A recent article at Inside Higher Ed attributes the continual attainment of Ph.D.s despite the lack of jobs as the result of search for “smugness,” stating in part:
Take two reasonably intelligent 25-year-olds, both with undergraduate degrees. One, Aphron, goes the way of Mammon, getting a job and spending the next decade as a salaryman — first at a low level, but by year 10 well-advanced in the hierarchy, doing pretty well. The other seeks a Ph.D. — call him Metis — and spends eight years lurking outside his dissertation director’s office followed by two years actually writing. The Economist would tell you that the Aphron is in materially better shape.
But what about spiritually? Ego-wise? Qua a fully-formed human being? There’s where the Metis, Ph.D., holds all the cards. Aphron spent 10 years getting and spending so as to fill the hole in his center. A decade out of school he careens from one excellent meal to the next, from one satisfying Caribbean vacation to another, from a well-heated home in January to a well-cooled one in July, no closer to fulfillment than when he started. Metis, however, has done something less than 1 percent of Americans have done — climbed the mountain of the academy and planted his flag. In conversations with Aphron he can parry chatter about the trouble with tax shelters with something high-minded about myxobacteria or heteroglossia or dark matter. Dark matter!
This reminds me of one of the skits on Kanye West’s The College Dropout:
My question is, can we also extend this explanation to the adjunctification of higher education? Could it be that those without Ph.D.s, including the general public as well as our elected officials, argue for cutting education budgets as payback for our smugness?