Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Links

1. Brazil's new consumer class flocks to the U.S. to shop and planes returning to Brazil need extra fuel to accommodate all of the overweight baggage. 

2. Institute for Justice to file federal lawsuit tomorrow challenging IRS/Federal licensing of tax preparers. 

3. Interesting Blog: "100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School;"  Reason #75: You Can Make More Money As a Schoolteacher. Reason #76: There is a culture of fear.

4.  Jeff Jacoby on the Boston Taxi Cartel: $500,000 taxi medallions shackle cabbies and make them modern day sharecroppers.



23 Comments:

At 3/12/2012 10:41 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

""100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School;" Reason #75: You Can Make More Money As a Schoolteacher."

You want people to go to school and learn. If I went to school just for the money, I would've studied accounting or law.

 
At 3/12/2012 10:45 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Think of it more like: "You can actually get a job teaching."

 
At 3/12/2012 10:45 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

With a degree in history.....

 
At 3/12/2012 10:48 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Well that certainly cheered me up as I embark on my graduate career in 5 months.

 
At 3/12/2012 11:02 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Ah yes, the mandatory "higher ed is useless" blog. Except lets look at this a little deeper.

First of all, I only read the first page of the blog posts. No interest in continuing further, but the reasons given there are pretty untrue, and more importantly are the sort of things GOOD people in GOOD grad schools, don't do. So that alone gives me an impression of what sort of POV the person writing it, is coming from. In the 1.5 years I worked as a Research Assistant, I produced more academic articles than most PhD students will produce in their entire program. Also, my physical health was the best when I was working as an RA, given the flexibility of the hours, as opposed to now when I'm sitting at work for 9-10 hours a day and waking up at 5. I think the author got that one, confused.

So the lesson is, if you're GOOD at this sort of work, it's for you. If you're NOT good at time commitment and have no talent for academic writing, it's not for you. Well, what a revelation!

Second, lets work out the math of this "teachers make more than you" argument.

First of all, teachers were grad students once too! After all, in most places you need a MA in education to become a teacher (admittedly, it is perhaps the easiest thing one will ever do in their lives).

Second, most recent education grads who enter the market for teaching...end up working as part-time or substitute teachers, due to the saturation of the market with such education grads. Its not until at least a couple of years of this, that some begin to trickle into full time positions.

Third, while starting salary for teacher may be higher than a STIPEND for a grad student, that is hardly a reasonable comparison. The grad student is foregoing current earnings, for greater future earnings. The comparison is pure...nonsense. Furthermore, most high-end grad programs offer considerably MORE in stipend than the 30k starting salary of teachers. Top schools average around 35k these days, and some like MIT can easily go up to 50-60k for certain fields. Even the regular schools offer around 20k these days...but that's for only 20 hours of work per week.

 
At 3/12/2012 11:03 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Third, and most importantly, by the time Miss. Teacher has spend 10 years working as a glitter and glue arts and crafts teacher at Middle of Nowhere Elementary School in Tennetuckysota...and is now averaging around 45k in yearly earnings, our grad student in Engineering, or Bio-chem, or Econ...is about to enter the job market where the average starting salaries for any of these fields will range in the 100k+ range. Of course, if they come from top programs, it will be in the 130k range, and for those unlucky enough to be at the bottom of the distribution, they will still likely find positions as post-docs and lecturers at the 85k+ range...starting, and will quickly move on up.

Of course. Dr. Perry can elaborate further on the salaries of PhDs in his field, and of other types of fields in either econ schools or b-schools (I think accounting PhDs have the highest starting salaries in b-schools, averaging around 130k). Of course, private industry hires lots of these people too...and the starting salaries of PhDs in technical fields in private industry, certainly makes up for the pay difference that our Grad student was willing to forgo in comparison to Miss. Teacher. For example, a computer science PhD is very likely to have starting salaries in the 200k range :O

Of course...assuming our Grad student was in a field with market potential...and not doing a PhD in glitter and glue. I can't vouch for glitter and glue PhDs.

PS: And of course, one has to take into consideration an individuals personal preferences. Some people, would willingly get lower earnings for doing something they ENJOY...and some people enjoy doing research on "socially inept" topics, as opposed to teaching finger-painting to a horde kids in Middle of Nowhere Iowtuckybraskasota Rick Santorum Ville.

And that's the whole point of grad/PhD school...its only for certain personalities of people who are willing to forgo current gratification for future potential, and more importantly for certain types of personalities who ENJOY the field they are researching. A Math PhD doesn't do it for the money...trust me.

 
At 3/12/2012 11:10 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"Well that certainly cheered me up as I embark on my graduate career in 5 months."

It all depends on what...and it all depends on how much you enjoy your field.

"Think of it more like: "You can actually get a job teaching.""

I currently know a boat-load of what I consider semi-literate glitter-and-glue education/special ed MA graduates...100% girls from higher middle class families which subsidize their entire lifestyle...who have been in the market for a job as a teacher for several years now, but can't progress past the substitute teacher phase. The reasons for this range from chronic pot-smoking (undoubtedly due to some medicinal purposes...like stupidity), to the fact that most schools aren't hiring anymore teachers.

Most end up moving to markets where there are still vacancies...somewhere in the Rocky Mountains range.

But that's just my 1 data-point.

 
At 3/12/2012 11:39 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Well lets talk about reason #76: There is a culture of fear.

The arguments made there seem, unrealistic, to me. They certainly do not seem to come from someone who has experienced other professions other than academia.

The problem is in expectations. Academicians, or those embarking on academia, think that they are entitled to freely say what they want on matters of their interest or expertise. This is clearly not the case, nor should there be an expectation for this to be the case. There is no reason for this to be the case.

Academics, like everyone else in the job market, work for someone who has particular interests and POVs. The employers, be it the institution who employs you, your peers who promote you, or the professors who fund the grad students...expect you to tow THEIR line.

But what is the alternative? People outside of academia don't have the same sort of freedom either. In fact, their freedom of speech is far more limited than in Academia. The argument that I would make is that in academia, you are far freer to express your POV then the other alternatives, and if you find yourself in an institution that you find disagreeable, you always have the opportunity to move somewhere where they do share your POV...like George Mason University (if you happen to have that POV)

Now of course I have experienced this myself; I did not agree with the scope of the research I was involved in. I did not agree with the political and economic concepts of the professors I worked for. Nonetheless, I did what I had to do. Saying something disagreeable politically in that setting (which I did), cost me about a week of harsh looks...but very little else.

Now that I am working in private industry, the situation is a lot more challenging; I do not agree one tiny bit with the strategy and the tactics of my organization. I think our managers are inept ignoramuses who are stealing shareholder value. Saying anything in this setting, costs people their jobs.

In what position or field, DOEs one have this mythical political freedom of speech that academicians think they automatically have?

PS: as for the job market, would one argue that the ob market for PhDs is considerably superior to other job markets? What is the unemployment rate for PhDs? 1%? So its all relative.

 
At 3/12/2012 12:50 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

So sharecroppers should be able to farm any land they want to, without regard for property rights?

 
At 3/12/2012 12:51 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Brazilians are buying a lot of real estate in the US, too.

 
At 3/12/2012 12:55 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The elderly in the US also complain about sub-standard care. there is ntothign wrong with complaining about substndard care, no matter where it happens.

 
At 3/12/2012 1:00 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

So sharecroppers should be able to farm any land they want to, without regard for property rights?

Well, uh, no. I think you may have missed the point.

The argument is that is these medallions are forcing people into sharecropper-like conditions.

If the medallion system were abolished, then these people would not have to work in conditions that a first world country should shun.

Imagine, if you will, that your boss comes to you and says "Hydra, I'm going to stop paying you. You must pay me for the privilege to work here, you must rent your desk from me, chip in for the utilities, and anything else we provide for you. You can only keep what you make in tips from clients. I have to do it this way because the government charges me $500,000/year for a license to operate this business." That's essentially what's going on here. With the abolition of the license, the rest of the problems would disappear.

 
At 3/12/2012 1:39 PM, Blogger Ken said...

AIG,


First of all, teachers were grad students once too!

This is patently false, as a quick google search would show you. In fact, most teachers have only a bachelor's degree.

Second, most recent education grads who enter the market for teaching...end up working as part-time or substitute teachers, due to the saturation of the market with such education grads.

This is an excellent reason to NOT go to grad school.

Third, while starting salary for teacher may be higher than a STIPEND for a grad student, that is hardly a reasonable comparison. The grad student is foregoing current earnings, for greater future earnings.

But is this true? Particularly since you note that many teachers who get grad degrees end up being part time? Which is it: 1) teachers with grad degrees work significantly less, so make significantly less, or 2) future earnings will be greater than forgone earnings.

Third, and most importantly, by the time Miss. Teacher has spend 10 years working as a glitter and glue arts and crafts teacher at Middle of Nowhere Elementary School in Tennetuckysota...and is now averaging around 45k in yearly earnings, our grad student in Engineering, or Bio-chem, or Econ...is about to enter the job market where the average starting salaries for any of these fields will range in the 100k+ range.

Because, as you noted above, STEM majors are economically more important than teacher's degrees, which again is a great case to NOT go to grad school for education (you noted graduate degrees in education is an over saturated market).

 
At 3/12/2012 3:07 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Well that certainly cheered me up as I embark on my graduate career in 5 months"...

Cheer up old son, as long as your post grad work isn't in social justice studies or basket weaving you'll do alright...

 
At 3/12/2012 3:32 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Cheer up old son, as long as your post grad work isn't in social justice studies or basket weaving you'll do alright...

You mean getting a PhD in basket weaving won't get me into the 1%?!

 
At 3/12/2012 4:36 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"This is patently false, as a quick google search would show you. In fact, most teachers have only a bachelor's degree."

That's because it is counting existing teachers which become teachers before there was such a thing as an MA in education, or one was required. Today, most schools require their teachers to hold one.

"This is an excellent reason to NOT go to grad school."

Yes, if you assume that all "grad" programs are identical, and have identical job market prospects. They don't, so the aggregation of "grad school" is as meaningless as the aggregation of "jobs".

"But is this true? Particularly since you note that many teachers who get grad degrees end up being part time? Which is it: 1) teachers with grad degrees work significantly less, so make significantly less, or 2) future earnings will be greater than forgone earnings."

For your first question, you have misunderstood what I have said. For the second, this doesn't apply to "teachers". I'm assuming that when they say "grad school" here they mean...PhD programs. An MA in education can be completed in 1 year typically. The point I was trying to make is that its not a good point to compare FULL TIME starting salaries for teachers (as the blog does), with stipends. Stipends are intended to be temporary, stipends are usually for 20 hours of work, and depending on the school stipends can in fact be higher than teacher's starting salaries.

"Because, as you noted above, STEM majors are economically more important than teacher's degrees, which again is a great case to NOT go to grad school for education (you noted graduate degrees in education is an over saturated market)."

Yes, but I'm pretty sure the subject of that blog is not MA in Education. By "grad school", they mean PhD, or some variation of it.

Which is why it is important to differentiate, not only by what they mean by "grad" (grad can range from a PhD in computer science with starting salaries of 200k...to MA in glass blowing with starting salaries of a Starbucks barista.)...but it is also important to differentiate the FIELD from which the author is writing from; the experiences of someone doing a PhD in microelectronics will be considerably different that someone doing a PhD in Social Change.

But overall, from what I read in the blog (admittedly only the first page), are the sort of things that...competent PhD students...ought not to be doing. So of course I can write an equal blog complaining how "non-academia jobs are a bad idea", and I'm sure I can find more than 100 points on which to criticize. Heck, we can think of 100 reasons not to work...right now...in a matter of 5 minutes. But these aren't realistic; certain people are predisposed to life in academia and research, just as certain people are predisposed for life in sports, or music, or working in manufacturing or truck driving.

I happen to enjoy that sort of life, and if the author thinks that one should not go to grad school because you will be studying things that are "socially inept"...then I'd suggest that maybe the AUTHOR should not have gone to grad school, since he/she clearly went for something they probably didn't enjoy.

 
At 3/12/2012 4:40 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"You mean getting a PhD in basket weaving won't get me into the 1%?!"

What are you going for BTW? Full disclosure...I'm also starting a PhD program in 5 months :)

 
At 3/12/2012 5:38 PM, Blogger Ken said...

AIG,

Today, most schools require their teachers to hold one.

Can you provide evidence? Every state that I go to to search for teacher requirements shows that a 4-year degree plus a teaching license. So your claim that teachers are now required to hold a master's is false.

Yes, but I'm pretty sure the subject of that blog is not MA in Education. By "grad school", they mean PhD, or some variation of it. .

And yet the thrust of your previous comment seemed to focus exclusively on grad school for education, so I did too when responding to you.

 
At 3/12/2012 7:12 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

AIG,

I'm starting my Masters in Economics. I hope to go right into a PhD program after.

 
At 3/12/2012 7:41 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"Can you provide evidence? Every state that I go to to search for teacher requirements shows that a 4-year degree plus a teaching license. So your claim that teachers are now required to hold a master's is false."

I could be wrong (although I believe in NYS, which is where my only experience is, you need to get a masters)...but that is totally irrelevant to the points I was making. Other than 1 sentence.

"And yet the thrust of your previous comment seemed to focus exclusively on grad school for education, so I did too when responding to you."

As I said, you misunderstood my comments. I wasn't talking about teaching grad in anything other than in 1 sentence. I was addressing "grad school".

 
At 3/12/2012 10:53 PM, Blogger Ken said...

AIG,

As I said, you misunderstood my comments.

I like how it's all my fault for "misunderstanding", rather than your inability to communicate effectively. Then you throw in this sentence which only shows how unaware you are of your own comments:

I wasn't talking about teaching grad in anything other than in 1 sentence.

Yet three whole paragraphs are devoted to teachers and education majors in your first comment. The first two paragrahs are dedicated to comparing teachers' salaries to STEM and business salaries. Hardly "1 sentence".

Perhaps you are unaware of what you'd previously written and are confused as to what I responded? If you think that five paragraphs translates one sentence, then I feel confident in saying the my "misunderstanding" translates to your ineffective communication abilities.

 
At 3/13/2012 9:45 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Oh boy. Read the paragraph again. In only ONE (1) sentence did I say "teachers were once grad students too". After that, I compared FULL TIME TEACHER'S SALARIES, with grad student (ie PhD in this case) stipend, and future earning potentials of FULL TIME TEACHERS vs. PhD grads.

This was in response to the claim from that blog that it is better to become a teacher, rather than go to "grad school" (by which I'm quite sure they are not talking about education MA), due to better salaries/job prospects.

I mention "teaching grads" nowhere else. Nor are they implied anywhere else. And as I said, my experience comes from NYS where teachers ARE required to have MA degrees in order to get a professional license. I'm certain there are other states that have this requirement.

If I was wrong on anything, it was in that 1 sentence and in assuming that this rule I had encountered in NYS, applied to the rest of the country as well.

 
At 3/13/2012 11:31 AM, Blogger AIG said...

This confusion happens when people pretend to be saying something meaningful when they say things like "grad school", without specifying what type and what field.

It's as if we had a discussion on "mammal behavior". Well...what TYPE?

Which is why I suspect that people who write such things either a) have agendas which they don't want to disclose, or b) are making s**t up about things on which they have no idea.

 

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