Recently, a group of young professionals sat in a restaurant in New Orleans, casually talking about politics. Something in their discussion of health care policy suddenly set off a girl at the table next to them. She screamed: “You need to be EDUCATED!” In response to attempts to include her voice in the discussion, she hurled a glass of water at their table.
This young woman was not lamenting a lack of education in subjects with employment value. Instead, like the Amherst College students demanding cultural competency training for the creators of pro-free speech signs, she was protesting a lack of blind adherence to social justice mythology. Apparently, cultural incompetence means something other than a total inability to participate in rational conversation.
For anyone who graduated from Amherst in the past decade, including myself and nearly everyone at that table so direly in need of education, the phenomenon of the social justice warrior is not new. It was once an endearing part of revisiting our alma mater: “Look, it’s the purple-hair crew chanting about oppression!” That conservative arguments (and chalk) now trigger sensitive snowflakes in the South is proof that the condition has spread far from its quaint northeastern epicenters. American education, as a whole, has morphed into an engine of mass disinformation.
This is why I propose economic competency training as a modest first step toward national sanity. It would be a strong counterbalance to progressive cultural incompetence. Correctly done, it would also save our country monumental sums of money and prevent future generations of terrible leaders.
I say “correctly done” because in academia, economics is the province of Keynesian charts and formulas that bear no relation to reality. We could start by teaching students that everything (including college) has an opportunity cost, that all people (including taxpayers) respond to incentives, and that the dustbin of economic history is littered with the kinds of regimes most compatible with cultural leftism.
Instead of teaching students that all degrees – like all cultures – are equally valuable, such a program would have students calculate the expected payoffs of their educations in advance. This would give them the opportunity to change course early, instead of becoming bitter (and more prone to emotionalism) later on. Many prospective gender studies majors could be expected to jump ship into more lucrative pursuits rather quickly.
As with the separation of Church and State, this new program would insist on a separation of Feelings and Facts. For perhaps the first time in modern academia, students could consider heretical ideas without fearing grade retaliation from frumpy professors. How about the sexist, racist and homophobic notion that wages, like all prices, have little to do with people’s prejudices and everything to do with supply and demand? How about case studies on the hiring practices of American business owners, who are simultaneously chastised for racism and for hiring too many illegal brown workers? How about a look at how women’s lifestyle choices impact the amount of labor they are willing to supply, and by extension their earnings relative to men? Students who conclude that mass wage discrimination exists could be invited to devise a business plan, for an all-female company of course, in the sector best positioned to capitalize on this labor market arbitrage opportunity.
Students would also be invited to explore exactly what role wealth inequality plays in our society. They are taught that it’s a rigged conspiracy by the evil protectors of privilege. But could it be a metric with evolving beneficiaries that says more about innovation than poverty? How many tech startups are we willing to sacrifice next year in the name of fighting inequality? Are we willing to collectively forego the next version of the iPhone? The same kind of unfiltered thinking needs to be applied to numerous issues, upon which professors bore students to death with their self-righteous imperviousness to the real world. Federal spending that crowds out private startups, handouts that suppress entrepreneurial energy, programs that promote stability at the expense of innovation – these issues should not be taboo, rather they should be explored by our brightest young minds.
Imagine the intellectual vibrancy that such a program would unleash. Some clever students would suddenly see college for what it is – a corporate barrier to entry and a primer on political correctness – and save their money for entrepreneurial endeavors instead. Hapless young souls would finally crunch some numbers before going on national TV and equating “the one percent” with an impossibly vast, collectively owned money pit.
Students should be taught that arguments backed only by feelings reflect an embarrassing lack of due diligence. So do arguments backed only by socialist demagogues. Trying to glean sense from Bernie’s economic soundbites is like relying on a fourth-wave feminist for seduction tips.
Consider that most college-aged Bernie fans are spending four years in lavishly adorned dormitories, with state-of-the-art gyms that they rarely use, sleeping late and gathering fake statistics about societal oppression before graduating with $35,000 in student debt. The fact that these people see nothing wrong with this picture, and indeed feel that the government should bail them out for choosing such an asinine combination of time wasting and resource depletion, is enough to tell us that something is seriously wrong with the academic establishment.
For anyone still confused by Donald Trump’s appeal, take a hard look at the sappy little monsters created by academia’s gross negligence.
American college is the ultimate leftist utopia, with one caveat: it is completely dependent for its survival on capitalism. That this is the case means that alumni who are mortified by the antics of SJWs can band together and refuse to donate money unless changes are made. We saw this with the University of Missouri, whose coffers took a severe hit after its failure to rein in Black Lives Matter protests. Instead of simply withholding funds, alumni could insist that a portion of new funds will go toward training that pertains to how the real economy actually works. For their efforts, the initiators would be rewarded with a new generation of happy and productive (and normal) alumni.
Fixing academia is necessary for resurrecting America’s potential. Because no one cares about SJWs’ feelings as much as they do, their movement will eventually collapse. When it does, millions of college students will be forced to find a new hobby. Why not be proactive and offer them some real-world economics?