Friday, August 26, 2011

Besieging Moldbug's Cathedral: The University System

The various universities are a very important node in Moldbug's Cathedral model. They exert a powerful influence over society and culture because they control the only major credentialing system that won't get you, as an employer, sued to hell and back for disparate impact.
If you want reactionary change, obviously the university system has to be weakened, subverted, supplanted, or destroyed. Moldbug is quite correct in his model that the various nodes of the Cathedral will tend to act to resist any attacks on any of the other nodes, so in practice you need to attack them all more or less at once, if only with spoiling attacks. Fortunately, most of the elements of the Cathedral are doing an excellent job of destroying themselves, but the university system probably will require a little more help from the forces of reaction.

The way to assault the university system is through logistics rather than strategy or tactics. Choke off its long term supply of oxygen--in this case, money. There are ways we can do this with help from conservatives and ironically enough, liberals, the more bleeding heart the better.

1. Dump the exemption of student loans from being discharged during a bankruptcy. In fact, degrade their debt status to the same level as credit cards or other unsecured debt. The bleeding hearts will help you a lot on this, as the 1998 bill that moved this was pretty much a rent seeking move from the banksters. Conservatives who realize who this hurts (mostly their enemies) will also likely get on board. The long term effect of this of course would be to drive up the rates of interest on student loans and make them less available. This will put a choke hold on the ability of the various universities to rapidly raise tuition (cheap money usually creates bubbles after all).

2. Take advantage of initiatives like this one of Rick Perry's.

I'm not a big fan of Perry, as I don't trust him on the national question, but he does have the habit of occasionally, even perhaps inadvertently, aiming at the correct targets. To him I suggest doing the following:
a. If you don't already have it, institute a common course numbering system and full and free credit transfer from all Texas public universities to all Texas public universities. Getting aligned with a few other states in a reciprocal agreement would be excellent also. The State of Florida has such an arrangement. This move is pretty easily masked as a simple 'good government' effort.
b. Once a) is in place, you can then prevail on one university in your system (i.e. the one with the weakest Alumni) to force the availability of a straightforward credit by examination with only a very nominal fee on most courses wherein a comprehensive final is the standard. Start it out pretty conservatively, i.e. if you score at or above the 70th percentile of people actually taking the course, you get credit for the course for a mere fee of $100 or thereabouts.
If you do that, you'll greatly shorten the degree time for autodidacts and those who just need to credit as they already have the knowledge and further choke more money out of the university system.