Penn Professors Double Down on Occupy Wall Street

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In another demonstration of the mainstream Left’s full-throated embrace of illegality, mob mayhem and anti-Semitism, a group of Penn University professors has expressed “solidarity” with the Occupy Wall Street movement. “Occupy Wall Street is protesting a system that provides increasingly few opportunities for the majority–the 99%–while generating vast profits for a tiny minority,” the petition reads. “Along with the demonstrators, we are demanding an end to the extreme inequalities that structure our society.” One of the most extreme inequalities currently afflicting American society?  The necessity of acquiring a college education in order to secure a job–and the mind-boggling cost of that education.

Why is a college education necessary? Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto explains the evolution. “What most professional jobs require is basic intellectual aptitude. And what has changed since the 1970s is that the court has developed a body of law that prevents employers from directly screening for such aptitude.”

The most important part of that body of law was a 1971 Supreme Court case. In Griggs v. Duke Power, Willie Griggs and a dozen other black employees of Duke Power’s Dan River hydroelectric plant in Draper, North Carolina sued the company for discrimination. In 1955, Duke had instituted a high school diploma requirement for every other department except Labor, where these men were employed. In 1965, when passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect, Duke began allowing transfers of non-graduates, provided they could pass two tests: the Wonderlic Test, which rates general mental ability, and the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test, which was geared to predict job performance in mechanical fields. Duke based its passing scores on the national median scores for high school graduates.

Every lower court that heard the case agreed that whites fared better on the tests, thus putting blacks at a disadvantage in hiring. This violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited the use of tests which could result in a “disparate impact.” Both a federal court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Duke, noting that the test did not reveal any discriminatory intent. The Supreme Court overruled the lower courts, essentially contending that while such tests are not illegal under Title VII, discriminatory consequences, rather than intent, was the critical factor. Such tests are legal only if “they are demonstrably a reasonable measure of job performance,” wrote Chief Justice Warren Burger at the time.

Taranto notes that disparate impact does not apply to college admission requirements, such as SAT tests, and explains that businesses requiring college degrees for employment do not violate Griggs because “colleges and universities…go out of their way to discriminate in favor of minorities. By admitting blacks and Hispanics with much lower SAT scores than their white and Asian classmates, purportedly in order to promote ‘diversity,’ these institutions launder the exam of its disparity.” Thus, colleges become the business world’s “shield” against civil rights lawsuits, which is why, Taranto notes, that 65 Fortune 500 companies filed amicus briefs in Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 Supreme Court case that allowed for the use of race as a factor in determining admissions. Ergo, obtaining a college degree “is a very expensive way of showing that [a potential employee] has, in effect, passed an IQ test,” he writes.

Once a college degree became a “necessity,” it was inevitable that some level of upward pressure on the cost of obtaining a degree would occur. Yet the level of that increase is astounding, and nothing reflects this better than the amount of borrowing undertaken to pay for it. Last year, the amount of student loans crossed the $100 billion mark, and the total amount of outstanding loans–government-guaranteed outstanding loans–will pass $1 trillion this year. Furthermore, students are borrowing twice as much as they did ten years ago, adjusted for inflation, and the total outstanding debt has doubled in the last five years, and more than quadrupled over the last ten. Americans now owe more for student loans than they owe on their credit cards.

The borrowing goes to pay for college tuition fees, which have been on a meteoric jag, rising almost 130% over the last 20 years (6 percent faster than the annual inflation rate), even as incomes have remained largely stagnant. At some of the more elite universities in the nation, the cost of tuition, fees and room and board is staggering, between $58,000 and $54,000 per year. Yet even the average costs come in at $39,000 per year for a four year institution.

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  • Pathena

    The selfishness and greed of the Penn professors is apparent, as it is of the OWS movement. The rise in student costs for college came as a consequence of yet another of President Lyndon Johnson's well-meaning policies, namely, student loans from the federal government which were tied to tuition. That was an open invitation for colleges and universities to increase their tuition – which they did enthusiastically.

  • erp

    Who's teaching their classes?

    • mrbean

      No One I hope, as they are only indoctrination seminars.

    • angel

      That could only be an improvement

  • StephenD

    Paraphrased from a Michael O'Brian book "Father Eliajah,"
    "So now it is made clear that this "revolt" that hides beneath the superficial creativity of individualism tends more toward a numbing uniformity."
    It sure didn't take long for those calling for "equity" ended up shouting "Give it to me." The entire movement, all calling in unison, is at the core Socialistic at best and pure greed at worst. People want what they've no right to ~ someone else’s stuff.

  • Dr. Bob

    At least they are out of the classroom…these socialist losers don’t teach anyway…they lecture. And when they do, it’s all about the almighty government. Thank God they are out polluting OWS and not teaching the real students.

  • Edgar

    I support OWS and I have to say I also support every word of this (minus the first sentence).

    • angel

      Yea, I do too down with spooky dude, off with his head!

  • crypticguise

    I concur with the fact that most professional jobs DO NOT require a "college education". A college education today is no more than a certification that someone has attended 4 years (wasted) of classes in mostly useless non academic tripe.

    Bring back the Wonderlic Testing and Testing for Mechanical ability and hire the individuals with the best scores. It's worked in the military forever.

  • http://VocalMinority.typepad.com EricTheRed_VM

    In 2000-01 Undergraduate enrollment at UPenn cost:
    Tuition + Fees = a little over $25,000.
    Room/board = approx. $7,800.
    (http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/tuition/2000.html)

    In 2010-11 Undergraduate enrollment at UPenn cost:
    Tuition + Fees = $40,514
    Room/board = $11,430

    Why such a radical increase? Consider:
    The mean average salary for a full-time prof. at UPenn in 2000-01: $121,424
    (http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/v49pdf/030325/ESF2k3.pdf)
    The mean average salary for a full-time prof. at UPenn in 2010-11: $175,100

    This, of course, is not including health benefits and pension, and must be understood with the consideration that professors actually "work" 8 or 9 months of the year, and definitely not 9:00-5:00, 5 days a week.

    Re: UPenn's president:
    1998-99: $503,163 + $52,392 in benefits.
    (http://articles.philly.com/2000-08-22/news/25593244_1_severance-package-constantine-papadakis-drexel-university)

    2002-03: $845,474 annual compensation in 2002 in addition to salaries from other boards and both cash and non-cash benefits.
    (http://www.thejustice.org/features/college-presidents-pay-rises-1.2341272#.TqYwA5uImU8)

    2009-10: Penn President Amy Gutmann brought home a total compensation of $1,367,004 — about $500,000 more than her base compensation of $859,857.
    (http://thedp.com/index.php/article/2010/06/gutmann_sees_4_pay_raise)

    So who is screwing whom? Not Wall Street Bankers! Do young adults drowning in college debt have something to be angry about? Absolutely. But the target should be their institutions of "higher" education! These socialist profs with the 6-figure salaries for doing a total of about 6 months of work have no business being among the rioters!
    http://VocalMinority.typepad.com
    The Jewish Republican's Web Sanctuary

  • Hercules

    Lest anyone be fooled, the academics and the mainstream media elites have been the aristocracy in this country at least since FDR. By aristocracy I mean that they receive far more remuneration and recognition than their real contributions warrant. Insulated in their ivory tower sinecures they have very little to contribute which is germane and significant to the real world in which most of us live. In fact, the propaganda and lies they inculcate into the gullible pupils whom they are allowed to infect, make both them and their students a bane on society. Nonetheless, they earn more each year for doing less.

  • Hercules

    The result is that students have to borrow beyond their means to repay (like the governments at all levels). So the very culprits who are responsible for the disgruntled Occupiers, far from acknowleding their irresponsible greed, point the protesters towards the bottomless well called the taxpayers – a position in complete accord with the Redistributor in Chief named Obama. We had far fewer legitimate grievances against King George III to lauch our rebellion against England that we have today. It is NOT the socialist vagrants who should be occupying territory. It is patriots who have paid than is reasonable to support those who rely not even 1% on their own efforts and initiative but are 99% dependent on the earnings of those who have never asked for anything but the opportunity to pursue happiness.

  • Ellman

    The result is that students have to borrow beyond their means to repay (like the governments at all levels). So the very culprits who are responsible for the disgruntled Occupiers, far from acknowleding their irresponsible greed, point the protesters towards the bottomless well called the taxpayers – a position in complete accord with the Redistributor in Chief named Obama. We had far fewer legitimate grievances against King George III to lauch our rebellion against England that we have today. It is NOT the socialist vagrants who should be occupying territory. It is patriots who have paid than is reasonable to support those who rely not even 1% on their own efforts and initiative but are 99% dependent on the earnings of those who have never asked for anything but the opportunity to pursue happiness.

  • WSK

    My alma mater always seems to find a new way to embarass me!

  • Larry Rice

    As a Penn alumn, I am embarrassed by the "Penn" editorial. These Professors are just proverbial dreaming idealists. Wall Street =bad. Handouts = good. They do not understand the radicalism of the movement. They do not understand how quickly this will spiral. By making it a 99/1 game, they are creating scapegoats. And that same 1%, not surprisingly, is the same percentage of the US population that is Jewish. You do the math. I am embarrassed, ashamed and will be notifying Amy Gutman and calling for the immediate resignation of this cadre of anti-semites.

  • erp

    If I'm not mistaken, that 1% also pays somthing like 40% of the taxes. Their 99% mostly pays no taxes and is on the receiving side of the equation, not the contributing side.

    • http://VocalMinority.typepad.com EricTheRed_VM

      The latest stats are the top 1% make about 17% and pay about 37%. So they're already paying more than twice their fair share. The bottom 47% or so pay nothing at all. Now THAT's unfair. (And I'm far from the 1% believe me!)
      http://VocalMinority.typepad.com
      The Jewish Republican's Web Sanctuary