Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Have a Department of What?

A few days ago I learned of the Journal of Happiness Studies, proof there is an academic journal for almost everything.


Ah, but happiness isn't enough. No, we have to be overtly political.

Yes, the University of Minnesota, Duluth, has introduced a Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL, pronounced "maple") for aspiring leftists. The ACORN activists can attend the "Maple" program, which proves how confused they are. Acorns go with oaks — I associate syrup with maple trees.

The director of this program is complaining that his students are in debt, but considering careers that don't pay well. These students, he argues, should have all their debts forgiven. After all, they will be helping people in the future. He blames "conservative orthodoxy" for the high cost of college, which is utter nonsense.

The high cost is because government gives loans, grants, and directly funds universities. There's so much money, the tuition rose to consume as much available money as possible. Most state universities receive the bulk of their funding from sources other than tuition. In other words, the high tuition still doesn't reflect the real cost of an education. That cost is the result of waste and stupidity.

Get real. I'm all for subsidizing colleges and universities, to a point, but not when so much of their budgets support dozens of meaningless programs on every campus. A degree in public or administration should be fine. We don't need a center dedicated to "advocacy." That's simply too blatantly political. I doubt the graduates will be "advocating" better business tax policies or arguing for limited government.

Finally, I have learned just how out of touch with reality universities have become. I didn't think anything could surprise me, already being aware of such departments as the Center for Peace and Justice at Fresno State (with analogous departments at most large universities), the Center for the Study of Islamic Law at another major public university, and numerous other "feel good" programs. We tried to correct oversights with Women's Studies and went completely insane with specialized "Studies" and "Centers" for research.

Okay, a Center for Happiness Studies might be fun... but do we need it apart from a psychology department? Is this a multidisciplinary program with economists, statisticians, and physicians? And how are my tax and tuition dollars being wasted?