John McGuirk, speaking at the recent Ireland Uncensored event, blamed Ireland’s growing governmental nannyism and numptyism on the ‘useless graduate’. He explained that these are people with arts degrees, with no hard skills, but they got a degree in sociology. He almost added more academic subjects to the list but stopped himself dead in his tracks, punctuating the end of the sentence with the phrase ‘a degree in whatever’. McGuirk’s comments echo a growing realisation, across these Islands, that the universities are producing graduates of little skill and ability. The British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, only a month previous, promised a ‘crack-down’ on worthless university degrees. Will such a crack-down happen here in Ireland?
McGuirk again hints at the answer, explaining that since the introduction of free third level education in 1994, the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) sector has grown into an €8 billion industry. He likens it to a ‘Common Agricultural Policy for Dublin 4’, an allusion to the fact that practically all the organisations in the sector are in receipt of substantial government funding. He says that they are designed to fail, that they can never solve the problems they were set up to solve.
Almost everyone who has been through the university system knows that the department of sociology is contained within one big padded cell, located in the middle of every campus. Sociology students are driven mad by being plunged back into the 19th century, forced to decipher the bamboozling and contradictory writings of Karl Marks, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Sometimes it is claimed to be a science, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sociology studies human societies, but its resultant theories cannot be validated by science. It is officially classified as a rational discourse, and not a science. However, the absence of impartial validation tools means that any auld guff can be passed off as an academic theory. Consequently, the output from the padded cells can be the product of hysteria that would be an endless source of entertainment were it not also dangerous.
Countless individuals and families have been damaged by sociology, and its malevolence continues unabated today. Perhaps for the maddest of reasons, to give a ‘useless graduate’ a chance of a job, one must have a master’s degree in sociology to qualify and work as a social worker. The term is a misnomer, social workers do not work on a society, they work with individuals and families in crisis. Accordingly, the theories of Marks, Durkheim and Weber do not apply to individuals or family groups, nor does the ability to write academic essays confer practical skills that can benefit anyone outside of sociology. The long list of children abused and murdered while under the care of social workers stands as evidence of the dangers of employing ‘useless graduates’. In Britain, twenty years ago, after the murder of a toddler under the care of social workers, the investigation report laid the blame firmly on their training, describing it as being ‘too academic’.
It is not just NGOs who are afflicted. Tusla the government’s own child and family agency is stuffed full of ‘useless graduates’, who endanger the lives and wellbeing of children and their families daily. The plethora of failures at government agencies like the HSE (health), CAMHS (child mental health) have been described as ‘catastrophic’ by one investigative report after another. The list is endless, but none is more emblematic of the incompetence than the blunders within HSE. It was recently revealed that it had accidentally killed more than 3,000 people in the last five years, while a further 480,000 incidents had occurred that had the potential to cause harm to patients.
The excuse is always the same, failures are blamed on ‘a lack of resources’. In other words, give them more money and that will solve all their problems. Tusla gets more and more money every year and it hasn’t solved its incompetence crisis. The same goes for the HSE and the full gamut of state institutions.
The excuse works because it preys on a psychological weakness of the political classes. They are eager to claim credit for obtaining funding. First, it proves to themselves that they are not useless, second, they think that it oils the wheels of their gravy train, speeding it towards re-election. Part of the solution is to watch out for numpty politicians, who claim the credit for funding, and vote for someone else.
The useless graduate is far more dangerous to the health and wellbeing of many people than we realise. However, as McGuirk also pointed out, there is the issue of hatred. It appears that the political classes hate the people they govern. ‘You eat too much, you drink too much, you drive too fast, you use the wrong kind of heating in your homes. You say the wrong things, you think the wrong things. You don’t say the right things or think the correct things.’
The poor and the working poor have been more greatly impacted by plethora of simpleton policies. For example, the families of alcoholics have been left penniless by the minimum price per unit of alcohol decree. It does not take much effort to learn that addicts have to have their fix, no mater what the cost. Much of the crime in Dublin is associated with drugs. It has created a human wasteland full of addicts committing crimes to fund their habit.
However, rather than come up with a strategy and policies that might be effective in reducing various problems, the Irish government will always find a way to make the problem worse. They will then fund an NGO to partially alleviate the misery they caused in the first place. The NGO will of course have many employees on fat cat salaries, most of them will be ‘useless graduates’, no doubt.
Finally, McGuirk further defined a ‘useless graduate’ as ‘not a doctor, not an engineer, and not a scientist’. The implication is that these degrees are less useless or produce more intelligent people. However, while the professions contain many brilliant minds, they are equally counterbalanced by dimwits! The Americans call these boneheads, book-smarts. That is people who are seemingly academically competent but are positively inept in the real world.
John McGuirk is the Editor of Gript.
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