Technology In Modern America, The Effects On Society

1165 words - 5 pages

Technology in Modern AmericaU.S. Wage TrendsThe microeconomic picture of the U.S. has changed immensely since 1973, and the trendsare proving to be consistently downward for the nation's high school graduates and highschool drop-outs. "Of all the reasons given for the wage squeeze - internationalcompetition, technology, deregulation, the decline of unions and defense cuts - technologyis probably the most critical. It has favored 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 school dropouts, by a sixthfor high school graduates, and by about 7% for those with some college education. Onlythe wages of college graduates are up.Of the fastest growing technical jobs, software engineering tops the list. Carnegie MellonUniversity reports, "recruitment of it's software engineering students is up this year by over20%." All engineering jobs are paying well, proving that highly skilled labor is whatemployers want! "There is clear evidence that the supply of workers in the [unskilled labor]categories already exceeds the demand for their services," says L. Mishel, Research Directorof Welfare Reform Network.In view of these facts, I wonder if these trends are good or bad for society. "The danger ofthe information age is that while in the short run it may be cheaper to replace workers withtechnology, in the long run it is potentially self-destructive because there will not be enoughpurchasing power to grow the economy," M. B. Zuckerman. My feeling is that the trendfrom unskilled labor to highly technical, skilled labor is a good one! But, political actionmust be taken to ensure that this societal evolution is beneficial to all of us. "Back in 1970,a high school diploma 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 on the street, anda dingy apartment in a low rent building," says Time Magazine (Jan 30, 1995 issue).However, in 1970, our government provided our children with a free education, allowingthe vast majority of our population to earn a high school diploma. This means that anyone,regardless of family income, could be educated to a level that would allow them acomfortable place in the middle class. Even restrictions upon child labor hours keptchildren in school, since they are not allowed to work full time while under the age of 18.This government policy was conducive to our economic markets, and allowed our countryto prosper from 1950 through 1970. Now, our own prosperity has moved us into a highlytechnical world, that requires highly skilled labor. The natural answer to this problem, isthat the U.S. Government's education policy must keep pace with the demands of thehighly technical job market. If a middle class income of 1970 required a high schooldiploma, and the middle class income of 1990 requires a college...

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