Smart people need not apply

Last night I dreamt of all things about the old show Head Of The Class. For those who don’t know this was a sitcom mid-late 80’s about this smart class. It has been rarely seen since it went off the air in 1991 I believe except briefly about 10 years ago on Nick At Nite. Why I would dream about it seems odd, considering I haven’t even seen it for about 10 years, except to say it got to me think about how smart kids become smart unemployable adults.

More than most of the shows I watched in that time this show related to my high school experience. That’s not to say it was my favorite show, I probably liked a few shows better, just that it dealt with an issue close to me: smart kids. See, in high school I was in honors courses myself and a few others I could have been in but chose not to. I had low self esteem back then and was convinced I was stupid and ugly though in reality this wasn’t the case. However it was discovered I had an extremely high IQ and needed to be with other smart kids. One of my classmates is now a plastic surgeon to the stars and another is a rocket scientist. However, for as many smart people in my classes and how many went on to be successful what I find interesting is how many didn’t. Many went on to menial jobs, others work in fields that don’t require degrees and quite a few women went on to become stay at home moms. I’ll discuss this topic in another thread.

Getting back though to the smart kid issue and what disturbs me is how as a society we do not value smart people, especially women. We make fun of smart women who aren’t attractive. Smart men are not picked on as much but in movies they are often the blunt of jokes. However when it comes to employers they often don’t want smart people. When I hear the word “overqualified” my first thought was “too smart”. There was a case where a cop wasn’t hired because he had a higher score than the police department wanted. I personally know far more unemployed lawyers, PH.Ds and people with Masters than I do high school dropouts. They use the excuse “they are too qualified” but it’s really they want people they can control. Smart people aren’t as easily controlled. This is also why they give psych tests to see those people they can control. Employers claim they can’t find skilled people but this is a ruse to bring in people from other countries.

I wonder if the these fictional students were real students would they be in the same situation as someone like me, competiting for the few skilled jobs with morons (who get the jobs)or the unskilled jobs, or would they be successful? I would place a bet that they would be like me or the majority of my smart classmates who are either working for themselves or unemployed/underemployed. Losing jobs to a stupid frat boy who happens to be the son of a rich guy. We had one of these for president and look how well things turned out (sarcasm)and currently have another one running for president and could win if the economy stays terrible.

It says a lot about our society when we have highly qualified people being rejected for people who barely graduated high school or college.

4 thoughts on “Smart people need not apply”

  1. We’ve seen a lot of deskilling of jobs as well as off-shoring of manufacturing jobs overseas. Employers want people who are bright enough to do the tasks, but dumb enough not to see that they are being screwed. The rise of easy credit has masked the lack of inflation-adjusted pay increases for years. The minimum wage is worth less than it was in the 1960s.

    The fix is in with a lot of jobs. I’ve seen job announcements rewritten many times so that the boss’s fair-haired boy could qualify for the job. I’ve been passed over for promotion more times than I can count. However, I am at a point in my career where getting promoted is at most a 10:1 proposition, no matter how good I am at my job.

    A basic conflict that we have is that we want cheap goods. An unintended effect of cheap goods is low wages, because the businesses want to make their usual profit. This might mean hiring no one with a college education for entry-level jobs when all that you pay to start is minimum wage. The only thing that I can do is to seek out goods that are made in the U.S. and pay the premium that they often require.

  2. I have seen the job re writing at my last job and they would put in skills that the person they want to hire has but most don’t. A few years ago I saw an ad for a marketing coordinator position that required forklift certificate. Those generally don’t go together so I suspect that was intended to hire someone already working there.

    I know as a society we are in more debt that ever before. Years ago one could afford a house on one salary and that salary was after high school. Now there are people still paying loans into their 60’s and up and often still can’t afford homes. My parents bought their first home when they were 24 and 25, imagine buying a home that young now. Neither of my parents attended college (my mom should have)because they didn’t need to. Both got good jobs out of high school, jobs that now require a degree.

  3. The two-income family did a lot to bid up home prices, particularly in districts that have good schools. I bought my first house at 28 and paid it off six years later. Too bad that i don’t still own it, because it tripled in price after I sold it, and lost only about 10% of the increase since the peak. One thing that helped the price of the house was the decline in mortgage rates. They were about 10% when I bought the house, and had dropped to around 7.5% when I sold it.

    People who own a house can expect to be underwater if they bought a house anytime in the last 5-7 years, particularly if they didn’t put down 20% or more. A problem with buying houses is that people want a lot more house than they can afford. Would you buy a two-bedroom, one bathroom house in a decent neighborhood? This was the starter house of the 1950’s. My parents bought a row house in Philadelphia when they had their first child in 1951, and traded up to a four-bedroom house in New Jersey in 1960.

    One of my sisters and her husband don’t have an education beyond high school, and they were able to buy a two-bedroom “twin” house in Philadelphia in 1998 or so. What they did was save manically for about two years, eating a lot of hot dogs and packing their lunches to make the down payment. They paid to have a second bathroom installed in the basement. Lots of people are unable or unwilling to make sacrifices to save for future goals. They have to have their trinkets NOW.

    When both members of a couple are out working, food becomes a lot more expensive because there isn’t time to cook. If one is willing to eat the same thing for several meals in a row or alternate between a couple of meals or eat something that can be turned into other meals, like chicken to chicken salad sandwiches, cooking during the weekend is the answer. In a lot of cases, we want what we want now, and so aren’t willing to plan ahead and eat something that is good, though not the top of our preferences at the moment.

    Another factor is that expectations are higher. Coming out of college, a lot of people expect to have immediately what it took their parents 20 years to build. I dislike advertising. Aspirational goods will doom so many people to debt peonage.

  4. I think it’s because of the rise of instant gratification. My parents always lived modestly and bought within their means. They rarely used credit cards and when they upgraded houses bought ones they could afford. Granted they had money saved and my dad (and at times mom)had a god job so they could buy into a great neighborhood. Now though I’ve seen what you mention and how people buy out of their means. For me when I do get another good job and if I don’t marry I will buy a simple condo instead of a huge house and stay within my means.

    What you are talking about with recent grads is this idea that they are entitled to make what their parents did. Kids today are being taught that they can achieve anything, and not work hard. My parents told me that even after college there was never a guarantee (and they proved right). I didn’t walk out expecting to make $100,000+ right out of school. My former best friend’s son thinks once he gets his associate he will be a manager making a lot of money and I told him no way. He probably won’t even get a lot of jobs with just an associates and even a bachelors.

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