In Praise of Unemployment, Debt, and Egotism

John Bennett
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Posted: Jan 26, 2014 12:01 AM
In Praise of Unemployment, Debt, and Egotism

What type of parent would knowingly allow their child to incur massive debt on an education with dubious earning potential? We now know, because a person writing for Time named Randye Hoder has given us a glimpse into the void.

Hoder, in an article earnestly titled Why I Let My Daughter Get a ‘Useless’ College Degree, has publicly endorsed indebtedness, ego-centric education, and naiveté as the model for young life.

In the piece, Hoder tells the story of her daughter Emma’s choice in education. Emma is “an American Studies major with a focus on the politics and culture of food.”

Hoder starts the piece by sharing with the reader that she used to want to tell friends that her daughter’s major would lead to a job. But her daughter is majoring in something largely devoid of practical application. So Hoder admits to reciting euphemistic nonsense such as “Emma’s concentration and interests could lead her in any number of directions,” or “…Working at a nonprofit that improves health and nutrition for the urban poor. Managing social media for a food-related startup.”

But then Hoder got past that whole charade. She admits, “…[T]he more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve decided to be honest.” You know, deciding to be honest, as opposed to what she was doing before, which was pretending that “the politics of food and culture” would actually dovetail into compensable work.

Hoder now cuts through all of that fluff about getting a job or preparing for a career:

“I’m not sure what Emma is going to do,” I now say. “But she’s gotten a great education and has really found her passion — and I know those things will serve her well over the course of her life.”

One will be on shaky footing when looking for a job, but there is something valuable to be gained from the humanities, called “critical thinking.” One English professor argued that at “the heart of the humanities” is this shining beacon of the Enlightenment:

“[I]nformed, thoughtful dialogue about the way we ought to conduct life. This dialogue honors no pieties: All positions are debatable; all values are up for discussion.”

Just go into a humanities classroom and say, “Diversity is a weakness,” and you’ll see whether there are pieties at the heart of the humanities.

Of course “critical thinking” is not taught; doctrine is. Within the left-leaning academy, there is a Democrat: Republican ratio among humanities professors of 10:1.

So fake critical thinking is the upbeat part, but Hoder acknowledges that there will be a downside to all of the generic “passion” found in the humanities:

There will be loans to pay when she graduates — and, yes, my husband and I will foot that bill. And of course, we will be thrilled if Emma finds work come May and doesn’t have to move back in with us.


Maybe, just maybe that degree will lead to adult independence. This is the new normal, on hideous display! Brought to us by generations of permissiveness, and borne of affluence, this new normal is appalling in its casual embrace of mediocrity and economic decline.

Worse yet, not every student will be as financially cushioned as Hoder’s children. The less affluent may cook up a phony disability to go with their fake critical thinking.

Hoder’s children could still end up being the ones shouting in the street, demanding repayment of their student loans at an Occupy protest.

In any event, we are reaching the coup de main of Hoder’s piece:

“For a while, I fell into a trap, made to feel as if Emma’s imminent employment (or lack thereof) is of immense importance…”

What a dastardly “trap”- to think that imminent unemployment is of “immense importance.” And who set that trap? People even older than our WASP forebears, who created the impulse that leads responsible parents to push their children toward some useful edification, tangible skill, or practical learning. That impulse, which was at the root of our civilization, is -for some- only a “trap.”

Hoder completes the charade, saying, “…I’ve come to realize that what really matters will be something that we may not be able to measure for quite a long time: Emma’s contribution to the world and how happy and fulfilled she is in it.”

There we have it. As long as you can cite to emotive gibberish, then you have a valid educational plan for the transition to adulthood.

Hoder presents a recipe for ego-driven education, a young life weighted down with debt, and indifferent to unemployment. The term abuse would not be too harsh a description for the malign neglect involved in such decision-making.

No one can be that careless about unemployment, debt, and aimlessness, without eventually favoring some form of benevolent coercion and centralized planning to redress the disastrous consequences.

If Hoder’s the parenting style and lifestyle pattern of a significant number of nominally educated people, then we are in even worse trouble than we thought. But that’s not all. Parents like Hoder are coming after you, if you are conservative. They are probably teaching your children, beginning at the youngest age. They are creating the curriculum. If they aren’t now, they will soon be demanding that you sacrifice the fruits of your labor for the benefit of their improvident children.