Tuesday, June 25, 2013

George Will: Socialist

America's Broken Bootstraps:

Today, the dominant distinction defining socioeconomic class is between those with and without college degrees. Graduates earn 70 percent more than those with only high school diplomas. In 1980, the difference was just 30 percent.

Soon the crucial distinction will be between those with meaningful college degrees and those with worthless ones. Many colleges are becoming less demanding as they become more expensive: They rake in money — much of it from government-subsidized tuition grants — by taking in many marginally qualified students who are motivated only to acquire a credential and who learn little.

Lindsey reported that in 1961, full-time college students reported studying 25 hours a week on average; by 2003, average studying time had fallen to 13 hours. Half of today’s students take no courses requiring more than 20 pages of writing in a semester. Given the role of practice in developing expertise, “the conclusion that college students are learning less than they used to seems unavoidable.” Small wonder those with college degrees occupying jobs that do not require a high school diploma include 1.4 million retail salespeople and cashiers, half a million waiters, bartenders and janitors, and many more.

“Most American kids,” Lindsey concluded, “are now raised in an environment that is arguably less favorable for developing human capital than that in which their parents were raised.” America’s limited-government project is at risk because the nation’s foundational faith in individualism cannot survive unless upward mobility is a fact. 
I know, right? George Freaking Will wrote this? He also drops gems like "“assortative mating” — likes marrying likes — concentrates class advantages, further expanding inequality" and "class distinctions in vocabularies are already large among toddlers,"and even "people raised in the upper middle class are far more likely to stay there than move down, while people raised in the working class are far more likely to stay there than move up.”

Uh, welcome to Sociology 1101, George. We call it stratification and inequality, and it's something every undergraduate learns, no matter how much eye-rolling or head shaking the facts may prompt.

The family as vessel of inequality, perpetuating inequality from one generation to the next? Check. The idea that you can inherit wealth as well as poverty via the family unit? Check. Endogamous marriages (much more pleasurable sounding than "assortative mating") wherein society arranges relationships based on like social class or race/ethnicity? Check. Inequality in both public and higher education, which perpetuates it in the larger society? Check.

It's always nice when someone who denies the importance (if not existence) of the social sciences suddenly has a revelation and comes over to join the socialist/communist/evil doer pointy heads in stating the obvious. But you have a long way to go, George. Your much beloved Supreme Court conservative majority is busy upending affirmative action in higher education (hint: necessary because of inequality) and gutting sections of the Voting Rights Act (also necessary because of inequality). 

But for now, welcome, comrade.

Cross posted to The Cranky Sociologists

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