How Do You Solve a Problem Like Evan Goldstein?

(From a friend who wishes to remain anonymous)
What are we to make of Evan R. Goldstein?

According to his recent article in The Wall Street Journal [“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mel Gibson?” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2010] (a publication that seems to be a rising purveyor of gossip and pseudo-intellectual analysis of gossip), Evan R. Goldstein believes that the rest of us are too-little concerned about the “tirades” and “outburst”s of a Mel Gibson.

Who is this scold and guardian of moral truth who seeks to protect us from the outbursts of a Hollywood celebrity?

“Mr. Goldstein is a staff editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education.” And with no disclaimer that his concern and high dudgeon are his own, he obviously reflects the views of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

When did the Chronicle of Higher Education, a periodical that concerns itself with preserving the government supported higher ed bubble industry, become so concerned with the babblings and outbursts of Hollywood celebrities?

Maybe the Chronicle is preparing to enter the gossip rag field and compete with RadarOnline and TMZ? Possibly because they see the writing on the wall, so to speak, that the increasingly shrill and increasingly irrational pushing of all high school students into “higher ed” is going to come to a not so glorious end similar to the bursting of the housing bubble?

Rather than concerning himself with Hollywood celebrities, maybe Mr. Goldstein should focus more of his efforts exploring whether we should be shoving so many high school students into “Higher Education” and a life of non-dischargeable debt and its subsequent wrecking of adult lives.

But then that would not allow Mr. Goldstein to mount his high horse and harrumph with high dudgeon about meaningless Hollywood celebrities. And it might upset his cronies in academia and government who continue to inflate the higher education bubble.

Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, recently wrote in “Is College Overated?”:

A new study from the Pew Research Center reports that “freshman enrollment at the nation’s 6,100 post-secondary institutions surged by 144,000 students from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008. This 6% increase was the largest in 40 years, and almost three-quarters of it came from minority freshman.

The trend is certainly a boon to the education establishment. High schools like mine, always eager for good press, can boast that they have prepared an ever greater percentage of their charges to move on to the halls of academe. And though colleges blame us in the high schools for sending them kids who are woefully unprepared, they blithely pocket the tuition from such students lest they have to downsize and lay off professors and administrators.

But how much students with low skills, little motivation and lousy study habits are going to profit from going to college is not so clear. Over the past five years, I have seen students who didn’t have the skills one would expect of a ninth-grader going off to four-year colleges where fewer than 30% of entering freshman graduate.

That means that 70% of the freshman class is likely to end up not with a diploma but a pile of debt. In these days of tight budgets at every level of government, it’s also hard to ignore that these schools are heavily subsidized by the federal government.

Mr. Goldstein seems to have taken William Hazlitt’s observation in The Pleasures of Hating to heart: “without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action.” Mr. Goldstein needs to find another outlet for his “superfluous bile”. We suggest that Mr. Goldetein focus on the ever increasing piles of non-discharageable student loan debt that college graduates, and many more who drop out of college, incur at the behest of higher ed administrators and other insiders, “educators,” and government employees.

Now there is a task worthy of a higher ed insider–and deserving of some bile.

Hazlitt wrote wisely in The Pleasures of Hating:

It is well that the power of such persons is not co-ordinate with their wills: indeed, it is from the sense of their weakness and inability to control the opinions of others, that they ‘outdo termagant‘, and endeavour to frighten them into conformity by big words and monstrous denunciations.

Further, Mr. Goldstein’s article and his position as an “editor” reminded us of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of editor in Devil’s Dictionary.

EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.

O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought,
A gilded impostor is he.
Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought,
His crown is brass,
Himself an ass,
And his power is fiddle-dee-dee.
Prankily, crankily prating of naught,
Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought.
Public opinion’s camp-follower he,
Thundering, blundering, plundering free.
Respected contemporaree!

J. H. Bumbleshook

Please Mr. Goldstein, spare us. Focus on something important, like the swindle of young people by college administrators and higher ed insiders like yourself who encourage those students to take on mountains of non-discharageable student loan debt.