Monday Musings 47

I am aware that I write some things more than once. I have written almost 800 posts in 28 months and cannot remember everything I’ve ever written. However, most of the time that I repeat myself is for effect.

I have written many times that if you’re reading the blog then you should read the comments. I have no way of knowing how many of you are doing so. Below is an exchange of comments between me and photobyjohnbo. By the way, if you like great photography you should check out his blog.



Looks like you hit a chord with people and your comments on technical vs college education. As a lifetime member of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and a former technical trades editor, you are certainly preaching to this member of the choir.

My favorite question to young people mentioning college is, “Do you know what the NDSU (North Dakota State University) grad says to the NDSCS (North Dakota State College of Science) Grad?”
“Will that be fries with your order, sir?”
NDSCS is one of the state’s major technical colleges. Most people are familiar with the NDSU Bison.


My reply:


Obviously I have nothing against a college education. I have two degrees and the second one, my graduate degree in Economics, opened a lot of doors for me until it didn’t. However, I fervently maintain that too many people attend college and not enough people learn a skilled trade. I also steadfastly maintain that the misguided government policies that excessively subsidize consumption of “higher education” are the single biggest reason college costs have exploded. As the economist in me knows, an exogenous upward shift in the demand curve of a good or service–in this case due to subsidization–combined with a relatively fixed supply (in large part due to universities seeing themselves as a luxury good) means the only variable that can adjust is price and it can only go straight up.

What’s the solution? I have my own ideas, but in this country of excessive political polarization it is doubtful anything will get done. In fact, it is likely that the only change will result in the situation getting worse as people almost always choose what they think is the path of least resistance and voting themselves a “free” college education fits that definition. Of course, NOTHING is free even if it seems to be free to you.


In this country, politicians are far less concerned about quality governance than about getting elected/re-elected. Promising “free” stuff is a great way to make the latter happen, not such a good way for the former. Does anyone else have anything to offer?



My OCD is really locking in on this car, a Maserati GranTurismo (this one is a 2008 model). I think the Buick-like portholes are playing a large role in that new obsession, perhaps more in my subconscious than conscious mind. The first family car I remember and the first car I ever drove was a 1956 Buick Century.

As our latest setback has pushed the relocation timetable into limbo, the search for a Corvette companion/grocery car has abated. I also realize that we can achieve our goal of a grocery car with style and performance less expensively than buying one of these. All I can say is, Carpe Diem!








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10 thoughts on “Monday Musings 47

  1. You dropped 150k on an education you could have had for $150 in late chaaarges at the public library.


  2. Bring back VoTech in high schools. I went to a public high school that taught me valuable skills in working with my hands to the point I can do routine home maintenance including replace electrical/plumbing fixtures. My daughter went to a high school that gave her a college preparatory education while at the same time allowed her to pursue culinary arts as a possible career. Time to stop creating the next generation of art history majors.


    1. Thanks for sending the links. The table showing degrees by field of study is most enlightening. A couple of examples:

      1) The percentage of total degrees conferred that were Psychology degrees increased from 4.5% in 1970-71 to 6.0% in 2016-17. What can you do with a Bachelors in Psychology except be a barista?
      2) The percentage of total degrees conferred that were Mathematics degrees decreased from 3.0% in 1970-71 to 1.2% in 2016-17. This is most disturbing to me and does not bode well for the proficiency of our country.


      1. “What can you do with a Bachelors in Psychology except be a barista?”

        One poster on the other blog had an interesting take on that. His response was that HR departments and management training positions are increasingly being filled by those with degrees in those fields. I have no first hand experience with the truth or not of that, but it would make sense. My background is in engineering and like many in that field my “people skills” were/are a bit lacking. I’ve gotten better over the years, but can at times still be frustrated because others don’t have the same “vision” of the path to the end goal that I do.

        Maybe I needed some more courses in that field of study.


      2. LOL to needing more Psychology courses!

        I find it difficult to believe that students are responding to some increased valuation in Psychology degrees, which is why more students are majoring in it. Maybe the HR departments and management training positions are responding to the increase in the number of students with those degrees.

        Another scary figure: the percentage of total degrees earned in Physical Sciences and Science Technologies declined from 2.5% in 1970-71 to 1.6% in 2016-17.


  3. Thanks, my friend, for the shout out! As a former vo-tech teacher (electronics, computer technology,) I had a constant battle with counselors who were of the impression that vo-tech classes were for those who had lower test score averages. At least one advantage I had in my subject areas (with regard to gaining the support of counselors in recommending students for my elective classes, anyway) is that in the 1980’s, both career fields could be entered through either vocational or college curricula.


    1. No need to thank me, sir.

      Many people, like counselors, can only pigeon-hole other people. When I was in high school, two friends of mine and I signed up to see the recruiter from Lincoln Tech. This recruiter was shocked, to say the least, that three students from the Advanced College Prep Curriculum were in front of him. He kept asking us if we were serious and his constant questioning dampened any enthusiasm we had. He also told us that we should not attend his school. That’s not to say any of us were likely to sign up for the school, but we were not there on a lark. A more dynamic recruiter, less concerned about images, might have snagged one of us.

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