This is an example of why I maintain that Scott Adams is a clueless statist.
Hardly a day goes by without a debate about the proper role of government. Some people view government as a huge sink hole for money whose primary function is to limit freedom. Some citizens want the government to be as helpful and active as possible, preferably using tax revenue from other people. I’m somewhere in the middle, trying to decide each case on its merits.
This is the equivalent of saying ‘Some people measure using a foot ruler, and some measure using a meter stick; I’m somewhere in the middle, trying to decide each case on its merits’. In other words, he has no principles; he just lets his opinions waft to and fro as feeling and ‘intuition’ moves him. The technical term for this is ‘clueless’. (Prediction: Scott Adams is a metrosexual, supports ‘gay marriage’ because it ‘feels right to him’, and supports increasing taxes on rich people because it ‘sounds kinda fair’.)
For example, I think it’s a good idea that the United States requires banks to calculate consumer loan interest costs using a specific formula to produce something called the APR. Now consumers can compare loans from different banks. That law probably doesn’t cost the government much to enforce, and it’s good for citizens. Prior to the APR requirement, banks tried as hard as they could to confuse and screw consumers.
Guarding against fraud is a core function of government. Let’s see how Scott misapplies that to an inapposite case:
I’m starting to feel the same way about college majors. I think the government should require colleges to display the average starting pay and the estimated lifetime earnings for each of the majors they offer. Perhaps colleges should also display the unemployment rates for each college major. Let’s also assume that colleges have to use their own graduates for the calculations because, for example, Harvard graduates would see higher starting salaries than grads from lesser schools.
(Note the characteristic term ‘feel’.) Why inapposite? Because the function of a college isn’t to train you for a job, the function of a college is to educate you in certain subject areas, which might get you a job and might not. (If you don’t believe me, just ask them — every assistant professor gets ‘THIS IS NOT A TRADE SCHOOL’ tattooed on his heart before he is allowed to teach undergraduates.)
If you need to pound a nail and go to a hardware store to buy a screwdriver, your lack of success in subsequently pounding a nail isn’t a reflection on how well the hardware store did its job — you asked for a screwdriver, and that’s what you got. It’s not the job of the hardware store to post statistics on how successful purchasers of screwdrivers were when hammering nails.
Now, of course, a good hardware store will gently inquire as to why you need a screwdriver, and if you say ‘I need to pound a nail’, might attempt to steer you toward the racks of hammers. In the college context, this is like Mom & Dad saying, ‘Honey, why don’t you study something like Accounting or Engineering that will help you get a job? I don’t think there’s much demand for Women’s Studies minoring in Queer Theory.’ To which the average child who is attracted to Women’s Studies with a minor in Queer Theory will start hollering bloody murder about her creativity being repressed. Subsequent underemployment is therefore ODF.
Then I would take it one step further, the same way cigarette warning labels do. For majors with the lowest starting salaries I might include the warning: “Graduates with this degree are unlikely to be able to pay their bills. Their best career options include crime, marrying for money, or living with parents.”
Sure. Just ‘one step further’. And then ‘one step further’ when the last step didn’t get the desired result. Then another ‘one step further’ until there’s a nationwide assignment of graduates to jobs like the NFL draft. These are the people who voted for Mussolini because the concept of trains running on time seemed to them a really spiff idea. The technical term for this sort of dork is ‘statist’ — it’s the government’s job to save you from yourself, even if it means individual freedom goes out the window. (Prediction: Scott Adams supports motorcycle helmet laws.)
In fact, a good university will do this already. When I applied for graduate study in Philosophy at Indiana University, the application materials came with a sheet of paper that said ‘WARNING. THERE ARE NO JOBS IN THIS FIELD. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK UNLESS YOU HAVE A TRUST FUND.’ But it’s still not a college’s job to get you a job. You want to study sociology, we’ll teach you sociology. You want to get a job as a sociologist, best of luck to you, not our problem.
Proponents of small government might point out that information on starting salaries is readily available on the Internet. That’s true, but I think there is value in presenting the information with brutal frankness, and including appropriate warnings with every description of course offerings. That level of convenience will make the parents’ jobs easier as they try to steer their kids in the best direction.
No, proponents of small government will point that IT’S NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S FUCKING BUSINESS. There is indeed value in presenting the information with brutal frankness, but it’s not the government’s job to do that (at taxpayer expense). Nor is it the government’s job (at taxpayer expense) to increase the level of convenience for parents whose kids will ignore them anyway. (Scott obviously has never had teen-aged kids.)
Is that too much government?
Yes. (Prediction: Scott Adams voted for Obama, and will vote for him again.)