Monday, September 20, 2021

Marxists at the University


Mrs ERJ was marveling at college professors and public school teachers unshakable commitment to the Left.

I had an insight I shared with her.

In their experience, totalitarianism works and works very well.

They have near-total power over their students.

They are the "smartest one in the room'.

Why would they NOT want to expand this model to the entire nation?

The Insensitivity to Sample-Size Heuristic

This is a clear example of the the Insensitivity to Sample-Size Heuristic.

What looks like a marvelous system to the person swimming in it is a train-wreck to those who do not.

The two major issues can be quickly listed:

The system is an enormous resource sink. The true cost to put a kid in college for a year is approximately $40k and then you can add another $40k in opportunity costs.

The product is not just mediocre, it is tainted.

Resource sink

You scoffed at the numbers. "Nobody pays $40k a year to go to college."

Granted, very few students attend private universities. But going to a public university isn't less expensive. The difference is that the public coffers subsidize the tuition.

Throw in the capital expenses, pensions and benefits that are often hidden in other budgets and you are probably talking about $40k per student per year regardless of where they attend.

Many systems look like viable alternatives until you kick the subsidies out from under them: 

  • Wind-power
  • Aquaculture
  • Heated greenhouses
  • Poly film mulch
  • Factory trawlers (fishing vessels)

Wind-power is barely viable when there are no other alternatives. Furthermore, they use vast amounts of materials that cannot be produced using wind-power. You cannot run a cement kiln or a steel mill on intermittent power.

Commercial Aquaculture relies on cheap protein, including fishmeal from Peru.

Heated greenhouses use fossil fuels and poly films or panels. The gross energy in is vastly greater than the food energy delivered to the consumer. 

Factory trawlers are subsidized by various tax credits including credits to the firms that build the vessels. It is worth a financial loss to China, for instance, to provide employment and protein. It is less clear why Germany does it...but maybe it is a case of national pride.

Product quality

One reason it was so hard to pin Dr Larry Nassar (the pedophile doctor) down was because he was wily enough to commit his crimes at a University.

Most professors are mediocre instructors. They got their tenure because they played the political game. The present the same material that is available in the book. They tell a few self-aggrandizing stories and then let the students out of class ten minutes early.

Many of them do not write their own tests.

The tenure system exists to cover mediocrity, unprofessional and downright criminal activity. It is the opposite of transparency.

Transparency is what allows consumers to reward innovative, high-quality and less expensive producers with resources (i.e. purchase their products and services). 

If the University model was extended to the economy-as-a-whole, resources that are sucked up by resource-sinks are not available to reward innovators and efficient producers. The economy tanks by all measures. It tanks in absolute standards and it tanks relative to other, competing nations.


If one of the key metrics of "sustainability" is the absence of external inputs or externalized costs then one must look at the number of students who drop-out.

Nationally, fifteen-percent of students do not graduate from high school in four years and forty-percent do not graduate from college in six years.

What other industrial process would tolerate scrap-rates between 15%-and-40%?

Scrap is expensive because it consumes resources (manpower, facilities, raw materials) and does not produce a salable product.

If the entire economy were remade in the image of the college classroom, where would the rejects go? Failed students are an externalized cost no different than water from a nuclear reactor being dumped into a river.

From an industrial standpoint, it would be far better to not admit students into the University or high school if they are very likely to fail.

These realities are not visible to college professors and public school teachers. They think the system they work in has been perfected and believe, with every fiber of their being, that it should be scaled up to include the entire economy.

With them running the show, of course.


  1. 1) Part of a professor's worth to a university is the amount of grant money they bring into an institution. The college always takes a substantial rake of the funding.
    2) I disagree with your scrap rate comparison. Every student enrolled means income to the system, no matter if it from the student /parent or in some type of subsidy. The longer this relation goes on the better for school. You pay for the education before you get it. From the schools point of view, dropping out after a year is a loss of three to five more years of income. Our local university is pushing freshman retention, not by raising enrollment standards but by lowering the level of basic college 101 courses.

    1. Scrap is not determined by the process you are looking at so much as whether its output is suitable for the next process or the end-user. If your end-users are looking for engineers or surgeons then having students drop-out part-way through does not meet their needs.

    2. The university stops caring once the check clears. Much like government, it only cares about itself, not anything downstream. It does not exist to provide engineers, teacher or doctors, only students to provide income. In 1975 my dorm was like a barracks. At the same school in 2019, it looked like a resort and that is what the college sells to prospective enrollees.

  2. Having worked in higher ed, I can tell you that the best thing that could happen to it is to get federal and state tax money out of the system. Of course, the howling would be deafening. And a lot of universities would close due to lack of interest. I see neither of these as a big deal. Not everyone needs education past high school/tech school. Heck, when I was in high school you could go "vocational ed" and walk out at 18 ready to get a job that paid a wage you could live on. Of course, this was in the dark ages of the 70s. To do that now, you do need actual tech school.

  3. I'm with Freeholder. When I graduated high school, I had functional knowledge enough to simply start working. I have more than one friend that did exactly that. One worked in a gas station. Now, he owns three.

    I was visiting my daughter at her way-too-liberal college. She was part of the music conservatory, which had the only normal kids on campus. We were having breakfast and there was a gaggle of professors at the table next to us - one of them, a chubby old hippy woman was complaining about her lot in life as an associate professor of ceramics. I gathered She taught maybe three ceramic art courses a week. I really enjoyed listening to her and her miseries.

    I told my daughter the old woman had no right to bitch. She and those like her, have prepetuated a medieval guild system. This is the business they've chosen. Had it been like any other business she wouldn't be having these issues, although she'd have to work more.

    We went about visiting, and went to another place for lunch, and wouldn't you know the gaggle had moved there, still stewing. I wouldn't sign up for her course on a bet.

    Might have been my kids and their friends, most of which had some sort of goal and were acutely aware of their time and money being wasted on useless courses.

    1. Let me also say that I've been in IT technical training for over 15 years. It's a better paying, more rewarding gig. Those that attend my courses pay good money, more per credit hour than any university, but leave with something of value.

  4. Ethanol plants don't run on ethanol...the almost always use Natural Gas as their method of heating to distill.
    Odd, that, innit?
    Without subsidies they are out of business also.


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