College for All leads to high wages for none.

It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit.  What giving about half of all folks under 30 bachelor’s degrees has done is created a situation where many of them want wage compression even though they don’t realize that’s what they are demanding.  But $15-25/hr “minimum wages”  or “living wages” are explicitly requests for a tiered system in which pay is comparatively low overall.

The reason is that when entry-level pay has to be high due to regulations, what you end up with is a system with two unequal tiers.  In the “uneducated” tier, wages are unstable, frequently not paid and employment is also unstable and exploitative.  If you can’t get a degree in the average college graduate Biden-supporter’s desired system, you’re condemned to spotty gig work where you may or may not be paid, depending on how the algorithm feels that day.  And as for recourse, you won’t have any, since there will be technically legal fig leafs for employers analogous to the infamous zero-hour contracts of the EU.

But it’s not so amazing for the educated tier, no matter what they think they’d get.  Because what they’d get is a credential treadmill (we already have signs of this) where you have to gain more and more credentials to get access to jobs that pay more than that “minimum” wage.  And the higher tier wage is just that, a relatively flat wage that would ultimately end up somewhere around twice the “minimum” wage.

Mass college education leads to a preponderance of platformed people with the pretensions of aristocrats– that is to say, wanting the accoutrements of a well-bred life– but without soiling their little soft hands with actual labor for wages.  So they absolutely want a wage scale where PhDs always make more than MAs (and where noncollege people have zero ability to ever make more than any college graduate) and where STEM degrees offer no premium above whiteness studies degrees because all credentials have their premium compressed into a single value.

This is a profound and ongoing failure of non-left political and social folks in America today.  By having no actual alternative to college for smart students, by rejecting so totally any kind of manual labor, this is where we’re already heading.   To a world where only politicians and people who are already multimillionaires/billionaires earn more than 100k or so per year, and where you have to keep going back to school to collect more credentials to retain your ability to interview for and get the high-tier jobs at all.

And where those who can’t do college are barely allowed to work at all because they’ll be swamped by masses of noncollege immigrants for whom unstable daywork in a wealthy third world nation is superior to unstable daywork in a poor third world nation.  We’re also already seeing signs of this.  It doesn’t have to be this way, but it’s going to keep going this way as long as people cling to a social climbing view that their little college degree makes them not still working class, or a hick, or whatever.  You still are, and all the pretensions about organic mac and cheese won’t change it.  Nor will supporting the media and political class eager to bar your very children from access to the upper-pay work (and if they can, shove them down into the intermittent daywork world in a heartbeat) no matter how much you say you hate Trump and are only personally pro-life.

I live among a lot of people watching their kids turn 24, 25, 26, cut off from the well paying jobs despite multiple degrees, and they still mindlessly rant about Rethuglicans eating all the healthcare up and quietly wonder when the kids will get a “real” job, they heard Sandeep’s kid just started at Google, after all.

Conservatives won’t attack the universities effectively because universities are their baby factories.

This was written before Our Year of Covid, and the only bit that is currently different is a shift to gloating about food trucks and takeout instead of eating at the Whole Foods or local-equivalent deli tables.

This is something that is not immediately obvious to many conservative commentators, including far right ones, because the acceptable fringe subcultures who are anti-college but still married with kids are very loud and are in fact massively overrepresented in conservative media.  There’s also demographic lag, since the true culmination of college as guaranteed path to motherhood in the married class didn’t really hit until the internet era and there’s a lot of women who had babies in the 80s and 90s whose experiences 20+ years ago as non-college married mothers are also overrepresented.

Conservatives are in a real bind by relying on college as the baby factory, though.  The number of first births is declining year after year and is not in fact being offset by increases in third and higher births by women who are already mothers.  The conversion of middle class parenting and childrearing into a college-microcosm, where all interactions are mediated by a credentialed array of third parties (you don’t teach your kid domestic skills informally, they go to cooking and sweeping and mopping classes) and there is, simply, no organic social interaction (you have to join groups that meet at specific times for specific kinds of “play-based movement”) has been fertility inhibiting and it’s getting more and more so each year.

Even meal preparation has taken on college norms, consisting of carefully measured meal kits to be prepared according to precise and “scientific” instructions, or literal cafeteria-style eating in a upscale grocery store’s deli section.  Same chairs and tables and general set up as a college campus, only the food’s a little more expensive.

Obviously a lot of college moms love this brave new world where they never have to give up the mentality and practices of their college years once they graduate.  But it’s driving women who don’t want to live such a tightly structured life just to be moms away from motherhood entirely.

Liberals are in a bind, too, but progressive views don’t include a substantial pro-family ideological component, so the fertility shredding effects of motherhood turning more and more into the world’s longest advanced college degree don’t affect their group norms the same way.  Conservatives, though, do have that pro-family ideological aspect and if they don’t figure out how to baby factory some other way, then in the long run there will be a small, extremely rigid hard core having the same 2-4 kids, and this raises wider social questions about how we can ever hope to have normal sex roles when those people are completely pushed out of the reproductive race.

College is the new bride price

The money doesn’t go to the parents, though.  But it’s the main path to the married class.  A fundamental error is the view that college is a net financial loss for middle class women.  But this dismisses the reality that the college “bride price” is how those women display their marriageability and secure marriage to a man who can lead them into firm footing in the married class.  The fringe notion that college is for harlotry is nearly the opposite of the reality that’s led to a supermajority of children being born to college-educated mothers and a majority being born to college-completing mothers (BA and beyond).

Women were taking 40% of the BAs in 1970.  Those women’s daughters have come to completely dominate married motherhood, so of course college for girls Just Makes Sense.  When your daughter is going to marry a guy who’s already graduated a couple years earlier and who’s already making 70k while she’s walking into 40k starting, suddenly the 15k or 25k in student loans doesn’t seem like such a big deal.