Category Archives: Education

Animal’s Daily Crap Degrees News

This should come as no surprise:  Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.  Excerpt:

Noël Flynn is spending more than 80 percent of her income to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in debt for her Art Therapy degree. In 2016 alone, the Department of Education loaned $25.9 billion to students who, like Flynn, chose degrees under the umbrella of the liberal arts and humanities, an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation found.

A significant portion of those students are unlikely to have the means to pay back their debt after graduating.

“I find myself struggling financially, and the biggest reason why is student loans,” said Flynn, 23, who says she was told the loans “wouldn’t be overwhelming” once she graduated.

Most federal student loan programs do not require a credit check, nor do they require a cosigner. Rather, the loans are backed by nothing more than the borrower’s future earnings with a college degree, but the kind of degree isn’t a consideration in the loan process.

Note that degree:  Art Therapy.  Also in the story:

Students who enter the workforce with a degree in the liberal arts and humanities often find themselves working in a job that does not require a college degree, according to a New York Fed analysis of the underemployment rate for recent college graduates.

Image from linked story.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Ethnic Studies isn’t at the top of that list, but I suppose there’s always room in the grievance industry for a few more agitators.

So the obvious question arises:  What policy solution is there to this?  Well, that’s simple:  Get the government out of the education system, including financing that education.  If student loans are to be made, let the private sector make them.  If private lenders were making student loans with no Imperial guarantees, I suspect this wealth of crap degrees would dry up very quickly; student loan applications made to a bank or credit union with the goal of a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts will (and should be) looked at askance, while a student intending to study, say, Mechanical Engineering would be a much better risk.

Get government out of education at all levels, I say!  Let us have separation of school and state.  That, not more Imperial interference, will dry up this fraudulent torrent of bullshit degree programs.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This just in:  Judging from one survey, one third of millennials are fucking idiots.  Excerpt:

YouGov, a British market research firm, polled 8,215 adults in the United States to find out if they ever believed in the “flat Earth” movement. Only 66 percent of young millennials answered that they “always believe the world is round.” Science teachers across the U.S. will be shaking their heads after learning that nine percent of young adults answered that they have “always believed” the planet was flat.

Another nine percent said of young adults said they thought the planet was spherical but had doubts about it. In a disturbing display of indecision, 16 percent of millennials said they weren’t sure what the shape of the planet was.

Overall, only two percent of the respondents said they always thought the Earth was flat without any doubt.

Seriously, folks.  In the third century BC, Eratosthenes of Cyrene not only figured the Earth was a sphere but worked out the circumference of the Earth with surprising accuracy for the time.

Now, it’s easy to write some of this off as simple ignorance and blame (not without cause) the atrocious state of science education in the United States.  But there are people out there who actually believe this horseshit, and are claiming some sort of global conspiracy to cover up the “truth.”

It just goes to show, there is nothing out there so mind-bogglingly stupid that some horse’s ass won’t believe it.  For example, there’s this asshole.

But let’s focus on the American millennials reported on above.  What do we blame for this stupidity?  The education system?  (See how those much-touted Imperial standards are doing?)  Pop culture?  Fluoride in the water? Chemtrails?  How can so many of our youths be this bogglingly stupid?

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Once more into Florida, but this time on a different topic:  Education.  Florida residents could soon gain more power over determining science curricula.  Excerpt:

Last week, Florida’s legislature started considering two related bills that, if enacted, would let residents recommend which instructional materials teachers in their school district use in their classrooms.

The bills build on a law enacted in June 2017, which enables any Florida resident to challenge the textbooks and other educational tools used in their district as being biased or inaccurate. In the five months after the state’s governor approved the law, residents filed at least seven complaints, including two that challenge the teaching of evolution and human-driven climate change, according to the Associated Press.

But the bills approved this month by the education committees in the state’s Senate and House of Representatives go a step further, because they would allow the public to review educational materials used in class and to suggest alternatives. “They would make it easier for creationists, climate-change deniers and — who knows — flat-Earthers to pester their local school boards about their hobbyhorses,” says Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California. The final decision on whether to follow the recommendations still rests with the school boards.

Now, I don’t want to see flat-Earther horseshit being presented in schools as an “alternative viewpoint.”  I don’t want to see geocentrism, or 6,000 year old Earth claims, or anything else presented as “alternate viewpoints.”  One could go on all day, but why?

There’s an obvious answer to all this.  Get the damned government out of the education system.  Privatize education and let a thousand flowers bloom – if you want to send your kids to a school that emphasizes self-esteem, participation trophies and social justice, knock yourself out.  If you want to send your kids to a school that denies Copernican astronomy, go for it.  If you want to send your kids to a school with a hard grounding in the classics, in hard science, engineering, whatever, feel free.  I have little doubt that the market demand for such schools would result in plenty of competition for parental tuition money.

Here’s the catch in my system:  If you send your kids to Touchy-Feely Social Justice Consolidated or GeoCentrist High, the consequences of that are on you (and your kids) when they graduate and can’t find gainful employment due to a crap education.

Harsh?  Yes.  Rather Darwinian?  Sure.  Efficient?  More so than our current system, and that’s for sure and for certain.

 

Animal’s Daily Excess Interference News

If you want to see an example of a state government proposing to interfere unjustly (something of an understatement, in fact) with the lives of young people, have a read of New Mexico’s HB0023.  Here’s a relevant excerpt:

B. Each student must complete a final next-step plan during the senior year and prior to graduation. The plan shall be filed with the principal of the student’s high school and shall be signed by the student, the student’s parent and the student’s guidance counselor or other school official charged with coursework planning for the student. For students entering the eleventh grade beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, the secretary shall promulgate rules to provide that the plan shall require a student to file an application with a college or show that the student has committed to an internship or apprenticeship or military service.

Did you get the gist of that?  New Mexico is proposing to not allow high school students to graduate until the state and its Top Men, in their infinite wisdom, have reviewed and approved their post-graduation plans.

The state of New Mexico is dropping even the pretense that they don’t own its residents any more.  This is the first major decision young people have to make in their lives, the first major step into the greater world, and obviously elements in the state of New Mexico aren’t willing to leave that decision to them.  No, they want to approve those plans, or else, no diploma for you!

What’s more – this isn’t California or Massachusetts, both notorious nanny states.  This is New Mexico – a squishy blue state with a significant, notoriously independent rural population.  If New Mexico is considering this, who else will catch wind and think it’s a good idea?

People – including young people – have the right to screw up, and I’m fine with that, as long as they don’t come to me with hand outstretched looking for me to bail them out of the consequences of their bad decisions.  But New Mexico proposes to remove that option by force of law.

In what alternative universe is this a good thing?

Animal’s Daily Disability News

The Imperial government overreaches again, and a private citizen fixes it – again.  Excerpt:

A third threat to free speech at the University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators.

It’s the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Berkeley is expensive. Out of state students must pay $60,000 a year. But for five years, Berkeley generously posted 20,000 of its professors’ lectures online. Anyone could watch them for free.

Then government regulators stepped in.

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, “No qualified individual with a disability shall … be denied the benefits of … services.”

As with most laws, people can spend years debating what terms like “denied,” “benefits” and “services” mean.

President Obama’s eager regulators, in response to a complaint from activists, decided that Berkeley’s videos violated the ADA. The Justice Department sent the school a threatening letter: “Berkeley is in violation of title II … (T)he Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit.”

What Berkeley had done wrong, said the government, was failing to caption the videos for the hearing impaired. The ADA makes it illegal to “deny” deaf people services available to others.

And:

In this case, fortunately, an angry entrepreneur came to the rescue. Jeremy Kauffman hates to see valuable things disappear, so right before Berkeley deleted its website, Kauffman copied the videos and posted them on his website, called LBRY (as in Library).

He says the Berkeley videos are just the start of what LBRY has planned. He wants the site to be YouTube — but without the content restrictions.

Where the hell is any shred of common sense in the Imperial government reaction to this?  It’s not as though these are primary classes without which a student cannot graduate; they are 20,000 lectures posted for free consumption by anyone – something to be said for that coming from Berkeley, where free speech is a dead letter and a non-resident student has to pony up north of $60k a year to attend.

But no!  For want of a closed-caption, this free and (possibly) interesting service is now cut off, no doubt due to the interference of some un-elected bureaucrat meddling in something that nothing in the Constitution allows the Imperial City to touch in the first place.

We have proceeded from tragedy to farce in this matter, True Believers.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving on:  Teacher’s Union Boss Tells Critics To “Meet Me Behind The School.”  Excerpt:

(National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen) Garcia was also asked for her response to people who “accuse teachers unions of only being interested in protecting the system as opposed to individual students.”

“I can tell you the names of my individual students one by one, hundreds and hundreds over the years. I’ve got pictures of all of them. Let me see my pictures. I would think that was a set-up question but my NEA team said, ‘Oh, it’s too bad you don’t have pictures of that party.’ I’ve got pictures of everything and these kids are a lot older now but these are my babies. I took these pictures,” she said.

“And so whenever someone wants to denigrate teachers who actually organize themselves to have the collective power that we need to have our voice heard, and they say we don’t care about the children, I want to know if those folks can tell me the names of the children that they love that don’t live in their house because I can – and I’m the president of the NEA,” she added

Garcia challenged critics of public school unions to meet her “behind the school.”

“We do what we do because we love our students and we honor our profession. And so, I would challenge anyone personally to meet me behind the school and talk to me about what I fought for all my life, what I fought for – my babies – because they can’t touch that,” she said.

Garcia condemned the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the education budget as well as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ support for school vouchers.

I’ve got an idea for Secretary DeVos and President Trump that will really make Ms. Garcia shriek:  Get the Imperial Federal government out of education altogether.

You can examine the Constitution online in any number of places.  You can get an app to load it on your phone or tablet.  Take a look at that document.  Note that the 10th Amendment states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Now, show me in that document where the Imperial government is allowed to meddle in education.  Never mind, I’ll answer:  It’s not in there.

Want the answer to dealing with self-serving bureaucrats like Ms. Garcia?  Bring the bulk of government back to the state and local level.  Schools should be at a local level; if a local school board official pisses you off, you can go bang on his door and yell at him.  If your state representative makes a stupid statement, you can go to his office and demand a retraction.

But our Imperial pols and bureaucrats?  Try to make an appointment to talk with one of them.  Good luck.

Rule Five 3rd Annual Commencement Speech Friday

It’s that time of year again, when high school and college graduates all over the country are trying on caps and gowns and making post-graduation plans.  Today, for the third year, I will present here my own carefully prepared commencement speech to those grads – presented here because there’s damn little chance of my being asked to deliver it in person to a group of impressionable yutes.

So, here it is.  Enjoy.

“Graduates of the Class of 2017, 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.

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 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 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.

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:

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

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-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.

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.

In her magnum opus 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.

Rule Five Free Speech Friday

Heather Mac Donald thinks it’s time to stand up to campus bullies trying to squash freedom of speech on our nation’s campuses.  She’s right.  Excerpt:

Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.

I was the target of such silencing tactics two days in a row last week, the more serious incident at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and a less virulent one at UCLA.

The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna had invited me to meet with students and to give a talk about my book, The War on Cops, on April 6. Several calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” A Facebook post from “we, students of color at the Claremont Colleges” announced grandiosely that “as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” A Facebook event titled “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascists” encouraged students to protest the event because Mac Donald “condemns [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “supports racist police officers,” and “supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’” (My supposed fascism consists in trying to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding minority residents of high-crime areas who support the police and are desperate for more law-enforcement protection.)

Whether one agrees with Heather Mac Donald or not isn’t at issue here.  Whether one understands the importance of free expression in a free society is; indeed, a society can’t stay free without freedom of expression.

And the fact that this is taking place on college campuses (campii?) just makes this all the more intolerable.  The higher education system is supposed to be a bastion of free expression and free thought; instead, too many of our institutions of higher learning are bastions of “safe spaces,” “free speech zones” and totalitarian (yes, really) uprisings of intolerant shitbags trying to silence anyone who makes them “uncomfortable.”

But there may be some hope for all this.  Heather Mac Donald concludes:

…the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.

Eh, probably not.

The students most likely to be taking part in these totalitarian uprisings are also most likely to be working on bullshit Underwater Ethnic Dog Polishing degree programs.  They aren’t going to be at the levers of anything except a Starbucks espresso machine.

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.

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