College Loans 
Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 09:18 AM
As someone suffering under $38,000 a year in tuition from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the issue of college loans strikes particularly close to home. Megan McArdle questions the utility of some of the degrees people pay so much money for, and concludes that the only winner in this sad parade often ends up being the school:
The question to contemplate is who benefitted from making it easier to pursue degrees that don't get you very far? Not Ms. Kratzer, obviously, but not the "greedy" loan company [that is loosing money as people default], either. No, the beneficiaries are the schools that take peoples' money in exchange for worthless degrees.

...

And no one ever yells at the schools--or the presumption that we should shoehorn every eighteen year old into college, rather than structuring an economy that comfortably accomodates those who are not academic.


This is one offshoot of our society's healthy valuation of education. Unfortunately, it's possible to take all good things too far. The ship repair contractors I deal with are constantly lamenting the lack of good welders and pipefitters in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here's some hourly wage data for the San Francisco Bay Area from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers$20.70
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters$29.08
Boilermakers$28.88
Electricians$34.36

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