Out with the Philosopher, In with the Plumber

Starting with the end of the 1950s, the amount of young Americans going to college has skyrocketed; this has been facilitated by teachers pressuring students, universities advertising themselves, and a growing sense of entitlement that sprung up thanks to the growing “give me that” mentality of the post World War II era. The current population of the United States does not want to present the current labor needed to maintain a strong economy and as such the idea that  illegal immigrants are a required tool for maintaining the US as an economic power has taken hold. This issue can partially be fixed by having more young people pursue practical fields and having “privileged” folks start working in jobs that they previously considered unworthy. The United States no longer needs thousands of economists, philosophers, playwrights, or thinkers; it needs plumbers, electricians, and mechanics who will pay taxes and provide a stable base for the country.

With more than one hundred universities in the US sporting acceptance rates higher than 90 percent, the education system inside of the country is starting to approach a dangerous trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65.9 percent of high school graduates move on to universities to pursue higher education, and large amounts of these young people eventually start working in fields unrelated to their major or simply stay unemployed. However, besides being economically draining on the young adults of the country, many majors that are being pursued are increasingly oversaturated. A Georgetown study (2014) claims that fields as diverse as information systems, finance, and philosophy or religious studies have unemployment rates as high as 23.5 percent, 16.5 percent, and 21.4 percent respectively. The goal of university is to create young adults who will help create a more stable and bright world, and while some unemployed people do make differences in the world not every philosophy major can be Diogenes of Sinope, living in a ceramic jar in the town marketplace while running around during the day with a lamp in search of an “honest man”. How should the people of the US battle this problem? It’s a very simple solution. Universities should accept less people who apply and more people should pursue practical fields. Quoting self aware economist John Kenneth Galbraith, “economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.”

When trying to rebuild the US economy during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t put young men into cramped tired offices. No, he made them work on mountains, fields, and the countryside in the Civilian Conservation Corps, doing hard physical labor. While these jobs were not highbrow these young men were and still are heralded as heroes in a dire time that greatly shaped the United States’ spirit and future.

Few things have harmed the value and strength of this great nation as huge monetization of universities and the huge pressure on young people to attend these institutions for several years in order to earn a flimsy piece of paper. It is for these reasons that some of the youth should abandon the pursuit of worthless degrees and rebuild the strong base of the economic classes.


  1. Adam J. Chin

    January 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Although there is probably absolutely no point in me posting a comment here, I feel obliged, as an alumus of this school, to reply to what has been said here. It is, I think, intrinsically interesting to me for a number of reasons. The first is that the sentiment is quite like my own; indeed, less people should be going to college (or university as the author has phrased it), and more people should be going into trade schools or else obtaining more “practical” jobs straight out of college. But while I might agree with the overall premise, I feel the brunt of the argument is misguided. The problem is not that people are pursuing useless degrees (though that might very well be). The problem is that there are simply too many people pursuing degrees. As a philosophy major myself, I may, perhaps, be rather biased in my opinion, but I would like to point out that at my university (UCSD), there are about 40 of us total. There are, last time I checked, about 17 religious studies majors. The economics and information studies departments are, of course, much more populous. But this, I suppose, is beside the point; I simply wanted to indicate that, rather than increasing in size, the humanities are (rather alarmingly) decreasing (at least at public institutes such as UCSD, and really these are the ones that should be of concern for the article). I’d also like to point out that most people pursuing a degree in the humanities (philosophy especially), are not doing so with the intent of obtaining a job. As a philosophy major, it is an obvious fact of life that there is no employment waiting for you at the end of your four years, and it is shoved, rather constantly, in your face throughout your academic career. But college, for some, is, perhaps, not for the sake of obtaining a degree and thereby (somehow) landing a job. Perhaps it’s for the sake of education. The university, after all, was created for just that purpose.
    But, as usual, I find myself a-tangent. The argument here is that people should cease pursuing “useless” fields, and instead enter into more practical ones. But what practical fields are there? Engineering? Ah, but that’s impacted. Biology? Ah, but that’s impacted. Computer Science? Ah, but that’s impacted? Physics? Ah, but, sadly my friend, there are not jobs in physics either. Indeed, rather than engage in “the pursuit of worthless degrees,” perhaps college-bound students should simply hop off their geodesics towards college entirely. For, as in our planet, an over-populated world is hardly one worth entering without good reason.
    I should also like to point out that FDR’s fix in the Great Depression is in no way related to an argument against “useless” majors. The jobs generated required absolutely no education at all and so, if anything, the example should have been incorporated into an argument against post-secondary education in general. But alas, this is just pedantry, isn’t it? Something useless that only a bored philosophy major would realize. How utterly useless.

    ~Adam J. Chin

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