America Has Little To Be Thankful For.

As Americans were eating breakfast on their great national holiday, Thanksgiving Day, I came across an article by Naomi Cohn in The Guardian. The lines that jumped out at me were these:

A report out Wednesday showed that new jobless claims declined slightly last week, but this is hardly reassuring to the millions of Americans who are spending this Thanksgiving still unemployed.

I am one of those who will lose benefits when they expire next week – 5 days after the holiday. As it happens, I am among the lucky ones – I was laid off just under two years ago, and so I was eligible for 99 weeks of benefits – the maximum amount. Those who were laid off after me will get far less: if Congress does not act, the maximum number of weeks available will be 26.

Thanksgiving, for us, will be fraught with tension. We will sit at tables with family members, some of whom will be proudly announcing their latest success at work. We are the losers, the rejected, the left-out, the forgotten, the silent.

We are ashamed in front of our children, not because we cannot pay for gifts, summer camp, after-school activities. That, I think, they understand. But because we are failures. While we encourage them to excel in school, our own degrees are worthless.

Many people in the UK will be facing a similar prospect this Christmas of course. Our unemployment figures too are kept steady by the numbers of people simply running out of benefit, reaching the time limit for which jobseeker’s allowance is paid and dropping off the unemployment figures as they are forced to rely on income support.

But look at the final sentence in those quoted lines. “While we encourage them to excel in school, our own degrees are worthless.”

The great education Ponzi scheme strikes again. Last week when Little Nicky was defending Nick Cleggs’ U turn on university tuition fees I was challenged by someone who is much too nice a person to mix it with a bruiser who cut his political teeth campaigning as a Liberal in Wigan. He commented that education is not just about preparation for a career which is of course absolutely right. In fact as the above extract proves education even to degree level is little help in finding employment these days.

What we need is proper jobs for people to do. And to create those we need people with a grip on reality not the kind of illusion dwellers who believe university education is a human right.

If everybody has a degree they’re not going to be worth shit in a future job market.

99ers: The dream dies in jobless America

Wasting Our Talent

Every now and again I see an aricle written by someone who thinks they are a real smartarse that displays such a total lack of awareness of the realities of life I just find myself thinking “is the purpose of higher eduation to take bright people and turn them into fuckwits?”

Such and article was Talent Going To Waste an irrational whine from a writer on the hand wringing, wailing and gnashing of teeth extreme of the woolly brained left.

This article bemoaned the fact that immigrants with good degrees from Universities in their homeland are unable to find employment related to their degree subject in this country and are having to work as shelf stackers, burger – flippers and office cleaners.

The writer berated British society for this terrible waste of talent and for treating these people so disrespectully.


There are plenty of English people, including my daughter and a couple of her friends, who have excellent degrees from good Universities and yet cannot get employment related to their specialist subject. This is not because of institutionalised racism or any other kind of bollocks the Political Correctness Police like to bang on about. It is because of the failure of the lunacies of free market economics.

Devaluation by Degrees

A senior educationalist said this week that though qualifications offered by many Universities recently upgraded from College of Further Education status are regarded as “Mickey Mouse” degrees, such vocational qualifications as degrees in plumbing, brewing beer, leisure centre management and rock music studies are proving their worth in society.
This man must have a degree in talking bollocks.
The degrees awarded by traditional universities are not and were never intended as vocational qualifications, they were evidence of an ability to think creatively. To talk of vocational degrees is to reduce the degree to a glorified school leaver’s certificate. Medicine was ever something of an exception being a hybrid, while sugeons and physicians must have gained proficiency in established techniques, skill in diagnosis is something that cannot be taught.
Now I have never been one of those traditionalists who thinks Universities should only award degrees in fusty old subjects like mathematics and geography. All things must evolve including education. But a degree is surfing techniques? Eff off!
Plumbers and Brewers to pick up two trades mentioned in the article, traditionally prepared for their careers by serving formal apprenticeships. These, by the late twentieth century, involved a mix of hands on experience and classroom education to combine theory with practical skills. A perfect blend for tradesmen and craftsmen. People who managed leisure facilities had usually been successful in their chosen sport although I remember at the Golf Club where I used to caddy for pocket money in school holidays the Secretary, effectively the CEO of the club, was a retired solicitor. He looked after finances and ran the administration of the club while the professional gave lessons and sold equipment, the head groundsman looked after the course and the steward ran the bar and catering. All were experts in therir own field. Only the retired solicitor had a degree, in law rather than Golf Club Management.
Would somebody with a degree in Golf Course Management do a better job than that team. I doubt it somehow, all were experts in their own trade and had a wealth of experience.
Does a Rock musician need a degree in Rock studies? The usual career path goes: learn to play (sort of), join a band, get some gigs, be in the right place at the right time.
It worked for the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, Suggs, The Gallaghers of Oasis and the lads in the Kaiser Chiefs. “Just Fucking Do It” as Bob Geldof says.
How does one earn a degree in plumbing anyway? The purpose of a degree is to establish the ability to bring a new approach to a subject, not to prove a certain level of knowledge.
I was once asked why I hadn’t done a degree in history. I quipped that there was nothing new to study in history. But I have to say my literature BA is a joke. The techniques is exactly as explained in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys; turn the question on its head and come at it from an unusual angle. The answer doesn’t have to be right (in fact at degree level there are few right and wrong answers merely different ways of looking at things) so long as it is original.
Now call me old fashioned by I would rather employ a plunber with a few years hands on than one who is so original I get covered in shit when I switch on the shower.
The degree factories that recent governments have turned colleges and Universities into simply turn further education into an industried. Thus the goal is not to advance human civilisation but to create more degrees, attract more students, earn more fees, increase profitability, maintain growth and improve market share.