Recently, the newly installed CEO of Goldman Sachs recounted the struggles he confronted in acquiring an education. Moreover, he relayed the fact that one of his teachers during his adolescence suggested to his parents that with his meager intellectual capacities he would be fortunate to obtain a position as a truck driver.
Obviously, he has demonstrated that prediction was grieviously in error given his accomplishments in the world of investment banking. He further proclaimed that the principal antidote to the rampant and escalating inequality that has characterized our nation’s contemporary economic circumstances was the acquisition of various educational credentials which would enable their recipients to consign their interminable periods of residence in the dungeons of poverty in the U.S. to a regrettable personal history and enter the ranks of the thriving and robust American middle class.
Oh that this might be the future that those who implement his recommendations would be afforded. The realities surrounding this prediction are however, grieviously flawed and the prospects for its attainment are statistically grim and anemic at best.
At the moment approximately 70% of our nation’s population are bereft of college degrees of all and any character and level of accomplishment. The resources required to undertake various courses of study to acquire skills within a vocational or community college setting are beyond the capability of the overwhelming majority of these high school drop-outs/graduates who receive in most instances little more the minimum wage.
Moreover, many courses of study both within the public educational arena and the not for profit, non-profit and for profit arenas at the culmination of these academic efforts lead to very few job opportunities and thus the overwhelming majority of those who have become burdened with loan obligations to pursue these credentials find themselves unemployable and substantially in debt.
Those who are enrolled in degree programs whether it be within private colleges and universities or state institutions of higher education who successfully complete the acquisition of the various undergraduate degrees they have sought to acquire, nonetheless have discovered that our nation’s current economic climate is most inhospitable, i.e. in excess of 42% of current graduates are rewarded with job offers that pay little more than the minimum wage, or are in areas of the economy in which they have no interest, and/or are internships for which no compensation is provided.
As a result many of these students return to their parents homes and embark upon years of a schedule of loan repayments to the institution that provided the funds for their collegiate journey, delaying marriage and child rearing and experiencing a most spartan existence in which little but the bare necessities are affordable.
During the previous four decades in which the ideology of the neoconservatives has been in the ascendancy, globalization, the continuing replacement of employees by technological innovations, the dominance of the use of part-time contractors and “at will” staffing to achieve greater cost reductions in the wages provided to workers, the departure of many corporate headquarters from the U.S. to other nations as the result of mergers with foreign corporate entities which have reduced their tax obligations,
In addition, does there exist the unwillingness of corporate behemoths to repatriate the trillions in profits that reside outside the U.S., and the depredations that “activist investors” have inflicted with their obsession to compel boards of public companies and their senior management to continuously strive to increase the value of the equity they possess in these public companies.
Furthermore, these groups of investors also insist on ever augmented dividend payments, and a companionable demand that the increases in profitability which technological innovations attain must be allocated to the senior executives rather than to the employees of this company, have cumulatively conspired to greatly minimize the importance, relevance, and most importantly the capability of educational attainments to afford its recipients with a meaningful and significant access to the middle class.
At the moment approximately 4 million jobs are vacant, and approximately 23 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, so discourage that after months or years of seeking a position have in a state of discouragement and exhaustion ceased their efforts to obtain employment, and perhaps most tragically the numbers of those who fall within the category of the poor and the near-poor in our society exceeds 100 million.
What is required is a multi-tier comprehensive national program to both create those jobs necessary to rebuild our infrastructure, improve our public educational systems, and ensure that every American has access to an employment circumstance that is adequately compensated and provides for the use of their talents, training, and energies.