We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
College grads are waiting on tables. Is that a bad thing? Is it a result of the terrible Obama economy? It's been decades since a college degree guaranteed a good career. BAs are commonplace now, and are not as elite as they used to be in the job market. Many graduate degrees aren't worth the cost in cash or time either.
Americans are using restaurants and take-out more than ever. It's a cultural shift in which home cookin' becomes something special and in which diners, McDonalds, and Thai take-out becomes the American middle class routine.
If it's not all about the Obama economy, some of it could be about what Cowen calls economic resets. Not enough work for the cognitively-talented, but I hear that a good chef can always find work. Cognitive talent is not rare, and probably never was. Social class and lack of opportunity kept a lot of it hidden and invisible.
As far as I'm concerned, if you don't know Calc and Stats, if you don't know the Gas Laws and Avogadro's Number, if you don't know about mitochondrial RNA, if you can't discuss Haydn's role in Western music and can't write a brief but elegantly-structured essay on any cultural topic at the drop of a hat, you have a degree but you ain't "eddicated." That's why people like me, who have risen in new businesses to the point of interviewing new hires, ignore resumes and ask probing questions. We want people who know a lot about everything because we are a pioneering business with, as yet, no annoying HR Department.
Think about it: what system is in place to weed out all of those millions of people with phony/useless degrees? Can most of our college 'graduates' be eliminated from any job at the initial face to face interview? Is it possible to eliminate them not based upon looks, but rather on their inability to speak coherently?
Next, how difficult is it to determine who really stayed awake in calculus (or even the lower level mathematics courses)?
Oh my--now comes the tough part--can they write an essay? Can they interact in defensive way without using bumper sticker slogans?
Finally, what science did they understand?
Not good at science, can't do the math, and has difficulty using the language. If I were in the HR department of any corporation this applicant would be out the door!
It is my opinion that even though at the higher levels of social life the better jobs do go to those elites with a poor grasp of the skills taught at university, i.e. Al Gore, G. Bush, the middle class jobs at most corporations do go to those students who did accomplish a great deal in the scholastic segment of academic life! The great majority of America's college graduates are where they deserve to be-- flipping burgers!
People like Al Gore and Bush (I guess you mean W.) got a leg up by being born to the parents they had, but both of them had a set of interpersonal skills - political skills - that aren't and probably can't be effectively taught by any school. The door was set there before them, but if they weren't good at politicking they would have just fumbled at the lock. One of the downsides of politics in general - that you're good at the politicking part doesn't imply you're good for anything else other than gaining and holding power.
Cognitive talent is not rare, and probably never was. Social class and lack of opportunity kept a lot of it hidden and invisible.
Probably right, but I'm not sure our universities (and primary education) are providing much of an opportunity to actually develop cognitive abilities to a useful level, especially if you came from a social class where there's little impulse or precedence for gaining and developing such skills.
It wouldn't surprise me if today's schools are educating more students to higher level of cognitive ability than before, but fewer of them to a useful level of ability.