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Sorry (Poor) Kids: The Road From Rags To Riches No Longer Passes Through College

Tyler Durden's picture


... at least statistically speaking. Yes, outlier cases will always exist and there will always be a rags to Geology 101 to riches story somewhere, but as the following fascinating and very much damning (the entire higher learning industry of the US) diagram from Reuters demonstrates, colleges, in their once vaunted role of a "great equalizer for the classes" as defined over a century ago by Horace Mann, no longer exist.

The chart in question?

What does the above chart imply? Nothing more than that for the vast majority of people, college degrees are the modern-day equivalent of very, very expensive snake oil.

Yes: colleges are sold to you as the critical stepping stone on the path to wealth and prosperity, but sadly the empirical evidence demonstrates that when it comes to an actual, demonstrable income effect, only the wealthiest people actually benefit from a degree! The lowest fifth of household by income see their change in income decline by 10%, while the middle fifth sees an incremental 2.1% drop. Where do incomes rise? When you are already wealthy and belong to the highest fifth of households by income: there, going to college boosts your income by an additional 15.1%

And since for the great majority (excluding the richest of course), a college education is funded by even more implied poverty, i.e. debt, which is merely the opportunity cost of future income and wealth, the simply math works out as follows: college - a tool for making the rich richer, the poor poorer, and virtually everyone (excluding the richest, again, of course) a debt slave into a system that beguiles impressionable youths with dreams of money and power, and cheap low interest private and Federal student loans, only for the illusion to shatter upon graduation and all those wonderful jobs demanding a piece of paper procured in exchange for 4 years of debt-funded classes, turn out to have been a mirage all along...

In short: the only hope for a great many people is nothing but a debt trap.

From Reuters:

Just to stay even, poorer Americans need to obtain better credentials. But that points to another rich-poor divide in the United States. Educators call it the scholastic "achievement gap." It has been around forever, but it's getting wider. Lower-class children are getting better educations than before. But richer kids are outpacing their gains, which in turn is stoking the widening income gap.


"Now, we're in a situation where we need to educate everyone at the level of the elite in the past," said Paul Reville, Massachusetts secretary of education. "We don't have a system to do that."


It's an academic arms race, and it can be seen in the sharply contrasting fortunes of Weston, a booming Boston suburb, and the blue-collar community of Gardner, where a 20-foot-tall chair sits on Elm Street as a monument to the town's past as a furniture-manufacturing hub.


* * *


This correlation between educational attainment and financial fortune is clear statewide. In the bottom fifth of Massachusetts households, the average income dropped 9 percent in the past 20 years to $12,000. They fared worse despite a sizable gain in educational attainment: The share of people 25 and older in the group with a bachelor's degree rose to 18.5 percent from 11 percent.


The same thing happened to the middle fifth. Their average income slipped 2 percent to $63,000. The share of adults with a bachelor's rose to 43 percent from 29 percent.


But the top fifth saw their average income leap 17 percent, to $217,000, as their education levels soared far higher. Three-quarters had a bachelor's, up from half. Fully 50 percent had a post-graduate degree, up from a quarter.


* * *


"All the evidence shows that children born to two highly educated, high-income people tend to obtain the highest level of academic achievement," said Sum. "At the bottom, where the mom is not that well-educated and tends to have lower income, children tend to do worse."


* * *


Curtis Dorval, works at Walmart as well. When he was a senior at Gardner High School, Curtis was class president. He was accepted by Northeastern University, a private school in Boston.


But Northeastern cost $50,000 a year, which Curtis, then 17, felt he couldn't afford. Instead, he enrolled last year at the state-run University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying mechanical engineering. With the help of a scholarship for graduating in the top quarter of his class, Curtis paid $10,200 a year.


He got some help from his father, who had saved up $10,000 in stocks and bonds from his days in the hospital job. This summer, that money ran out and Curtis left UMass to enlist in the Air Force. He will serve as an airman - and hopes to use military benefits to pay for parttime university classes.


"The main reason was I needed a way to pay for college," he said.

Most don't go that route: most opt for cheap, low-rate debt. Debt which as of this moment, merely at the Federal level has by now surpassed $1 trillion, and which, as we reported first, and as subsequently was confirmed by the media, is seeing its delinquency rate explode, now that the clash between hope and the sad jobs reality is front and center for ever more once hopeful students.

Just like with the "gun-control" debate, there is no simple solution.

Tanner Skenderian, president of this year's Weston High graduating class, joked in a speech about her town's hyper-competitive students. "Welcome to Weston, where third graders take AP Physics, middle-school students sleep for 42 minutes a night, and the most competitive race run by the 2012 boys state champion track team was the race to get the cookies in the cafeteria," she said.


Competition in high school was fierce. In one advanced placement physics class, she said, six of the 12 students were the children of professors at MIT, America's premier science university.


But Tanner thrived there. She also found school to be a source of support after her father died while she was in middle school. This fall, she headed to Harvard, after spending the summer interning at the governor's office. Given the job market, she said she may apply to business or law school after graduating.


Weston, in short, gave her an education that raises her odds of joining her mother - who owns a marketing and event-planning company - at the top of America's economic ladder. 


"We're very fortunate that we're rather affluent," she said. "We have more opportunities, more technology, more classes and more teachers."

And that's just it: if you are affluent, if you had opportunities, you will still and always be successful, and college will merely emphasize this. For everyone else, degrees are rapidly converting into an almost instantly amortizing piece of paper paid for with tens of thousands of student debt which, incidentally, is non-dischargeable.

Unfortunately, and just like with "gun-control", the fundamental issue at hand is not education, not even the pursuit of the American Dream (or lack thereof), but the gradual realization that the myth of American exceptionalism is just that. And in a world as globalized and interconnected as ours, breaking from the middle (or, heaven-forbid) lower classes, into the upper strata os society is becoming virtually impossible.

It goes without saying that any society in which class mobility is shunted, and in which classes (already engaged in class warfare based on wealth, sex, race, religion, background, job, or any other vertical that served America so well during its "melting pot" days) are denied even the ability to dream and hope of improving their lives through hard work (either current, or deferred - and prepaid for by student loans) is one whose days are numbered.


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Thu, 12/20/2012 - 22:46 | 3085305 laughing_swordfish
laughing_swordfish's picture

Why is it -

Jews are 2% of the US population but 30% of the top 1% of income earners and 60% of the top 1/10th of %?

Answer - financialization and influence.

"As always the wandering Jew will always the enemy of any nationally conscious people be, and one can co-operate with international Jewry as one "co-operates" with bubonic plague"  - Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century

A principled effort to restructure the economy to INCLUDE the rest of us begins with a pricipled Jew hatred...


Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:16 | 3080892 JOYFUL
JOYFUL's picture

edit...another dup - reason - everything on the ZH site hangs, and it's impossible to know if a comment has been sent... it's getting harder and harder to get anything through this "Great China Firewall" I believe my experience here may be useful as precursor to the throttling of the western internet that will surely come along with this next post-election phase of taking away the right to self-defense.

Excerpted from conversation with VPN support yesterday:

"Since the recent crackdown on VPN providers in China, some of our customers are having intermittent connection problems. We are actively rolling out fixes. However, it is possible that these fixes also become blocked, in which case we'll respond with new solutions. It is a bit of a cat and mouse game."

Cat and mouse...get ready...Tom&Jerry goes livetime in Merika, as Unca Joe Lieberman & Co. work overtime to ensure public security.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:39 | 3080785 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I'm a college educated (multiple times) former middle class poor person and I've told my kids to hold off on college until they've first learned a trade, even though I've already saved enough money to put them both through. It's their money and they'll make their own choices.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:29 | 3080948 object_orient
object_orient's picture

Why did you keep going back?

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:25 | 3081309 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Becasue I'm none too bright.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:54 | 3080786 Shizzmoney
Shizzmoney's picture

A college degree is all a part of the corporate bribery. 

It protects monopolies, encourages more nepotism within organizations, and leaves millions of serfs, ahem, debt.

I have a job - albeit one that doesn't pay well.  It required a college degree.  I still got it.....why? I lied about having a college degree, and they didn't care (or didn't check) and hired me anyways.

I'm 30 and out of debt.  Will I make more money than a person with a degree? No.  

But will the majority of the little off what I make be shuttled off to a loan shark (Wall Street banks, Sallie Mae)? No...and you can argue with the exception of a few specialized degrees....the EV for all of these kids getting law degrees and masters in B.A. isn't worth the time with a) the job competition and b) stagnant wages and benefits (there's a reason people are clamouring to the government for health care relief).


Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:44 | 3080789 sharky2003
sharky2003's picture

I had a revelation while in the shower a few weeks ago. 

I got played.

Here I was, all this time...thinking I was doing the right thing by getting an education, staying out of trouble, and getting a real-world-applicable job in order to have my chance at the American Dream, white picket fence and all.  

But then I read these articles about people on welfare using the money- MY MONEY the government took from me- to buy designer duds, and how the single mom with 2 brats earning 30k/yr essentially lives the same lifestyle as a family of 4 on 70k.

It pisses me off.

Why the fuck did I put in all that time and effort if I'm not really any better off than the high school drop out and her brood of illegitimate children? 

That is NOT the American Dream.

I got played. 

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:06 | 3080869 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

No, you're just bitter and angry. 

If you really think being poor is so great, just go do it for awhile.  The idea that people on welfare are living the same lifestyle as someone earning $70K is completely false.

I don't usually make strong positivistic assertions like that without really good evidence, but I'm not about to mince words on this one:  completely false.

(The article you're referring to described one person in the UK.  You'll never be as successful as she was in maximizing her benefits from "the system.")

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:16 | 3081286 Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



Sharky: the government does not take your money to give it to welfare recipients and if you don't know why there is an IRS and FED, yes you've been played.  Time to also get educated.  Start with some Geography:

Bretton Woods

Jeckyll Island


Blunder:  Good fucking post, as per usual.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:37 | 3081350 johnnynaps
johnnynaps's picture

Hey, A few years back I was working 50 hours a week making $45k a year. My welfare subordinate was working 20 hours a week making $14k a year with free housing, $600 a month in foodstamps and free medical. She always seemed happy, especially after an 8500 dollar tax return. She fixed her car, got a new computer and a treadmill. 3 years later, my car still sits in the driveway! Just sayin!

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:49 | 3080809 GreatUncle
GreatUncle's picture

Everybody so wants to believe that education for the masses was good for your children as told to you by your politicians.

Political double talk, keeps the unemployment figures down by all those in the 14 - 21 category still in education.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:49 | 3080813 JR
JR's picture

The ladders of upward mobility in the U.S.A. lead to nowhere because the international bankers have offshored Americans’ jobs in their power grab for a world monetary system and a "house of world order.”

During the years from 2002 to the end of 2011, “3.5 million middle class manufacturing jobs were lost.

“Over the entire nine years, only 48,000 new jobs were created for architects and engineers.” 

Writes Norman Augustine: “In a global, knowledge-driven economy there is a direct correlation between engineering education and innovation. Our success or failure as a nation will be measured by how well we do with the innovation agenda, and by how well we can advance medical research, create game-changing devices and improve the world.”

It was planned of course. Samuel P. Huntington, Micheal Crozier and Joji Watanuki wrote in 1975 in “The Crisis of Democracy”: “[T]o restore a more equitable relationship between government authority and popular control, [there must be] centralized economic and social planning…centralization of power within Congress…a program to lower the job expectations of those who receive a college education.”

Economist Paul Craig Roberts recently pointed out the results of that policy: “When jobs are moved offshore, consumers’ careers and incomes, the GDP and payroll and income tax base associated with those jobs, go with them.

At the same time, Augustine, who is a retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin points out that already, 70% of engineers with PhD’s who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born. Increasingly, these talented individuals are not staying in the U.S – instead, they’re returning home, where they find greater opportunities.

Says Augustine: “We're falling behind.

“I’ve visited more than 100 countries in the past several years, meeting people from all walks of life, from impoverished children in India to heads of state. Almost every adult I’ve talked with in these countries shares a belief that the path to success is paved with science and engineering.

In fact, scientists and engineers are celebrities in most countries. They’re not seen as geeks or misfits, as they too often are in the U.S., but rather as society’s leaders and innovators. In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, and there is a virtual absence of engineers in our public policy debates.

“Why does this matter? Because if American students have a negative impression – or no impression at all – of science and engineering, then they’re hardly likely to choose them as professions.”

The statistics tell the story.

  • U.S. consumers spend significantly more on potato chips than the U.S. government devotes to energy R&D.
  • In 2009, for the first time, over half of U.S. patents were awarded to non-U.S. companies. (In 1997, a study of the inventors honored in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, revealed that 91% of the world’s greatest inventors worked in America and only 9% in other countries.) 
  • China has replaced the U.S. as the world’s number one high-technology exporter.
  • Between 1996 and 1999, 157 new drugs were approved in the U.S.  Ten years later, that number had dropped to 74.

The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. #48 in quality of math and science.

In short, the road from rags to riches no longer passes through America; it passes through the Fed.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:49 | 3081203 JOYFUL
JOYFUL's picture

If one were to build a case for the planned devolution of the Europoid peoples, and their subsequent recreation as a race of drone-like servants of the moneypower, berift of both soul and self-identity, they would need look no further than your extracts...

"a more equitable relationship between government authority and popular control, [there must be] centralized economic and social planning…centralization of power within Congress…a program to lower the job expectations of those who receive a college education.

So sayeth Huntington, a co-conspirator in the PNAC campaign to utilize Merika as global enforcer in the war against civilization East and West by the sionist entity. Put that quote together with this one:

"challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values" and "to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles". -  from

and you have it all mapped out...

our security, our prosperity, our principles...your wealth, your blood, your hard, goyish slaves, and you may be selected to enter the ranks of the kapo klass, enforcers of the will of your talmudist overlords!

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:50 | 3080814 pragmatic hobo
pragmatic hobo's picture

gee ... I still remember when college was called "higher education", not "job training program".

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:32 | 3080952 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

The majority of the ZH posting audience is not interested in education. 

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:42 | 3080985 PGR88
PGR88's picture

Unlike knee-jerk leftists, they know that education comes in many forms.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 15:34 | 3083759 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I guess you misunderstood the point in context.

Job training isn't "education." Education is about helping you understand and adapt to your world, not about earning money.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 19:55 | 3080835 SmittyinLA
SmittyinLA's picture

Imagine the horror of passing an anti-discrimination law against college degree discrimination in employment.



Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:00 | 3080850 dirtyfiles
dirtyfiles's picture

Look what all the "educated" did to the world
education has no value if you see it from the market perspective.We are heading back to the free market trade your skills formula not the classroom exam test Russian roulette.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:01 | 3080851 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I don't think anyone really believes "college degrees" are going to somehow automatically lead to the highest incomes, but stating the opposite of that assertion isn't warranted either.  The information available today is only going to represent the results of degrees earned 20-30 years ago.

Look at how much has changed in 20 years.

One of the big problems with forming a contemporaneous picture of "reality" based on long-term statistical analysis is that relevant "real-world" details are rarely even recognized until well after the period you're trying to understand.

So today, we can easily claim that college degrees are not good predictors of long-term financial benefit, but what if they are good predictors of long-term happiness?  Or mental health?  Or satisfying social relationships?

Obviously education-level and earning potential just shouldn't be assumed to correlate.  We've known this for a long time, though.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:06 | 3080862 Shizzmoney
Shizzmoney's picture

Obviously education-level and earning potential just shouldn't be assumed to correlate.  We've known this for a long time, though.

If we lived in a true free market system, it wouldn't.

We don't.....hence why these corrections, common place in simplier days, barely exist today (although not completely eliminated; see: Psy).

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:08 | 3080868 dirtyfiles
dirtyfiles's picture

but happiness is correlated with material success more then less

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:31 | 3080951 rosethorn
rosethorn's picture

"Obviously education-level and earning potential just shouldn't be assumed to correlate."


That is what colleges are selling, though; the concept that they do correlate.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:10 | 3080877 Insideher Trading
Insideher Trading's picture

U.S education is very analogous to housing. Sound strange? Maybe not. If you consider the housing bubble the chief progenitor was a movement mainly led by politics to get everyone in a house, regardless if they could afford it or not. Today with education it is the same. If you have a pulse you can get a loan to get a degree. The great illusion of the liberal leaning equality movement has thrust us into this situation. Students who have no business attending higher education are granted loans to attain degrees that are worthless. The bi product of this equality movement has two venomous side effects: i. the quality of education becomes diluted as the supply of unqualified students creates a demand for the lowest common denominator of teachers; ii. it strips the supply of labor for other sectors of the economy. Why do you think there are plumbers making six figure incomes while the U.S trails the developed world in every educational metric available?

There is some twisted delusion Americans have chosen to adopt where everyone should be looked at as equal and instead of raising the bar we lower it to assuage the discomfort of accepting the fact...we're all not equal after all. Sorry to state the bloody obvious but we didn't all originate from the same gene pool. We are all born with different sets of strengths and weaknesses and this equality movement is a detriment to society as a whole. Perhaps if we didn't spend so much time trying main-stream people with mental illness we wouldn't end up with situations like the guy who thought he was Joker shooting up movie theaters, and the most recent tragedy in Newtown. Instead of focusing on the problem the reaction has been to focus on the symptom (gun related violence) How about we send the crazies to the padded room instead of taking away a legitimate form of self-protection from said nut bags?  To vilify and scapegoat the gun as a source of violence is to declare that pencils spell words wrong.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 00:59 | 3081650 ClassicalLib17
ClassicalLib17's picture

@insidehertrading,  I think you see the world as it is, simply.  +1  I learned something from your post, thank you

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:15 | 3080898 SilverFish
SilverFish's picture

Bottle rocket scientist degrees are worthless.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:16 | 3080904 ADRtrader
ADRtrader's picture

"This chart, I do not think it means what you think it means" -- Inigo Montoya


Over the last 21 years, the percentage of Americans with a college degree is up, while incomes are down among all but the top quintile.  So, we don't know from those stats whether college educations are generally unhelpful, or whether those without college educations are doing so poorly that they are dragging down the averages.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:18 | 3080914 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

I'm starting a new degree program.  It confers a DPhD degree (Deeper PhD) after 39 years of college study.  I want to enlist at least 50 million Americans in this program.  The government will pay for all the room, board, and tuition and at the end of it all you'll rreceive your diploma and immediately go into retirement.


Thu, 12/20/2012 - 01:38 | 3081722 strayaway
strayaway's picture

No birth control?

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:19 | 3080919 Brokenbroker
Brokenbroker's picture

I agree with the gist but the inference is alittle off the wealthy whi are going to college arent earning 15% more but the wealthy in general are earning 15% more for whatever reason. Could be that they own more stocks and in general salaries at the top are growing and it happens that more of them are going to college like more people in general are going to college. Basically the gist is correct as the lower classes are being duoed into overpayin for college and indebting themaelves in process. Those in the upper classes have a better chance to get something out of it and what they in general are likely to get salaries that have been getting better iver time. But it doesnt mean the added income goes only to the people who go to college. Or the income that has gotten worse for the lower classes is related to education. It just means the jobs at the lower end of the economy have gotten worse and it is getting harder to find good job for regular people regardless of their education. Basically they are competing with indian and chinese workers and individually they have to get education but as a society educating all these people only means that the value of an education is less. My dad got a degree and that was enough as many of his friends didnt. He could eventually become an executive in a company just by having a degree. Now everyone has a degree so it doesnt guarantee anything.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:26 | 3080921 Aurora Ex Machina
Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Sigh. Education isn't about projected earnings, it's about making a strata of society that's interesting to talk to, and makes life worth living. Culture, in other words, or if we're being erudite, a multiplicity within a multi-faceted topology.

If you want to be rich, that's an entirely different set of skills - what has happened, and what is broken is that paying out for an expensive MBA has lead to massive pay-offs and non-business types being allowed to run companies. MBA = snake oil, and full of trust-fund horrors who have less humanity than my big toe, and worse still, are given leave to apply badly-understood Masters level theories to major companies for short term gain, with no social or ethical interest in the long term game, and when they're fucking stupid.

The rest, well - the rest is something the business minded people want to spend their money on (and their wives, usually, but being modern, let's say partners, either sex included). If you cut that out, boy your retirement past 42 (hello GS!) is going to be one looooong, boooooring trip to hell.

The current YC culture (esp. in the Valley) about "making it big when you've dropped out of school" is a good model ~ until you realise, most of them have the social skills of a small llama and are completely inept at making societies. Hint: Look at Gate's wife - how the female saved the day there. Same with Zuck. There's a reason the Enlightenment worked. Or, as the Valley would say "Specialisation is for ants": that's fine, if all of the members of society are Renaissance folk, and multi-talented, and building a society (*cough* That'd be Anarcho-syndicalism, but I digress. *cough*).

The fact is, the opposite is true: you're breeding extremely retarded models, that wouldn't pass the 'gom jabbar'. And that's the "elite", for fucks sake, and no "Hipsters" don't count.


The reason? Hmm. Going to get messy, but let's just say: Everyone being equal is not synonymous with everyone having the same talents. The real problem is that you've created a monoculture, where only type will ever prevail, and then lacks the self-awareness to understand you need an ecosystem to hunt in. Worse yet, they're so basic, they can't even concieve of an advanced ecosystem. <<Hello John, how was Belieze? Or, hello Mr. "Using 50-year-old-Soviet-tech-to-get-to-space">> These are infantile dreams, really, from an infantilised culture.

And that infantilisation is largely due to... well. Domesticated animals are easy to control, and easier to milk, let's just say.


"Win or die". Doesn't work, unless you understand ecology. (And no, RAND, not your crappy 1950's models either).


Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:24 | 3080932 darkpool2
darkpool2's picture

Basic education to University BA/BSc ,yes.....develop critical independent thinking, yes......develop street smarts, yes......strongly encourage entrepreneurial behavior, yes......discourage wage slave employment, yes.

Thats the formula in my book. I wont explain more, because if you dont understand the rest of the line of thinking, then you are beyond help anyway.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:37 | 3080962 pashley1411
pashley1411's picture

I think people should step back a bit more and look at the bigger picture.   With some exceptions, college and degrees are just one aspect of the arms race it takes to earn a good income.  

The article hints at it; connections have always been and will always remain huge, exposure to technology (and the hotest/fastest technology at that), mobility to move opportunities, the capital to invest in a career field.   

ZH'ers should instinctively realize that any promise by a goverrnment agency to make the world a better place, especially a university, is just so much bs.     Yes, put a degree + connections + the rest together, and the future can look quite bright indeed.   But the government can't do anything except in the most ineffective manner and at the greatest cost.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:37 | 3080965 ramacers
ramacers's picture

somrthing to be said for the school of hard knocks.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:39 | 3080971 PGR88
PGR88's picture

Want to become rich?  learn to be an industrial electrician, or a commercial beekeeper, or a diesel mechanic.  Take responsibility and work hard.  

I guarantee you these things will be in demand regardless of how badly Bernanke screws this country.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:49 | 3081022 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

+1 beekeeper. I would love to do that.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:16 | 3081114 PGR88
PGR88's picture

I know beekeepers with 50 employees and close to $10 million in sales....

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:43 | 3080991 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

My son is an undergrad focused on medicine. I suggested radiology as a major over microbiology because in a situation where the money runs out and he can't go for MD, he can always use his Masters as a rad assistant and still pull over 100k yr.

I assume he'd rather look at pictures of assholes than stick his fingers in them.

I would.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:01 | 3081058 harleyjohn45
harleyjohn45's picture

A good harley mechanic can do quite well, if he has his own shop.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:47 | 3081010 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

No class in my entire life did I ever learn more than from a street corner.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:00 | 3081052 harleyjohn45
harleyjohn45's picture

I had a hot water heater changed out yesterday,  water heater new was 411.00,  installation cost was 658.19.  It was a tough job and it took the plumber 6 hours total time.  Plumbing is damn good wages.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:08 | 3081087 Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



I never met a poor one.  Same for Electricians.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:27 | 3081319 Angus McHugepenis
Angus McHugepenis's picture

I have great respect for plumbers. Electricians, not so much. I am NOT an electrician but after 22 years I feel I know more about electricity than the average recent graduate from electricity college.

Electricians cause us more grief than landscapers. We would rather be delayed by 2 MONTHS because of a landscaper than get a 5 minute call from an electrician that doesn't know what they're doing. We've NEVER been called by a plumber asking which pipe goes where.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 20:52 | 3081029 Husk-Erzulie
Husk-Erzulie's picture

Hey guys, (gals)

Ann Barnhardts' affect may turn some people off but for a down and dirty, easy to understand lesson in real political economy and a few belly laughs along the way (her description of bho at around 1:30 is priceless) you can't beat her.  Your grandmother can understand this (and it will piss her off).  Say what you want man; she's real, she's fired up, she's wicked smart, and there is something endearingly all american about her (she's practically channeling Dagny Taggert for chrissake).  This vid deserves way more than 6k views.

Husk appreciates all yer excellent links and is just payin it forward baby :-)

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:07 | 3081082 Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



So, the top fifth completed schooling that networked them into jobs designed to make incomes in lower 80% pay less. 

They were taught to steal?  

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 02:17 | 3081762 mkhs
mkhs's picture

That and they inherited daddy's company.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:09 | 3081085 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

College taught me to smoke pot and get laid, and that was about the only worthwhile thing for the whole experience.


Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:13 | 3081106 Monedas
Monedas's picture

For a good government job .... black is OK .... parchment is so so !  

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:16 | 3081113 Monedas
Monedas's picture

A low information person .... the new way of saying stupid !

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:39 | 3081178 Angus McHugepenis
Angus McHugepenis's picture

There's gotta be some material for a Monedas 1929 Comedy Jihad in there somewhere?

waiting... waiting...

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:25 | 3081138 notadouche
notadouche's picture

The income gap and education won't be as significant as one would think based on learning that doctors are increasingly diagnosing lower income children with ADHD and ADD in order to justify prescribing Ritalin and Adderol in the name of social justice.  The notion is that these drugs are apparently proven to increase a persons test score by some 10-15 % points vs not taking them.   

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 21:41 | 3081182 Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



Of the actual Rich People I've personally known, all were entrepanuers, none went to school.  Some left High School for that matter.


Lots and Lots of em' in S. Florida.


Then again, the bankruptcy laws were favorable before 2005 for certain entrepanuers.  



Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:23 | 3081303 dunce
dunce's picture

All college degrees are not equal, someone needs to make a list of all the degrees and the ROI on each. also where the job opportunities for each are. Some people would not like being restricted to working for the govt..

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 05:41 | 3081906 snblitz
snblitz's picture

Degrees are worthless even from Ivy League schools.

What matters is the list of contacts you develop during your tenure in school.  It is not about learning but about socializing with the right people.

And 99% of the people attending Ivy League colleges do not know that.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:37 | 3081349 ZFiNX
ZFiNX's picture

That's until the government requires a degree to get any desk job, but not before they launch an employment program to create those jobs. Welcome to U.S.S.A.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:38 | 3081352 toomanyfakecons...
toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Student loan-related suicides kill more young adults than mass shootings. Ban 'em!

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:50 | 3081379 notadouche
notadouche's picture

Do what you love.  Love what you do.  The rest hardly matters.  Something to be said for the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid.

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:57 | 3081400 samsara
samsara's picture

A Really great article.

Nobody 'Breaks into' the controlling levels/structures, They breed their own.

Read about the true beginnings of the universities in the country
Who started them,, and for whom.( and as the article above hints at, Why? - The self-propagating of whom).

The middle classes doing it was a novel effect starting with the GI Bill. And carried on.

"What Family are you From?" was/is a very important question at the major universities.

Look into for example, who started the "Rhodes Scholarship" with what intentions.

Now it's "... 20 years of schooling and they put you on the..... Hey, There Ain't no 'Day Shift' any more even"...

"The times they are a changing"

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 00:01 | 3081560 neutrinoman
neutrinoman's picture

But it's changed in the last 20 years, dramatically. College was worth it until the last two decades. What's happened is that the lavish attempts by the sub-Harvards to become Harvard by spending vast amounts of other people's money has left students at these second-, third-, etc., tier schools saddled with impossible debts.

College used to work well for the lower middle and working class because, being relatively spartan and inexpensive, the large latent benefit of a college education accrued to the student later in life in the form of a higher income. Now, the colleges in effect tax away that large latent benefit up front through exorbitant tuition, leaving students no good reason to attend many colleges.

The solution is to change the model. The rise of online and for-profit schools, and coterminal high school and college programs, are already changing things. But the change is being passionately resisted by existing academic forces and their liberal allies in the Democratic Party. Academia as it exists now is the single most reliably Democratic constituency in the US, even more reliable than public school teachers.

To see the amusing contradictions, just look up what Elizabeth Warren, the ultraliberal, ultrawealthy Harvard Law School professor and new senator from Massachusetts, thinks about college tuition. She's allegedly a defender of the middle class. Her attitude about tuition and student debt shows her true colors.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 03:13 | 3081811 John_Coltrane
John_Coltrane's picture

These charts fail to reflect that only 1-3% of all degrees (source NSF) are in the physical sciences, mathematics or computer science.  These are referred to as the hard sciences for a good reason-they are hard to master and few have the native intelligence to do so.  And as one commenter pointed out they are more likely to be the offspring of well-to-do intelligent parents.  It is not suprising that majoring in the social sciences (which are neither social nor scientific) does not improve ones income.  The problem solving ability necessary to master the scientific method is invaluable in all aspects of life:  from installing ones one's own auto air conditioner, to designing and building a residence, to deciding what medical procedure is actually useful and sometimes even improving on that procedure.  Having the ability to think and solve problems for oneself has a huge lifetime value beyond income.  Unfortunately, very few students recognize that when selecting courses, preferring easy, highly subjective subjects like psychology.  You get out what you put into it when it comes to education.  That's why it critical that they use their own capital/work to fund their education! 

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 06:47 | 3081959 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture



The Myth of American Meritocracy

How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?

by Ron Unz


Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam.1 Each year, Harvard admits just 1600 freshmen while almost 125 Harvard students now face possible suspension over this single incident. A Harvard dean described the situation as “unprecedented.”


But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at America’s most prestigious academic institution? In the last generation or two, the funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion of our financial, media, business, and political elites being drawn from a relatively small number of our leading universities, together with their professional schools. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually impossible today, as even America’s most successful college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg often turn out to be extremely well-connected former Harvard students. Indeed, the early success of Facebook was largely due to the powerful imprimatur it enjoyed from its exclusive availability first only at Harvard and later restricted to just the Ivy League.


Duringng this period, we have witnessed a huge national decline in well-paid middle class jobs in the manufacturing sector and other sources of employment for those lacking college degrees, with median American wages having been stagnant or declining for the last forty years. Meanwhile, there has been an astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with America’s richest 1 percent now possessing nearly as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent.2 This situation, sometimes described as a “winner take all society,” leaves families desperate to maximize the chances that their children will reach the winners’ circle, rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. And the best single means of becoming such an economic winner is to gain admission to a top university, which provides an easy ticket to the wealth of Wall Street or similar venues, whose leading firms increasingly restrict their hiring to graduates of the Ivy League or a tiny handful of other top colleges.3 On the other side, finance remains the favored employment choice for Harvard, Yale or Princeton students after the diplomas are handed out.4


continued at link(very long)

also available as .pdf:

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 07:16 | 3081995 resurger
resurger's picture

i iwll wipe my ass with my degrees, useless pieces of paper

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 09:19 | 3082110 jplotinus
jplotinus's picture

Capitalism has run its course and failed. The way forward will likely end up with a more socialized approach to the way resources are allocated and shared.

I doubt if a search for the phrase "right sharing of resources" will yield very many hits on ZH.

We now have at least 1 hit. Abide in it.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 09:29 | 3082133 Stud Duck
Stud Duck's picture

If you in the lower class, my advjse is to learn a skill, my son shunned college, became a self trained machinist, when the European company that bought out and then closed the local mfg plant, he had enough clients from his side business to maintain his income level and even increase it.

He took over the family farming operation, expanded with leased ground and has made a substantial gain to his already good income. He also has made significant income buying tractors/trucks on the cheap with mechanical problems, repaired them and resold with some really good hits. At 34 he is breaking the $150,000 barrier,

On the other hand, his wife, with a college degree and teaching kindegarden, is just able to make her car pmt, student loan pmt and with two sons, day care with her income. She is really pissed that her "uneducated" hubby makes more in one day that she does all week,

My advised to any young person right now, move to Colorado, into a small eastern plains community, grow some good hemp, LEGALLY, and spend the income wisely on what one will need in the future. Forget about fast cars and pussy, that will come later when you can afford it!

I know that most young men only think about partying and pussy, soooooo, get a woman that know how to work a garden, go west young man go west!

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 15:41 | 3083779 Mr. Magniloquent
Mr. Magniloquent's picture

My girlfriend shares an identical story to your daughter-in-law. My B.S. has proven even more worthless than hers. The only reason why we don't live in absolute poverty is because I save very diligently, and have made very wise investments over the last 5 years which have carried us. They won't last forever though. I've successfully tested a supercritical  natural products extractor of my own design, and am currently working on a hyper-efficient aeroponics agriculture tower. I just am hoping that my estimations on yield per square foot prove to be correct, because I do not have the capital to farm conventionally.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 15:31 | 3083749 Mr. Magniloquent
Mr. Magniloquent's picture

Nearly all of my friends in college were some type of science or engineering major. The only ones making any sort of salary above $30,000 are those that either were able to gentrify themselves within academia, have joined the military, or are making weapons for the military as a "civilian". My Biochemistry & Molecular Biology degree is insufficient credentialing for any scientific work, and has actually proven a detrmient when applying for most anything else. I am continually astounded by job advertisements I read where a college degree is absolutely required, and the pay is $10 hourly.

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 23:24 | 3085437 laughing_swordfish
laughing_swordfish's picture


Don't overlook the military...

After two basically wasted years at a lerge State U, I enlisted in the Navy, got a useful rate (Aviation) and stayed 22 years, retiring as a Chief E-7.

Through the excellent FREE or low-cost educational opportunities available, I got a Bachelor's degree in Accounting, and retired when a civiian position with a Government contractor opened up at four times my Navy pay. Combining this with my retirement pay, things looked up for me. I also went back to school nights and got an MBA from the local State U campus, with the GI Bill paying the way.

After early retirement, I taught myself to trade, found a small outfit where I could get licensed, and am now a partner in a small micro-level investment business where we quietly, without any publicity or fanfare, produce value for our clients WITHOUT being greedy criminals.

With respect to Wall Street and the Big Boys, Ivy League helps but the real selector is being a Member of The Tribe..

Did I suck up the government bennies available to me? Sure.

But the tradeoff was family separation, long deployments, and a lot less freedom to "do my own thing" - I gave in order to get.

Want to get ahead and be advanced on merit and hard work rather than connections or nepotism? Two choices - the military or your own business.

Just Sayin'




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