The Time Has Come: Higher Ed-a-geddon

Last summer, my essay for Dissident Prof prompted a challenge from Julie Ponzi, who suggested I write a brief essay with proposals of what to change about academia.  I waited several months, and now I have my proposals.  I mentioned most of these in Wackos Thugs & Perverts: Clintonian Decadence in Academia, which I published with MassResistance in February 2017.  They are also in earlier writings such as Colorful Conservative.

My plan involves a sixfold apocalypse.  Yes, apocalypse.

The best starting point is total depravity.  Higher education as we know it is indefensible.  It presumes a false model of human development.  People between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two cannot be trusted moving to a campus away from their parents, protected from any real consequences for stupid decisions, and taught random concepts by a professoriate anesthetized by the tenure system.

In reality, these four years of human development should be spent in conditions closer to basic combat training: they need physical regimentation.  Swift punishments must impress upon them the costs of behaving foolishly.  Their sexuality needs to be heavily circumscribed.  Between eighteen and twenty-two, women need to be closely protected from rape.  Men need guidance to transform themselves from impulsive sex maniacs into responsible providers and decent fathers.

The wasteful use of young adulthood for 40% of the American adult population is catastrophic.  Overpriced tuitions force a large chunk of family savings into an inefficient economic sector ("higher education"), meaning that their money cannot go into productive industries.  Youths are not being trained for citizenship.  Instead of courting, marrying, and starting families in their prime, they accustom themselves to promiscuity, irresponsible thrills, and single lives burdened with debt.  They have late – and few – children, whom they are ill equipped to raise.

In certain contexts, it is wise to burn the edges of a dry forest rather than let a wildfire rage at a time and in a manner out of our control.  I suggest the following concrete steps, via congressional action.

Cut all federal financial favors to colleges that do not adhere to a strict, revised standard for higher education and its obligation to the public good.  By "favors," we mean direct subsidies plus tax exemptions and deductions (such as on endowments, gifts, and waivers), as well as any backing of student loans at rates below market interest.  These remaining favors would all hinge upon their suitability to "the public good."  Accreditation for new programs must be streamlined.  They must favor all of society rather than one institution, one individual, or one class of people.  Here would be the conditions:

1. An associate's degree or certificate precedes a bachelor's degree.  In other words, nobody can enroll in a liberal arts program without first doing one to two years learning a practical trade.  By "trade" we mean plumbing, bookkeeping, culinary arts, sewing, computer repair, etc.  I count church ministries in this, which would cover seminaries.

2. No non-religious post-secondary institution should have any department or program that excludes a political perspective.  There should not be feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, or sustainability studies.  Title IX went haywire because gender studies faculty acted as investigators and faculty simultaneously – an example of how an entire campus is damaged by the existence of these departments.  Such material should be taught within generally accepted disciplines like English, biology, political science, etc.

3. Congress needs to earmark funds for a unit under the Department of Justice devoted to an academic version of RICO (the Racketeering, Influencing & Corrupt Organizations Act).  An institution claiming to be for the public good should not strive to influence an election – especially with the potential to profit financially from the favors of the elected officials.  For instance, the dean who took many adverse actions against me was part of the Clinton Global Initiative.  This is a serious conflict of interest and should be investigated.

4. Congress needs to earmark funds for a unit under the Department of Labor to review schools that receive federal favors.  The peer review, publishing, retention, and promotion system within higher education is arguably the worst of any industry.  Schools that receive federal favors should not violate basic transparency and fairness standards.

5. No schools that receive federal funding should have tenure.  Tenure does not protect academic freedom.  Tenured faculty know they will be parked in the same institution for decades and are by far the people least willing to jeopardize collegial relationships in order to take a stand.  The tenure system can exist only on the backs of adjunct labor, whose conditions are atrocious.  Tenured faculty waste resources teaching few students and spending too much time on "research."  Their "service" refers to busywork on committees nobody needs.  Nobody should be a professor if he cannot carry out research and teach a normal load of four classes per semester.  So colleges choose: eliminate tenure or lose funds.

6. Colleges that charge expensive tuitions should be deprived of federal favors.  They should be taxed at the rates we apply to any rich corporation.  Many schools simultaneously charge high tuitions, have huge endowments, and then get large grants, all the while maintaining a tiny rank of tenured faculty and loading up their classrooms with adjuncts.  This has to stop.  It hurts learning and scholarship. There must be a massive trimming of school budgets.  Personally, I contend that there should be no dormitories, student associations, duplicative student services, investigative offices, compliance officers, cultural programs, or anything that adds to tuition or fees.  Colleges should be buildings where people come to take classes and study, then go back to their communities where they continue their emotional development with the help of their families, churches, jobs, and neighborhood friends.

Could these six ideas ever come to pass?  Yes!  They will come to pass, but in one of two ways.  Either we carry out the bloodletting under careful, clean conditions or else, when academia crashes, wow, will it crash.

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