★ Victims

It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise pleasant and intellectually gifted students completely lose their senses when the subject of economics arises. On one recent occasion, a student expressed outrage at the school's policy of not hiring new staff members and even *gasp* laying off employees during the economic crisis. Never mind that conditions don't warrant new hires, the argument went: it's the right of these people to be employed by the college! With a look of satisfaction, this student proudly declared that because of the way the administration has treated these employees, she was confident that no member of the senior class would ever contribute money to Middlebury College. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I began to wonder why such an intelligent, generally pleasant individual would make such an outlandish assumption. The reasons, I've concluded, are two: first, there is a general inclination among people of my generation to view themselves as victims. Partially because of the Clintonian model of society that came to dominate our country during the 1990s - that is, the do-what-feels-good-and-damn-the-consequences model of society - and partially because of the general lack of national purpose that has defined American life since the end of the Cold War, young people today grow up absent a true sense of responsibility. In their isolated worlds of self-righteous self-indulgence, they deny the very concept of cause and effect, leading them to abandon the idea of consequences altogether. Therefore they are incapable of understanding why the economic challenges facing the school force it to change its policies and lay off nonessential personnel. The layoffs are without motive in their eyes because they do not understand the concept of cause.

The second reason is that the study of economics has been so denigrated among people of my generation that simple concepts like scarcity, supply and demand, and even the most basic ideas concerning business successes and failures are considered far too abstract to be worthy attention. In our rush to embrace the vague umbrella of "cultural studies," we have neglected economics to the point where the vast majority of students see it as just "fake math," not understanding the wealth of philosophical and sociological concepts that make up its core.These students do not understand that economics is a system of thought, and that mathematics is just a method through which the tangible results of economic theories are demonstrated. If more attention were paid to the field, there would be far less confusion among young people about the concepts of cause and effect. Furthermore, there would generally be a more thorough understanding of the way society works in practice rather than in the abstract. But instead of devoting any attention to economics, most students scoff at it as they make their way to their classes on closeted homosexual poets of the Byzantine Empire.

Because of their inability to grasp these concepts, most students do not understand the way entities operate in the real world. In addition, they don't see that when faced with challenges beyond their control, institutions must find ways to fight back that don't jibe with the vaguely defined socialist utopia that these students want to live in. Basic laws of economics be damned, they say! There is a fundamental injustice being done here! People are being deprived of their right to that job, and it's the fault of the cruel private college! Well, that college will never get a cent of my money, and I bet that since everyone else shares my indignity, the college will never get a cent of any of our money! How's it going to keep operating?

Well, I'm sure the Government can help!

Young people don't understand that a business such as a private college must look after its own interests. And if upon graduation students choose not to give back to the school, that is their decision. But to view themselves as victims of the school is simply ludicrous, and I am disgusted that individuals who have been given such wonderful educational opportunities by Middlebury College are too self-absorbed and ignorant to appreciate it.