Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So, Willard Was An English Major

You really have hand to the wingnut conservatives. It seems like every time they come up with a certain mantra they can relentlessly repeat in the media in an attempt to thwart popular dissent in any given area, reality almost always seems to rear its ugly head and makes a mockery out of their words. Not that this cows them in any way, mind you. It's just that after it happens often enough you would think that even the movement's dimwitted followers would finally catch on that they are being conned.

As everyone knows, for the past year or so student loan debt and the inability of most recent college graduates to find good jobs has become a very prominent issue in the national conversation. The conservatives have tried to counter the public's growing concern that young adults are being systemically crippled financially before they even have a chance to get started in life by doing what they do so well: blaming the victim. One of the ways this is being done is to chide college students for studying "worthless" degrees like music, art, history, political science, communications, philosophy and English. Supposedly, it is the students' fault for being so daft as to enter a field of study for which there will be few jobs waiting for them when they graduate.

It's exactly the kind of line that sells really well with the selfish old fuckers who make up the majority of Republican Party's base--just another version of the "these kids today got no respect" bullshit that selfish old fuckers have been peddling ever since modern medicine advanced to the point where it allowed enough selfish younger people to live to become selfish old fuckers and affect the outcome of elections. It is, of course, absolute crap. Notwithstanding the fact that there IS value in studying for knowledge's sake rather than to earn a buck later, prior to 2008 the economy never had any trouble absorbing all of those art and liberal arts majors once they graduated. It was the economic crisis created by the greedy elite scumbags who run Wall Street and corporate America, not the students' choice of majors, that created this crisis.

So lo and behold, along comes the most unlikely poster child to prove that the conservative line blaming the students for choosing unprofitable majors is complete bullshit: former Massachusetts Governor and Wall Street titan Willard Mitt Romney himself. On Friday, at a speech at Otterbein University in Ohio, Romney not only admitted he was an English major, but advised English majors that their best option was to go to graduate school. So much for the ridiculous conservative notion that you can't make any money after studying in the liberal arts.

What Romney's example really shows, of course, is that it hardly matters WHAT you choose to study just so long as you are born with silver spoon shoved up your ass into a well connected family. Romney's success on Wall Street and in politics has nothing whatsoever to do with his college major and everything to do with the fact that his father was Chairman of the old American Motors Corporation, Governor of Michigan and a presidential cabinet secretary. In that regard, he is no different from President George Bush the Lesser, who may have been a business major, but actually was a "C" student, a draft dodger, a drunk, a coke head and an all around fuck up who kept getting second chances in life because of the family he was born into.

Nevertheless, I am fairly certain that this latest example of blatant hypocrisy won't slow down the conservative propaganda machine one damn bit. As long as there are plenty of selfish old fuckers out there who are happy to have someone tell them that they should not at all feel guilty about how young adults today are getting boned by a system that is now hopelessly broken, the bullshit will just keep piling up until one day it engulfs us all.

Bonus: They want more


  1. Well said Bill - that 3rd paragraph is priceless!

  2. That 3rd paragraph was great!

    Chris Hedges has a piece out this week that mentions something like the ideals that are in the so-called "worthless" degrees are the only ones that have the power to mitigate this worthless consumer existence they want to immerse everyone in. Dangerous ideas, in other words.

    But Mitt having an English degree- well I guess you can squeeze through those programs without it touching your soul if you're the right kind of "person".

  3. Great column. A culture that places no value on music, art, history, political science, communications, philosophy and English is no culture at all. Another blame the victim tactic employed by the "I got mine" crowd is to criticise young grads for all the student loan debt they incurred, conveniently ignoring that the cost of higher education has increased by many multiples since their time, even adjusting for inflation.

    And it's not only conservative old fuckers who have this attitude. Many "progressive" old fuckers are the ones responsible for tuition gouging in the first place!

  4. Well fuck and here I am with an M.A. in History struggling to find a basic teaching job in ever shrinking school districts with overpaid senior administrative staffs. My dad struggled his entire life as a blue-collar worker and always told be as a kid that a University education was the ticket out of poverty. So much for that notion.

    I graduated from University just as this recession began and into the worst post-war job market. Consequently, my employment record has huge gaps which is viewed as poison by HR reps. My only source of income these days is running an online consignment shop through eBay and Half.com. Really the only thing I have going for me is that even with an M.A. degree, I have much less student loan debt compared to the national average thanks to scholarships and a college fund provided by my aunt.

    I feel like a failure.

    1. No way - the system failed you...

    2. Hi Bill,

      I used to think it was the (so called) conservatives or even the (so called) liberals. That looks like a false dichotomy as (most of) the people with power in the current interconnected set of systems, regardless of their political affiliation are going down the same path. Perhaps the most glaring example is GWB vs BHO. Who would have thought the later would pour the gasoline on the fire of all the things the prior was attacked for? Thus, in the particular instance you write about in this column, HueyLewis' observation "it's not only conservative old fuckers who have this attitude. Many "progressive" old fuckers are the ones responsible for tuition gouging in the first place" sees correct to me.

      Call me an true old school (as in 1800s) liberal. I guess that makes me a true (not Republican) conservative today, closing in on libertarian.


    3. Anonymous,

      Do something with your hands. Do something related to transit (i.e. fixing or driving buses), or grow vegetables, or fix homes, or fix bikes.

      The history degree and accompanying insights as you know are lifetime skills, and are certain to come in handy in the future when more people will seek to make sense of the chaos that surrounds them.

    4. You know what makes me sad is that the for-profit scam/college that I went to hires teachers that don't necessarily have college degrees and they get paid around thirty dollars per hour. Here you are with an actual degree and you can't find a teaching position. If I had known that my teacher had never went to college, I would have never gone there.

      This country is in sad, sad shape. I'm not so sure that I want my kids to go to college anymore. At this rate, they have a better chance at being a reality television show star than getting a college degree and actually finding employment. Okay, I'm half kidding. I don't actually promote that idea. I do have hope that things will get better one day.

    5. @Excelsior - "Call me an true old school (as in 1800s) liberal."

      Me, too. But maybe that's just because I've always been a bit of and "old soul." :)