Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushmade a curious remark over the weekend that managed to disparage both college students who choose non-technical majors and the favorite fast-food restaurant of political conservatives.
“Universities ought to have skin in the game,” Bush said. “When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working at Chick-fil-A.’”
Bush isn’t the first person to bad-mouth college degrees outside of the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, but he may be the first to consign those degree holders to a future of near-minimum wage work selling Christian chicken.
Bush would have been much better off to relegate those liberal arts majors to working at Taco Bell. It’s OK for a Republican presidential candidate to throw shade on a “run for the border” operation.
But messing with Christian chicken is risky. Chick-fil-A is a closed-on-Sundays, anti-gay-marriage, fast food chain with a Jesus statue outside its corporate headquarters. Praise the Lord and pass the waffle fries.
So it was an unforced error for Jeb to single out the most Republican-friendly fast-food chain in America. And to make it even worse, Chick-fil-A has a scholarship program that pays for some of its workers to get their college degrees.
Bush’s authority on trashing the value of a non-technical college education was not helped by his “Latin American affairs” college major.
Hank Paulson, the former U.S. Treasury secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs investment bank, was an English major. So was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Sheila Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., majored in philosophy. And the same goes for Wall Street corporate raider Carl Icahn.
Media mogul Ted Turner majored in the classics, studying ancient Greece, over the objection of his father, who considered such knowledge useless to “the doers of the world.”
But it didn’t stop Turner from becoming a billionaire. And majoring in English and theater didn’t hurt Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who never took a business course in college.
But if you really want to see what happens to all those people who don’t end up studying calculus and mechanical engineering in college, you just have to look at the presidential candidates.
Mitt Romney was an English major. Carly Fiorina majored in philosophy and medieval history. Ted Cruz majored in public policy. Mike Huckabee majored in religion. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum were all political science majors.
Even Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon running for president, didn’t get his undergraduate degree in some math-science major.
Carson majored in psychology.