Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 21, 2013

ED VASICEK: On college, Twinkies and BB guns

Human nature can be quite fascinating


Kokomo Tribune

---- — The best way to make a small fortune in the stock market is to start out with a large one. Economics are not what they once were, and modern economics are impacting our colleges and universities.

One of my favorite “futurists,” Thomas Frey, projects that more than half of colleges will close their doors by 2030. With the popularity and convenience of online courses, rising costs, and a host of other factors, many traditional institutions will simply vanish.

He shares some surprising statistics:

“Last year 284,000 college graduates, including 37,000 advance degree holders in the U.S. were working minimum wage jobs in 2012,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Out of 41.7 million working college graduates of 2010 in the U.S., 48 percent worked jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Huffington Post.

In China, a recent study projected that more than half of the 94 million Chinese earning college degrees between 2010 and 2020 will be working blue-collar jobs because of an oversupply of talent, the International Business Times reported.

Despite changing times, a college education — particularly if it is in the right field — can make a major difference. Of course there is no guarantee that today’s demand cannot be tomorrow’s glut.

We are certainly still reeling from the economic meltdown that began in 2008, so we are not in the ideal position to determine what the new “normal” might be. The national unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent for June, yet many working Americans are not in the financial position they once were.

The Kokomo Tribune recently reported annual average family income in Indiana dropped from $79,599 in 2000 to $57,148 in 2011. That’s more than a fourth. In addition, some costs have risen since 2000. Because of rising health costs, rising taxes and lowered income, many of us now experience a lower standard of living than we once did. My suspicion is that, as the economy improves (if it does), college degrees will become more valuable than they now are, yet not as valuable as they once were (unless rightly targeted).

IU Kokomo, Ivy Tech, and Indiana Wesleyan University are well-postured for the new reality.

Twinkies Are Back

According to Caroline Lee of UPI, “The first batch of Twinkies is set to hit the shelves of 1,600 Walmart stores Friday, three days ahead of the national roll out.

“By Sunday [today], Twinkies will be available in 3,000 Walmarts. The chain retailer is selling the treats in an exclusive collectible box that says ‘First Batch’ ...

“The new company, Hostess Brands LLC, was bought out of bankruptcy for $410 million by Apollo Global Management. Apollo is known for fixing faltering brands and then re-selling them.”

My guess is that many people who rarely ate Twinkies will now ravenously consume them because they were delivered from the brink of extinction. When Coke changed its recipe a few decades ago, the public spoke up. When Coke reintroduced its classic version, non-Coke drinkers became Coke drinkers. Human nature is fascinating.

Guns Trump BB Guns

One joke I tell to the camp kids is this one: “What did the momma bullet say to the daddy bullet? ‘Honey, we are going to have a BB.’”

The AP documents a real life confrontation between these two.

“Police say a Pennsylvania store clerk with a real gun thwarted an attempted robbery by a suspect armed only with a BB-gun. The store’s surveillance camera caught the entire event Saturday and the suspect was in custody a short time later.”

A gun in the right hands can thwart a lot of crime. A gun in the wrong hands can take innocent life. But robbing a bank with a BB gun? Human nature IS fascinating.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.