Agitprop doesn’t pay like it used to

When I was a teenager, older relatives hustled me off to summer jobs with tales of paying for college by working summers at the local grocery store. By contrast, my wife and I will start paying for our kids’ college expenses before we finish paying off our own student loans. Last year, I had three side jobs alongside my full-time position at a thinktank. That’s how we afford to save (and pay for emergencies). If a straight white guy like me has to grind like this to reach – and stay in – the middle class, know that it’s much more difficult for folks with fewer privileges.

Both he and his wife are paying off graduate school loans.

Conor P Williams is a fellow at the Century Foundation, a progressive thinktank.

Maybe a different job might help?

55 comments on “Agitprop doesn’t pay like it used to

  1. I’m glad things are tough for Marxist scum.

    Lets hope they get a lot tougher for lying leftist evildoers everywhere.

  2. He believes in his white privilege. The same belief that allows ‘less privileged’ folks a far better deal with affirmative action and victim status enabling their careers.

    However his debt-upon-debt lifestyle is going down a slippery slope he doesn’t seem to be able to stop.

  3. When Conor was talking about his woes and his choices and trade-offs i felt for him because all of them were based on imperfect information. When you’re young you don’t take the optimum path hindsight reveals unless you’re lucky to boot. You make certain assumptions and Connor’s crux seems to be that college and grad school (and hard work) isn’t the guarantee to the good life he was lead to believe. OK fair enough, sold a bum one? Hold on though before you start writing up policies in your day job to rectify that…. should it be? Or do you need to find the people about to take out those loans and advise them of other choices?

  4. “Sure, my family could move somewhere cheaper (and safer). But this wouldn’t just mean uprooting the kids; it would mean leaving the dynamic labor market where we’ve tripled our family’s income over the past decade. “

    Errr….

    “Perhaps we could have waited to have kids. But like most choices facing young families today, that involves a high-stakes catch-22: delaying having a family means taking on the additional health risks of advanced parental age”. “

    How advanced..?!?

  5. Why pay for your kids’ tuition as well as your own? I can understand some people wanting to help the offspring along the way but the design of the student finance system is premised on people paying their own fees albeit after the event. The British system is particularly generous in this regard with income thresholds for repayment and debt write-offs for those who end up not being able to pay back (though I wonder how much of this will come back to bite the universities in the bum). Paying the fees early is many ways a waste – if the bright-eyed young graduate is rendered unable to work due to a an accident or illness, or because they want to become a full-time parent, or they go into a life of low-pay voluntary sector work, then the eventual write-off would come into play. I appreciate America has a different system but if your parents didn’t pay for all your university fees then why take on the mantle of doing so for your kids, or feel the obligation to? If it was their decision doesn’t it make sense for them to be exposed to the consequences?

  6. @Julia M

    I think he has a point on that one to be honest. Biologically it isn’t ideal to be having kids in the mid 30s but for many middle class couples that is becoming the norm. And part of that is feeling like one needs to have hit certain financial targets (eg owning a home) first, or attained a certain material quality of life. But I suspect the main advantage of being born to a middle-class family lies in the values, aspiration and educational background rather than whether there’s a shiny new car or custom-fitted kitchen. A lot of people seem to let the perfect become the benchmark and that can definitely be the enemy of the good. If someone is genuinely committed to looking after the little blighters, I wouldn’t say they were the least bit irresponsible to have kids in their early 20s even if it meant having less nice stuff. In many ways it would be more sensible than what most people are now doing. May be fair to argue it rather negates their right to moan about how expensive kids are, but it isn’t inherently daft.

  7. Had a swatch at what TCF is up to.

    Seems to be focused on:

    * More forced “diversity” in schools (i.e. Thou Shalt Not Escape Quan’tavius and Pedro Turning Your Kids’ Playground Into The Hunger Games)

    * Trying to stop the government from finding out how many non-citizens live in the US (Thou Shalt Not Use Evidence-Based Policy, Bigots)

    * Fanfic about the “integration” of Arab “refugees” into Europe (Thou Shalt Pay The Jizya)

    * “Free” College (Thou Shalt Be Taxed Even More To Create Useless Bugmen Like Conor P Williams)

    This is all Clownworld stuff, the parallel reality inhabited by wannabe Inner Party members where “diversity” is the highest good (and so wonderful it has to be forced on you by gun-toting feds) and “education” is basically magic, the complete lack of evidence to support any real benefits flowing from cramming an ever larger proportion of the left half of the Bell Curve into lecture theatres be damned.

    Yes, it’s pretty amazing that the free market (such as it is) still generates enough excess wealth that Conor P Williams isn’t living in a van down by the river as might befit his skills and value. But I reckon Lenin had a point about capitalists selling you rope.

  8. Surely the answer is to advise his children not to go to college? Why rack up huge debts if you’re not going to be rewarded?

    As always of course, no financial details. A pair of 30-somethings with two full time jobs and at least 3 jobs on the side ought to be pulling in a few quid. And if not, they might as well go home to Kalamazoo (which is real, amazingly) and work in Walmart.

    Conor P. Williams is an expert on American educational inequity, English learner students, dual immersion programs, urban education reform, and the history of progressivism.

    Kids take note. Don’t do any of that shit above, it just aint worth it.

  9. – “Williams holds a PhD and MA in government from Georgetown University, an MS in teaching from Pace University, and a BA in government and Spanish from Bowdoin College.”

    Borrowed up to his entitled neck and spent it on mickey mouse “degrees” thinking he was buying his ticket to membership of the wealthy, self-appointed ruling caste.

    And he blames everyone but himself.

  10. Ken – oh yeah.

    They make a big show of supporting “workers’ rights” and “strengthening the middle class” whilst at the same time vehemently opposing any attempt to prevent unlimited numbers of Guatemalan peasants, African witch-doctors, Oriental IT-coolies and the like flooding into the US.

    The libs imagine transforming the US into Brazil Norte will lead to perpetual left-wing dominance. But it hasn’t worked out that way in Brazil, has it?

  11. “If a straight white guy like me has to grind like this …”: is that a subtle reminder that it’s easier for gays because they tend not to have children?

    Nah; more likely he’s just tin-eared.

  12. “Housing near good-paying jobs is wildly expensive”: Christ, education was wasted on him, wasn’t it?

  13. “My wife and I grew up believing in this country’s basic bargain: work hard and reach the middle class. In our mid-30s, that bargain feels broken”

    If it feels broken, it was you Conor who broke it. Doing so many fvcking useless degrees instead of WORKING.

  14. The bargain we’ve struck with our four kids is that they pay back the fees out of tax, we pay everything else; board, accomodation, modest living allowance, books, lab fees, field trips, etc.

    Our youngest and I went to an Information evening at her school where they were told that college fees (i.e. board and accommodation) were about $20k per year. On the way home she was very quiet, but eventually asked, “so do you pay the college fees and I pay you back later?” I replied, “no, we pay the college fees and you don’t pay us back later.” To which she responded rather meekly, “oh, thank you. “

    She is now in her penultimate year, we are looking forward to having an extra $30k in our pockets from 2020. We don’t pay for masters and doctorates, they need to secure full funding for those.

  15. What we have here is confusion between the benefits of possessing intelligence (as measured by education level) and possessing a marketable skill set. There are four determinants to achievement in the workplace: Intelligence, Judgment, Work Ethic and Skill Set. Our young Marxist simply doesn’t understand that increased levels of intelligence (as measured by education level) is not a substitute for marketable skills.

    Of course, this is also an entitlement issue. The Marxist dictum of “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is little more than the battle cry of a philosopher and intellectual who wasn’t good enough at either to earn a living. Our Karl was too grand for that… So he invented a system that justified his living as a mooch.

    What oozes from the article by our young Marxist is, well, a positively Marxist level of entitlement… “I’m one of the smart ones and I should be compensated accordingly.” What he doesn’t understand is that is exactly what is happening… He is being compensated accordingly.

  16. @DtP

    You cannot be right. Look at what the TCF say about the young Marxist.

    https://tcf.org/content/about-tcf/education-experts-conor-williams-tatiana-melguizo-join-century-foundation-expand-tcfs-education-team/

    “Conor and Tatiana are world-class scholars who use their research and expertise to expand opportunity, reduce inequality, and ensure fair outcome for students of all backgrounds,” said TCF president Mark Zuckerman. “At a time when the federal government is turning its back on students and schools across the country remain stubbornly divided and unequal, their work is more important than ever. I’m thrilled to welcome them to the TCF team.”

    He’s world class. His boss says so.

  17. He’s world class. His boss says so.

    The easiest way to get the over-educated/under-qualified to work for nothing is to flatter them. In my list of determinants, that falls within the realm of Judgment. Conor’s boss knows that, evidently.

    However, for those of us less intellectually gifted… Money talks, bullshit walks.

  18. Funny, DtP. When my son graduated a school earlier this year, he gave the class speech. Several dignitaries told him afterwards, “You are going places!”

    I asked if any included job offers. Uhh . . . no.

  19. I love reading articles by upper-middle class wankers wailing about how badly off they are. You find out almost immediately a comic series of blunders and decisions with entirely predictable outcomes and yet they refuse to acknowledge them.

    D.C. has very expensive housing? Well, blow me. Is it because Progressives have bloated the State to such levels that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of people like this all fighting like stoats to get close to the action?

    “We could also get serious about building (much) more affordable housing near dynamic labor markets”

    I expect he is a committed environmentalist who would emphatically oppose this under any other circumstances (I.e. he owned his house).

    A great way to reduce the pressure on D.C. housing costs would be to shrink the State, but that would cull him and all his allies so, alas, not an option.

  20. What does he mean by “full-time job”? Three jobs on the side?!?
    So this guy has a part-time job that doesn’t pay enough to enable him to indulge in the life-style he covets.
    People have to move to get a well-paid job – some of us cope without writing a sob story in the Grauniad: I had to move over 200 miles and so did most of my class at school: when I went home for Christmas one year I learned that more of us were working in London (not everywhere else, just London) than in our home town.

  21. “I love reading articles by upper-middle class wankers wailing about how badly off they are. ”

    And they are the folks with privileges. I don’t know what these privileges are, but I don’t think I want any.

    And how much better off would he be if governments didn’t take 60% of what he makes?

  22. A great way to reduce the pressure on D.C. housing costs would be to shrink the State, but that would cull him and all his allies so, alas, not an option.

    You’re missing the point, Rob. There’s plenty of available housing at reasonable prices… it’s in Virginia. Connor is paying out the ass because he insists on living in D.C. itself. And if you know D.C. at all, you know it’s basically a very large slum peopled by African Americans, with several every small – and expensive – enclaves peopled by Whites. Connor has made his choice.

    It’s much like someone living in Manhattan bitching about the cost of living while simultaneously ignoring the very viable lower-cost option of living in Hoboken.

  23. @ Dennis
    I agree (well, it happens occasionally)
    I chose to live in a very small and very expensive estate (not enclave, yobs could walk through the estate) in inner London because commutimg had been killing me – at times rent, rates and service charge swallowed up significantly more than half my after-tax income but that was the consequence of my choice and failing to anticipate the policies of the Labour government so I had to live with it. This guy wants DC at suburban prices.

  24. This guy wants DC at suburban prices.

    I agree (yeah, it happens, but don’t get used to it).

  25. Hold on, they’s paying their children’s fees, but also paying *their* *own*? Surely either their parents should be paying *theirs*, or their kids should be paying their bloody own.

  26. He ought to move to Ely – hear there might be an end of terrace house available soon as the owner will be on the dole.

  27. Some years ago I was invited to a university reunion. An old friend who was a big-wig there phoned me.

    “Don’t come!” “Why not?” “It’ll break your heart.”

    By which he meant that it was no longer a university that I would recognise as the one I had attended.

  28. This guy wants DC at suburban prices.

    The most fervent supporters of rent controls are the upper middle class.

  29. “If a straight white guy like me has to grind like this to reach – and stay in – the middle class, know that it’s much more difficult for folks with fewer privileges.”

    The thing with “folks with fewer privileges” is that they generally do real jobs and in cheaper places. I bet the 21 year old guys on the line at Jaguar in Birmingham live better than 21 year old journalists in London.

    You get paid for being a whore. When Michael Caine did Jaws 2, it bought him a beach house. I bet he got union rate for quality work like Hannah and Her Sisters, though. You want to work in a lefty think tank, you make shit.

  30. MBE,

    “If someone is genuinely committed to looking after the little blighters, I wouldn’t say they were the least bit irresponsible to have kids in their early 20s even if it meant having less nice stuff. In many ways it would be more sensible than what most people are now doing.”

    “nice stuff” really isn’t that expensive now. OK, depends on your definition, but you can feed a family Sirloin for a tenner. You can buy a good smartphone for £150. A PC that will do most families can be found in a skip. Games from 2 years ago are pocket money prices. A holiday in France will set you back about £700 in total – crossing and camping for 2 weeks in peak season.

    What costs money today is status. £100 Diesel jeans instead of £15 Sainsburys jeans. £40 craft gin instead of Aldi’s (excellent) £15 gin. Gig tickets to watch a band half a mile away on a screen instead of listening to them at home.

  31. “. . . tales of paying for college by working summers at the local grocery store.”

    May be – but you obviously stopped paying attention or you would have heard the stories about how they were also working at the local record store/bar/whatever the rest of the college year. Because no one’s ever been able to pay for college solely by working summer jobs – unless maybe you mean community college and they started working at 13 and saved that money.

    And as always – do you think you got your money’s worth? Do you think the education you paid all that money for was genuinely necessary for the career you chose?

    If yes, stop bitching about it.

  32. “. . . America’s basic bargain: work hard, play by the proverbial rules, and you’ll enjoy a healthy middle-class life. ”

    That’s not America’s bargain. That was never the American Dream.

    The American bargain is work your arse off and you’ll die in a better position than your parents and your kids will have a better start than you did. Rinse, repeat. Eventually your family ends up in the middle class. Either you didn’t work hard enough or your parents weren’t far enough up the ladder to enable you to do that.

  33. “Sure, my family could move somewhere cheaper (and safer). But this wouldn’t just mean uprooting the kids; it would mean leaving the dynamic labor market where we’ve tripled our family’s income over the past decade. Even if my wife and I could both find jobs, median incomes in Kalamazoo, Michigan, my hometown, are about half of the DC metro area’s.”

    What about Houston? There are plenty of ‘dynamic’ places where the cost of living isn’t through the roof and aren’t Bumfuck, Egypt either. Of course, that would mean letting go of ‘the number of zeroes in my paycheck’ dick measuring – you’ll get paid less, its just that the cost of living difference makes up for that pay cut. But you won’t be able to impress your coastal rivals with how much money you’re making any more and they won’t be able to see the big-ass house you bought in one of those horrible ‘flyover’ towns.

  34. @Pcar – good link and an excellent article about the education racket.

    Astonishing that the vice-chancellor of Bath Spa University – ranked 103rd in the UK – had a package worth more than £800k last year.

  35. @bom4

    Yep. Aside from housing, brand new cars are expensive – but a mechanically sound ten-year-old car should be fine for most people for most purposes. To be fair most of the twenty-somethings I know really splash the cash on eating out and foreign holidays.. Which does make their complaints about not being able to afford a decent place to live or to start thinking about kids look a little lame. But the fact that the housing is near unachievable for so many of them perhaps distracts them from the serious graft needed to save for a place – why bother when you feel you can’t do it? And I do think social and employment factors make it harder for people in their early to mid 20s to “couple up” so seriously as before.

  36. Agammamon,

    Just as importantly, hard work as a basis of a decent standard of living carries the implicit assumption that you are performing work which is of value to others.

    Even allowing that this guy believes he worked hard on his worthless “qualifications”, they represent nothing but a bloated sense of entitlement and self-importance, and years of expensive self-indulgence.

  37. “When I was a teenager, older relatives hustled me off to summer jobs with tales of paying for college by working summers at the local grocery store. By contrast, my wife and I will start paying for our kids’ college expenses before we finish paying off our own student loans. ”

    This got me thinking about the snowflake generation.

    I got my first summer job when I was 13 and it taught me some serious life lessons. Other jobs followed until I left school at 15 to join the army. I suspect most readers here will have done something similar in their youth and with their own children.

    When my son was 13 we calculated how much we gave him and paid it in to a bank account every month and let him manage his own money (we paid educational stuff). When he’d done his GCSEs I told him no money during the holidays and he’d have to get a job, but I offered him the option of keeping his allowance if he worked 5-days a week in a charity shop. He chose the latter. This was the pattern until he left school after his A Levels.

    If parents aren’t sending their kids out to get work experience there’s no wonder they have a massive sense of entitlement and a right not to be offended by the real world when they get to college and university. Youths going out to work in the holidays is about a lot more than earning a bit of money.

  38. Pcar – Great news.

    The HE bubble has been overdue a thorough popping for a while. Everyone I speak to in academia is terrified of Brexit, which might just be the push that’s needed to topple the whole house of cards (if we can avoid idiot politicians giving them massive bailouts and/or accelerating the Chinese invasion).

    The lawsuits should be epic.

  39. “Eventually your family ends up in the middle class.”

    There’s no ‘eventually’ to it, Agammamon. It is doable in a generation. Children’s potential is not linked to/limited by their parents’ achievement.

  40. MBE,

    “But the fact that the housing is near unachievable for so many of them perhaps distracts them from the serious graft needed to save for a place – why bother when you feel you can’t do it?”

    I don’t believe it’s that unachievable. £90K for a flat in Swindon. The starting salary for a nurse is £21K. A CNC machinist makes about £25K. It’s still on the high side, maybe, but it’s not bonkers.

    A lot of housing stories are because the media is in certain places with very high ratios like London, Bristol and Manchester. Even then, I know people who commute from Cinderford or Newport to Bristol every day because it’s a lot cheaper.

  41. Who needs a car? A Toyota-driving peasant wrote off my red Italian penis extension 6 years ago. Never replaced it. The savings buy an awful lot of taxi fares, business class upgrades, etc.

    It does wind me up a tad that the best housing areas are now basically enclaves of finance “industry” spivs, to the exclusion of professions that actually contribute something to the wellbeing of humanity.

  42. @ Bloke on M4
    Yes, guys with real jobs get paid real money.
    When I spent eight months working as a trainee computer programmer before going go Oxford I got paid £6 a week: after I arrived I found that my friend, who got an Exhibition to read Maths, had earned £40 a week as a labourer building the trans-pennine motorway (yes, he was more physically impressive than I, he got a Blue at Middleweight). The boy next next door to me worked as a steel erector – he got paid a lot more than I did until I was in my late-mid-twenties.

  43. “Gamecock
    November 3, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    There’s no ‘eventually’ to it, Agammamon. It is doable in a generation. Children’s potential is not linked to/limited by their parents’ achievement.”

    I wasn’t trying to imply that it was – just that it also has never been guaranteed to happen in a single lifetime.

  44. “BiG in Japan
    November 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Who needs a car? ”

    People who live in the United States outside of a tiny handful of city centers.

    Seriously – we simply don’t do ‘walkable’. Its a four and a half miles to the nearest grocery store – not a supermarket, mind you, a small grocery store. Even in most urban areas its a couple miles between them.

  45. @ Agammamon
    That is partly down to sheer amount of space in the USA and partly down to your idleness. There are such things as bicycles and feet.
    When I lived in London I never owned a car – I hired one a couple of times to go the Aldeburgh Festival with friends – but I used feet most of the time, including a few occasions when the public transport system closed down.

  46. Yeah, I remember that when visiting our US office. I walked the 4.5 miles in and back from my hotel most days, and people thought I was nuts.

  47. john 77,

    “That is partly down to sheer amount of space in the USA and partly down to your idleness. There are such things as bicycles and feet.
    When I lived in London I never owned a car – I hired one a couple of times to go the Aldeburgh Festival with friends – but I used feet most of the time, including a few occasions when the public transport system closed down.”

    Yes, but London has a pretty comprehensive public transport network that is often the fastest way to get around and runs all the time. Try getting home from ice skating at 10pm without a car in a provincial town.

  48. @ Bloke on the M4
    I walked/scout’s paced home a few times when I found the local tube station closed: usually the distance was greater than the diameter of the typical provincial town.
    London Transport does not run all the time, even now, and certainly didn’t then (apart from the Night buses on a very small number of routes). Also, I have pointed out several times that it was usually quicker to walk 3-4 miles home after a social evening with friends than to catch a bus.

  49. More Good News on Unis

    National Union of Students on Verge of Bankruptcy

    “We have taken immediate advice on the options available to us to ensure we remain solvent. It looks likely this will include a combination of borrowing against the building we own, making cuts to staff, and turning off some of the activity we deliver.”

    The NUS will try to stay afloat by implementing harsh austerity, making sweeping cuts to staff as well as cuts to services. But we’re told that austerity was just a “political choice”?

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