The microeconomic picture of the U.S. has changed immensely since 1973, and thetrends are proving to be consistently downward for the nation’s high schoolgraduates and high school drop-outs. “Of all the reasons given for the wagesqueeze international competition, technology, deregulation, the decline ofunions and defense cuts technology is probably the most critical. It hasfavored the educated and the skilled,” says M. B. Zuckerman, editor-in-chief ofU.S. News ; World Report (7/31/95). Since 1973, wages adjusted for inflationhave declined by about a quarter for high school dropouts, by a sixth for highschool graduates, and by about 7% for those with some college education.
Onlythe wages of college graduates are up.
Of the fastest growing technical jobs, software engineering tops the list.
Carnegie Mellon University reports, “recruitment of it’s software engineeringstudents is up this year by over 20%.” All engineering jobs are paying well,proving that highly skilled labor is what employers want! “There is clearevidence that the supply of workers in the unskilled labor categories alreadyexceeds the demand for their services,” says L.
Mishel, Research Director ofWelfare Reform Network.
In view of these facts, I wonder if these trends are good or bad for society.
“The danger of the information age is that while in the short run it may becheaper to replace workers with technology, in the long run it is potentiallyself-destructive because there will not be enough purchasing power to grow theeconomy,” M. B. Zuckerman. My feeling is that the trend from unskilled labor tohighly technical, skilled labor is a good one! But, political action must betaken to ensure that this societal evolution is beneficial to all of us. “Backin 1970, a high school diploma could still be a ticket to the middle incomebracket, a nice car in the driveway and a house in the suburbs. Today all itgets is a clunker parked on the street, and a dingy apartment in a low rentbuilding,” says Time Magazine (Jan 30, 1995 issue).
However, in 1970, our government provided our children with a free education,allowing the vast majority of our population to earn a high school diploma.
This means that anyone, regardless of family income, could be educated to alevel that would allow them a comfortable place in the middle class. Evenrestrictions upon child labor hours kept children in school, since they are notallowed to work full time while under the age of 18. This government policy wasconducive to our economic markets, and allowed our country to prosper from 1950through 1970. Now, our own prosperity has moved us into a highly technicalworld, that requires highly skilled labor. The natural answer to this problem,is that the U.S. Government’s education policy must keep pace with the demandsof the highly technical job market. If a middle class income of 1970 required ahigh school diploma, and the middle class income of 1990 requires a collegediploma, then it should be as easy for the children of the 90’s to get a collegediploma, as it was for the children of the 70’s to get a high school diploma.
This brings me to the issue of our country’s political process, in atechnologically advanced world.
Voting ; Poisoned Political Process in The U.S.
The advance of mass communication is natural in a technologically advancedsociety. In our country’s short history, we have seen the development of theprinting press, the radio, the television, and now the Internet; all of these,able to reach millions of people. Equally natural, is the poisoning andcorruption of these medias, to benefit a few.
From the 1950’s until today, television has been the preferred media. Becauseit captures the minds of most Americans, it is the preferred method ofpersuasion by political figures, multinational corporate advertising, and theupper 2% of the elite, who have an interest in controlling public opinion.
Newspapers and radio experienced this same history, but are now somewhatobsolete in the science of changing public opinion. Though I do not suspecttelevision to become completely obsolete within the next 20 years, I do see theInternet being used by the same political figures, multinational corporations,and upper 2% elite, for the same purposes. At this time, in the Internet’syoung history, it is largely unregulated, and can be accessed and changed by anyperson with a computer and a modem; no license required, and no need formillions of dollars of equipment. But, in reviewing our history, we find thatnewspaper, radio and television were once unregulated too. It is easy to seewhy government has such an interest in regulating the Internet these days.
Though public opinion supports regulating sexual material on the Internet, it isjust the first step in total regulation, as experienced by every other popularmass media in our history. This is why it is imperative to educate people aboutthe Internet, and make it be known that any regulation of it is destructive tous, not constructive! I have been a daily user of the Internet for 5 years (anda daily user of BBS communications for 9 years), which makes me a senior amongus. I have seen the moves to regulate this type of communication, and havealways openly opposed it.
My feelings about technology, the Internet, and political process are simple.
In light of the history of mass communication, there is nothing we can do toprotect any media from the “sound byte” or any other form of commercialpoisoning. But, our country’s public opinion doesn’t have to fall into a nose-dive of lies and corruption, because of it! The first experience I had in acourse on Critical Thinking came when I entered college. As many good things asI have learned in college, I found this course to be most valuable to my basiceducation. I was angry that I hadn’t had access to the power of criticalthought over my twelve years of basic education. Simple forms of criticalthinking can be taught as early as kindergarten. It isn’t hard to teach a youngperson to understand the patterns of persuasion, and be able to defendthemselves against them. Television doesn’t have to be a weapon against us,used to sway our opinions to conform to people who care about their ownprosperity, not ours. With the power of a critical thinking education, we canstop being motivated by the sound byte and, instead we can laugh at it as acheap attempt to persuade us.
In conclusion, I feel that the advance of technology is a good trend for oursociety; however, it must be in conjunction with advance in education so thatsociety is able to master and understand technology. We can be the masters oftechnology, and not let it be the masters of us.
BibliographyWhere have the good jobs gone?, By: Mortimer B. ZuckermanU.S. News ; World Report, volume 119, pg 68 (July 31, 1995)Wealth: Static Wages, Except for the Rich, By: John RothchildTime Magazine, volume 145, pg 60 (January 30, 1995)Welfare Reform, By: Lawrence Mishelhttp://epn.org/epi/epwelf.html (Feb 22, 1994)20 Hot Job Tracks, By: K.T. Beddingfield, R. M. Bennefield, J. Chetwynd,T. M. Ito, K. Pollack ; A. R. WrightU.S. News ; World Report, volume 119, pg 98(Oct 30, 1995)Category: Philosophy
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