Technology And Modern America Essay

1113 words - 4 pages

The microeconomic picture of the U.S. has changed immensely since1973, and the trends are proving to be consistently downward forthe nation's high school graduates and high school drop-outs. "Of allthe reasons given for the wage squeeze - international competition,technology, deregulation, the decline of unions and defense cuts -technology is probably the most critical. It has favored theeducated and the skilled," says M. B. Zuckerman, editor-in-chief ofU.S. News & World Report (7/31/95). Since 1973, wages adjustedfor inflation have declined by about a quarter for high schooldropouts, by a sixth for high school graduates, and by about 7% forthose with some college education. Only the wages of collegegraduates are up.Of the fastest growing technical jobs, software engineeringtops the list. Carnegie Mellon University reports, "recruitment of it'ssoftware engineering students is up this year by over 20%." Allengineering jobs are paying well, proving that highly skilled labor iswhat employers want! "There is clear evidence that the supply ofworkers in the [unskilled labor] categories already exceeds thedemand for their services," says L. Mishel, Research Director ofWelfare Reform Network. In view of these facts, I wonder if thesetrends are good or bad for society. "The danger of the informationage is that while in the short run it may be cheaper to replaceworkers with technology, in the long run it is potentially self-destructive because there will not be enough purchasing power togrow the economy," M. B. Zuckerman. My feeling is that the trendfrom unskilled labor to highly technical, skilled labor is a good one!But, political action must be taken to ensure that this societalevolution is beneficial to all of us. "Back in 1970, a high schooldiploma could still be a ticket to the middle income bracket, a nicecar in the driveway and a house in the suburbs. Today all it gets is aclunker parked on the street, and a dingy apartment in a low rentbuilding," says Time Magazine (Jan 30, 1995 issue).However, in 1970, our government provided our children with afree education, allowing the vast majority of our population to earna high school diploma. This means that anyone, regardless of familyincome, could be educated to a level that would allow them acomfortable place in the middle class. Even restrictions upon childlabor hours kept children in school, since they are not allowed to workfull time while under the age of 18. This government policy wasconducive to our economic markets, and allowed our country toprosper from 1950 through 1970. Now, our own prosperity hasmoved us into a highly technical world, that requires highly skilledlabor. The natural answer to this problem, is that the U.S.Government's education policy must keep pace with the demands ofthe highly technical job market. If a middle class income of 1970required a high school diploma, and the middle class income of 1990requires a college diploma, then it should be as easy for the childrenof the...

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