Monday, February 21, 2005
5 years on from the great tech wreck
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we'd choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way -- Mary Hopkins
Lately, I keep hearing elites being alarmed at how enrollment in engineering, math, and science is plunging at universities. One guy wrote for the New York Times and thought this was going to be quite ruinious to the future of America, and you know what, he is right. The high American lifestyle has been sustained by building advanced products that other countries cannot easily compete in. If they do, prices and profit margins come under pressure, and so does the American standard of living. Now, just so this isn't a diatribe about the left, I heard much the same thing on a right wing talk show.
Now, why is this happening? Obviously it is because word has gotten around that jobs ain't so plentiful or highly paid in this field anymore. Competition with India and China are growing daily, and the American engineer just can't compete with a guy making 12% - 30% of his income and why should he? It is a hard field of study, it can be very demanding career with deadlines, pressure, and worry. So who in his right mind goes into a field that requires years of training where employment and wages are falling? Only an idiot.
But the part that really bugs me is how these elites seem to decide what is good honest work for us unwashed masses. I don't think media elites are about to be off-shored anytime soon. It is so easy for them to say, you need to take that career path because it is good for America. Yeah, what happens when you are 40, have a wife, some kids, a mortgage, and your job is sent off to China because it is cheap to do so? Sounds a little naive. Furthermore, have you ever seen some kid of an elite go into a job you'd describe as roll up your sleeves, bust your hump, working for the Man? I'm sure it must happen, but I think it is pretty rare.
So, what is the solution? I don't have one. As a nation we are very dependent on imported raw materials, energy, and even capital to the tune of almost $2 billion a day! We just can't throw up a wall around the country or things would get very bad.