of the fact that they listened to every guidance counselor and teacher and political leader within earshot when they were an adolescent, they have now graduated with crippling student debt, no job prospects and a Masters degree in Womyn’s Sociology Studies.
It begs the question – what is the purpose of higher education?
If it is to prepare young adults for the work force, then it fails – badly. Ask any employer who knows when he gets a new grad into their first job, it’s a basic training exercise – throw out 80% of what you learned at school, it’s useless.
And if that’s the case, then why don’t governments target rebates and tuition grants and educational subsidies to those studies where there are worker shortages, where there is an ongoing skills deficit even in our down economy? Fields like nursing, engineering, computer sciences, mathematics, pharmacy and natural sciences, where filling shortages will actually help our economy. Yeah, but that’s not what happens.
But then there’s the side that says higher education is for the purposes of pursuing enlightenment, for the purposes of creating a more knowledgeable and educated citizen. And hey, no problem, we’re down with that. Seriously. If it’s your passion to pursue studies parsing Webster, mastering finger painting and recreational arts, or getting your PhD on the basis of reducing the Holocaust to a Jewish propaganda exercise, all good. Knock yourself out.
But then why should the general taxpayer subsidize these types of studies? Does creating an army of Arts graduates waiting tables at Moxie’s Grill and finding it impossible to service their mountain of student debt help society at large? The economy at large?
So, we could go on. But to sum it up, basic Regressive Axiom – most university degrees are useless. So what are you doing Mr. McGuinty. Buying votes, we know. We know.