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College used to be a pretty good guarantor that you would get a good job that pays well – pretty much whatever degree you came out with. But now it isn’t, which Fastenberg has some thoughts about. Those thoughts are:

  1. Companies hire around projects & use more temp workers.
  2. New technology disrupts industry.
  3. College grads are not acquiring marketable skills. STEM grads are still ok.

Horseshit! I’m an old guy. I’ve seen lots of business cycles – up and down. Number 1? I can tell you with absolute certainty that work has always been project oriented. It just used to be that companies hired and moved folks around inside. Happened all the time. IBM used to be known as I‘ve Been Moved. My father moved 6 times in 20 years, all over the country while working for the same company. Companies used to hire good people and want to keep them. Part of that was that there was a lot more government spending on big projects (like Apollo) that lasted for 10 years or more. So companies could plan, and that stabilized planning for all the workers employed in the private sector.

Number 2? You think new technology wasn’t disrupting throughout the 20th century? That’s wack. New technology has slowed way, way, way, way, way down.  When I was born we had just absorbed TV, the electron microscope was in play, we had invented jet aircraft, nuclear power, and telephones were in homes. After that, we went to the moon, shrunk the world with transport, brought personal computers into every home and introduced cell phones. But honeybunches, cell phones aren’t new technology. Cell phones are just radios. Yeah, CSMA/CD, and encryption, and … but compared to nuclear power and the rest of it? Gimme an effing break. Software is not exactly new technology either. New languages, damn, I’ve learned 17 languages if I include 7 assembly languages and one machine language I compiled by hand with pencil and paper. But is that really “new technology”? Not really. That there is old wine, new bottle.

Number 3? A lot of college grads never got “marketable skills” in college. We used to call many of them “donuts”. Good on the outside, but nothing in the middle. I did software back when a programmer got hazed by his new workmates by giving him the computer with a front-panel that had keybounce and I worked with – philosophy majors. Know what? Some of the worst programmers were computer science grads. And even worse were those with doctorates. So now I has me a doctorate, and nobody gives a crap, not even me. Anyway – colleges have always pumped out liberal arts majors. Did you know that the liberal arts were, in roman times, illegal to teach to anyone not a child of the elite? Why? Because those are the arts of convincing the masses, understanding of history, and control of the levers of power.

From 1971-1992, college grads were about 12% of the population. And looky down dere. Take the top 12% of income and it pretty much guarantees most college grads a slot on easy street.

Income distribution 1992
Income distribution 1992.

But today? Today college grads are 28% of the youthful population. Even if we kept the (recession) income distribution of 1992, you can see the problem. If we did nothing but time-warp back to 1992 with all these college grads, all of a sudden instead of 12% being around $50,000 a year (in 1992 dollars) the bottom of 28% is right around $32,000 per year.

And we don’t have the income distribution we had in 1992. Today’s distribution has an even longer tail to the right, although 21 years of inflation have shifted the numbers a bit to the left. I’ll pick a different kind of graph because it shows it better. The bottom of the graph is what most people in America think the wealth distribution should be. The middle is what they thought it was. And the top is the truth of wealth distribution today. The estimated graph is reasonably close to the wealth distribution in 1968. Notice that the wealth of the bottom 40% does not exist today. But in 1968, back when the country was jut waking up to how bad poverty was in America, the bottom 40% were way, way better off.

Actual_estimated_ideal_wealth_distributionIn 1992, CEO pay was a bit over 100 times the pay of the average worker. That was more than double what CEO pay averaged in 1960 or 1980. Today? CEO pay today averages around 350 times that of the average worker. Folks – that is Banana Republic income distribution.

So, is it clearer now? You, the graduates of today, have been fucked. You have been fucked by the greedy, stupid and easily conned baby-boomer generation. The boomers, (my generation – I’m one barely on the tail end of the baby boom) are the ones who brought you idioacracy from the likes of Grover Norquist. They are the ones who transferred wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest by cutting taxes. They are the ones who motivated those running America’s companies to rob them blind, destroying jobs and companies in the process.