First of Three Parts.
Associated Press ran an article 12/31/05 by Eileen Alt Powell explaining that college tuition rates are skyrocketing so high that middle-class families are foregoing saving for retirement in order to pay for their children's education.
Why is this happening?
It's because this society has constructed a narrow gate through which individuals must pass in order to have any kind of approved success; increasingly, in order to survive. To practice medicine or law one has to pay the bill and obtain the degree. This regulated monopoly mindset has spread to other fields. Is there anyone working for a mainstream newspaper who doesn't hold a journalism degree? This wasn't always the case. (See the 1958 movie "Teacher's Pet" for an interesting take on this.) Construct a gate, hire gatekeepers, and once people have control they can charge anything they like. The sky's the limit.
Doubt this? Look at the surging wealth of universities around the country; continually expanding; gobbling up adjacent neighborhoods; new construction projects everyplace as the money rolls in; hapless individuals desperate to survive in a rat-race system paying the bill.
In the 1990's when I began my examination of the literary world I scanned through scores of literary journals. In many of them, if not most, EVERY contributor was an MFA grad. I asked, what's going on? Does one now need proper certification in order to write-- the fundamental marker of freedom in a democratic society; able to be accomplished (or should be) by anyone after, at the latest, the eighth grade?
We see the professionalization of literature; the hiring of gatekeepers and construction of gates.
It's not as if these many thousands of certified MFA grads are producing great or interesting writing. Examination of their works leads to the expected: thousands of robotically polished homogenized stories and poems which look produced by well-regulated factories.