I hope you don’t mind that I’ve gone from posting a couple of times a month to bombarding you with everything economists don’t understand about economics. These books are simply frustrating me so much that if I didn’t talk about what they’ve got wrong, I would have to track down their authors and smack them all. Actually, that might be a more socially useful response.
So, another thing they don’t seem to see as an unnecessary cost is excessive education. A century ago we did just fine with one-room schoolhouses where most children only went for a couple of years, until they could read, right and figger. Now, children are forced to attend school until adulthood and frequently complete their twelve-year sentences without having learned these things. And then there’s college.
People try to claim that this extended education is necessary for our “complex” or “technologically advanced” society, but I certainly didn’t learn anything about technology in school. It took me years to learn to program my VCR, and I can’t do any appliance repair beyond changing light bulbs. I will rant about the uselessness of our educational system another time; it’s doubtless well known to most of you anyway.
Extended education was invented for two reasons. First, to keep people out of the workplace so that there would be fewer unemployed people. (As a matter of fact, in the U.S., compulsory education was brought about by labor unions so that their adult union members could take the jobs that were being done by children.)
Second, so that the spawn of the Frankfurt School could indoctrinate people as much as possible. Young people aren’t in school to actually learn anything concrete. Quick, list all the states and their capitals. What’s the atomic weight of zinc? How many buttons were on Ahab’s coat? Unless these things are relevant to your profession, you probably don’t remember, but in school you were likely required to memorize it. Heck, you probably forgot it within a month. No, teenagers and young adults are kept in school so that they will absorb progressive attitudes.
Frankly, if you’re not going in for the hard sciences, you don’t need that much formal education. Especially in light of how much education has degenerated. If you were going to learn Latin and Greek and study the laws of logic and the great works of literature, then it would be useful to society if not the marketplace. But, well, when I asked a philosophy professor why my college did not have a course on Aristotle, she said, with no hint of irony, “That’s too difficult.”
Again, excessive useless education is something we can support when the economy is healthy. But now that it isn’t, how long can we afford to keep healthy, capable young people out of the workforce? Even if we leave out of the equation the social pathologies, such as drug use and promiscuity and suicide, caused by this unhealthy extension of childhood into the 20’s. We need their energy to be put to use.