Tuesday, May 17, 2011

'Supply and Demand' Predicts a Bust for the College Market Bubble

There is a video by the NIA (Nat'l Inflation Assoc), reported on here as "The "College Conspiracy" Video, Or Why The College Bubble Is Next To Pop", which seems to have the inside scoop on something I've been warning about for some while. While they approach it on a more practical nuts and bolts level rather than concern for the substance of what is being taught, the result is the same:

"It's a racket... college has become a racket"
And they seem to have the information to back it up.. though I'll admit to disliking the messenger a bit. The video isn't without flaws... the tone is a bit too preeningly cynical for my tastes, it plays up the sympathetic victim status of those who 'were forced' into their student loans, and pushes a thick populist line, nearly anti-intellectual in tone, as if those who do the work of the mind contribute nothing to the economy... which, frankly, is dangerously compatible with any one of the variants of Marxism I presume they are against. Annnd they aren't so much questioning what is being taught - my particular complaint - but the expense of it. It also phrases several of it's future doom and gloom statistics in a way that brings the phrase 'lies, damn lies and statistics' to mind....


But, in it's essentials, this video nails a critical issue, critical to your pocketbook and to our nation, that the inflationary practices of our modern system of higher education, financially, and intellectually, are hastening the bankruptcy of both.

This is an hour long video that is well worth your time, especially if you, or a child of yours, or that of a friend or relative is considering going into debt to get a college education, not because they have a passion for a particular profession, but as something they think is a 'sure thing' for prosperity - you need to have them watch this video.

Listen to the first 10 minutes in particular; do you want your child to become one of these whiny, herd mentality people? These are people who have found themselves having gone into deep long term debt in order to get a college education which, like most peoples mortgages today, is ‘under water’, their diploma's are a burden to them, not a source of wealth. You hear them continually moaning about "Now I HAVE to ..." do this and "I have no choice but to..." do that, but no matter their excuses, these are people who sought an 'education' because they bought the modern message that it would be their key to financial success, but instead, they find themselves buried deep in debt to pay back their student loans, loans they took out, with the expectation of being able to demand a high paying position in one storied 'easy money' profession or another.

While it's hard to get away from the fact that they sound like a bunch of whiners, complaining about being tricked into the 'wage slave' economy - and don’t you just love hearing that Marxist phrase popping up among college graduates? - we need to recognize that our best and brightest are being turned into the bitterest and most envious. Do you really need college to make you into one of these people? Take a close look at them, shell shocked awake college grads under financial water for probably decades to come, and more than likely NOT earning the means to pay their loans back with the 'skills' they sunk themselves into debt in order to attain.

It is a scam, financially, as this video so clearly shows, and intellectually, as intellectuals are beginning to become aware of as well, such as Pulitzer prize winning playwright David Mamet, who had this to say about higher education, to a group of academics at Stanford University, who came to hear themselves praised... and heard something quite the contrary,

"... the unease that began to ripple through the audience had less to do with the speaker’s delivery than with his speech’s content. Mamet was delivering a frontal assault on American higher education, the provider of the livelihood of nearly everyone in his audience.
Higher ed, he said, was an elaborate scheme to deprive young people of their freedom of thought. He compared four years of college to a lab experiment in which a rat is trained to pull a lever for a pellet of food. A student recites some bit of received and unexamined wisdom—“Thomas Jefferson: slave owner, adulterer, pull the lever”—and is rewarded with his pellet: a grade, a degree, and ultimately a lifelong membership in a tribe of people educated to see the world in the same way.
“If we identify every interaction as having a victim and an oppressor, and we get a pellet when we find the victims, we’re training ourselves not to see cause and effect,” he said.”
And a prime example of our willfully refusing to see cause and effect, is that of the effect such empty ideas, sold at outrageous, and unsupported, prices, are bringing upon us. Another market bubble is coming, and it will likely dwarf the bubbles in housing and other areas which have recently preceded it.

Quality out of control
At about the 13:49 mark it gets to the one of the core nuggets of information that should raise your red flags of warning, Govt has been busily supporting ever more easily attainable student loans, injecting the market with a massive supply of college graduates who are being led to expect that their skills are in demand for the professions which colleges are busily churning them out for. Such easy money for the colleges is a clear cut cause for tuition prices to rise, but without an accompanying increase in the value of their educational product, or in demand for those positions in the job market... well... for anyone who studied economics somewhere other than at college, you should be able to tell that that is far from a recipe for financial prosperity.

If you've been sold on going into debt with the understanding that a high paying position awaits you - and that high paying position doesn't exist, and that hundreds like you have been rolled off of the college grad production line for every position there is a job for - then you, and millions of your fellow graduates - are in for a very harsh education on the actual value of wearing rose colored glasses.

Add to that, that what they are producing is not only less in demand, but the factory model of education is producing a product of declining value as well as of declining quality, while all the while its price is continually rising. For instance, as they point out in the video, it used to be a rarity for a student to achieve a 4.0, one school he cites had one plaque which held all the 4.0 students who had graduated over years and years... but in the last year a plaque was filled with 4.0 students from just that year. 4.0 GPA's, are now unbelievably common - not because people have gotten smarter, or because they've been found a better way of helping students retain useful knowledge and skills, but because the standards have fallen so far.

At the 17:50 min mark, they point out another effect of these causes - colleges are producing substandard materials which are unable to hold up under stressful situations. The declining standards in intellectual depth and ability, along with the multi-cultural deficit in ethical comprehension and regard which students are equipped with by their colleges, are widely expected to cast their ethically substandard eyes upon the widespread govt bailouts we've seen, and conclude that it'll be ok for them to default on their loans as well, confident that they too will be bailed out by the govt.

Such 'two wrongs make a decent excuse' thinking, which is a direct result of what is, and isn't taught in our colleges, is going to pass on it's effect to burden the govt, who will simply pass it on to the taxpayers, further burdening the system, further reducing the available jobs, further crushing the economy and vaporizing those few jobs these college grads have thrown away four to six years of their lives to attain.

And for the opportunity of becoming a part of this Ponzi system, students are now paying yearly tuition's of an average of $24k, converting them to long term life leaching debt; and they are now getting this debt even easier, straight from the govt.

At 20:30, NIA points out another effect of govt interference in the once (long ago) free market of college education, that while most established products in a free market go up in value and down in price (think CD Players and Plasma TV’s), that has not been the case with the educational market, because unlike a free market, the educational racket is subsidized by the govt, providing easy funding for what otherwise would have been much more closely examined and held up for standards of quality - but with their interference the quality control is out the window, and pricing is severed from real market forces. This is illustrated in part by something they identify as the 90/10 rule, which forces private for profit colleges to raise tuition every time govt raises financial aid to students. Why? Because federal regulations mandate that at least 10% of these 'private' colleges incomes come from non govt sources... which means that every time govt expands the services they provide students, these colleges must raise their tuition's too in order to stay within that 90/10 rule - not because they have a real need to raise their tuition costs - but only because of a federal regulation which has the unintended effect of requiring them to.

The result of this is that prices continue to skyrocket without any increase in value purchased... and the bubble grows and grows and grows, reflecting less and less the reality of the market.

What is the goal of a college education to become Educated... or Marketable?
And as with any other market bubble – which are ultimately the result of govt interference in those markets - the rising rates, increasing costs and interest rates coupled with inflation, the needle of reality is coming closer and closer to popping that college market bubble. NIA predicts that of the 4,168 public and private 2 and 4 yr colleges in America, as the economy and dollar continue in their current collapse, and as Americans find that they must spend upwards of 30% of their income on food alone, NIA predicts that,

“conservatively, 20% of all U.S. colleges will close by 2020, as well as remaining enrollments being reduced by 15-30%, with the American percentages of those enrollments declining by 50%, then we’ll find that the stronger Chinese Yuan will continue filling up the remaining open slots, pricing American students out of the market..."
That’s if those college educations retain enough of their value to make them worthwhile to the Chinese. It’s becoming more and more of a losing proposition all around, and one which the typical prospective college student would be wise to stay out of all together.

This is especially true if their own personal goal for attending college was the promise which colleges use to tempt potential students in the first place - not to become Educated, but to become marketable. NIA points out that,

"...the simple truth is that any American high school student that has any savings put away that they are planning to put towards college would be much better off simply investing this money into physical silver. A senior in high school with $30k in savings who buys silver today, would likely have the money to buy the median U.S. home, four years from now. While all of his friends will be graduating college with no job, or money to buy a house, but will be stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and a worthless piece of paper, called a college degree.”
As fast as costs are rising, the value of the college products are declining even faster. A simple rule of economics is that there's little or no special value to something when its something which nearly everyone has. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2009, 70.1% of high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities, up from 68% in 2008. And if that's been a secret, NIA is working hard to let everyone know that there is no longer a marked advantage to getting a college education.
As Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona makes clear,

"At this point, in this late era in the industrial economy, I wouldn't encourage anybody to go to college. It hasn't been a very good deal for quite a while, and it certainly is a very bad deal now."
One statistic that should be shocking for students who are considering sinking four to six years of their lives, and decades of burdensome debt, in order to pursue a college degree so that they can get ahead in life, become more marketable... since 1992, 60% of college graduates were in low skill positions which did not require even a HIGH school education for the work they were doing. 20% of restaurant waiter positions since 1992 have been filled by college graduates.

While on the other 'un-educated' hand, of the 29.9% of recent High School graduates NOT in college, 70% were employed and building long term work force experience. Only 42.1% of recent HS grads in college have a job, and most of these are in part time jobs of little or no long term work force value.

NIA points out that the greatest myth of all is that a college degree is worth a higher income in the long run, that college graduates will earn 'a million dollars' more than non graduates can be expected to earn in the same span of time. But when you total up the costs of college, the accumulating interest on loans, and the lost income over the 4 to 6 years of college life, the true result is that seeming plus of 'a million dollars',actually reflects an overall loss, or at best breaking even, with their non-college going fellows who stayed behind and... got a job.

What is the actual value of a substandard, over priced college education? Where's the beef?!
Gerald Celente, Trends Research Institute makes an eye opening point at 27:40,
"... if we were doing such a wonderful job, and producing such geniuses coming out of universities, do ya think that we'd be in the problems that we're in now? Do ya think that we would be among the most unhealthy nation of people in all of developed nations? Do ya think that if we would be gobbling down junk food? Do ya think that if we would be prescription drug addicts as a society? Do ya think that we would be in the greatest recession, that's heading towards the greatest depression? Do you think that we would be in Iraq and wasting trillions of dollars fighting losing wars in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan? Do you think that we would have presidents and senators and congressmen and legislators of such low mentality that we have now, do you think that we would have the rampant greed of the white shoe boys on wall street, if the universities were turning out anything of quality, considering the trillions that are spent and the tens of millions that are educated? By their deeds you shall know them, look at what American universities have produced."
Simply put, we have the society which our educational system has directly produced. Whether or not this is the society they intended is as irrelevant as whether or not a drunk driver intended to maim or kill the nice family he plowed head on into - we are the society which our proregressive educational ideals have produced - we are at that place where the path of good intentions leads to!

It's ironic that the modern growth in college education began in agricultural studies 150 years ago with the Morrill Land Grant colleges act for agricultural studies. 75 years ago, Agriculture made up 28% of the nations GDP, providing a firm basis for the rest of the economy to grow upon; but today while the service sector makes up 76.9%, the agricultural system makes up only 1.2% of our nation's GDP. An economy becomes strong as a result of producing materials of value to others, but our production and manufacturing jobs have been forced overseas by our own burdensome regulatory system and entitlements and the tax structure required to support them, leaving most positions here in America, simply servicing what we no longer create here.

Today we are producing little of real tangible value, and instead produce mostly people who are looking to supply even more products of such little value to the economy - lawyers, financial mgmt and other service sector or bureaucratic jobs. Of the other professions which do have real value, more and more people are realizing that traditional colleges are no longer the most worthwhile places to receive that sort of education that can provide real wealth producing skills that will be in demand to what remains of our economy. 500,000 Indian's have recently earned engineering degrees online, overseas, while we've produced just 150,000.

Today, the agricultural business amounts to only a little over 1% of our business, but most agricultural commodities, corn, wealth, oranges, have inflated from 40% to over 100% of their recent value; conversely, the NIA is predicting that Lawyers & financial degree positions will see mirror declines in demand and in in their real incomes, of 90% or more.

What is valuable and rare, becomes far and away more valuable than what is of relatively less value and is plentifully common in nature.

Lawyers and managers haven't had a history of being highly paid simply because of their suits... but because they once represented a rare 'commodity', that of the highly informed and skilled manager. Now they are representative of unremarkable traits and skills, and farmers and manufacturers provide very uncommon and difficult to attain knowledge and skills.

The times, they are a changing.

If our economic wizards on Wall Street were as intelligent as they think they are, they should have grasped this: Fewer people have been becoming farmers, and fewer are going into mfg, mining or drilling or into other areas which are capable of producing real wealth. But more and more people are getting 'educated' in order to fill positions which cannot profitably exist without being able to ride upon the backs of those wealth producing positions. We have college degrees flooding the market for positions, which we have little or no real wealth producing industries being created here with which to support them.

That's not a viable and sustainable scenario.

The hard fact is that what is common and plentiful, is of the least economic value. What is rare, is of the most economic value. We are facing a worldwide shortage in farming and agricultural commodity prices... in just the last year or two corn has risen 75%, wheat 65%, Orange Juice 58%, coffee 78%, cotton 124%.
Supply and demand should tell our college grad financial experts that their value on the market is headed for a rapid decline... but what of the farmers and other 'blue collar' manufacturing positions? The people with dirt under their nails? THEY are very likely going to be the new rich.

And the service sector people - lawyers, managers, are going to service them... if they are lucky, but not in positions they are going into debt to attain, instead, they will find themselves having to conform to the needs of the market - and that is unlikely to show much concern for the degrees upon their walls.

Add to that that colleges have more and more been producing anti-business attitudes (UMSL & UMKC anybody?)... who do you suppose really wants to hire them? If you were a businessmen, why would you hire someone who thinks you are depraved and evil? Our armies of lawyers and other graduates have gone into govt adding more and more regulations and rules on every productive sector of our economy, hampering our ability to compete... with ourselves. It's not China that's taking our jobs, we are! We burden the market with armies of worthless rule making and busy work and chains of penalties and fees.

But if the NIA is correct, the market in college graduates, in some ways a modern day plague of locusts, is about to go bust. The world is changing, college, and what our college grads have made of it, is of less and less value. Get a job. Produce something. Convert your dollars into commodities that will retain value, gold, silver, etc.


Look at the housing market, the health care market, the college degree market... they are all coming to the same fate.

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