Snarky Behavior

Reading Through the Lines: No White Collar Worker Left Behind

June 13, 2007 · Leave a Comment

Reading through the lines: where I take a crack at translating a mainstream article or op-ed. Responses in italicized blue text.

Today’s inaugural article: The New York Times – “Economic Life After College”

Economic Life After College

Commencement is a time for idealism.

Read: Oh shit, it’s June! Better write up that hackneyed article to hedge recent graduates’ expectations, even though they’re coming out with a more refined and productive skill set than our generation ever had.
function getSharePasskey() { return ‘ex=1339300800&en=8c9eaf1cda546891&ei=5124′;}
function getShareURL() { return encodeURIComponent(’http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/11/opinion/11mon3.html’); } function getShareHeadline() { return encodeURIComponent(’Economic Life After College’); } function getShareDescription() { return encodeURIComponent(’A college degree does not ensure a bigger share of the economic pie for many graduates.’); } function getShareKeywords() { return encodeURIComponent(’Education and Schools,Income,Economic Conditions and Trends,Colleges and Universities,Editorials’); } function getShareSection() { return encodeURIComponent(’opinion’); } function getShareSectionDisplay() { return encodeURIComponent(’Opinion’); } function getShareSubSection() { return encodeURIComponent(”); } function getShareByline() { return encodeURIComponent(”); } function getSharePubdate() { return encodeURIComponent(’June 11, 2007′); }

But economic reality is lurking everywhere, and new college graduates are vulnerable to ambush. They have been told repeatedly that a college degree is an open sesame to the global economy. But that’s not necessarily so, according to new research by two economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Frank Levy and Peter Temin.

Read: College degrees are the new high-school diploma, and employers who don’t know to value the difference between tiered institutions are keeping entry-level salaries low across the board. Which encourages the cycles of transience, as graduates from top schools flounder to find salaries to match the income they expected when they took out (x) amount of dollars in loans.

It is true that people with college degrees make more money than people without degrees. The gap has narrowed somewhat in recent years, which is disturbing. But the earning power of college graduates still far outpaces that of less-educated workers.

Read: Lower standards and entry barriers to obtain a college degree deflate its value. As a result, the baby-boomer generation has expanded its bottle-necked bulge at the executive level by keeping salaries and benefits low at the entry level. (You blood-suckers… thanks for leaving me a depleted environment, an over-inflated housing market, a bankrupt social-security system, a devalued dollar and a massive trade deficit… )

The bad news, though, is that a college degree does not ensure a bigger share of the economic pie for many graduates. In recent decades, Mr. Levy and Mr. Temin show, only college-educated women have seen their compensation grow in line with economywide gains in productivity. The earnings of male college graduates have failed to keep pace with productivity gains.

Read: The male statistic is the control here because more women pursued full-time careers.

Instead, an outsized share of productivity growth, which expands the nation’s total income, is going to Americans at the top of the income scale. In 2005, the latest year with available data, the top 1 percent of Americans — whose average annual income was $1.1 million — took in 21.8 percent of the nation’s income, their largest share since 1929.

Read: As a reminder, October of 1929 began a period called “The Great Depression.” That’s what we have to look forward to. Buy your cardboard boxes now. Wait for it… we’re going to go ahead and blame this on “globalization” and “fair trade.”

Administration officials, and other politicians and economists, often assert that income inequality reflects an education gap. But Mr. Levy and Mr. Temin show that in the case of men, the average bachelor’s degree is not sufficient to catch the rising tide of the global economy.

Read: There it is! Blame the labor supply for expanding income gaps when the middle-class’ end is stagnant! Please explain: what leverage do I have? I have taken out loans, so unless I had decided to narrow my studies to an explicitly career oriented degree (which in terms of American industry means finance, computer technology, or to a lesser extent, engineering), I am forced to accept the salary offered to me. There are no unions to protect my interests, and few profit-sharing plans exist as incentive to commit myself long-term.

They argue that the real reason inequality is worsening is the lack of strong policies and institutions that broadly distribute economic gains. In the past, for example, a more progressive income tax and unions fostered equality. Affirmative action has also helped and probably accounts, in part, for the pay growth of college-educated women. But such institutions have been eroding and new ones have not yet emerged. At the same time, corporate norms that restrained excessive executive pay have also eroded, making the income gap even greater.

Read: Well that makes sense. We live in society where two employees of the same corporation, the CEO and the janitor, have a salary multiplier of x1000+. Does anyone really think that’s fair? Do you honest to God believe any one person on this earth contributes enough to humanity to deserve to be compensated 1000x more than anyone else? And all the while CEOs are bitching about how much hedge-fund managers and professional athletes make. It’s a fucking shit show. It makes me sick.

Mr. Levy and Mr. Temin conclude that only a reorientation of government policy can restore general prosperity. That’s a challenge to the nation’s leaders and today’s graduates. America needs them to build the new institutions for a global economy.

Read: Oh, ok, it’s “my challenge” to resolve the problem your generation has created for me? Is that so? How do you expect me to enter a career of public service when I have to take out six-figures in debt just to finance an education that will advance my career beyond the artificial glass-ceilings and inhibitors you have imposed upon me?

As sadistic as it sounds, these are the kinds of trends and attitudes that will influence my conscience in 15-20 years when I’m voting on whether to cut funding to prescription drug plans, to vote against capping property taxes, to lobby against patient’s rights,
to vote for massive estate taxes and restructuring the tax-code against retirement funds, to levy capital gains taxes and progressive tax-codes across the board, etc., etc.

The 2008 election very well might prove to be the consolidation of Generations X and Y against their parents. Race politics in America are played out. The future is age and class. All revolutions start with a pissed-off middle class. I don’t intend on living a life aligned to 19th century conceptions of labor and leisure because of “globalization.”


Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , ,

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment