Faithful readers of this blog will recall the fun we had some while back with what logicians call The Fallacy of Composition. I invoked it to explain why education is not the solution to the growing and disastrous income inequality in the United States, and then several readers spent a good deal of time and effort correcting my errors in the explanation of the Fallacy [although they graciously conceded that the thrust of my argument was undiminished by those errors.] Now, as Marinus notes, no less a notable than Paul Krugman has worked his way around to the same conclusion, although not, as it happens, for the same reason. [See his column in the NYTIMES today.]
Krugman points out that many of the relatively well-paid jobs now held by college graduates are either (a) replaceable by automated computerized systems or (b) easily outsourced to comparably well-educated but much cheaper workers located elsewhere in the world. [My favorite example, which he does not cite, is the outsourcing to India of the task of reading MRI and XRay results, with no noticeable delay whatsoever. I find it genuinely weird that a technician in Chapel Hill can perform an MIRI scan on my sinuses -- say -- and a little later receive back from Mumbai or wherever the report that I seem to have a blocked sinus over my right eye.]
Krugman then goes on, I am delighted to say, to draw the correct conclusion, which is that if we want to improve the wages and living conditions of American workingmen and women, we need to do it from the bottom up by labor solidarity and collective bargaining. Here is the money quote, as they say in the trendier blogs:
"So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen."
Right on! I take this to be a bit of fallout from the demonstrations now taking place in Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere across the American MidWest. Do I sense something blowin' in the wind?