2009 April 28 Tuesday
Grad School Like Detroit Auto Makers?

Mark C. Taylor, chair of the Columbia U religion department, argues in a New York Times Op-Ed that graduate school education in America is th Detroit of higher learning. I think this comparison is unfair to the auto industry.

GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

Consider, the cost of cars isn't going up as fast as the overall rate of inflation while universities are hiking their prices faster than the rate of education. Then there's quality. Detroit's made huge strides in improving quality.

The online realm is causing a collapse in printed newspaper circulation. Well, it is only a matter of time until online education starts making substantial inroads into live bricks-and-mortar education.

I see signs and indications that online education will take off and some colleges will get converted to commercial office buildings or other uses.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 April 28 12:12 AM  Education

Aki_Izayoi said at April 28, 2009 3:35 AM:

Is the market for on-line education have any significant barriers to entry? Maybe one should short the equity of Apollo Group if that type of education doesn't have any significant barriers to entry as they would be eaten by competition.

Ned said at April 28, 2009 6:54 AM:

Taylor gets it right - most graduate study is a waste of time and money. There are some exceptions - obtaining an MD or DDS degree is almost always very rewarding, at least if one plays his or her cards correctly (e.g., pursue a career in plastic surgery, urology or gastroenterology and not rural family practice or gerontology.) A JD or MBA from a top-tier school, especially with good class standing, can be very appealing, but those who get these degrees from mid-level (or worse) schools will be out of luck. Graduate degrees in some hard science and engineering areas can also lead to fine careers.

But these are the exceptions. Other graduate degrees are mostly worthless. They lead to low-paying careers teaching in high schools or community colleges. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but do you really need a Ph.D. in English literature to teach English at Central High? Wouldn't a B.A. do just as well? The years of hard work and mountains of debt needed to obtain an advanced degree will seldom be rewarded. And most graduate research involves comically esoteric subjects that lead to worthless dissertations that are read once and then filed away on dusty library shelves and forgotten.

Taylor lets us in on a nasty little secret of the academic world:

The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors.

In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.

Taylor also calls for the abolition of tenure, a system which leads to vast armies of dead wood faculties who cling to their precious guaranteed slots while doing little real work and producing almost nothing of value.

But the abuses will persist, at least in part because a lot of college graduates can't find a good job or don't know what else to do with their lives after obtaining their B.A.'s.

And don't forget that "graduate study" ranks pretty high on the SWPL scale. "After Madison received her bachelor's degree in French from Ivy League College, she decided to attend Ivory Tower University for graduate study in medieval French poetry." It all sounds very wonderful and pretentious, but what Mom and Dad are really saying is this, "When is that girl going to get a real job or find a husband so we can stop shovelling in the money?"

miles said at April 28, 2009 12:21 PM:

Im all for anything that would UN-employ liberal college professors, and if the Universtiy of Phoenix and its ilk are the way to do it with recorded lectures and however they "do their thing", more power to them.

Randall, the right needs to get up and FIGHT the left dammit. One way would be economically and YOU Randall could help. List companies and foundations (and even individual executives) who fund left-wing causes in the upper-right hand corner of your blog. Bank of America, Chase Manhattan, Bennetton, and Citibank would be good ones to start. Right wingers could simply do business with OTHER companies if they knew what big companies were contributing to leftism. An idea to float..........................

Thai said at April 28, 2009 7:30 PM:

"I think this comparison is unfair to the auto industry."


You have gone WAY up in my estimation of you! :-)


Randall Parker said at April 28, 2009 8:17 PM:

miles, Got reference to a good database for corp money amounts that go to left wing foundations and which corps for these amounts?

miles said at April 28, 2009 9:41 PM:


I spent a few minutes looking on google and found some bloggers have noted some companies that fund left-wing pressure groups. (Personal note: The left sees something it doesn't like--hiring comes to mind--and they reach straight for their legal guns, call journalists, get newspapers involved, etc. But on the right, we call attention to leftist outrages amongst ourselves, but don't do anything that could hurt a lefty-business. We need to fire back in my opinion, not necessarily legally like they do, but at least identify them for each other). There is a recurring theme in what I found in just a few minutes Randall, and that theme is J.P. MorganChase Manhattan/Rockefeller foundation, the Ford Foundation (no longer anything like what Henry Ford would have wanted), Goldman Sachs, Johnson&Johnson, Merril Lynch, Citibank (Citi financial), Bank of America all KEEP COMING UP. I know Goldman owns most of Burger King for instance. I dont go to Burger King as an example of what we could do to financially thwart the left......

Companies that fund Open Borders, http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc_18_4/tsc_18_4_lamb_obn.shtml

Previous sponsors (providing financial support or goods and services) of NLC include:

* Southwest Airlines

* General Motors

* Starbucks

* Sierra Club

* Levi StraussFoundation

* Wells Fargo

* Whole Foods

* Union Bank of California

* Charles R. Drew University of Medicineand Science

* The Nature Conservancy

* Oxfam America

* Titan

* Nielsen

* Sempra Energy

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

Another major ethnic-immigrant advocacy organization is the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Founded in 1968 in San Antonio, Texas, it is the “leading Latino litigation, advocacy, and educational outreach institution in the U.S.” The primary mission of MALDEF is to “foster sound public policies, laws, and programs to safeguard the civil rights of the 45 million Latinos living in the United States and to empower the Latino community to fully participate in our society.” MALDEF, with the financial support of a $2.2 million grant from the Ford Foundation, maintains several regional offices and a staff of 50 employees and 22 attorneys. The 25-member board of directors comprises leaders from the public and private sector, government, and law firms. Headquartered in Los Angeles, MALDEF has won several significant legal victories for Mexican Americans in lawsuits over voting rights, employment discrimination, and educational funding, and has defended the children of illegal aliens from being excluded from public education.

Corporate sponsors who have contributed over $100,000 include:

* Anheuser-Busch companies

* Ford Foundation

* Rockefeller Foundation

* Soros Foundation

* Washington Mutual Bank
http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/un/environment.htm (This is an old article, but I suspect the same big donors haven't changed)




(U.S. dollars, 1988)


Foundation EDF NRDC


Beinecke foundation, Inc. 850,000

Carnegie Corporation of New York 25,000

Clark Foundation 150,000

Columbia Foundation 30,000

Cox Charitable Trust 38,000

Diamond Foundation 50,000

Dodge Foundation, Geraldine 75,000 10,000

Educational Foundation of America 30,000 75,000

Ford Foundation 500,000

Gerbode Foundation 50,000 40,000

Gund Foundation 85,000 40,000

Harder Foundation 200,000

Joyce Foundation 75,000 30,000

MacArthur Foundation 600,000

Mertz-Gilmore Foundation 75,000 80,000

Milbank Memorial Fund 50,000

Morgan guaranty charitable Trust 5,000 6,000

Mott Foundation, Charles Stewart 150,000 40,000

New Hope Foundation, Inc. 45,000

New York Community Trust 35,000

Noble foundation, Inc. 20,000 35,000

Northwest Area foundation 100,000

Packard Foundation 50,000 37,000

Prospect Hill Foundation 45,000

Public Welfare Foundation 150,000

Robert Sterling Clark Foundation 50,000 40,000

Rockefeller Brothers Fund 75,000

San Francisco Foundation 50,000

Scherman Foundation 40,000 50,000

Schumann foundation 50,000

Steele-Reese Foundation 100,000

Victoria Foundation 35,000 35,000

Virginia Environmental Endowment 25,000

W. Alton Jones Foundation 100,000 165,000

Wallace Genetic Foundation 80,000 65,000

William Bingham Foundation 1,000,000 150,000

Total* 2,885,000 3,236,000


From the HumanEvents article (scroll to the bottom), From HumanEvents:http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=16588
This article is reproduced from the August 2006 edition of Foundation Watch, a Capital Research Center publication.

Company Total Giving Giving to Political Left (Political giving to the left is above the amount given to the right, note how many gave $0 to the right)
Giving to Political Right
Abbott Laboratories (2004) $23,039,015

Aetna (2004) $8,828,905

Albertson’s (2004) $2,038,070

Alcoa (2004) $16,999,076

Allstate (2004) $13,988,998

Amerada Hess (2004) $9,673,267

American Express (2004) $23,247,401

Archer Daniels Midland (2004) $1,552,836

AT&T (2004) $13,899,924

Bank of America Corp. (2004) $35,727,694

Caterpillar (2004) $15,407,405

Cisco Systems (2004) $4,397,619

Citigroup (2003) $55,524,404

Dow Chemical (2004) $10,643,145

Exxon Mobil (2004) $51,068,151

Federated Dept. Stores (2004) $12,161,819

Ford Motor (2004) $89,941,276

General Electric (2004) $59,761,733

General Motors (2003) $31,802,075

Goldman Sachs Group (2004) $36,850,250

HCA (2004) $8,017,089

Home Depot (2004) $6,799,782

International Paper (2004) $5,371,322

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (2004) $45,914,081

Johnson & Johnson (2004) $42,871,365

Johnson Controls (2004) $6,125,188

Kroger (2004) $2,658,095

Lockheed Martin (2004) $7,183,885

Marathon Oil (2004) $3,415,314

Merck (2004) $41,636,724

Merrill Lynch (2004) $27,036,037

MetLife (2004) $27,445,352

Morgan Stanley (2004) $4,661,953

Motorola (2004) $5,088,709

Nationwide (2004) $13,078,870

New York Life Insurance (2004) $7,293,005

PepsiCo (2004) $15,179,442

Pfizer (2004) $28,782,824

Procter & Gamble (2004) $23,158,523

Prudential Financial (2004) $26,188,398

Sprint Nextel (2004) $5,444,815

St. Paul Travelers Cos. (2004) $10,964,449

Time Warner (2003) $5,046,802

United Parcel Service (2004) $36,552,445

UnitedHealth Group (2004) $10,707,600

Valero Energy (2004) $10,421,785

Verizon Communications (2004) $56,968,636

Wachovia Corp. (2004) $40,983,073

Wal-Mart Stores (2004) $154,537,406

Washington Mutual (2003) $8,696,151

WellPoint (2004) $4,976,208

Wells Fargo (2004) $64,747,007

Weyerhaeuser (2004) $9,775,569


More from Human Events:

"Not surprisingly, JP Morgan Chase Foundation donated just less than $1.2 million to groups on the left, but no money to groups on the right. It gave more than $31,000 to the NAACP, more than $59,000 to Planned Parenthood, and $1,000,000 to the far-left Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The MetLife Foundation followed a similar pattern. While it did donate $40,000 to groups on the political right in 2004, it gave more than $1.2 million to groups on the political left, including the Children’s Defense Fund ($5,000), the Economic Policy Institute ($275,000), and the National Council of La Raza ($180,000).

Frontpagemag (comically true): http://www.frontpagemag.com/articles/Read.aspx?GUID=E24728A4-41B9-4C4C-B9B3-E0ED65397BB9
(Its about FreddieMac, "the mortgage bank of the left", very eye-opening)

"In 2004, Johnson & Johnson gave more than $100,000 each to the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and the Wilderness Society, and $450,000 to the World Wildlife Fund. Pfizer gave more than $250,000 to the Keystone Center and more than $130,000 to the Nature Conservancy."

Comprehensive list of "Open Borders" Network and its financial backers, http://aztlandestroyer.blogspot.com/2007/11/comprehensive-list-of-open-borders.html

(There were about 600 names on the list, many were universities.................I didn't want to paste all of that, but its jawdropping)


More on who funds opens borders (Ford Foundation is a biggie here), http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=CBAC1A2E-83A0-45C7-9EA8-4C36F90153AF


Randall, miles here again.......................if I had to pin the tail on one donkey above them all (not to sound like a conspiracy theorist), but it would have to be David Rockefeller. That guy funds feminism, gays, eco-nuts, open borders, the diversity racket, everything antithical to conservatism. GoldmanSachs and the rest of the usual suspects are behind him. So much of the left's money comes from charitable foundations that were set up eons ago, but have been hijacked by lefties somehow since. Its a mere start, but its what I could cobble together in a few minutes with google.

Winston Smith said at April 29, 2009 4:49 AM:

The elites have failed to deliver the goods. Too many smart, hardworking and educated people are being subjected to permanent underemployment. When the educational industrial complex bursts, tens of thousands of faculty will be dumped onto the private sector labour market decimating wages there. Revolution will soon be in the air.

Wolf-Dog said at April 29, 2009 5:04 AM:

Actually, the department that gave the diploma matters a lot here. For one thing, the real reason the science and engineering majors cannot find jobs in the United States is because their jobs have been transferred to poorer countries due to the enormous trade deficit. If the trade deficit is balanced, then there will be a shortage of science and engineering majors in the United States.

In other words, it is not enough to create an internet based cheaper alternative to expensive universities.

miles said at April 29, 2009 7:34 AM:


You wrote, ", it is not enough to create an internet based cheaper alternative to expensive universities."

That is quite true from an 'economic rebirth' perspective, but from a "lets unemploy liberals perspective" it is simply golden. Every critical theorist, philosophy professor, sociology professor, lefty-english professor, lefty-history professor, wymyn's studies professor, ethnic studies professor, et cetera who has to get a real job and can no longer merely indoctrinate our youth is a win for us. They will have much less free time for their activism also, and hopefully less money to indulge their causes also. Plus, lets be honest, room and board and 4 years of someone's life is too much to train them to do most jobs. One can learn history on their own (what is high school for anyway?), and one can learn much literature on their own (high school again).


I thought about one more thing concerning a major funder of the left---JPMorgan/Chase/RockefellerGroup.......they make a lot of their money in oil-gas still, by owning a great deal of stock in several oil companies..........but usually do their left-wing-underwriting through Chase and foundations. Thats pretty smart on their part. Even if the public ever really got sick of them and many didn't do business with them, their wealth is (or a lot of it) in oil companies not known for undermining the republic's social foundations.

mark said at April 29, 2009 6:14 PM:

In Minnesota, as in many other states I assume, we have a large virtual high school. Soon, a generation or sooner, and we will have virtual colleges growing from the demand that VHS created. Bricks and mortar colleges will become the empty monasteries of the coming decades. Fewer and fewer have the time or psychology amenable to indoctrination as the faculties would have it. We hear about how students have already changed once they go to campus; I have heard professors complain that the students don't really interact with the physical environment as in days of old...they are wired into headsets or talking on the Ipod or whatever. Maybe the universities of the future will cater to urban "minority" youth who will want to go to college out of curiosity.

Randall Parker said at April 29, 2009 8:02 PM:


Internet universities are certainly necessary. Sufficient? No, of course not. We have lots of other problems in need of lots of other solutions. But downloadable pre-recorded lectures and on-the-web tests would save huge amounts of money and allow lots of young people to escape debt slavery.

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