I just walked past a poster on campus that said banks loan 17x more to cars than they do to students.
I rolled my eyes.
I’m not even sure where to start on this one:
1) Banks don’t lend money to cars. They lend money to people to buy cars.
2) Implict in the poster is the claim that people are morally superior to cars. People are more important. See comment #1.
3) The real thing to compare isn’t people and cars, but cars and education. Or better yet, transportation and education.
There are a lot of things about education, higher education in particular, which people accept as fact which are not. The primary one is that getting an education will increase the amount of money you make in your life.
There is indeed a strong correlation between getting an education and the amount of money you make in your lifetime. However, and if you are indeed educated and have had stats 101 you should know this, correlation isn’t causation. There is good reason to believe that people who go to college are the ones who probably would have been more successful, regardless of college. Especially if they are in a line of work which has nothing to do with what they studies (which is damn near everyone) I know some very bright people who never graduated college and do quite well. I also know some idiots with degrees.
More over all educations are not created equal. We are currently churning out loads of people with useless degress. I can’t tell you the number of political science, sociology, and psychology majors are running around the UofM campus. The number of these kids who actually end up working in this field is very small. The college you attend, and your field of study are enormous variables that are completely absent in any generic discussion of education.
Most discussions of higher education almost universally center around getting more people a college education. In reality, we probably have too many people in college. One of the primary reasons why the costs of education is going up so fast is that the supply is pretty much constant, where as the demand keeps going up. College takes people out of the workforce for 4 years. That is the primary reason for college.
When I have this discussion with people, they usually resort to things like meeting new people, hanging out and other non-academic things. These have nothing to do with college, but leaving home for the first time.
Back to the original point of banks and lending. Cars, quite frankly, are a better investment. You at least can sell them. If I were to loan someone money for an education, which is not a bad idea, I’d tie the loan to things which no one ties education loans to today: what will your field of study be, grades, what college you will be attending, etc. I’m not going to waste money on someone who muddles through an american studies degree. I’m going to give it to the kid going into engineering.
And also, there are a lot more cars than students.