5.19.2014 Leave a comment
A political blog written from a left populist perspective
3.23.2012 Leave a comment
While discussing the economic value of a college education in the labor market and for those who possess a college education, Jack Metzgar wrote:
Most people are surprised when I tell them that only about 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have bachelor’s degrees. This is especially true of professional middle-class folks who went to high schools where almost everybody went to college immediately after graduation and whose friends now are almost all college graduates. But it’s also true of people from working-class and poor backgrounds, who seem to think they are “abnormal” or “below average” because they haven’t graduated from college. They’re not. They are, in fact, the ones who are “typical.”
It’s even more surprising, however, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2010 only 20% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree, whereas 26% of jobs did not even require a high school diploma, and another 43% required only a high school diploma or equivalent. And according to the BLS, this isn’t going to change much by 2020, since the overwhelming majority of jobs by then will still require only a high school diploma or less. What’s more, nearly ¾ths of “job openings due to growth and replacement needs” over the next 10 years will pay a median wage of less than $35,000 a year, with nearly 30% paying a median of about $20,000 a year (in 2010 dollars).
Put these two sets of numbers together, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Americans are over educated for the jobs that we have and are going to have.
In other words, supply does not create demand. It has not in the past and will not in the future. Unemployment and low wages are not due to an education deficit in the United States. American college graduates will not confront structural unemployment in the labor market [see this (pdf)], although the demand for labor today does express the structural problems which defines America’s chronically stagnant economy. Therefore, it follows that, while gaining an advanced education is worthy in principle and often proves to be so in practice, it is not always an economically sound decision for the prospective student to make. By opting for a post-secondary education, the student could spend his or her life burdened with a debt he or she must repay for an education he or she will never use.
Metzgar concludes his article by stating the obvious:
If we were serious about eliminating poverty or restoring the credibility of the American Dream or simply respecting lifetimes of hard work, we would be debating how to raise wages directly — how to make it easier for workers to organize themselves into unions, how to get the federal minimum wage higher and on a steady inflation-adjusted escalator, whether to require some kind of workers council for all employers, and then legally require that the benefits of productivity growth be shared with workers. We’d also be discussing how to use a more steeply progressive system of taxation to build a social wage that makes the basics of life — food, housing, mass transit, child care, education, and health care — cheaper for everyone, but most crucially for lower wage workers.
Those of us who have benefitted, financially and otherwise, from getting good educations should tell our stories and try to inspire others with the value of education in all its forms. But we need to stop fostering illusions that good educations can ever substitute for the organized collective action — in politics, in the workplace, and in the streets — that will be required to reverse the increasingly miserable wages and conditions most people are facing now and in the future.
2.28.2012 Leave a comment
In a speech he recently made to the Ohio Christian Alliance, Rick Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania and a Republican candidate for President, recently accused President Obama of having a “phony theology,” one that does not derive from The Bible and which the President has imposed on the citizens of the United States.
Although Santorum later admitted that Obama is a Christian — Santorum: “I wasn’t suggesting the president was not a Christian. I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian….” — it remains the case that the President’s theology is a secular belief system.
Speaking for myself, I find it difficult to glean the mediating concepts Santorum needs to use in order to logically reconcile his claim that Obama is a Christian (as is Santorum and the citizens to which he directs his propaganda) and the claim that Obama believes and wishes to impose a phony theology on America? Amazingly enough, claims of this sort are shaky ground for a Catholic politician in the United States, the Catholic’s Church being the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Antichrist for some of protestant America. One might wonder why Santorum makes these claims given the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States. Be that as it may, Santorum did eventually clarify his position on Obama’s theology. Santorum believes Obama is an environmentalist. That is Obama’s theology! Moreover, environmentalism is not only a theology, it is a belief system based on the misuse of scientific evidence. The abuse: Claims which assert the existence of anthropocentric global warming are a “hoax,” according to Santorum. The evidence does not support the anthropocentric global warming position. (The anthropocentric global warming thesis is the consensus opinion among the experts.) And Obama, for his part, has been an industry-friendly advocate of green energy proposals. Because he is such, Obama wants to impose his “phony theology,” environmentalism, on the United States.
The crux of the matter: Are climate science, ecology and biology theological belief systems? Is environmentalism, the practical use of these sciences, a theology? Not at all if by theology one means a discourse (logos) about the nature of the divine (theos being the Greek word for God). One can be an atheist, a practicing scientist and an environmentalist without contradiction. These are not mutually exclusive terms. Nor does scientific practice entail the enchantment of nature. A scientist can practice her craft believing the universe to be nothing more than a consciousless, intentionless, aimless set of mechanisms. But historical semantics does not concern an obscurantist thinker like Santorum. He only needs to label environmentalism a theology because it is a belief system, and it, like every belief system, allegedly has a theological core and even a theodicy. That modern science and the practical disciplines based on it lack a concept of the divine does not matter here. Nor does it matter that belief systems are not also theologies. What matters for individuals like Santorum is the conflation of the terms “theology” and “belief system” equips him with the tool needed to claim that Obama is oppressing Christians with a “phony theology.” Obama wants to impose both bad science (a “hoax”) and a “phony theology” (environmentalism) on Americans. Environmentalism raises First Amendment issues for Santorum and those who think like him, environmentalism being a religion! Obama’s support for such injures those who practice different religions.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. “It means just what I choose it to mean — neither more or less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
1.19.2012 Leave a comment
Doug Henwood of Left Business Observer takes the ‘liberal’ network and Adam Davidson to task for their myopia and, perhaps, opportunism.