One of the old saws that everyone repeats is that education teaches you how to think. Perhaps there’s a set of educators out there capable of delivering such wisdom, but I know where they’re not employed. Michael Fletcher, a reporter for the Washington Post who’s obviously had a few too many good idyllic walks spoiled by the hard rain of reality, brings us the news of the dreamers who bought into the vision that Green Jobs were right around the corner. Prosperity would follow once we learned how to install solar panels (use a screw driver), recycle (sort trash into bins), or “sustainable landscape design” (grow native weeds).
Alas, what may be a success for a few people isn’t a success when millions of people rush into a field. Just as boats can tip when everyone dashes to one side to see a dolphin, the economy isn’t very nice when there’s a surplus of labor. The trouble for new Green Graduates should come as no surprise given that the State University system in New York couldn’t make “sustainability studies” work. And the director of Columbia university’s program told the press, “The emphasis in our sustainability major at Columbia is not on professional preparation but on intellectual development. If you want to prepare for a career, we offer a master’s of science in sustainability management.”
Once again, a dreamy walk through a beautifully architected ideal created by the educators– in this case a major in green jobs– is being spoiled by a shower of fish parts, offal and other sewerage dumped from a window above.
One of my faithful correspondents who writes under the nom-de-guerre Higby says that education has long been a good sponge for soaking up excess labor and giving people a purpose while the economy tries to come up with work for them to do. That’s a good idea and it would be a great idea if it didn’t cost too much. I’m sure that solar panel installation would be a great opportunity if it were taught as a 2-3 hour course by a skilled carpenter at the local Home Depot. But you mix in the climbing walls, the frat mixers, endless latte bars, and the overheated salaries– $200k+ at some community colleges– well, it’s a mixture for turning the unemployed into people who are both unemployed and in too much debt.