TUCSON–Have you noticed that as more Americans have obtained college degrees, the nation has seen more divisiveness, more tawdriness and vulgarity, more asinine and sophomoric news coverage, more personal and governmental indebtedness, more herding behavior, more suicides, more escape from reality through psychotropic and recreational drugs, more skin covered with bad art, and more scoundrels and nitwits from both parties in national office?
At the same time, college tuition has skyrocketed along with student loans, as colleges have built swank dorms, huge sports complexes, and country-club-like amenities—and as they have hired legions of diversity deans at salaries of $200,000 or more. College football and basketball coaches make a lot more, but at least they are held accountable for results.
It seems like an impossible feat, but college administrators and faculty have become even more unprincipled and greedy than the stereotypical investment banker or hedge fund operator. In fact, the collegiate flimflammers have absconded with more loot than Bernie Madoff’s haul. The $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans is just a fraction of the loot.
Yet with no apparent embarrassment, shame or self-awareness, they preach about social justice, diversity and income inequality. They also preach about sustainability and global warming, without noticing or caring that most of the humongous buildings on campus go unused much of the day and year but have to be constantly air-conditioned or heated. Certainly, if they cared as much about the environment as they say, they could hold more classes in the evening and summer at deep discounts to students or find other uses for the buildings, such as housing the homeless.
Past Supreme Court decisions have sanctioned college admission policies that discriminate against certain races in favor of other races, using the convoluted reasoning that diversity enhances education. More than likely, the current Court will take up the case of Harvard discriminating against Asians in the name of diversity. This from a judicial body where there is no academic diversity, as every justice got a law degree from Harvard or Yale, which are only 137 miles apart.
Admittedly, I have learned a lot from diversity—first, from working as the only white (actually, olive) as a teenager on an otherwise all-black janitorial crew in St. Louis; second, from my working-class parents, who scrimped to send me to a prep school in the leafy part of town, where, as one of only two Italians on campus, I was introduced to how the upper-crust lived; third, from living in the barrio of San Antonio, where I attended college with many Latinos and where gunshots could be heard at night; and fourth, from serving in the multiracial Army.
My learning was this: There is more diversity of thinking and social norms between social classes than between races within a social class. For example, the thinking and social norms at elite universities are very similar across all races. But the thinking and social norms on campus are quite different from the thinking and social norms of lower-class Americans, regardless of race. Stated differently, blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites at Yale and Harvard have a lot in common in thinking and social norms but little in common with poor blacks, Latinos, Asians, or whites in the ghetto, or barrio, or Appalachian hollow.
For sure, Yale and Harvard students have nothing in common with Bloods, Crips, Hells Angels, MS-13 gang members, or Yakuza gang members. As such, these groups could enrich the college learning experience if they were admitted to Yale and Harvard, just as they enrich the learning experience in prisons, where they are at each other’s throats, or more accurately, where they cut each other’s throats.
Let’s return to the subject of student loans.
You’ve no doubt heard the emotional outbursts from poorly-educated reporters, commentators, politicians and recent college graduates about student debt being a financial ball and chain that keeps the indebted from buying a nifty condo in a hip downtown, getting married to one of the trendy new genders, ordering meals from GrubHub, spending more than six bucks a day at Starbucks, and buying the latest and greatest iPhone that comes with an app that can measure IQs, even the miniscule IQs of reporters, commentators, politicians and recent college graduates.
These geniuses have been taught in college that the munificent government can remedy all unfairness, make everyone equal, get all peoples to love each other, and turn water into a grande macchiato. That would be the same government that teamed with greedy, unprincipled colleges in foisting the college loan scam on incoming students—students who didn’t learn such basic financial concepts as compound interest in high school, unlike my immigrant grandparents, who never attended high school but could calculate the cost of debt and the compound interest earned on savings, which explains why they saved so much money from their meager pay.
Many of the geniuses believe that the government should excuse student debt at the expense of those who didn’t go to college and those who went to college and graduated without debt. They don’t mention that the average student loan is about the same amount as the average car loan.
Using their illogic, the government also should excuse car loan debt, which now totals $1.3 trillion. After all, car buyers succumb to sales and social pressure to take out loans to buy cars with expensive gadgets and gizmos that they don’t need for basic transportation, just as college students succumb to sales and social pressure to take out loans to buy degrees from schools with expensive facilities that they don’t need for a basic education.
Pasted below is a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about skyrocketing auto loans, written by two reporters who seem to have actually learned something in college. The article says that a median-income household can afford a car worth $18,390, based on a four-year loan, 20% down, and a payment under 10% of gross income, which is the highest payment recommended by financial experts (and my grandparents if they were alive). But the average new-car loan today is $32,119, with a term of 69 months. Astonishingly, an increasing number of loans have terms of 85 months or longer.
This is more proof that intelligence and judgment have declined in America as the number of college graduates has increased. And it shows that sellers of cars are cut from the same cloth as college administrators and faculty.