08.21.13

Community college as a verb (continued)

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Permanent Fail at 4:17 pm by George Smith

An old friend from the Lehigh Valley saw the link to the Community College as a verb post on Facebook and had this to say:

I remember losing my chemical processing job to NAFTA in the mid nineties in PA. Went to community college to brush up on some math courses but economics sent me back out to the work force. Lo and behold, those same chemical processing jobs now had an associate degree attached to the same responsibilities I had for 10 years after I got out of the Navy in 1986. So to do the same job I had as a Teamster and being trained in house at the plant I worked at I now had to go to college to able to apply for that job and put myself into dept with student loans at the age of 35. A nice little kick in the balls.

Building for decades, the US economy is really a story about contempt.

That nice ‘f—you’ was being put into place all through the country.

It’s the plain dishonoring of credentials and experience, all so people can be de-skilled, de-jobbed and compelled to spend money enrolled in courses to learn things they have already learned, sometimes more than once.

I ran across it when I graduated from Lehigh, multiple times.

Schools and businesses stopped honoring any type of credentials and experience when and wherever it was convenient, which was usually when you walked in their door.

I had been teaching a lab course in microbiology at Northampton Community College in period of around ’89-91, not long after leaving Lehigh University. It was suggested to me, by an old Lehigh advisor, that I might pick up an educational certification at Moravian College in Bethlehem. So I inquired and was given a list of courses I would have to take. I had a Ph.D. in chemistry from across town, and was told I would have to take introductory microbiology, a course I had been teaching, as well as other basic chemistry courses, which I also had taught as part of paying the freight for the doctorate.

I already had three degrees in chemistry and you can only imagine how shocking and infuriating it was to hear, as a young person who had recently graduated with the highest qualification one could get in chemistry, that one would have to take beginner’s courses again.

I asked the benighted woman who was talking with me, surely this could not be true, that the school would not honor any degreed credit from other very well known places. She just froze up and said I’d have to take the things again.

Maybe she was incompetent or crazy or something was really wrong that day. It brought everything to a bad halt. There was no point in having a conversation or to make plans on continuing education.

My impression, for the last thirty years, has been American business and schooling has made it their business to just deny people what they have learned as part of a racket to force many out of the workforce. It is a convenience, to obviously push desperate people into spending more and more money on “retraining.” Anything that will discredit labor and ability is thrown at you.

And we have a media and population, a good deal of which has been propagandized into believing whatever someone tells them along these lines.

You must retrain, even for minimum wage pay.

On Amazon’s digital sweat shop, Mechanical Turk, you can easily find many 2 and 5 cent jobs for which it is claimed you “are not qualified.” Don’t believe me? Go look.

It’s all part of the environment of demeaning labor and talent so it can be had as the cheapest of commodities. In addition, the national industry of predatory re-training schools is well established. For fees, always more fees and loans, we are promised revitalization.

And then when we finish up, typically, there’s no job or something that pays mininum wage or less, at which point you can be told again you need more re-training, your credentials are crap.

The continuing selling of this in bad times is playing with fire. At some point a large number of people will have lost interest in believing anything. They’ll be convinced, because it cannot be ignored, they’re in a society where work for living pay is a privilege awarded to those with only the right connections. And that those who have that privilege think of everyone else as inferior. This is what brings down entire countries.

You cannot sustain a system and philosophy that cynically condemns and cannibalizes decades worth of work and people for the benefit of a very few. The ax of history will eventually come to chop it down.


In a related, census data released on recovery from the end of the recession in 2009 has still lagged. No one who really got hit is yet back to what they were earning or worth before the troubles started.

But of particular interest is this brief bit on the alleged value of schooling, at the New York Times:

In the recession and its aftermath, many people went back to school, earning associate or bachelorís degrees. Such credentials have helped, the new data shows, but they have been no guarantee against loss of income.

Households headed by people with only a high school diploma have seen their post-recession income decline by 9.3 percent, to $39,300 in June of this year, the report said. For households headed by people with an associate degree, median income declined by 8.6 percent in those four years, to $56,400. And among households headed by people with a bachelorís degree or more, median income declined by 6.5 percent, to $84,700.


And, finally, a bit from today’s New Yorker website, more anecdotal contempt for people, everyone except a small slice. It’s been conditioned into the DNA.

At one of the country’s annual gatherings of music money and excess, SXSW in 2012, the brilliant stunt of paying poor people 20 bucks to be wi-fi lampshades:

“At last yearís South by Southwest technology conference, in Austin, the marketing agency BBH set up thirteen homeless volunteers as wireless transmitters, for twenty bucks a day. They lugged mobile Wi-Fi instruments around the city, searching for crowded conference areas, wearing shirts that identified themselves as homeless hotspots.”

Of course it was met with dismay. But who would even think of it except those who view contempt for others as normal part of daily life? People as ambulatory furniture and cheap stuff at that. At SXSW, one of the big hot money flows in the music biz.

The rest of the NYer piece is the usual high-button hand-wringing about the poors, hung on the hook of pop-art begging signs for the homeless, delivered with a slightly detached air of what-can-be-done-ism.

Nothing. Nothing can be done and nothing will be done.

The New Yorker writer can’t capture the smiling contempt of the year-old stunt of using homeless people as walking wi-fi “hot spots.”

This picture, on the web portal for it, does.

The brief smiling profiles of cleaned-up homeless people, adorning a PayPal button for donations on what the tens of thousands of music tourists and journalists in Austin thought might be fair to pay for wireless access. Two dollars for 15 minutes, another lousy deal, was the suggested amount in the fine print.

And the website with smiling faces or homeless people was not designed for twenty bucks a day.

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