Saturday, July 31, 2010


Let's take a look at the history of the civil rights movement to answer this question.

Side Note: This response is the first of many to the absurd remarks about the uselessness of education in the social sciences and/or the humanities. Stay tuned for more reasons why an education in the humanities and the social sciences matters.


Anonymous said...

If one is in favor of a "pure" capitalistic system, than no, the humanities and social science are not valuable. For in pure capitalism, all things are permissible that will lead to profit. Indeed, even slavery is permissible.

If, however, one is in favor of a more moderate system, then the humanities and social sciences keep us grounded in our humanity. They remind us that are similarities are far greater than our differences. They are our teachers, psychologists/mental health practitioners, philosophers, social workers, librarians, linguists. They inform a mindset/ethics that keeps pure capitalism in check.

It is time, as a country that we decide which system we prefer. That way we can quit pretending to care about our fellow human when we really don't and get back to making money - "working jobs we hate to buy shit we don't need". (Fight Club)
We can decide to respect and endow the humanities and social science fields that contribute to, well, humanity and society. They can work on research free from fear of poverty - research that informs other fields like marketing so capitalist can make money (think Bing).

Anonymous said...

I did not say I was against humanities.
I said I was against institutional humanities degrees.
You live in a free country and you are welcome to study anything you want, but please understand that the cost of these degrees is beyond market's pay rate.

Anonymous said...

It is funny that the latest red herring is the humanities grad with $75,000 in debt. Even weirder is that this sideshow issue has become the focus of both the right wing and the left wing. The examples these bloggers keep using are places like Stanford, NYU, and so on. The remarks tend to go along the lines that the taxpayer shouldn't cover such investments.

First of all, the undergraduate lifetime borrowing limit in the various federal student student loan programs is $31,000 (and had been stuck at $23,000 for nearly two decades, until recently), so these folks must be borrowing from "off the books" sources such as alternative loans, relatives, etc.

Second, the federal loan programs are self-financing. There hasn't been a net taxpayer outlay in two years. Third, the default rates of the humanities majors from the well-known liberal arts colleges are one to two percent, vs. 10 to 20 percent for the more "practical" training imparted by the trade schools. The type of person who makes it through the traditional, "elite" track from elementary school through college has developed the intelligence, ability to learn, ambition and drive to adjust to bumps in the economy and work in various fields. Learning to learn is one of the key principles of a liberal arts education.

Fourth, not only the Constitution but the specific organizing statute of the U.S. Dept. of Educ. forbids the federal govt from setting the curricula of elementary, secondary and postsecondary education and forbids the fed'l gov't from directly supervising school principals/superintendents and college presidents. Whether or not you think it is wise for central government to approve the majors of 18 million postsec students annually (it's not), the cost would be enormous for this level of individual "counseling," and the fed'l DoEd would be shut down so fast by Congress that it would make your head spin. This isn't Europe or Asia or Africa. The USA is not one of those countries designed with a central "ministry of education" which controls local school districts, selects text books, and decides which elementary school students are "smart enough" to be placed on the pre-university track.