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Porn Star Explains College. Almost

By Professor Doom

Certainly, there are students in college that are not very bright. They’re actually a minority, dwarfed by the number of loan scammers on campus. I’d like to think the majority of students are reasonably bright; it sure seems like it when I talk to the students that still come to class once the loan checks get mailed out.

That said, most students are young, and even the bright ones don’t really understand what’s being done to them. Duke University student Miriam Weeks, on the other hand, has a pretty good idea of the student debt trap, and has made headlines for avoiding debt by making money in pornographic movies. I don’t necessarily approve of being a porn star, but still, she’s a smart girl to avoid those student loans.

Actually, she’s an extra smart girl, because she applies what she’s learning in college. She sort of gets how pornography and college are the same:

"Demand for education, kind of like demand for porn, is pretty inelastic. Kids like me have been told our whole lives that higher education is the only way to be successful in America ... Colleges today have zero incentive to lower tuition or make college more affordable. Either way, demand is high and the money will keep flowing. So why bother with thrift?"

Inelastic” is one of them $10 words, and I’m proud of her for using it; I bet she learned it in an economics class. Inelastic goods don’t respond to price—the amount sold is the same regardless of price. Insulin, for example, is inelastic (that’s the mnemonic I use when I cover this topic). The people that need insulin will pay no matter how expensive (in economic theory, anyway), and lowering the price isn’t going to increase sales (again, in theory).

It’s a good start for a student, but she’s off a little bit here. Porn isn’t inelastic at all. Expensive pornography (live shows, for example, or prostitution) isn’t “purchased” nearly as much as free pornography (cf. “the internet”). There absolutely is more demand for porn at the lower prices.

Demand for porn, and college, is universal and strong, as she correctly notes. Pornography, however, has fallen in price remarkably, to the point that the porn industry is having real problems nowadays. With that falling in price has, I strongly suspect, come increased use. I doubt there’s any adult in the United States that hasn’t viewed at least a little pornography (“it’s free, after all”). When I was a child, however, not everyone watched “dirty movies”, much less did so regularly (or, perhaps I’m being naïve).

Now, education is also widely available, and it’s widely in demand. Thing is, anyone always could just go to the library and read books to get an education. There has always been a small segment of the population willing to do that.

On the other hand, “paid for” education is another matter; it used to be not everyone wanted to go to college, although nowadays it seems to be everyone, even as higher education’s price just goes higher and higher.

The article I took the quote from points out the massive amounts of money going to administration, and even notes “Congress lowered the standard undergraduate loan rate last year,…”, but fails to connect those dots.

I will. Again. The reason tuition rises higher and higher is because the government just keeps shoveling more money at it. Reducing the loan rate is equivalent to just. Shoveling. More. Money. It’s the money, not the education, that’s being demanded here.

Now, the budding porn star/student is at Duke University, one of the few institutions in the United States that is, mostly, legitimate. And it shows, right? She’s using things she learned there (many students taking the same courses I teach, but with different instructors, are never exposed to the concept of “inelastic”), and that will give her a big advantage when she enters the real world…and she’ll have a bigger advantage because, when she enters the real world, she won’t have a ton of student debt.

On the other hand, many institutions are full-on bogus, or at least so much bogus that getting an education there is pretty dicey, and students that eventually limp away from those places will not have such an advantage. Instead, they’ll be four to six years older, and get a disadvantage of being saddled with a student debt to “pay” for all that “education” they received at the institution.

So, at the risk of repeating myself: If you want an education just to get a job, and don’t think the occupation of “porn star” is for you, can I suggest University of the People, again? Just as accredited as everyone else but at 5% or less of the cost. At least look into it before enrolling in any other online school.


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