The price we pay for elite overproduction
Liberal arts colleges could solve this by bringing back and reinvigorating core curricula to match the modern economy. Out of a 32-course load for a 4-year degree, there might be no fewer than four math, two computer science, and four computational / hard science courses (e.g., scope and methods in Political Science using R and Github) required, plus existing required core in western lit / philosophy and writing. This would (1) eliminate many unqualified people who don't belong in college, (2) get rid of a lot of BS departments that manufacture professional grievance-havers, and, (3) prepare graduates for economically productive careers.
That's quite the downside.
I can't help but think that if most of our workforce had to or could make things with their hands rather than being relegated to either being a disposable worker (retail, food service, etc.) or trying to justify a highly disposable job, we'd be much better off as a society.
Thank you for another great article.
The feature of this that drives me nuts as a (European) intuitive leftist is how damned capitalist Wokeistan is. How scornful of the lumpen racist transphobic commoners it is. How un-leftist it is. How it is just another industrial sector dishing out ways to keep ordinary people and the remaining workers in check. Finally, how obviously on the make its chief proponents are.
"It’s an arrangement that works out almost as well for the bosses as it does for the consultants, while the workers, as usual, get squeezed."
This is not accurate -- or at least not universally accurate. I'm a line manager and my attitude towards these types of training is very dim. So is the attitude of every other manager I've heard talk about these trainings. The workers don't like them either. That is because we recognize that the business is not actually trying to *reduce* racism or harassment or bias. It's covering its own ass so that if someone lodges, say, and EEOC complaint or a lawsuit, it can show that the company has properly trained its workers, reducing liability. Forcing people to spend an hour or two or three on mind-numbing training is a complete waste of time for everyone involved. Further, the whole message is basically "nothing even remotely questionable is okay, report any potential infraction immediately." There's a fundamental level of distrust involved with these policies, these expectations of coworkers reporting on each other to HR, and if they don't, they themselves can get in trouble.
There is absolutely a cost to allowing an environment of harassment or racial bias to dominate or subsist in an office. But these sorts of trainings, when not combined with a larger culture of respect, do nothing to reduce harassment, and everyone knows it.
This is quite possibly the best explanation for this (intentionally) soul-destroying phenomenon I’ve ever read. Heading over to pay for my subscription.
With two adult children with advanced degrees and student debt (they paid for their "advanced" degrees as their parents helped with defraying all undergrad costs) and the knowledge that our home remodeler makes more than our attorney son and clinical research coordinator daughter combined, Leighton Woodhouse's observations take on new meaning. Sadly. The "four-year fun factory" degrees at liberal arts colleges and universities have to be increasingly reassessed from a strictly economic standpoint.
I refuse to believe leftists don't see how their DEI gulags prevent the very people they claim to champion from excelling. The tokenism only works in some areas of a business and there will never be enough immigrants and POC graduating, particularly in tech, to satisfy demand. Gender activism is an easier game to rig when it comes to quota filling. Any college or HS grad can simply claim to be part of a LGBTQ group and they will be seen as an intersectional asset to woke corporations.
How to fight this? Universities hate to see trade schools. Tell high schoolers they can do something besides fill out college applications! I’d like to see our politicians give the Trades equal praise, rather than groom young people to enter into degrees that increase victimization.
The Lumpens are also drawn to the unelected power of the media like flies to dung. In my early days, news reporting was a craft, like barbering or bartending. A couple years into the business, I removed my press card from the brim of my fedora. Then I lost the fedora and started carrying a briefcase, just like a lawyer, and the degeneration of an honest job into a political posting in capitals around the world began in earnest. I didn't last but looking back, it was a fascinating process to have been inside for a while.
I need to add my best Chomsky interpretation.
To wit: Government manages everything, they pick the winners and losers, Government allows private profit and makes the public responsible for losses. Government has created a world of oligopolies ￼and through red tape and regulations destroyed small enterprises. People understand this intuitively and send Junior to school so she gets the bona fides to be able to enter this precious world. The ticket to ride is a college education and the more prestigious the school the better.￼ It is obvious, everyone understands that the only way to get ahead is to get hired by the big guys (or slip and fall on ice outside of a fancy restaurant).￼￼
Of course the Buffalo State grad struggles against the Columbia graduate: boom, NGO work to the rescue. ￼
By Jove, this is a corrupt era, we are truly bereft. The biggest lie that our elite tells is the lie of “meritocracy￼￼”. The corrupt little scum bags steal a gigantic unfair advantage: Harvard versus Appalachian State, hum!￼￼
At least now I understand why I have been feeling increasingly insane as I get older.
Excellent piece. You've solved the 'mysterious' problem that is destroying San Francisco and puzzling its inhabitants--why is such a wealthy, well-educated city so dirty, disorderly, and dangerous?
The title absolutely wins Substack for today!
The good news is that more and more people are seeing this crap for what it is. Ooh, another corporate climate change initiative (yawn, just virtue signaling that will pay to screw over indigenous people somewhere), Ooh another DEI training (force smile, nod and drink it away after work), and on and on and on.
If someone asks, I say what I think, but I don’t feel endangered because the DEI people never ask anything- they already have all the answers. I guess this perspective is the blessing of a STEM education and having skills that the organization actually needs.
It is fun to see the NGO complex now starting to go after the NGO complex, like how Guttmacher couldn’t do anything after the Roe overturn because of crazy infighting DEI activists. Maybe I am dreaming, but I think all this crap will end in a purge next time there is an economic downturn, although we will have to suffer through endless trad media stories about the plight of the poor DEI workers and how it’s just not fair that they have to work at Starbucks now and clean out the bathroom needle bins every day...
Insightful; we are certainly suffering through distortion caused by oversupply of a certain type. However, I have a nit to pick about your (admittedly rather offhand) comments on STEM.
"But as less than a third of college degrees awarded each year are in STEM fields, they tend to lack clearly marketable skill sets. Their Comparative Literature and Political Science classes haven’t taught them how to build or design new products or how to plan and implement new business strategies."
I see this sort of thing a lot from STEM graduates: a sort of sneering at the liberal arts education. I know you're not sneering, but the idea that STEM is practical skills and that liberal arts is not is very annoying. I work in the STEM field (my company sells software we develop) even though I have a degree in English literature and writing. If you ask any manager if the skills their teams learn in STEM school are sufficient to do the job, they will laugh. If you ask most individual workers if they learned more of practical use in their job at school or on the job, they will tell you on the job. I will also point out that many jobs that complement STEM work do *not* require STEM education, but rather, require excellent communication skills, organizational skills, and the ability to look at a problem, gather facts about it, interrogate the problem, and determine a solution. These are all base skills that one can get from a liberal arts degree, and then learn the rest of what you need to know on the job.
However, I'd certainly agree that the liberal arts education is not exactly going out of its way to ensure that these lessons are taught in a pragmatic way. In fact, my general experience with professors in these fields is a general contempt for what they consider to be a horrible business and corporate environment -- both evil and dehumanizing (which I find silly given that these environments are where the tools that drive our world are created). Those attitudes are not helping their students.
I'd like to see classes on problem solving strategies (many of which can be applied to, say, literary analysis), how to find the answer to a question, how to communicate with someone who doesn't share your knowledge and assumptions, etc.
Further, it is unrealistic to make a very large percentage of graduates STEM - the candidates lack the interest and, in many cases, the ability to be good enough at it to do it professionally.
Heh. I'd be surprised if a single company in my entire industry has ever hired a DEI consultant.
Just say no. It can be done.
fantastic piece. I'm writing a book related to this messed elite issue...do you do guest interviews? We could have loads of fun. Maybe a new substack person?