Baltimore City Paper

Education to Win the Future!

So if we're gonna "win the future" (in the president's winning phrase) we're all gonna need s'more book-learnin', according to just about all the important economists in the United States. Just a few months back, one of them, employed at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., told me just that to my face as I was stuffing it on the bank's dime. So you know it's settled consensus. Why anyone would question this obvious wisdom is anyone's guess. But two new articles do. First, consider Remapping Debate's longish discussion of the Education über alles meme and what it means to economic policy. The piece says that more higher education is not a "magic bullet"—which is itself a bold achievement in these days of near unquestioned fealty to the education mantra. But then the story goes a bit further, exploring how and why the "It's Education, Stupid" idea has been sucking all the oxygen out of economic policy discussions for a generation. Turns out making expanded higher education the be-all, end-all conveniently puts the blame for failure on ordinary idiots, while drawing attention away from stuff like the destruction of unions, the shrinking minimum wage, and a whole host of tax and trade laws that, by design, benefit the ultra wealthy at nearly everyone else's expense. As is the style at Remapping Debate, the writer eases into it like he would a hot tub:

You suppose? Takes him a while to get to the nub, but, five paragraphs from the story's end, he does:


It hardly needs noting that the Mercatus Center is funded by the folks (

)  who derive billions of dollars from the policies that encourage outsourcing, wage erosion, environmental degradation, and job insecurity for average Americans. So I'll not mention it either. Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute goes directly to the point in his


American Prospect

story titled

(HT Newstrust):


So, of course:

(Here's a quick way to understand how

might equate Cisco Systems' CEO with middle America: In 2010 Chambers made about a million and a half bucks a month—about 475 times what a normal American earns on the job. But Chambers would have to work 266 years to amass what hedge fund wizard John Paulson

last year alone. So: lower middle class). Read the stories together, then reach for your sidearm the next time anyone—anyone!—starts in with that "education-for-competitiveness" bullshit. But education does count for something—if it's the right kind of education. Consider the smart guys and gals who dreamed up


that was supposed to go to poor areas. As


reported Tuesday:

We don't tax them at rates above that which we tax normal folks. We give them

tax credits

. So they can


build a museum for their 500 cars

. But this is not because they own the government and the economists who advise it and the reporters who interview those economists. It's because they're better educated and more skilled. And so can you!