We Shouldn’t Forgive College Debt for Charitable Jobs, We Should Cap it

Robert Reich, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley








This week in Salon, after careful consideration and much research, Robert Reich theorized that life might not be fair:

Does anyone seriously believe hedge-fund mogul Steven A. Cohen is worth the $2.3 billion he raked in last year, despite being slapped with a $1.8 billion fine after his firm pleaded guilty to insider trading?

On the other hand, what’s the worth to society of social workers who put in long and difficult hours dealing with patients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Probably higher than their average pay of $18.14 an hour, which translates into less than $38,000 a year.

How much does society gain from personal-care aides who assist the elderly, convalescents, and persons with disabilities? Likely more than their average pay of $9.67 an hour, or just over $20,000 a year.

This falls under the category of – no fucking shit. You needed to examine hedge-fund salaries in order to figure out some people in the world are overpaid?

Vin Diesel likely just made tens of millions of dollars voicing a tree with one line. At least the hedge fund guy was working hard and putting his freedom on the line trying to steal for his clients!

Or consider that Simon Cowell was making $35 million per year telling other people that they sucked at their job. Creating and carrying out complex financial fraud is definitely more work than saying someone’s singing reminded them of (insert animal) being (insert form of torture).

There’s nothing wrong with the problem Reich identifies. Hedge fund managers do not need to make 60,000 times more than social workers, nor should they. Income gaps like this are not great for the economy, as S&P recently reported. The problem is in Reich’s solution:

But I can think of a better way for taxpayers to subsidize occupations with more social merit: Forgive the student debts of graduates who choose social work, child care, elder care, nursing, and teaching.

This is bullshit, especially when you find out what Reich’s profession actually is: “Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the at the University of California at Berkeley.”

More accurately, Reich makes a ton of money teaching students skills that don’t earn them a living wage. Yet Reich himself lives large. His reported 2013 salary was $246,000. Doing the math for those with public policy degrees, that’s six times the income one of his students can expect to make as a social worker.

You would think degrees from the public policy school would be cheap, given how much Reich is complaining about its students’ paltry earnings. However, the degrees are so expensive they don’t even show the fucking tuition when you click on the “tuition” button for the Goldman School of Public Policy. You have to click onto another link which breaks it down into a per semester basis.

The price is basically hidden like the shittiest of used car lots, then they try to trick you by saying “well half of the car only costs this much!” In this case half the car is yours for the low price of $18,000 per semester, or $36,000 per year.


At that price, the Goldman School of Public Policy is a hilariously shitty investment. At least if you go and put $36,000 on black in Vegas, there’s a chance it might pay off. But no one is beating the house getting one of the school’s degrees. That’s why what their tuition page actually links you to is government loans – loans which Reich is lobbying for taxpayers to pay off. This is obviously self serving. The natural answer is that if a school’s students can’t afford to pay off its loans, and its professors are making $200k+, then the school should pay its professors less.

University employees love to shout about how a college degree is essential to the modern economy, then they try to strangle every cent from their poor students. They’re like heroin dealers, if in fact heroin dealers requested your financial information before buying to further ensure they could shake every last penny from the addict’s pocket.


Perhaps taxpayers should subsidize social workers and other low paid employees who make the world a better place. But they certainly shouldn’t do it in a way that allows professors to rake in fat salaries while saddling their students with insurmountable amounts of debt – even if once and a while they do come up with profound thoughts such as “hedge fund managers are overpaid.”

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