VDH on ‘The New American Helots’

Former history professor Victor Davis Hanson, who knows a vast amount about both ancient Greece and modern America, here compares young college graduates, burdened with debt and lacking marketable skills, with Sparta’s Helots, a half-slave, half-free class that did much of the work.

Hanson concludes, “Strip away the fancy degrees, the trendy fluff classes, the internships with prestigious employers, and the personal gadgets, and a new generation of indebted and jobless students has about as much opportunity as the ancient indentured Helots.”

A very jaundiced view to be sure, but I think it’s pretty accurate. Fifty years ago — before the college-for-all crusade got rolling — most high-school graduates could anticipate getting into work that would be self-sustaining and starting a family. Today, many college graduates can anticipate moving back in with their parents, floundering in the labor market because they’re high on self-esteem but low on ability, and devoting much of what they earn to paying off debts incurred for their dubious college credentials. 

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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