Okay, so I've blogged about this before (see "We Was Po', part ii" from August 2010), but another article has popped up on yahoo related to this same topic. If you haven't seen it, it's a list of the worst paying college degrees of 2011. Of course, religious studies is included along with social work and several education degrees. For those of us lost in the throws of passion for the study of religion, this really isn't a surprise. As I've said before, if you come to the study of religion in any form expecting to get rich, you have been lied to, my friend. We do it because it's relevant and interesting and awesome, but this is not my point.
What made me come back to this again is a conversation I had on Facebook with an acquaintance. They asked me what I graduated with, and after I told them, they promptly sent me to the above article and basically declared me a fool in not so many words. Not only do I possess a degree on a list of so-called "low-payers," I have two other BA's in subjects equally (to their mind) as useless. Of course, by useless they meant that I will likely never become a millionaire doing it. My response was the following:
You ridicule my choices in degrees because they won't make me a ton of money and even pity me because of it, but I pity you because you seem to only be able to value the possibility of money. Yes, I need money to live in this society. Capitalism is mostly evil, but it is what it is; and I have accepted that fact. Yes, I know my particular areas of study, despite their salience, will not allow me to own 4 houses, a fleet of cars, and whatever else it is for which you need that much money. However, what you are looking at as a pittance of a salary seems miraculous to me. My first job netted me less than half of the lowest salary on that list in a year. My wife, though better paid than we were then, still makes less than half of that in a year. If I were to land a position teaching my subjects and managed to pull in the "low" salary of around $30,000, I would be ecstatic and suddenly be operating on twice the budget we have now. If I were to have a job making that much, my wife could quit work because we would be able to pay all our bills. She could do whatever she wished in school and take her time finding a job doing what she wants to do. Once she got a job (which would net her nearly $30,000 as well), we would be rich based on how we were raised, the areas we grew up in, and our lives up to that point. Life would be much smoother financially. Hell, we might be able to actually think about buying a house and a car made in a closer to current year. In short, I would be divinely happy with that. So, remind me again what the problem is with that figure.