The Alternative

Relish the chance to make a difference

The evidence is all around. Warm weather is on the way. I still get nostalgic when I see 3:15 on the clock. That meant the daily battle had come to an end. But summer was armistice day. Freedom! Freedom wasn't just lack of orders to follow, homework to do or schedules to follow. It was opportunity. Freedom is a positive thing. I remember some kids whining about lack of something to do. Complaining about a thing like that, sadly, comes from a successful nine months of indoctrination and regimentation resulting in dependence.

When you wake up in the morning with no obligation to anyone but yourself, you should feel like celebrating, relishing the chance to make a difference. But complaining about being bored just means that you are boring. Yearning for that morning bell is like something a petty criminal would do when he obviously steals something so he can get caught and be the center of attention.

There are tons of things to do after school. But we become so used to the routine, we are at a loss without the authority to guide our day or summer. This is just a tiny representation of how it had to be for people in the Soviet Union or Egypt when their systems collapsed. For us in the land of the free, it should be easy.

Forty-eight percent of college graduates are working at jobs that don't require a four-year degree. How many of these students were impressed by average wage statistics showing higher pay for college grads, then found no jobs to fit their expectations? How many were shamed into going to college? How many were (and won't admit it) afraid to face real world expenses and responsibilities? They're being shoved off into the future with student loans which has now replaced credit card debt as the number one consumer indebtedness.

One of the most incredible trends is students continuing in school, not for the purpose of preparing for the workplace, but to avoid paying student loans that aren't due until they finish school. Do you suppose they know student debt is not forgivable in bankruptcy? Is it the invincibility illusion of youth that makes them ignore the irresponsible black hole into which they are diving?

There are between 600,000 and three million skilled jobs available providing necessities that don't require a degree. There are apprenticeships where you actually get paid as you learn instead of accumulating debt. There are also jobs with no formal apprenticeship program where management is simply looking for people with ambition and reliability (increasingly scarce traits) so they can improve their business by using you as an asset.

A 2010 article on MSN Money highlights research that shows savings invested in mutual funds while getting a job straight out of high school, produced nearly three times the savings accumulated by 65 years of age, despite the college graduate earning 42 percent more through his working life. The cost of college and lack of income could not be made up by increased income.

This study should not be considered one-size-fits-all, any more than research that shows college is always worth it. But we are bombarded by so much pressure to go on to college, the other side of the coin needs to come to light. Just think if the 48 percent of college graduates who didn't use their degree had reasoned their decisions a bit better. The immense savings put to use for the “common good” would have improved our world rather than perpetuated an industry built on tradition rather than necessity.

From a macro-economics point of view let's consider the waste produced by a system where industry expects the public to furnish trained workers at no cost. This is what produces the surplus of college degrees. If the qualifications of workers are not directly connected to a job market, the market cannot reflect a true need. Essentially, industry expects a welfare system to train their people.

Politicians are eager to accommodate at our expense. Nowhere do I hear self funding or private financing as the solution to the college degree surplus. It always comes back to creating (through government mandates) more jobs requiring college degrees or increasing funding for trade schools and two year schools; not a self-regulating job market based on supply and demand.

Hey high school graduates, now that you are free, learn to live. Learn to earn your keep. Own yourself. Take time to discover what you really want for the rest of your life. Twelve years of school provides a tiny part of your life experience. A little time exploring different fields of work contributing to a happy life, will produce a better result for the long term than your school counselor can on his own.

Please respond to Fritz at 4selfgovernment@gmail.comor visit his blog (updated daily) at www.alternativebyfritz.com.