“As for the idea that universal education is the way to a meritocratic utopia, that’s pure crap whether it comes from old-style liberals or from neocons like Brooks. It betrays a fallacy of composition. Education may be a great way for an individual to increase his chances of moving up the pyramid, but there are only so many positions at the top of the pyramid. If everybody gets a state-subsidized PhD, guess what? You’ll have the entire population competing for the 15% of jobs at the top of the pyramid (and hence driving down the pay of middle managers and technicians), and the other 85% of the population will include the best-educated burger flippers and bedpan emptiers in the world.”
“There’s a reason the educational differential is so high. The state has been subsidizing the most capital-intensive and skill-intensive forms of production for most of the past century. The purpose has been to deskill labor, reduce blue collar workers’ control over the production process from the shop floor. Such policies have had the additional benefit, from the ruling class POV, of increasing the education “toll” that has to be paid to get into a good job, so that the population will be too busy doing homework and jumping through academic hoops until they’re thirty to focus their anger on the system.
What we really need to be doing is attacking the shape of the pyramid itself.
Well hopefully the theory and in practice the reality is that with more educated people, the “pie” grows larger–more entrepreneurs and innovators, and more value is added in the workplace in general. But of course, yes, in the short-terms, greater supply of workers in certain fields leads to more competition and can drive down wages…Hmm..
Filed under: economics |