Via Ezra Klein, a discussion of the stagnation of wages for college students. It turns out that the 2000s thus far have been mediocre to lousy for college graduates, with inflation-adjusted average hourly wages for young college graduates barely rising from last year, and having fallen by $.60 for women and $1.60 for men since 2002 (the hourly wages are currently $21.09 for men and $18.17 for women in 2007). The good news is that men still make $3 more per hour than women. Yay men (cue interjections about comparability of jobs, human capital differences, brain research, the bold physiological power of the penis).
I always wonder at what we’ve settled on here in the US, w/r/t education as an answer to inequality – give more people access to college! True, but when your economy looks increasingly like an hourglass (actually this is wrong – it’s more of an hourglass with a tiny bulb at the top and a larger one at bottom, pardon my graphical skills), there’s really not much place to put college graduates into good jobs.
I think there’s a ‘new deal’ type discussion that would benefit out country, and of course I’m not the only one to think so. Give a read to the original, it’s worth it. FDR makes the point that in an era when we needed/wanted to industrially develop the US, we were willing to offer things like giant economic disparities between rich and poor, monopolies over infrastructure, etc. The closing of the American West and overproduction in the early part of the 20th c. made that a lousy deal – we needed a new one.
Fast forward to now, what is the rationale for allowing the economy to develop in the ways it does? It is almost purely a self-interested one from the ‘haves’ combined with a rigorous macro-economic defense of trade and capitalism. It is a defense of the status quo, and it is so much less durable than it appears when it is in front of us.