Listening to NPR on my way to work, I’ve been hearing a lot lately about economic indicators that seem to indicate an impoverishment of the “middle” class and a widening of the wealth gap. I recall one interviewee saying something like “there is no law that guarantees the presence of a middle class.” And when you look at human history, this is obviously true. Where did the middle class come from? From my novice historian memory, I seem to remember that the bourgeoisie gained more power than the nobility by virtue of market economies and the industrial revolution. This eventually led to the rise of this middle class of artisans, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, etc. that rose to where the American middle class is currently. Overly simplistic, but there you have it.
With the technological revolution, are we in for another shake up of the market-dictated caste system? Are today’s political systems ready for such upheaval? I have no idea.
Class upheaval aside, another economic issue is “creative destruction.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the destructive force that is unleashed by a major discovery. The classic example is the advent of the computer and its effect on the typewriter industry. Does anyone use a typewriter? Does anyone think we should go back to using typewriters(hipsters aren’t allowed to answer this question)? What about the poor typewriter technician that is out of a job? Tough luck. And there you have it: the human cost of creative destruction—the source of all the discourse about saving “American jobs.”
What ever are we to do about these horrible realities of the modern world? Ladies and gentlemen, I present my educational utopia—a place where citizens are too educated to be grossly affected by market upheavals (i.e. too big to fail)—a paradise called Eruditio. (I presented these ideas as a group project for my final class at BYU—so if any of my classmates read this and want to take some credit, feel free)
What makes Eruditio different? Teachers are paid a lot of money (still based on the level at which they teach). This provides an economic incentive for people to be excellent teachers All businesses are required to have education plans much like today’s healthcare and retirement plans – this includes at least 3 months out of every year devoted to study Application projects are required during the 9 months of work following the study and must: Apply to current employment Incorporate recent studies in an innovative way e.g. a dentist who studied interior decorating changes the décor of his office to make it more pleasing to customers Education schedule is staggered with other co-workers (just like vacation is currently)
Benefits of the Education Plan The crippling human cost of creative destruction is eliminated Unemployment remains at the natural rate Increases in productivity make the education-focused period of a worker’s year possible Various fields of study have a chance to collaborate at unforeseen levels New and different approaches to problems lead to increased innovation
Oh, and while we’re at it, we’re raising the minimum retirement age to 70, because let’s face it, supporting people for 30+ years is just crazy.
Respectfully submitted, Grant Harper. Come join me in my paradise of education. Or feel free to poke holes in my crazy pipe dream.