Interesting thread so far. I've lived in a few countries and education is necessary for any white collar job anywhere. It does not have to always be a college degree though, I know a lot of people who have completed advanced diplomas and technical courses at polytechnics or TAFE and are doing well now. Polytechics are also a lot cheaper than universities and a better value for money. Having attended both, I have observed that a polytechnic offers more hands on, practical training while a degree offers more theory and understanding of underlying concepts, which is why a coop or internship is necessary to balance the theory with some real world skills.
academic qualification != Job != success
I see lots of budding entrepreneurs drop out of college every day to start a business. Some succeed, many don't. It proves that with sufficient initiative and courage, a lack of a degree will only be a small handicap. But given that not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur, a degree is quite a good investment for the regular working person.