Rich Lowry bases an excellent column on a lecture by Charles Murray. But — the four largest issues are not addressed by Lowry here, nor by anyone else I have read.
1) America is a post-industrial economy held-back by industrial-era labor standards (unions that have ceased any usefulness as indicated by the private sector participation and the overtaking of safety issues by government regulation), by(2) industrial-era schooling (held captive to unions, of course), and (3) to an egalitarianism that continues to insist we all are intellectually equal; we are not. We also are not dealing from any policy perspective I can find with (4) the declining demographics of America. We have fewer kids but insist on the same numbers of teachers, jobs, etc.
America led the way to the Information Age. As we moved from the Industrial Age, those jobs, rightly, moved to economies less-advanced than ours as they entered their own industrial ages. Those jobs MUST move down the economic tree as countries move UP that tree to more advanced economies, living standards, etc.
Keeping Industrial Age jobs here prevents other nations from enriching themselves as they are prevented from moving up TO Industrial Age jobs we SHOULD BE, but are NOT, shedding as we move to Information age jobs, and beyond. S. America and Africa WILL NOT advance if they can’t gain low-skill manufacturing jobs people insist we retain in America and Europe, period.
It is no less silly to insist that we keep hunter-gatherer lifestyles as we move to fully-mechanized farms, than it is to insist that we keep heavy-labor jobs as we move to put computers in anything and everything.
Our schools, our economic and energy policies, our tax and regulatory policies all must reflect that we must move forward, that we cannot remain static; that we must stop bandaiding the past and start planning and executing on the future – or others will beat us to it and we WILL be left behind.
How to do this?
Don’t know, but I do know this: as long as we pretend that we all are intellectually capable of creating an information-based future, of moving the economy to a post-information age, whatever that may look like, when well over half our populace lacks the intelligence to be educated to the levels required, to work as hard as required – with their BRAINS not their brawn, we are hindering ourselves and limiting – destroying? – our future. Simply, we always will need people to clean the streets, to mop the floors, to pave the highways and airports and to lay the track. But to educate those who are going to create the future in computer hardware and software the same way as we educate tracklayers, to insist that those dropping-out of schools will be able to continue to contribute to a post-information age economy as well as those eager to learn, to pretend that we all are capable of understanding where we need to go – and taking us there – is infantile.
We need to educate everyone to a level that works for them – AND our economy and future. We need to understand that providing more and better education to those who want – and can benefit from – it, is not a bad thing, nor is expecting less from less-intelligent, less-skilled people.
We need to reduce the constant inflow of unskilled workers to our skilled economy – and unskilled economies (like Mexico’s) NEED those laborers for their nations to move ahead – and the jobs we no longer should be doing. Why are we still building cars here, for example?
We already have more unskilled labor than we need. We need to free our skilled labor from industrial age shackles to grow our economy enough to create the need for the streetsweepers and airport pavers that we already have – not pretend we can make rocket scientists out of them, and continue to absorb more.
We need to understand that most of the jobs shed in the past decade are NOT coming back due to productivity increases, and fewer kids having been born since the Boomers and their Echo have aged. Fewer kids = fewer teachers = fewer schools = fewer jobs, period.
As long as we continue forward in a post-industrial economy, jobs displaced by productivity increases are NOT a net loss to the economy – OR THE COMMUNITY. These job losses BECOME a net loss to the economy and community when productivity is precluded/rejected by industrial age unionism and an industrial age education system.
It is past time to acknowledge that not everyone has the brains or work ethic to participate fully in the Information Age or the post-Info Age, that we need to educate to our future and not to our past, and that fewer kids means we MUST be more productive to retain our current living standard, and that we CANNOT be more productive when industrial age education and unions prevent our being so.
The real issues must be addressed. And no one is discussing them. Not liking the facts has no bearing on their existence.