Anthropologists regard mankind’s success at over populating the world and destroying its ecosphere as a consequence of the human capacity for generalized, unspecialized, adaptive and creative behavior. Darwin’s ancestors could leap from the trees, peak trough the bushes, scavenge from the lion pride’s kill and innovate adaptive knife claws and fangs. God may have placed the evolutionary multipliers needed for life in six days, yet mankind had to forever generalize skills to overcome challenges that might have rendered specialized species extinct.
The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote about the role of skilled workers in a factory workforce in his tome ‘The Critique of Dialectical Reason’. We are aware that the skilled worker is set in opposition to the semi-skilled and unskilled workers and are pets of management financially speaking-the best in show.
Skilled workers-or highly skilled workers as the President says are also the most vulnerable workers to obsolescence and transition to the newly unskilled when the factory relocates after leveraged buyout or hostile takeover to China to cut production costs. Maybe the administration could regard bachelor’s degree training as highly skilled and reduce employee costs further by regarding it necessary to degrade non-financial management work as charity.
Comparing on-time product components assembly made for management efficiency, highly skilled workers are at the far, extreme end of inefficiency. The future highly skilled worker must sacrifice years off from mediocre yet real unskilled employment to attend a school to learn skills that might exist in the future for an uncertain period of time before the skill is obsolete or job relocated to China.
The prospective highly skilled worker is buying something like a commodities future block of intellectual capital-maybe like a hedge fund actually, in which his or her skill will be more in demand and pay better as there are fewer workers should a new industry arise to demand his or her high skill.
Medium sized corporations that go public in the United States face a good prospect for being bought through hostile takeover. There was a time when in America when that wasn’t done. Since the 1960’s though any business that goes public can realistically be purchased by a larger or sometimes a smaller business (the smaller business can use the under priced value of the medium business’ stock for leverage to get lenders support in buying enough stock for acquisition followed by a downsizing of personnel and selling off of undervalued assets). Workers that spend a lot of time on education may find that skill value without a place for application. In former eras apprentices were paid learning skills on the job. They were not expected to gamble on the existence of jobs in the future in some industry that might be obsolete, relocated or not yet exist.
I wisely prepared for the getting of a rare skill through reading western philosophy and history much of the past 40 years. When that industry arises that needs highly skilled readers of philosophy to augment philosophers in management with college degrees to work on the shop floor turning out philosophical product, I will be available for higher.
One day the tide may return and philosophical ships of high skills venture out upon the capital sea with a crew of highly skilled philosophical sailors moving beyond the shoals of moribund coastal economies beset with low wages. Well, I am not sure what sort of business philosophers might turn out that would pay really good. In case such an industry does develop I will be ready however.
The President’s ideas about high skills seem a product of his cloistered legal skill set that hasn’t become obsolete the last century. Being a lawyer is something like being a cook-it is still a relevant, ubiquitous skill. I believe there is probably one lawyer per 2000 Americans. If illegal aliens could readily become lawyers or if legal work could be outsourced through free legal trade agreements the President might be more sympathetic to increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
More teaching jobs exist per capita than for lawyers, and teaching is a better highly trained job skill until market forces and on-demand instant rare skill set training for the possible Tachyon Transducer Dimension Shifter industry arises. I might bet that the new industry can only work in the mid-west.