“Another advantage of the ‘shortage’ of STEM workers: You can stress that education has to focus on ‘practical’ skills in science, technology, engineering, and math, while dismissing the importance of history, humanities, and other ‘fuzzy’ studies. The implicit message: Get hard skills to work within the system, but never acquire a questing and questioning attitude toward the system. STEM is almost always couched as necessary for ‘competitiveness,’ with little thought given to who’s really winning the competition, and whether the competition is fair to begin with.” – blogger wjastore
Thomas Jefferson, who argued for enlightening the populace through education as an essential component of democracy, would agree.
Summary: Another day, another astonishing bogus crisis (the STEM shortage) in which well-meaning Americans labor against their own interests to further enrich the 1%. The true nuggets of insight in the news media reveal so much, but accomplish nothing unless they spark action.
“Big industry constantly requires a reserve army of unemployed workers for times of overproduction. The main purpose of the bourgeois in relation to the worker is, of course, to have the commodity labour as cheaply as possible, which is only possible when the supply of this commodity is as large as possible in relation to the demand for it …”
— Marx (1847, unpublished work)
“Taking them as a whole, the general movements of wages are exclusively regulated by the expansion and contraction of the industrial reserve army …”
— Marx, Das Kapital (1867)
This is a tale of the New America: the mythical STEM crisis:
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‘Tis true. One of the sole remaining areas of the labor market where wages remain relatively high is in the STEM careers. Packing the labor market with fresh STEM majors will take care of those high wages, and the effects can already be seen. I personally know of recent chemistry and physics PhD’s who could not find work in their field, only to disappear into jobs for which they are overqualified but at least have an income to pay off their student loans. Supporting evidence for the STEM debacle is mounting across the internet, such as this from the L.A. Times:
And here is a controversial thought: Politically speaking, STEM majors are considered “safe” by the elite. They tend to be left-brain thinkers, generally seeing the world – but not necessarily their discipline – in black and white. This black/white binary lends itself to neo-conservative ideologies that promote rigid dichotomies in their response to the world. This binary thinking can also lend itself to corporatist libertarian ideologies, which also tend to view the world in dichotomous ways (as opposed to the Austrian libertarians, who were well adept at addressing shades of grey). For most STEM majors, American liberalism is far too squishy to be attractive.
Yet, as the STEM labor market over-inflates, incomes decline and unemployment in this sector rises, the corporatists should not rest assured that these thus-far-amenable STEM majors will remain silent. The STEM majors are nothing short of brutal in terms of completing these degrees today, and probably represent the largest share of students adding to the precipitous rise in mental-health problems on campus:
Or the rise in debauchery:
The stressors are enormous. What remains to be seen is what happens to dichotomous-thinking STEM majors when they realize they have been lied to after beating their heads against the wall to complete a major that did not deliver on the implicit promise of employment.
And, of course, none of this touches on the topic of the completely disrespected disciplines within arts and humanities, which provide us with a world worth living in.
Thanks, E.L. Great info.