Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs has a new academic discipline for America's scholars:
The course, called The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media, is a 251-level special topics course taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Carolyn Chernoff. The professor encourages students to look past the colon in her course title and see what the class is really about.
In the photograph at right, it's actually not that difficult to see past the colon.
Skidmore junior Layla Lakos, a sociology/philosophy major, first heard about the new Miley course on Facebook. Lakos laughed, but was intrigued all the same.
"You can study a lot of things based on Miley," she said. "She represents how transient wealth and fame can be, and shows how possible it is to change your image."
One of the easiest ways to understand how transient wealth is is to invest a six-figure sum in Twerk State University. The Atlantic reports on "the least valuable colleges and majors in America":
The self-reported earnings of art majors from Murray State are so low that after two decades, a typical high school grad will have out-earned them by nearly $200,000.
~Since we're talking about The Atlantic, a few years ago, back when I was the magazine's obituarist, a New Hampshire neighbor of mine called me up and said they were considering mortgaging the family homestead because their daughter wanted to go to Columbia Journalism School. Her ambition was to be an editor at The Atlantic and, as I wrote for the magazine, they thought I might have some useful advice for her. I don't have a degree from Columbia Journalism School or even Murray State University; I don't have a high-school diploma. Apparently, that's fine if you want to write a column for the magazine, but to copy-edit the same column, and to correct any Canadian spellings I may have slipped in, your parents need to mortgage the home your family's lived in for the last two-and-a-quarter centuries.
~I write quite a lot about education in After America, personally autographed copies of which, in hardback or paperback, are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore and go to fund my kick-ass legal offense fund. Where was I? Oh, yes, education:
In 1940, a majority of the US population had no more than a Grade Eight education.
By 2008, 40 per cent of 18-24 year-olds were enrolled in college.
So we're on track to a world in which the typical American is almost twice as old by the time he completes his education as he was in 1940, and has spent over twice as long in the classroom...
Eighth Grade America won the Second World War and emerged as the economic and creative dynamo of the planet. Complacency Studies America can't even put up a building within a decade - or find anyone other than a half-blind Muslim security guard to watch o'er it. (If al-Qaeda had a sense of humor, they'd blow up the empty World Trade Center "Freedom Tower" the day before the ribbon-cutting. But fortunately they don't, so they won't.)
You can't (as Obama wants to do) send everyone to university and still expect it to be "university" as that term was understood through the previous half-millennium. It's now a euphemism for (from the faculty's point of view) a little light social engineering in the manners and mores of progressive conformism and (from the students' point of view) an agreeable and undemanding extension of adolescence for another half-decade. Whether it's worth over a trillion dollars in collective personal debt or the attendant costs in later workplace participation, later family formation and general societal infantilization is another matter. But it's not "university".
~This is the genius of the left. As I wrote the other day, "He who controls the language shapes the debate." Contemporary America has done an ingenious job at taking respectable words and turning them into zombie husks for something else entirely. Not just "university", but "insurance". Ann Coulter is the latest self-employed American to discover that Obama has made her existing health-care coverage illegal:
So my only two health insurance options -- and yours, too, as soon as the waivers expire, America! -- are: (1) a plan that no doctors take; or (2) a plan that no hospitals take. You either pay for all your doctor visits and tests yourself, or you pay for your cancer treatment yourself. And you pay through the nose in either case.
That's not insurance! It's a huge transfer of wealth from people who work for a living to those who don't, accomplished by forcing the workers to buy insurance that's not insurance. Obamacare has made actual health insurance illegal:
It's not "insurance" when what I want to insure against isn't covered, but paying for other people's health care needs -- defined broadly -- is mandatory.
It's as if you wanted to buy a car, so you paid for a Toyota -- but then all you got was a 10-speed bike, with the rest of your purchase price going to buy cars, bikes and helmets for other people.
Or, more precisely, it would be like having the option of car insurance that covers either collisions or liability, but not both. Your car insurance premium would be gargantuan, because most of it would go to buy insurance, gas and air fresheners for other people in the plan.
As I said on The Hugh Hewitt Show last night, in other countries you take out insurance to insure yourself against catastrophe. But, at these rates and on these terms, insurance itself is the catastrophe.
Civilization - the kind of society that builds "universities" and develops legally enforceable concepts such as "insurance" - is hard work. Rendering the very terms meaningless is a lot easier.