I read Peter Grant's comments this morning on Mad Genius Club. and that sparked this post.
A long time ago (1977 - 1986) I made my living recruiting students for admission to college.
Accidentally, almost, I learned that what we call the 'liberal arts' used to be called the 'liberating arts;' they were programs of study that would provide you with a profession that would liberate you from life behind the plow.
There were four of these liberating arts: doctor; lawyer; preacher; teacher. That's all the economy at the time could support. It took everybody else who wasn't one of these to make sure that there was enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and places to live.
Then developments in agriculture, energy production, transportation, and a few other areas meant that it took fewer people to provide the necessary means to live, and more wealth was generated, and society became able to support people with degrees in psychology and music and philosophy. New professions were generated, as well, with a need for engineers, architects, and people who could make nuclear warheads.
Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex; the current wretched institution is the college-financial complex. The colleges promise, the financial agencies loan, and students enroll and then drop out. If they drop out early, they may only owe $5,000, with no acquired skill set which would allow them to pay off the debt. If they finish a four-year degree, they may wind up with as much as $80,000 in debt, also with no acquired skill set, in too many cases.
No wonder we have muttering mobs of disaffected individuals. They are facing years of scrimping and saving to pay off the loans that paid for four years to get a degree in political science, and are qualified for a job in retail, child care, the fast-food industry; the same jobs they were qualified for before they started school.
Forty six years ago, I was a disaffected youth. The main thing my cohort protested was The War, but we were also wildly indignant about racism, outmoded expectations of sexual behavior, outmoded standards of dress and hair length, outmoded drug laws, and crimes against migrant farm workers. Oh, and exclusion from the political process. And the evils of the technological society. I'm sure there were other items on our agenda, but I can't recall them at this time.
Now, my PERSONAL solution to the paternalistic domination of 1972 was simple, straightforward, and logical: I joined the Army. It was wonderfully liberating! I no longer worried about all the stuff that had bothered me in my brief career as a college student, because I had no worries at all. Someone was always there to tell me what to do next, and when and how to do it. And I never had any problem getting to sleep at night.
And while I DID have a student loan hanging over me, it was only $250, and I used my munificent pay ($333.60/month as an E-3 under 2 in 1972) to pay that off before I shipped out to Germany.
Somewhat more liberal policies are extended today. When my oldest son signed his contract after completing his BA in History, preparing for his career as a teacher, the Army agreed to pay off his student loans in exchange for his selection of a combat arm, and he picked field artillery.
However, there has been one change which is horribly crippling to the muttering mobs: they have no unifying music. I do not know why this should be the case. Heck, we only had ONE radio station that played contemporary music in 1972, and it was AM! The high tech music delivery system was the 8-track tape cassette. And yet, I was able to have my revolutionary fervor fed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young all year long, supplemented by chanting "All we are saying, is give peace a chance," at protest meetings.
I have no solution for the music problem. However, for the college loan problem, I can offer the path my oldest son took: join the Army. Of course, that may mean that you get shipped to Afghanistan and wind up hammered by a 155 mm rocket, but you knew that was a risk when you signed those loan papers as an eager college freshman, right?
And, if you qualify, the military can also provide you with some bodacious skills. If Air Traffic Controller is still available, that's a pretty marketable skill.
Or, you could just sign up for the career track in high school, and maybe supplement it with a year or two of tech school. Some amazing job opportunities out there for people who can do things.
And, since the current music scene seems to have failed them, I offer the wisdom of 1957, provided by the Silhouettes.
Peace be on your household.