Monday, May 24, 2004

Via the consumer debt blog Maxed Out Generation, I came upon an interesting article in the Village Voice entitled "The Ambition Tax: Why America's young are being crushed by debt—and why no one seems to care." The article describes with horror the large debt loads many of today's college graduates take on (average debt upon college graduation is about $20,000). The user replies tell more horror stories of debt-ridden college graduates unable to pay back their loans.

Frankly, I think the root of the problem is the willingness of people to pay large amounts of money for degrees with little earning power.

That $20,000 debt incurred upon graduation -- not so difficult to pay off if your degree is in engineering, computer science, statistics, or management...

Rather than try to blame the system, the people saddled with college debt should blame themselves for ignoring their financial prospects when they made the decision to go to college in the first place.

The Village Voice article also faults Kerry and Bush for not proposing any measures to lessen this debt load. Why must the government always be the white knight rushing to the rescue?

These people are adults. They made a choice to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a worthless product; nobody deceived them about either the worth of their product or the money they must pay.

Caveat emptor.

Addendum: See also Alex Tabarrok's advice to a liberal arts major.


At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know what i said after i finished reading this post? i said 'what a bitch!!' hahaha

"worthless product"!! come on.

a university education isnt a stint at trade school and shouldnt be approached as such. there are benefits to having arts people in workforce. moreover, the us government has no reason not to subsidize higher education when countries such as france, canada, and even bloody costa rica manage just fine.

incurring some degree of debt when you take all that time off from working full-time ought to be expected, yes... but must you be so scathing and unfair? get off your science high horse. you read books and enjoy the arts, so obviously that sort of skill isnt "worthless"

a brilliant engineer comes around just as often as a brilliant author. yeah, lacklustre engineers are paid more than lacklustre arts bums. lets all become engineers then!! i dont see anything wrong with the government subsidizing a bit of life in between being a high school drone and being a corporate drone. sure its indulgent, but so are suvs!

At 11:00 PM, Blogger alex said...

Worthless, in the context of my post, means worthless on the job market. That a liberal education is not worthless is evidenced by the countless people who have, after obtaining it, gone on to produce great works of art, literature, or philosophy. Its worth, however, is a personal matter; merely because you have become "educated" does not mean that society owes you a job.

At 11:06 PM, Blogger alex said...

"...must you be so scathing and unfair?"

Yes, if only because liberal arts majors are so fond of complaining. Once these people go out into the real world and find that they have little in the way of employable skills, they tend to write articles lambasting the academic system for not finding a job for them and the credit card companies for loaning them money to get through college.

Yet its been their choice to put themselves in this position all along.

"i dont see anything wrong with the government subsidizing a bit of life in between being a high school drone and being a corporate drone."

This reminds of me a great quote by Frederic Bastiat:

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.

"a university education isnt a stint at trade school and shouldnt be approached as such"

I disagree

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