As many have said, Obama showed up last night.

Did pretty well.

But 90% of this election is about jobs. And Obama “doesn’t have a plan” (seems to me he’s trying to execute on his existing plan, not dream up a ‘new’ X-point plan).

But here’s the first question from last night’s debate:

Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

Imagine Aaron Sorkin writing a truer, better answer to this question – from either candidate:

Jeremy, thank you for your question. But let me get a little more information while I add some context to your question. We are in a new economy. The jobs that will matter in your long, successful career largely don’t exist right now. So I’m curious: what are you studying? What are the professors teaching who tell you that you have ‘little chance to get employment?’

Judging from Jeremy’s demographic, I’m guessing he’s a “business major.” Maybe something even less useful – criminal justice or pre-law.

Why else would he be terrified of graduating without a job?

When Jeremy replied with his major, and the details of the professors’ (and neighbors?)  chosen academic program, the President (or candidate) could have replied by describing the economy that does exist: a hi-tech one, that requires solid engineering or computer science degrees in order to succeed. To push a bit further, one of these two leaders might have suggested that Jeremy is in the wrong major. There are plenty of jobs in America, just not enough people willing (or interested) to get the education necessary to take them.

Instead both men babbled on about Pell Grants and making college more affordable. Instead of laying down a challenge to Jeremy and those like him.

It would have been a difficult message to deliver, especially as a first question, but the lack of any plan along these lines is proof of a Big Government solution (from both candidates) that is inefficient. If you can afford to go to university and study philosophy, by all means do it. But zero Federal financing should go towards degrees that aren’t needed in this economy. Instead of ‘just’ philosophy, try working your ass off studying artificial intelligence AND philosophy. Then you’ll have a zillion job offers.

Starting with the fall of 2013, Pell Grants and Federally backed loans should only be used for select majors. Period.

What majors? Engineering. Computer Science. High-tech manufacturing.

The stampede into these programs would be overwhelming, and the effect would be similar to the GI Bill in reshaping education and our economy. Suddenly parents would be kicking the shit out of their K12 schools to get more STEM disciplines (and discipline) and we’d probably have a surplus in the Pell and other programs for a few years until enough students could get their act together to take advantage of the change.

Why can’t anyone suggest something this simple? Who could argue that Federal money should go towards creating more lawyers?