|Credit: The Chronicle of Higher Education|
I think Derek Lowe has the right statistical take on it:
- There are more people with advanced degrees in the general population.
- Times are hard, and there are more people on public assistance (1 in 7 families?)
- Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised when there are more people with advanced degrees on public assistance. (After all, readers of this blog should know that a Ph.D. does not guarantee protection from bad economic times.)
I felt particularly sorry for the man who is a teaching assistant at a community college, while he's pursuing his doctorate in film studies and working odd jobs to support his family's income:
"I'm grateful for government assistance. Without it, my family and I would certainly be homeless and destitute," he says. "But living on the dole is excruciatingly embarrassing and a constant reminder that I must have done something terribly wrong along the way to deserve this fate."
As he sat in the WIC office with his family, Mr. Stegall blamed himself. He made a choice, he says, to earn a graduate degree even as he saw the economy collapsing, the humanities under assault, and the academic job market worsening.
"As a man, I felt like I was a failure. I had devoted myself to the world of cerebral activity. I had learned a practical skill that was elitist," he says. "Perhaps I should have been learning a skill that the economy supports."That last line is particularly painful, and I'm sure there are a number of chemists who might feel the same way.