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Commencement Day for a Lost Generation

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Posted on Jun 22, 2011
Basheer Tome (CC-BY)

By Bill Blum

More than 1.7 million students graduated from four-year colleges across the country over the past two months. Along with their parents, all have a story about what they took from their commencement ceremonies, and all have a story about what they expect once they enter our sorry excuse for a job market.

My parental story unfolded as the morning fog rolled away and sunlight streamed across the blue-gray expanse of Monterey Bay. I sat down for breakfast with my wife, oldest son Max and youngest offspring Sam, who would be donning the cap and gown that afternoon at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Our waiter, a young man about Sam’s age, attentively refilled our coffee cups and carefully recorded our orders. I breached the normal customer-server barrier and asked if he, too, was connected with the University of California. “I graduated last year,” he answered. “Philosophy major. Berkeley.” He gave us a knowing smile, wished us a great day and moved on to another table. I opened my wallet and left him an oversized tip. Despite our having taking out a personal loan and having scrimped on everything from cable TV to wintertime heating to help finance Sam’s education, this was no time to get frugal.

For a moment I flashed back to my own undergraduate career and Sartre’s parable of the cafe waiter who had invested so much of his essence in being a waiter that he had lost his authenticity and the capacity to transcend the circumstances of his job. And then it hit me just how much times had changed since I was a fresh face coming out of university. There was nothing inauthentic about our earnest young server. In fact, he was fortunate to have a job, much like Sam’s friend Joe, who had left Santa Cruz last year with honors in English literature only to find himself pouring lattes for customers at the Coffee Bean back home.

According to a study conducted by Northeastern University labor economist Andrew Sum, a mere 74.4 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 had jobs from October 2010 to March 2011. Of this same demographic, only 45.9 percent held positions that required a college degree, down from 80 percent a decade ago.

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The country my generation is passing on to Sam and his peers is a mean-spirited place of global warming, class warfare and diminishing expectations, where the top 1 percent of households own nearly 35 percent of all privately held wealth and the “bottom” 80 percent lays claim to less than half that. It’s a place where that same top 1 percent receives 23 percent of the nation’s income, three-quarters of which stems from thinly taxed capital gains, and giant corporations such as General Electric and Exxon receive billions in federal tax subsidies. It’s a place where unions are disappearing and the public sector is dying, where good-paying entry-level jobs with health insurance and defined-benefit pensions are being replaced by unpaid internships, which nearly all colleges advertise at their career centers and on their websites. It’s a place where Republicans, emboldened by the tea party, clamor for ever more spending cuts, and Democrats, bereft of leadership and resolve, object only to the degree of retrenchment.

It is a place where it would be easy for students to fall into cynicism, despair and anger at their elders. But, to my surprise, there was little of that on display at the commencement. Maybe it was just Santa Cruz—the home to radical academics like the late Norman O. Brown, Angela Davis and G. William Domhoff (the author of the 1967 classic “Who Rules America?” from whose updated online work some of the depressing economic statistics cited above are taken). I found there a sense of continuity, a passing of the baton of social commitment from the old to the young.

Feminist-studies professor Bettina Aptheker delivered the commencement address. Exiles from the late ’60s and the ’70s like me remember Aptheker not only as an intellectual in her own right but as the daughter of Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker, a member of the American Communist Party and, though Jewish and white, a pioneer in the study of black history. Bettina Aptheker took the assembled throng on a 15-minute tour of the world’s major ills, from famine and rape in Darfur to climate change and corporate greed. She congratulated the science majors for their choice of career paths most likely to lead to immediate financial security and reminded the philosophy and history scholars that they had received an education enabling them to think critically and creatively. But most of all she exhorted everyone to understand that while none of us alone can repair the world, together we have a chance.

By the time she had finished, the coastal clouds had returned and the wind on the grassy field where the commencement took place had picked up. In a scene replayed at colleges across the nation, graduation caps were flung into the air, backs were slapped, fists were pumped, hugs were shared, dinner plans confirmed.

Still for me it was, and remains, hard to imagine exactly how the new crop of grads could come together in a divided nation for the common good, as Aptheker had urged, especially in view of their parents’ abject failures and the obstacles posed by the destructive top 1 percent whom Domhoff monitors. As I trundled off to the rental car, I reminded myself that Sam is more fortunate than many other young people in this crumbling nation: A family of two on welfare in California is expected to survive starting this July on a monthly stipend of only $516. In any case, there will plenty of time to answer the important questions this summer when Sam, like thousands of others among this country’s best and brightest, moves back in with his parents, struggles to repay his student loans (the latest figures show a national default rate of 8.9 percent, up nearly two ticks since 2009) and begins to chart a most uncertain future.


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By MK77, June 29, 2011 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Relatively little is known about Socrates’ life, but the scholarly consensus is that he was no aristocrat. He was a poor, homely man who spent a lot of his time in the agora asking people difficult, sometimes unpleasant, questions. He was declared an enemy of the state because he refused to inculcate youth with the prevailing pieties of his day.

Numerous philosophers over the ages got by on modest means: Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Santayana come readily to mind. And as many, like Socrates, were either completely indifferent to established power or downright contemptuous of it: e.g., Rousseau, Marx, Bakunin, Cioran. To my knowledge most philosophers have taken a dim view of wealth, seeing it as something baneful to the soul.

I’m not sure what to make of Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation. What he left posterity in the way of insights on being, technology, and the decline of western life is prodigious and cannot be diminished because he fell in line with bad people. The same can be said for Aristotle and Schopenhauer, both of whom held women in the greatest contempt. We wouldn’t say that their contributions are any less significant because of it.

Having a college degree in philosophy does not make one a philosopher. I don’t know the young man mentioned in the article, but if I had to guess, I’d say he took up the study of philosophy not with any hope or expectation of one day belonging to the upper class, but to quench a certain curiosity, to open himself to important value questions.

Re: grunge work, I’m not an elitist and wouldn’t deign to tell others who should and should not do it. I would make an exception, though, in the case of people like Limbaugh, Coulter, Ailes, and Murdoch, whose talents clearly lie more in menial tasks than in writing, broadcasting, sermonizing, or philosophizing.

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By Anarcissie, June 29, 2011 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

MK77—Societies that do anything have to have some sort of order.  One that produced degrees in philosophy according to the current academic model, and then ensured that people with these degrees never had to perform grunge labor, would have to have certain distinct attributes which I have attempted to specify.  It is especially important to me to specify who the people would be who would be required to do the unpleasant, unrewarding work, since I have no degrees and would therefore be one of these people.

We can imagine, indeed, recall societies where people free of the need to do grunge labor sat around philosophizing, although without the degrees.  Socrates belonged to one of these.  The philosophizers were generally supported by slave labor.

Carl Schmitt was hardly alone among philosophers in being a Nazi.  The more famous Heidegger was another.  While their work is interesting, I probably would have felt morally compelled to avoid supporting them financially.  That would not be possible in a society in which philosophers were guaranteed liberty from grunge work.  I would have the inconvenient choices of submission, exile or revolt.

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By MK77, June 29, 2011 at 4:26 am Link to this comment

“Social order” is a global term suggesting a certain culture, politics, set of norms, division of labor, &c.

Taking our society to task for its philistinism and its failure to place college graduates in suitable professions is hardly what I would call “promoting a particular social order.”

In any case I’m skeptical of “solutions”: solutions are always sought by a decrepit system to perpetuate itself and shore up legitimacy. It’s more in my nature to tell the world what is wrong than to offer up blueprints and ten-point plans.

The point about Schmitt is well taken. Philosophers are fallible too, and even the best among them can be obtuse on occasion. Still, there is quite a difference in orientation between the person who values wisdom above all else and the person who is attached to money and social status. For instance, I could not see William James taking a bribe or lying the country into war; I could easily see William Randolph Hearst doing so. I couldn’t see a hermit like Spinoza taking marching orders from the Zionist lobby, but I could see almost any American politician, even self-described lefties, doing so.

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By Anarcissie, June 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

MK77, June 28 at 10:10 am:

‘“I’m trying to envision the social order you’re promoting here.”

I’m not “promoting” a particular social order here. ...’

Sure you are.  You said that you wanted to see a social order in which people with philosophy degrees would not have to do grunge work, and in which market forces did not operate, at least not on the labor market for people with philosophy degrees.  I specified what I think are the particulars of such a social order.  You may disagree with my thoughts on bringing such a society into being, but I think I’ve got your preferences right.  If I’m wrong in either category, though, please correct me.


‘America would be an infinitely more civilized and habitable society if the likes of Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and not least, Rupert Murdoch, were the ones scrubbing toilet bowls, cleaning up vomit, making beds, waxing floors, and the young philosophy major was the one in the broadcast booth ruminating on the social problems of the day.’

What if the young philosophy major happened to be channeling Carl Schmitt?

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By MK77, June 28, 2011 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

“I’m trying to envision the social order you’re promoting here.”

I’m not “promoting” a particular social order here. I have no vision at all of a “perfect society” and believe that every form of social organization imaginable would breed its own abuses.

All I have said is that one of the reasons American society is backwards is that it offers no vocational space in which philosophers and other reflective souls can flourish—that every human endeavor is commercialized and commodified, which means the basest instincts and most vulgar tastes end up being popularized. It is no accident at all that such a society would have George W. Bush as its president, Rush Limbaugh as its most popular radio host, televangelists as its leading moral voices, Warren Buffett as its most revered oracle, and so on.

America would be an infinitely more civilized and habitable society if the likes of Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and not least, Rupert Murdoch, were the ones scrubbing toilet bowls, cleaning up vomit, making beds, waxing floors, and the young philosophy major was the one in the broadcast booth ruminating on the social problems of the day.

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By Anarcissie, June 28, 2011 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

MK77—To get at the questions I’ve thus far raised unsuccessfully, I’m trying to envision the social order you’re promoting here.  I believe you’ve proposed the following: 1. People’s economic and social roles should not be determined by the market.  2.  People with philosophy degrees should not have to do grunge work; this work should be done for them by people without such degrees.

From these few principles and some other observations we can envision a social order.  The ruling class will consist nominally of a mandarinate, people with philosophy degrees, supported by people we can call proles.  The mandarinate will be exempt from drudge work—waiting on tables, washing toilets—this work being performed for them by the proles.  Since people do not want to do drudge work, and since they can’t be induced to do it by payment (the market) then they must be forced to do it.  This implies a third class, of combined military and police, who would enforce the will of the mandarinate and maintain the social order. 

Needless to say this system could not have any escape hatches, since the proles (and possibily some mandarins) would certainly try to escape it.  It would have to be a totalitarian system, in Mussolini’s words, ‘Everything within the state, nothing outside of the state, nothing against the state.’

Since a system like this would engender large antagonistic political pressures—almost no one wants to wash toilets, even those of philosophers— expression would have to be carefully controlled, even among the mandarins.  For instance, someone who promoted an egalitarian philosophy in which everyone was to wash his own toilet would have to be suppressed and removed.  The methods of suppression and removal, which would involve the military-police class, can be left as an exercise for the reader.

If I’ve gone wrong here, please correct me.

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By MK77, June 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

“So if anyone finds something amiss in the situation Bill Blum describes in his story, as he seems to, they need also tell us what it is they find amiss.”

At least a few of us here have told you. Our complaint has to do with the allocation of societal values and the implications of it. In the U.S. an economy and culture have been created in which profit-maximization is the sole good, in which all human endeavors are judged according to what price they can fetch in the marketplace. Some activities are highly important and worthwhile even if the marketplace attaches little to no value to them. Education is obviously one such example.

“Well, someone’s got to do the drudgery.”

Possibly so, but it shouldn’t be people who have studied subjects like philosophy and who have something to offer humanity, such as critical thought and ratiocination.

“As I pointed out, Mr. Blum was willing to pay to have coffee brought to him, but not a philosophical disquisition, so it is clear what he valued most highly.”

Where in the article does it state that Mr. Blum “valued” coffee-serving more than philosophy?

“In any case, you have not shown that obtaining a philosophy degree in a modern American university increases one’s virtue.”

And you still have not answered my earlier (relevant!) question. I think most honest and intelligent people would concede that Donald Trump is likelier to tell a lie than Socrates, and that philosophers as a class are less likely to commit fraud, plunder foreign lands, bribe politicians, and lead a nation to war than marketing-men are.

“It would certainly be more entertaining to have waiters who could discuss the relationship of Nietzsche to Foucault while bringing the soup, but I can’t in good faith suggest to someone that they spend four years and $50,000 on that sort of entertainment for me…”

The question about how much indebtedness a student should incur or whether higher education in America is way too costly is different from what we were discussing before, which is whether that young man’s decision to study philosophy was a good or bad one. You seem to think it was a bad one, and you judge the matter according to the wants and whims of the marketplace: if there’s no job for a philosophy major upon graduation, he made the wrong choice, as simple as that! I and a few others here, on the other hand, see a larger societal failure to create cultural spaces independent of commercial valuations—ones that would open vocational possibilities for people who have studied philosophy and similar subjects.

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By Anarcissie, June 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

MK77, June 27 at 7:42 am:

‘‘cissie: “You’ve got a case of the we’s.”

You’ve got a case of “we sensitivity.” The word “we” is dubious when a journalist uses it to conflate the interests of the ruling class with those of the larger society. It is certainly not dubious when pointing to a collective ethos or orientation. In the sense in which I used it, “we” would mean “most Americans,” though not necessarily you.’

Well, I’m far more interested in what you and I think than in what ‘most Americans’ think, if, indeed, they think at all.  In any case I don’t wish to be encompassed by any generic assumptions.


“What ought to be” is an ideal whose meaning is not determinable by social decree. Hume identified the fallacy of “deriving an ‘[ought]’ from an ‘lis]’.” When you have time, look it up.

Exactly my point.  So if anyone finds something amiss in the situation Bill Blum describes in his story, as he seems to, they need also tell us what it is they find amiss.  That isn’t clear, at least not to me.  Maybe he would prefer a society ruled by mandarins?  That was tried in some stages of Chinese civilization with dubious results.


I have indeed intimated what kind of society I should like to live in. It would be one that created ample space in which artists and intellectuals could thrive; one where drudgery was not held up as virtuous by little minds; one where philosophizing and serving coffee were not mutually exclusive.

Well, someone’s got to do the drudgery.  As I pointed out, Mr. Blum was willing to pay to have coffee brought to him, but not a philosophical disquisition, so it is clear what he valued most highly.  However, in the story we do observe philosophizing and serving coffee being mixed, which Mr. Blum seemed to object to, but you say you don’t.

 
I named various marketing-men and philosophers and asked you twice whose behavior is more virtuous, but you have yet to answer me, and for good reason: to do so would be to concede my point.

Your question was irrelevant—as far as I know, we have not been discussing personal virtue.  In any case, you have not shown that obtaining a philosophy degree in a modern American university increases one’s virtue.

It would certainly be more entertaining to have waiters who could discuss the relationship of Nietzsche to Foucault while bringing the soup, but I can’t in good faith suggest to someone that they spend four years and $50,000 on that sort of entertainment for me, because I don’t have the money to leave big enough tips to make it worthwhile.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

2.

> Making an observation is not approval, tacit or otherwise. But I do approve—do I really have a choice?—of the Market determining the value of products and services; especially since we haven’t anything better. Do you find central planned economies which in the 20th century cost about 110 million lives and nefarious human suffering something that you’d joyfully acquiesce to?

How’s that socialist tyranny the E.U. doing? How many millions have lost everything due to the massive failure of the guiding hands of incompetent social workers pretending to be Statesmen? To think that evangelicals in the U.S. believed that to be the anti-Christ government. It can’t walk and chew gum much less take over the world for Satan (<- Lucifer). And the best is yet to come, because one thing you can always count on with arrogant self-appointed saviors-of-mankind—that is that they’ll never admit that they haven’t a clue and were wrong. They’ll not stop until the earth is on fire. And if there’s anything I love it’s a purifying fire ... Hell fire!

Production is a response to human needs and wants. Yes, there is a line that can be crossed where it is no longer need or desire but avarice that is the driving force. Who determines where that line is?


Twice you’ve been asked if you have a solution to offer, and you’ve not responded. If you should decide to I’m most interested in the arbitrator of your better than the Market system that would be responsible for dividing up the world’s wealth equally.

I’m not going to attempt to discuss marginalization of individuals with you here. I will recommend that you use caution in trying to determine causality. It’s more than a little tricky and I’ve noticed that you have a tendency to oversimplify very complicated perplexities.

As far ‘America’s wars’ and the refugees ... it’s too easy. I thought I had what’s going on in the Middle East figured out. Not any more. There’s more here than we’re being told and/or can see. None of it makes sense. I’ll defer on this one for the time being.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

1.

@ monkeymind, June 26 at 5:44 pm:

> I know you didn’t call me a murderer. I’m using exaggeration for effect. The tone of some of the comments leaves one feeling like he would be better off if he were.

The closest definition—IMO—of a nihilist that could even remotely apply would be ‘the belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.’ Technically that doesn’t apply to me albeit if you consider it, any ‘improvement’ would mean at least partial destruction in some way, shape, or form of existing systems. If citizens were to somehow elect a government that put the nation back on the path of being a representative republic it would by default mean the destruction of the existing collectivist oligarchy. And that’s a matter of fact observation (<- pragmatism), wouldn’t you agree? Whatever label suits your fancy is okay with me; they mean nothing.

Far from being a defeatist I was the one stating that despite all the bad news that there are employment opportunities out there; just not for philosophers. How encouraging and informing works out to being a defeatist is beyond me. (Modern Science has a big part in the diminishing need for philosophers.)

The Market is always in a state of flux destroying and creating. When automobiles came into existence wagon makers and associated industries were eventually wiped out but entirely new and even better opportunities were created. The standard of living for a large part of humanity greatly increased. You should be grateful the Market works. The Market is the reason you and I—half a world apart—can be having this friendly little chat. Think about that!   

> Asset usage vs. waste produced? From an article about dismal employment opportunities in the current job market in the U.S.? Of course you’re going to have larger numbers for U.S. citizens. The U.S. is the most advanced nation on earth for Shiva’s sake. It doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that the more prosperous a nation the more consumption thus higher per capita waste produced. So what? It’s always been like that, ever since our ancestors climbed out of the primordial ooze. The same applies in the animal kingdom. More food, more waste. Sometimes they exhaust their own food supply through over-breeding due to the abundant food supply and lack of natural predators.

What is it that you want? Would you be happy if half the world’s population died off? This planet will still be here doing just fine long after Homo sapiens sapiens have gone into extinction.

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By monkeymind, June 27, 2011 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

Lew,

re:

’I don’t live in the US so I can’t comment on the McDonald’s poverty folk trying to get by on food stamps and emergency room care while the rich get richer and pay less tax than they did in the 1950s.

Evidence for those claims?

(1) Tax:

source: http://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=3719

Jan 2011:

IF we agree ‘rich’ as I used it above can mean head of household earning 1 Million USD THEN effective rate(s) were:
1945 = 66%
1965 = 55%
1982 = 48%
2000 = 36%
2010 = 32%

Corporate share of total Tax since 1950 has gone from 28% to less than 10%

(2) Food Stamps: 07 May 2010: The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February, an increase of 260,000.

(3) Emergency Room Care (ERC): I was making, perhaps incorrectly, an assumption that was being used by your citizens without healthcare. Perhaps that was wrong and I should have simply stated the number of citizens without health insurance is on the rise. 2010 Census Bureau report: “[M]ore than 50 million people were uninsured last year, almost one in six U.S. residents.

1 in 8. 1 in 6. Seems statistically similar. The US, is appears, is not a democracy with a social service entitlement problem, rather, it is a plutocracy with a revenue problem (and a spend too much to kill rather then educate and care for problem (but the latter, I admit, is more my personal ideology / philosophy and religious faith and belief chit chatting than it is the ‘sources’.))

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By MK77, June 27, 2011 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

Correction:

I wrote, “Hume identified the fallacy of deriving an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’.”

I should have said, “the fallacy of deriving an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.”

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By Anarcissie, June 27, 2011 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

Unconventionalideas, June 27 at 4:57 am:

‘Since entering the job market in 1985, I’ve always felt alienated from it.  The “right wing job market” concept does resonate with my experience.

We need something better; something more human. ‘

Maybe you could join a commune.  You could join a cooperative.  You could go into business for yourself, or with a few other people.  You probably don’t have to work for other people, that is, put your labor power up for sale on the said job market.

Advice relevant to this article: if you put money, time and effort into any kind of education or training, make sure it gives you what you want and can use.  Much of it, at every level of prestige and repute, is obviously a con.

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By MK77, June 27, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

‘cissie: “You’ve got a case of the we’s.”

You’ve got a case of “we sensitivity.” The word “we” is dubious when a journalist uses it to conflate the interests of the ruling class with those of the larger society. It is certainly not dubious when pointing to a collective ethos or orientation. In the sense in which I used it, “we” would mean “most Americans,” though not necessarily you.

“What ought to be” is an ideal whose meaning is not determinable by social decree. Hume identified the fallacy of “deriving an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’.” When you have time, look it up.

I have indeed intimated what kind of society I should like to live in. It would be one that created ample space in which artists and intellectuals could thrive; one where drudgery was not held up as virtuous by little minds; one where philosophizing and serving coffee were not mutually exclusive.

I named various marketing-men and philosophers and asked you twice whose behavior is more virtuous, but you have yet to answer me, and for good reason: to do so would be to concede my point.

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By Anarcissie, June 27, 2011 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

MK77, June 25 at 8:01 am:

‘A,
You seem to think that “what is” is tantamount to “what ought to be.”

Yes, it is true that in America there is more of a demand for waiters than there is for philosophers. We value money and markets way more than we value learning and wisdom. In fact, we despise intellectuals and reflective souls. ...’

You’ve got a case of the we’sI don’t value money and markets more than learning or wisdom. 

However, any rational attempt to change ‘what is’ into ‘what ought to be’ requires someone to think about how they are actually constituted.  Furthermore, in a community in which people are supposed to be free and equal, ‘what ought to be’ is going to be either a consensus or an item of controversy, not the diktat of great minds.

So far, there are important omissions in your argument.  You haven’t described the social order you would prefer to the present one, or how, in that society, Bill Blum would get his coffee.  You haven’t described how it would be brought about.  You haven’t described what people with degrees in philosophy would do with them.  You haven’t shown that people with philosophy degrees are better than people with marketing degrees, or indeed that they are, respectively, good philosophers or good marketers.

As I see it, Bill Blum’s waiter was victimized by a con game supported by Bill Blum and a lot of other people, which is ill compensated by a large tip.

As before, citing cherry-picked anecdotal evidence does not advance our understaning of the numerous issues raised here.

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By Unconventionalideas, June 27, 2011 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

Since entering the job market in 1985, I’ve always felt alienated from it.  The “right wing job market” concept does resonate with my experience.

We need something better; something more human.

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By Conden, June 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

We can move away from the right wing job market and it’s hatred of creativity and intellectualism, and into a policy of creating democratic workers cooperatives where everyone gets a good job with a living wage and good benefits; where it is none of the buisness of anyone else what you studied at college, the humanities will be valued and destructive consumerist polluting sciences will not be. Fire the bosses, fire the corporations, fire the hierarchy.

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By monkeymind, June 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

excuse me, meant to type ‘asset’ not ‘assert’. Sure there are more typos here too. Not the best internet during monsoon season.

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By monkeymind, June 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Lew, Thank you again.

1- regarding refugee: http://www.economist.com/node/18867622? based in the UNHCR’s annual report.

2- regarding assert usage vs. waste produced know that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, on average an Afghan produces 0.02 tons of CO2 per year, average Nepal citizen (where I currently live and work in refugee centers and have for more than a decade) and a Tanzanian 0.1, a Briton 10 tons, an American 19 and a Qatari 51 tons, which is 2,500 times more than an Afghan.

Now, I did not call you a murderer nor do I think you are one. I stated that in my opinion your views border on nihilism and represent a assumptive defeatism sadly common in America.

The issue(s) considered in this article are education and jobs. You are quite correct that it is one’s choice to study in an area that is not valued in the market. But by making such a correct observation you are giving more than tacit approval to the power of market forces that favor certain sectors over others. While this may be true it is not a condition to which I choose to acquiesce. As a worker in the field of religion and charity I hold faith that there is something better than the market and capitalist mode of production which, in my experience, has marginalized peoples and desecrated our planet beyond its ability to approve and heal.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

@ monkeymind & MK77

I don’t know what has crawled up your pant legs but we need to come to some conclusions here.

My making statements that sum up to no more than it not being much of a surprise that in a service economy there isn’t much, if any, demand for philosophy majors doesn’t make me a baby killer or a Wall Street banker.

Making statements that the best opportunity for viable employment is in the service industry, thus making engineering, physics, chemistry, science, much better professional goals does not make me a murderer or a U.S. Senator.

The article is about the dismal employment opportunities that graduates are facing today. Actually, there are quite a lot of employment opportunities if you’ve the qualifications. They’re in the service industry and in particular various engineering & technological fields. These are not, typically, office jobs and many require extensive travel and extended time at work sites. These types of employment pay very well and usually provide excellent benefits. Knowing this and stating it does not make me a Mafioso boss or a transnational corporate CEO.

If your desire is to study art and there is no demand for art majors then you have to deal with it. It is not society’s responsibility to create a demand for art majors. The same goes with any other field of endeavor one chooses. If there are 10,000 journalism jobs available each year and 50,000 journalists grads annually, guess what? Somebody is going to be slinging hash or looking for the government to rob their neighbor and share the booty with her. I’m not responsible for the system. It was already here when I came into this world. You have to play with the hand that is dealt to you.

I don’t recall a single suggestion from either of you two Einsteins as to what grads might do to support themselves until an opportunity in their chosen field of endeavor might come up. One of you seems to be encouraging civil war and the other can do nothing but bemoan that there aren’t more philosophers in the world—flooding a market where there is little or no demand already is hardly a solution for bleak employment opportunity. Revolution and wishful thinking does nothing to resolve grads’ immediate problem; employment.

In my opinion, your bemoaning and groaning appears to be whining for more government handouts of other people’s property. Your neighbors’! Functionaries in government will not steal from their masters and share the booty with you; they will take more from your neighbors and eventually your neighbors will realize that they’re being ripped off and they’ll quit working or look for ways to avoid being robbed. This is not delusion; it’s fact! And there is more than enough historical evidence to prove it.

Redistribution of wealth isn’t. Redistribution of wealth is nothing less than the distribution of increased poverty to a greater percentage of society. Redistribution of wealth is a guarantee that human suffering and death will increase many fold.

That is not to say that I don’t recognize that there is a problem with wealth disparity or wealth accumulation. I recognized that probably before you two were born. The problem is how to resolve it. I haven’t the answer. Do you? If you do please tell me who’s the arbitrator of choice to see to it that all wealth is equally distributed to all members of society. And if possible please provide an example of where your system has been implemented and proved viable in the real world.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

@ monkeymind, June 25 at 6:17 pm
‘Thanks for the kind comments Lew.’

I’m sorry, but you didn’t seem to mind when you were dishing it out.

’I don’t live in the US so I can’t comment on the McDonald’s poverty folk trying to get by on food stamps and emergency room care while the rich get richer and pay less tax than they did in the 1950s.

Evidence for those claims?

Can you name a single country where the rich don’t get richer? Is that not the history of humanity?

What would you have Americans do to change a system where they are given nothing but lip service from the Power Elite’s poodles in Washington and State governments? The system is rigged thus voting accomplishes nothing besides theatre.

Would you have Americans rise up against their government only to be slaughtered by the tens of thousands when confronted by the most technologically advanced military and paramilitary police forces in human history? This is a police state for crying out loud. Have you ever fought in a war? Have you ever seen slaughter up close and personal? Do you think the American Idol generation is up to the sacrifice? I don’t!

When your belly is full, even if it’s McDonalds, you’ve little incentive to risk all for altruism or an ideology. ‘Obese poor’ is a dichotomy. And McDonald’s is a dietary choice, there are better options.


I do know that 1/2 the world’s refugees are homeless because of America’s wars

Evidence?

...that it is hard to be the world’s police force and be the biggest borrower at the same time.

You obviously have little knowledge about what happens to the nation that has the world’s reserve currency. Do you know anything about Bretton Woods and why Keynes wanted the reserve currency to be the dollar? What was the conundrum for the reserve currency holder that Keynes could not resolve?

As for the U.S. being the World’s police I, as well as many others, have long been of the opinion that the U.S. should tax all nations of the world for this service. If it were up to me I’d gladly let your country bear the burden and you and your countrymen the taxes and deaths to finance it.

‘I hope America finds its soul again because it sure seems lost now. Cutting education, healthcare and aid to the poor so it can continue to kill folks is not really my idea of leadership.’

For one who claims to know, you sure appear to know very little; especially about the collectivist Oligarch’s propaganda methodology.

If America, which was never founded as a socialist tyranny but a representative republic, were to find its soul there would be very little government provided services such as those mentioned. The idea of the U.S.A. was equality under the law and equality of opportunity. Not commie/socialist equality of outcome ideology. Have you read Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron”? 

Again I ask ... What the hell does any of this have to do with my statements about it being no surprise that there’s no demand for philosophy majors and that in what clearly is, and has been for many decades, a service economy, that the best odds for viable employment is in the service industry? Haven’t any of you read Toffler?

There was a Populist politician greatly loved by his people in the 1930s. Roosevelt classified him as the second most dangerous man in the nation. He formulated the ‘Share Our Wealth Plan.’ He was assassinated. He does have a bridge named after him; The Huey P. Long Bridge.

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By Kugel, June 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for your article.  The lost generation of graduates began a long time ago. 
Our commitment to our children’s education needs to start right from the beginning.

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By monkeymind, June 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the kind comments Lew. I don’t live in the US so I can’t comment on the McDonald’s poverty folk trying to get by on food stamps and emergency room care while the rich get richer and pay less tax than they did in the 1950s. I do know that 1/2 the world’s refugees are homeless because of America’s wars and that it is hard to be the world’s police force and be the biggest borrower at the same time. I hope America finds its soul again because it sure seems lost now. Cutting education, healthcare and aid to the poor so it can continue to kill folks is not really my idea of leadership.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

@ MK77, June 25 at 3:09 pm:
That you sound so rankled is probably a very good indication that I have.

Oh please, stop making stuff up. I don’t get rankled at commentary.

“How do you know I don’t know? It seems pretty elementary…

That’s why. Nothing about life is elementary, except that big fish eat little fish. You cannot know. You can surmise, assume, dream, pretend, and even close your eyes and squeeze so hard believing it that you fart ... but you cannot know what things would be like today if only this or that were different. No more than you can know what the future will be.

Unless, of course, you’re the all-knowing divinity who designed the universe and in that case you’re female because if there was a designer of this universe it was obviously much more concerned with putting on her make up and wondering if that dress made her butt look fatter.

“You’re confused by the word ‘philosophy.’”

Unfortunately for you, I’m not. It also means: ‘a system of motivating concepts or principles: the philosophy of a culture. A basic theory; a viewpoint. The system of values by which one lives.’

“Philosophers stretch the meaning of words until they retain scarcely anything of their original sense.”—Sigmund Freud, “The Future of an Illusion”

I’m sorry that stating the obvious has upset you. The truth is that I’m responsible for the low demand for philosophy majors only insofar as I’ve no use, personally, for a philosophy major unless she can cut my grass for no more than $10. It’s an acre and a half.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

@ monkeymind, June 25 at 1:32 pm
Straw man?
Do you know the definition?
Dude, I was making an observation not an argument. No construct needed.

Of course I know what a straw man is. If I didn’t before, your second use of the fallacy is bound to teach me. You didn’t just make an observation; you made an observation followed by a false declaration about me—a declaration, not an assumption. Do you know the difference? The sentence following your declaration was an allusion and a form of denigration to what you fallaciously believe(?), (it can’t be ‘think’ because that little effort couldn’t possibly be considered thought), about me with respect to political, economic, etc. worldview.

I’ll admit that I am physically unable to get out as much as I used to when a younger, healthier, and more prosperous man. But I don’t have to go out to see poverty. I’m living in a level of poverty that would provoke that poor waiter to share a tip or two with me. And when a younger man, I traveled the world and have seen real poverty—up close and personal—that most in the West only get a glimpse of in National Geographic.

About ‘cats’ like me.

You know almost nothing of me and yet you now associate me—falsely—with a loosely defined, yet obviously to be understood as wrongheaded, group of individuals. Not only is it intended ad hominem but it is also a form of self-aggrandizement. This act of desperation leads me to infer that you’re a loser; perhaps a Socialist? Given my circumstances and beliefs—details of which you know absolutely nothing—what you’ve succeeded in doing here is to have revealed yourself to be a whiny and pretentious ass.

I don’t need you telling me about the oligarchal collectivist system of government under which we are living.

You do know that poverty is relative, don’t you? Do you know of many Americans without running water? How many Americans you know whose toilet is outdoors and consists of nothing but a hole in the ground with bounded sticks encircling it to offer a bit of privacy? Are you aware that most ‘poor’ in the world are not obese as most poor in the U.S.? If you’ll pay for our passage I’ll gladly take you to see first hand what ‘poverty’ really is and I’ll even bet you my last beer that you wouldn’t last more than a day or two living in real poverty. Do you know what it’s like to sleep on a flea invested straw mat on a dirt floor and awakened by a tarantula crawling over your chest? How about sitting on a rickety wooden bench and told not to move because one of the most venomous snakes in the country where you’re at is crawling between your feet? Been there, done that.

Why do you suppose there is an overwhelming flood of emigration from Islamic despotisms from Asia, the Middle East, and the African continent to any Western nation that’ll have them? Do you think it possible that they recognize that the trees are the forest, while you and those of your ilk, don’t?

”...they use words and phrases they don’t understand…”

The only one here that doesn’t understand is you. And it’s obvious as you continue to spew bile about matters that have nothing to do with any of my comments. Stating the obvious about the employment environment in which we live and demonstrating that there are viable options doesn’t equate to one being a proponent of the system. It’s advice on how best to survive using the hand one is dealt, and damn good advice at that.

What is your advice to those finding the going tough in this job market? I do hope it’s something more profound than to vote Democrat and continue with all that ‘Hope and Change’.

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By MK77, June 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

1. “You obviously have not put much thought into your comments.”

That you sound so rankled is probably a very good indication that I have.

2. “Besides the FACT that you cannot possibly know what type of society the U.S. would be if there were as many philosophers as ‘marketing-men’…”

How do you know I don’t know? It seems pretty elementary to take a handful of eminent philosophers—e.g., Emerson, James, Thoreau, Dewey, Rawls, Nozick, Rorty—and imagine how much better the discourse would be, how much more civilized the citizenry would be, if they populated our towns and cities rather than men cut from the same cloth as Trump, Madoff, Milken, Welch, Dunlap, and others like them.

3. “What if all those philosophers believed in the same philosophy as the National Socialists of 1930s Germany?”

You’re confused by the word “philosophy.” Look it up on your own time. To get you started, I’ll offer this little pearl from Thoreau: “To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.”

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By monkeymind, June 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

lew, for real?

Straw man?

Do you know the definition?
Would have raised a more raucous chuckle if you would have written,’ I’m rubber and you’re glue.”

Dude, I was making an observation not an argument. No construct needed.

Not sure you get out much.  Have you looked around? Been out of the states recently? Or even your state. Seen the rampant impoverishment. Seen the greatest amount of surplus capital in world history sitting on the sidelines of an idle economy in the form of 4th homes and private jets. Seen the crumbling infrastructure. Seen a government allocate enormous amounts of capital from taxed and paid for social services thereby denying basic education to a large part of population, only to throw that capital into a continuous irrational, violent and counterproductive war(s) against an alternative source of capital… watch as communities disintegrate and aforementioned impoverished subjects extend the horror of their lives through escapist pursuit or tragedy.. wait until further tragedy occurs and yep… imprison them.

Funny thing about cats like you… they use words and phrases they don’t understand with the same impunity their elected leaded tax and kill. In the same breath they credit the rich for becoming so under an economic system that favored such advancement without the basic compassion to note that the same system disfavored others.

Sad.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

@ monkeymind, June 24 at 4:56 pm
you’re not an realist, you’re a nihilist. The measure of humanity is not income or employment anymore than it is sheepskin or foreskin.

A straw man argument: the surest sign that someone hasn’t anything of substance with which to form a defense of her position.

Please cite where I claimed that employment and/or income was the measure of humanity. Perhaps you should try reading the article and attempt to argue what is being bemoaned—diminishing expectations…

“Along with their parents, all have a story about what they took from their commencement ceremonies, and all have a story about what they expect once they enter our sorry excuse for a job market.”

Opps!

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By Lew Ciefer, June 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

@ MK77, June 24 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
Not so.
If we had as many philosophers as we have marketing-men, our society would be more intelligent, humane, and compassionate. The penalty for not “succeeding” in the marketplace would not be homelessness and hunger, and people would not have to work for pennies while CEOs amassed fortunes.
We would not waste trillions of dollars on wars and Pentagon budgets; our politics would be considerably less corrupt; and members of the hoi polloi like you would not exalt subsistence living as honorable.
Sorry, but they do it better in France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries.

You obviously have not put much thought into your comments. Besides the FACT that you cannot possibly know what type of society the U.S. would be if there were as many philosophers as ‘marketing-men’ you apparently don’t know much about philosophy or philosophers. Feel good and fuzzy Utopias DO NOT exist.

What if all those philosophers believed in the same philosophy as the National Socialists of 1930s Germany? Worse, what if they believed in Marxist and Hegelian philosophy? Marxist ideology has wrought human suffering and a cost in human lives on a scale rivaled only by religion and they did it in less than a century—religion took centuries to murder the millions that Marxism has in primarily the 20th century. Fideists argued for faith and against reason and reality. Aristotle claimed that women had fewer teeth than men. It never occurred to him to open a woman’s mouth and count.

I never exalted existence living. But it is more honorable than whining and having the government rob your neighbor because you haven’t the guts to do it yourself. What kind of life did Stalin’s five year plans and Mao’s Great Leap forward produce for their populations? Look at North Korea and you’ll have the answer.

Neither the Pentagon nor the jackasses in government consult me about budgets, so don’t blame me for their actions. Can you name for us a government that is not corrupt? Even tinhorn despotisms spend on defense ... Philosophers be damned!

You decry the money spent on war and that jackass Bill Clinton apologized to Burundi leaders for not having intervened in the Tutsi/Hutu genocidal war in 1994. So the U.S. is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t.

If they do so much ‘better’ in those European countries why haven’t you emigrated to one of them? I worked with a Canadian who packed up the wife and children and moved to France and not one of them could speak a lick of French. The difference between him and you, apparently, is that you sit on your derrière complaining, he got off his and did something about it.

Define ‘better’...

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By MK77, June 25, 2011 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

A,
You seem to think that “what is” is tantamount to “what ought to be.”

Yes, it is true that in America there is more of a demand for waiters than there is for philosophers. We value money and markets way more than we value learning and wisdom. In fact, we despise intellectuals and reflective souls.

Is this a good thing? No, clearly it is not. Such a society ends up being governed by the likes of George W. Bush, turns its airwaves over to the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and Becks of the world, creates an insufferably corrupt electoral arena, and whiles away its time doting on the stars of American Idol.

I put the question to you and I’d put to anyone else here. Who is likelier to tell a lie, Socrates or Donald Trump? Who is likelier to look at life reverently and meekly, Bernie Madoff or Baruch Spinoza? Who has greater insight into the human condition, Tony Robbins or Henry David Thoreau? Who is likelier to bomb, maim, and kill the enemy, Aristotle or Jack Welch?

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By Anarcissie, June 25, 2011 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

MK77—A bunch of anecdotes and a-priori logic does not begin to show us that people who study philosophy are ‘better’ than people who study marketing.  Fans of philosophy should know that, I would think, but maybe you only worship from afar.

But let’s say that it does—that philosophers are ‘better’ than marketeers.  Then, in Blum’s account of the waiter, all is well: the waiter has spent twenty or fifty or a hundred thousand dollars and four years of his life to bring coffee philosophically.  This was what Blum was willing to pay for, as I pointed out before.

That, to me, is the interesting issue here.  One can quarrel abstractly with the purposes of philosophy or marketing, but when we’re asked to contribute our labor toward one or the other, the question seems to become much more serious.  And, hence, to be avoided with the recitation of pieties.

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By RayLan, June 25, 2011 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

The key marketing strategy is by-passing critical thougth and the necessary condition for that is unthinking consumerism. Hence the Dumbing Down of America, especially the institutions of higher learning. So philosophers are essential for the perservation of freedom.

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”
Adolf Hitler

“Intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character.”
Joseph Goebbels

So it goes with anti-intellectual America.

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By MK77, June 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

“I don’t know of any comparative studies of marketeers and philosophers which show that the latter are any more intelligent, humane and compassionate than the former.”
————-

Consider the two groups under discussion.

The philosopher is somebody who loves wisdom, prefers contemplation to action, ponders questions of meaning and value, studies such “branches” of the discipline as logic and aesthetics, and seeks above all else truth and perspective.

The marketing-man is interested chiefly in maximizing profits, in effectively promoting a product, service, or brand. He is more interested in persuasion than reasoning, more interested in making the sale than arriving at the truth, in finding an audience than pondering some thought or idea.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that traits such as intelligence and compassion are likelier to be found and exhibited by the first group of people than by the second, and that selfishness and greed are likelier to be found in the latter than the former.

I’ll trade you Donald Trump for Socrates, Bernie Madoff for Spinoza, Jack Welch for Ralph Waldo Emerson, Tony Robbins for Henry David Thoreau.

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By monkeymind, June 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

Lew C. “Life’s a bitch! Deal with it.”

you’re not an realist, you’re a nihilist. The measure of humanity is not income or employment anymore than it is sheepskin or foreskin.

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By Anarcissie, June 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

MK77, June 24 at 8:55 am:

‘“If the U.S. had as many philosophers as marketing-men there would be many more philosophers lining up for unemployment benefits because there simply aren’t enough waiting jobs for that many philosophy majors.”

Not so.

If we had as many philosophers as we have marketing-men, our society would be more intelligent, humane, and compassionate. ...’

I don’t see why.  I don’t know of any comparative studies of marketeers and philosophers which show that the latter are any more intelligent, humane and compassionate than the former.  One might guess they were less so, since marketeers have to at least demonstrate a superficial interest in other people.

In any case, whatever philosophers may have to offer, the author (Blum) showed that he valued it less than what waiters have to offer.  It is himself, not ‘society’, that he is complaining about.  Someone besides me should come to grips with this curious irony.

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By MK77, June 24, 2011 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

“If the U.S. had as many philosophers as marketing-men there would be many more philosophers lining up for unemployment benefits because there simply aren’t enough waiting jobs for that many philosophy majors.”

Not so.

If we had as many philosophers as we have marketing-men, our society would be more intelligent, humane, and compassionate. The penalty for not “succeeding” in the marketplace would not be homelessness and hunger, and people would not have to work for pennies while CEOs amassed fortunes.

We would not waste trillions of dollars on wars and Pentagon budgets; our politics would be considerably less corrupt; and members of the hoi polloi like you would not exalt subsistence living as honorable.

Sorry, but they do it better in France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 24, 2011 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Many years ago I decided I wanted to be a philosopher and starting philosophizing. I was unable to sell a single philosophy. The day I decided to quit I was offering two philosophies for $4.99 and still couldn’t sell them.

After philosophy I found a job in a fried chicken joint unloading the delivery truck and stacking all those boxes of frozen chickens in freezers. It was very humiliating after having been a high-minded, intellectual philosopher but at least it paid. More importantly, I was able to support myself without having to get the government to steal from fellow citizens and redistribute a part of someone else’s property to me.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 24, 2011 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

@ RayLan, June 24 at 1:53 am
When I worked at Citigroup (the umbrella corporation of Citibank) the lead programmer had a PHD in Philosophy.
Rarely do grads or post-grads get jobs in the fields they study. What about a Math degree like I have? Where do you sign up as a mathematician? University isn’t meant to be a trade school. That’s typical US thinking - everything has to have a commercial value. The purpose of higher education is to broaden our minds and learn critical skills , philosophy accomplishing that better than most other disciplines. If you want an employment certificate go to DeVry.

So? He wasn’t working as a philosopher, was he?

I can’t believe the degree to which most here misunderstand my comments. You can study any profession your little hearts desire but when there aren’t any employment opportunities available in that field don’t start pissing, moaning, crying and blaming society’s lack of concern for you and your pitiful life as the reason you can’t earn a decent living and can only feed yourself by slinging hash. And there is no dishonor in waiting tables if that’s all one can find. At least he’s not begging the government to steal from his neighbor and share part of the booty with him. At least I hope not.

Where you, RayLan, can sign up depends on many variables. Have you any other skills and do you have a natural aversion to hard work? If no and yes, respectively, then best you stay where you’re at.

Your idea of university is bs. If university didn’t tremendously increase the odds for one to earn an above average living you would not be seeing the many debt-burdened graduates throwing those funny hats in the air every year.

I reiterate, you can study whatever field your little heart desires just don’t blame society when you discover, to your dismay, that there aren’t opportunities available once you graduate.

Oh… and don’t get pissed at the better employed DeVry graduate when she tips you only 10% because of your lousy service due mostly to your envy of her having found worthwhile employment while you, your attitude, and your sheepskin, can only sling hash.

Life’s a bitch! Deal with it.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 24, 2011 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

@ MK77, June 23 at 2:41 pm
Some young people today are not the least bit interested in money, power, social status, or trophy chicks. What they seek above all else is understanding. They are more taken by the “why” of life than by the “how,” by flights of the imagination than by their daily job duties.
What if America had as many philosophers as it had marketing-men?

Choosing a profession that would provide one with better finances and financial security does not make one evil any more than being young and yearning for understanding makes one better than her peers. Most who have gainful employment aren’t looking for a trophy chick, power, status, etc. they’re simply trying to survive.

If the U.S. had as many philosophers as marketing-men there would be many more philosophers lining up for unemployment benefits because there simply aren’t enough waiting jobs for that many philosophy majors. Try to understand this: There is no great demand for philosophy majors. The waiter cannot find employment in his field of study because there is NO OR LITTLE DEMAND, not because there aren’t enough philosophy majors.

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By Anarcissie, June 24, 2011 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

If universities aren’t trade schools, then what was Bill Blum’s complaint about being served coffee by a person with a degree in philosophy?

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By Lew Ciefer, June 24, 2011 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

@ thethirdman, June 23 at 1:37 pm

First of all, how many fucking engineers do Lockheed Martin and the TVA
actually need?  We can’t all study that nonsense.
All this negativity towards the server is interesting.  It betrays how neoclassical
our ideas about wealth and happiness remain.

Not all engineers work for Lockheed or the TVA. Not all engineering type degrees serve you well in this market either; IT is flooded and faces an inordinate amount of global competition. There are many industrial companies of which most haven’t a clue exist that provide needed services and products that make our lives easier. An engineer can, if necessary, go down a rung and work as a Tech during hard times. Techs servicing industrial equipment make one hell of lot better income than that of someone slinging salad.

Without that ‘nonsense’ you wouldn’t have a computer or an Internet to make silly comments before tens of people at Truthdig dot com. Next time you have a problem with one of your molars look for a veterinarian rather than a dentist in a modern dental office with all the equipment in it designed by engineers, scientists and doctors.

As for the poor waiter - one can study any curriculum one wishes but one had better be prepared to deal with the consequences. Income and financial security go a long way in providing happiness in life. Blum’s article didn’t leave me with the impression that said waiter was happy philosophizing about the current job market. The U.S. is mainly a service economy. The service industry is where the better odds for gainful employment exist. It’s that simple.

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By RayLan, June 24, 2011 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

@Lew Ciefer
“There’s no market for Philosophy majors in a service economy? Whodda thunk it?”
When I worked at Citigroup (the umbrella corporation of Citibank) the lead programmer had a PHD in Philosophy.
Rarely do grads or post-grads get jobs in the fields they study. What about a Math degree like I have? Where do you sign up as a mathematician? University isn’t meant to be a trade school. That’s typical US thinking - everything has to have a commercial value. The purpose of higher education is to broaden our minds and learn critical skills , philosophy accomplishing that better than most other disciplines. If you want an employment certificate go to DeVry.

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By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., June 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment

Instead of trying to second guess where this insanity
is going (impossible); why not follow your heart and do
the thing you love?
If money is the sole goal, you’ve likely sold yourself
way too cheap…

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By grokker, June 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

The only two disciplines that will increase your odds of employment post college are business and law with economics thrown in there somewhere. If you want a shot at a front seat with the oligarchs study these. Everyone else will play supporting slave roles to the elites.

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By unconventionalideas, June 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really liked thethirdman’s comments.  Like him, I have a masters degree in a non-remunerative field (German Literature).

Having said that, I too found my way, and found how to live a rich life without needing a lot of money.

Right now, I’m proud to say at the age of 49, I’m on the brink of becoming car-free, and riding public transportation for the rest of my life.

This is a long time dream because with the expection of a year in Germany when I was 19-20, I’ve always had a car.

The car-free life will enable time for more walking, reading, talking, and relaxing.

Many people will think I’m crazy.

I just say if you’ve walked in my shoes, and had pursued a graduate degree in literature as I did, you may see how a person could view car-free living as a real treat.

Not for everyone, for sure.

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By tropicgirl, June 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

All of you guys and girls that think there are legitimate “sciences” to “go into” are dreaming.

There is not one major industry, including all the “sciences’ biotechnology, food science, medicine, media, entertainment, manufacturing, and SO on THAT HAS NOT BEEN INFILTRATED AND RE-DIRECTED TO SERVING THE WAR STATE THAT WE LIVE IN. That is what they have been up to over the last 50 years or so. I’m surprised there is still a Whole Foods Market.

And, even more so, if an innovative industry and product would be “invented” by an American… the copyright and patent laws have been sufficiently re-written to take all your rights and payments away.

Have another vaccine, my friends, and make sure you give plenty to your kids.  In fact, let’s toast the future with a loaded sugar cube.

Check out the film “Goodwill Hunting” with Matt Damon.

Real scientists should hide from this government. They will be converted into war machines, like it or not.

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By MK77, June 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Einstein once observed that “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

One of the things that cannot be counted but surely counts is wisdom.

Some young people today are not the least bit interested in money, power, social status, or trophy chicks. What they seek above all else is understanding. They are more taken by the “why” of life than by the “how,” by flights of the imagination than by their daily job duties.

What if America had as many philosophers as it had marketing-men?

Chances are it wouldn’t spend trillions of dollars on wars and the military every year, wouldn’t elect someone like George W. Bush president, wouldn’t offer book contracts and TV and radio shows to ignoramuses and hot-air artists, wouldn’t put up very long with a rigged electoral system, wouldn’t exalt wealth the way the media are wont to do.

The society would likely be far more intelligent, compassionate, curious, and humane than the one we know now.

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By thethirdman, June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

First of all, how many fucking engineers do Lockheed Martin and the TVA
actually need?  We can’t all study that nonsense.

All this negativity towards the server is interesting.  It betrays how neoclassical
our ideas about wealth and happiness remain.  It is true that if he wanted
money, he should not have gone for the philosophy degree.  However, you all
make the mistake again that university is job training for the modern man. 

I recently graduated with a masters in American Studies.  Certainly not the
most lucrative trade.  But it was a wonderful personal investment nonetheless. 
For my course of study gave me great peace of mind that what we are
experiencing now is nothing new.  As much as we want to believe that there
were once wise men in coon skin hats debating worthy ideas with learned
reason, the reality is that we have always been driven by the same motivations,
the same fears, the same greed.  My degree gave me peace of mind that this
shit show was spinning long before I got here and will go on long after I leave.

I feel for that waiter a bit because as you might have guessed, I too am a
server.  But here is the difference.  My education allowed me to see that a “good
job” is all relative.  I positively affect the people around me on a daily basis. 
That is my contribution to society.  If I can find a job that suits me better, I will
take it.  But I will not deceive myself into believing for one second that building
industrial infrastructure,  trading imaginary portions of companies, selling real
estate, or working in “health care” is any more noble of a contribution to my
community.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

There are no guarantees that one will have a job upon graduation regardless of the profession. However, there are professions that are historically better bets.

Philosophy as a major in the 21st century? Get real. I hope he likes waiting tables because I seriously doubt that he’ll find any opportunities in the near future.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

@ LT, June 22 at 2:12 pm:

No. It’s not a mantra. It’s truth. The hard sciences, engineering, etc. are diplomas that enjoy much higher odds that one will be able to find work upon graduation. The work that does exist in the U.S. is in the service industry. The philosopher in the article was working in the service industry. I doubt that even in this current depression that a graduate with an electrical engineering degree would be waiting tables; at least not for long. Industrial service jobs—unlike journalism, media, arts, English, etc.—tend to be local and pay very well, and do not face the global competition that the aforementioned professions do. In journalism there’s a double hit due to the new technology of the Internet which provided the public with alternative news sources and opinions. The supply of news and opinion, like gossip, exceeds demand.

What kind of parent desires her child be a quacksalver?

If you feel that way about the country why haven’t you left for greener pastures? Not having any children growing up should make it a viable consideration. I understand your frustration; first the Christian evangelicals and now the neo-evangelicals of communist/socialist theology; the State as God. It’s incredible that with such overwhelming and recent historical evidence that prove communism and socialism a complete and utter failure that produces only unparalleled human suffering and death that Americans can’t embrace that nonsense ideology fast enough. And then there’s the new unmentionable religious fundamentalists immigrating in higher numbers than ever. It’s like trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it.

In the words of Kurtz: The horror! The horror!

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By Lew Ciefer, June 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

@ Blackspeare, June 22 at 7:06 pm
Don’t look now, but the USA is a capitalist republic, which always results in a class society where more and more of the wealth resides in less and less of the people.  Eventually, it will cause a critical mass and a revolution of some sort will ensue.

The U.S. has not been a republic—capitalist or representative—for a very long time.

There is no governmental system in human history that does not always evolve toward higher accumulations of wealth possessed by an increasingly smaller group of Elites—regardless of economic system utilized. The U.S. economy is gangsterism, not capitalism, and for damn sure not free market in the traditional sense.

I seriously doubt that there will be a revolution due to advances in technology and the level of prosperity enjoyed in the U.S. The Power Elite has been—through several methodologies but principally unbridled immigration, legal and illegal, and like Rome at the fall of the Republic—slowly replacing the ethnic majority population. Not only are the new immigrants not going to revolt due to their being supported by governmental coercive actions against the ethnic majority, those that have sought worthwhile degrees in engineering, physics, etc. have been designing and producing technology that make successful revolt highly unlikely; the key word being successful.

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By tropicgirl, June 23, 2011 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

In other words, no one is going to save you and your family. No one. I’m not convinced you realize that yet.

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By tropicgirl, June 23, 2011 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

Its not necessarily the curriculum that damaged these kids, such as not going into engineering. Its the false conclusions, the re-written history, the fantasies of murderers and eugenicists parading around as saviors of the human race that his child had to endure for at least 4 years.

Yes, it is true, the child will be, if not already, disgusted at him or herself, ashamed, scared and totally rejected by their world. Mentally scarred. That’s just for starters.

He or she may be reduced to menial jobs with absolutely no benefits, forever, if they can get a job at all. If there is no parent to take care of them, even at an older age, god forbid, they will, most likely, loose teeth, develop chronic worry/bad nutrition diseases, and addictions.

I am sure, at this point, he or she will have no desire to join the fabled revolutionaries they were taught to admire so much.

Sound good to you?  This is no joke. The progressives needed to lose a generation, just ask Margaret Sanger and now Al Gore… there are too many people. Why not yours be one of them?

PS. We went through this in the 60-70’s. Those of us that survived remember.

Please wake up. You, yes you, are bringing this upon yourself and your family.

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By Peter Knopfler, June 23, 2011 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THESE KIDS!
THE MILITARY WILL TAKE ONE THIRD AND SEND OVERSEAS,
to die, AMERICA HAS 900 BASES TO FILL! 3 WARS soon
more!
Some will go to local POLICE State troopers Sheriffs
dept,Federal-FBI, Homeland Security, ATF, ICE AGENTS,
FDA, Treasury DEPT, IRS, NSA, Special White House
security and Black water, private security companies.
ALL HAVE GUNS ALL TAKE ORDERS!
NOT TO WORRY YOUR KIDS WILL WEAR UNIFORMS!
SOME WILL HAVE GUNS and
SOME TSA workers to rape or radiate you at airports,
trains & bus stations shopping malls WAL-MART

SO NOT TO WORRY YOUR KIDS WILL WATCH YOU ARREST YOU
TORTURE AND KILL YOU,TAKING ORDERS TAKING CARE OF
BUSINESS:
Communism turns your children against the parents.
American Nazi Future! COMMUNIST CHINESE EUGENIC
MODEL:HA HA we are in for a rough ride.

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By Anarcissie, June 23, 2011 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

LT, June 22 at 2:12 pm:

“Try a curriculum that actually prepares you for the real world; Engineering, Physics, Medicine, etc..”

Aaahh the mantra. ...

Well, you’ll notice that Bill Blum was willing to pay for someone to give him breakfast, but not a philosophy lecture.  This suffices to explain the occupation of his waiter.  What is more difficult to explain is why the waiter spent years of his life and thousands of dollars in tuition to obtain a degree in philosophy, given his apparent need to earn some money and Mr. Blum’s rather common preferences.

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By diman, June 23, 2011 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

By Conden

“It is unique to america’s collective rot that universities are treated as slaves to the job market, and instead of ensuring that everyone gets a living wage job with good benefits in a democratic workplace, people choose to attack young people for not conforming to their own hateful, exclusionary ideals about life”

This is where your are wrong my friend, universities participate, and participate actively in the process, just watch this documentary

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpZtX32sKVE&feature=pyv&ad=6739540474&kw=scam

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By Lafayette, June 23, 2011 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

THE UP-ESCALATOR

STG: There are countries that offer virtually free higher education .. a diploma from one of these places isn’t disregarded.

Yes, indeed.

In Europe, whether a house plumber or a body plumber (i.e., surgeon), your diploma may take much longer but the cost is still never more than 1000/1500 dollars per year. (Plus Room&Board;, etc.)

That investment - partly yours but also that of the nation that funds education - will put you into a waiting job. (Well, not always but most often.) From there it is individual ambition / competence that determines the outcome. Plus, there is nary a postsecondary educational program that graduates a student with an albatross of debt hanging around their neck.

Now, THAT is what is called a level playing field.

MY POINT

Education is the sine qua non for putting oneself onto the economic Up-Escalator. It is well worth the investment made by government and pays-off in preventing UI of those less able to cope in downside employment markets.

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By Lafayette, June 23, 2011 at 3:57 am Link to this comment

OBJECTIVISM & ICONS

It is easy to say, “We should have seen this coming”. But, we should have ...

Now we have upon us the seeds of a Lost Generation, like that of Jack Kerouac in the Beat Generation. There is a large debate, even today, as to whether the Beat Generation was really “Lost”. I figure it was, because it left its compass behind as it struck out across the nation somewhat helter-skelter in a postwar America.

Like any society, we put up icons, which are persons or things regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration and following. (Aka “role models”.) I have often suggested that the arrival of Reagan in the Oval Office resurrected Ayn Rand as an icon.

Rand personified and glorified Individualism. Of course, she would, given her youth in Communist Russia. She was the embodiment of anti-communism at a time when anti-communism was fashionable. She was Queen and Mother of the Objectivist Movement in the US.

Reagan’s version was more materialistic. And he had chosen as his main economic tinkerer, Alan Greenspan, a person who believed in Ayn Rand hook, line and sinker. So much so that he must have taken lessons on American Individualism at her feet. From WikiP:

The Objectivist movement is a movement to study and advance the philosophy of Objectivism. It was founded by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. The movement began informally in the 1950s and consisted of students who were brought together by their mutual interest in Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead. The group, ironically named the Collective (due to their actual advocacy of individualism) consisted, in part, of Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Leonard Peikoff.

Greenspan was an ardent proponent of low interest-rates at-any-cost to maintain low unemployment. And the inevitable cost, as we have seen, was the debacle of the SubPrime Mess and its consequence The Great Recession of 2009. Moreover, the Objectivist Movement has the core value of espousing the belief that that proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest – aka selfishness.

In any event, it is the heart of Individualism and antonymous to the notion of Collectivism – which, of course, Ayn Rand fled. And rightly so, I hasten to add, because communism, which personified collectivism at the time, was autocratic and brutally authoritarian.

But we are way beyond 1926 when Rand escaped from Russia to the United States. Russia may still have some nasty elements of autocracy, but that cannot be said of other collectivist nations called socialist and, most particularly, it’s present offshoot “social-democracy”.

MY POINT

We are in 2011, when our youth is bewildered almost to indifference and complacency. The past icons of Individualism propelled our nation to some of the wildest personal accumulation of riches, both inherited and “self-made”, in the nation’s history. Not so?

Then explain the dot.com boom ‘n bust – which milked public credulity only to create an ephemeral IPO goldmine until that dream went dry.

A great many were rushing off to get an MBA and “get in on the ground floor” on some accelerator to Great Riches. Then retiring in sun-drenched California a either technology or political dilettantes.

Wakey, wakey! That dream is long since gone and done with. We are now in a very new paradigm – one that requires us to ask if the Old Icons were of any durable value, except for a comparatively select few.

I think not … we, the sheeple, should not settle for just the crumbs of the table.

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By UmmASkia, June 23, 2011 at 12:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Working at major Hospitals, in USA, I know of M.D s seeking work, laid off OR working Under ‘slave’ like conditions. Real Healing rarely occurs. They have Superv.s to report to and can ONLY spend few minutes with ea. patient.  R.N s burned out with too many patients and overworked ( oh yeh, the PSA-PCT aides also). We have laid off Pharmacists, Surg. Techn, ,underemployed. Many of these and the Engineers, Accountants, etc….., are replaced by foreign HB-1 Visa workers from Asia/India, here in USA, for 1/3-1/2 the salaries. Many hospt. systems and schools, are considering, temporary staffing on ALL levels (except the TOP). Once and R.N gets shoulder or back surgery,.... (Patients are getting much heavier). I could gon about the Pharm. drugs dumped in the trash and toilet and sinks everyday by med, staff, that we ALL are eventually affected by, but…....  .

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By AnAlienEarthling, June 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

Lest we forget our own past: the socio-economic
quagmire into which our graduates are being thrown
was seeded by their grandparents.

The current situation has been in the making for
nearly 40 years now.

The situation might, however, be forcing itself to
change. As so many graduates will have to live on
less, will have to live with family, hopefully, the
“psychology of attachment” will once again enmesh
human relations. Hopefully, a generation will emerge
that lives frugally and values human life over
meaningless material prosperity….

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By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., June 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment

diman, June 22 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
By TDoff,

Best-indoctrinated, I would say, you can not possibly
call whatever it is that is going on on your country’s
campuses - an education.
===========================
+1 on that! Cheers.

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By litlpeep, June 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

You are correct, Mr. Blum (I’m a banana slug from both the seventies [BA-Politics] and 1990 [PhD HistCon]) and this statement is the crux of it all as an observation”

“he country my generation is passing on to Sam and his peers is a mean-spirited place of global warming, class warfare and diminishing expectations, where the top 1 percent of households own nearly 35 percent of all privately held wealth and the “bottom” 80 percent lays claim to less than half that.”

We are a nation in which only 5% of the population has any representation to speak of, and, excepting Bernie Sanders, no on in Congress can imagine just how bizarrely backward their votes are on behalf of that 5%.  We have not had a president since LBJ who would even stoop to popular pressure (MLK made sure LBJ didn’t have a cake walk on behalf of all his corporate buddies raking in the billions from the War I, and three million other Americans, many Canadians, Aussies, Koreans, too) in Vietnam.  We probably killed that many Vietnamese so LBJ could have his corporate campaign funds and his family & friends could rake in the stock payoffs.

To say we have representation in either of the two major parties is to play the EJ Dionne, Jr., game of divide and conquer citizens on behalf of your favorite scum bags in Congress.  For example, to say that “Democrats, bereft of leadership and resolve” suggests exactly the opposite about that D party.  It’s leadership is brazenly hostile to what the nation needs, and happily follows Obama wherever he leads, no matter how repugnant that “lead.”  It takes courage to financially rape and plunder several generations because you have no objective greater than almost instantaneous self-promotion.  That brazen quality of the D party caught Wiener only because he was so stupid as to have his pants down and snap his own pictures and sending them out into cyberspace.  Yes, the brazenly corageous have ordinary lapses and foibles, also.

But, please, spare us the mealy apologies for the corruption artists filling both major parties.

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By Blackspeare, June 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Don’t look now, but the USA is a capitalist republic, which always results in a class society where more and more of the wealth resides in less and less of the people.  Eventually, it will cause a critical mass and a revolution of some sort will ensue.

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By Conden, June 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

College education should be free to every qualifying student, and yes, people should be encouraged to study whatever they want to.  The arts and humanities are worthwhile, are necessary; universities are not intended to be centers of vocational job training, where people study (corporate) business, (right wing) economics, nuclear physics, or computer science and take up internships at microsoft, monsanto, or goldman sachs in the summers.  Planning to become part of an environmentally destructive industry is not a noble cause.

It is unique to america’s collective rot that universities are treated as slaves to the job market, and instead of ensuring that everyone gets a living wage job with good benefits in a democratic workplace, people choose to attack young people for not conforming to their own hateful, exclusionary ideals about life. 

It is no ones right to claim that studying intellectual topics that interest us was wrong.

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By LT, June 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Try a curriculum that actually prepares you for the real world; Engineering, Physics, Medicine, etc..”

Aaahh the mantra.

As if anybody is listening to the scientists we have RIGHT NOW. As if they (scientists, etc) ever themselves really ever to stop to ask them “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN AND WHAT WILL THE EFFECTS BE ON THE LARGER SOCIETY?”

If I had a child growing up in this backwards-ass, rat race, cesspool of a nation, I’d tell the child to be a pastor.
Suckers are be coming more superstitious by the day.

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By SarcastiCanuck, June 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bill,move your son to the Jersey coast.Let him drink lots of booze,spout meaningless shit,screw anything that walks,pump iron and film the whole thing for the mass viewing morons.He’ll be a millionaire before he’s 25.If you had a teenage daughter and could get her pregnant,then call the Porshe dealership baby…Who needs school,reality t.v. is the new American dream.

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By IcanDealwithHippiesbutThisGuy?, June 22, 2011 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

Black Sabbath - Children of the Grave

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By SoTexGuy, June 22, 2011 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

I have nothing but respect for those going through our higher education system and emerging with an education and an ability to think.. it’s a substantial personal and financial commitment not everyone is capable of.

Yet, Higher Education has become a Cartel..  you want a good job, with any benefits and security? You have to have a post High School degree.. It matters not what the real personal qualifications of the individual are. Experience, working knowledge, people skills and the ability to do work and produce.. these mean little or nothing in the new job market.

Corporate HR Departments need that paper, with the embossed seal, approving the applicant. Is that because college graduates are naturally superior? No. Mostly it’s that the University graduate HR honchos do not want the responsibility of choosing the better candidate.. and the Cartel of HR people with diplomas supports it’s own..

State and community funded College and University education should be free to any seeking it and willing to do the work. Private University can continue to charge whatever they want. There are countries that offer virtually free higher education .. a diploma from one of these places isn’t disregarded.

University has become a self-serving Cartel, sucking up public funds while intent on making a monopoly of the workplace and placing it’s graduates and advocates in positions to further it’s takeover.

That’s what I see, anyway.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 22, 2011 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

“I graduated last year,” he answered. “Philosophy major. Berkeley.”

You’re kidding? There’s no market for Philosophy majors in a service economy? Whodda thunk it?

Try a curriculum that actually prepares you for the real world; Engineering, Physics, Medicine, etc. Of course those aren’t studies where one is well paid for sitting on one’s arse opining. No one can predict what profession(s) demand will require four or five years in the future but there are professions that do provide much better odds for a promising future. Philosophy, English, and Journalism are not one of them.

“I opened my wallet and left him an oversized tip. Despite our having taking out a personal loan and having scrimped on everything from cable TV to wintertime heating to help finance Sam’s education, this was no time to get frugal.”

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” -Jesus of Nazareth

“It’s a place where that same top 1 percent receives 23 percent of the nation’s income, three-quarters of which stems from thinly taxed capital gains, and giant corporations like General Electric and Exxon receive billions in federal tax subsidies.”

The government should tax the rich! The rich don’t pay enough taxes and desperately want to pay more taxes—as those two paragons of virtue, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama (<- Jeff “Mr. G.E.” Immelt’s BFF)—have so unselfishly informed us, but those fat, mean, dirty, old white men, the Republicans, won’t let them pay more by raising their taxes. Damn dirty Republicans!

“Democrats cut food stamps subsidy to bailout teachers unions”
http://daytontribune.com/democrats-cut-food-stamps-subsidy-to-bailout-teachers-unions/75907/

Write your Congressmen and Senators today demanding that they raise capital gains taxes to about 85%—NO TAX INCREASE ON LABORERS’ WAGES—and that they lower the so-called death tax limit to about one million and tax all above one million at 90%. Then sit back and listen to the squeals…

“The general facts, however, are clear: the very rich have used existing laws, they have circumvented and violated existing laws, and they have had laws created and enforced for their direct benefit.” -C.W. Mills, “The Power Elite”

Who legislates those laws used, circumvented, violated, created, and enforced for their direct benefit?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s wealth grows 62% to $35.2M, Boehner, Reid’s worth increases too”
http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-16/news/29687626_1_stock-gains-house-speaker-charles-rangel

Both Reason and Common Sense instruct us that one cannot resolve societal ills by continually electing to political office the same useless, deleterious, poltroons that are the cause of said ills. It’s akin to attempting to cure obtuseness by injecting the patient with a mega dose of stupid.

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By clearwaters, June 22, 2011 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Blum:  “Still, for me it was hard at that instant, and it still is, to imagine exactly how the new
crop of grads could come together in a divided nation for the common good, as Aptheker
had urged, especially in view of their parents’ abject failures and the obstacles posed by the
destructive top one percent whom Domhoff monitors.”
  How do you starve the beast when your hunger is the beast?
Simplicity must become an economic virtue.
The sanctity of life must become a survival strategy.
Mans harmony with nature must become a moral imperative.
The US oligarchy must die and we actually come together as a community of, by and for the
people.     
Is it real to believe in a future beyond the destructive forces of capitalist greed? If we want
to have a good day today, we have no choice but to believe in the possibility of a good day
for our children tomorrow. Heres to the future. Have a nice day!

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By Patricia, June 22, 2011 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mijan: Your vehement objections to Professor Aptheker’s words expose your own views as more biased than hers.  Your words infer that people who major in the humanities are too stupid to take science lab classes and have nothing of use to offer their culture.  (“...she doesn’t much appreciate the fact that scientists do something useful with their degrees.””... I aced three philosophy courses and an advanced fiction writing course, all while taking lab classes that almost no English or Philosophy major would dare to enter.”)

You are correct that science students learn critical skills…and they are of a different sort than that learned by humanities students.  The latter learn critical skills of which you show ignorance in your post.

One idea you might consider is that a culture that no longer needs citizens who earn humanities’ degrees is a culture in deep trouble.  Another idea to consider is that you are dumping on a group of people who are already sidelined and struggling; this shows a narrowness of empathy and understanding that might be repaired by a good read of the Russian novelists.

Lastly, you write: “...This woman’s disdain for science is one of the problems with our country.”  You are truly deluded to think that our country gives no value to science. It is second only to money/finance in terms of the power it carries in our culture.  Our nation is suffering across the board, but your field suffers less intensely than most.

The truth, mijan, is that we need all citizens of integrity, with their various abilities and training, to recover a healthy culture.  Your statements cast doubt on your ability to serve with the integrity needed.

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By Mark E. Smith, June 22, 2011 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

TDoff writes, “All is not lost. The US will soon have
the best-educated homeless population in the world.”

We always did have. I was homeless for about twenty
years and not only did most of my street peers have
college degrees, some were math, physics, and law
professors, blacklisted for opposing the
establishment. Why do you think we were called
hipsters and latter hippies? Nobody who’s hip to the
establishment would support it.

It’s the nouveau poor who are the illiterates who
watched too much TV and took out sucker mortgages on
their homes or are the detritus of our wars based on
lies.

However impressive the skills of science grads may
be, if they want to pay off their student loans
they’ll have to work for big pharma, the military-
industrial complex, or some other destructive sector.
Those nice green jobs that Van Jones talks about are
few and far between, and most of them don’t pay
enough. Once you’re indebted to the system, you’re a
slave for life.

Where can workers in my area find decent working
conditions, good pay, and excellent benefits? At our
local organic grocery cooperative, that’s where. It
was started about twenty years ago by a bunch of
hippies and you don’t need a college degree to work
there.

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By gerard, June 22, 2011 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

When people viewing the scene from a restaurant table overlooking Monterey Bay and handing out over-sized tips to waiters are bemoaning the economy and worrying about unemployed young people, that’s a positive sign.  Things will get better fast when they all start shouting—and probably not until.

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By kerryrose, June 22, 2011 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

So sad.  I teach as an adjunct at a University, and sometimes feel like such a hypocrite.  I know there are few jobs available, none locally, for the discipline that I teach.

I see students care, and work hard with hope and optimism, and it is painful to see how earnest they are and how few prospects they will have.

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By Bill Wofe, June 22, 2011 at 8:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Generation that is lost is OUR’s, not the kids’.

We sold out, period.

Our kids and grandkids and the world suffer the consequences.

(BTW, my son too graduated, but has a world of opportunities as he moves into a PhD program at anothe elite University. And I use elite in the most noble sense).

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By diman, June 22, 2011 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

By TDoff,

All is not lost. The US will soon have the best-educated homeless population in the world.

Best-indoctrinated, I would say, you can not possibly call whatever it is that is going on on your country’s campuses - an education.

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By Kugel, June 22, 2011 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Let’s hope they won’t be a lost generation.  It might just take them a little longer to launch.

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By TDoff, June 22, 2011 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

All is not lost. The US will soon have the best-educated homeless population in the world.

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By PK, June 22, 2011 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let us hope the French can provide air cover when these grads charge the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and demand the “change” that they voted for.  This country is ripe for overthrow by the Socialists and it cannot come a moment too soon.

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By PRGP, June 22, 2011 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

Perhaps pitchforks and torches should be passed out at commencement in order to change the current order.

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By Mijan, June 22, 2011 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

This might not be the point of the article, but the commencement speech by Professor Aptheker struck a nerve. The self-ingratiating attitude she has about folks who majored in the humanities combined with her simultaneous disdain for those of us who studied the sciences… disgusts me. Of all things, she’d suggest that scientists entered our particular field for the money? No, if we’d wanted that, we’d have gotten degrees in business and become paper-pushers. She thinks we lack “critical thinking” skills? That’s so ludicrous I don’t even know where to begin. The entire structure of science is based around critical and logical thinking. While majoring in biology, I aced three philosophy courses and an advanced fiction writing course, all while taking lab classes that almost no English or Philosophy major would dare to enter.

Sure, the world needs philosophy majors. Funny, though… the world’s great and influential philosophers didn’t learn their philosophies in a college classroom. In contrast, scientists do learn their skills in the classroom, and hone them in the lab.

This woman’s disdain for science is one of the problems with our country. Perhaps she shuns what she fails to understand. Methinks she doesn’t much appreciate the fact that scientists do something useful with their degrees.

Avenue Q may have presented it best:

“What do you do with a BA in English?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this USELESS degree.”

I do agree with this article overall. The trends in job markets for the young graduates is disconcerting. I should also note that young scientists are having plenty of difficulty finding jobs, too… but at least we have real job skills when we graduate.

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By John Andersen, June 22, 2011 at 5:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many Americans are awake to the reality of the clunker going down the hill without brakes.  However, too many are in denial, and prefer to continue believing the myth of American exceptionalism.

Either way, our fate is sealed.  This clunker isn’t going to get fixed.

It’s going to be replaced, and what replaces it may not even be motorized.

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By Awi, June 22, 2011 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

Politically unconscious American’s are awakening to hardships invited by their lack of attention to the workings of their Democracy.  Hardship invited is hardship earned.  Now the sins of the fathers rests upon the shoulders of their children.  Now citizen’s are awakening to the klunker heading downhill with no brakes.  No sense of citizen responsibility is as of yet, evident. I suspect we will wake up in the hospital.

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By monkeymind, June 22, 2011 at 2:05 am Link to this comment

thank you for this piece.

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