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“Only” a High School Degree?

david brooksIn the middle of an otherwise-decent article about the connection between education and social strata, New York Times columnist David Brooks today offered a bit of insight into the insular coastal culture that inadvertently fueled Donald Trump’s unlikely electoral success last fall.

Brooks was trying (I think) to demonstrate the culture divides that sometimes exist between people with differing levels of education.  In doing so, he demonstrated how he incorrectly equates education with class.

“Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.”

First off, I don’t believe him for a second.  I don’t think he has many friends…much less those with (GASP!) only a high school degree.  I think that any association with the hoi poilloi would harm his cred with the Super Cool Urbanite Hipster Alliance.

It’s bad enough to suggest that someone with a lower level of education is somehow a rube because they do not embrace the concept of paying 30 bucks for a sandwich with high-brow ingredients.  But saying that they were actually intimidated by such a scene.  Well, I can just say that the people I know with “only” a high school degree would have had a different reaction.  They would have told Mr. Urbane, “You know…you can get all this same shit at Subway for a fraction of the price, right?”

But to go deeper, Brooks is suggesting that someone those with “only” a high school degree can have an appreciation for the finer things.  I tweeted a series of similar scenarios, which are probably just as truthful as Brooks’ anecdotal tale.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch.  He revolutionized the way the restaurant shared information.  His name was Steve Jobs.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch.  He ate, then changed world affairs.  His name is Julian Assange.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He noted how terrible the in-house music was and said he would fix it. His name is David Geffen

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He said the place needed some pizzazz and promised something better. His name was Walt Disney.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He said the wait staff was dressed shabbily and designed new unis. His name is Ralph Lauren.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He spotted inefficiencies in the restaurant and fixed them. His name was Henry Ford.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He hated the restaurant’s layout and designed a new one. His name was Frank Lloyd Wright.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He hated the food so much, he started his own grocery chain. His name is John Mackey.

I took someone w/ just a HS degree to lunch. He liked the food so much he purchased the entire restaurant chain and several others.  His name is Bill Gates.

And I will close with something I like to say from time to time.  Some of the smartest people I know are college graduates.  Most of the STUPIDEST people I know are also college graduates.


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