Monday, September 15, 2008

Because School Can Only Get You a Job

Written by John

I've been a bit frustrated lately by my courses in business. I am frustrated because the entire focus of both the teacher's instruction and the students' goals' is to "get a good job".

The problem is, however, -I don't want a job! Not only does a "job" go violently against my nature, it goes against what I see as necessary skills for the future.

I have always equated business with entrepreneurship, but, I guess the two are not the same as far as "higher education" is concerned.

Is the only course on entrepreneurship the school of Hard Knox?

Why are we never taught how to make money in a way that doesn't involve a job???

There are lots of ways to make money, but all I have ever heard my entire life is "Get good grades so you can get a job!", "Get a degree so you can get a good job!", "Get an advanced degree so you can get a high paying job!"

Do you want to see the biggest lie we were fed in school?

Here it is. It is titled: "Justification for higher education"

I defy anyone to show me any "job" in the world that will pay you enough to have a beach front mansion with a garage full of high end sports cars.

Supposedly all of this is awaiting the hard working college graduate.

But we're not the only ones. China has a saying that promises gold houses and beautiful women for the diligent student. (Is that why they work so hard over there?)

We all know that it is the people handing out the jobs and not the ones that are getting the jobs that are living in the "higher education poster world". So if any half-witted person knows that all the fancy cars and beach front houses exist only as some sort of sick fantasy, why do none of my classmates want to build a business?

Although there are hundreds of reasons why one would not want to build a business, here is a case I found that might be a foundation to a lot of other reasons.

I stumbled upon an interesting thought when I was analyzing some graphs in my economics book this past week (Microeconomics, McConnell Brue 2008 pg. 77) that lead me to believe that perhaps there is some reason behind the fact that schools focus so intensely and brainwashedly on getting a job.

Take a look at this chart:

To briefly explain some of the expenditures, The "pensions and income security" category include government funded programs to help the aged, disabled, handicapped, unemployed, retired, and families with no breadwinner. This categories' biggest spender is the Social Security program which forks out $432 billion annually. (That means that every year we spend on social security approximately what it has cost for 5 years of war in Iraq)
The Health care category includes Medicare and Medicaid.

So, needless to say, with costs of national security necessarily increasing, aging baby boomers taking their social security from an underfunded source, and a nation with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement demanding more from its' government; they have their hands full with coming up with enough money to pay for it all.

Bottom line: All of this is just to show that the government has a lot of bills to pay.

Here is where the money comes from. This is a chart of the governments' income:

(as a side note- notice that there is a $318 billion deficit between expenditures and revenues. When we spend more than we make, that is deficit. This is on top of the fact that there is an additional deficit in trade with other nations- where we import more than we export, leaving us in debt to other nations.)

The two biggest "pie slices" are personal income tax and payroll taxes. Now in the world of business there or 4 players: Employees, Self Employed's, Business Owners, and Investors. (this is according to Robert Kyosaki- Author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad)

So-84% of the governments' income comes from the taxation of only one of those groups- Employees. (I know that payroll taxes can be argued as a taxation of businesses, but it is a tax on the employee because that is money that can not be given to the employee)

And here is my epiphany- If the main source of income for our overspent government is employees, what should it create more of? Employees! Of course.

Do you think that government might want to have a say in what is being taught in schools? Do you think there is an incentive to mold people in such a way they will be good employees- And look for nothing else in life but to be an employee?

Whether it is purposeful and intentional or accidental and thoughtless, schools masterfully mold and award every graduate with a "Masters Degree" in "employee-ship".

Of course there is! There is an obvious and intense incentive to make this army of employees!
Fewer jobs=less money=bigger deficit=weaker dollar=and so on.
I hate to say this, but...we kind of need lots of employees. We have built our country, economy, and life style around this system.

But what if jobs become increasingly scarce?

Daniel Pink, Author of the New-York Times best seller "A Whole New Mind" developed a VERY important discovery relating to this topic. There are 3 major threats to the giant "pie slice" of employment: Abundance, Automation, and Asia. All three threaten the employee pie slice in major ways.

Here are some of my observations concerning his three areas of concern:


  • China has 1/5 of the worlds population (1.32 billion). In spite of it's major economic and technical advancements, it is still considered a "developing" nation. (again according to my economics book). It has and will have, for a long time, millions people who will work for next to nothing just to compete in the world market. Our "educated" job market will continue to be underbid by them. Jobs lost to outsourcing are a relatively small concern for the time being, but will increase exponentially in years to come. ( I should probably come up with some formula to prove this, but for now, it is just an "educated guess".)
    We have barely seen a sprout budding from the soil when it comes to the force of China in the world economy.
  • India is the next most populous nation (1.29 billion). The problem with them is that they all speak English. Even though we make fun of call centers that employ these funny sounding English speaking Indians, there are millions of them that are hard working, educated, English speaking people that will work for far less then the average American.

  • Close to home. For most of my life my mom has had a sewing job where she sews a baby product for my Aunt who owns a business that manufactures and sells baby products. Recently my aunt started having this particular product manufactured in China. My mom had to find something else to do.


  • (did you actually think that lawyers could lose their jobs to automation? They are.)
  • A few accountants lost jobs due to this
  • Just tonight I visited a friend who was writing a program that would scan documents for a business and automatically enter it into a database. Right now there are a number of full time employees physically doing what one person will do with the aid of this program. When this program is done, a handful of people will have to find something else to do.

    As I discussed this very topic with my friend and his business partner, they joked of an acquaintance who often jokes about the fact that every time he invents a new type of robot, someone loses a job.
  • I took a tour of a CD/DVD duplication plant recently that can produce ten's of thousands of DVD's a day. It takes just a few people to run the machines.

There will always be jobs, but everything that can be automated, will be automated.


Even in light of our current financial crisis, there is not a nation on this earth that comes close to being poised to supersede the U.S. in leading the world economy. Our worst day is still better than even the wealthiest of nations. Let alone the thought of our standard of living as compared to developing nations! We have enjoyed decades of immense abundance and wealth that have created a culture that no longer accepts a cheap, run-of-the-mill product.
(if you disagree on our level of wealth, just spend some time in South America)

The future belongs to the creative. Markets are altered at the advent of an "iPhone", not just another cell phone. Abundance creates those who will pay more just to have an iPhone, rather than settle for a cell phone.


In summary, jobs are being taken from us forcibly. Not by some military force, but the force of the Free Market.
It is the type of thing that is coming upon us gradually. There will be no "DEF CON threat level" to raise awareness. We will sit like a frogs in the proverbial pot.
I might go so far as to say that the next "bubble" to burst will be the job market bubble. That is to say, that, a day is coming where the loss of jobs due to these the factors (and others like unto it) will have such momentum that the almost sudden drop of government income will cause all non-vital government programs to seize up. (social security, medicare, pensions, insurance). The sudden disappearance of these programs will cause panic among the complainers and freeloaders of our nation (and that would be the majority) and there will be a degree of vulnerability while all funds are directed to national defense. And although well founded businesses will continue unaffected, government backed and insured institutions will suffer

And who will rise up as rescuers in this crisis? The creative thinkers.

The Creative thinkers will not bring jobs back to the U.S. Jobs lost to automation and Asia are gone for good. But the creative thinker will find a way in our diverse free market system to bring wealth once again to our great nation.

So the question is posed: how will you chose to educate your children?
The future no longer belongs to the academically intelligent (well, it never really did. However, it did come in handy during the industrial age). Many "white collar" jobs that employ basic and even advanced academics are the jobs being lost to automation. "Blue collar" jobs like manufacturing are being lost to the Asian job market.

Say what you want about the benefits of public school and how we all turned out just fine...but it is hard to dispute the fact that public school focuses primarily on: academics, job preparation, and doing whatever it takes to get good grades.

When all is taken into consideration, I say a child would be far better off in the world to come by being left to wonder the streets in uneducated (academically uneducated) ignorance than to be slapped on the conveyor belt of a system that was designed for an age close to a hundred years out of date! A system that dams creativity and forces the child to memorize facts to please the SCAN TRON god and seek approval through a ruthless grading system that grants no forgiveness to the academic struggler. A system that labels the kid who is not academically inclined as "remedial" and condemns him or her to a life of serfdom. A system that is the most proficient machine on earth at creating something that the future needs only on a small scale: obedient plebeian employees.

I end where I began. School can only get you a job. That might be all you wanted in life. But our kids will need something else.

To be continued...

In the next post:

- Why the Free Market made us great then, and is hurting us now
- How school fit in to the Free Market plan
- What I see as the essentials of education (my views and those of Daniel Pink) to prepare for the future.


MARCIE said...

"Jobs" help pay for basic needs. Public school is right for us, please don't be so judgemental toward it.

John said...

In the post, I said that we need jobs because our entire economy is based around it. And although I expressed some personal bias to introduce the topic, the actual point of the entire post was based on facts.

The point of the post was to say that jobs are being taken away from us more and more, and that that is going to cause problems for our country.

That's not being judgmental.