To use one economic jargon just once more: If this view is correct, our higher-education system is a big prisoner’s dilemma. Every individual person — the high-school senior and the human-resources manager — has a rational incentive to pursue a BA, but the system as a whole is massively wasteful. There should be a way to prove high intelligence and cultivate diligence and refine social graces that doesn’t cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars and four to six years, and saddle would-be entrepreneurs with debt (and, dare I add, afflict young people with the grievances and resentments of the academic Left).
Students are not learning much despite enormous amounts of money and time spent on campus, but a degree provides them entrée to a middle class job. Employers find that job applicants often lack fundamental work skills, but use a college degree to screen for a basic level of competence. Both students and employers are stuck, until a better way is found.
What Does Prisoner’s Dilemma Mean? A paradox in decision analysis in which two individuals acting in their own best interest pursue a course of action that does not result in the ideal outcome.