Professor Kotlikoff makes his case by comparing the livelihoods of plumbers and doctors. Yes, doctors have a bigger salary. But, doctors have to endure nearly a decade of expensive education before making any real salary, after which the doctor is hit by a very high progressive tax rate. Because of all the costs the doctor incurs, the taxes and the lost wages, he says, “plumbers make more, and have almost the same spending power over their lifetime as general practitioners.”
I feel for the majority of college students today. They will graduate with a mountain of debt and few prospects for meaningful employment. Unless they are extremely lucky, they will first spend years hacking away at their student loans with whatever job they can get.
My Dad was a plumber, and had a long and interesting career. He went to college later in life simply because it interested him. He was able to build his own home and raise a family of five children. It wasn’t luxurious, but it was happy and he was able to be productive in his chosen vocation from early on in life without the onus of education loans hanging over his head.
Be aware of the higher education bubble. By all means pursue your dreams, but think about the what you are pursuing and what value it will have after graduation. Will that degree in Comparative Women’s Studies put food on the table and fulfill you for a lifetime ?