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Starbucks to Provide Free College Education to Thousands of Workers (nytimes.com)
489 points by e15ctr0n on June 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 194 comments

>Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.

> Even if they did, their experience “would be accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business,” Howard D. Schultz, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said in an interview. “I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people.”

This is pretty good long-term thinking on Starbucks' part...On one-hand, there's the obvious cost...on the other, I imagine that a significant number of the best, too-qualified-to-be-just-a-barista baristas leave after two or so years, anyway. Now that there's an extra benefit to joining Starbucks, SB could conceivably attract a higher number of higher-quality non-careerists without a substantially greater attrition in workforce loss.

Besides the cost, another downside for Starbucks is that, OK, maybe your part-time studying baristas won't be so on-task...Maybe, but I doubt it. High-achievers stuck in mundane jobs may not perform to their potential...but these aren't people "stuck" as being bariatas. They purportedly agreed to become baristas with the expectation of getting a degree and then a "real" job...when you have that kind of open path in front of you, you're not as susceptible to low morale on the job. At least that's been in my experience, where I loved doing labor jobs in the summer between school years.

People are a big asset for Starbucks. They are trying to make a visit to SB a personal, warm experience. And the staff is key to that, they don't want grumpy and hate-this-job-a-lot people.

Once when I was in SB, the doors to the personnel room were open and I saw bunch of hand drawn things, hand written colourful weekly goals (rather than just printed), etc. That shows their, management people, approach and goals.

So I think this decision fits in pretty well in their long term mission.

The semi-unspoken part of this is that given the way the economy is, Starbucks will likely never lack job applicants, so even if they help existing employees get better jobs and leave Starbucks, all they are doing creating new entry-level job openings, while raising brand awareness, and also ensuring that their departing employees are going to jobs that will help them afford 5$ coffees. ;-)

> given the way the economy is, Starbucks will likely never lack job applicants,

Marx called this the "reserve army of labor."

Yeah, because people keep having children, that they can't or can barely afford to raise and/or college-educate. It's unfortunate, as it's a wonderful thing that everyone should have a chance at doing. But I'd never do that if I was unable to provide for and give a good education to my spawn. Sadly, many people do so with no thought for the future other than thinking the state will fix it, burdening all the rest of us because we're kind.

#Edit, yeah for some odd reason this opinion isn't flying so well with someone on HN. I am disappointed, I figured people are reasonable and can see the merit of not wanting to bring a child into this world that they can't take care of. Perhaps people would rather they bring a child into this world, innocent and naive, and then throw it to the wolves while crying to the state to fix a problem they created and inflicted on an innocent? Shame on you.

While i admit your argument seems reasonable in certain countries, I don't think it applies well to the US. The average number of children per family in the US is below 1 in most states[1]. And even if you take the conditional average (that is only consider families who HAVE children) then that is still hardly 2 [1].

Now does that really seem like an unreasonable number of children for a couple to have? I mean if 1 or 2 children are too much for the average family, do you suggest that only the extremely wealthy should reproduce?

So i suppose people are downvoting you because they feel that your comment isn't a reasonable debate, but is more of an irrelevant rant.

[1] https://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabST-F1-20...

"Now does that really seem like an unreasonable number of children for a couple to have? I mean if 1 or 2 children are too much for the average family, do you suggest that only the extremely wealthy should reproduce?" I think you're over exaggerating here. I'm not saying the wealthy should only be allowed to have kids. Nor am I prescribing the "amount" of children anyone should have. I'm simply stating/complaining about people that have kids that they can't afford to take care of. I think that's horrible.

And let's be honest, most poor people do not have the resources, or healthy social support structures from family to raise a healthy adult through childhood. I'm all for communities taking care of those in need, and those who end up having kids they can't take care of. But we all need to understand that it is reckless behavior on the part of those that create those children knowing full well that they can not take care of them like they deserve.

Why is "going to college" a requirement for being a healthy adult? It's economically advantageous to many in the US, but it's by no means a life requirement! What if you want to be a guitarist/car mechanic/HVAC specialist/off the grid survivalist/cosmetologist (not cosmologist)/etc?

There are plenty of poor people with resources and healthy social support structures. There are entire countries full of them. Being poor and being part of a fractured social structure are different, while overlapping. US law and society nudge them ever closer but that's our problem -- it's not part of the human condition.

What happens when someone with money, resources, and social support actually ends up poor in several years?

IF you think it can't ever happen to you, you are wrong.

So you are stating that only the wealthy can morally have children? And this does not make you wonder if the country/economy is no longer moral?

It's immoral to bring children into this world that you can not take care of. Period. What part of that don't you understand? What part of that simple statement do you want to twist and mangle to suit your worldview?

Are you suggesting that only people who have already saved the couple of hundred thousands of dollars it takes to raise a child should be allowed to have a child?

Or are you prepared to accept that some people with seemingly stable jobs have children and make plans and start saving but that stuff happens and those people end up in difficult situations?

I'm not going to bother responding. I get down modded anyways for perfectly reasonable comments on uncomfortable topics. You can figure out what I have to say from my previous comments.

Pretty harsh standard, especially as "can not take care of" is left undefined and presumed pretty high in this rather affluent culture. There's a vast difference between "incapable of caring for children" vs "earns above the US poverty line, which itself is above some 87% of everyone on the planet" (or even "above my own arbitrary standard which is well into the 90th percentile of world population").

Sure, if you can't care for kids don't make 'em. But if you're going to demonize what sounds like a broad swath of the population, you'd best define the crux of your proposition, to wit "care for".

By take care of, I mean "feed, clothe, educate to higschool level, pay for standard/basic medical care, and provide a relatively safe environment to grow up in". Is that really all that bad of a "requirement"?

If the parents need to ask for assistance from the state for basic things such as the items above, then I'd argue that they're not able to take care of children. Most of the items are given to them by the state anyways, and they still don't "manage".

>Most of the items are given to them by the state anyways, and they still don't "manage".

Oh really?

I have a question - have you ever sat down and actually talked to more than one poor person?

Obviously that's a rhetorical question. You don't actually want to know, you're just fishing. Because no answer will be sufficient for you, you'll just claim "that doesn't encompass" all poor people.

So, let's skip all that, and you tell me what your actual point/argument is?

I didn't downvote you, and I can see where you're coming from, but really, "a problem they created?" People could take care of their children alright if they could have a trade that took them, say, 5 hours a day and bought them all the necessities of modern life: food, shelter, health, leisure, internet and education. Is that really so much to ask? We have such high levels of production. I hear some socially developed countries manage it just fine.

>and/or college-educate.

>give a good education to my spawn

>can see the merit of not wanting to bring a child into this world that they can't take care of

So you are useless if you don't have a college education? Doomed to poverty and failure? And that not being able to afford college (of all things) constitutes "can't take care of?" That's the implication.

Personally I think too many people have a college education.

Nothing fuzzy here. It is an extremely well-calculated ROI move from corporate. Win hearts and minds of the bean-proles on the front lines, and you get increasesed productivity via an enhanced sense of belongining.

That's true. Public companies have an obligation to not waste money. But it's still admirable because they've attempted to find ways that altruism and respect can further their profits, when they didn't need to.

It's kind of like saying there's nothing warm and fuzzy about people doing volunteer work because they ultimately derive self-satisfaction from it.

Culture isn't that easy to fabricate without some level of sincerity throughout the organization. And even if it was, who loses if everyone is happier to belong in the organization?

Starbucks didn't crawl to the cushier half of the Fortune 500 on a corporate mission statement of "chill vibes". Would of made them has-beans (had-beans?) long ago.

You're right in that all parties win. But we would be all joshing ourselves if we didn't acknowledge that the muse beckoning to the boardroom here was the profit-motive.

I'm not doubting their were some well-intentioned individuals involved in this initiative - hats off to them. Just saying let's be realistic about why this is happening.

You seem to suggest that "all parties winning" is a random, unintended by-product of the process being ultimately profit-driven (which apparently is nefarious).

This is false. While there may well exist exploitation, the vast majority of successful businesses, especially those that are successful on the longer term, were and are successful because their profit/employee/customer value proposition is one of win/win/win.

vast majority ... win/win/win

Vast majority, really?

Call me a cynic but win/lose/win seems a lot more common to me.

It's important to get terminology right: It's "win" as in "win/win" situation, not "victorious forever". It means "better than the best alternative", not "best".

Is spending $8 on a milky Starbucks coffee a better value for the customer than the immediate alternatives to spending it, including not spending it? In that case, he "wins".

Is keeping the capital invested in the assets that make up Starbucks a better value for the investors than not? Then the owners "win".

And is taking a job at Starbucks a better deal than taking any alternative job available? It seems a whole lot more pleasant to me than most other low-paid, low-skilled jobs I can think of. If so, the employee "wins".

This education effort will likely make a Starbucks job even more attractive than the alternatives, for rather little money, making working at Starbucks a "win" for more people.

I rather doubt it's a calculated ROI move. I did calculating ROI for my CFA exams and I doubt that would fly. I suspect weirdly enough they are trying to do good.

Trader Joe's has hand drawn signs and Hawaiian t-shirts. They are drawn to spec to create an impression of "fun" in the customer's mind, but they are very much assembly-line product.

Might that fun not also rub off on TJ employees as it rubs off on customers? If my job was to put boxes on shelves, I'd rather do it in a Hawaiian shirt uniform than a plain black uniform.

ever seen the movie 'Office Space'?

'fun' dress code is only fun when the person wants to dress in that manner.

Where can I find a soul-sucking job that lets me wear a Hawaiian shirt? That sounds like so much fun.

Right? I promise the people I know who work at TJs cannot fucking stop talking about the free shirts.

In N Out famously pays its employees far above minimum wage, even at entry level and offers fantastic benefits. All managers make >$100K annually. They have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the food services industry, despite paying their employees more than enough to pay for an education and transition to a white collar career. I know friends from high school who started working there at 16, continued through college (and paid their way), then chose to continue on as managers at In N Out, as it was far and away a better immediate career option (with the potential to move to corporate after a few years as managers) than their others.

Schultz's comments lead me to believe that he's well aware of In N Out's model.

I'm sure turnover is already fairly high, so this is just inviting motiviated, intelligent kids to come compete for jobs with them. I'm going to buy a pound of coffee now.

While many universities strive for exclusivity, ASU is finding ways to be more inclusive. It probably hurts us in the rankings, but it's the right thing to do.

Proud to be a Sun Devil.

From the AZ Constitution: Article 11, Section 6 http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/const/11/6.ht... Section 6. The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be established and maintained in every school district for at least six months in each year, which school shall be open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years.

And yet I don't see Arizona contributing much to the US economy, social welfare, and/or higher education. They are contributing some, but below your average state.

Edit: Made the point more clear.

> And yet I don't see Arizona contributing much to the US economy, social welfare, and/or higher education.

The University of Arizona (a different school) is one of the top public state universities in the country when it comes to research. The astronomy and anthropology programs at UA for example are among the best graduate programs in the nation. It contributes a great deal to science and the education of the population. So where ever you got your facts from are simply wrong. I'm guessing you just sat there and conjectured on it based on the kind of thing the media likes to bring up when it comes to Arizona.

Arizona is a magnificent state, and it contributes a great deal to this country and is home to a very diverse set of people. A great portion of the Navajo nation resides in Arizona, as well as Apache and other tribes. A large amount of immigration comes in from Mexico and from international students that attend at Arizona's universities and work at Arizona based companies. Arizona is also a huge state for the military and tourism. Beautiful deserts, the Grand Canyon, sweeping vistas of Sedona, and the unimaginably beautiful north eastern part of Arizona are things you shouldn't miss in this short life.

ASU is the largest university in the US, that must make some type of impact in the US economy. Also ASU has a lot of cool research

Based on what? It has been a few years since I've followed the rankings, but Ohio State and Texas were always battling for first in enrollment numbers.

It has the largest single campus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_universit...

However, if you include online universities, the University of Phoenix is bigger. And if you allow lumping of multiple campuses together, Penn State is bigger. But even then, ASU is #3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_United_Stat...

So only the university that's #1 in enrollment contributes anything?

Absolutely not, I was just curious what was being used for that statement.

Starbucks is using ASU's famously developed online course infrastructure and its own massive headcount to educate all of its employees in a way that will add little marginal cost for either entity. Thought the normal ASU cost per credit is ~$500, I would be amazed if Starbucks ended up spending even a third of that.

ASU president Michael Crow is profiled positively as one of the more progressive thinkers in higher ed the 2013 book College Unbound: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0544027078/ref=as_li_tf_tl?... I wouldn't be surprised if ASU went on to work out a deal with other big retailers that employ a lot of people who haven't finished college yet. ASU's marginal costs will continue to fall as they get more students into the pipes. Walmart, McDonalds and other large employers could be next to partner with them.

> ...to educate all of its employees in a way that will add little marginal cost for either entity.

Is it somehow evil to boost education cost-effectively?

I don't think that's the connotation of the OP's sentence.

>> Is it somehow evil to boost education cost-effectively?

Pretty sure the OP feels that education at a low marginal cost is a fantastically positive thing.

He forgot to think about how it might reduce marginal cost for both.

Here is the email I received from ASU President Michael Crow today making the announcement:

I write to share an update on our evolution as a 21st century public research university. As you know, ASU is a New American University uniquely committed to the simultaneous achievement of excellence, access and impact. As we move forward, we will continue to balance scholarship, discovery and the development of real world solutions on a grand scale, while remaining true to our vision of inclusion and student success. Institutions of higher learning have a responsibility to go beyond imagining change and instead bring workable answers to fruition. ASU has demonstrated its ability to do so successfully and we will maintain that trajectory. On Monday, June 16, we introduce the world to the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is the combined vision of Arizona State University and one of the world’s most trusted, innovative and socially conscious companies. Together, we will offer leading education delivered online with world class faculty and personalized instruction to students who would like to continue their journey in higher education. This model is a unique partnership designed to increase access for more students to earn and finish a college degree, and is based on Starbucks’ and ASU’s shared values.

On June 16, we will join Starbucks as they host their first ever Partner Family Forum in the U.S. to announce the Starbucks College Achievement Plan with hundreds of their partners and family members in New York at the Times Center. Watch the webcast on June 16 beginning at 7:45 a.m. PT, 10:45 a.m. ET by visiting starbucks.com/collegeplan. I also encourage you to watch the video of what this means to Starbucks partners by visiting starbucks.asu.edu.

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is supportive of our vision to be measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include and how they succeed and moves toward our goal of enrolling 100,000 online and distance education degree seeking students.

This is a program we can all be proud of, and I look forward to your support as together we continue to increase access to world class higher education.

Michael M. Crow President Arizona State University http://president.asu.edu

Wow, this is a profound step, and something I hope we can all applaud Starbucks for doing.

Lets hope that other large employers offer similar arrangements for their employees (be they skilled or unskilled)

Wow that's a quintessential college essay, padded to 3x size to reach a target word count.

Changing font size doesn't effect word count.

No, but padding with superfluous words and sentences does.


Theyre just trying to bring workable answers to trajectory fruition.

One thing that infuriates me whenever a company decides to do this is that we'll see politicians from both sides of the aisle laud this as an important and meaningful step, all the while oblivious to the irony that at one point, it was the federal government's mandate and responsibility to provide exactly this for its citizenship. So now we're supposed to just rely on the random benevolence of companies to provide investment into social infrastructure? Let's hope that never stands in the way of their profits -_-

> ...at one point, it was the federal government's mandate and responsibility to provide exactly this for its citizenship.

The US federal government? When was that?

After WWII, most men were provided education through the GI bill. While it wasn't an option for civilians, since so many men were involved in WWII, that influx of free college education resulted in the greatest post-war expansion in the history of the US.

It's not the government's mandate nor responsibility to provide higher education in the United States. It infuriates me when citizens are so conceited they think the government should provide everything for them as if they have no agency themselves.

It infuriates me when citizens are so conceited that having the money to afford a higher education is equivalent to the merit of pursuing one. A government footing the bill for higher education isn't and wouldn't be the same as simply giving it to someone on a silver platter. You still have to earn that degree based on work and merit and it certainly isn't the same thing as a handout. The idea that money is always related to agency is idiotic. There are plenty of people who have the agency to obtain a college degree but don't have the resources, monetary or societal support, to do so.

I think gmu3 is referring specifically to the 10th amendment; "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Pretty straight forward and to the point, right? So simply point to the article in the Constitution where the Fed is supposed to fund education, and we'll be on the same page.

Otherwise, it's completely up to each state to tax and spend how they see fit. Any state that wants can make the choice, and I think it's a great system where we can freely move to any state which taxes and spends to our individual liking. If only the Fed could ease up a little bit, rather than still running a deficit while collecting more money than they ever have before even in inflation adjusted dollars [1]...

Aside from the technical considerations of the Constitution, if you take a quick look at the New York Fed published slide deck [2] on trends in college loans, you can learn a lot about how much the Fed is already subsidizing the college industry and "footing the bill" indeed since a large percentage of these loans will never be repaid. They can't ever be repaid, because too many recipients of these loans don't actually gain anywhere near the marketable skills necessary to cover the cost of tuition.

[1] - http://www.cnsnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightb...

[2] - http://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/mediaadvisory/2013/Lee0...

>Pretty straight forward and to the point, right? So simply point to the article in the Constitution where the Fed is supposed to fund education, and we'll be on the same page.

I don't know about "supposed" to, but the federal government is certainly "able to" fund education.

There is the General Welfare Clause that affords powers to tax and approriate revenue:

to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;

And of course, the Necessary and Proper clause:

The Congress shall have Power ... To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Ultimately, however, the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, not lay-persons, so you really can't just say that it's "straight forward and to the point" without addressing any case law on the subject.

The problem is the mechanism of the government footing the bill that the US has chosen incentivizes the disgustingly high tuition rates: offering an essentially unlimited amount of debt to all but the absolute most unqualified borrowers (the standard is "no adverse credit history," and given that the vast majority of borrowers have no credit, basically no one gets denied), who then spend the money at a third party who takes on none of the risk that the students won't be able to pay back the debt. The third party acts rationally, and drastically increases its price, then justifies the price by spending it on extravagant buildings, massive administrations, and high salaries for those administrators (my alma mater had a Dean, a Vice Dean, a Chancellor, a Vice Chancellor, a Provost, a Vice Provost, and a President, not to mention the Deans and Vice Deans of specific branches like admissions and financial aid, and to this day am unclear on the difference in all their responsibilities, since they seemed to be deployed at random in responses and school-wide emails), so that they can point to how expensive it is to operate a university.

I'd be open to free education for all if the schools would pare back on administration and extravagance (since there's a strong argument that taxpayer dollars can be well-spent educating a workforce, but not a strong argument that taxpayers should be funding educations at the equivalent of an all-inclusive resort). I'd be even more open to taking the federal financial aid budget and distribute it to schools with a mandate that it be distributed in the form of grants and financial aid, so that in order to maintain their quality of life, they'll be forced to work to actually generated positive outcomes for all of their students, rather than following and promoting the successes and ignoring the rest.

People have agency. They just don't have money.

What about primary education? Are you against that too? Do you think every taxpayer should foot the bill even if they don't and never will have children?

These are serious questions.

It's funny, because in most other first world countries, it is the responsibility of the government to provide higher education to its citizens. Perhaps you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or "pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps", but not all of us are so lucky to have thousands of dollars to put toward education.

On the other hand there is an enormous concentration of globally preeminent higher education institutions (Stanford, MIT, Harvard and the other 7 Ivy League schools, UChicago, Duke etc) in the one first world country where the national-level government doesn't consider higher education among its responsibilities.

(*insert caveat that it's hard to really compare national governments when a single US state can have a larger population to manage than an entire European country)

You argue that the result is as it is because it's a better result, which is a flawed argument.

If we vote to provide higher education, then it is.

I concur

>> it was the federal government's mandate and responsibility to provide exactly this for its citizenship

The federal government's attempts to do this are the primary reason college tuition price increases have drastically outstripped inflation since the modern student loan system. When a lender will provide essentially unlimited money to unqualified borrowers to spend at a third party, the third party is incentivized to raise prices. And the horrible consequence of this is that to combat this, politicians have essentially just made those federal loan terms more onerous on borrowers, under the naive belief that most of those taking out large quantities of student loans are sophisticated enough to understand the burden they put on themselves by taking out unsecured debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy (and this should have been painfully obvious, given that credit card companies have been preying on unsophisticated college students for decades).

I was one of those unsophisticated young people, but I (luckily) got out before I spent a truly life-ruining amount of money on a degree I had no plans to use.

Their attempts to do this have required looping in the banking industry, which is why tuition prices have become so inflated. It's also the same reason home prices exploded and outpaced wages by such a large margin (and why the housing industry became so unstable). By requiring banks to loan to individuals despite their ability to afford the things they're getting loans for, the servicers (universities, homebuilders/owners) are able to jack up the prices on their offerings, as a much larger (and arguably dumber) population of people are able to buy things they otherwise wouldn't be able to buy.

I'm not saying everyone should get a blank check for college the moment they're born in the US, but if the only thing keeping a kid from getting to a university is their ability to afford it, that's a problem, and it sounds like a growing one.

Is the answer really everyone having a degree? People think more people going to college is the answer to the current economic malaise, but I think it just leads to more and more people fighting over the same sized piece of pie.

Focus on the part about having a more educated population. Educated persons tend to vote for candidates aligned with their best interests, spend money more wisely, and commit less crime. More educated peers and neighbors will make your life better.

Yup. Couldn't agree more with this response.

There is this growing contrarian sentiment—particularly in the HN and Reddit communities—that "college isn't for everyone". The college industrial complex aside, I cannot see how further education—particularly through programs like this one—could ever be a bad thing. After all, education is the silver bullet.

People are not actually learning. They are simply "along for the ride" while memorizing for tests so they can land a job and forget most of the things they've learned. Perhaps we should improve our secondary education as we are lacking on that front in America instead of encouraging everyone to take 4 more years out of their working lives.

I've witnessed this, myself. It shows itself as a lot of questions about what's going to be on a test instead of trying to understand the material.

>I cannot see how further education—particularly through programs like this one—could ever be a bad thing

Opportunity costs for one.

Opportunity costs do not make things bad. They can make things worse than an alternative or better than an alternative.

If the person choosing what to do with their life is able to see an existing opportunity which is better than education then they should choose it, why would they not?

But if they are unable to see such opportunities then choosing to become more educated is not a bad choice provided as is the case in this situation that it does not present an additional financial burden.

One could even argue that the set of options one should consider when weighing opportunity cost should only be composed of the options to which the decision maker is aware (can reasonably be expected to become aware) of.

>But if they are unable to see such opportunities then choosing to become more educated is not a bad choice provided as is the case in this situation that it does not present an additional financial burden.

You aren't taking into consideration opportunity costs. I spend 4 years at school to get a Spanish degree that doesn't cost anything for me to go. Now I have a Spanish degree and I have exactly the same job as I could have gotten before the degree. I've wasted 4 years where I could have been making a salary, pursuing hobbies, raising children, etc.

We shouldn't be like:

1) Take a class/get a degree in anything with no plan whatsoever.

2) ???


No, I am. But you don't seem to understand the difference between hindsight and opportunity cost. (Either that or are trolling me, in which case success for you I guess)

I specifically said: "is able to see an existing opportunity which is better than education then they should choose it, why would they not?"

So you chose Education presumably because you thought getting a Spanish degree was a better option than those others, therefore you viewed the other options as having the opportunity cost. In which case you may have been bad at estimating benefit, or perhaps the choices you were trying to value were simply too unpredictable, but you followed the idea of opportunity cost correctly.

Or even worse you knew those options were better and you chose an option you recognized as worse, in which case WHY?

Opportunity cost is not a synonym for hindsight it is about weighing two decisions with information you have available (or can have) at the time.

Edit: Also now you know Spanish which should bring you as a person some level of enjoyment, and is therefore a benefit. If not I wonder why you would of kept studying it.

There are many important, useful, societally and culturally valuable things, that are not best suited to being studied as an academic degree.

I disagree especially because the quality of everyone's education is not the same. While education may seem like the great equalizer, people have to enter school willing to learn, explore and engage with their peers, not just float through classes for grades.

There are tons of people out there with an education but not very enlightened about things. I hate analogies, but I've met several people over the course of my short life with degrees who have absolutely worthless educations. They racked up debt to work unskilled jobs, and complain why companies don't want to hire them with no experience, internships and lackluster academic records.

I know the paper makes people feel good, but at what point is our society going to start rejecting the feelgood, everybody wins attitude? You should not have to have a college education to have a good life or populace (look at America early 1900s and all the modern luxuries that exist today from that time period). Trades, entrepreneurship, etc are all alternative good paths that should be encouraged. College educations are nice, but there is a pretty long list of people who did not complete or even reach college who are successful and making contributions to society:


If a Starbucks barista wants to pursue continuing education for free, why would you ever argue against that? Especially when 70% of employees wish to do so? Even if they only pick up a single additional piece of knowledge from the ASU program, they are a better person in the end. And, you benefit from that whenever you interact with the person.

I'm not arguing against a choice an individual seems fit for their benefit at all. I only question the value of college education in today's society. It is less magical and great than people proclaim it to be, college education needs more investment than just sitting in front of a computer or in lectures.

Also people with college are not necessarily better than people without college, that is an offensive view and very disrespectful to the millions of people without college educations who have done great things for this country and all over the world. Yes education is great (college is not the sole source of education), but one has to appreciate and work hard at their education to really claim that they are 'educated'.

> that is an offensive view and very disrespectful to the millions of people without college educations who have done great things for this country and all over the world.

You're so right and I can't upvote you enough. I hear people all the time talking about how much of a loser they are for not going to college. These are people are smart, have life skills, AND job skills, AND a steady income. Many even do skilled labor. Their jobs just didn't require 4 years in the classroom.

HELLO? Is this unstated assumption really good for society?

And there's my sister who has a college education and no life skills OR job skills.

I agree with your sentiment. For instance, I have a friend who went to college but never used her degree, she is a stay at home mom. I feel that the cost of college is inflated by those who go to college just to go. Sure it's nice to have a degree, but I feel that college should be taken more seriously and not to be used as a babysitting/maturing center for 18-20somethings.

Just because one gets a college education does not mean they leave enlightened and educated OR that they will maintain their education through their life. An ASU online education, especially, will not ensure that people are education, credentialed sure, but definitely not educated, and I say this as an ASU student myself. They are always trying to get more and more people through the doors, we have a high acceptance rate but strangely enough we are a top school for recruiting.

> I agree with your sentiment. For instance, I have a friend who went to college but never used her degree, she is a stay at home mom.

Is she dead? If not, how do you know she will never use her degree? (Apart from probably being a better parent by virtue of being more educated, and so probably be a better educational aid to her child (ren)).

Well she's been out of school for a while so if she wanted to apply her degree with no experience she will be tossed around the job market and will probably have to either start her own business, which I applaud, or take the sadder route which is work from the very bottom again, maybe getting another degree.

I have been in school for a while to see older people return to renew their education, and while it's good that they are, it is very sad and cringeworthy sometimes. When they are using computers, or trying to work through material they struggle much more than their younger peers, and on top of that they have liabilities and kids/family to take care of, add that with age discrimination today on top of the ridiculous job requirements, you can feel their slight bursts of hopelessness, trapped in a world that has moved very far ahead of them. ='(

For most people, life can't be a constant progression to higher status jobs, with ever greater pay. Stuff gets in the way.

Maybe they find a cieling - there is a limmit to how much highschool teachers get paid, and also by definintion only a small proportion get to be principal.

I think you are writing from a mindset where people make progress from 18 -> 65 and sign they 'are less' than a younger person is tragic failiure.

Instead, remember those people retraining are the most willing to change. They are happier to step back to entry level in a new career than be stuck higher up in a dead end or dieing role. Hope you are like those people.

I guess i'm trying to convince you to let go of that mindset. Some day your life will go a bit wrong, happens to everyone. And if you are realistic and forgiving about what you expect from yourself, the blow won't knock you down.

I apply my degree all the time to things that have nothing to do with my job. If nothing else a college educated parent will probably do a better job raising and education their kid, which can have significant knock on effect for the rest of society.

There is no test that prepares a person for being a good parent, and while college certainly may help, it is not a determining factor if that person is or is not a good parent.

This seems like a variation on the lump of labor fallacy.[1]

Now, the acquisition of a degree might or might not be everything we think it is, where “formal education” and “valuable learning” are perhaps-incorrectly equated. But if we assume that college is economically valuable, having more people educated seems hard to argue with.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy

One could say the answer is to grow the pie. Not sure how you do that with less education.

A related issue few address: how many are willing to do what it takes to work thru an education of whatever level is available? As a sometime professor, I was amazed that about 1/4th of students just didn't do the work (and that's of those who were in fact in the classroom, so the educational opportunity was right there).

Sending the unwilling to college doesn't work. I'd like to know what percentage of "the uncolleged" really want to go, will do what it takes, and intend to actually do something with it afterwards. Just showing up isn't enough, no amount of money will make people learn if they are not inclined to, and no range of opportunity will assure success if they don't actually work at work.

Isn't that pretty much what an economy is? Everyone fighting over the same sized piece of the pie?

Free access to education is never a bad thing. They aren't forcing the employees to take it.

It is not. If there is a growth the pie is bigger. The problem is the correlation between better income and degree is weak.

This is just ill-informed. Just one among a multitude of links showing a strong correlation between formal educational credentials and income: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of...

Which is why free education is better than taking out loans, a point in favor of this program.

The problem is the correlation between better income and degree is weak

Oh is it?

>[...seem to think] college is the answer to the current economic malaise, but I think it just leads to more and more people fighting over the same sized piece of pie

That's a pretty outrageous statement. You're still a person if you don't go to college.

Furthermore, if those who go to college earn a greater share of the pie, then it is because they are more productive. If they are more productive, then the pie gets larger by going to college.

In fact, the fundamentals of pricing theory suggest that the value to an individual, in terms of compensation for greater productivity, tends to be the floor in how much it costs employers and therefore the aggregate economy. For example, if you acquire new skills that make you produce an extra 1M per year, then your change in compensation will not exceed a $1M increase if you are negotiating with sane and informed people.

> ..it just leads to more and more people fighting over the same sized piece of pie.

Wait, you say that as if its a bad thing. Giving more people the means to fight over the pie is exactly what you'd want. In particular, you'd want to disconnect "already having a large piece" from "being able to fight over more", which is exactly what free education does.

No, but going to college is not necessarily for a BS/BA degree. Take a pharmacy technician for example. You need to at least complete community college and get a certificate.

>Take a pharmacy technician for example. You need to at least complete community college and get a certificate.

That's not correct


>Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent

I knew people who were working as a pharmacy tech as their high school job. You don't even need a certificate.

So at what point are we going to just going to accept that people need the equivalent of an associates coming out of high school. I don't think less education is the answer but as a bachelors equivalent becomes necessary for even a modest living, it might be worth looking at expanding what secondary education covers.

You can pretty much accept that now. That's how almost all public-facing job postings look for modest-living jobs (believe me, I've been scanning them). I'm assuming modest-living covers all standard bills allows for some amount of disposable income/savings per month in the low hundreds.

The two 'overrides' are choosing a field that allows demonstration of competency (programming, art, writing, etc.), and a network of referrals. Even with demonstrations, you may get passed up for someone with a degree.

That is the thing, a free community college associates just means two more years of school. I think we need to make some progress on getting some of this compressed into the 4 years of high school as well. Plenty of people don't have the option of two additional years of school because they have no family. Or the just have to work full time or numerous part time jobs.

Its a hard problem.

Michael Gill wrote a personal memoir about going from Corporate America to Coffee America.

A quick, good read that may show you how deep valuing the individual in Starbucks goes.



One of the longer term benefits for Starbucks that stands out to me the most is the long-term brand loyalty these folks will have. They'll be walking, talking advertisements for the greatness that is Starbucks for all the good they've done for them. I wish more companies understood that treating your people well is one of the best marketing tactics you can employ.

By and large, companies are only going to make decisions that positively impact their bottom line, and sometimes it just so happens that those decisions align with the best interest of their employees. This is definitely one of those moments. Not to say that Starbucks' intentions aren't genuine, but it's hard to ignore the obvious positive impact this is going to have for them. I always wonder about what matters more to these companies (employee welfare or their bottom line), but I guess it doesn't much matter if the employees are happier and better off for it in the end.

Interesting if this becomes widespread to other companies as well. Free enterprise/big-corp solving the cost of education/college issue when our government couldn't will be a big win for the laissez-faire folks.

Are there any existing tax benefits for educating your workers? That might be the next govt involved step here.

"Free enterprise/big-corp solving the cost of education/college issue when our government couldn't will be a big win for the laissez-faire folks." I'm sure you'd find quite a few Libertarians that would like the idea, and see it as a good "proof-of-concept".

On the other hand, you'll find Libertarians like me. We're pissed off because the government is taking our tax-money on the pretense of fixing these issues, and has nothing to show for it. These are all problems that we expect to be fixed using our money, and yet it's not happening. It just get's dragged along, year after year, election after election. Meanwhile, millions and billions (or whichever amount) is spent on useless endeavors such as foreign intervention/meddling, and wars.

"Libertarians like you" will find it easier to argue that the government should stop taking your money (or at least take less of it) to provide education, the more private sector success stories there is to point to.

Are you sure about that? I find people are incredibly hostile towards Libertarian concepts and ideas. However, the idea of simply holding government accountable for stuff that they already keep professing to want to fix seems like something a whole lot more people would agree on.

I think Starbacks have enough tax benefits don't they? For example, "not having to pay tax".

Why the obsession with "they don't pay enough taxes" without any consideration of the socioeconomic good they provide? Starbucks employs about 150,000 people (that's some $2.25B the gov't doesn't have to spend on welfare etc), contributes 0.1% to the GDP (for one company, that's impressive), and (a seriously under-discussed point) contributes increased velocity of money (people being willing to spend cumulatively lots of money frequently on a whim). Starbucks also is noted for pushing a lot of other society-benefiting factors, which now includes free education to their employees. That all of this is flat-out ignored by so many with "but they don't pay [enough] taxes" belies an intent of greed over altruism.

tax law does not say that you only have to pay taxes if you don't contribute to the GDP or employee people, which zero businesses qualify for.

contributing to the GDP is synonymous with the basic function of any business. employing people is synonymous with the basic function of any business.

large corporations shouldn't be allowed to flaut their tax bill, while paying people minimum-wage-or-close-to-it, simply because they are a large part of the economy.

starbucks is not a non-profit. all of those activities are great, but this is kind of like saying that your heart does so much work in moving blood around that it does not need to oxygenate your blood.

The assertions I addressed are based on the premise that corporations do no socioeconomic good ("damn evil greedy rich stealing from the proletariat"), and that all socioeconomic good emerges from the government, which requires vast taxes to provide that good. I counter-contend that corporations do far more good than Leftists give credit for, and compelling payment of high taxes would undo that good, making a much bigger mess than is imputed upon them now.

Large corporations don't flout their tax bill. The imputation that they do is absurd, as doing so would result in jail time for those in charge. They take whatever deductions they can (just as you surely do on your tax bill), leveraging options to reduce it toward zero. Those deductions are, on the whole, enacted because some socioeconomic benefit comes of that deductible activity (some surely debatable, but some justification resulted in legislating the deduction). So while my example of employment & GDP contributions may not "qualify" to you (I'll leave you to contemplate a loss of 150,000 jobs and $14B of GDP), you've refined my argument to observe that by demanding greater tax payment you're (by consequence) demanding an end to incentivizing socioeconomic contributions which corporations make for the purpose of lowering their tax bill. Raising Starbucks' taxes from an assumed $0 to, what, $5,000,000,000 ... the equivalent of twice their employee base cumulative salary (at minimum-wage-or-close-to-it); eliminating deductions to force Starbucks to no longer "flout their tax bill" would not just end the good done by engaging in those deductible behaviors, but would also result in ejecting a large part of their workforce. You cannot ignore the socioeconomic good of employing so many and earning so much, nor ignore the good done (abiding with legislated incentives!) to reduce tax burden, and continue to blindly demand "fairness" as if increasing tax revenue won't have negative consequences.

You'll probably be likewise outraged to know that I've zeroed out my state tax liability this year. I wouldn't have leased an electric car if not for that deduction; would you rather the state have the deducted amount, or replace a smog-spewing old Jeep with a zero emissions vehicle?

As for your analogy: the heart doesn't oxygenate blood, its sole purpose IS to move blood, and somehow punishing it for not oxygenating while ignoring the service of pumping is just downright stupid.

See, this is what I love about some nice corporations. Get big, then return back to the society by giving them the most valuable gift : Education.

A very good initiative.

Large business corporations today have a huge amount of power in their hands; in the context of greedy shareholders and governments which are getting proportionally weaker, there can certainly be "nice" corporation in the traditional sense, but most of the times, their niceness is synonym of good PR. In this specific case, it's important not to forget the massive amount of taxes that Starbucks avoids.

So Starbucks is basically doing the government's job.

No, the ASU (which is part of the government) is doing its job. Starbucks is forking over a few hundred dollars per worker as a perk.

No, they are trying to keep their good employees and gain some kudos from the public and select special interest groups.

While it is good for their employees having companies pay college costs long term could turn out bad as using our health care system as an example, when the costs of something are not fully realized by the users the costs tend to increase disproportionally to inflation

What the government can do and may need to do is establish an online standardized two year degree. Something that can be done online except perhaps for final testing which would then be held at a local facility. Basically expend the funds to develop the courses, online environment, and testing, and give it away to all US citizens for free. It certainly would not cost anywhere near what was paid just for all incarnations of the ACA websites.

After the two year students could transition to paid college services, it might help weed out all those who truly don't need a specialized degree or four years of education

TL;DR Employer paid education could turn out like employer paid health care Government should create for free a standardized two year degree program for online education

If Starbucks can do a better job educating students I'm not going to complain.

Don't complain about starbucks, but you should absolutely be complaining about the government.

Governments don't seem to be able to make Starbucks pay tax.

Merely paying taxes is obviously less publishable than holding back taxes and then sprinkling trace amounts on some good cause.

Completely ignoring everything else Starbucks does to the benefit of the country (employment, raised standards, contribution to GDP, etc), now including free education to some 150,000 employees.

It is not "the government's job" to educate people. Full stop.

I am not much of a cheerleader for public education in its current form in the U.S., but surely a case can be made that it is society's job to educate people -- because it is in society's best interest that people be educated.

And if society determines that one effective way to ensure that all people, even those of limited means, have an opportunity to receive an education, is to devote public dollars toward the effort, I see no reason why we can't say that, by proxy, it is the government's job to educate people.

(Personally, though, I would like to see the government's role as being primarily the benefactor and not the administrator or provider of education.)

As an aside, adding the words "full stop" to a statement may communicate extra intensity, but it doesn't excuse you from having to provide evidence to back up what you say.

"society" != "the government". Government is unique in that it reserves for itself the "right" to use force to compel people to cooperate with it's directives. "Society" can accomplish many things without needing force, and one of the mechanisms "society" uses to accomplish things is voluntary exchange in a free market environment.

I would agree that it is not "the government"'s job to provide education, since there is no valid reason to use force / aggression as part of educating people.

>> One of the mechanisms "society" uses to accomplish things is voluntary exchange in a free market environment.

You're right, Phil. That's ONE of the mechanisms society uses to accomplish things. That's not the only mechanism, and it's certainly not the appropriate mechanism for many things.

I'll give you a concrete example.

In my state, the Department of Transportation only plows snow from arterial roads, not from neighborhood roads. In order to get snow plowed on a neighborhood street, residents have to organize a civic association that collects dues, and those dues are used to pay for plowing; the state then reimburses the civic association for a portion of its expenses. But because membership in the civic associations is entirely voluntary, we end up with a 30 percent participation rate. My share of the dues, in effect, pays for not only myself but two of my neighbors who aren't willing to pay their fare share.

That is ridiculous. It is a perfect example of a case in which it is simpler and fairer for a couple of bucks to be added to each household's property taxes and have the plowing be publicly funded (although it could still be privately plowed).

Furthermore, the idea that the only role of the government is in situations where force is necessary is pretty darn limited. You might have a case if you're talking about national government, but I imagine that the bulk of the tasks your municipal government takes care of, outside of police work proper, don't require acts of aggression.

The example you provide is indeed a valid one. But one that only presents itself because of the nature of "public property". That's why you had a situation where a few of you were compelled to pay for the snow clearing, while others' still had usage of those roads.

In a truly free society, there would be no such thing as "public property". It would all be private, and usage of that road would have to be paid for by those that want to use it. And the owner of said private property would maintain that property such that it would provide value for all those that wish to pay for usage of it.

Did you ever consider that maybe those individuals on those houses don't use those roads? Maybe they walk, bicycle, or are plain hermits? (Odds are they aren't, but I'm sure there are a few). You want to work with absolutes, and then deny that aggression is present. Do you want to argue that taking money from someone in return for something they don't use is not aggression? How about a thief taking money from your wallet on the counter, and then handing you a sack of grain in return? Would you say that's not aggression?

That's very no true scotsman with regards to freedom. Saying the road is private inherently infringes on my freedom to use that land just as much as anyone else. Under this idea of free I could buy a road and the land around your house and declare it for my personal use only. I could then offer you a silly price to either go along that road or a silly price for your, now worthless to you, house. How is that any more free than a public system. Sure there's soloutions to this under a private system but once you've constructed it in your mind ask just how similar the entity you've constructed is to a local government, then ask how it's any more or less free.

So I think it's fair to say that a public system has drawbacks but being generally less free than a private system is definitely not the case.

> My share of the dues, in effect, pays for not only myself but two of my neighbors who aren't willing to pay their fare share.

Tis called the "Free Rider Problem." Governments are constantly trying to solve it.

Wrong. Considering that education is the single most powerful element to advance society (and create more justice), government should definitely ensure that everyone gets as much education as they can stomach and are willing to digest. And that means, it should mainly be financed via taxes.

Those, on the other hand, who want the public to remain manipulatable will continue try to limit education to the wealthier percentage.

You're right - it doesn't have to be the government's job to educate people...

...We could just as easily act like, say, Jamaica, in the township of Treasure Beach, where the government does not educate the children, leaving them to farm ackee, sell souvenirs on the beach and fish for a living.

However, the government is under our control, and as a group, our collective people who came before us figured out it was extremely valuable to educate people. And since then, every generation has valued education even more.

So, even if your personal values preclude the government from educating people and you prefer aristocracy and a severe gap between peasants and oligarchy, you are fortunately vastly outnumbered by others who believe in either a. a chance at equality, or b. the power of educated as a group for promoting the nation's interests.

The government is not under "our" control. That's a naive and stupid fantasy.

You're playing word games. I take the meaning of "control" is the argument as "de jure" control, in the sense of "for the People", while you have in essence redefined the word to mean "de facto" control, in the sense of the undue influence of money in politics.

Your redefinition makes your point irrelevant to the argument made.

Better start protesting in front of your local elementary school then.

That's probably a philosophical question. You are probably right in the case of young folks. But think of people who are older and just would like to study something [else].

I've calculated free education, it would basically collapse our government's finances. A College education is nice, but is not the sole step to ending to our economic and societal problems.

My country - Poland - has completely free education, on every level - primary, middle,high school and every university are free. There are private ones which are paid but they are not very good and a degree from any of them is not worth much.

And yet despite free education(and free healthcare for everyone) we managed to be the ONLY country in the entire European Union to not enter into recession - while every other country was going into negative numbers,we managed to maintain positive growth.

So, if free education in the US would collapse your finances, then there is something seriously wrong with either the cost of the education(which is seriously inflated and disproportionate for what it's offering) or your government has wrong spending priorities.

That's fine and fair but don't forget that the US has the world's most advanced college education system and our government has been inflating the costs for a very long time. The cost to provide nearly 22 million citizens (to start, using the amount of those enrolled in US institutions currently) with free college education, using ASU tuition and fees calculates to $11,207, lets add on $3K for books, various class fees, covering the cost of those who might take excess tuition hours.

To cover the costs of just the students part will cost a whopping 298 Billion per year. This does not include the budgets already allocated to college institutions, etc, but should also note that we would be trading for $107B in student loans, and around $3B in grants, however the price is still more than double the current budget.

Also note that the US's government currently has a massive deficit and military spending will not be going anywhere soon as the US guarantees global stability and has many threats it needs to protect itself from seeing that it is the world's largest economy and most powerful nation as well. The US is also the guarantor of international law on the seas, in the air, and on ground, so much of the defense budget is more than pork. Maybe we could squeeze $100 billion in one year from defense from cutting costs, which will never happen if we are all realistic about the situation.

Also the US has $17 trillion dollars in debt which is not nothing to scoff at seeing that down the line we will have massive problems with entitlements and healthcare. Before we try to expand any program we must first tackle the current problems with the budget that is headed for collapse, then focus on paying down our debts, after which we can begin expanding programs.

To be fair, Poland is at a pretty low base - it's at less than half of Germany GDP per person. I would not be surprised if some companies moved work to Poland to save on labour instead of moving to China/Asia as most cost-cutting companies did in US.

I am considering creating puppet accounts just to upvote you more ;-)

Does the free education thing apply to international students? I know some EU countries only have that for locals and some (like norway) extend that privilege for international students. So where does Poland classify?

Not criticizing, just curious.

Apparently the free education thing applies sometimes:


Hmm... only EU residents (even if foreign to Poland)

If I understood the article correctly, a BSc costs $60k in tuition for an online course. I believe this to not cover required textbooks etc., which are likely more difficult to find in a library if you’re on the other side of the country.

In comparison, my BSc at TU Berlin cost me 6 * 240 €, which includes free access to Berlin’s public transport system. And while the financial state of Berlin is certainly far from perfect, I wouldn’t call it ‘collapsed’ (oh, and I get the impression that a college education in the US is more like a high school degree in Germany and not directly comparable to a proper university degree…any comments/similar observations?)

I get the impression that a college education in the US is more like a high school degree in Germany

You got the wrong impression. Not a little wrong. A lot wrong. The US has many top-flight schools. And I'm not talking about the Ivies, either. I'm talking about small schools that excel by every authentic educational metric (student-teacher ratio, research excellence, undergrads who go on to graduate work and PhDs, etc).

How about, instead of begging for what will be probably the most pointless debate on HN this whole week with innuendo, you put in a show of good faith with that question and find a credible source that suggests that a German high school diploma is equivalent to an American college degree?

Perhaps after you do that, it'll be a good idea for anyone to dignify that question.

Sure. Look at


for the physics degree at Arizona state. It doesn’t seem to have a bachelor thesis or comparable work, it has about 50% stuff which has nothing whatsoever to do with physics (e.g. “Humanities, Fine Arts and Design (HU) AND Historical Awareness (H)”) and its physics courses seem end with things like “PHY 302: Mathematical Methods in Physics II“, which contains “complex variables”, “PHY 311: Classical Particles, Fields, and Matter II“, with “Faraday’s Law” and just a single QM course “PHY 314: Quantum Physics I” which only mentions wave mechanics, but makes no mention of perturbation theory, matrix mechanics or the standard Hilbert space approach with Dirac notation.

Especially the 50%-or-so of liberal arts, historical awareness etc. seem to be more appropriately placed in a high school degree than in a college degree, and things like complex variables shouldn’t require introduction in term five either.

The system in the US is different. You can get credits in various topics despite being enrolled in, say, Physics. In Germany, you're enrolled in one subject and have mostly predefined classes for that subject until you have something like a pre-diploma. This doesn't tell you anything about the depth of a class.

I studied for a year at ASU (computer science) and found there's not much difference between low-level courses and pre-diploma courses in Germany. A master's dregree in the US is more or less comparable to a diploma.

Also: Do you compare the former 13 years of school in Germany or the new 12-year period of school with the American education system?

American Degrees are meant to more general than a specific subject. You should do a certain amount credit in other subjects, before they let you pass.

> (oh, and I get the impression that a college education in the US is more like a high school degree in Germany and not directly comparable to a proper university degree…any comments/similar observations?)

Uh, wow?

I don't think that's correct. A bachelor's in the US (eight semesters of study) is roughly equivalent to a bachelor's in Germany (six semesters of study) plus the final year of secondary school (which lasts one year longer in Germany).

> it would basically collapse our government's finances

My guess is, the comparatively extremely high military budget [0] is the actual culprit.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_...

Putting aside entirely the fact that the cost of education in the US is rising at an unhealthy rate, and has been for some time, largely due to profit-driven education, about half of our national budget goes to wars.

THAT is what is collapsing our government's finances. Sending young people off to die, largely protecting corporate interests, and when they return not only can they not afford education, but they have a 1+ year waiting list for basic health care.

> I've calculated free education, it would basically collapse our government's finances.

Free, useless education is costly, but in the long run, useful education works to the benefit of governments.

By the way, if anyone else wondered about that parenthesis on union busting, here's the union's home page:


"Right now, Starbucks baristas are on strike in Chile, where they make less per hour than the price of a cup of coffee."

Good for them! Most folks today still think Capitalism has merit, so if a corporation is working out ways to do things like this, way to go.

Sure, it will help Starbucks recruit college-oriented more ambitious employees, and that's what they want. Fine.

This is no solution for society overall, but it's a good thing for what it is.

Considering that Starbucks practices massive tax avoidance, the company is essentially using taxpayers' money for a very clever PR stunt.

>using taxpayers' money for a very clever PR stunt.

Firstly i don't think "taxpayer's money" is an accurate description as they aren't exactly using the money we pay as tax. Instead they are deciding how their tax money is used. Not that i support tax avoidance or anything, but if a certain sum of money is being used to provide a large number of people with free college education, I don't really see how the govt can make better use of it. ok i guess there are better uses but this isn't exactly a bad spend is it?

Starbucks' tax arrangements are specifically legal. It's not in any meaningful sense taxpayers' money, no matter how strongly you feel it should be.

This is going to be a conundrum for ultra-liberal coffee hipsters... On the one hand, Starbucks is "The Man" and killing their precious neighbourhood artisan roasters one after another, on the other hand they're offering a chance to a good education to their workers and setting a new example for other companies to follow. Hard choices.

Theres no conundrum for me. I won't go there. 1. They make rubbish coffee. 2. They pay no tax in my country.

When they pay no tax, they have an unfair anticompetitive advantage against businesses that do. Other taxpayers have to make up the balance.

The fact they are now gifting a fraction back and looking of kudos just vexes me more.

That is actually a good point you're raising. Starbucks is known for some dodgy tax-evasion schemes, which really makes that whole education thing kind of hypocritical.

I don't think hypocritical is the right word. If they paid in taxes an equal amount that this program costs, would that still equal free education for their employees?

Doubt it. Armed forces world wide have been touting the free education policy for decades. The man is still the man, man. ;)

Hipster discussion aside, mad props to Starbucks - even if I'll still never drink that flavorless milky crap again. (I think Starbucks might be different here?)

Nice thing. Now people will have less motivation to fire from Starbucks - i believe in this case the employee will need to pay by himself. Additionally, managers will be able to push employees to work harder and therefore the amount workers, required to work in one place might be reduced. Genius!

its a good start. good to see companies helping out their common man employees.

The more I read and hear about Howard Schultz the more of a hero is becoming of mine. Pure genius. I will be drinking a lot more Starbucks coffee to support this company.

Great. Now recruiters will be calling me offering ping-pong, beer fridays, and college tuition.

>Now recruiters will be calling me offering ping-pong, beer fridays, and college tuition.

College tuition is a very common perk in the cooperate world as long as you maintain your grades and study something related to your work.

free <online> college...

free* <online> college... Still, it sounds like a noble effort.

>The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid.

Then it's a noble experiment on two different planes: Offering education to their workforce and testing whether online education can scale up to serve an SBUX-sized workforce. Good on 'em.

Its not real education unless you sit through 45 minutes of an instrctor reading you powerpoint slides from the book in person.

Just like it's not real "startup school" unless you spend 3 months in Silicon Valley?

they should just learn to code! In fact, let them check out http://coderin90.com

I'll have one of those vanilla bullshit degrees.


I thought they all had degrees in English already.

Seventy percent of Starbucks employees don't have degrees, but want them. You are not correct.

The fact 1/3 of Starbucks employees have university degrees is amazing.

Not entirely accurate. Some of those 30% could have no degree, and no desire to get one.

In my country McDonald's employees with degree aren't uncommon.

Its highly location based. On the coasts in SV and Manhattan Island, I'm sure McDonalds only hires high school dropouts and illegals, while anyone with a college degree has a real job. Elsewhere, it varies, and plenty of McJobs are staffed by people with degrees.

If the pie is continuously shrinking, and the supply of people with credentials (and related massive debt) is continuously expanding, this outcome seems fairly inevitable.

Most of the bartenders / waitresses I know have a degree in something. Maybe not a STEM field, but a degree of some sort. It is uncontroversial that there are unemployed people with degrees, so it should be no surprise there are massively underemployed degree holders.

I believe his comment was very tongue in cheek.

That wasn't his point, his point was employment of people with English, Philosophy, Business Management and similar degrees.

Do you believe the comment in question was based on researching such employment data?

Nope, and I am not saying I agree with that, it's just an old joke which isn't funny when everyone is saying it, and the person telling that shouldn't be taken seriously.

Do you believe that a pedantic answer to an obviously loaded question will help to make the author of the question ponder his silly ways?

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