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 of U. S.
News ; World Report (7/31/95). Since 1973, wagesadjusted for inflation have declined by about a quarter for high schooldropouts, by a sixth for high school graduates, and by about 7% for those withsome college education. Only the wages of college graduates are up. Of thefastest growing technical jobs, software engineering tops the list. CarnegieMellon University reports, “recruitment of it’s software engineeringstudents is up this year by over 20%. ” All engineering jobs are payingwell, proving that highly skilled labor is what employers want! “There isclear evidence that the supply of workers in the unskilled labor categoriesalready exceeds the demand for their services,” says L.
Mishel, ResearchDirector of Welfare Reform Network. In view of these facts, I wonder if thesetrends are good or bad for society. “The danger of the information age isthat while in the short run it may be cheaper to replace workers withtechnology, in the long run it is potentially self-destructive because therewill not be enough purchasing power to grow the economy,” M. B. Zuckerman.
My feeling is that the trend from unskilled labor to highly technical, skilledlabor is a good one! But, political action must be taken to ensure that thissocietal evolution is beneficial to all of us. “Back in 1970, a high schooldiploma could still be a ticket to the middle income bracket, a nice car in thedriveway and a house in the suburbs. Today all it gets is a clunker parked onthe street, and a dingy apartment in a low rent building,” says TimeMagazine (Jan 30, 1995 issue). However, in 1970, our government provided ourchildren with a free education, allowing the vast majority of our population toearn a high school diploma.
This means that anyone, regardless of family income,could be educated to a level that would allow them a comfortable place in themiddle class. Even restrictions upon child labor hours kept children in school,since they are not allowed to work full time while under the age of 18. Thisgovernment policy was conducive to our economic markets, and allowed our countryto prosper from 1950 through 1970. Now, our own prosperity has moved us into ahighly technical world, that requires highly skilled labor. The natural answerto this problem, is that the U. S.
Government’s education policy must keep pacewith the demands of the highly technical job market. If a middle class income of1970 required a high school diploma, and the middle class income of 1990requires a college diploma, then it should be as easy for the children of the90’s to get a college diploma, as it was for the children of the 70’s to get ahigh school diploma. This brings me to the issue of our country’s politicalprocess, in a technologically advanced world. Voting ; Poisoned PoliticalProcess in The U. S. The advance of mass communication is natural in atechnologically advanced society.
In our country’s short history, we have seenthe development of the printing press, the radio, the television, and now theInternet; all of these, able to reach millions of people. Equally natural, isthe poisoning and corruption of these medias, to benefit a few. *From the 1950’suntil today, television has been the preferred media. Because it captures theminds of most Americans, it is the preferred method of persuasion by politicalfigures, multinational corporate advertising, and the upper 2% of the elite, whohave an interest in controlling public opinion.
Newspapers and radio experiencedthis same history, but are now somewhat obsolete in the science of changingpublic opinion. Though I do not suspect television to become completely obsoletewithin the next 20 years, I do see the Internet being used by the same politicalfigures, multinational corporations, and upper 2% elite, for the same purposes. At this time, in the Internet’s young history, it is largely unregulated, andcan be accessed and changed by any person with a computer and a modem; nolicense required, and no need for millions of dollars of equipment. But, inreviewing our history, we find that newspaper, radio and television were onceunregulated too.
It is easy to see why government has such an interest inregulating the Internet these days. Though public opinion supports regulatingsexual material on the Internet, it is just the first step in total regulation,as experienced by every other popular mass media in our history. This is why itis imperative to educate people about the Internet, and make it be known thatany regulation of it is destructive to us, not constructive! I have been a dailyuser of the Internet for 5 years (and a daily user of BBS communications for 4years), which makes me a senior among us. I have seen the moves to regulate thistype of communication, and have always openly opposed it. My feelings abouttechnology, the Internet, and political process are simple.
In light of thehistory of mass communication, there is nothing we can do to protect any mediafrom the “sound byte” or any other form of commercial poisoning. But,our country’s public opinion doesn’t have to fall into a nose-dive of lies andcorruption, because of it! The first experience I had in a course on CriticalThinking came when I entered college. As many good things as I have learned incollege, I found this course to be most valuable to my basic education. I wasangry that I hadn’t had access to the power of critical thought over my twelveyears of basic education. Simple forms of critical thinking can be taught asearly as kindergarten. It isn’t hard to teach a young person to understand thepatterns of persuasion, and be able to defend themselves against them.
Television doesn’t have to be a weapon against us, used to sway our opinions toconform to people who care about their own prosperity, not ours. With the powerof a critical thinking education, we can stop being motivated by the sound byteand, instead we can laugh at it as a cheap attempt to persuade us. Inconclusion, 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. I think technology has animportant effect on us, the way we act, react, and take actions in society. Wecan be the masters of technology, and not let it be the masters of us. BibliographyZuckerman U.
S. News ; World Report, volume 119, pg 68 (July 31, 1995)?Wealth: Static Wages, Except for the Rich, By: John Rothchild Time 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. Wright U. S.
News ; World Report, volume 119, pg 98 (Oct 30, 1995)