Educated Fools
February 9, 2020 8:41 AM   Subscribe

In past years, I used to despair: Does anyone in the Democratic Party get it? Of late, I think a few in the leadership do. But does most of the party still not get it? This is a high school nation. Even now, after all the years of pumping up college education as the only way to survive, there’s still close to 70 percent of U.S. adults from age 25 and older—yes, living right now—who are without four-year college degrees. If a college education is the only way to survive in a global economy, then the party’s effective answer to anyone over 30 is: It’s too late for you. And of course, that message gets across. 
 Educated Fools (SLTNR)
posted by wittgenstein (69 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a little uneven, but I think it is very insightful and I appreciated that it also looked to other developed countries for models. Something I struggle with is if you accept the premise that college for all is not a panacea, what then is the answer? Because I don't see how you reverse the economic forces that have pushed the US into a service or knowledge economy. Yes casting anyone without a 4 year degree as obsolete is a problem for Democratic policy rhetoric, but if they are obsolete what is to be done? Who has the new idea of how to achieve the American Dream?
I don't think this article quite finds an answer for that, but it's looking in interesting places (e.g. Denmark, Germany, revitalizing labor movements).
posted by Wretch729 at 9:16 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


Something I struggle with is if you accept the premise that college for all is not a panacea, what then is the answer?

This is the thing. There's no real equalizer here for the working class. It's economical for a practical service organization to take on people and train them over multiple years. If we wanted everyone to feel better we could start up more vocational training opportunities for trades but in general, trade orientated kids get paid as they learn already so why would anyone sensible want to walk away from that system? Do we make trade inclined kids stay out of the labor market for 4 years while we spend money to teach them half the things they would have learned being employed?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:39 AM on February 9 [12 favorites]


This article's premise now makes me question whether the whole Knowledge Economy/Creative Economy/Empathy Economy (yes, there was a businessweek cover thanks to Nussbaum) of the first handful of years after the turn of the century, was promoted and pushed by the educated elite the author references? i.e. the whole concept of let mfg go to China because the design stays here in CA.

I hadn't thought of it that way [the point of the article] because the United States has always been a developed country, a highly industrialized wealthy nation. It is in the under developed parts of the world where I've come across peons earning peanuts putting >30% of their monthly wages to educate their children in "private english language" schools because education is seen as one accessible way out of the poverty/lower income and lower class strata. In the US, you'd probably see that pattern with immigrant families, working hard in the restaurant to put kids through med school.

So this article, imo, is about 20 years too late. Nobody gave thought to reskilling or alternatives or options when the outsourcing rush was at its peak. And never once was the proportion of Americans without college degrees mentioned - i'm hearing it for the first time and I'm shocked and surprised because see para above which led me always assume developed country = highly educated population.
posted by Mrs Potato at 9:54 AM on February 9 [15 favorites]


I have been thinking lately that the way it works is the more people your work effects, the more money you get. Your work only effects a dozen people or so, because you can only cut so many heads of hair or look after so many kids at a time, you don't get as much money. Around the 1900s it became technologically possible for more people's work to have an effect on many people, the more people, the more money you got. Before that, you used to at least get enough money to live because just about everyone was working for the people around them. Now you don't. So to get enough money to live, your work has to effect more people. To do that effectively, there's much more that you need to learn, and you have to go to college to learn it. Which is expensive, and you'll spend the rest of your life paying it back, IF other people like you enough to let your work effect a lot of people. Because we can't let everyone effect everyone else on the same scale or there's be chaos. So it would be better if we could go back to people being allowed to make a living even though their work only effects the people in their immediate vicinity, like it was for millions of years.

There is no foothold left in big cities, or anyplace else where the global winners live, for high school graduates to exercise even a tiny bit of power. There’s no church to slot into as a deacon, no chance on the shop floor to rise as a foreman, no union in which to become a shop steward or officeholder, no big-city political machine that in this digital age needs anyone to go door to door. Our wage workers have been stripped of every way to exercise the kind of morality or have the opportunities that come so easily to the top fifth.
This reminds me of the essay posted on here a little while ago about how the life milestones that everyone pretty much hit on schedule like buying a house & getting married are harder to get. It's like our society is completely off the rails.
posted by bleep at 9:58 AM on February 9 [14 favorites]


> Because I don't see how you reverse the economic forces that have pushed the US into a service or knowledge economy. Yes casting anyone without a 4 year degree as obsolete is a problem for Democratic policy rhetoric, but if they are obsolete what is to be done? Who has the new idea of how to achieve the American Dream?

A potential answer that I’ve seen kicking around in some labor and environmentalist circles is to use labor and environmental regulation as prods to reverse some of those forces. If you make companies liable for labor abuse anywhere in their supply chain, or for the environmental effects of their entire supply chain, there’s a lot of motivation to bring that supply chain back under your direct control. I don’t think that’s the entire answer, but it’s definitely something I’d like to see liberals/progressives/lefties start really exploring, because you’re right; under the current incentive structure, the genie’s not going back in the bottle.
posted by protocoach at 10:00 AM on February 9 [16 favorites]


It also reminds me of me at my job where I'm like hello, I'm educated and I have things to say, it's my turn to speak and you're going to hear me, PS I happen to be a woman but I was told that's not a problem, and that being met with a mix of rage and confusion by my male bosses who are absolutely not ok with any of that.
posted by bleep at 10:00 AM on February 9 [16 favorites]


I’m going to be thinking about this article for quite a while. Thank you for posting it!
posted by FallibleHuman at 10:06 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


“We need more college” and “We need to train more people in the trades” are two sides of the same argument. This is not the problem!

People without college degrees aren’t dumb. The “knowledge economy” is not full of arcane wizard jobs that you can only learn at Harvard. If we’re being honest, success in many jobs (especially management) is probably more due to attitude and aptitude than any specific skill. Going to Harvard (or any college, to varying degrees) just gives a certain type of person the access to those jobs.

Access to political power should not ever be contingent on class based access to education. Full stop. More than education, we need to support self determination in the workplace. We need to encourage solidarity, self-determination, and encourage lifelong learning for the sake of learning. Taking classes in something you’re interested in should not require a second mortgage and does not have to end with a master’s degree.

Democratizing workplaces very clearly results in more broad based wealth. Given the choice, very few people would vote to outsource their own jobs! Very few people would vote for 100:1 CEO: employee pay ratios.

Unions did much of this work for a short time in the 20th century, and they may be able to play that role again in the US. Or maybe it’ll fall to worker councils, co-ops, and other worker ownership structures.
posted by GetLute at 10:07 AM on February 9 [47 favorites]


Under the Danish system, the state makes a heavy investment in training that makes no distinctions and eliminates boundaries
Another thing I noticed was this line, which cuts to the heart of why we can't have nice things like a social safety net, our deeply entrenched racism disease LOVES distinctions and won't let us design or implement anything that will remove them. It's, incredibly self-destructive and sad.
posted by bleep at 10:08 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


I don’t think education has ever been a priority in this country. Of all social activities, it is a second or third class activity. Back in 60’s in my town, you could get a job at the GM assembly plant without even a HS degree. You would earn good money, have real benefits, and in a few years you could probably buy a house. Unions. These sorts of jobs are gone.

When they say college, what do they mean? PoliSci? Philosophy? Art? Liberal Arts in general? Or do they mean CS, nursing, or what are essentially trades? Four years of academia is valuable if you want to make well-rounded, thinking individuals, in a best of possible worlds, with a well founded liberal arts education. But I don’t think that kind of education is respected anymore either.

Technology is eliminating jobs. Period. Nothing is replacing them. Back the 1850’s or so, Marx said that technology will eliminate the NEED to work, freeing us to do what we want. Instead, technology has eliminated the ability to survive in an economy where the benefits of technology are restricted to the owners of said technology and everyone else is left to fend for themselves. Too bad the rest of us mostly lack the tools and knowledge that would help us see through the bullshit of the ruling class. Maybe that’s what education is for?
posted by njohnson23 at 10:17 AM on February 9 [18 favorites]


> Do we make trade inclined kids stay out of the labor market for 4 years while we spend money to teach them half the things they would have learned being employed?

this undersells one of the main benefits of college education: it can potentially keep people out of the labor force for 4 years. this is a good thing for two reasons: one, working for pay is bad and people should not have to spend the best years of their lives doing it, two, by taking people out of the labor force, education reduces the supply of and thereby increases the demand for labor, which can drive up wages for everyone.

> I have been thinking lately that the way it works is the more people your work effects, the more money you get

this line of reasoning is seductive, but it’s best avoided. in practice there is no relationship whatsoever between the number of people your work affects and the pay you get for it. instead, your pay is determined by your political power. this is why the best-remunerated “job” isn’t a job at all. the way to get paid a lot under capitalism isn’t to work, but instead to hold a claim over capital. the laws and the markets are constructed to reward people who own things for a living over people who work for a living. this isn’t because the “work” of the owners impacts more people, it’s because making an effective claim to ownership over scarce goods is both a source of political power and a means for further expanding political power.

the workers — i mean, actual workers, not people who own things for a living — who get paid least-badly under capitalism are people with a few relatively rare skills (most notably computer programming) who can use the scarcity of those skills for leverage and thereby demand living wages. this has positively nothing to do with how many people are affected by the work of computer programmers — it’s not about breadth of impact, it’s about how having scarce skills is the next best thing to owning rather than working for a living.

the other way to make working for a living suck less in comparison to owning for a living is to band together with other workers to pool your political power. coming together in a union, and then coming together in a workers’ party, and then maybe coming together as militants to seize the means of production from the ownership classes by force and thereby achieve worker power. needless to say, the people who own things for a living are terrified by even the moderate early stages of this process — it’s much nicer to own things for a living than to have to work, after all — and so have spent the last couple of centuries trying their damnedest to suppress anything that even smells of worker organization.

if we all became computer programmers, if we all became techies, that would make those skills less scarce and thereby remove their potential as a source of leverage. so really the type of education we need is political education. an education in the ways of power and the ways to seize power for ourselves. needless to say, this is not the type of education that the people who push the liberal education-cures-all party line are talking about.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:17 AM on February 9 [50 favorites]


njohnson - With the added difficulty that our economy depends on consumer spending on goods, but this (at least in its current form) turns out to be incompatible with the long-term sustainability of the biosphere.

The government could end outsourcing by regulatory fiat, but that wouldn't solve the sustainability problem.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:20 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Regarding the article, the biggest problem I have with this analysis is that this totally deracinated look at the history of the white working class doesn’t make any sense. Geoghegan says that:

> “Working-class constituencies have especially lost their standing in the Democratic Party—in part because they do not share our moral concerns, or our own enlightened values, like open-border immigration. And we Democrats rub it in—celebrate this dispossession—because as the party of education, we are the party that makes working people feel bad about themselves.”

But the biggest reason that the left split with the white working class (and it’s instructive to note the places where Geoghegan drops “white”, like here) was not because of open borders, it was because the left started to embrace the idea of opening the white welfare state to minority populations. Geoghegan even admits this dynamic exists, like two paragraphs later, while talking about the way that downstate Illinois consistently votes against their own interests (without talking about the degree to which that is absolutely tied in to racial attitudes about Chicago) and then just kinda...zooms along with the talk about workplace democracy and lifelong education. But workplace democracy started to die when the white working class realized that it was going to involve being in democratic equality with black labor. The white working class started voting for explicitly anti-labor politicians because they valued their whiteness over their status as laborers. Handwaving away 400 years of historical racism in the lede because it complicates or invalidates your case is ridiculous.

And, on a slightly more personal, this-is-where-I-live point, it’s wild to me that someone in Chicago is floating this historical analysis, because the Machine here didn’t break when Chicago became a global knowledge center, it broke on explicitly racial lines during the ‘80s when black people in Chicago were demanding the kind of representation and material support the Machine had always provided to the ethnic white groups that supported it. It wasn’t a knowledge worker vs. manual laborer split, it was white workers in Beverley who hated the idea that black workers in Chatham might get the same kind of political favors they’d enjoyed for decades. If you’re going to toss off asides about Lightfoot being a phony because You’re A Real Chicagoan and she’s Not From Around Here, fine; that’s a longtime Chicago tradition. But pairing that with this kind of historical ignorance about the city is incredibly obnoxious.
posted by protocoach at 10:21 AM on February 9 [56 favorites]


Wait, his story is that Democratic elites pushed working class whites out of the inner cities? Working class whites fled to the suburbs, and we all know why. It wasn't because elite Democrats pushed them out.

Oh, I see, its the New Republic, home of contrarianism.
posted by JackFlash at 10:38 AM on February 9 [25 favorites]


This overlaps with some preoccupations of mine - in my experience people who believe education is the solution to poverty and inequality are either people for whom it was their own path to a better life, or born elites who are just handwaving to convince themselves there's an easy answer, and in neither case is it really thought out on a societal level.

The more Obama and you and I tout college, the more we are committed to the project of pushing up that premium to justify a college education—and to make the life prospects of working people even worse.


It feels like he's leaving out something here? The logical conclusion of implementing "college-for-everyone-ism" in the long run, without changing anything else, is that college becomes high school. Which is to say not only does the relative disadvantage of not completing it increase, but - here I am assuming that in fact we succeed in one way or another in awarding the majority of people a college degree - the absolute economic rewards of completing it also diminish. I don't, in fact, have a lot of friends who never went to college, but I know quite a few who got degrees and ended up in service or blue collar jobs, and that's without a true no-strings-attached national investment in getting people degrees. Having a lot of such people might theoretically be good for "national competitiveness" but it's not going to do shit about the divide between the very top and everybody else.
posted by atoxyl at 10:54 AM on February 9 [9 favorites]


The idea that a worker can be "obsolete" is really only coherent in specific technological cases, like phone operators or ice cutters. The rest of the time it's far more useful to think about supply and demand, and power.

Take the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing employment in the US is determined by basically two things: how expensive are foreign workers relative to domestic workers, and how expensive is more automation relative to domestic workers. In many cases, the "obsolete" factory workers is only obsolete because there is somebody somewhere else willing to work for a fraction of their wage.

The elite "knowledge economy" consensus since at least the 90s has been that the US shouldn't really try and compete for "low-skill" jobs, because it's just cheaper if we buy those products from abroad. I do think the article is right that this has cost the democrats; even if NAFTA was started under Bush I the dems owned it under Clinton. (and I suppose you could say the republicans have paid some sort of price in the form of Trump's popularity)

Anyway my main point is that in the US we pursued a really shitty version of upskilling, which was 1. incredibly disruptive because we abandoned/offshored entire industries instead of trying to increase productivity and compete on merits (as Germany did). It was also 2. largely privatized and put millions of people into unsustainable debt for degrees of questionable value. (contrast the economic benefits of someone retraining for a job in an industry they know almost nothing about with a company paying for training they know they can use). 3. The "knowledge economy" doesn't seem able to actually provide mass employment, possibly due to economies of scale, possibly due to competition from abroad, possibly due to supply constraints.

The clearest solution in my book is just to make sure that the huge monopoly profits/rents of the tech industry (and finance, healthcare, etc...) get distributed more broadly or shrunk through competition or regulation or building worker power. We still need people to do a ton of work, in many cases it's just that those jobs aren't paid enough because those workers don't have enough bargaining power.

Specifically in terms of high school education, most people who graduated high school can learn most of what's needed for anything in the business world, given sufficient time and motivation to learn something. It's a question of whether we see workers as a cost or an asset/investment. Obviously if capital is running things they're going to see it as the former, as short-sighted as that may be.
posted by ropeladder at 10:57 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


What would happen if, by a snap of the fingers, white racism in America were to disappear? It might be that the black and Latino working class would be voting for Trump, too.

This is a pretty dumb thought experiment, though, because if white racism were to disappear, Trump would look completely different. Now if your question is - if a populist figure came around who was able to unite the working class across racial lines, would rich liberals find a way to disapprove of it... I am going to say chances are good.
posted by atoxyl at 11:01 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


Dragging in supply/demand of Labor...free marketeers and Capital love the idea of markets setting the price of everything - except labor. Then they do everything in their power to depress wages: h1b, credentialism, interest rates (wages will never go up). I find it maddening and impossible to address this. The 'elites' of either party won't see their own complicity in this shitshow. The 'job creator' in my family is forever talking shit about his employees. He sees no responsibility to give anyone a leg up. If an employee wants more, they're welcome to quit and look for it. They. Are. Vampires. Labor unions, with all their messy complications, are the only way for a prole to increase their political strength. /rant
posted by j_curiouser at 11:09 AM on February 9 [19 favorites]


But the biggest reason that the left split with the white working class (and it’s instructive to note the places where Geoghegan drops “white”, like here) was not because of open borders, it was because the left started to embrace the idea of opening the white welfare state to minority populations.

God, yes. Why we still have this "'working class' = 'white' so of course we 'lost' the working class when antiracism became more important" assumption embedded in these kinds of analyses is beyond me (not really). For the ninety babillionth time, Hillary Clinton won both the sub-$30K and the sub-$50K demos in 2016. We really need to fight this kind of belief because it is fundamentally a fulcrum for demanding to throw all nonwhite (and other marginalized) populations under the bus. Also because it means we spend our resources trying to cater to a group that will only have fewer and fewer votes going forward.

There are plenty of skills taught in college that the vast majority of the population could benefit from but (a) they are difficult to teach except in a resource-intensive setup that no one will give poor people these days and (b) learning them won't make corresponding jobs appear. Right now well-paid professionals can do some things that computers can't yet and that can be leveraged to make someone money. A good college education will make you less likely to believe everything they tell you on Facebook, but it won't generate more demand for those particular abilities.

Yet every time we try to put in a floor, so that people working in coffee shops can still have a decent life, the middle class erupts in fury, because god forbid they spend twenty-five cents more for their coffee, and neither they nor their children will ever depend on that job.
posted by praemunire at 11:20 AM on February 9 [16 favorites]


(By the way, more than 60% of American adults have some college, with about 40% (?) having at least an associate's. Now there are definitely specific problems with people getting pulled into low-quality "higher education," incurring any amount of debt, and not finishing. In fact, those people have some of the worst loan default outcomes. But under those circumstances, to call this a "high school nation" is...ah...slightly misleading.)
posted by praemunire at 11:26 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


The article takes for granted that the point of declining returns to education is already past, or is coming up soon. There's zero evidence for this. Whether looking at communities, regions or nations, income and wealth appear to continue to scale very well with education levels, and, within education levels, to scale well along all the conventional axes of selectivity and difficulty of schools/programs.

And if we want to speculate, we could easily find that the urgency of education is that much more. The jobs that people who went to good colleges get aren't on the front line of automation -- it's the jobs that college-capable and but not-college-educated people have. Those jobs are rapidly transforming from supervision of labor to management of systems and technology, with a full boat of business analysis and communication required alongside it.

This doesn't mean that there isn't a point of declining return eventually, or that our investments in and social prioritization of tertiary education should be haphazard or profligate ... it just means that for now we likely want more college graduates than we have.

Of course, as the statistics show, we don't primarily get that by persuading 17 year olds to apply to college, we get it by enabling those who are already sold on college actually to graduate so our college dropout rate -- the most ruinous indication of poor policy -- is reduced.
posted by MattD at 11:40 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Technology is eliminating jobs. Period.

If I had my high school to do again (I graduated in 1986), I'd have taken wood shop and metal shop and auto shop. My adult life would likely be better if I'd learned those skills.

If I had my post high school to do again, I'd probably learn to be a plumber. That's a job no automation will ever replace. And doing plumbing doesn't mean doing plumbing repair. Entire giant buildings and new construction need to have systems designed and installed. It's a skill set that will always be around for humans to do.
posted by hippybear at 11:46 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work:
Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.

So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.
The college-degree shuffle is a shell game. It's caused by looking at statistics like "People with degrees make X% more money, on average, than people who don't have them," and deciding it's the degree, not the racism, sexism, and classism that hands out degrees to rich white dudes (of the right background, of course) that result in higher incomes.

We have plenty of work that needs to be done, and technology hasn't erased the need for human labor in countless types of jobs. Some of those are the manual labor jobs that have always been lowest-paid (or unpaid), but some aren't: How many companies have their coders working overtime and their sysadmins taking emergency calls on the weekend, so they don't have to hire enough people to actually cover the work they want done?

The problem isn't who does or doesn't have a college degree. It's whether we require corporations to pay their workers enough to live on--including leaving them enough time to have a life--BEFORE they rake in profits.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:47 AM on February 9 [41 favorites]


Trade school jobs need to be emphasized, really. Plumbing, welding, stuff like that. I talk to young people about that all the time. They pay really well, and certification enough to get you into employment or journeymanship is often only a year or two.
posted by hippybear at 11:50 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


>[the more people your work effects, the more money you get] is seductive, but it’s best avoided. in practice there is no relationship whatsoever between the number of people your work affects and the pay you get for it.

thing is, the original notion was talking about labor wages, which is all most people have to rely on.

And it is self-evidently true that the more "wealth" -- defined here as goods and services that satisfy peoples' wants and needs -- you can provide to more people the more you can profit from the exchange, and why software (and digital media in general) is such a magical form of wealth creation (provided it is accompanied by some sort of "copy protection" of course).

Returns to capital are of course the fly in the ointment today yet are a related but Separate discussion; eg. professional sports players can make millions because millions of people are willing to invest their attention toward their labor output (the spectacle of organized sporting events); the Separate discussion here is the split between the so-called owners of the professional sports franchises and the people doing all the work bringing their product to market.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:54 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Plumbing, welding, stuff like that only pay when things are being built (or paid to maintain). Turn that off and those jobs go away as well. Well I'm sure the 1% will manage to get their plumbing done. Gotta solve that as well.
posted by aleph at 11:57 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


They. Are. Vampires.
This is a lot less hyperbolic than it might seem.
posted by Chitownfats at 11:58 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


FTA there’s still close to 70 percent of U.S. adults from age 25 and older—yes, living right now—who are without four-year college degrees.

2003 statistics on literacy demographics from NCES.

14% of adults have below basic literacy. Of that 30 million, 39% are hispanic and 20% are black. Below basic is defined as no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills

Anyhow, 30 million! 70% of adults not having a degree seems about right, it's not for everyone. But 14% have below basic literacy. That's astonishing.

Of that 30 million, 45% graduated high-school with no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills. What the fuck are you doing with schools where you can graduate without basic literacy? What do they do in there all day?

And then there are 11 million who are non-literate.

I consider that to be a literacy crisis. Sure there are 70% who don't have degrees, but I think the more worrisome statistics are about all those who can't read at all. Because it's a really surprising amount.

One in seven Americans. That's a disgrace.
posted by adept256 at 12:01 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


Haven't looked but how long ago (i.e. how old are the adults covered?). I'm old and grew up in some poor areas. A school was considered "superior" if it managed to teach "most" of the kids going through it to read and write. (To what standard? Let's not go there). They weren't everywhere but they were a lot of them.
posted by aleph at 12:05 PM on February 9


> we require corporations to pay their workers enough

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=q7tT shows if corporations were non-profits, we'd all get 20% raises now : )
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:06 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


>Back the 1850’s or so, Marx said that technology will eliminate the NEED to work, freeing us to do what we want

I haven't read Marx, nor do I particularly want to, but apparently here he's forgotten what everybody . . . wait for it . . . also has forgotten, that livable land is in fixed supply and the good land will always be at the edge of affordability, for the simple reason we all must bid against ourselves to achieve tenancy in it.

You want to fix the economy, ya gotta fix the escalating costs of housing & health care.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=q7uh is these two of the four horsemen -- real (2012 dollars) per-capita (age 16+) housing (blue) and health (red) expenditure (monthly).

housing costs we all face are up 3.5X, health is up over 7X since the 1960s by this calculation.

if I were king I'd MMT the funding of mass construction of quality multifamily housing anywhere and everywhere until rents collapsed
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:24 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


So in 2000 there were 35 million USA peeps age 65+ when the boomers were age 36 - 54.
Now in 2020 there are 56 million elderly 65+.
2040 will see 82 million.
2060 ~100M.

Japan's demographics https://investors-corner.bnpparibas-am.com/investment-themes/chart-of-the-week-japans-ageing-population/ are arguably better this century, in that they've already hit peak elderly population -- if the infrastructure they've built now is sufficient that's all they'll need (labor of course is a different kettle but hey "full employment" is great!)

Here in the USA OTOH we've got to expand our elderly services by +60% by 2040 and +25% over that by 2060.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:31 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


What the fuck are you doing with schools where you can graduate without basic literacy? What do they do in there all day?

Schools used to hold back kids who hadn't learned basic competency at grade level. Parents & other community members objected. These were often very reasonable objections, because "who got held back" had a whole lot of racism and ableism and classism built in. (Sometimes sexism, but less of that. Girls were pushed into being quiet and attentive even if their classwork was terrible, and they were less likely to be ID'd as "troublemakers" and held back.)

They never have figured out what to do about kids who lack the ability to master a small number of "grade level" skills, but are otherwise fine; this is the problem with overall grades instead of "3rd grade math" and "5th grade English" and "7th grade history." Do they hold back the 10-year-old with dyscalculia? Or pass him to 6th grade when he absolutely cannot do 5th grade math?

(The reasonable answer is "pass them, and make sure they get math training set to their level of ability, with the goal of graduating with the ability to manage a simple budget, even if they need a calculator for all the actual number-crunching." A very few schools actually focus on that.)

The end result was: many schools now refuse to enforce any grade standards whatsoever. And instead of helping students who are struggling with some grade-level activities, they often get ignored and swept along to the next grade - generally, depending on how much money the district has for each student. With 35 students in a classroom, the teacher doesn't have time to focus on the two students who have somehow gotten to 7th grade while barely able to write their names.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:33 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


"Here in the USA OTOH we've got to expand our elderly services by +60% by 2040 and +25% over that by 2060."

How are we going to handle that as a society on multiple levels? Those are the kind of jobs that lots of H.S. grads have, and they're... not good.
posted by Selena777 at 1:01 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I haven't read Marx, nor do I particularly want to, but apparently

Wait, what? "I don't know what this writer actually wrote, and the hearsay, second-hand reputation of his writing filtered down to me makes me decide to be utterly incurious about finding out for myself, but what I think he might have meant from someone else's very brief summary is...." I mean: c'mon.

livable land is in fixed supply

The current housing crisis in the U.S. has very little to do with availability of livable land, and everything to do with artificial scarcity created by poorly regulated, rapacious capitalism. (I live in California's Central Valley, this is absurdly illustrated in real-life, just by driving down I-5 or CA-99.) Same with healthcare: the problems the U.S. faces are solved problems within the industrialized world, except for here, because of the complete dominance of out-of-control capitalism. Marx had a few interesting predictions about this whole situation, over 150 years ago, which seem increasingly prescient as we live into them. You might find the primary source here more interesting and informative than assumed.

An implicit assumption of the essay posted is that education = intelligence or knowledge. That is less true daily, in 2020, and I can't decide if it's more offensive or dumb because of it. I'd much rather read an essay based on RNTP's framing, which explicitly articulates an important, material root of these problems, and also doesn't blame those who do not hold actual power for the problems caused by those who do. And I hate that I found the posted essay so distasteful, because I share the author's desire to find solutions to some seriously huge, structural problems in the U.S., but at the very least, treating the challenges facing the "white working class" as somehow distinct from problems facing "the working class" or "all labor" is facile at best, and plain wrong in most consequential ways. Also, when he writes things like:
A whole agenda for today’s Democratic Party could come out of his Leaves of Grass. If we treated working people with the reverence that Whitman had for them, if we see them in the workplace as Whitman did, we might never have had a Trump.
...I just wonder, have you listened to any speeches or policy proposals from Sanders or Warren? And the profound sense of resentment and fear that the American white working class may have, if anything, is not stoked by elitism from the left, but by fear-mongering and propagandizing from the right. Fox News convinced its viewers that Democrats hated them, not Democrats themselves, or their policies.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:25 PM on February 9 [22 favorites]


So this article, imo, is about 20 years too late. Nobody gave thought to reskilling or alternatives or options when the outsourcing rush was at its peak.

No, it was an issue in the 90's, and Democratic politicians had "plans" for worker retraining and education subsidies. People were thinking about it and talking about it. But I don't know how many people asked the hard questions like: what do you retrain a laid-off, 45 year old furniture factory worker for? Working in a call center? They aren't, for the most part, going to become an Oracle DBA or something well-paying in the "information economy". I mean sure, a percentage of them will be successful in a second life after the plant closes. But the majority are going to struggle. Who is going to hire them? Where are these jobs with this great hunger to hire aging workers with obsolete skills?
posted by thelonius at 1:30 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=q7wp

# of working-age (25-54) people per manufacturing job

(current # of mfg jobs in absolute terms are at the 1946-postwar low still...)
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 1:58 PM on February 9


I remember the "everyone goes to college" push really starting when I was in high school in the late 90s. Vocational programs were shut down left and right while test prep programs and classes were furiously spun up. I mentioned once to the president of my high school that some vocational classes might be neat (I mean I'm not super into construction but it would be rad to know how to fix my car, etc.) and I may as well have said I was going to pop a squat and poop right on her desk, such was the reaction.

As someone without a degree (hopefully finishing next year), it has always amused me how it's simultaneously important and OH NOT THAT IMPORTANT. What I mean is, there have been many, many jobs where talking to the recruiter, having a degree is mandatory, ain't no way they can get around it. "Okay, but does it matter what the degree is in?" "Nahhhh, not really," they say. "We just have to be able to check that has degree box." So it's so critical you have it that they won't hire you even if you have the experience they're looking for...but also it's not THAT critical, as long as you have it.

Anyway I'm finishing my degree soon, I hope, so I will finally be qualified to work in the jobs and fields I've worked in since dropping out of college the first time 20 years ago. (General Studies major, the most "they can check the box!" option going).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:58 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


Let us put aside the underfunding of K through 12 education, which we now overlook in arguing for billions more to fund college. Let’s put aside the spending gap in K–12 instruction in my own state, Illinois, where it varies from $6,000 per pupil in some downstate districts to $24,000 per pupil in districts in the best suburbs—and let’s not even think about the private schools.




I don't think this can be overstated. The conservatives currently in power have made no secret of their desire to end universal public education, and they've been chipping away at it for years. The public high school general education my mother got is probably equivalent to what you'd get from a two-year degree today.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:06 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


we've got to expand our elderly services by +60% by 2040 and +25% over that by 2060.

With GDP growing even at a mediocre 2% annually, GDP will be 120% larger in 2060. Caring for the elderly doesn't seem to be a problem.
posted by JackFlash at 2:08 PM on February 9


Back the 1850’s or so, Marx said that technology will eliminate the NEED to work, freeing us to do what we want

The caveat being your are only free to do what you want if you follow his other point about the "means of production being in the hands of the workers". Technology is freeing us from work, but also from the income that comes with it. This is why I dislike the various basic minimum income schemes, they leave the means of production in the hands of the elite. I'd rather give people a 3D printer or CNC machining center (or 40 acres and mule).
posted by 445supermag at 2:19 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


How are we going to handle that as a society on multiple levels?

Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2026. Social Security will be basically empty by 2035. The current plan for handling long-term elder care is "everyone not rich will be crammed into cheap, poorly maintained dorm facilities, and die as soon as they acquire a serious medical problem."

Technology is freeing us from work, but also from the income that comes with it.

No, it's not. There is plenty of work to do. There is no shortage of tasks, even "manual labor" tasks, that need doing - there's just a shortage of corporations willing to pay for them. (Want the illusion of "tech has removed jobs" to vanish? Grant agricultural workers and domestic workers the same labor rights as other professions. Allow farmworkers and housekeepers the right to unionize, remove their exemptions from overtime laws, and find out how much tech-profit was actually just dodging minimum wage requirements.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:39 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


FTA there’s still close to 70 percent of U.S. adults from age 25 and older—yes, living right now—who are without four-year college degrees.

I teach at an affordable public commuter college. Lots of my students are age 25 and older. Just because you didn't get a 4-year degree at 22 doesn't mean you'll never get one.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:53 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Technology is eliminating jobs. Period. Nothing is replacing them.

This is only true for manufacturing positions. People say "technology is eliminating jobs" and they're probably thinking of coal mining, car manufacturing, that kind of thing. There is a surfeit of jobs in the service and healthcare industry--those are the ones really growing. We don't have robots that can change bedpans or do proper therapy and we won't for a long time. Those are jobs we should be pushing people towards and those are where our efforts at unionization and labor reform should be. I think they don't get as much attention though because a lot of those positions are considered women's work and are not glamorous to Generic Working Class Man.
posted by schroedinger at 3:08 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


As someone without a degree (hopefully finishing next year), it has always amused me how it's simultaneously important and OH NOT THAT IMPORTANT. What I mean is, there have been many, many jobs where talking to the recruiter, having a degree is mandatory, ain't no way they can get around it. "Okay, but does it matter what the degree is in?" "Nahhhh, not really," they say. "We just have to be able to check that has degree box." So it's so critical you have it that they won't hire you even if you have the experience they're looking for...but also it's not THAT critical, as long as you have it.

It is absolutely fucking ridiculous. My friend didn't finish college and there are so many jobs that they're qualified for that they can't get because they do not have a piece of paper that says "I Did A College". A person should not have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to earn a living wage (for the college-required jobs that actually do pay a living wage, which is not a given).
posted by schroedinger at 3:12 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Where does the arms race even end? In a world where college is free, if the average person has to complete grad school before they're in the running for a job that will get them from low to mid-5 figures, that still seems like an unsatisfactory outcome.
posted by Selena777 at 3:28 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


I'm honestly disgusted by the way that many US companies no longer train their employees or have entry positions for people without experience that they can grow from. Education as something external to the company? Screw that, how about investing in one's employees?

I see boot camps and trade schools offered as a solution. Even if the bootcamp is subsidized or entirely free, they generally demand specific hours that are impossible for anyone living paycheck to paycheck in a retail or service job where they need to get shifts and don't know their schedule in advance.
posted by gryftir at 3:45 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


People without college degrees aren’t dumb.

I bridge these two worlds more than most. As the first in my family (except a great-uncle that died of polio) to graduate college instead of working a blue collar (or unskilled service sector even) job, I've seen both sides of the fence.

Hands down the smartest people I've met are talented [blue collar] machinists/millwrights. They are easily smarter (often times both common sense, spacially, and even mathematically) than 4 out of 5 engineers that I graduated with.

I don't know where the solution lies but more college is not it. I don't know how we restructure the US to make things better. Sad, that.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:12 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


FTA there’s still close to 70 percent of U.S. adults from age 25 and older—yes, living right now—who are without four-year college degrees.

I teach at an affordable public commuter college. Lots of my students are age 25 and older. Just because you didn't get a 4-year degree at 22 doesn't mean you'll never get one.


And, of course, the reason his stats are so high is because of the low levels in the over 65 population. Only 25% of people over 65 have a bachelors or above; big contributors to this are sexism -- women were actively discouraged from postsecondary education unless it was very specific -- and less formal non-degree granting programs like diplomas, one-semester certificates and workplace-based training. Lots of the older women I know learned bookkeeping and steno skills on the job, or went to night classes at secretarial schools to learn shorthand, for example.

I'm probably the last generation of women to be trained to be funneled into the "nurse/secretary/teacher" pink-collar streams. Now, if you're a woman and you want a career, you go to university or community college.
posted by jrochest at 4:23 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


there’s still close to 70 percent of U.S. adults from age 25 and older—yes, living right now—who are without four-year college degrees.

As hydropsyche and others have noted, this misses community colleges and associates degrees.
posted by doctornemo at 5:57 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


My friend didn't finish college and there are so many jobs that they're qualified for that they can't get because they do not have a piece of paper that says "I Did A College".

On the other side, there's plenty of people who did finish college and still can't get jobs, too. Or can only get manual labor ones because you can't outsource wiping butts as a nurse to India or whatever.

At this point I would tell anyone who can to get a college degree JUST so they can't be ruled out of jobs for that reason, but it's not like that will guarantee you a good job if you graduate in a recession or whatever. My friend with a master's degree was working at Starbucks for awhile. Hey, college girl, go clean the toilets!

"College degree" is just another hoop to jump through that people use to wade through the hundreds of applicants. I can actually say that going to college has been useful in my job, but overall I don't think I really needed one to type and answer phones like I'm in the 50's or 70's or whatever.

Also, god knows there are a lot of college graduates I have dealt with where I seriously wonder how they managed to finish, much less do anything else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:18 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


My friend with a master's degree was working at Starbucks for awhile.

My Starbucks had three people with masters degrees, including a STEM degree. Anyone who things a degree = a well-paying job is naive, deluded and/or privileged enough to be both.

The solution to inequality isn't to try to have more people fighting for the top. The only solution is to level the results and flatten our pay structures.
posted by jb at 7:13 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


This is as likely to happen as me suddenly receiving a tax free check for a million dollars, but: A New Education Deal. Drop property tax as a method of funding schools.1 Develop a national curriculum/guidelines for education, factor in space for localities to teach students about the area they live in (city, county, state, call it civics class!) at grade appropriate levels as a sort of sop to people dogwhistling about not wanting kids down on the farm to learn that 'big city' stuff.2 Work with employers to move back from the analytic approach to hiring, towards a more human/humane method of hiring that doesn't involve a list of checked boxes in some sorting software.3 In the great general revamp of national education guidelines, make school a place where learning skills and generating students capable of critical thinking are the focus, in that a student graduating from a high school would be considered skilled and educated enough to work, or at least begin training in a large number of fields.4 It would take a serious amount of work, and would require funding, training, study, and consensus, but would, ideally, result in a general rise in the education level of the populace, something that is supposed to be in the national interest.

1Cue the screams of people able to afford living in areas where their children won't have to mingle with undesirables.

2The lack of a national curriculum is a goddamn shame, but here we are, with districts and states teaching wildly different versions of science and history because outright horseshit. The fact that we don't all have a shared history that we learned in school, or a shared narrative about what the country means is, to me, one entirely unnecessary gunshot wound to the foot we could have avoided. Whose narrative, and how that gets decided, that's a huge, and incredibly important question, and not to be undertaken lightly. This would go about as smoothly as announcing a ban on ownership of assault rifles, and that the national turn in date is next Tuesday.

3No business would willingly go along with this. It would, for starters, require hiring back people they fired because they bought software to do the job instead, and would need employers to see training employees as a general good, rather than just replacing cogs in machines with the cheapest, easiest replacements. Corporations are people, but only the most selfish kind that can't imagine any greater good outside of earnings reports.

4 Again, this would require the participation of businesses, and a shift towards on the job training, rather than assuming all employees arrive fully formed and ready to work. But damn, imagine coming out of school having worked towards something you want to do? It wouldn't obviate college, but actual skills, taught in school. Students learning how to think for themselves, and to spot bullshit when they see it. I can dream.

posted by Ghidorah at 7:23 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


The lack of a national curriculum is a goddamn shame

Maybe. But if we did have one, it would currently be under the control of Betsy DeVos. Top-down, hierarchical control of education cuts both ways, which currently is a persuasive argument for bottom-up, local control—in times like these, it’s a bulwark against fascism.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:46 PM on February 9 [16 favorites]


LooseFilter, sadly, that's an excellent point, and the only solution I have for that (a sane, rational country with a citizenry that, as a whole, values education and doesn't view it as a testing ground for their politcal games) is nothing I feel like I'll see in my lifetime.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:39 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


as gordon brown points out, the global picture may be even more daunting: "declines in international education aid are depriving half of all young people in the developing world – some 800 million children – of the education they will need to secure meaningful employment in the future," especially for refugees.
posted by kliuless at 10:40 PM on February 9


I live in a military town (my spouse is a retired Army vet, who also works). My son went to a trade school and got certified as a heavy construction equipment operator. The county hired him as a laborer at $13/hr, but used him as an operator (which is pays $17/hr.) This is the local government - the local private companies are worse.

I am a glorified secretary making @ $15/hr and when I left, they had PhDs applying for my job. (Military towns have a large trapped work force, hence, anti-labor policies.) I would not be able to live on this wage were I single. (And I have a BA - that's the only reason I make as much as I do.)

tldr; Stage Four capitalism is in full force and I see no positive end in sight.
posted by corvikate at 8:28 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


The only solution is to level the results and flatten our pay structures.

This. Anybody working 40 hours a week at any job should be able to afford housing. If that means a 'lowly' job in San Francisco pays 70k, then good.

I am a glorified secretary making @ $15/hr and when I left, they had PhDs applying for my job. (Military towns have a large trapped work force, hence, anti-labor policies.)

And this, also for college towns. I have a masters and I've been working for 8 years. I saw a job ad for a position similar to mine on social media, and it was billed as "great for a recent college grad!" So... that's depressing, but I also bet it will get a lot of applicants with way more experience than that.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:42 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: The conservatives currently in power have made no secret of their desire to end universal public education,...

What's the world they foresee, after society goes back to having a permanent underclass? I mean, illiterate people aren't good as consumers (because they can't make much money) -- what jobs are open to them? Medical jobs above Orderly require training. (Doesn't the CNA require passing an exam with a bunch of material?) Mechanization/automation will take away a lot of the manual stuff, leaving them to.... what?

(I am genuinely curious about this mindset, if anyone knows.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:38 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


(I am genuinely curious about this mindset, if anyone knows.)

Honestly, I think the ultra-rich think that’s not their problem, it’s ours. “Let the proles figure it out.”

That will, of course, work as well as “let them eat cake” did, but people like this—who fancy themselves as truly better or more deserving than everyone else—are usually pretty ignorant of history, and so probably aren’t all that aware of how badly these things go if not solved proactively. They certainly do not feel any human solidarity along the lines that the framing of your question indicates. They don’t care.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:04 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


It is pretty infuriating that the author repeatedly addresses his audience as an "us" of sheltered knowledge economy elites with tertiaty degrees while attempting to talk authoritatively about the needs of the working class. I mean, surely we can assume that none of the morlocks have gotten their grubby, calloused hands on a copy of TNR, right?

Speaking as someone who spent the first half of her working life looking for jobs without a college degree and with a GED, I think that's an amazingly condescending way to pen an article that's ostensibly about people being less condescending. Which is not to mention that the us-college/them-high school dichotomy falls apart real fast when you consider that many if not most folks with a high school diploma have attended college, meaning that it isn't some far off and foreign thing for a lot of people, even if they don't have a bachelor's degree.

There’s no church to slot into as a deacon, no chance on the shop floor to rise as a foreman, no union in which to become a shop steward or officeholder, no big-city political machine that in this digital age needs anyone to go door to door.

What? I'm pretty sure that houses of worship still exist and that many are political powerhouses. Unions have been adding a ton of new shops as younger adults organize. Political machines still exist, but they're being tackled head-on by organizations like DSA that are engaging in door-to-door canvassing. Oh, and nth-ing everyone who noted that this article elides over race as if it isn't a thing.

College has always been about exclusion and exclusivity, few jobs should require a degree, and cultural attitudes, hiring practices, and educational institutions definitely need to change. That said, college for all has the potential to immediately ease a gigantic economic burden for millions of Americans. People should be able to go to college and trade schools if they want to. Period. Even if they are older, or attending part time, or aren't going to end up with a degree. College shouldn't be a necessity, and people should get over the idea of liberal education as a form of bootstraping, but it also shouldn't be beyond anyone's reach.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:09 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I hated school! I didn't like college much, either, and dropped out. So I am against universal college not for economic or class reasons, but because I just didn't like it. And I'm sure I'm not alone.

'School' is very much a skill in and of itself, and I was not great at it. For me, it was much easier to learn design and engineering at work, when I could focus on a single project. In comparison, taking classes and switching between several totally different subjects every day was hell.

Fortunately, I am better at math and engineering than I was at 'school,' so everything worked out for me. But I think it would be nice if the no-degree path into well-paying technical jobs was easier, not harder.
posted by ryanrs at 7:50 PM on February 10


Making college accessible and making it a requirement are not the same thing.

Avoiding the former doesn't eliminate the latter.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:33 AM on February 11


GDP will be 120% larger in 2060

A. growth is finite, and we may very well be pushing the limits right now; B. GDP is a poor indicator of anything other than rich people getting richer, and doesn't necessarily correlate to a country caring for its elderly. If we want society to care for people who are both old and not wealthy, we're going to have to make that happen through political and social means.

To the topic at hand, the ugly underbelly of all this is the outsourcing of education responsibility to the consumer while encouraging massive "safe" personal debt accumulation. The number of people with some college, some student loan debt, and no degree to show for it is nowhere in this picture AFAICT. Ditto for holders of the aforementioned Associate's degree, which is basically nothing but a class indicator outside rural America.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:48 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


growth is finite

Define finite? There is nothing to indicate that doubling GDP in the next 40 years is any problem. Controlling carbon emissions is a problem, but low carbon GDP is not a problem. It is a political issue, not a physical limitation.

GDP is a poor indicator of anything other than rich people getting richer

If you want to take care of both young people and old people in the future, then increased GDP is a good thing, unless you want everyone to become poorer. Inequality is a political problem, but people speak of caring for the elderly as some sort of physical limitation. It isn't. We can easily afford to take care of the elderly if we have the political will to do so.
posted by JackFlash at 12:05 PM on February 11


What's the world they foresee, after society goes back to having a permanent underclass?

Prisons, workhouses, and dying to reduce the surplus population, one supposes. I don't think the people who feel this way give much thought to the big picture or the long range, preferring short-term profit to sustainability.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:43 PM on February 11


”[D]oing plumbing doesn't mean doing plumbing repair. Entire giant buildings and new construction need to have systems designed and installed. It's a skill set that will always be around for humans to do.”

Plumbers don’t design new building construction. You have to have a four year degree for that (or work for someone who does).

The guys installing it are laborers. Their bosses generally have worked in the business for decades and was able to save up enough money to set up their own business.
posted by Monday at 5:40 PM on February 11


The "Frontline" military scifi novels of Mako Kloos have the backdrop of an Earth where a violent, permanent underclass lives in cement tenement high-rises. It seemed a little heavy-handed in the beginning but now....I dunno, maybe just realistic?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:12 AM on February 12


If I had my post high school to do again, I'd probably learn to be a plumber. That's a job no automation will ever replace.

People who aren't white, aren't men, aren't cishet, or even just don't have the right parents might find it hard to get into the necessary apprenticeships to become a journeyman plumber (or other skilled trade), at least in some areas.

People who aren't white, aren't men, or aren't cishet, might also find construction or remodeling sites unwelcoming.

People who aren't white, aren't men, or aren't cishet might find their opportunities limited if they don't feel safe doing residential repair and remodel work.

Lots of work in the skilled trades burns your body up fast enough that if you can't shift to becoming a full-on capitalist boss by your 50s, welcome to fuckedville.

Automation probably won't directly affect whether or not you need a warm body to do stuff for repair or new construction; having robots driving around doing it seems unlikely to me. But dollars to donuts, automation will deeply deskill lots of plumbing installation work so that you can have a minimum-wage unskilled laborer do more and more of it.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:47 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


« Older Aphantasia? Aphantastic!   |   The time I almost killed [name redacted] with a... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.