Nor is this a new phenomenon. A scholarly history of 19th century Prague referred to “the well-educated but underemployed” Czech young men who promoted ethnic polarization there— a polarization that not only continued, but escalated, in the 20th century to produce bitter tragedies for both Czechs and Germans.
In other central European countries, between the two World Wars a rising class of newly educated young people bitterly resented having to compete with better qualified Jews in the universities and with Jews already established in business and the professions. Anti-Semitic policies and violence were the result.
It was much the same story in Asia, where successful minorities like the Chinese in Malaysia were resented by newly educated Malays without either the educational or business skills to compete with them. These Malaysians demanded— and got— heavily discriminatory laws and policies against the Chinese.
Similar situations developed at various times in Nigeria, Romania, Sri Lanka, Hungary and India, among other places.
Many Third World countries have turned out so many people with diplomas, but without meaningful skills, that “the educated unemployed” became a cliche among people who study such countries. This has not only become a personal problem for those individuals who have been educated, or half-educated, without acquiring any ability to fulfill their rising expectations, it has become a major economic and political problem for these countries.
Such people have proven to be ideal targets for demagogues promoting polarization and strife. We in the United States are still in the early stages of that process. But you need only visit campuses where whole departments feature soft courses preaching a sense of victimhood and resentment, and see the consequences in racial and ethnic polarization on campus.
There are too many other soft courses that allow students to spend years in college without becoming educated in any real sense.
We don’t need more government “investment” to produce more of such “education.” Lofty words like “investment” should not blind us to the ugly reality of political porkbarrel spending.
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