Harvard MBAs and the Crisis

The ŒV and Czar have spent many a year in the company of high-powered MBAs, and commend to you this brutal takedown by one of their own.

I might make a few comments in defense of what I always called the Least Challenging Professional Degree, and note that there are an awful lot of very smart MBAs who do some terrific problem-solving in the business world. Some consultants, in particular, are very much worth their salt. That said, if there’s a class of people more prone to untethered pseudo-analytical bullshit this side of tarot-card readers, I haven’t found them. The consulting industry is prone to trendiness and “paradigm shifts,” and the financial industry appears to have spent the last decade making up formulae for instruments so abstruse that everyone assumed they were useful and valuable and are now revealed as chimerae as trivial as any stoner’s hypothesis of “dude, what if we could, like, cross-breed Fritos and weed…”

The $64,000 question is: by their own failure, have they poisoned the wells of their own success? Will there be a permanent reduction in the armies of shiny young things brandishing their two-year degrees and picking up a six-figure check? Depends…MBA jobs are luxuries, in many ways, and if there’s a relatively normal recovery (which gets less likely the further down the spending road the administration is pushing), then we’ll be able to afford them just fine. (Using them, one hopes, with a more gimlet eye.)

If, however, the economy doesn’t come back over the next decade, then it may recede into obscurity. While many people will laugh and rejoice in these latter-day Masters of the Universe receiving a comeuppance, that’s because most people are stupid. The type that most people associate negatively with MBAs (and who are richly represented in their ranks) is the egotistical, overconfident, half-bright jerk who craves a superior social status.

Guess what, people, that’s a personality, not something engendered by the degree. Right now, we’re buying them off with money. If the private sector no longer generates wealth sufficient enough to sate their hunger for status (and Obama gets his wish to transform the U.S. into a social democracy), they’ll go elsewhere for it. Where? Hmm. Maybe some place where they can enjoy job security, superior salaries and benefits, and enjoy the status-superiority of a Mandarinate. Now, we know they don’t have the patience to get a Ph.D., nor the ability to invert their status desires like professors do, driving conspicuously crappy cars and shabby wardrobes.

So where will they go?

Someone would have to open a Status-Craving Jerk Academy. But no one would do that, would they?