By Stone Pinkerton
Gonzo Town
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 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.

GRADUATE OPPORTUNITIES: Lots of cool jobs are waiting for US degree holders.

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, 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 $80,000, or $120,000 for a college degree with no job prospects at the end of the line. Send their reply 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?

And 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?


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  1. mojo Says:

    Great article! I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion. I myself used to believe that college was imperative to having a comfortable life. That was until I got to school and realized what a crock of sh*t it all was.

    So after my freshman year I quit. And haven’t been back. And now, in my mid 30’s I make $110k a year in a very secure job field.

    Anyone who would willingly go that far into debt needs to seek profesional help.

  2. Pat Ro Says:

    Disaster freaks do a great harm to society by deterring what otherwise would be insightful precautionary measures to avoid danger. Deterrents of any kind disrupt what would otherwise be the institution of inquiry and wisdom in a rational environment. Having a dictator is not much different in its effect.

    There is every reason to be concerned about bio-terrorism, nuclear war, and scarcity of resources, but disaster zealots do little but create mass confusion displacing the scholarly attitude that could have been the normal response. Panic theory doesn’t work to solve much of anything but it gets great attention and produces much fear.

    History shows us that societys and peoples carry grudges, and there is no match like an international grudge match; they go way back in history. Hence, America, as most places, have reason to fear religious and political philosophy terrorists because they are often founded upon grudges of a war lost, a people destroyed, a contest lost that should have been won – all of the earmarks that create world-class conflicts – that produce the passions for extending it, for regrouping to try again, etc. all with the goal of outbesting, out witting, or outlasting the presumptive injustice at the time. Generations continue those fights, and many are tied to honor or what is taught as honor and self respect so that the conflicts become major ones that may influence any nation and its “ordinary business or politics.” Most global conflicts are built upon the same pattern of carrying out the natural result of injustices and the desire to get back at whatever group it is in order to recover whatever it is that has been lost, or tarnished.

    Could the British decide to use terrorist methods for aims against the U.S. to recover the country lost in 1787? Of Course, above all, the British are heavily invested in British honor and reputation so that the “sun never sets on the British empire.” It isn’t just a slogan, it’s a principle by which the British engage with the world, never to be outdone, never to be bested, never to be the “loser.” What lengths would they go to accomplish that mission? Would they use bioterrorism, by accident? Would they use economic ruin, by accident?

    Would they seduce, induce, deceive, fool, create chaos to America as they have done all over the world to accomplish their mission of ever encroaching empire? After all, they are masters of it, i.e., they invented it, and have used it since before WWII, if not before. Is America just the latest target in their focus? Would other so-called “international friends” do the same?

    One of America’s most effective safety methods was to have been left alone to some extent in the aftermath of the Revolution to develop their own country….but the global internet age has changed all that, and America has lost jobs because of it. Communication makes terrorism easier, not harder. Propaganda is more easily spread, and manipulated.

    Might Canada or Australia aid them?

    The point is that there is no assurance of safety in the world today from any perspective, for any country, due to the fact that so many festering and smoldering human-based volcanoes have been squashed, played out, or squelched temporarily, only to rise again, without extraordinary vision against the effects of diplomacy, and the deceptions that mankind can harbor. Global relations creates global uncertainty, and Americans are babes in the woods of that enterprise, in many cases, having to rely upon international consultants and those experienced in the field. Our American enthusiasm can be just as harmful for us as any nation’s pretense of friendship because the naivete opens us to gullibility and danger.

    Former combinations of alliances do not disappear overnight, and the deck can always be reshuffled among sometimes competing nations, and sometimes allied nations. We learned that during WWI and WWII. There are no certainties, no hard and fast alliances, and no promise of security on the planet without a concerted effort to use history to our precautionary advantage, rather than as a dusty bin for storage. Critical thinking never goes out of style and may measure the degree and potential for survival as a nation.

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