Thursday, June 23, 2011

It’s NOT about ME? Good one, David Brooks!

by Jack Solowey

David Brooks recently wrote a delightfully sarcastic opinion piece directed at 2011’s class of college graduates. Speaking to the grads, Brooks ‘modestly proposes’ that the world is not a mere playground for their novel amusement.

Ha! Good one, David! It doesn’t take a college education to understand the simple fact that an undergraduate degree is the ticket to a lifetime of ease and happiness. In 2010, Brooks’s own paper, The New York Times, published a study that identified a strong direct correlation between education and well-being. As a college “sophomore,” which is Greek for ‘knows everything,’ I have already learned that such a correlation always implies causality. 

At the close of his piece, Brooks wryly quips, “Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center.” This can only be a joke, because as all people, especially college students know, happiness is achieved by avoiding tasks. Where Pharaohs and Caesars used slaves to spare themselves from agonizing labor, college frat boys use pledges.

In fact, a college education guarantees future joy because it teaches you how to get out of working. Pretending to observe another religion’s holiday in order to push back a deadline, and counting alcohol served to minors as “community service” are just a few of the ways in which college students practice the art of shirking responsibility.

College courses even explicitly instruct the future leaders of the free world on how to cut corners. Only in a college economics classroom will you come to understand such complex ideas as “Post-Keynesian Chartalism.” This theory asserts that governments can pay off their debt by printing money that doesn’t actually exist. While this notion may sound “counter-intuitive” or "f***ing ridiculous" to a non-college graduate, to a college grad it makes perfect sense. College students even learn to apply this concept outside of the classroom. With “bursar bills” students can charge food and other necessary items to their parents without asking for the money upfront.

With college-educated leaders who know such clever tricks, our government can pay for things even though it is $14.2 trillion in debt. Luckily, our elected officials understand that they don’t have to waste time and resources paying off our debt in the present, because some even more educated generation will simply get around to it in the future.

Furthermore, Brooks’s colleague Tom Friedman reported yesterday on another one of our highly educated government’s laborsaving success stories. According to Friedman, modern presidents are only expected to make policy for their first 100 days in office, even though they are elected to an entire four-year term. Ask not what your country can do for you – ask how you can evade doing anything for your country. Thanks Kennedy School of Government!

In the past, hard work made this country great. Other people’s hard work. While uneducated people composed the rank and file of the proletariat labor force, the “smart” ones avoided all that Dickensian drudgery by taking 8 semesters of gen ed. classes.

It is wholly unjust that even today some Americans do not have the opportunity to go to college and thereby avoid a lifetime of challenging toil. As our founders envisioned, however, we continue to move towards a “more perfect Union.” In President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address he stated, “We’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.”

We still have not yet achieved the ideal where 100% of Americans receive college degrees, but with every generation we move closer to that goal. At this point, you may be wondering, “if everyone goes to college and learns how to get by without doing anything productive, who will do the dirty work?”

Once again, executives with MBAs from the nation’s leading business schools have devised an easy solution: out-sourcing. Now that most Americans are far too educated to perform “necessary tasks” we simply must hire people in other countries to perform those jobs for us.

Already, we see the fruits of our emphasis on college education. Unemployment is now officially at 9.1%, meaning that fewer and fewer Americans have to work at all. At this rate, college may be the ticket to an entirely work free future.


  1. Excellent piece, Jack. Glad to see you're still writing.

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