Saturday, May 07, 2011

Vivek Wadhwa: Strangely 'Right' on Education? A Nice Guy? This time, Yes!

So kids, it's your Uncle Drunky. Yes, THIS is my 'advice to you about education and going to a foreign country' post. Having done it a number of times. The education thing too. This is a loooong one so bear with me.

I'm kinda scratching my head about my favorite little sahib, Vivek Wadhwa. Who'da thunk? He's actually a nice if harmless academic 'in real life' if you go by these tweets (reversed, of course):

.@auerswald I would readily invest my life savings in providing my children best possible education also. Am talking about them taking debt

@qohort Everyone should get education. But if you can't afford $50K/year from Stanford, why not go to Berkeley or SF State?

For the record, I would go into debt to get the best education I could--or my children could get. Even though this isn't cost justified.
via TweetDeck

How is that for contradicting myself real-time? I'm speaking about economics vs. lifetime value.
via TweetDeck

All my usual sarcasm aside, I recommend my younger readers to seriously look at this part of his timeline on Twitter. It's one of the few times we see Vivek Wadhwa the Professor, and not the lobbyist for India, Inc.

When I read these tweets I see the same 'parental calculus' (fancy words for 'oh shit, I don't want to tell the kids that, because it's a trap I faced') that I got from my own elders when I started off. So let me relate what I know, bearing in mind that YOU have to "make up your own damn minds."

There's ONE 'school of thought' that you SHOULD go into debt as soon as possible, because you'll be paying off that debt later with 'cheaper' inflated money. You know how things were cheaper just 3 years ago? Gas? Starbucks? What if you could pay those debts off with 'today's money?' Sounds GREAT, doesn't it? No!

Now I'll tell you why that model falls flat: It's called 'compound interest', boys and girls. Your debt is not 'linear' like owing your friends a bit extra on a loan. They're COMPOUND in that they accumulate every day, POUNDING you into the ground when you don't pay them off, and they grow at an exponential rate. Learn the difference between SIMPLE (linear) and COMPOUND (exponential) interest, and you'll see why anyone with a brain does NOT hold credit card debt. That the US Debt is compounded at US$14T every day should boggle your mind.

Compound interest is how the banks make money out of air off your young backs. It's also how & why American Universities have no problem having an AMEX or VISA rep in front of EVERY college bookstore without fail. "Easy monthly payments" as they're called here in the US. Anything but!

The other thing is that colleges are now strapped for funds (too many perks for useless administrators, no salary for teachers, etc) so your tuition & book prices are hyper-inflated. Last time I went to a small town campus bookstore they were selling a classic programming book from 1988, Kernighan & Richie ANSI C for over $50. I've seen it on Amazon for 10 times less. Other books that were $40 in my time are now $150-- or, generous them, the college will RENT the book to you for $50. It's a scam.

Now I don't want to discourage you from pursuing your dream. But what I *DO* want to say is that this dream better be your obsession. It better keep you up at night.

It *should* be something that can help you and your family achieve growth in the LONG TERM. And that's not some "innovative" Facebook clone or another way to scrape the web of data.

What you are doing in going to college is learning how to think. I agree with Vivek in that you should get a bachelor's degree, or even an associate's. But these degrees are a start to your life. MAYBE after a few years with some practical experience under your belt you may opt for a Master's degree. But mostly you're learning how to re-tool yourself to the new things that are coming.

Personally, I studied East Asian Languages and Economics from a smaller college as Vivek suggests. Some 15 years later I have a solid background in Infosec, some Unix programming, and web development. The rest of that, I learned myself. And college was the start of that. If you have a fire or drive to really be something: a journalist, a programmer, then by all means GO FOR IT!! Many folks do not have the drive and should.. stop and reconsider.

But if you're JUST doing it 'for the money' you're setting yourself up for big time FAIL. There are a number of displaced Americans working off over US$100,000 to $200,000 of compounding debt, never 'getting ahead'. It may take them DECADES to work it off, or they may default on the debt. They'll NEVER have the 'American Dream' of a house because.. um, if you default, you do not get a loan. No loan, no house. Or even car. I know a number of folks back east in this situation.

If you do emigrate to another country, even the United States, expect flack from the locals. This is true in your country, right? Americans are really no different, EVEN IF they behave 'nicely' on the surface. In that we are all the same. As a shining example I give you the mobs that celebrated what's looking like the execution of Usama (Osama, yeah right) bin Laden. Maybe if they were more educated they would not approve. In fact, some do not, and have seen past US globalist deceit when it's SO OBVIOUS to anyone paying attention.

The globalists are intensely lazy. They do not want to spend money going to the 'emerging markets' --they want YOU to COME to THEM -- accumulate debt, and become a wage slave at a fraction the cost of a local. You cannot hop jobs. But you CAN displace a local whether you can do the job or not. This serves NO ONE except the employer.

Whether you get a green card or not? They do not care. THAT is why there are folks here who have been in 'limbo' for years. Some decades.

That is why there is so much H1B and other VISA fraud, including this new StartUp VISA. It will be abused just like the rest at YOUR expense.

That is why the fraudulent 'body shops' ply their trade.

That is why corporations indenture youngs like you because a 'visa' is considered a perk.

And THAT is why I am so much down on this 'nice Professor' whose agenda became leading young from overseas down a primrose path of VISA slavery.

If you could read to the end of this looooooooong screed, you should continue your education. But take the advice of a nice old professor and a drunk uncle-- and more importantly that of your elders: be pragmatic and have some common sense when you go about continuing your education.

Make your dream happen. Help your family, your friends, your town. That's all that really matters in the end.

That's it, kids. Your Uncle Drunky is out!

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