Cenk Uygur is comlicit in Armenian Genocide Denial

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The Young Turks: a regime that masterminded the genocidal slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.

The Young Turks: also the name of a digital news show with Turkish host Cenk Uygur.

The equivalent? Naming a news show “The Nazis.” Hosted by a holocaust denier.

Now, Cenk is convinced that the reason Armenians have a problem with him is because he’s Turkish. Interesting card to play, Cenk.

He doesn’t think Armenians’ real qualm is the fact that he penned two articles denying the Armenian genocide, and has yet to fully retract his genocide denial?

He doesn’t think Armenians notice the fact that he has never said the word “genocide” when referring to the Armenian genocide?

He doesn’t think Armenians have a problem with the fact that the “Young Turks” sourced the title of his eponymous news show?

Instead, Cenk reverses the blame, antagonizing Armenians instead of owning up to his boisterous denial. He feels badly, because people have discovered and criticized his ignorance. Compare that pain to the pain of a genocide denied and exploited.

Ana Kasparian, Cenk’s co-host, is a shameful ornament in the Young Turks’ setup. As the token Armenian on the show (they both swear she’s not a token), Ana wholly misrepresents the Armenian perspective.

In one clip, Ana inaccurately condemns all Armenians for a baseless notion. As she puts it – Armenians hate all Turks today for the genocide – a crime she claims is tired, and one we should just put behind us.

First, Armenians don’t hold Turks accountable for the crime of their grandparents. We do, however, condemn Turks who deny the genocide today. Turks like Cenk Uygur.

We do believe justice should be delivered to the Turkish government, and that consequences are appropriate. We believe that by forgetting Turkey’s crime and present denial, we establish precedent for more of the same in the future.

Ana should know that the problem is not only the fact that so many Turks (like Cenk) have denied the Armenian genocide’s veracity, but that the Turkish government denies its crime today, gags countries that condemn Turkey’s denial and still indoctrinates its people with nationalistic denial and anti-Armenian propaganda. Which makes a name like “the Young Turks” an even more dangerous flame in this fire.

Cenk claims that he didn’t know the meaning behind “the Young Turks” when he first started the show. This is untrue – especially considering how many times Cenk has claimed that he grew up surrounded by Turkish propaganda against Armenians and the genocide (not only would he have heard about the Young Turks, but he would have been raised to consider them heroes for their act against the Armenians).

Cenk often defines “the Young Turks” as a phrase that means “a group dedicated to revolutionary reform.” That’s an interesting spin on history. The Young Turks WERE indeed after revolutionary reform – which they planned to achieve through Armenian race extermination. Cenk knew this. Cenk knows this.

Let’s assume Cenk was truly ignorant about the real history behind the “Young Turks” when he named the show. That would still imply that:

  1. He is now completely aware of the history behind the term, and continues to carry his show forward with the title despite knowing the grave history of the Young Turks name

The fact that the Young Turks show continues to operate by a name with such a dark history, one that Cenk is privy to, proves that the show and its host are party to Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. And both should be held accountable for the resulting history erasure and propaganda.

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No Hypocrisy from Netflix, Just Bad PR

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Netflix admitted that it’s been throttling video quality on the mobile devices of AT&T and Verizon network subscribers.

The company’s decision doesn’t technically contradict its loud support of Net Neutrality, but there are some gaps in Netflix’s principle consistency.

Netflix is manipulating video quality based on subscribers’ internet providers (which Netflix claims to be doing in their users’ best interest). In the Net Neutrality debate, Netflix argued that ISPs couldn’t charge websites a premium for streaming to users at faster rates.

There’s not a direct contradiction between Netflix’s NN stance and their 5-year data tethering history, but there’s a value gap.

The fact that Netflix is streaming lower quality videos based on assumed mobile data limitations of certain ISPs proves that they’re party to data discrimination. While the reason behind their filtering is honest (saving users from high mobile data costs), they can’t really make the base claim anymore that messing with data speeds is fundamentally wrong, because they’ve done it themselves.

The real hypocrisy has surfaced from Internet providers, who are now antagonizing Netflix. It was easy bait and an opportunity for scapegoating – one that AT&T certainly hasn’t passed up with their hypocritical public reprimands already pouring into the press.

Netflix isn’t being hypocritical, but they need to make it clear that they’re trying to support their subscribers against ISP restrictions, both with their throttling and with their Net Neutrality stance.

In the meantime, it would be nice for Netflix to offer mobile users the option to decide themselves whether they’d like to reduce video quality for the sake of their data bill.

Conan in Armenia: The Power of a Talk Show

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Last Tuesday night, TBS aired Conan in Armenia, a touching and powerful special that showcased Conan O’Brien’s historic visit to Yerevan.

The special followed Conan and his Armenian assistant, Sona Movsessian as they toured the country and its landmarks, enjoyed Armenian food and danced to the tune of traditional Armenian music. It was Sona’s first visit to the homeland. The episode captured images of Armenia’s beautiful people, landscape, history and culture.

“Sona has been talking about Armenia and her culture for the six years we’ve been together, and the idea just popped in one day: What if I took Sona, my assistant, back to Armenia? And we had this crazy adventure, and we’re really proud of the way it turned out.” – Source

As a proud Armenian, I was more than excited about this episode. I got together with friends to watch the premiere, and we weren’t disappointed.

The episode proved even more fantastic than expected. Conan interacted not only with Armenia’s culture, but also with its people. They aired Conan’s conversations with bright-eyed, intelligent Armenian kids and showed clips of Conan and Sona visiting the Garni temple and Armenia’s ancient churches.

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The episode was hilarious. Conan and Sona herded sheep in the hills of the Armenian countryside, Conan starred in an Armenian soap opera, the two smoked hookah in Yerevan and danced with fans in the capital’s Republic Square.

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Conan and Sona also visited the Armenian genocide memorial at Dzidzernagapert, a poignant and serious moment at the close of the comedy special.

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It was an emotional scene, especially considering that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the genocide, and that only a dim light has been shed on this dark history by American media. The Kardashians publicized their visit to the homeland earlier this year, and Conan’s was a second large-scale public display of support for the Armenian people on national television.

To many, this episode might seem like a trivial page in one comedian’s rolodex of sketch comedy – but Armenians like myself are grateful for shows and public figures like these that showcase our country and its history to the world.

There was a clip in the episode during which Conan says:

Any visit to Armenia must include an acknowledgement of the country’s tragic history. 100  years ago, the Ottoman Empire launched a wave of violence that killed or displaced 1.5 million Armenians. To this day, the genocide is a painful scar for Armenia, and the Armenian people worldwide.

Conan and Sona then discussed her family’s story of survival and the weight of the genocide on Armenians around the world. Conan commented on the country’s bright future, which he saw in the humor and optimism of Armenian children.

In another scene, Sona and Conan saw Mount Ararat across the boundaries of the Armenian-Turkish border for the first time.

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Conan mentions that Ararat, which used to be part of Armenia and is its national symbol, now resides within Turkey’s borders.

Many who viewed the episode commented that this was the first time they had heard about the Armenian genocide.

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I enjoyed the episode, and I’m grateful that more people are learning about Armenia and the injustice of Turkey’s present genocide denial. When people with influence shed light on hidden injustice, the impact is significant, impactful and powerful. A talk show can go a long way – Conan in Armenia was evidence of that influence.

 

The Real Housewives of 2016

During last week’s republican debate, Americans were once more dragged into the bizarre whirlpool of 2016 politics. We heard the same platitudes, banal bickering and attention-hungry appeals we’ve grown accustomed to in this political season on both sides of the aisle.

In the same way manners and norms keep members of a civilized society in check, there are rules that define political etiquette. During this election season, however, we’ve seen a complete abandon of conventional political wisdom and restraint; 2016’s political hopefuls are throwing tantrums on live television, fibbing to the press and none of them have done their homework. It’s political childishness at its worst – but this bad behavior isn’t hurting candidates; it’s paying dividends, and less popular candidates are following their counterparts’ example in a transparent attempt to borrow some attention.

This election season is a unique one. Candidates are playing pranks on one another, unsubstantiated claims are presented as facts and the most outrageous displays of ignorance and ridiculousness are leading to voter support.

Candidates have casually patronized debate moderators, talking down to future voters and insouciantly attacking their opponents. It all seems like a game. CNBC anchor John Harwood illustrated this bizarre state of affairs when he asked Donald Trump during one debate, “Is this a comic book version of a Presidential campaign?”

Policy issues aside, this campaign certainly feels surrealistic. Clinton’s trying to grow younger, Trump is talking about his great border-wall and Sanders’s unapologetic socialism is somehow resonating with young Millennials. None of it makes sense from a PR or political science perspective – but all of it is working.

First, there’s Hillary. Clinton’s team has been desperately trying to paint her as a woman of the future and trying to bury her Benghazi ghosts by getting her active on social media, encouraging her to use cool-kid slang and forcing her into a meme. She’s taken selfies with Kim Kardashian and encouraged her Twitter followers to share emoji stories about student debt. She’s also fibbed to the press, having claimed her grandparents were immigrants when her grandmother was born in Pennsylvania. Her campaign is transparent and artificial, but she remains the party leader, as “fully 83 percent of Democrats have a favorable impression of Clinton, compared with 54 percent for Sanders.”

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And then there’s Trump, who’s wildest behavior only lends him more TV time. From his attacks on debate moderators to his personal attacks on fellow opponents Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina, it would seem (on paper) that Trump is playing the game in exactly the wrong way. Instead, it worked in his favor, only giving him more press and republican support.

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Other candidates are just as messy. Marco Rubio participated in a back-and-forth prank war with Trump; Martin O’Malley claimed Assad was invading Syria; Carson threatened to ditch debates; some say Sanders’s $18 trillion plan is “just as fantastic” as Trump’s plans for a great American wall.

There are rules in the world of political public relations. Among them are measures for positive reputation management, issue preparation, debate demeanor and manners. The application of these standards is often scientific and measured.

As one public relations practitioner observed, “modern political campaigns are exercises in communication that are scientific in their research methods and systematic in their methods of implementation.” Trump’s candidacy obviously lacks a practice of careful communication, and Clinton’s approach is too measured and robotic. Her campaign is the artificial to Trump’s pure candor.

We could once rely on the press and the collective consciousness of intelligent Americans to punish this behavior – but this election season is an anomaly, the Twilight Zone of political history. Instead of the press policing politicos, candidates are choking the media and people discuss the election like its a new episode of the real housewives.

I want the press to show its teeth, for people to open their eyes and for the candidates to get serious. America needs firm leadership today more than ever, and it’s only appropriate that 2016’s hopefuls and voters alike get real about this election.

Questionable Ethics of Political Native Ads in 2016

The practice has become familiar, but it’s not becoming any more ethically sound.

Native advertising placements have penetrated reputable news websites over the last several years, and as we approach the 2016 elections, we’re forecasted to see more of the same.

BuzzFeed announced recently that it will support political native advertising on its website through the 2016 elections. While this was a mildly present force in 2012, it will be further apparent in the upcoming election year. BuzzFeed carved out an entire team dedicated to the advertising practice, a group that will either help politicians craft advertising for the website or facilitate campaigns’ ad placements.

Native advertising isn’t new, but it certainly remains controversial. Studies have shown that most people can’t immediately discern incorporated advertising from native content.

But our findings show that no matter what steps publishers have taken, there is still significant confusion on the part of readers as to what constitutes an article and what constitutes an ad.

Looking back to 2012, you can see that BuzzFeed’s attempt to distinguish an Obama campaign-sponsored piece as a promoted article is minimally effective.

Some consider native placement an ethically questionable practice when it supports companies and brands, but when a news website hosts sponsored content from politicians, the ethics get mirkier. Whether or not BuzzFeed readers will notice the placements (or care) is up for debate, but the website has much to lose if the gilded promotions are discovered. Readers have indicated that they stop trusting publications with native advertising, and about half feel deceived by the placements.

It’ll be interesting to see if politicians are also damaged by association. News websites certainly need to monetize, but journalistic credibility is being sacrificed at the altar of the dollar.

As the native advertising ramps up in 2016, it’ll be important to keep an eye on native political advertising and hold news sources accountable for their disclaimers on promoted content.

How Feasible is Free Higher Education?

The rhetoric is potent, but do the economics line up? Democratic candidates have been touting the policy promise of free higher education over the last several years, but with the approach of the next election cycle, the wave of politicking has gained momentum. Despite its surface-level appeal and the politicization of the issue, tuition-free education is not as feasible a policy as many believe.

Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the primary democratic proponents of free higher ed. One of his common persuasion tactics is an allusion to the supposed success of a similar policy in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. He said, “We once led the world in the percentage of our people with a college degree, now we are in 12th place.” Sanders said. “Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people.  They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth.  We should be doing the same,” he added. Source

Sanders praises Germany’s free higher education system often, both on his official website and in debates; but does the comparison make sense?

First, there are half as many university students in Germany than there are in the U.S., a disparity of a mildly fluctuating 70% to Germany’s 30% (these are students who continue to college after the completion of secondary education). Even with less students, German universities are packed full – too full, in fact. Germany’s system is so overcrowded that they’ve implemented a quota system (numerus clausus) which only allows for a certain amount of students to join popular degree programs.

“Kim graduated from the University of Heidelberg and he thinks the opportunity to build relationships with professors is something you really can’t put a price tag on. He wants their kids to attend schools with strong brand recognition.

“The American college experience is something that instills some sort of emotional bond to your university. That is something that is completely missing from the German system,” Kim says. “Although I went to the oldest university in Germany, there is not the feeling that I’m a proud alumni or graduate of that school.”” Source

German universities face yet another problem: “Dauerstudenten,” or the “eternal student.” The eternal student is one who carries no funding responsibility for their schooling and thus remains in the system for extended periods of time.

“The problem arises from the “Moral Hazard” associated with not paying for services. Because students are not sensitive to the costs associated with an additional year of higher education they will consume more of it.” Source

This doesn’t mean more students are enrolling overall, but that it takes the same students a longer amount of time to finish their degree studies. The average graduate student in Germany graduates at 28 years old. This is an issue in the U.S. as well. Students at American public universities struggle to graduate on time, often because of overcrowded classes, low cost and counseling. Seniors become super seniors, extending their time as undergraduates beyond the four year mark.

“The United States has seen the rise of the five year degree. Of the 60% of students who graduate from public schools in the U.S., over half take longer than four years to graduate. Compare that with private institutions (there are natural differences in students at each type of school that pay a role) which see 80 percent of its graduates out in four years. Their sensitivity to the marginal cost of that fifth or sixth year factors into their decision to consume”

In Denmark, tax rates are among the highest in the world. Top earners pay 56% of their salaries to support the welfare state. “Lazy Robert” became notorious in Denmark after announcing on TV “that he prefers living off social benefits than taking a job he didn’t find “meaningful”.” Many Danes feel that the system is unsustainable, and that there is no incentive to earn much with a difficult profession when more than half their income is directed to lazy Roberts. That is why Denmark’s STEM fields are suffering, as few students feel the need to pursue rigorous majors.

When Scotland made its schools tuition-free, a similar theme emerged. Students became more likely to study fields that did not yield results in the job market.

“Sá also found that students in Scotland were much more likely to study subjects with worse prospects for income and employment after graduation. When they weren’t paying to attend college, it seemed like money didn’t matter as much when they were choosing a profession. If your goal is to get more students to enter public service and other lower-paying professions, then that might be a good result.” Source

If the purpose of an education is to employ students after graduation, free education doesn’t seem to offer the desired result. On the other hand, if we just want all students to have access to extended learning opportunities, aren’t there cheaper alternatives to the university model?

Sanders says he would fund 2/3 of the program through taxes on Wall Street transactions; I question the integrity of any financial policy that links its success to the institution that single-handedly corrupted the economy in 2008 and is subject to systemic collapse in the event of a similar economic downturn.

When education is subsidized, academic quality is adversely affected, professors are paid less, schools become overcrowded and competition increases drastically. More students apply for admission to the nation’s public universities, but schools admit only a margin of their applicants. If trends seen abroad persist in the U.S., students will pursue non-lucrative majors that don’t yield employment results.

Public school standards might rise (as have in Germany), and thus many students will have no choice but to attend private schools (those that survive, at least), or forego traditional higher education altogether. The quality of a private university education might outshine that of public universities, and the brand recognition factor of private schools will only compound. The country will face more selectivity, and an education-prestige and education-quality gap will emerge.

These are costs of free higher education.

Let’s talk about repurposing budgets, lowering tuition costs, reprioritizing funds and practically making education more accessible to students. Let’s talk about alternate routes to successful careers, unique learning opportunities and higher employment. Free education is not a catch-all solution for this country’s higher education problem, it’s tangential patchwork. There are significant holes in the system; all students should have access to higher education – but universally free higher ed might not be the answer we’re looking for.

Patterns of Irresponsibility: Higher Education is Unsustainable

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The demand is high, but so is the cost. A college diploma was once the ultimate investment, but the sacrifice no longer guarantees its expected dividends. Today, the path to a position in the middle class is paved with student loans and steep tuition payments. Quality job opportunities after graduation have grown scarce, and many students leave college with few practical skills for the workplace. Much like the housing bubble during the Great Recession, higher education could be on the verge of a burst. While college was once a worthwhile investment, the current higher education system is becoming unsustainable as a result of irresponsible bank lending, unaffordable tuition, insufficient degree payoff and an oversaturated market. This pattern of irresponsibility surfaced in the Great Recession, and it resurfaces today at the hands of schools, banks and the government as we approach a state of academic inflation.

College is getting more expensive at a growth rate exceeding that of inflation. As of 2014, the national student loan debt climbed to $1.2 trillion and burdened over 40 million people in the U.S. According to the College Board, “From the 1983–1984 enrollment year to the 2013–2014 enrollment year, the inflation-adjusted cost of a four-year education, including tuition, fees, and room and board, increased 125.7 percent for private school and 129.0 percent for public school.” Price increases jumped at public institutions in response to the recession, when schools lost funding from the government and increased tuition to compensate.

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Adjacent to the increase in tuition cost, it is important to analyze the relative wage patterns of the average college graduate. The New York Fed conducted an in-depth historic study which compared the earnings of college graduates to the wages earned by those with only high school diplomas. The study found that wages of college graduates have leveled since 2000 and fell after the Great Recession. The study says this decrease is offset by a similar decrease in the wages of high school graduates, which means the college wage premium remains high and the opportunity cost for college attendance is low. So, students are better off going to college rather than starting to work after high school. Despite the relative benefit of a college diploma compared to a high school diploma, “the bad news is that college students are paying more to go to school and are earning less upon graduation.” It is important to note that the New York Fed’s analysis was qualified through research of historic patterns. The analysis to be presented forecasts the future burst of the higher education system based on its broken infrastructure and unsustainable future.

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A college diploma is an asset, an investment that students hope will lend future financial security. The investment is viewed by many as a universal security blanket, but not all students with diplomas will gather a yield. In 2014, about 8.5% of college graduates were unemployed. Contrarily, the trend of wages for college graduates who do find a job has been dipping, as the New York Fed said, “Our analysis reveals that the average wages of college graduates have been falling for the better part of a decade, with the pace of decline accelerating after the Great Recession.”

Outside of this purely quantitative analysis of wage trends, there’s another component to the return on a bachelors degree that doesn’t add up. Students invest not only in their degrees, but also the skills learned while studying at university. In a survey that asked Americans what the most important reason for college attendance was, the most popular answer was “to gain skills and knowledge for a career.” Today, however, most students are not taught the skills necessary in the workplace, as “About three-quarters of new college graduates said they expect to receive formal training in their first job, whereas only half of 2013 and 2014 graduates report having had such opportunities.” So even after investing thousands for expensive degrees, many students emerge from campus without any real skills. When employers see this lack of preparedness among college graduates, they stop valuing the diploma. Financially and qualitatively, therefore, a college education is losing its value.

In addition to this negative trend, it remains true that not all college degrees are created equal. The New York Fed found that “In general, majors providing technical training—that is, training that focuses on quantitative and analytical skills—earned the highest return.”

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The skills valued in the workplace are those quantitative, technical skills that most nontechnical students never encounter in the classroom. Abel of the New York Fed said, “Building an actual skill — particularly quantitative and analytical skills — is going to be better in terms of outcome than getting something more general.” There’s a degree-monopoly in education, whereby those STEM degrees pay off more than liberal arts and humanities degrees. Technical fields often remain immune to unemployment trends, making students in these areas the educational elite. When evaluating types of degrees, there’s another disparity. When students notice that a bachelor’s degree is insufficient for their desired job, they add additional certifications and advanced degrees in order to plump their work viability. Researchers have confirmed that “a graduate degree can substantially boost the earnings potential for even the lowest-paying undergrad majors (though, of course, that requires more outlay upfront).” So emerges a form of academic inflation, whereby multiple degrees are necessary for upward mobility.

Separate from degree-specific success, post-graduate success is also linked to the motivation and agency of each student. Students who succeed after college are those who take on internships, build their networks and imbue themselves in their field of study before graduating. The investment in college, therefore, is not a universally wise investment, and all diplomas don’t deliver the same results. It’s like stock speculation – there are profits for some, losses for many others.  The overarching value associated with a college diploma, therefore, is a little too enthusiastic.

The cracks in the higher education system are becoming visible as their effects surface. First, overwhelming student loans are shifting student behavior. Now more than ever, students are forced to consider loan repayment when picking their majors and careers, as “Eighty-two percent of new grads looked at the job market before choosing a major—up from 75 percent of 2014 grads.” Second, a large proportion of graduates are “underemployed,” which means students are working part-time jobs or jobs that don’t require their earned degrees. According to Accenture, “Forty-nine percent of 2013 and 2014 graduates consider themselves underemployed… Only 52 percent of 2013/2014 respondents are employed full time, down from 68 percent in 2011/2012.” These numbers assert once more the questionable universal utility of a college diploma. The New York Fed affirms the trend, finding that a third of college graduates spend much time in careers unrelated to their field of study.

The higher education crisis bears striking similarities to the Great Recession. As discussed, a college diploma is universally believed to be a valuable asset while investment in a degree does not always result in a proportional return, and students struggle to find employment and repay their loans. During the recession of 2008, houses were universally believed to be sound investments before the housing market collapsed and homeowners defaulted on their loans. In both cases, the responsible parties for crisis are banks and the government. In the case of higher education, schools are an added, primary contributor for driving the crisis.

Banks disperse incredible loans to students who have marginal potential for timely repayment. The government encourages lenders’ behavior (in an effort to support student funding), and the cycle becomes vicious. It begins when “banks are essentially insured by the government and its taxpayers, incentivized to make risk loans, and/or prevented from refusing to make risky loans. In addition, interest rates set by the Federal Reserve are at record lows.” In 2008, banks participated in subprime lending, giving attractive loans to people who could never pay them back. What were dangerous mortgage-backed securities then are mirrored in today’s Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities (SLABS), which totaled $2.67 trillion at their peak (as of 2011). So not only are banks offering risky money to students, but they’ve also profited by collateralizing the loans. The government bailed out the banks in 2008, and today they’re encouraging the risky behavior they then condemned. The following paints a picture of this cycle:

“The loans and costs are caught in the kind of dangerous loop that occurs when lending becomes both profitable and seemingly risk-free: high and increasing college costs mean students need to take out more loans, more loans mean more securities lenders can package and sell, more selling means lenders can offer more loans with the capital they raise, which means colleges can continue to raise costs. The result is over $800 billion in outstanding student debt, over 30 percent of it securitized, and the federal government directly or indirectly on the hook for almost all of it.”

It seems irresponsible that banks would lend to a student who is academically unfit to repay the debt, in the same way that it was irresponsible for banks to lend to aspiring homeowners who had horrible credit. If a student plans to study a discipline that promises little in the job market, banks are participating in a mutated version of subprime lending in the educational realm by offering the student debt despite their dismal financial future.

The government plays a bigger role than simply encouraging lending. The U.S. government “is actually the biggest lender of student loans. In addition, the government is essentially subsidizing schools, by giving them tax breaks.” The intention seems honorable. After all, higher education is commonly viewed as a basic right by most Americans. Unfortunately, the reality remains that the government is encouraging students to accrue debt to fund an asset that doesn’t promise sufficient returns for repayment. Students can’t declare bankruptcy on their loans either, so the issue becomes more significant. Students become slaves to their student loans, working any job that pays enough to chip away at heavy loans and rid themselves of watchmen Sallie Mae and JP Morgan.

The final aggravator in this crisis is the university. Universities continue to hike tuition despite the public’s inability to afford the cost. College administrators seem ignorant of this reality; according to a Time/Carnegie Corporation survey, 80% of American adults felt that the education students receive at many colleges is not worth what is paid for it. In contrast, only 41% of college leaders shared the sentiment. Many hypothesize that private colleges will begin to see serious drops in enrollment as tuition continues to skyrocket, and the institution itself will become extinct.

Not only are universities raising tuition prices at incredible rates, but they are also supporting institutional stalemates that do not promote employment opportunities for their students. There are several examples of this structured sabotage. A first example is expensive tenured professors who often display little commitment to students’ advancement. Another example is that classes at universities do not teach practical workplace skills for humanities and liberal arts students.

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Wasteful spending is often documented at big private universities that allot hundreds of thousands of students’ tuition funds on showy buildings and unnecessary luxuries. Universities also continue to mandate general education courses, which are an additional strain to students’ pocketbooks and time. This is an unsustainable system that is not conducive to employment, tuition support or returns on investment. A more concrete example of corruption in the university system is evident in the example of Everest College (operated by parent company Corinthian Colleges), which lied to its students to promote the school’s reputation and pump enrollment numbers. The school was “accused by federal agencies of operating a predatory lending scheme, preying on low-income students and falsely inflating job placement numbers. Corinithian is currently closing and selling its schools, leaving thousands of graduates on the hook for loans they took out.” One student, Rosalyn Harris, carried $22,000 in student loan debt after studying criminal justice at the college only to end up working for Victoria’s Secret. This story sounds strikingly similar to the broken stories of lost investments during the housing crisis. It is through these and similar patterns that American universities contribute to the budding higher education crisis and the diminishing credibility and reliability of a college degree.

Some might argue that a college education is intrinsically beneficial. This is very often a true statement, and three in four Americans agree that higher education is a basic human right. The issue, however, is not rooted in the value of an education itself, but the tradeoff between the price (and loans) paid for a diploma relative to the return on the investment. A Pew study found that most Americans agree that higher education is not affordable, and the study concludes that “If a bachelor’s degree is one important way for today’s young adults to achieve the American dream, affordability in particular could jeopardize that dream.” Others might argue that a degree is an eternal investment that carries weight throughout a student’s employment lifespan. The truth is that while degrees are indeed filters in the job market that prove some level of higher competence, they are costly verifiers that leave students in overwhelming and often indomitable debt.

Based on the facts presented, higher education in its present form cannot last much longer without bursting at its seams. The universal belief and trust placed in diplomas coupled with the easy access to low interest debt from banks make it likely that eventually, the system will implode. Students will no longer be able to pay off such immense debt, and so many will stop enrolling at higher education institutions altogether. As prices at universities continue to rise, private institutions will become unaffordable and students will resort to third party options to support their academic pursuits. Alternatives to the traditional model will quickly emerge, and more students will study practical and technical skills in order to support their professional success. The true defining certificate of one’s knowledge will be projects created in the real world and skills acquired along the way. Employers will stop valuing degrees and prefer students who can build and solve problems.

People still believe that a college education is worth its ticket price, but colleges aren’t even equipping many students with basic workplace skills. Students are unprepared for jobs, learning soft skills that don’t translate, and so many try to pick up trade skills or even become trade workers. With emerging and innovative education options like MOOCs and other online resources, the most competitive job seeker might be the one who’s mastered C++ with Udacity rather than the student with lecture notes from a gender studies class at UCLA.

A college education is a gilded promise of security; what once guaranteed opportunity now barely opens the door. The value of the college degree might disappear as this bubble pressurizes, and the investments made by so many young learners will have been compromised. It’s no doubt that an education is valuable, but knowledge can be gathered at more reasonable prices and sounder circumstances. For now, the key for students is to be risk-cautious, to weigh decisions and options before they embark on the expensive journey of 4-year university.

Works Cited

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