A ‘major’ issue for financial well-being

Joe-Pisani-did-I-say-thatAfter all these years, I finally figured out where I went wrong with my life. It turns out I made poor choices in college. I should have been more obsessed with my future earning potential than with trying to save the world and acting like a pseudo-intellectual in a Woody Allen movie.

Years after reading Aristotle’s Metaphysics, I can’t even remember what he said about writing resumes or LinkedIn. Yes, I was one of those students duped into believing a liberal arts education had value.

I recently read a story that listed the 10 worst majors for getting a job, starting a career, earning a decent salary and inspiring the respect of your wife, kids and dog. And out of those ten, I majored in two of them — theology and journalism. Why did I pick such turkeys? Even the New York Jets have a better record.

Basket weaving and massage therapy would have been more lucrative, not to mention finance, IT and computer programming, which they didn’t offer back in the olden days.

So, because I made these bad choices during my youth, I was left having to raise four daughters in a three-bedroom Cape with one bathroom and drive a Plymouth Neon, while my former classmates were tooling around in Corvettes and Mustangs. And I’ll probably be working until I’m 70.

Was I wrong to think journalism and the study of God were noble professions? What could be more important? Peddling iPhones? Producing reality shows for MTV?

I guess theology isn’t a big money maker, unless you’re a televangelist or clergyman who uses the collection basket as his personal ATM to buy patent leather loafers and a BMW.

Plus, nowadays no one thinks they need God, largely because when you worship yourself, there’s not much room for anything else. And no one needs reporters because the enlightened masses rely on Twitter, blogs and Facebook for their news.

Lately, I’ve seen quite a few stories with headlines like “Good paying majors” and “Majors that could lead to big bucks.” When I was an intellectual wannabe, we studied what we enjoyed and what we thought would make the world a better place, not a wealthier place.

Unfortunately, I let my kids make the same mistake, which means to say I paid hefty tuition bills for degrees that didn’t make them rich. If they followed their mother’s example and gone into healthcare, we could have been living in the Hamptons near Alec Baldwin and they’d be supporting me for a change.

I got really upset when I read Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen makes $128,000 a day and earned $74 million last year. If my high school guidance counselor hadn’t been asleep on the job, he would have told me to major in super-modeling, and today I’d be walking down the runway with those Victoria’s Secret models, wearing angel wings and tiny bikinis. With that kind of dough, I could have bought a mansion with enough bathrooms for everyone, including Gisele, Heidi Klum and Kate Upton.

The government is trying to prevent this from ever happening again by linking financial aid with profitable majors. Schools whose graduates make the most money will be appropriately rewarded, and the others could be forced to close if they don’t abandon areas of study that don’t lead to lucrative jobs.

You can always depend on the government to set things straight. No one will ever make the mistake of majoring in religious studies again, not to mention philosophy. Can you blame them? Look at Socrates. The guy quit his day job to wander around bugging people. But maybe we need more people like him, not fewer.

The sad truth is that when a society encourages young people to be more concerned with money than with values, we’re all doomed. In that kind of world, making a difference isn’t as important as making a lot of cash. In that kind of world, the person who earns the most wins.

But what does it say about our future? Do we really want America to be run by wheeler-dealers, politicos and super models?

OK, I confess. I’d vote for the super models … but only if they wear angel wings.


Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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