Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Getting the Question Right
- college dropouts
- associate degree graduates
- bachelor’s degree graduates
- they’re the same
Reed next argues that many debts are hard to repay because “entry-level jobs don’t pay very well,” and he laments that “McCluskey never addresses either the supply of entry-level jobs, or the minimum wage.” Again, you only get so many words in an op-ed, so you simply can’t tackle everything. But Reed’s argument shines a negative light not on me, but what he apparently thinks college prepares many people for: entry-level jobs often paying, he implies, minimum wage. If that’s the case, what is the point, at least economically, of getting a degree? And if it is the case that you now need a degree to get a minimum-wage, entry-level job, does that not at least suggest – even to a non-heartless person – that we are suffering from massive credential inflation spurred by too many people going to college? And is allowing someone to take on substantial debt not a very dangerous proposition if their likely destination is minimum-wage employment?
Like a friend of mine at a nearby university, he conflates "high school graduate" with "high school graduates that are admitted to a flagship university". (He might even conflate it with HS grads that enroll at Georgetown, where he went to college, an even more egregious error.) I'd like to know where he taught HS English if he thinks the bottom third of HS graduates and dropouts with a GED are ready for most of the minimum or near-minimum wage entry-level jobs in this country. The sad fact is that "no college credit" has little value, unless you are already Georgetown material, and the minimum wage is but a fraction of what it was when I got out of HS. It would be much better if the first semester's tuition could be handled by someone with a minimum wage job, but folks like the Cato Institute don't want to fund colleges or pay a living wage. They are about to get Trumped for their efforts.
So I blame the "graduate everyone from HS" push that has gone on for several decades for part of the default problem you focus on, with the rest due to the minimum wage. He should be thankful that colleges still flunk people. That is what makes "some college credit" have more value than none at all.