It’s quite dreary to walk around McPherson Square these days. Looking at all those slothful souls who can’t help but “occupy” public space, you feel — what’s the word? — guilty. With their ragtag tents and cardboard cutouts, the protesters who set up camp there certainly do make a lamentable bunch.
It really is high time we did something about these irksome protesters. It is time for a modest proposal, one with everyone’s best intentions in mind. Just the other day we heard from a friend who’s abroad in China — our new model for all things economic and rational these days — about a great strategy to decrease the unemployment rate.
We don’t profess to have any one solution to clean the streets of all the stricken masses. We do, however, have a humble suggestion: Get rid of all liberal and fine arts courses taught at American universities.
This suggestion comes straight from the innovative minds of China’s Ministry of Education. What they’re doing will seem so simple that we’ll wish we had thought of it years ago. Alas, this is why we trust Chinese economists for insights, and not our own (who still can’t seem to decide between austerity and stimulus — pick already!).
The Chinese saw there were relatively high numbers of college graduates among their unemployed population. Many of these unemployed college grads had earned their degrees in a select few majors, such as obscure languages (like Russian), social sciences and literature. Clearly, no one cares about trivial things like neighborhood relations and books.
Troubled as they were, the Chinese never flinched. Not even for an instant. “China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates,” reports a Wall Street Journal blog. And just like that, the liberal arts are being eliminated.
The unemployment rate for students with college degrees in China has been increasing as the number of graduates goes up. Many of those graduates weren’t trained in the right skill sets for China’s economy, which relies heavily on laborers skilled in machinery and manufacturing. It only makes sense, then, that the government intervened is doing something that would force the unemployed to train in more suitable fields of study.
Chinese universities will now slash entire majors if the employment rate for graduates in the field is less than 60 percent for two years in a row. Not to be outdone, America should set an unprecedented benchmark of 90 percent employment. Some will undoubtedly complain — as those with no viable alternatives often do. This simple solution, however, is the only rational way to approach the unemployment problem.
The liberal arts don’t seem to have any economic benefit. Most English majors master their obscure subject, leave school unemployed and end up on the streets as protesters within a few years. If we want to reduce the number of unemployed, then we need to reduce the number of English majors!
English isn’t the only major we should cut. Let’s turn to the other worst offenders — those majors that have been found to have a connection with the highest unemployment rates by The Wall Street Journal.
History, after English, can be the second to go. With 15.1 percent of history majors now unemployed, it’s clear that these graduates need a new way to apply their detail-oriented minds. In fact, they could work perfectly well as archivists for accounting firms. With so much data in the modern economy, someone needs to sort it all into folders.
And while we’re at it, let’s silence that racket coming from the musicians and erase those wasteful art programs. Fine arts majors, at 16.2 percent unemployed, need to use their creativity doing something more valuable. Computers are an important part of modern life — there’s no reason why we shouldn’t redirect fine arts majors toward computer coding.
Last (and, in this case, the least), psychology as a discipline should be scrapped. With an unemployment rate of 19.5 percent for clinical psychology majors, psychologists seem to add no economic benefit to our economy whatsoever. Luckily for us, most would make great test tube washers for our hard scientists.
The benefits of cutting the liberal arts should at this point be obvious: First, it will help redirect students toward jobs; second, the better our students are trained, the more likely they’ll get job offers; and finally, college grads will be off the streets, shrinking the visual blight of “Occupy” protests.
It might be hard for a liberal arts-minded person to swallow this bitter pill, but tough sacrifices must be made. As Jonathan Swift once said of his own “Modest Proposal,” the advantages of a simple plan “are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.” In the interest of the public good, the best option is always the most modest, most manageable one.
Michael Meaney is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and Matthew Hoyt is a senior in the College. They are the president and director of communications of the Georgetown University Student Association, respectively. THE STATE OF NATURE appears every other Tuesday.