Exclusionary Inclusionism

If you want to keep people beyond arm’s length, sounding phony can do better than flatulence. Just the wrong words can widen the radius around a speaker instantly.  Why do you think college professors kept repeating “heuristic” all those years? The upper crust of the educational elite goes out of its way rousing that “get-it-offa-me” sensation with the lingo they choose. Keeping Joe Six-Pack creeped-out and hostile is one way egg-heads dodge scrutiny. Vocabulary that works like a cheese grate on ears is a screening tactic Tacitus himself never thought up.

“Equity” has taken over where “heuristic” left off in the academic posing department. It’s first in the newspeak lexicon of affectation for those who want in to dorms of the major leagues. High school seniors aiming very high better find a way to work the word into their prose, frequently. The demands of collegiate cliques are as rigid as any other peer group’s standards of conformity. The board of regent’s grasp of irony is slipperier than Alanis Morissette’s.

Isn’t the whole idea of elite education to have an edge on the guy who didn’t play the game? The ones who skipped calculus and Latin to take bong-hits in the woods during high school aren’t expected to catch up. Some of them manage to anyway. Students burn midnight oil and go for broke trying to qualify for elite institutions. They usually have motives that don’t necessarily begin and end in altruism. Leaving out all the others can be forgiven in their “Why I want to go to Harvard” essays.

Whoever ends up paying for the professoriate that rules, on so many levels, their actual net worth to society at-large can’t be fit into a simple equation. Some of them might save lives, impede wars, render justice and reduce poverty…or make it sound like they’re trying to. The number of them that mature into parasites should be figured into the reckoning too.

The conversation about higher education’s costs versus its value is raging right now. People have been pouring their future financial worth into bachelors and post-graduate degrees for decades. Thousands of articles and lengthy airtime have been devoted to how this debt burden should be mete out. Hardly one word ever goes to where all that lucre the kids’ borrow ends up. Shopping around for educational bargains is beneath the dignity of an ultra-conscientious equitist. It’s worse than when a fashionista gets caught wearing a knockoff.

Aren’t we supposed to accept that higher education’s price should equal the going rate for digs in a hot market? What else explains the dearth of op-eds complaining that student borrowers in hock up to their necks got over charged? Nobody gets run in a high circulation daily pointing out the epic rip off going on. Education writers will tell a hundred student borrowers sob stories. What doesn’t reach print is the dean of this, the vice provost of that and the administrator of something else being regulars at high-dollar resorts around the globe. Whenever anybody spends money some other human being ends up with it. Who and why tends to be the tale whenever prices go through the roof. In the case of student debt it is hardly being told.

There are people asking, some profs among them, if an “education” is even the product they are selling today. Shorn of bells and whistles is there much doubt a four-year degree could be just as good, or better, with half the sticker shock?

At the rate things have progressed, what an alum ends up owing could surpass mortgages even before tomorrow’s climate apocalypse. (Housing finance argot, btw, is exactly where they purloined the word “equity”).  Should the gals who make sure the toilet flushes, the lights stay on, bottles are on racks, chow is not scarce and walls surround you in winter pitch in for other people’s tuition? If so, what the product amounts to is very definitely everyone’s business. And, let’s face reality, however student debt ends up being managed, everyone pays the avaricious education industry’s suits dearly already.

Peter Thiel keeps telling us that wider availability of “elite” education for all is what its proponents fear most. He compares Harvard to the line getting into Studio 54. Exclusion is where all the value comes from. If everyone was “good enough” the whole system falters. Alma mater leaves an indelible brand on its progeny’s hind quarters. When push comes to shove over who rates where when classifying humanity…Harvardians have been known to shimmy their drawers down. They gush about evening out the rough edges of class…and plan to do it using the same hammers that wrought snooty American high society in the first place. It makes as much sense as the expression “humanitarian bombing.”

So, where elite education is concerned let’s dispense with delusions about what it means. “Equity” there equals doling out tickets for trains on the fast track to power. Those outside the loop must come by it the hard way. People who went to Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown, Yale and the rest of the clique are guaranteed a healthy slice before the pie tin gets crust…whether they knead any of the dough or not. It is a legit question how long that route to societal ascendancy will, or can, continue.

Doctors, engineers and certain other professions require rigorous standards to meet the needs they fill in society. But the idea a history, lit or poli-sci major out of Dartmouth is packing some kind of academic punch that is critical to the common welfare is absolute fantasy. Some of the Ivy-Leaguers who fill news dailies with opinions are among the least readable that make it to print. Linguistic and philosophic theorizing oozes onto periodical pages like cesspool overflow. The academic standards backing conclusions up are nowhere to be found. It’s the richest lode of comic gold ever struck. Thiel and friends barely exaggerate alluding to Charles Ponzi and the present state of higher learning.

We now inhabit a highly innovative, niche economic environment. It is none other than the sanctimonious “inclusionists” who cling desperately to the very archaic, class ridden, society they seem to actually believe they oppose. If this were not true why would people be scheming like riverboat cardsharps to get sheepskins with brand names? Furthermore, when everyone knows that all horses in the steeplechase don’t jump the same obstacles…the label amounts to a card key and not a qualification at all. Standards have little bearing on the outcome. The bouncers make the cut between names like Stanford over Northern Va. Community College. Not anyone’s ability tell a Latin root from a Greek one.

The hard and fast echelons of urban smart sets were antiquated by the 1920’s. The harm doled out by exclusive salons in Manhattan, Northwest DC and Boston throughout the 20th century can still be keenly felt today. They operated under the pretense what working stiffs did not need to know what was good for them. The “responsible” press provided a smokescreen for what transpired in smoke-filled rooms where global decisions were made.

Post war ruling circles failed at diplomacy, journalism and distribution according to contribution. Clubby college cronyism that remained thick to the grave was the culprit. Advocates of that same predatory system into the new millennium sell the scheme under a label of “inclusion.” It is, for any practical purpose, a turf war. Cutting some out so others can be cut in is the kind of rationing devised by gangland the world over. Power brokerage under a guise of “education” insults everyone’s intelligence.

Meanwhile, university’s most misanthropic appendage, administration, metastasizes and bloats to drag down any other part of the organism. When Churchill’s son had a benign tumor removed Evelyn Waugh burst into the bar at White’s and announced: “They’ve cut out the only part of Randolph that isn’t malignant!” Exchange “Randolph” for “academic hierarchy” and the same words apply around the clock.

Any outside observer of the academy that doesn’t see a swollen, stumbling, mutant freak better upgrade his spectacles post-haste.

Does anyone pontificating from the heights really oppose a commonality that is pushed around, humiliated, overlooked and unheard? If so, the place to begin rectification is ending the sanctimonious awe the elite academy enjoys. Treating the subject of “caste” from any other angle is a cheap dodge…that costs an arm and a leg.