This bubble is going to pop…

This bubble is going to pop…
Jason
Stutman Photo By Jason Stutman
Written Saturday, September 17, 2016
You can call me self-hating all you want, but I’m just going to put it out there today: My generation is, unequivocally, the most entitled and selfish group of individuals in the history of man.

Yeah, I said it: millennials are a spoiled group of finger-pointing, thumb-sucking crybabies who wouldn’t understand the value of free market economics and personal responsibility if Milton Friedman rose from the grave, zombie-walked to their houses, and bit off a chunk of their flesh.

milton-friedman-millennials-zombie

Ok, fine, I’m probably overgeneralizing here just a bit — we all know there are plenty of hardworking and reasonable millennials out there — but as a whole, research confirms the millennial bracket is disproportionately attracted to entitlement politics and disproportionately more likely to avoid personal responsibility for their shortcomings.

No, I’m not just saying these things because I’m mad, bro. Those are the facts.

A recent and national Reason-Rupe survey found that 53% of Americans under 30 have a favorable view of socialism compared to less than a third of people over 30. Gallup found that an astounding 69% of millennials say they’d be willing to vote for a “socialist” candidate for president, while national exit polls from the democratic primaries indicate up to 80% of young Democrats had voted for “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile, a dozen eggs in Venezuela are selling for $150.

As for millennial narcissism, this, too, is both very real and scary. According to the American Freshman Survey, which has been conducted every year for the last half century, 80% of survey respondents now rank their “drive to succeed” above average (a mathematical impossibility), while more students than in the entire 47-year history of the survey now consider themselves “gifted.”

No, this is not some new brand of personal “confidence” — it’s an epidemic built on delusions of grandeur and dangerous fantasies of self-importance and contribution.

Sure, it’s true we’re saddled with debt, it’s true we have trouble finding work, and it’s true we’re not buying homes, starting families, or investing as early as our parents once did. Woe is us, right? But guess what, my fellow millennials? That’s our fault, and ours alone.

“O-M-G, how could he!?” I can just see the backlash already… Fine, fine: It’s not 100% your fault. All that federal aid you vehemently supported… the legislation spearhead by President Obama, who our generation turned out in record numbers for? Well, that can take some of the blame, too.

As the New York Federal Reserve confirms about federal backed student loans (emphasis mine):

Institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program [have] increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes, with a sizable pass-through effect on tuition of about 65 percent. We also find that Pell Grant aid and the unsubsidized federal loan program have pass-through effects on tuition.

Us millennials, whether we want to accept it or not, are in debt by our own accord. Maybe we were duped into this mindset by our parents, and that’s, like, totally their fault, too, butour personal sense of entitlement to such an extravagant and high-premium education system — well, that’s the ultimate cause of our generation’s number one financial woe (yes, I’m talking about student debt).

 

Millennials don’t just believe college is useful for certain people in certain fields anymore; they believe it is a natural-born right. On the seventh day of creation, God apparently did not rest; he handed out a bunch of free liberal arts degrees instead.

Millennials don’t just want taxpayers to pay for their education, though; they want them to pay for four years of drinking camp with their friends. According to the University of Wisconsin, the average college student spends about $500 a year on alcohol alone, which works out to more than 10% of student loans.

Yes, your tax dollars (~93% of student loans now come from the federal government) are financing beer pong, flip cup, and my personal favorite: slap cup, otherwise referred to as “Chris Brown.” You’ve probably footed the bill for your fair share of Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, and dime bags, too.

Millennials don’t just think college is absolutely necessary, though; they think it is necessaryimmediately after high school. College is the millennial generation’s golden goose, and those of us who won’t stop crying about how much it costs are all Veruca Salt.

Veruca Salt

I want to lock it
All up in my pocket
It’s my bar of chocolate
Give it to me now!

It’s not just about the learning to these young charlatans, either, as they’ll have you believe. They also want elite sports entertainment and million-dollar stadiums despite these things having absolutely nothing to do with education.

They call for oversized philosophy and fine arts departments despite minimal real-world demand. They want rock climbing walls, indoor pools, personal counselors, clubs, gyms, dorms with posh amenities, and now, after getting sloshed with their friends for four to six years, they complain about being in debt when they find out their $150,000 gender studies degrees are essentially useless in the real world.

In the words of Charlie Bucket, “Here we go again…”

Let’s be clear: College education is a personal investment that only pays off if you have a plan for monetizing your degree. If you fail to do that and then to try to pass the buck to everybody else… well, then you deserve no sympathy from anyone. In fact, from those of us millennials paying off our debt without a peep, you deserve our disdain.

“But what about the arts!?” they’ll say. Well, what about them?

The arts are important, absolutely, but unless you possess the drive and talent required to become an artist that’s in demand, your major is going to end up being a hobby, not a career.

If you really want to pursue an art (insert philosophy, journalism, gender studies, etc. here) degree, then go for it, but do so at your own expense and risk. If it doesn’t pay off in the end, that is your fault and yours alone, the same way if it pays off, it’ll be your success and your success alone.

It’s not society’s fault whenever you make a poor investment decision. It’s not society’s fault for not valuing your own personal brand of art.

In the eyes of society, medicine is more important than art. Computer science is more important than philosophy. Math is more important than theology. These aren’t values every single person will agree with on a personal level, but when you look at how the collective population is willing to spend their money, these values generally hold true. That’s how a free market works, and that’s why a free market is fair — it is a reflection of the collective values of society

Yet despite having some of the worst ROI out there, the number of art and performance majors graduating today has increased 159% over the last 30 years, according to theDigest of Educational Statistics. Other low-return degrees such as philosophy have also more than doubled in number.

Meanwhile, the number of engineering majors has increased by just 16%, economics by just 27%, and computer science — despite the now-ubiquitous nature of computers — by only 18%. Jointly, the number of math majors is completely flat. So while millennials may sport a notch in their belts for having the highest number of college graduates in American history, they have little claim to being the most educated in fields proportional to demand.

There’s an important distinction to be made here, too: between being educated and having a college degree. I know plenty of college graduates, for instance, with skulls thicker than Amy Schumer’s biceps. I also know plenty of non-college graduates who deservingly make more in salary than I do…

It might sound harsh, but if all you choose to do with your life is produce mediocre art or get stoned and debate philosophy, then I have to break it to you: you’re not especially valuable in the eyes of society.

As much as I hate to melt anyone’s precious snowflake, the reality is you just can’t force someone to give you money for something they don’t personally value. This holds true whether you’re holding a gun to someone’s head and saying, “Buy this collage I made, I worked really hard on it!” or having the government hold a gun to their head in your stead demanding, “Pay your taxes and support the starving philosophy majors!” It’s basically the social equivalent of that guy who washes your windshield at a moving intersection, then calls you an asshole for not giving him money.

This is where the issue of morality comes in because at the end of the line, when you remove the elements of a free market, you’re forcing someone else to pay for something they don’t personally value. You’re essentially saying, “I want to pursue an overpriced art degree, humanities degree, etc., even though society doesn’t value those things as much as I want them to… And if you don’t help me pay for it, the government will enforce my will upon you.”

Again, I’m clearly generalizing here, and it’s important to recognize that not all millennials fit this particular caricature… Obviously there’s value in things like art and philosophy, too. Ultimately, though, the only way we can keep the cost of education in check is to stop pretending like certain programs are more valuable than the market has determined.

The wisest thing young Americans can do at this point is not to start asking for handouts from taxpayers, but to start putting pressure on the colleges that are ripping them off instead. It’s not the taxpayer’s responsibility to negotiate the value of your degree — that’s an arrangement between you and the institutions.

To put things into perspective, prices for tuition and fees have increased by over 1,200% over the past three decades. ROI on degrees obviously has not. If you think it’s the elusive 1% out there profiteering from all this, then you’re wrong; your true opponents in the fight for affordable education are the colleges themselves.

If you happen to be or know an inspiring student of higher education, understand that the most important consideration to make, besides personal interest and ambition, is ROI. Colleges won’t make this information obvious to you because it encourages competition, but it’s pretty simple to calculate.

First, you need to consider the total expected cost of your degree. This includes tuition, fees, interest (if you plan to take out any loans), and any income you’ll forgo while in school (x). Second is the median salary difference of that degree compared to the median salary of a high school graduate (y). Third is how long you intend to stay in a career where that particular degree is relevant (z).

If y multiplied by z is more than x, then congratulations, your degree will probably be worth it. If y multiplied by z is less than x, then don’t give that particular institution your business. It’s really just that simple.

If you’re looking for the best of the best by college, here are the nation’s top colleges ranked by ROI according to bestcolleges.com:

  1. SUNY Maritime (Cost = $90,530; 30 year net ROI = $1,586,000)
  2. Colorado School of Mines (Cost = $107,100; 30 year net ROI = $1,547,000)
  3. Georgia Tech (Cost = $87,100; 30 year net ROI = $1,389,000)
  4. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Cost = $96,380; 30 year net ROI = $1,316,000)
  5. South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (Cost = $85,830; 30 year net ROI = $1,228,000)
  6. New Jersey Institute of Technology (Cost = $134,100; 30 year net ROI = $1,223,000)
  7. Missouri University of Science and Technology (Cost = $94,380; 30 year net ROI = $1,183,000)
  8. University of California, Berkeley (Cost = $125,000; 30 year net ROI = $1,182,000)
  9. California Poly, San Luis OBISPO (Cost = $97,730; 30 year net ROI = $1,151,000)
  10. University of Massachusetts (Cost = $97,130; 30 year net ROI = $1,094,000)

As you probably already noticed, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and every other Ivy League college is absent from this list. With the exception of Berkeley, liberal arts programs are vacant, too.

Not too surprisingly, here are the top five worst colleges for ROI.

  1. Kalamazoo (private liberal arts)
  2. Marist (private liberal arts)
  3. Allegheny (private liberal arts)
  4. Sarah Lawrence (private liberal arts)
  5. Oberlin (private liberal arts)

Are you sensing a pattern yet? It’s pretty clear: college pays out more when you’re in STEM and less when you’re in the arts. If you don’t like it, take it up with the institutions, not the taxpayer, and certainly not me.

Until next time,

JS Sig

Jason Stutman

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