Monday, March 07, 2011

Krugman: More Education Is NOT the Answer

Paul Krugman has a NYT piece that makes a lot of sense (right up to the end, where he makes policy suggestions -- of course). Of particular note is that he agrees with me that education is NOT the answer to our economic problems. The reasoning is something most people have probably not thought about before: that many of the jobs middle-income people have historically done have been routine tasks, which are exactly those tasks best able to be mechanized and taken over by computer programs. There is certainly nothing to be done about that -- and Krugman's argument for labor unions is most certainly not going to help with this problem. Universal health care will only make things worse. But these are the typical things one exects Krugman to say almost without thinking (it is certainly anti-economic thinking at the very least). Too bad he does not put the same care into thinking through possible solutions as he does in helping us understand the problems.

Of course, it is impossible to know what the solution is, because we cannot have knowledge of the future. Flailing about is all that one can expect from anyone. The market will create these solutions as people engage in entrepreneurial discovery -- if they are allowed to do so, of course. These solutions cannot be predicted. They can only be discovered.

One thing we do have to discover, though, is what to do with all those who already have a great deal of education. There is a great deal of intellectual capital out there not being used. There is surely better use to be made of my education, for example, than working nights at a hotel. And I know I am not the only one.
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