YOUNG AMERICANS: FORGET YOUR STUDENT LOANS AND MOVE TO GONZO TOWN
By Stone Pinkerton
June 14, 2011
Getting ahead? Going to college? Whether they know it or not, millions of young Americans are joining the ranks of the over-qualified and under paid and unemployed. But heck, you can still give it the “old college try” anyway, but be informed of the pro’s and cons of your decision.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, there is only one job available for every five college graduate applicants in America today. And with most jobs in the US being off-shored to the Far East and Latin America, it’s a safe bet that stat is not changing anytime soon, at least for the next 10 years, unless of course you are going for a position under the Golden Arches.
In the last 12 years, college tuition in the US has risen a staggering 900%, while wages have jumped an impressive… well, err, an average 10%. For the bright, young, and gifted, this equation should really be studied very carefully. Regardless of how bleak the outlook is, America has always been the land of positive thinking and no wonder, as there is no shortage in the queue of 17 year olds dying to (literally) sign their life away to JP Morgan, Citi Bank and Wells Fargo in exchange for, in many cases, around $80,000 in student loans.
STUDENT LOAN SUB-PRIME BUBBLE: Cheap loans can really stack up, but the benefits don’t.
Before we rush to judgement, let’s be fair and breakdown what the kids are getting for their 80K. First and foremost, they get that golden fleece, the sheep skin also known as The Degree. In addition, millions of young Americans will be given a four year window in which to master the fine art of drinking beer and how to both hold and suck cannabis smoke from a perspex cylinder. If they have spent their 80K wisely, they will also be gifted cheap tickets to Division I football and basketball games and their fantastic after parties. As a keen sportsman myself, perhaps to best value for the money was the free campus gym membership and intramural sports programs which kept me fit enough to withstand non-stop weekends of partying. On top of all this fun stuff, it’s also a bottomless trough of free time to play computer games in your apartment, eat pizza, screw around with your guitar, and of course, ample opportunities for scouting out members of the opposite sex. Apparently, it all looks good on your CV.
So in summary: lots of beers, drugs, sports, parties, games, sex, and 80K in the hole, with little chance of landing a job after four years. In fact, you will most likely be competing for lower level jobs against seemingly uncool debt-free people who never graduated from university. You might consider that you could achieve all that, and more, by simply going to Thailand for two years… at a cost of $5k.
For those fortunate sons and daughters, the Degree may hold some potential value, but for most its value is purely vestigial. In days gone by, this parchment represented the pinnacle in academic achievement and was your passport to career liberation. In a Darwinian race to land that 1 out of 5 jobs, you will need more than “a well-rounded CV”. This remains the case- only for 20% of the graduate herd, the lucky ones, and the ones with the best connections. The other 80% will unfortunately be disappointed, and will opt for a less glamorous career path like waiting tables, making cocktails or capucinos, lifeguarding, ‘delivering’ things, ‘guarding’ things, lap dancing and/or other forms of prostitution.
Even if you are an A or B student, it’s likely that you chose a degree that your high school career advisor told you would be “useful”, or your friends promised would be “easier” in the end analysis. If you fall into this category you would have chosen to pursue a degree in the following: communications, media communications, media studies, public relations, human development, psychology, sports psychology, marketing, advertizing, “management”, business management, human resource management, occupational therapy, entrepreneurial studies, sports management, sociology, climate change, international relations, journalism, “art”, philosophy, or even (God help you) the once celebrated holy grail of qualifications known as the MBA.
All these degrees mentioned, for the most part, are either completely useless, or they are subjects one could learn in a year to 18 months as an intern in the working world. We could also say safely that none of them are worth $80,000 in student loans, credit cards and other institutional debt that will follow you long into life as your college experience becomes a fleeting, distant memory as you reach 50 years old- wrinkled, sans hair, overweight and kids to feed and cloth. They probably won’t tell you that at your College Orientation Day. That’s the reality of it though.
What’s the alternative? If you live in a socially advanced and utopia society like Gonzo Town, you would be provided with a number of viable and more economically sound options.
Firstly, instead of over-hyping the alleged status of the over-priced university education con, we would advise our little Gonzo Sprites to get a job and go to Community College for two years. By doing this you have the following advantages over your mostly deluded elite counterparts at a four year university. You will have no debt, you can earn money, perhaps live at home and save money, get more or less the same curriculum the university college offers- at a fraction of the cost… and you will save your liver from getting hammered by a barrage of cheap beer every weekend. The draw backs are simply less parties, and you have to put up with your parents for a while longer. But, you can still gate crash spring break and with more money to throw around chasing girls or guys. Quids in, as they say.
Second option: Learn a trade and become a ‘skilled worker’. Here is a truly revolutionary concept, so radical in fact, the entire US and European modern economies were built upon it. Question: who earns more than a lawyer, a resident physician, or most company directors? Answer: a plumber. Do an apprenticeship and complete your training, as a plumber, electrician, roofing engineer, X-Ray technician, or a building surveyor and you could probably save up enough money by the time you are 35 to fund a dotcom start-up, netting you another few million. Get it? I wish I had (I got my degree in art and philosophy and remain poor, but happy, to this day).
Third option: enlist in the armed forces. On paper the GI Bill looks like a brilliant option- all your bills paid for by US tax payers, no heavy student loans and you get a dose of that legendary “military discipline” we all hear about. Air Force, Navy and a few smart grunts and jarheads excluded, what they don’t tell you before you sign on the dotted line at your local strip-mall recruitment office is that you are now essentially running corporate security for the likes of Beaty Balfour, KBR, Haliburton, Unocal and Exxon. You may also risk having certain areas of your brain de-actived, and possibly removed. These include your moral compass, capacity for creative and original thought, flickering trance-like states induced by the American flag, national anthem, and a loss of your ability to distinguish Osama bin Laden from Ali Baba in Disney’s Aladdin. True hazards of the job.
Fourth option: buy guns and start a survivalist colony in Oregon.
In the end, one can only feel sorry for all those bright young American students who have been sold the perpetual lie that a college education is somehow worth its weight in gold. If you are still a student, you should really be asking your elders and teachers why the last four US Administrations sold out the economy- aka your future jobs, off-shore to China and the like. And then go ask your Professor or Career Guidance Councilor if they themselves would pay $60,000, $80,000, or $120,000 for a college degree with no job prospects at the end of the line? Send their replies here to Gonzo Town.
Question: Are students, like home buyers pre-2008, being lured into a huge Sub-Prime trap of easy loans and inflated asset (the asset here being a university degree) values?
Consider still, the richest dudes and babes (mind you, mostly divorced) I’ve known… never did graduate from university.
There it is kids. Go to the Debt-Slave Land of no jobs where you will be unwittingly lining the pockets of shameless banksters (and serving them drinks at the same time), or come study and work in Gonzo Town. Any questions?