Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If Your College Major Contains the Word "Studies," You are Part of the Problem!

"Far more than in Europe, most Americans remain instinctively loyal to the killer applications of Western ascendancy, from competition all the way through to the work ethic. They know the country has the right software. They just can’t understand why it’s running so damn slowly. What we need to do is to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent — to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic. Then we need to download the updates that are running more successfully in other countries, from Finland to New Zealand, from Denmark to Hong Kong, from Singapore to Sweden. And finally we need to reboot our whole system. I refuse to accept that Western civilization is like some hopeless old version of Microsoft DOS, doomed to freeze, then crash. I still cling to the hope that the United States is the Mac to Europe’s PC, and that if one part of the West can successfully update and reboot itself, it’s America." [Niall Ferguson, Newsweek]

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)


Barry Stocker said...

1. Niall Ferguson for the Larry Summers/New Gingrich prize for self-regard.

2. British academic in America sucks up to American audience. How sad. Really. And part of vicarious Great Nation American nationalism. Real power worshipper.

3. Free speech advocates may wish to know that Ferguson is threatening to use horrible UK libel laws against London Review of Books. Not so keen on free speech aspect of America then, eh Niall.


4. Ferguson, stone cold neo-con fanatic and imperialist nostalgic. A worthy target for export from Britain.

5. Advocates of schooling free of big government control may like to know that NF is part of National Curriculum project in UK. When he pops back from the S of A that is. Most kind of him.

Tom said...

It's interesting that Ferguson names "public education" as a blighty anticompetitive quasi monopoly and not simply "education". Are we so inured to the socialist model in this particular industry that we no longer think of education separate from state control?

Anonymous said...

Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sweden combined have less people than Texas. Thank goodness they all have the same multi-ethnic, multi-cultural problems to face as the USA.

stuhlmann said...

If the US is the Mac to Europe's PC, why would the US want to download updates from Europe (three of the six successful countries he mentions are in Europe)? PC software won't run on a Mac anyway.

Hasdrubal said...

Why is the focus on STEM majors? The vast majority of jobs don't require a science or engineering degree, my Japanese minor has probably provided just as much direct value as my economics major in the 5 years since I graduated, and I work in neither field. I distinctly remember reading an article back in the late 90s asserting that more Wall Street CEOs had philosophy degrees than had business degrees.

It's not the degree, it's what you do with it, and that should be the focus. Almost everybody I've known had to get over the disappointment that their first job, and likely career wouldn't be in their degree field unless they had a specialist degree (and usually some type of professional certification along with it like a CPA or teaching license.)

What's changed now that kids are protesting over not being able to find jobs in their degree's field? Were they honestly sold on the idea that their degree in English lit would guarantee them a good job as a writer? I'm not that much older, but I'd always been told that a degree is a necessary but not sufficient condition to getting your dream job. And as a corollary, if you want to work in that dream job you thought you wanted as a kid, you're going to make a lot less money. That's why parents are always trying to get their kids to be lawyers and doctors instead of dancers or painters: The job might not be as rewarding but the life will be much easier.