Black Job Market

An article in the paper has launched me into a curmudgeonly mood. The bright-eyed journalist, eyes full of statistics, was writing about how college graduates make one-and-a-half times higher salaries than their high school diploma holding classmates. I laughed then cried when I saw the standard salary of a diploma holder was higher than my salary with a Ph.D. My thoughts migrated to Mark Twain’s quip about “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Something is very wrong with our system.

Granted, those of us with higher degrees (especially in the humanities) do not enter the profession driven by aspirations of wealth. We do hope, however, to be able to afford to pay the rent. Instead the university world, with a casuistry that would do even a Jesuit proud, has found ways of wringing years of cheap labor out of those who are educating the next generation for those good paying jobs. It is a position that Sisyphus himself would despair to face.

When will we, as a society, fess up to what we know is true? Every industry is driven by money. Hospitals encourage surgery even when it is not necessary to bring in the extra income. Churches hit the guilt or eternal damnation buttons and cash flows in. University presidents ride around in limousines while those who are dangled along by their Ph.D.s beg for the bare minimum of fair treatment. No, I have to disagree with our affable journalist. I believe in education – it is the only way out of this money-hungry mess we’ve evolved ourselves into – but I don’t believe in education for good pay. It just doesn’t ring true.

3 thoughts on “Black Job Market

    • Steve Wiggins

      Thanks, Jim.

      There’s got to be a way to fight back — the stereotype out there is that professors are fat cats raking in the bucks. It doesn’t help that it is true in a few cases, but it isn’t reality for most of us. While teaching at Oshkosh I was told about a Religion professor who was being paid over 100K a year because he was considered “famous.” I’d never heard of him before. At Rutgers, according to those who know, a philosophy professor was hired “at any cost” because of his reputation. And yet they can’t scrape the funds together to replace a retired professor in the religion department. Bah! I say we’ve been cheated!


  1. I don’t think an “education” per se is worth anything anyway. The market reflects this. A smart person watches what others values or creates values. You can do that without education.

    Teaching people that an education is good for you in and of itself is the sin.

    I have told people for decades that it is a waste of time to study a foreign language in college. And the better our technology gets, studying in college will become more and more ridiculous. You are right, it is as industry and always has been. The smart people run industries and are not run by them.


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