JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergTony Snow
Mona CharenDr. Laura
Linda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Click on banner ad to support JWR

Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 1999 /2 Adar, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Too many Ph.Ds?

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) WHEN ANYONE WHO OWNS A BUSINESS discovers that unsold products are piling up on the shelf or in the warehouse, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is time to cut back production until the inventory declines.

But no such logic applies in the academic world.

Complaints about the excess number of Ph.Ds in the humanities have gone on for years. The answer? Have the government create new programs to hire the excess Ph.Ds that no one else wants to hire. Create more post-doctoral fellowships, so that the taxpayers can carry these people for a few more years before they are finally forced out into the cruel world that the rest of us live in all the time.

Every year, for 12 consecutive years, American universities have broken all previous records for the number of Ph.Ds awarded. The number of doctorates awarded in 1997 was nearly one-third larger than it was just a decade earlier. Forget about supply and demand when it comes to academia.

Ironically, doctorates in science, engineering and mathematics have come down somewhat in recent years, even though American companies are recruiting engineers from India, Russia and other places. But in English, history and other humanities fields, the graduate schools are flooding the market with people for whom there are no jobs.

Behind all these strange goings-on in academia is the simple fact that colleges and universities are spending other people's money -- and neither the donors nor the taxpayers have the time to monitor what is happening on campuses across the country.

Professors of English gain prestige and professional advancement by spinning esoteric theories of literature and promoting other avant-garde notions. Whether the sophomores understand English grammar or know any adjectives beyond "awesome" is not their problem. Lower-level courses are taught disproportionately by graduate students who are working toward their own Ph.Ds and earning a meager salary by teaching basic courses that professors disdain to teach.

Reduce the number of graduate students and professors will be forced to sully their hands teaching introductory courses, instead of spending their time preparing papers on sexuality and Sophocles for the Modern Language Association meetings. It is impossible to caricature the papers presented at the Modern Language Association meetings. Indeed, it is impossible to cite some of the titles in a family newspaper.

A rich country like the United States can afford to waste money on many foolish projects. But no country can afford the degeneration and internal strife bred by idle hands for whom the devil finds work.

One of the great curses of the Third World are large numbers of people with degrees and the pretensions that go with them, but without any productive skills to contribute to raising the material standard of living in those countries.

Worse, these superfluous degree-holders promote political instability and economic chaos through demagoguery and policies based on fashionable ideologies that have never had to stand the test of results.

It has taken decades for Latin America to get over "dependency theory" that blamed that region's lag behind the industrial nations of Europe and North America on the evil machinations of Yankees and other imperialists. The living standards of whole generations have been sacrificed trying out policies based on half-baked theories that each country should become "independent" of the world market by producing its own products to substitute for the products it formerly imported.

Nor has Latin America been alone in promoting self-defeating economic policies, based on the ideological fashions of superfluous degree-holders.

It took many African countries decades of disastrous experiments with socialistic policies before some of them belatedly turned away from these nostrums and toward market-oriented policies that have finally begun raising their people's standards of living above where they were when they were colonies of European imperialist powers.

The United States is not a Third World country, of course. But it has many less fortunate people, whose aspirations for a better life can be needlessly frittered away by ideas from those who have been shielded from reality in the name of education.

02/8/99: A national disaster
02/8/99: Economic fallacies in the media: Part II
02/5/99: Why economists visit dentists so often
02/2/99: Warning: Good news
01/29/99: What is at stake?
01/26/99:Moral bankruptcy in the schools
01/22/99: Who is going to convict Santa Claus?
01/19/99: Seeing through the spin
01/13/99: A trial is a trial is a trial
01/11/99:Trials and tribulations
01/08/99: Rays of hope
01/04/99: Random thoughts
12/31/98: The President versus the presidency
12/29/98: The time is now!
12/23/98: World-class hypocrisy
12/21/98: The spreading corruption
12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.