HE is a place where you go to interact with people and ideas fundamentally different from what you know, receive mentoring on how to consider such ideas, and how to create those ideas on your own. It does not claim to make you a smarter individual, and its value is largely dependent on your own drive to make the experience a success. In essence, it is exactly the same as YCombinator - even in the obfuscated and oft frustrating admissions processes, which is what I believe the article refers to.
If you want a white collar job in the US, you must go to college. Yes, there are some outliers, but having a degree is damn close to a hard requirement.
Pretending that is no longer true and indulging the liberal arts fantasy just makes the problem worse. There are too many kids who come out of college with debt and a degree in not having people take them seriously.
Regardless, this bad recession has dramatically underscored the value of college experience as an important thing for someone who places even a mild value on lifestyle security. Or to put it another way, it is a huge risk to bet that in the future, college experience will stop being seen as important. You might be right. But if you aren't, and you experience misfortune, your expectations are going to be much better with a college degree to wave around than without.
The Bachelors is required simply because it's an easy screening mechanism; the colleges have already whittled the list down to a more manageable size for the manager to go through. It used to mean that a person had an interest in learning beyond what was required, which was nice for jobs. Now it's just that their parents/friends/teachers have told them to go.
Really I'm saying simply that people are expecting and demanding the wrong things out of a liberal arts (traditional definition) degree. Most of the time what they'd really want is a vocational degree, or at least something more similar to what the English do with law school, where you enter directly out of high school.
Now we only need legislation to mandate this.