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Do we need a college in Lodi? We need common sense, not a college campus

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Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:00 am

Create a new college in Lodi? I simply have to ask the following: "Why?"

Why would taxpayers want to spend millions of dollars we don't have just to create another public educational bureaucracy?

OK, so what about a private institution coming to town? Same story, same problem: high costs, low returns. Billions of dollars in unpaid taxpayer-backed loans for both public and overpriced private institutions are now reaching an all-time high at close to $900 billion!

It would be one thing if hard-earned dollars from our working citizens would produce graduates who earned higher incomes and returned these investments to our community. No doubt, many college-degreed folks do just that.

But let's look at some of the courses we are now directly or indirectly paying for at some of our nation's most prestigious universities and colleges: Occidental College, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie;" Johns Hopkins, "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll in Ancient Egypt;" Swathmore College, "Lesbian Novels Since World War II;" and Amherst College, "Taking Marx Seriously: Should Marx be given another chance?"

Here are some college majors being offered that don't seem to have much employer demand either: University of Nevada, Reno: "Basque Studies;" University of Connecticut: "Puppetry;" Bard College: "Victorian Studies;" and Plymouth State University: "Adventure Education."

Now I'm sure these courses and majors have value to some, but do they justify the sacrifices of hard-working restaurant employees, construction workers, technicians, teachers, business people and others who are forced to shell out parts of their paychecks and provide for these "quality" classes and programs?

Admittedly, many postsecondary programs offer useful majors such as forestry, environmental studies, social work and English literature. But unfortunately, these and others like them have most of their value in jobs that are dependent on government.

So other questions must be raised: Do unchecked numbers of people in these programs make sense for our future when the country is $17 trillion in debt and still spending beyond its means at the rate of four billion dollars per day? Do these duplicated programs have value in a state that has one of the nation's highest tax rates?

Even majors that have been desirable for decades are now in jeopardy. Take law, for example. Today's law school graduates are discovering that jobs in their profession are difficult to find. Stanford graduates are fortunate to have a success rate of 91 percent. However, less prestigious but equally qualified students can have a job obtainment rate as low as 17 percent!

Today, postsecondary schools should emphasize education that encourages independence and self-reliance, not governmental or other institutional dependence. Eventually, the latter will only lead to financial disaster for everyone.

They should not be filling the marketplace with too many people chasing too few jobs. Here are two examples to illustrate the point: On the positive side, we could use more physicians and physician assistants, as their skills will soon be in demand.

On the other hand, approximately 225,000 present members of the State Bar of California should be more than adequate to fulfill our legal needs for the foreseeable future. Cranking out an unlimited number of law school graduates in today's world is not a wise use of limited funds.

There was a time in America when we could afford the "fluff" and justify academics for academics' sake. But sadly, those days are gone forever.

Steve Hansen is a regular columnist for the Lodi News Sentinel.

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