Category Archives: Education

Animal’s Daily NutBallery News

Just when you thought California (where I am temporarily hanging my hat) couldn’t get any more harebrained ideas than they already had, they are now thinking of making teachers exempt from state income taxes.

And here I thought the Left never saw a tax they didn’t like.  Excerpt:

A bill moving through the state Legislature seeks to give California teachers a big tax break to entice them to enter the profession and stay — a nationally unprecedented approach to boosting salaries amid a shortage in the field.

Senate Bill 807 would exempt veteran teachers from paying state income tax for 10 years and help new teachers pay for their education and certification costs. Teachers with at least five years’ experience who earn a $75,000 salary would gain the equivalent of a 5 percent raise, saving nearly $4,000 on their annual tax bill.

About 300,000 teachers would benefit from the tax cut in the first year. The measure’s sponsors believe the financial support would increase the number of people entering the field and retain more educators who are already in classrooms.

A statewide teacher shortage has hit many districts hard, with more than 7,000 classrooms staffed by teachers operating under some type of emergency credential or waiver. The San Francisco Unified School District started the school year with 38 teacher vacancies.

Californians being economically illiterate (with a few notable exceptions) is nothing new.  But this just beats all.  The labor market is like any other market; supply and demand obtains.  Any market will only pay a certain value for any commodity or service; when demand falls, so does the price.

But San Francisco, that home-base of nutballery that lies about 40 miles north of me as I type these words, has a different problem.  Decades of restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY building restrictions have raised Bay Area property values through the roof and on into the stratosphere.  Nice if you already own a home in the area (and have since the late Seventies) but lousy if you are trying to start a career there.  I know the malady; my own Denver is seeing much the same thing on a smaller scale.

If young teachers were able to afford homes in the Bay Area, maybe they wouldn’t have trouble filling teacher positions.  The solution is obvious – deregulate land use –  but here in looney old Californey, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Rule Five Commencement Speech Friday

2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (1)(I am reposting from last year’s graduation season, unchanged because I still like it.  Enjoy.)

It’s a bit past the usual graduation season, but here in the blogosphere you still occasionally see the usual posts on “what would I say to the graduating class of My Olde University, were I invited to give the commencement address.” So, in the unlikely event my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa (yes, really) ever was incautious enough to offer me this chance, here’s what I might say:

“Graduates of the Class of 2015, let me be the first to extend to you my congratulations on this, your day of entry into reality.

For the last four years you have been working towards this goal, towards this day. That’s a good thing. One of the most important skills you will ever need, one of the most important ways to achieve success in the world into which you are about to enter, is the ability to formulate goals, to plan how to achieve those goals, and to see things through until you reach those goals. Today you’ve shown you can do that. Congratulations and good job.

2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (2)Now, before you go out to enjoy the rest of this day, before you go out to celebrate this goal you have achieved, let me tell you a few harsh truths about the world you’re entering. I’m not going to give you any trigger warnings; if you can’t handle what I’m about to say, there’s damn little future for you out there in the real world, so cowboy up.  Moments ago I congratulated you on your day of entry into reality, so to get you started off right, here is a hefty dose of reality for you.

In spite of what you may have been told during all your years of education, nobody owes you anything, and you aren’t special. Any perceived ‘need’ you may have does not entitle you to anything – most especially, not to one red cent of the product of anyone else’s effort. If any of your professors have told you that, then they are economic illiterates, moral frauds or outright charlatans.

Our wonderful Constitution, which has stood for well over two hundred years as the founding document of our Republic, guarantees you the opportunity to your pursuit of happiness. It does 2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (3)not require anyone to provide you the means to your happiness at their expense. You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You have no moral claim on anyone else’s productivity. Accept that fact and you are already one step ahead of most of your peers.

You are entitled to what you have earned through your own efforts, and not:

One.

Damn.

Thing.

More.

If you are accepting a degree today in LGBT Studies, or Women’s Studies, or any of the other assorted bullshit Underwater Dog Polishing degrees our universities crank out today, then you have my sympathies. You are the victim of a fraud perpetrated by our university system, a vicious and cynical fraud that has resulted in you spending a lot of money for no gain. But more importantly, you are the victim of your own poor judgement. You decided to pursue a useless degree, and now you’re stuck. Here is another harsh reality: You are re2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (4)sponsible for your own situation.  It’s not anybody else’s fault.  Nobody else is responsible.  You are.

Your university experience had one goal – producing a young adult with marketable skills, someone who can provide value to an employer and to the economy. In this your university has failed, and in choosing this degree, so did you. You have relegated yourself to uselessness in the workplace, and when a few years from now you are working as a barista or checkout clerk and crying over your six figures of student debt, remember what I said a few moments ago: You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You made a decision; now you get to deal with the consequences of that decision. Pull yourself up, look around at the other opportunities around you, and figure a way out of this mess your youthful indiscretion has landed you in.

But you still have one thing going for you. You have shown that you can set yourself a goal and achieve it. Do so now.

So, where do you go from here?

2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (5)Because nobody owes you anything, including a living, one of the tasks ahead of you now is finding gainful employment. If you’re going to find employment, it will only be because you can demonstrate to the employer that you can provide value to him or her in excess of your costs of employment. Employment is an economic transaction.  In any free market transaction, both parties have to realize a perceived gain in value or the transaction won’t happen. If a prospective employer doesn’t think you’re able to provide value to his/her business in excess of your cost of employment, which includes not only your salary but all the extra taxes, fees and other various government extortion that you never see in your pay stub – then they won’t hire you. So be able to present yourself as someone who can provide value, in whatever field you have been studying these last few years.

Once you have gained that employment, once you are in the workplace, remember these three rules for success:

  1. Show up a little earlier than the other guy,
  2. Work a little harder than the other guy,
  3. Never pass up a chance to learn something new.2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (6)

Words that should never pass your lips include such things as “that’s not my job,” and “I don’t have time for that.” Your reputation in the workplace should be, to put it bluntly, the one who can get shit done. Results matter. Be the one that the boss can count on. Be the one who brings things in on time. Be the one who finishes the job. Be the one that produces value and you will never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.

Bear in mind also that you are entering the workforce as a tablua rasa as far as potential employers are concerned.  You’re not going to leave these halls and be CEO of General Motors.  You will be working in an entry level job, probably not making a lot of money, probably doing work your longer-term co-workers don’t want to do.  Suck it up.  There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people.  Any work that produces value is worth doing.  How do you know if your work is producing value?  The answer to that is trivially easy:  If someone is willing to pay you to do the work, then you are producing value.  Bear in mind also that the job belongs to the employer, not to you, and if you don’t meet the employer’s expectations, someone else will.

How do you meet those expectations?  Better yet, how do  you exceed them?  When you are doing that job, keep these things in mind:

Be known for your integrity. Don’t say anything you don’t believe and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. Your employers and co-worke2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (7)rs must know you as the person who means what you say and who delivers on your promises.

Be known for your reliability. Show up on time, every day, for every event. Show up on time for meetings. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who will always be there when you’re needed.

Be known for your responsibility.  If you take on a task, finish it.  If you commit to a timeline, meet it.  If you accept responsibility for something, own it.  It’s yours.  Don’t expect anyone else to take care of it for you.  Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who, when put in charge, takes charge.

Be known for your dependability. Plan your tasks to bring them in on schedule. If that means long hours, work them. If that means working a Saturday, work it. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who can get the job done.

Success isn’t a mysterious thing. It’s not that elusive and it’s not even all that hard. I did it, and you can too, but it does involve one four-letter word:

Work.2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (8)

Thomas Edison once said “people often fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.” At these commencement events it’s common to be told to follow your dreams, and that’s nice, flowery stuff, but in most cases nobody is going to pay you to follow your dreams. They will pay you to produce value, and that means work.  Follow your dreams on your own time.

Finally, I will leave you all with some unsolicited advice:

All through your life, people will promise you things. Most of them won’t deliver. Many of those people will be people seeking political office, and many more of them will be people pushing some sort of supposed business opportunity. Some years ago the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein observed a fundamental law of the universe, which law is represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Remember that; if someone offers you something for nothing, they are lying. If someone is offering you something at someone else’s expense, they are offering to commit theft on your behalf. The only moral answer to such offers is outright refusal.

There are only three types of economic transactions and only one of those – a free, unfettered, voluntary exchange of value – is morally acceptable. If a transaction is done by force, that is theft. If a transaction is done by deceit, that is fraud. Have no interaction with anyone who advocates either.

A2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (9)ccept responsibility for your own successes. Accept responsibility for your own failures. Learn from both. Rely on yourself. Rely on your own skills, your own abilities. Many other people will let you down, but you can always rely on yourself.

In her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand presents the protagonist, John Galt, describing his decision to solve society’s troubles by an epic act of creative destruction. He describes the ultimate moment of his decision process with two sentences, two sentences which I have found more inspiring than any long-winded ethical or political monologue ever delivered since the times of Plato and Aristotle.  These words are the very essence of the self-directed man of achievement:

‘I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.’

Those are good words to live by. Now, today, you graduates see what has to be done.

Go out and do it.

Thank you and good luck.”

If anyone was offended by anything contained in this hypothetical speech, too damn bad.

2016_05_13_Rule Five Friday (10)

Animal’s Daily News

Thoughtful-BearThanks once again to The Other McCain for the New Year’s Rule Five links!

A recent discussion in these pages got me thinking about student loans; specifically, how those loans are approved and sourced, and how risk of possible default comes into the equation (clue:  it doesn’t.)  So, for the purposes of discussion, let’s consider two students applying for student loans.  This being the Utopia of the Animalverse, there are no Imperially subsidized student loans, and so the prospective students have to go to a lending institution and apply for their money, just as they would when buying a house or car.

Student One enters the lending institution with a packet of papers and takes a seat in front of the loan officer.  “I just graduated high school with a 3.8 grade average.  Here are my SAT scores.  I’ve been accepted to Cal Tech, and I’m going to major in software engineering.”

Student Two enters the lending institution with a similar packet of papers, and likewise sits down in front of a loan officer.  “I graduated high school with a 3.8 grade average.  Here are my SAT scores.  I’ve been accepted to Oberlin College, and I’m going to major in Gender Studies.”

Now, consider these two students.  Their grades from high school are identical, and for the purposes of this argument we will postulate that their SAT scores were likewise identical.  Here’s the question:  Which student represents a greater risk of default on their student loans?

If you said Student One, go back to the end of the line and start again.

Student Two, assuming a successful completion of the stated goal, will attain a degree in Gender Studies – and be effectively unemployable.  On the other hand, Student One will be very likely to find gainful employment.  Student Two will be an near-certain default on their student loans.  Student One will be very likely to be able to repay those loans.

Sad-BearIn a free market for educational loans, it is inconceivable that Student Two’s nitwittery in pursuing a useless bullshit degree should be subsidized by the far more prudent Student A by an arbitrary leveling of student loan interest rates – which is precisely the situation forced on borrowers by the Imperial subsidy of student loans.  In any sane world, the dunderheaded Student Two, who is pursuing a useless, bullshit degree, should bear the greatly increased risk of default by paying a higher interest rate.

But where the financing of higher education is concerned, we live in a world that is anything but sane.

Rule Five Trigger Warning Friday

2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (1) This should come as no surprise:  How Trigger Warnings Make College Students Helpless, Humorless, and Stupid.  Hopefully most of them will outgrow it.  Excerpt:

Picture a conference that exists for the following purpose: to give student-leaders of various colleges the opportunity to preview stand-up acts and decide which comedians they would like to invite to their campuses. No, you are not picturing some imaginary hell. You are picturing a very real event: the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities.

(Were you wondering why comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock are refusing to perform on college campuses?  It’s because of these assholes.)

2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (1)This convention takes center-stage in a riveting, recent article by The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan, who explains why students’ excessive deference to political correctness obligates comedians to self-censor if they want to play the lucrative college circuit. A snapshot:

A young gay man with a Broadway background named Kevin Yee sang novelty songs about his life, producing a delirium of affection from the audience. “We love you, Kevin!” a group of kids yelled between numbers. He invited students to the front of the auditorium for a “gay dance party,” and they charged down to take part. His last song, about the close relationship that can develop between a gay man and his “sassy black friend,” was a killer closer; the kids roared in delight, and several African American young women in the crowd seemed to be self-identifying as sassy black friends.

2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (2)I assumed Yee would soon be barnstorming the country. But afterward, two white students from an Iowa college shook their heads: no. He was “perpetuating stereotypes,” one of them said, firmly. “We’re a very forward-thinking school,” she told me. (Translation:  We’re a non-thinking school.)  “That thing about the ‘sassy black friend’? That wouldn’t work for us.” Many others, apparently, felt the same way: Yee ended up with 18 bookings—a respectable showing, but hardly a reflection of the excitement in the room when he performed.

If you’ll allow me to indulge a bit of rhetoric from my youth:  What a bunch of pussies.  With self-cocooning ideals like this, none of these special, precious little snowflakes will be prepared to manage themselves in the outside world.

 2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (2)It will be interesting, in perhaps 20 years, to look at the suicide rate of all the precious little snowflakes that are in these “institutions of higher learning” (use of scare quotes intentional) today.

What will happen when they leave the ivory towers of academia and realize that most of the world doesn’t give an ounce of shit about their widdle feelings?

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s couldn’t have been more different.  We got in fights, we argued, we called each other names.  2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (3)And yet, somehow, we grew up knowing how to deal with the world – and were almost certainly stronger for it.  We learned how to deal with people who didn’t like us; we learned how to ignore people who said things we didn’t like.

I’d bet serious money that not one of the precious little snowflakes on the National Association for Campus Activities has ever thrown a punch, or taken one.

Sooner or later most of these nitwits will have to leave academia.  Sooner or later most of these nitwits will have to find actual paying work.  And sooner or later they will find themselves subject to criticism, deserved or undeserved.  Smart money says they won’t know how to deal with it.

Best case is that a considerable amount of whining will ensue.  Worst case… Well, I think you can figure that out.

2015_08_14_Rule Five Friday (3)

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

The Dumbass of the Month Award goes to “Kim.” Excerpt:

“Kim” called in last week to “The Bert Show” to seek advice from the hosts at the Atlanta-based radio talk show.  Now a junior in college, Kim confessed she doesn’t have any money left to pay the upcoming bills for her senior year.

“Years ago my grandparents set up a college fund for me, which was amazing, and I haven’t been very good with my budget for school. The first payment for my senior year just arrived and I don’t have the money “basically. I’ve just been avoiding it. I knew the bill was coming.’

First, as a parent, I wondered if Kim had ever been taught the value of a dollar and just how hard $90K is to earn.  Was she taught budgeting and personal responsibility?  As I listened to the interview in full, I got my answers.

“Maybe [my parents] should have taught me to budget or something. They never sat me down and had a real serious talk about it.”

But here are the real money quotes:

“[My parents] said there was nothing they could do for me. They’re not being honest with me saying they don’t have [money] because my dad has worked for like a million years and they have a retirement account.”

And:

“I used it to budget for school clothes and college break money. I probably should have not done that. I took a trip to Europe. The Europe thing I thought was part of my education and that’s how I tried to justify that.”

So.  Her grandparents gave her – gave her a fund that should have paid for her education.  All of it.  This little drooling moron (who, let’s face it, is probably too stupid for college) spent it on clothes and a European vacation, and now she’s broke – and she wants her parents to cash in their retirement savings to bail her stupid ass out.

Hopefully her parents told her where to get off.

Bear-with-CubI’ve never been so proud of my four daughters.  The oldest is close to finishing up her Doctor of Practical Nursing, all paid for by her job and the hospital chain she works for.  The second is a freelance graphic artist and designer and about to be a brand-new Mama; her Associate’s degree in Graphic Design is paid off.  The two in college are living in a small apartment, working part-time, dipping into their savings as needed, and making good grades; one as a graphic artist like her big sister, the other in a pre-med program.  Mom and I have helped them with rent a time or two, other than that they’ve done it on their own.

I would suggest “Kim” should talk to my kids, but “Kim” is almost certainly too stupid and self-entitled to gain anything of substance from the conversation.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Building the New Dark Age Mind.  Excerpt:

We can all but write off today’s university as a place of free expression. In the age of Obama, zealots in the university have clamped down on any thought deemed reactionary. “Trigger warning” is a euphemism for trying either to censure literature or to denigrate it. “Safe space” is another term for the segregation of campus areas by race, class, or ideology. “Hate speech” has become a pejorative for uncomfortable truth.

So try a thought experiment. If Professor A in various fora — before the academic senate, at the “free speech” area of the quad, during student advising, in a faculty meeting, or during class — announced that on-campus, Christian student groups practiced hate speech and thus should be monitored or silenced, or he declared that due to white privilege he was holding private tutoring sessions only for people of color, or he urged that global warming deniers should not be allowed to spread their heresies in class, or he insisted that the nature and propriety of sexual intercourse should be post facto defined only by the female participant, he would be hailed, and many of those proposals would be taken seriously if they were not already part of campus protocol.

Stephen Fry said it best.
Stephen Fry said it best.

But if a bookend Professor B in the same venues announced that he found Muslim groups equally suspect, or that, due to constant deprecation of white males, he was holding tutoring sessions only for his European-American students, or that he was hosting a campus conference on the unscientific nature of the global warming movement, or if he urged the university to insist that any allegations of rape follow strictly the rules of evidence and procedures as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and state laws of criminal jurisprudence, he would find himself in a great deal of trouble, if not fired.

What the hell ever happened to “sticks and stones?”

Have so many Americans grown so hypersensitive, so puerile, so weak, that they need “trigger warnings” lest they hear something that might disturb their poor sensitive little minds?

It appears the answer to that is “yes.”  There’s a tiny little sliver of silver lining to this; only in a wealthy, safe country could a significant segment of the populace (mostly college students, it seems) grow so soft and pampered that these kinds of things even exist.

Most of the world is a harsh, brutal place; ask any soldier, airman or Marine that has deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.  And that veneer of civilization is awfully thin; there exist plenty of people that would love nothing more than to import that brutality into the United States.  And yet our institutions of “higher learning” are producing a generation of coddled nitwits who can’t stand even the hint of dissent from their carefully inculcated orthodoxies.  Dr. Hanson fears a new Dark Age is starting now; he concludes:

The country is terrified about having a rational and logical discussion about almost every great issue of our times: unsustainable national debts and deficits, the new nexus between leftwing plutocracy and populism, the viability of Social Security and Medicare, deteriorating race relations, the Soviet-style American campus, global warming, and the deterioration of medical care. Instead, to preclude honest talk, we offer perfunctory charges of sexism and racism, and seek cover in “fairness” and “equality.”

Sad-BearThe redistributionist, equality-of-result state — fueled by a national progressive ideology — is the new deity that determines what is free expression. Blasphemy is now defined as daring to use logic and evidence to expose the state’s failed, deductive tenets.

This descent into the Dark Ages will not end well. It never has in the past.

I’d like to be more optimistic than that, but Dr. Hanson’s qualifications in the area of the history of Western civilization demand that his words be taken seriously.

Rule Five Commencement Speech Friday

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday (1)It’s a bit past the usual graduation season, but here in the blogosphere you still occasionally see the usual posts on “what would I say to the graduating class of My Olde University, were I invited to give the commencement address.” So, in the unlikely event my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa (yes, really) ever was incautious enough to offer me this chance, here’s what I might say:

“Graduates of the Class of 2015, let me be the first to extend to you my congratulations on this, your day of entry into reality.

For the last four years you have been working towards this goal, towards this day. That’s a good thing. One of the most important skills you will ever need, one of the most important ways to achieve success in the world into which you are about to enter, is the ability to formulate goals, to plan how to achieve those goals, and to see things through until you reach those goals. Today you’ve shown you can do that. Congratulations and good job.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday (1)Now, before you go out to enjoy the rest of this day, before you go out to celebrate this goal you have achieved, let me tell you a few harsh truths about the world you’re entering. I’m not going to give you any trigger warnings; if you can’t handle what I’m about to say, there’s damn little future for you out there in the real world, so cowboy up.  Moments ago I congratulated you on your day of entry into reality, so to get you started off right, here is a hefty dose of reality for you.

In spite of what you may have been told during all your years of education, nobody owes you anything, and you aren’t special. Any perceived ‘need’ you may have does not entitle you to anything – most especially, not to one red cent of the product of anyone else’s effort. If any of your professors have told you that, then they are economic illiterates, moral frauds or outright charlatans.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday (2)Our wonderful Constitution, which has stood for well over two hundred years as the founding document of our Republic, guarantees you the opportunity to your pursuit of happiness. It does not require anyone to provide you the means to your happiness at their expense. You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You have no moral claim on anyone else’s productivity. Accept that fact and you are already one step ahead of most of your peers.

You are entitled to what you have earned through your own efforts, and not:

One.

Damn.

Thing.

More.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday (3)If you are accepting a degree today in LGBT Studies, or Women’s Studies, or any of the other assorted bullshit Underwater Dog Polishing degrees our universities crank out today, then you have my sympathies. You are the victim of a fraud perpetrated by our university system, a vicious and cynical fraud that has resulted in you spending a lot of money for no gain. But more importantly, you are the victim of your own poor judgement. You decided to pursue a useless degree, and now you’re stuck. Here is another harsh reality: You are responsible for your own situation.  It’s not anybody else’s fault.  Nobody else is responsible.  You are.

Your university experience had one goal – producing a young adult with marketable skills, someone who can provide value to an employer and to the economy. In this your university has failed, and in choosing this degree, so did you. You have relegated yourself to uselessness in the workplace, and when a few years from now you are working as a barista or checkout clerk and crying over your six figures of student debt, remember what I said a few moments ago: You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You made a decision; now you get to deal with the consequences of that decision. Pull yourself up, look around at the other opportunities around you, and figure a way out of this mess your youthful indiscretion has landed you in.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday (4)But you still have one thing going for you. You have shown that you can set yourself a goal and achieve it. Do so now.

So, where do you go from here?

Because nobody owes you anything, including a living, one of the tasks ahead of you now is finding gainful employment. If you’re going to find employment, it will only be because you can demonstrate to the employer that you can provide value to him or her in excess of your costs of employment. Employment is an economic transaction.  In any free market transaction, both parties have to realize a perceived gain in value or the transaction won’t happen. If a prospective employer doesn’t think you’re able to provide value to his/her business in excess of your cost of employment, which includes not only your salary but all the extra taxes, fees and other various government extortion that you never see in your pay stub – then they won’t hire you. So be able to present yourself as someone who can provide value, in whatever field you have been studying these last few years.

Once you have gained that employment, once you are in the workplace, remember these three rules for success:

  1. Show up a little earlier than the other guy,
  2. Work a little harder than the other guy,
  3. Never pass up a chance to learn something new.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday Extras (1)Words that should never pass your lips include such things as “that’s not my job,” and “I don’t have time for that.” Your reputation in the workplace should be, to put it bluntly, the one who can get shit done. Results matter. Be the one that the boss can count on. Be the one who brings things in on time. Be the one who finishes the job. Be the one that produces value and you will never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.

Bear in mind also that you are entering the workforce as a tablua rasa as far as potential employers are concerned.  You’re not going to leave these halls and be CEO of General Motors.  You will be working in an entry level job, probably not making a lot of money, probably doing work your longer-term co-workers don’t want to do.  Suck it up.  There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people.  Any work that produces value is worth doing.  How do you know if your work is producing value?  The answer to that is trivially easy:  If someone is willing to pay you to do the work, then you are producing value.  Bear in mind also that the job belongs to the employer, not to you, and if you don’t meet the employer’s expectations, someone else will.

How do you meet those expectations?  Better yet, how do  you exceed them?  When you are doing that job, keep these things in mind:

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday Extras (1)Be known for your integrity. Don’t say anything you don’t believe and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who means what you say and who delivers on your promises.

Be known for your reliability. Show up on time, every day, for every event. Show up on time for meetings. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who will always be there when you’re needed.

Be known for your responsibility.  If you take on a task, finish it.  If you commit to a timeline, meet it.  If you accept responsibility for something, own it.  It’s yours.  Don’t expect anyone else to take care of it for you.  Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who, when put in charge, takes charge.

Be known for your dependability. Plan your tasks to bring them in on schedule. If that means long hours, work them. If that means working a Saturday, work it. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who can get the job done.

Success isn’t a mysterious thing. It’s not that elusive and it’s not even all that hard. I did it, and you can too, but it does involve one four-letter word:

Work.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday Extras (2)Thomas Edison once said “people often fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.” At these commencement events it’s common to be told to follow your dreams, and that’s nice, flowery stuff, but in most cases nobody is going to pay you to follow your dreams. They will pay you to produce value, and that means work.  Follow your dreams on your own time.

Finally, I will leave you all with some unsolicited advice:

All through your life, people will promise you things. Most of them won’t deliver. Many of those people will be people seeking political office, and many more of them will be people pushing some sort of supposed business opportunity. Some years ago the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein observed a fundamental law of the universe, which law is represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Remember that; if someone offers you something for nothing, they are lying. If someone is offering you something at someone else’s expense, they are offering to commit theft on your behalf. The only moral answer to such offers is outright refusal.

There are only three types of economic transactions and only one of those – a free, unfettered, voluntary exchange of value – is morally acceptable. If a transaction is done by force, that is theft. If a transaction is done by deceit, that is fraud. Have no interaction with anyone who advocates either.

Accept responsibility for your own successes. Accept responsibility for your own failures. Learn from both. Rely on yourself. Rely on your own skills, your own abilities. Many other people will let you down, but you can always rely on yourself.

2015_06_05_Rule Five Friday Extras (3)In her epic novel Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand presents the protagonist, John Galt, describing his decision to solve society’s troubles by an epic act of creative destruction. He describes the ultimate moment of his decision process with two sentences, two sentences which I have found more inspiring than any long-winded ethical or political monologue ever delivered since the times of Plato and Aristotle.  These words are the very essence of the self-directed man of achievement:

‘I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.’

Those are good words to live by. Now, today, you graduates see what has to be done.

Go out and do it.

Thank you and good luck.”

If anyone was offended by anything contained in this hypothetical speech, too damn bad.

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Rule Five Friday

2015_05_29_Rule Five Friday (1)How many American universities are offering crap classes and crap degrees? As it turns out, quite a few.

Appalachian State University offers a class titled “What If Harry Potter Was Real?

UC San Diego offers “Billy Strayhorn and Billie Holiday: Jazz, Race and Sexuality.

The University of South Carolina offers “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame.”

The University of Washington is offering “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur.

Seriously, what the fuck?   From Collegedata.com:

2015_05_29_Rule Five Friday (2)2015_05_29_Rule Five Friday (3)In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014–2015 academic year averaged $23,410. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272. But what goes into these costs?

What goes into those costs?  The linked article continues by listing tuition, books, housing, and so on – all accurate, of course.  But at what cost do parents and taxpayers get soaked to offer useless crap courses that lead to useless crap degrees?  Useless degrees offered by taxpayer-subsidized universities include such stupidity as:

  • 2015_05_29_Rule Five Friday (4)Women’s studies.
  • Secularism.
  • LGBT studies.
  • Black studies.
  • Hispanic studies.
  • Puppetry.
  • Music Therapy.
  • Dance.
  • Surf Science and Technology.
  • Golf Management.
  • Ethnic studies.
  • Islamic studies

Granted that linked list from Conservapedia also lists some useful degrees, such as Human Resources (my sister had a long career as a Human Resources professional in the private sector and is now enjoying a comfortable retirement) and Evolutionary Biology (I trained as a biologist myself, which led to a lucrative career in medical technology and biotech.)  But that doesn’t reduce the 2015_05_29_Rule Five Friday (5)outright fraud involved in major universities actually charging tuition for the bullshit listed here.

A major talking point among pols of both major parties is the rising cost of education.  How much of that rising cost is due to the offering of bullshit degrees?  How much student loan debt is from young skulls-fulla-mush taking bullshit classes and earning bullshit degrees?  How can anyone earn a living with a degree in LGBT studies?

Let me answer that:  You can’t.  Not unless that living involves repeatedly asking “do you want fries with that?”

Universities are charged with producing a product:  Young people with marketable skills.  In this the university system is failing, catastrophically, when they offer bullshit degrees like these.

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