The Progressive Review
Young America



Activism on campus

College costs & student debt

Education statistics

Faculty and staff

For profit colleges

Generation gap



Skull & Bones

An apology to younger Americans









Student Debt Crisis

Precarious Faculty




How to write like an academic. We tried it and came up with this: "The reification of post-capitalist hegemony opens a space for the historicization of the gendered body."


Default: The Student Loan Documentary is a 27 minute film chronicling the stories of borrowers from different backgrounds affected by the student lending industry and their struggles to change the system. No matter when their loans were taken, many borrowers now find themselves in a paralyzing predicament of repaying two, three or multiple times the original amount borrowed, with no bankruptcy protection, no cap on fees and penalties and no recourse under the law. The consequences are dire, with stories of borrowers in financial and emotional ruin.


Provocative thinking and the American university seem never to have got on well together -- V. L. Parrington

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students. - John Ciardi




Some glum millennial money stats

How puritan liberals are hurrting college courses

Edward Schlosser, Vox - I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We've seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.

I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to "offensive" texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn't the only one who made adjustments, either.

I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain ... Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that's considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, "Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated." Hurting a student's feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.

... Instead of focusing on the rightness or wrongness (or even acceptability) of the materials we reviewed in class, the complaint would center solely on how my teaching affected the student's emotional state. As I cannot speak to the emotions of my students, I could not mount a defense about the acceptability of my instruction. And if I responded in any way other than apologizing and changing the materials we reviewed in class, professional consequences would likely follow.

I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there's a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don't even have to be formally fired — they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn't just dangerous, it's suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won't upset anybody. The real problem: a simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice

... While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don't get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I'm not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they're paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?

... This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed. Reed derides this sort of political approach as essentially being a non-politics, a discourse that "is focused much more on taxonomy than politics [which] emphasizes the names by which we should call some strains of inequality [ ... ] over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them." Under such a conception, people become more concerned with signaling goodness, usually through semantics and empty gestures, than with actually working to effect change.

College has gotten 12 times more expensive in one generation

Mother Jones - In the 2012-13 school year, first-year, on-campus tuition averaged $43,000 at four-year, private schools and $21,700 at in-state public schools.

It wasn't always like this: The cost of undergraduate education is 12 times higher than it was 35 years ago, far outpacing inflation. While the indexed price of college tuition and fees skyrocketed by more than 1,122 percent since 1978, the cost of medical care rose less than 600 percent, and the cost of housing and food went up less than 300.

Millennials like socialism almost as much as capitalism

How the right is kiiling the humanities

In These Times - In early February, Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker drafted a draconian state budget that proposed to decrease the state’s contribution to the University of Wisconsin system by over $300 million over the next two years. Beyond simply slashing spending, Walker was also attempting to alter the language that has guided the core mission of the University of Wisconsin over the last 100 years or more, known as the “Wisconsin Idea.” Apparently Walker’s ideal university would no longer “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses” and would thus cease its “search for truth” and its efforts to “improve the human condition,” as his proposed language changes scrapped these ideas entirely; the governor’s scaled-back objective was for the university to merely “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

When a draft of Walker’s proposed revisions to the Wisconsin Idea surfaced, outraged Wisconsinites (including some conservatives) compelled the governor to backtrack. Yet Walker’s actions are consistent with recent trends in conservative politics. Republicans today are on the warpath against education—particularly against the humanities, those academic disciplines where the quaint pursuit of knowledge about “the human condition” persists.

In 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed a law making it more expensive for students enrolled at Florida’s public universities to obtain degrees in the humanities. As Scott and his supporters argued, in austere times, they needed “to lash higher education to the realities and opportunities of the economy,” as Florida Republican and State Senate President Don Gaetz put it. In other words, a humanities degree, unlike a business degree, was a luxury good. Even President Obama joined this chorus when he half-joked recently that students with vocational training are bound to make more money than art history majors.

Such anti-intellectualism, a strong animus against the idea that learning about humanity is a worthy pursuit regardless of its lack of obvious labor market applicability, has deep roots in American history. President Theodore Roosevelt advised that “we of the United States must develop a system under which each individual citizen shall be trained so as to be effective individually as an economic unit, and fit to be organized with his fellows so that he and they can work in efficient fashion together.” Contemporary conservatives are thus merely following the crude utilitarian logic that has informed many politicians and educational reformers since the nation’s first common schools.

But it was not always thus. During the 1980s and 1990s, prominent conservatives like William Bennett, who served in the Reagan administration as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and then as Secretary of Education, argued that every American should have an education grounded in the humanities. This surprising recent history is largely forgotten, and not only because most conservatives now dismiss the value of the humanities. It is forgotten because the arguments forwarded by Bennett and his ilk came in the context of the traumatic culture wars, when left and right angrily battled over radically different visions of a humanities education.

The renaissance of student activism

How Harvard and Yale cook the books for the One Percent

Homeless at college

Our cities are going single

The slow death of the university

Hipsters; The dead end of western civilization

Amsterdam revolt against the neo-liberal university

Rescuing the First Amendment on college campuses

Warren wants feds to help on student loans

Dartmouth to enforce on campus hard liquor prohibition


Colleges' overcorrection of the rape problem

Students for a Democratic Society is alive again  

Germany's figured out the college tuition thing

Academia's abuse of adjunct professors

Adjunct professors pick up the campus crumbs

Race to the Bottom: Harvard Business School

Tennessee will have free community college

Humanities scholars not very diverse

Campus police also use military weapons to defend colleges from the students they chose

Are courses the record albums of academia?

50 Virginia campus presidents attack Obama's planned college rating system

America's underuse of apprenticeships

Bipartisan deal sends college loan interest rates up 20%

Documentary on the high cost of higher education

Having screwed up public schools, Obama now wants to ruin universities

Colleges consider "trigger warnings" on controversial literature

Students and faculty getting rid of commencement speakers they don't like

Book publisher seeks to rip off law students

Youth sue over climate change

Colleges and universities in serious financial trouble

Higher education, lower supply of food

Feds say Northwestern University athletes are employees, can unionize

Law schools boosting recent grads' salaries to improve their rankings

The death of American universities

What not to say in your job application

Tennessee governor urges two free years of community college and technical school

College admissions staff checking social media

College football players seek union representation

Grad students unionize at NYU


Obamadmin backs off unconstitutional campus speech restrictrions

Having seen what a mess it makes of public schools, Obama wants to apply Race to the Top to universities

Some reasons being under 30 isn't is pretty lousy these days

Law schools producing far more graduates than neededd

Ohio State buys armored truck to defend itself agains its students

College bars student from passing out Constitution on Constitution Day

Yale University police jail Brazilian reporter for doing her job (and Yale thinks that's just fine)

A professor offers some clear advice to new college students

How the young are changing the voting booth

Textbook publishing a textbook for ripping people off

Some ways colleges rip off their students

Great allegations in New York suit against Trump University

The war on education moves to the college campus

Signs of the times: Bulletproof whiteboards

University of California favors corporations over facts

Great moments in biology (and teaching generally)

California's new campus cop

Now Gates Foundation is out to wreck higher education

Body scans before exams?
Top police state official placed in charge of California's academic freedom

Harpers Index: Percentage of college professors teaching online courses who do not believe students should receive credit for them : 72

Public university privatizes its scientific research

Young men will pay much more under Obamacare

The lush life of public university presidents

Senator Warren offers bill to slash student loan interest

Department of Good Stuff: The student who tackled the austerians

76 percent of American university faculty are adjunct professors - an all-time high. Unlike tenured faculty, whose annual salaries can top $160,000, adjunct professors make an average of $2,700 per course and receive no health care or other benefits.

Harvard spied on 16 of its deans

Many community college grads do better than those with BAs

Yale to train military interrogators

As recently as 2004 law school applications numbered nearly 100,000, and three years ago the figure stood around the mid-80s. Now it’s plunged to a projected 53,000-54,000, with an especially sharp recent dropoff among the most sought-after students with the highest scores. - Overlawyered

New documentary on student debt

Faculty and staff

What being a professor is like


The adjunct rip off

An adjunct teaching a full-time load makes roughly $20,000. Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, makes $3.4 millio

The adjunct rip off

An adjunct teaching a full-time load makes roughly $20,000. Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, makes $3.4 millio

The number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, vastly outpacing the growth in the number of students or faculty

Most college profs are now adjuncts

Non-tenured faculty organizing

The number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, vastly outpacing the growth in the number of students or faculty

Most college profs are now adjuncts

Non-tenured faculty organizing


Are the young drifting right?

How generational change is altering our politics

The crucial politics of age

North Carolina college students reject both major parties


Higher education costs soaring

Wall Street Jounal - The [FIRE] foundation reports that 55 percent of the 437 colleges it surveyed (in 2014) maintain ‘severely restrictive’ policies that ‘clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.’ They include 61 private schools and 180 public colleges... Incredibly, this represents progress from FIRE’s survey seven years ago, when 75 percent of colleges maintained restrictive free speech codes.

What's a young guy's chance of going to prison today. . . and four decades ago?

Boing Boing

Time - Market researchers at The NPD Group say that millennials are cooking and eating more at home, and they’ve got the numbers to back it up. Older millennials, those between 25 and 34 years old, have made, on average, 50 fewer restaurant visits per person over the past several years. Over the past year alone, their use of the drive-thru dropped 6% and eat-in restaurant visits fell 1%. Younger millennials, those under the age of 25, still like ordering out, but they’re more likely to eat it at home. This age bracket led a slight gain in takeout orders last year, while their drive-thru and sit-down visits also fell.

Higher ed, higher debt

The real economy: Young worker earnings, 1980 and today

News Republic - In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later... Michigan's median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.


Americans aged 12-24 said they saw 15% fewer films in cinemas versus 2013, according to new research from Nielsen. Meanwhile, moviegoing frequency among moviegoers 25 and older has remained comparatively stable over the same span, according to Nielsen. Overall, 77% of Americans said they saw at least one movie in a theater this year, about the same as in 2013, according to Nielsen. But they’re going to fewer movies: an average of 7.3 films in cinemas this year versus 7.7 in 2013, per the report.

Just 21 percent of student newspapers at public, four-year universities update their websites five days a week,

College education costs 12 times more than it did 35 years ago

Americans still overwhelmingly negative on a lower drinking age


Millennials turned off by politics

One Third of 18-34 Year Olds Live With Parents

Facts about college graduates

College tuition increase has kept up with 1%'s growth

New latino students out number whites at University of California

Public universities giving less to poorest students

Activist Post - Student loans are up by an astounding 61 percent over the past three years.

College costs up 500% since 1985

NY Times - Ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education — up from 45 percent in 1993, according to an analysis by The New York Times of the latest data from the Department of Education.

29% of adults under the age of 35 are living with their parents

Stats: college students and sex


Student debt hits new high

Federal spending on programs serving the country’s children fell by $35 billion, or 16 percent adjusted for inflation, since 2010.


Birthrate for teenagers lowest on record

College grads not doing all that well either

Today, just 20% of adults ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59% in 1960. Over the course of the past 50 years, the median age at first marriage has risen by about six years for both men and women.

Half aged 18-29 never watch TV news

Millennial stats

Pew Research: One third of Millennials are black or latino as opposed to only 15% in the Silent Generation

7%% have a profile on social media as opposed to 50% for Gen X, 30% for Boomers and 6% for Silent Generation.

Millennials are a little more Democratic than other age groups.

80% of Millennials have turned on their cell phone or placed it next to their bed while sleeping. Only 50% of Boomers have.

22% of Mills say living together without marriage is a bad thing for society as opposed to 55% of Silents.

41% of Mills are satisfied with the way things are going in our society as opposed to 26% of those over 30.

By the time they reached 28, 75% of Mills were still single while only 43% of Silents

41% of Mills have only a cellphone as opposed to 5% of Silents.

64% of Mills have sent or received a text message while driving as opposed to 1% of Silents.

All age groups rely first on television for news. 59% of Mills use the Internet second as opposed to Boomers and Silents who prefer newspapers as their second choice.

While 82% of Silents had watched TV in the past 24 hours, only 57% of Mills had.

Those under 30 working full time has dropped from 50% in 2006 to 41% in 2010.

36% of Mills rely on family financial assistance

38% of Mills have a tattoo while only 15% of Boomers do.

23% of Mills have body piercing while only 1% of Boomers do

Environmentally sound practices like buying organic food and recycling is fairly steady across generations.

91% of Silents say that always, or almost always, vote but only 69% of Mills do.

About a third of Mills, Gen X and Boomers have boycotted something in the past 12 months.

33% of those under 30 attend church weekly, 53% of those over 65 do.

USA Today's annual singles survey

• 20% of singles say having sex on a first date is either "somewhat appropriate" or "very appropriate" but 80% disagreed. Of that 80%, 54% said sex on a first date is "not at all appropriate."

• 54% of singles think a good first date should last from two to four hours; 43% say one to two hours; just 3% say five or more hours.

• 40% of women and 48% of men say they have sent a sexually explicit text message; 36% of women and 35% of men have sent a sexy photo of themselves in a text message.

• 31% of singles say they have had a one-night stand turn into a committed relationship; 28% of singles have had a "friends with benefits" relationship turn into commitment.

• 15% of men and 12% of women say they'd ideally want to have sex every day; all ages agree that two to three times a week is ideal.

According to a White House report, 7 percent of college men admit they have attempted rape, 63 percent of those have been involved in multiple assaults, averaging 6 each. 1 in every 5 female students are said to be sexually assaulted, while only 1 in 8 report the attacks. Nearly 22 million American women and 1.6 million men have been raped.

Half aged 18-29 never watch TV news

Younger Americans' library habits

Beer drinking plummets among the young


17 million Americans who really didn't need to go to college,including 80,000 bartenders and 5,000 janitors with PhDs.

Sexual behavior of young people

Mother Jones - Membership in religious organizations had gone steadily up over the past century, from roughly 40% of the population in 1900 to 70% today. Lack of belief was more common and more public in 1900 than it is today, even if it was called "freethinking" or "skepticism" or some related term.Conservative Protestant denominations have also been growing very steadily over the past century. It wasn't a sudden boom that burst onto the public scene when Jerry Falwell became famous. The Pentecostal movement started up in 1906 and it's been growing ever since. Ditto for evangelical sects, which have grown steadily from perhaps a third of all Protestant denominations in 1900 to something like 60% of them today. If you put these two things together, here's what pops out: A century ago, something like 10% of the country belonged to a conservative Protestant denomination. That's grown steadily ever since, and today it's around 30%

Only about 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have bachelor’s degrees. . .The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010 only 20% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree, whereas 26% of jobs did not even require a high school diploma - Working-Class Perspectives

Young Americans deserting religion

Why Millennials are screwed

Why young Americans don't fight back

20-somethings tune into trad jazz

Seventy percent of young adults support gay marriage

Beer drinking plummets among the young

Over a third of young living with parents

60% of 18-28 year olds think the snooping has gone too far, while only 44% of those 50-64 and 33% of those over 65%.

Fewer Americans aged 18 to 29 hold full-time jobs now than did so a year ago, according to Gallup. This decline holds true for young adults regardless of whether they have a college degree.

Graduating from college: a generation out of luck

Only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major

Young Americans still slammed by recession

What the young are thinking

Young people do care about their privacy


LA Times - People with a bachelor's degree make 84% more over a lifetime than high school graduates. In 1999, the premium was 75. . . On average, a doctoral degree-holder will earn $3.3 million over a lifetime, compared to $2.3 million for a college graduate and $1.3 million for those with a high school diploma. People with less education in high-paying occupations can out-earn their counterparts with advanced degrees. But within the same industry, workers with more schooling usually land better paychecks.


Over a quarter million school jobs lost since 2008


Number of US children living with parent who's been out of work for at least 6 months has tripled since 2007.

The average tuition at public four-year colleges has risen 73% over the past 10 years

Generation gap

Student loan relief only temporary

90% of those 65 and older have a religious affiliation while only 67% of those under 30 do.

While 51 percent of all Americans have favorable views of unions, 61 percent of Americans under 30 hold that view....Union approval ratings grows weaker with older respondents—from 50 percent among Americans aged 30 to 49; to 49 percent among those 50 to 64; and to just 42 percent among Americans 65 or over.

The non religious young

College costs & student debt

College debt getting worse

21 states can revoke drivers' licenses for unpaid student loans


You can refinance a car, but not a student loan

University presidents taking it to the bank while some staff are on food stamps

Harvard's administrators take hedge fund like salaries

College inflation


Student debt hits new high

College costs up 500% since 1985

Why is Detroit covered by bankruptcy law but not student loans?

Senate pulls loan con on college students

Oregon's unique approach to student loans

83% want to keep student loan rates from increasing, an opinion that holds constant across party lines. Almost two-thirds support lowering interest rates to 0.75 percent, the rate at which banks can borrow from the U.S. Treasury.

Problems of income affirmative action in colleges

Class of 2013 paying three times as much in real dollars as they would have 30 years ago

Banks wrote off $3 billion student debt

Funding slash causing surge in public university tuition costs

Student debt triples in three years

Student-Loan Delinquency Skyrocketing

The huge size of student loan debt

Nearly 40% of young Americans see themselves as poor

One in six student borrowers have defaulted

Student debt crisis hurting housing market

The horrors of student loans

No more grace period on student loans

Student loan strike?

33,000 PhDs on food stamps

One in two new grads is either jobless or underemployed

94% of college students in debt for school

27% of student loans past due

College costs

62% of 19-22 year olds get financial aid from parents

Grad students face added debt

How America moved from subsidizing college education to ripping it off

The war on public higher education

College no longer fulfills American dream

What's a master's degree worth, rated by major and subject area?

College degree growth outpaces jobs for them

Why college tuition should be regulated

University of California students could face annual tuition increases of 8% to 16% over the next four years, possibly bringing the fee as high as $22,068 for the 2015-16 school year, according to a long-term budget plan the university . .

Obama jacks up suits against student defaults

The cost of student debt

The student loan debt bubble

Oops, Obama's Student-Loan Order Saves the Average Grad Less Than $10 a Month

Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 30 college presidents earn more than a million dollars a year

Workers with college degrees have indeed, on average, done better than workers without, and the gap has generally widened over time. But highly educated Americans have by no means been immune to income stagnation and growing economic insecurity. Wage gains for most college-educated workers have been unimpressive (and nonexistent since 2000), while even the well-educated can no longer count on getting jobs with good benefits. In particular, these days workers with a college degree but no further degrees are less likely to get workplace health coverage than workers with only a high school degree were in 1979. - Paul Krugman

Young people in the U.S. now recognize that the university has become part of a ponzi scheme designed to place on students an unconscionable amount of debt while subjecting them under the power of commanding financial institutions for years after they graduate. Under this economic model of subservience, there is no future for young people. - Henry Giroux


Study finds IQ to be a mythical gauge of intelligence

Study: Alcohol worse on young brains than pot

The end of unpaid internships?

The collapse of higher education

Fantasy also kills

@Harpers: % increase since 2000 in the compensation of full professors at the 50 wealthiest private US universities: 14 . .. . . In the compensation of the presidents of those universities: 75

Average SAT score (out of 2400) of students from households with an income below $20,000: 1322 . . . From households with an income above $200,000: 1722 - @Harpers

Study finds links between sports head injuries and brain deterioration

Did head injuries play role in Belcher murder-suicide?

Parents as well as students in deep debt over school loans

Young still using libraries

The rise of credentialism

Getting rid of tattoos

The best and worst paying college degrees

Sales of cars to under 30s dropping

Harvard goes all out against a lying school boy; leaves major embarassments untouched

Best student excuses

Sexual behavior of young people

Where do 1% kids go to college?

Letter from Ted Turner's father on learning that his son planned to major in classics

UC pays up for abuse of protesting students

UC Berkeley gets ready for new class of freshmen

Messages indicate top Penn State officials knew about Sandusky a decade ago

Stupid college professor ideas

The Ivy League video that's gotten over 300,000 views

Building student unions

The commencement address that won't be given

College newspapers in trouble

1800 University of Oregon profs win union status

University of Florida slashes computer science funding, increases sports budget

Young driving less

Health expert Jim Yong Kim presides over a sick culture at Dartmouth

Why Obama's higher ed plan won't work

Another Yale cover up

Survey finds incoming college students more liberal

Arts and architecture degrees least useful in getting a job

Why college isn't what it used to be

How post 80s economic policy screwed younger people

Universities dumping campus radio stations for cash

Four of every five dissertations examined contained examples of word-for-word plagiarism. the researcher found no difference between religious and secular schools. When she used a more stringent criterion — five or more copied words — the incidence of unacknowledged borrowing hit 100 percent.

Stats: The young & social media

Why young people don’t fight back

A is biggest college grade these days

University of Denver plans to dump 80% of its books in storage

Study finds many students don't learn much in college

Scientists fault universities as favoring research over teaching

On campus: spotting your faculty enemies

Universities talking up humanities


A jolt of student activism

Reviving student organizing

Top colleges for marijuana activism

For profit collges


For profit colleges on the ropes

Senate report: For profit schools about profits not students

For profit colleges ripping off military students

Washington Post campus cash cow under attack by former students

Are universities corporate sellouts?

















Chris Hedges, Truthdig - The multiple failures that beset the country, from our mismanaged economy to our shredded constitutional rights to our lack of universal health care to our imperial debacles in the Middle East, can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead, through the filter of standardized tests, enrichment activities, advanced-placement classes, high-priced tutors, swanky private schools and blind deference to all authority, on creating hordes of competent systems managers. The collapse of the country runs in a direct line from the manicured quadrangles and halls in places like Cambridge, Mass., Princeton, N.J., and New Haven, Conn., to the financial and political centers of power.

The nation's elite universities disdain honest intellectual inquiry, which is by its nature distrustful of authority, fiercely independent and often subversive. They organize learning around minutely specialized disciplines, narrow answers and rigid structures that are designed to produce certain answers. The established corporate hierarchies these institutions service -- economic, political and social -- come with clear parameters, such as the primacy of an unfettered free market, and with a highly specialized vocabulary. This vocabulary, a sign of the "specialist" and of course the elitist, thwarts universal understanding. It keeps the uninitiated from asking unpleasant questions. It destroys the search for the common good. It dices disciplines, faculty, students and, finally, experts into tiny, specialized fragments. It allows students and faculty to retreat into these self-imposed fiefdoms and neglect the most-pressing moral, political and cultural questions. Those who defy the system -- people like Ralph Nader -- are branded as irrational and irrelevant. These elite universities have banished self-criticism. They refuse to question a self-justifying system. Organization, technology, self-advancement and information systems are the only things that matter. . .

I sat a few months ago with a former classmate from Harvard Divinity School who is now a theology professor. When I asked her what she was teaching, she unleashed a torrent of obscure academic code words. I did not understand, even with three years of seminary, what she was talking about. You can see this absurd retreat into specialized, impenetrable verbal enclaves in every graduate department across the country. The more these universities churn out these stunted men and women, the more we are flooded with a peculiar breed of specialist. This specialist blindly services tiny parts of a corporate power structure he or she has never been taught to question and looks down on the rest of us with thinly veiled contempt. . .

Barack Obama is a product of this elitist system. So are his degree-laden cabinet members. They come out of Harvard, Yale, Wellesley and Princeton. Their friends and classmates made huge fortunes on Wall Street and in powerful law firms. They go to the same class reunions. They belong to the same clubs. They speak the same easy language of privilege and comfort and entitlement. They are endowed with an unbridled self-confidence and blind belief in a decaying political and financial system that has nurtured and empowered them.

These elites, and the corporate system they serve, have ruined the country. These elite cannot solve our problems. They have been trained to find "solutions," such as the trillion-dollar bailout of banks and financial firms, that sustain the system. They will feed the beast until it dies. Don't expect them to save us. They don't know how. And when it all collapses, when our rotten financial system with its trillions in worthless assets implodes, and our imperial wars end in humiliation and defeat, they will be exposed as being as helpless, and as stupid, as the rest of us.



Patricia Cohen, NY Times - Three sets of researchers recently concluded that professors have virtually no impact on the political views and ideology of their students. If there has been a conspiracy among liberal faculty members to influence students, "they've done a pretty bad job," said A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and an author of the new book "Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities."

A study of nearly 7,000 students at 38 institutions published in the current PS: Political Science and Politics, the journal of the American Political Science Association, as well as a second study that has been accepted by the journal to run in April 2009, both reach similar conclusions. "There is no evidence that an instructor's views instigate political change among students," Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner, a husband-and-wife team of political scientists who have frequently conducted research on politics in higher education, write in that second study. Their work is often cited by people on both sides of the debate, not least because Mr. Woessner describes himself as politically conservative.