According to a survey, covered by this story in The New York Times, many college students feel they should earn "at least" a B for showing up and working hard. No mention is made of the actual product that comes out of that work.
I could talk about how things weren't like that in my day, but the truth is that even on that scale, I would not have posted a very good GPA. The last time I had to produce a transcript was to get into seminary, and they sent me a copy of what they mailed to the college where I was applying. I got rid of it as quickly as possible -- that's not a number that makes me feel good when I write Sallie Mae a check every month. However, having said that, what a bunch of idiots. Not that we wouldn't have jumped all over the idea if it had been presented to us.
I feel particularly sorry for the young people quoted in the article. Not because they've got a dorky view of the world; dorky views of the world are among the perks of being in college on either side of the lectern. But because they've just painted biiiiig targets on them when it comes to their grades during the remainder of their academic careers. A prof reads this story, sees that name on a transcript and decides to make that kid an example of how rigorous a grader he or she really is. "No, Ms. Smith, you will not earn a B just by showing up, not in my class. I expect you to work for your grades."
The New York Times may have just ended grade inflation, if only for one or two students. The power of the press!