July 6, 2021

I got a comment from a reader arguing that one reason young people fall prey to socialism (aside from being brainwashed by their teachers) is that they feel the capitalist system is failing them. They were told they had to get college degrees if they wanted good jobs, and encouraged to take out huge student loans. Now, they’re saddled with crippling debt, and those degrees aren’t opening the doors to jobs that pay enough to ever get out of the hole.

I admit that’s a serious problem, but electing people who will expand the very policies that raise taxes, kill jobs and wages, and make college ridiculously expensive and degrees useless (is anyone other than George Soros hiring people who studied how to overthrow the US government? is not going to help.

And promises to pay off everyone’s student loans are just a bait-and-switch. Your student loan debt might disappear, but your tax bill will double or triple. Will that solve your problem? And talk about redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich! People who never attended college will pay higher taxes to pay off the college loan debts of lawyers and others at higher income levels.

We need action on a number of fronts for young people to be able to access the American dream. First, we do need to restructure student loans, so that rates are lowered and terms easier to handle. Government policies need to be aimed at helping grow the economy and encourage private sector expansion, so that jobs are plentiful and wages keep rising. And future generations need to be taught to be more judicious in choosing majors, or that maybe college isn’t the only alternative. There are many good-paying jobs in skilled trades that employers desperately need to fill (just ask Mike Rowe.) There’s dignity in all work, and it’s a heck of a lot better to be a busy, well-paid plumber or mechanic than an angry, unemployed poli-sci or gender studies major (they obviously have way too much free time on their hands these days.)

Besides, as many of our recent political leaders have proven beyond a doubt, having an Ivy League degree is no guarantee of superior intelligence, ability or even basic competence. It might just mean that your parents bought the school a gym. Academic credentials are fine, but they don’t mean as much to me as native intelligence, a strong work ethic and an eagerness to learn.

Before I entered politics, I worked with a fellow named Gary Underwood to build a community TV station on a shoestring budget. Gary had no formal education in television production, but he figured out things, like how to make work lights from Sam’s Club do as studio lights, and how to run lights and a camera off a car battery so we could do remotes. If he’d had formal training, he might’ve told me it was impossible on our budget and given up. But since he wasn’t a "trained expert," he found ways to do the impossible. Later on, he ran media operations for the Arkansas Governor’s Office for me.

There are people with more education than others, and who certainly think they’re smarter than the rest of us. But you’d be hard pressed to find people with more “smarts” than someone like Gary. Have you ever heard it said that someone was “educated beyond their intelligence”? We’ve got plenty of people like that. Washington is crawling with so many Harvard and Yale alums that if they could all get a tuition refund, they could probably pay off the national debt. And frankly, many of them should demand a refund.

As both a Governor and a business owner, I’ve hired a lot of employees over the years. Some would figure out how to get something done, while others would spend more time explaining why it couldn’t be done than it would’ve taken to do it! Give me a smart person with a can-do attitude any day over one with an expensive education who lacks the resourcefulness to solve problems with whatever is available.

Remember the story of the eminent scientist who proved through incontrovertible laws of physics, gravity and aerodynamics that it was impossible for a bumblebee to fly? The bumblebee ignored all his arguments about how flying was impossible and flew anyway. The moral: If you want to succeed, be like a bumblebee and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t fly.

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Comments 1-25 of 32

  • Susan Meyer

    07/08/2021 08:56 PM

    Gov. Huckabee, I was an educator for 38 years, retiring when a 'woke', 'progressive' administrator decided that caring about each of your students and their present and future successes was not being a good teacher. You had to follow the systems in place and your students must pass statewide standardized tests. But I digress...for years I told students to be sure that their post-high school education was in an area that jobs were also available. Go to a college you could afford, etc. Just recently I was talking to a high school student about what I had paid someone to trim my evergreen trees, and he commented that he could make a good living doing that work. I told him, sure you could, and if nothing else, make some money, save some money, and THEN go to school. Students who can work with their hands can become master craftsmen and create things that become family heirlooms.

  • Helen Collette (Coco) Ellenberger

    07/08/2021 07:02 PM

    Excellent solutions to 'Helping Student not fall prey to Socialism. Great article!

  • Cyndi Ross

    07/07/2021 08:54 PM

    Absolutely spot on!! My husband and I have 10th grade educations ( not proud of that for sure.. but it is what it is)… and it doesn’t mean we are stupid. We have owned companies, managed other’s companies with over 40 employees, did billing, accounting, managed personnel, customers, etc…all by on the job training. My husband can fix ANYTHING, cars, home electrical issues, plumbing, appliances, built computers, you name it he can figure it out. I often wonder if he would have had a higher education would it have made him smarter.. no, just differently educated, and may have opened other doors for employment… but definitely not smarter. An intelligent go getter is far more employable than some “better than thou”schmuck with some meaningless degree in some obscure subject matter, with no chance of making a decent living at.

  • Michael T Youngblood

    07/07/2021 07:53 PM

    We as Americans MUST get the Federal Government out of Our Classrooms, Return control back to the States as soon as possible.

  • Tracy Quinter

    07/07/2021 01:07 PM

    What an EXCUSE!! They knew going in to college and signing those loan forms that they'd be in debt. It's THEIR choice and they need to stop blaming others. Get the government OUT of it and tuition prices will go down.

  • Charlene Dixon

    01/25/2021 05:55 PM

    Universities need to be held accountable for over selling the benefits of a degree. Counselors, much like military recruiters, make promises that are nearly impossible to come to fruition. Young people are gullible. They need to be told the truth and compare the risks of high student debt compared to the possibilities of not finding a high paying job with nothing but a diploma to offer.

  • Janice Higdon

    01/25/2021 09:25 AM

    Ok, reducing student debt is an important topic, but that (long term correction) doesn’t get to the heart of the manipulation that we are seeing on campuses. The focus has gone from teaching our youth critical theory to manipulating their input messaging to spur them to hate and disavow anyone that espouses any other idea. Part of the problem IS the cumulative effect of dumbing down and omitting logic training, but they seemed to have mined social media responses by conservatives to develop and deploy counter takedown/shutdown/ignore your parents to the point of canceling family relationships and input.
    Kids can’t tell when they are being manipulated. Actually, I can honestly say that many adults can’t either! Parents need help deprogramming their kids and those around them.
    With the apparent rapid demise of freedom of speech and rise of AI censoring capabilities, this task is going to be increasingly difficult. Who can help?

  • Norma J Kilbride

    01/25/2021 06:01 AM

    Loved reading this and it is spot on. Thanks. I have a son who just didn't like school and it seems like he can do anything without instruction or books. Why? A gift and a need.

  • Jacquelyn Holmes

    01/24/2021 11:09 PM

    Since the article had in it that the younger generations seems to be open to socialism, I thought I would add something else we should consider. Many of these young adults were affected by the 'great recession'. I'm sure they have heard on more than one occasion that they will be paying back 'our' debt, as the national debt keeps getting bigger and bigger. So why would they not listen to the socialist ideas! Maybe we need a different way of explaining about debt rather than saying, "Hey it's all going to be on you what we are spending today."

  • Debbie Weathersbee

    01/24/2021 08:54 PM

    thank you for sharing this with everyone.

  • Ronald J Bangert, Jr.

    09/09/2020 04:56 PM


    As a high school I.T. instructor (1974-2012), this article hits many hot button issues. In the 1960's were under the Practical Arts Dept, before that, The Commercial Arts Dept., and by 2012 Career & Technical Education. Still, all taught basic job skills and training curriculum, with the goal of entering the workforce upon graduation. (Back when a high school diploma had VALUE.

    Academia along with C.O.R.E Learning Standards have all but destroyed education by establishing a false narrative on Careers. Under Carl Perkins Funding, I was employed in the district Grants Office where I had to oversee program development and implementation of approved grant initiatives. For 4.5 years we were able to deliver to the classroom a variety of technology opportunities to archaic approaches, bringing curriculum and teaching practices into current contextual and applied studies.

    Yet, the trend was to promote college at all costs, and overlook encouraging students into post-secondary training programs and apprenticeships. Though we had dovetailed some coursework into community college credit, not all students were interested in the classroom. When F.A.F.S.A. enrollment was in season, the announcements would blare over the loud speaker, "Come and get FREE MONEY". It was so misleading. I encouraged students to work for a year or go to the community college which was paid from their folks Tax Dollars, this way, after two years, with certificate in hand, they would be debt free! Gee! What a thought! DO you know I was reprimanded for that? By the Principal, who was really a good friend.

    The governing idea was that with a 52% graduation rate for a school of 5,000, they wanted to promote excellence in higher learning, hoping it wear off on some. A Blue Collar Community with a Median Head of House Salary of $28-32,000 (c.2010), I get it. Yet trade jobs in Cook County were anywhere between $35-52/hour! Academics had funnel vision. They would make a big deal of one senior getting accepted to Harvard, while 73% went to the community college! Where 2/3's would only make it one semester then drop out. Not to mention, what happens to the 49% who never finish? Where do they end up? Enough said.

    Your article is spot on, yet only is the tip of the iceberg!

  • Renee Kendrick

    09/09/2020 01:09 AM

    I took out student loans to attend college, both undergraduate and graduate fulltime, while holding down multiple part-time jobs. I obtained both bachelor's and master's degrees. I paid back all the interest and all the principal, with exception of about $330 - the final payment, to my surprise, that was forgiven by the education authority. I had to defer payments for several years, which added more interest to my debt. Finally, I found a job that allowed me to pay my student loans at a monthly amount greater than the amount due. It took me 18.5 long years to pay the debt but it was paid. Why? Because it was owed! So guess what? PAYING BACK STUDENT LOANS CAN BE DONE!!! What is wrong with the younger generations is that their parents handed them everything on a silver platter! Some of them never had to work! So now that they are adults, they want everything handed to them on a silver platter by the government. Guess what? The government handouts will be far less than mom's and dad's! So, younger generations, get off your lazy keisters and find jobs! They are available! More pay comes with experience, the gaining of knowledge, and the development of skills!

  • Mike Manoogian

    09/08/2020 07:21 AM

    Teachers often teach history by Zinn and the 1619 Project. One solution is school choice and to open more Charter and private schools that teach history based on facts, maybe from the 1776 project.

  • Nancy Jones

    09/07/2020 10:14 PM

    I would love to see our entire educational system be revamped to include some basic smarts, like the three r's and common sense. Our higher education providers have gone so far to the left to promote their own agenda, that they no longer teach our country's history and on what is was founded. It is sad that today's younger generations can't read cursive, let alone write it, and don't know how to research a topic so they can make better Decisions and choices. They just seem to believe what someone tells them. Very sad.

  • Philip Verratti

    09/07/2020 08:44 PM

    Thank you Governor for all you do and say to help average Americans. I am a teacher in public education teaching students in the area of skilled trades. Everyday I meet employers who pay huge taxes that ca not find qualified workers. God Bless on your work.

  • Lynn Weston

    09/07/2020 08:23 PM

    Your description of the can-do guy reminds me of President Trump.

  • George W. Kaelin

    09/07/2020 06:58 PM

    Well put Mike, my thoughts in a cogent form. All schools should teach skills w/o the B.S.
    How to learn not just listen.

  • Tim Zahn

    09/07/2020 06:51 PM

    There is a group which holds no telethons and gains no national recognition for raising money to support children's hospital and clinics. They are a fraternal organization called the Masons and Shrine. To be a Shriner you have to be a Mason and as a Mason I am quite aware of the out of pocket expenses covered by Masons. The Square and Compass hospitals are for children in need of medical attention whose parents have no insurance nor finances to cover their children's medical expenses. At Masonic children's hospitals where ever there is a need there is NO bill. The Shrine have their burn centers plus their "Cloth A Child" at Christmas taking needy children to stores to buy clothes and shoes for them. The Scottish Rite bodies, also a Masonic organization has learning clinics for children with learning disabilities. Very few people know about the Masonic charities which are all supported by Masons and their donations all year long.

  • Allen Hare

    09/07/2020 05:02 PM

    The more "privileged kids" who are just getting out of college should be told that if Socialists (Democrats) are elected to office in Washington , the ones who have lots of money or little money will have no money eventually. How could ANYONE want that mess in our Country?

  • Dick Sanders

    09/07/2020 04:02 PM

    I remember when I was in high school in Savannah, GA (1959-62) a course called distributive education (DE) was offered for students who were not college bound. Basic classes (English, math, history, etc.) were offered in the morning and students enrolled in an internship program in a trade of their choice for the afternoon. Most of those students were hired by the company for which they interned and made a living wage doing what they liked. Too bad that this isn’t available to students today.

  • Jerry McIntyre

    09/07/2020 01:10 PM

    You said that we need to re-structure the Student Loan program. I would like to eliminate the program entirely. Today, the better education is found at the smaller state universities than at the Ivy League Universities. At these schools the student learns more useful knowledge that they do at the ILU schools.

  • don kottwitz

    09/07/2020 01:05 PM

    I'm 81 now, so maybe this isn't still true, but when I was young, I learned that farmers are dumb. They are so dumb that they don't know they 'can't do it'. When a farmer was facing a task that was impossible to deal with, he (or she) would just scratch his head and figure out how to do it. Then he would leavbe the educated idiots in the dust.

  • Leland Logan

    09/07/2020 01:01 PM

    Good article. I do not have a degree but because I have always tried to figure it out. I've always had a job and never been out of work. I've always taken on the thing nobody else wanted to do and learned how to do it well. It's worked for me.

  • Carol Jolin

    09/07/2020 12:52 PM

    My father lost the use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident when he was in early 20's. He went on to build a restaurant/bar/dance hall business in a tiny town that was very successful. Into his success a few years, the local banker was asking for my Dad's advice on money matters! Bumblebee story personified!!

  • James Johnson

    09/07/2020 12:33 PM

    Governor Huckabee,
    I was among the first generation availed of a college education for working-class offspring during the 1960s. I worked my way through by loading and unloading 50 lb. bags of cement, erecting billboards along interstate highways, and any other job I could get. I lived off-campus because I found cheaper accommodations in low-rent neighborhoods. I bought my books used instead of new books. It took me five years to get a four-year degree, but I succeeded.

    When I got into the "college-educated" workforce, I performed every menial job I was given, and with every ounce of vigor I could muster. I rose through the ranks rapidly. I found, within me, the ability to utilize my education to make small changes to manufacturing techniques, which improved yields and throughput. I worked hard. I was promoted, and I advanced continually.

    I earned a wage that allowed me to put my children through college without them having to be saddled with a great deal of debt after graduation. Today, one of my sons works for a fast-food restaurant chain delivering meals, and the other works as a machinist. I'm proud of both of them, but I am not proud of the system, which has placed them in these predicaments.

    We might ask ourselves if the evolution of our colleges and universities was worth the cost when we see the results. Also, is it wise for the young to attend these institutions if, after graduation, they are now forced into a job, which I only worked to pay my way through college?

    I don't mean to belittle these jobs or the people who work them. I am only asking, why are many college graduates today forced to accept these jobs for which they are over-qualified? There seem to be too many graduates entering the workforce for the number of positions available. To that, we add every year, foreign workers entering our country with special work visas, and that limits those positions even further.

    I know my complaints seem many, but they all boil down to one central issue. Overpaid professors and administrators in Liberal institutions, a Liberal congress opening our borders to foreign workers through legislation, and a push in our Liberal school systems to shame all students into going to college with promises of financial successes in the workplace.

    Could I have shortened this tirade into one word? Liberal? I guess, but then I would not feel so good right now.