Gingrich pulls another rhetorical hat-trick attacking college students as lobster-eating free-riders. And, why Santorum's "62%" statistic is more dangerous.

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Summary: Newt throws another generational wrench into the pipe line, blaming students for taking advantage of a free ride. While most have noted his own lack of paying his own way, I just want to point out a couple of other problems.

BLOT: (31 Jan 2012 - 09:41:30 AM)

Gingrich pulls another rhetorical hat-trick attacking college students as lobster-eating free-riders. And, why Santorum's "62%" statistic is more dangerous.

Newt once again pulled his standard hat-trick of rhetoric: divisive when it didn't need to be, ignoring his own self-history, and devoid of actual administrative merit while seeming like good and practical advice. Just about every article I have seen about Newt's "College students need to learn to work and pay their way instead of living in luxury dorms with lobster dinners!" have focused on the hypocrisy of a man who used other people's money for his own college career, but since I'm pretty sure he is fine with Harvard students having their way paid for by Daddy + Mommy, I think he is being less hypocritical or even classist [remember folks, it's only "class warfare" when the Democrats do it], as throwing out an empty unresearched barb intended to be agist and overly categorical to make him seem "The Truth Whisperer". The barb wasn't, by the way, that kids should get done as soon as possible, borrow little, and work to pay their way—that makes for generally good advice as long as taken with moderation—but that youth culture can't see the value of this. He wants his supporters to know that he finds young people lazy and a waste of resources, because he knows that young people skip the polls a little too readily and the Young Republicans who do vote are sure as hell not going to switch to Democrat [and this is why young people should vote more, by the way]. Besides, let those who do pay their own way think that Newt is on their side, though he isn't, unless their side is Newt's side, etc.

But let's pretend he believes what he says for a moment, that he actually plans to rebuild youth culture and get people on the Moon and fire janitorial staff so poor black kids can learn a no longer viable job trade [they are just going to get fired when the new batch of kids show up]. Let's look at some of the issues in the statement that he could have taken into consideration and turned this into a practical, positive moment that could have been embraced by all sides:

Then again, Newt doesn't care about these things. He probably doesn't even have a real problem with kids or the fact that they are taking longer in college. He just knows that off the cuff statements given right before a primary helps him get through to voters to make up for his lack of campaign funds and for the fact that he is a majorly "establishment" figure trying to play off as a political outsider through seemingly unrehearsed dialogues.

If you wanted to go after anti-college rhetoric spoken by someone who means it, you might have a better time going after Rick Santorum's college makes 62% of people lose their faith, which seems to be based on a survey that shows that about that many attend church less while in college, though research suggests that college students tend to retain religious values of parents as well or better than other young adults. While about 14% (well under Santorum's 62%) of students disaffiliate from their religion after a traditional 4-year degree, over 20% do the same when they don't go to college.2 Still, there are going to be at least a few families who end up avoiding college, now, if not outright forbidding it, for fear of Santorum being right.

1: There have been various studies and statements on how working students are heavily factoring into the bloat in time taken to achieve a degree, but here is one: Gonzales, Jennifer. "Helping Students Complete Degrees On Time." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 6 October 2010.

2. Uecker, Jeremy E., Mark D. Regnerus, and Margaret L. Vaaler. "Losing My Religion: The Social Sources of Religious Decline in Early Adulthood." Social Forces 85, no. 4 (June 2007): 1667-1692.



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