As you say, a liberal arts education was originally intended to make a man (no women at the time) a better man. With exceptions those who attended were from wealthy families, usually the aristocracy, and their income, and for that matter status, for life was assured.
University was intended to pass along the answers (to the extent we’ve found them) to the great question Socrates asked so long ago, “What is the good?”
Well, those who were trained in this tradition committed treason against it, starting in the 19th century and peaking in the late 60s. It’s the “treason of the clerks,” the betrayal of those we trust to lead us to what is good and true, and they’ve rebelled against the notion that the good and true exists or can exist. In fact, you can make a case that their true ideal is to be “anti-good,” as their highest accolade is that a work of art is “transgressive,” which just means it makes normal people, who still want to believe in the god, uncomfortable.
Now there was a tremendous amount of moral and character capital in our society, but it’s being depleted and not replaced.
Just about all the problems in our society spring from this treason.
Jerry Pournelle addressed it very well in an essay from some decades ago.
Pournelle will be hard to replace. I worry every time he pauses posting for a few days.