Of late, I have seen a spate of articles that condemn grad school and urge people to “do something better”. While there is little doubt that obtaining a PhD on english literature from the 10-12th century AD is unlikely to get you a ‘real job’, even an engineering degree from an ivy league institution will NOT stop you from being downsized, in your late 40s. While an academic career in any university today is a bad career choice, so is getting a law degree from a good but ‘not so famous’ law school. Even the so-called safe career choices such as medicine and nursing WILL be far less lucrative than today due to technological progress and inability to pay doctors at the current levels.
Note that I am not suggesting you to restrict yourself to a grad students stipend, as there are fairly easy ways to increase your income by atleast 1 k a month over your measly stipend (undeclared part-time jobs+conventional very-low interest lines of credit+part-time projects). When I did my PhD, my effective income was a few grand shy of the median national income.
So let us now talk about some of the unmentionable aspects of our current setup/system.
1] No degree or livelihood is safe over a normal human life expectancy.
Any person who is looking for a stable life long career or livelihood might as well be looking for the philosopher’s stone. There is no way to identify a career that will be around, let alone remain lucrative, a decade from now.
2] Even if the career is around, you might be discarded.
Your ability, skills or competence have NO relationship to your employability. Get it? You could be the best, most knowledgeable person in your department and you WILL still be laid off because on market fads, HR policies, analyst recommendations and the machinations of some ass kisser.
3] The whole “growing up” and “responsibility” thing is overrated.
Do you crave a loveless marriage, horrible divorce, post-divorce property issues, nagging wife, bratty kids, paying child support and buying ever bigger houses to satisfy the aging hag you are married to? Want to work and worry yourself to an early death? and for what?
Do you want to sample the joys of interacting with home owner associations, condo associations, bylaw officers, realtors, community groups and all that shit? go ahead..
4] Your kids WILL be useless in your old age.
Even if you are on good terms with them- what are the chances that they will live in the same city, let alone the same state? Do you think they will take care of you… ya sure. The most important reason to have kids is no longer valid.
5] Your earnings are meaningless.
Unless your job pays over a quarter of million before taxes, you have little chance of saving enough money to make a difference. How many jobs pay at that level? The majority of people with low 6-figure jobs are barely treading water, and one nasty illness or adverse life event could fuck up all their gains.
The home equity engine is dead. Inflation, pension plan failure and wealth management schemes can all destroy your so-called financial future in short order.
6] Unemployment is no longer a short-term phenomenon.
If your job involves any degree of specialization (even with a bachelor’s degree), getting an equivalent job after being laid off is much harder than a decade ago. Jobs that paid you 100k for the last twenty years could be gone forever within 3 months, and you may never get an similar job.
Hey, do you really want to retrain for another career when you are 55 years old?
7] Personal social relationships are essentially worthless.
There was a time (until the early 1990s) when having good social relationships and status among your peers meant something and had some utility. In earlier eras having peer approval was actually useful.
Can you really say that today, and will it improve? Today online relationships have far more utility than real life relationships.Smartphones and social networking sites/software has accelerated this process.
While graduate school is not a great option, the “better” options have progressively become equally shitty.
In case you have been living under a rock for the last month, here is a link to the Wikipedia page on Julian Assange
Now here is a link to some of his pre-fame views. IQ.ORG
One particular article, written by him about 3 odd years ago, caught my attention.
Sat 09 Jun 2007 : The United what of America?
It has been frequently noted that many corporations exceed nation states in GDP. It has been less frequently noted that some also exceed them in population (employees). But it is odd that the comparison hasn’t been taken further. Since so many live in the state of the corporation, let us take the comparison seriously and ask the following question. What kind of states are giant corporations? In comparing countries, after the easy observations of population size and GDP, it is usual to compare the system of government, the major power groupings and the civic freedoms available to their populations.
Very few people dare ask that question, even to themselves.
The corporation as a nation-state has the following properties:
* Suffrage (the right to vote) does not exist except for land holders (“share holders”) and even there voting power is in proportion to land ownership.
* All executive power flows from a central committee. Female representation is almost unknown.
* There is no division of powers. There is no forth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.
* Failure to submit to any order can result in instant exile.
* There is no freedom of speech. There is no right of association. Love is forbidden without state approval.
* The economy is centrally planned.
* There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.
* The society is heavily regulated and this regulation is enforced, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can go to the toilet.
* There is almost no transparency and something like the FOIA is unimaginable.
* The state has one party. Opposition groups (unions) are banned, surveilled or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.
He has nailed it!
These large multinationals, despite having a GDP and population comparable to Belgium, Denmark or New Zealand have nothing like their quality of civic freedoms. Internally they mirror the most pernicious aspects of the 1960s Soviet. This even more striking when the civilising laws of region the company operates in are weak (e.g West Pupua or South Korea). There one can see the behavior of these new states clearly, unobscured by their surroundings.
Many who have worked in large companies would agree with that comparison.
If small business and non-profits are eliminated from the US, then what’s left? Some kind of federation of Communist states. A United Soviet of America.
His point is hard to refute.