STEM Cell Treatment

November 14, 2011
By

No – not microbiology. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics graduates.

Kenneth Anderson, writing at one of my favorite legal blogs, The Volokh Conspiracy, has brilliant piece on why the Sarah Lawrence graduates in African Studies can’t find a job:

As Generation Jobless tries to figure out where its job possibilities went, we might consider possible relationships between higher education and return on investment. I want to limit these possibilities to graduates of four year institutions in non-STEM subjects, rather than the important but separate issue of college non-completion rates. Consider the following, noting that they are not incompatible with each other as explanations of the relationship between liberal arts college degrees and return on educational investment.

  • Demand for liberal arts graduates has dried up, because of structural changes in the broader economy that have reduced the need for these job categories. The structural reasons range from greater automation of production in lower-professional white collar positions; secular shifts downward in the economy overall and a lower long-term growth rate. The overall point is shifting demand in the overall labor market.
  • Labor markets seek liberal arts graduates with skills in the traditional subject matters of analytic skills in verbal and basic quantitative areas, but higher education fails to teach those skills. The problem in this case is not demand as such — assuming away the short and medium term scarcity of jobs — but instead that the workers supplied lack the necessary skills. The problem lies with what the university teaches or, more exactly, fails to teach. Within non-STEM areas, colleges are not teaching generalist analytic skills. The traditional promise of the quality humanities or liberal arts major — not a technical skill set, but generalist analytic skills in reading, writing, basic maths, and strong communications skills — has somehow eroded and colleges fail to convey those skills.
  • Colleges continue to supply liberal arts graduates with the traditional skill set, and labor markets continue to seek them — but the cost of college has simply gone far above the wages that these skills and the associated jobs can bear. It’s not the skills and it’s not the jobs, it’s the cost of education — priced as though everyone would become a Wall Street banker or lawyer.
  • Specialization in the university has reached the point where colleges cannot produce the true generalists needed in the economy — traditional liberal arts skills in analytic reading, writing, and communication, but combined with generalist technical knowledge in areas of the modern economy — STEM plus economics. STEM departments are not interested in educating generalists, and traditional liberal arts departments assumes that the purpose is to go on to graduate or professional school, hence the exclusive focus on GPA, and grade inflation to try and maintain enrollments.
  • Society is trying to put people through the higher education, four year college system, who intellectually have no business being there. Their future lies in blue collar work, not white collar work. This is a popular meme at this moment, but it has two distinct flavors. One is that there is significant population that, just because of its bell curve placement, will never successfully become “knowledge workers.” This would be so in good times or in bad, but is masked during good times. This is to say that it would always be inefficient and suboptimal to educate this group to white collar knowledge worker jobs for which they are ill-suited.
  • A second version of the “too many people go to college” is that the economy is permanently downshifted. This low growth economy, which has come about because of the consequences of an aging population without replacement workers combined with the profligacy of the last few years that have deprived future generations of investment capital toward new innovations to create growth. Or whatever explanation for it one cares to give; the point is long term lower growth. In that lower growth economy, the returns to higher education are long term lower as spread across some larger than otherwise population cohort. It makes less sense to educate people for a knowledge economy that, while once within our reach, is not achievable any longer. They could have found a place in it, but we’re now too poor to create it, even though it would produce greater social wealth. Which is to say, in the world that might have been absent poor social investment decisions in earlier years, the failure to send these kids to college would be inefficient and a misallocation of resources — but in the actual low growth world of today, there’s no positive return to doing so, considered against the substantial costs (which are also a legacy of earlier poor social choices).

Anderson brings a solid close:

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the United States could easily produce an excess of engineers — yes, even engineers. The labor market of a complicated, division-of-labor society means many, many specializations, and most of them are not STEM. We need lawyers, human resources staff, janitors, communications specialists, and many things that too-reductionist a view might lead one to believe are purely frivolous intermediary occupations. Maybe they are parasitical, and maybe they will get squeezed out of existence over time. But there is a sometimes incorrect tendency these days to believe that since innovation is the heart of all increases in productivity and hence in long run growth and wealth, STEM must be responsible for it and that because STEM is the root of innovation, only STEM jobs are truly value added. I exaggerate for effect, but you see the point.

That’s a little bit like the error of the ancient Physiocrats, who believed that agricultural work was uniquely special because it was the root source of all wealth, since everyone had to eat. (I simplify.) But in a complex, specialized, highly intermediated economy, that’s not how it works. Of course everyone needs to eat — but if we want to have things available to nearly everyone, consumption more than just eating, we have to accept a highly specialized economy with many diverse intermediaries — not all of whose functions will seem obvious to those assuming that only STEM innovators count.

Brilliant – and devastatingly so.

35 Responses to STEM Cell Treatment

  1. kellsbells on November 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I love this article because I get it! The D.S. is a brilliant GA. Tech grad, and, well, I’m quite the simpleton (guess opposites do attract. However, I am half-mermaid and that works in my favor …….we all know how fatal sirens can be)
    Truly, the initiative should be to promote trade schools as well as four-year colleges…
    I will say that I think a lot of education that starts in elementary school is sorely lacking these days…
    Thank God for private and charter schools…
    Competition is what education needs…

  2. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    McCain disappointed with GOP field supporting torture at debate. Agrees with Ron Paul

    “Very disappointed by statements at SC GOP debate supporting waterboarding,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted. “Waterboarding is torture.”

  3. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I’m wondering if McCain will even be able to support the GOP nominee since in past debates he’s stated over and over that water boarding does indeed violate Geneva conventions and U.S. law.

    Why would he support a war criminal president?

  4. Steve on November 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    “Thank God for private and charter schools…”
    — Kells

    Amen. But even then, parents must keep careful watch and try to insure that their foundation is solid in mathematics, science, history etc. Even charter schools will squander years teaching social studies and but neglect U.S. History 101.
    ———

    “I’m wondering if McCain will even be able to support the GOP nominee since in past debates he’s stated…”
    — Acroso

    It doesn’t matter what McAmnesty has stated in the past. He’s an establishment squish in the mold of Karl Rove who puts party first and principles last. The best advice I’d give you would be to avoid a John McAmnesty endorsement.
    …It’s like the kiss of death :evil:

  5. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm
  6. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Conservatives starting to realize that this guy is strongly pro-affirmative action and abortion

    Herman Cain Seldom Knows What He’s Talking About and Isn’t All That Conservative

  7. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Looking over the rest of it…

    Bloomberg has the same methodology as the Des Moines Register poll since they are using the same company

    The Bloomberg Iowa poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points and was taken Nov. 10-12. Selzer & Co. is the same West Des Moines-based firm that conducts the Iowa Poll for the Des Moines Register newspaper.

    and

    Paul’s campaign leads for voter contact, with about two thirds of respondents saying they’ve heard from his campaign, followed by 61 percent who said they’ve been reached by Bachmann’s campaign.

    and

    Today’s numbers vs 2 weeks ago:
    Cain: 20 / 23 (-3)
    Paul: 19 / 12 (+7)
    Romney: 18 / 22 (-4)
    Gingrich: 17 / 7 (+10)
    Perry: 7 / 7 (+0)
    Bachmann: 5 / 8 (-3)
    Santorum: 3 / 5 (-2)
    Huntsman: 1 / 1 (+0)

    also

    Last Des Moines Register poll prior to the election in 2007
    Huckabee: 32%
    Romney: 26
    McCain: 13
    Thompson: 9
    Paul: 9

    Vs.

    Actual Iowa Caucus results

    And the actual results:
    Huckabee: 34%
    Romney: 25
    Thompson: 13
    McCain:13
    Paul:9.93

  8. invalid10 on November 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    If these numbers are true, then Ron Paul wins Iowa.

    yippie ki-yay

    The poll reflects the race’s fluidity, with 60 percent of respondents saying they still could be persuaded to back someone other than their top choice, and 10 percent undecided. Paul’s support is more solidified than his rivals, while Cain’s is softer. All of the major contenders have issue challenges to address.”

  9. invalid10 on November 15, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Bill-O still hasn’t figured out that Operation Blowback was launched only by Paul supporters

    Bill O’Reilly: ‘Enemies’ trying to hurt my book

    The Bill O thread have been hidden on the RPF’s only to be seen by long time members

  10. ATTILA on November 15, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Ron paul will never be potus.

  11. Bunu 2 on November 15, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Correct, Ron paul will never be potus.

  12. ken_phd on November 15, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Invalid10:

    “If these numbers are true, then Ron Paul wins Iowa.”

    Paul definitely has picked up some support. Perhaps he can gain momentum. It should be interesting.

    One thing is for sure. Whoever is the nominee will be subject to the same media smear blitz that was directed at Cain. Each potentialm candidate has their weaknesses. They had better be prepared.

  13. Bizman on November 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Republican POTUS candidate front-runner under the rightful scrutiny of the media: “media smear blitz”.

    Democrat: Hey, it’s about “character” and “judgment”. See: Acorn, Saul Alinsky.

    Ken’s got a Ph.D. in shaping the world to his warped view. He certainly has no idea what the word “smear” is either.

  14. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Ken’s got a Ph.D

    Naw, phd stands for “past having doubt”. Why one would wish to go past doubt is unclear, since it is a nice quality to hold dear.

  15. kellsbells on November 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’ll repeat myself from a different thread: We’re only in Act I , scene I. Let the drama play out…. will the public forgive the candidates who are missing their cues or forgetting their lines? Will the public buy into the review that they have read about the actor (candidate), or will they think for themselves?…..Intermission isn’t for a while (hope no one needs to potty)

  16. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    …will the public forgive the candidates who are missing their cues or forgetting their lines?

    Sure, you first.

    For example, do you really think that Obama hadn’t a clue regarding “57 states”, or that Gore believed that he invented the internet?

  17. kellsbells on November 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    But Cal, that wasn’t touted as much and you know it.

  18. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    that wasn’t touted as much and you know it

    Then it should be easier to admit that they were smears.

  19. ken_phd on November 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Cal:

    What’s your purpose for posting on this site?

  20. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    What’s your purpose for posting on this site?

    Trying to understand metaphysical errors.

    What’s yours?

  21. Occupy the pavement with your face, then occupy a jail cell, you chumps on November 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Anybody wanna spring for my bail money?

  22. ken_phd on November 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Cal:

    “Trying to understand metaphysical errors”

    Idiot.

  23. kellsbells on November 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Well, Cal, since Kells Kant capably contemplate transcendental philosophy (must be the A.D.D.) how in the hello will you ever get the metaphysical errors that have been committed here?

  24. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Idiot.

    Well, I wouldn’t have expected you not to try and bite, no matter my response.

  25. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    how in the hello will you ever get the metaphysical errors that have been committed here

    Got me there, at hello.

  26. Occupy the pavement with your face, then occupy a jail cell, you chumps on November 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Can we get you to take a bath and get a job?

  27. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    What’s your purpose for posting on this site?

    Trying to understand double standards.

    What’s yours?

  28. kellsbells on November 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Well, Cal knows how to flirt…Cal; you grabbed that line from that Tom Cruse movie, right? It escapes me….

  29. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    you grabbed that line from that Tom Cruse movie, right?

    A play on that (Jerry Maguire), but with other meaning(s)…perhaps.

  30. Cal on November 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    What’s your purpose for posting on this site?

    Trying to understand the use of language, to sway.

    What’s yours?

  31. Occupy the pavement with your face, then occupy a jail cell, you chumps on November 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Can we sway you into something less communist?

  32. kellsbells on November 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Trying to understand the language to sway? Study from the master, luv: Casenova.

  33. Mad Dog on November 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Cal’s really into self-medicating.

  34. Mad Dog's mom on November 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Mad Dog, honey, speaking of self-medication, are you going to clean out all those empty Cheetos bags and Pepsi bottles in your room?

    I am worried about cockroaches.

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