July 18, 2019

Against the Job Certification Racket

“One of my favorite oldster groans is the one directed at college students who have fallen for Hegel or Japanese art history or, heaven help us, philology: Why don’t you do something practical instead, like learn to cut hair?

The answer is that, of course, some people do. This doesn’t save them from the educational-industrial complex. The New York Times reported recently on the plight of a young woman in Iowa who went $21,000 into debt in order to obtain a “license” for cutting hair and filing and shaping fingernails.

Tracy Lozano is an eminently practical young woman who if interested in Sanskirt verbs or Dogu statues of the late Jomon period has wisely decided to save these things for the weekend and earn a living instead. After investing roughly the price of a down payment on a reasonably nice home in rural Iowa on this piece of paper, she found herself eligible for a position at a Great Clips chain that paid her $9 an hour. Even after supplementing her guild-sponsored employment with another job — at Pizza Hut: apparently dough-folding and cheese-scattering have so far managed to remain outside the purview of Hawkeye state licensing authorities — she was able to earn about $25,000 a year. After 13 years of work she still owes the Iowa School of Beauty by way of her creditors more than $8,000.”

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