Sunday, March 20, 2016

Great example of how the herd pushes for too much of a good thing.

I have often said that college is not for everyone. In fact, I happen to think that we all need the basic education on reading, math, history, etc. that is taught in high school but very few need advanced math, advanced physics, etc. Additionally, college is not even the best learning environment for every type of person. Many do better with a hands on approach. The two best software developers that I have ever known were non-degree engineers.

As another example, one of the best darned silicon fabrication plant managers that Motorola ever had was a redneck who I happened to know via my wife's friend.  He learned what he needed to know online and without a college education and then he went to work in the industry and over time he developed a 6th sense for which way to go if yields weren't where they should be.  In other words, he developed a pattern matching capability for the fab plant "recipe".  I'm not even sure he could write it down but he always knew what to do when things went south and Motorola loved him for it.

But advanced education was a great money maker, and so it was pushed as the end all be all. It had nothing to do with education or economic productivity and everything to do with money and power. As yet another sign of the end times for the great global debt Ponzi are now seeing my views more broadly accepted and in fact expanded upon in iconoclastic ways by thought leaders.

The LinkedIn Link above points to an article about Jeff Selingo's book, "There is life after college".  The article states, "Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who don’t march along are often admonished, questioned, and considered failures. The decades-long march to college-for-everyone at eighteen has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twentysomethings. As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade, or go to college.

A teenager today really has only two of those options still available: the military or college."


"The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status."

The herd has to see incentive in taking any new direction.  The past trend toward more college was driven by three things IMO: 1) the ridiculously outsizes salaries that were possible to make for even idiots who held a college degree relative to a very smart person working just as hard without one and, more than anything, the availability of easy to acquire debt in order to achieve said sheepskin.

But what most people just don't get is that #1 and #2 were both driven by the same thing: availability to take on debt.

WHERE did corporations get all the money to get big?  All you have to do is look at the balance sheet of GE and TM to know why.  They BORROWED their size.  The same is true of pretty much all the biggest names out there whether or not we understand where their leverage lies.  Some of it is obvious, some of it is not.  For example, AAPL is said to have low debt therefore a strong company but they rely on debt laden people and corporations to buy their products and they pay top salaries.  If demand reduction (based on almost no new value added innovation since Jobs died) happens then those big salaries will eat AAPL alive.  When not if IMO. 

And how did those students afford all those years of college?  Big loans of course and lifetime debt (or eventual default) for a large number of them.

Corporations were allowed to take on massive loans because they got undue credibility.  The same was true of students because corporations were hiring those with degrees.  As banks become increasingly capital impaired and then eventually go bankrupt, the energy source of large corporations and of huge educational debt will collapse.  When it does it will completely change, in a turbulent but eventually correct way, the entire corporate and educational landscapes.  The days of $189 million dollar payouts to nearly useless CEOs are long in the tooth.  That money should have been shared more fairly to all those doing the work instead of being paid to a modern day king.  Expect more and more companies consisting of smaller, self funded teams.  They will be lean and mean.  There will be no debt funded "baggage employees" you either add value or you are on your way quickly.  I can already see it happening in the US.

These signs of awakening I am seeing, these utterances from those who the herd has elected, for whatever reasons, to be thought leaders, these are the beginning of the end for Big Education.  Expect it to become more and more difficult to get huge student loans and expect more and more online opportunities for those who do seek higher education in focused areas.

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