Sunday, September 4, 2011

For Labor Day

Following a summer of extensive manual labor, I am annoyed with the push for more Americans to go to college. It's not that I think going to college is a bad thing, but it's just not the answer to our economic woes. College is not a panacea. A college degree may give one applicant an advantage over another, but that advantage disappears when everyone has a college degree. Furthermore, if everyone had a college degree, we'd still live in a country where we need people to pick fruit, roof houses, fix roads, repair cars, etc.

Instead of pushing a one-size-fits-all college solution, we should be ensuring those doing the physical labor can make a decent living, but we are doing just the opposite. Leaders on both sides of the aisle think we should be increasing the retirement age. They say this is just common sense, as people are living longer. I've heard this argument over and over, but it is highly misleading. People are living longer, but it is mostly the financially stable people that are living longer. From 1977 to 2006, life expectancy for 65 year old men rose by 6 years for those in the top half of the income distribution, while increasing a mere 1.3 years for those in the bottom half. That itself is a disgrace in the richest country in the world. And which half do you suppose is doing the physical labor? It's not fair to ask those people to spend their extra 1.3 years on the job.

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