Without Education, Fewer Jobs Available; Without Help, Fewer will be Educated – This is a Compassion, & Business, Issue
This post may read like a sermon. (But, it’s the weekend, so maybe that is ok). But it is actually a very serious business post.
If we keep failing to make decisions that help lift the neediest among us to higher financial capability, it will crush demand, and permanently harm our economy.
And, by the way, it is the compassionate, “human” thing to do — but not just the compassionate, “human” thing to do.
Let’s start here. Though there are many to choose from, I think this was the best line in Bill Clinton’s speech. I’ve put it in context, and bolded that best line (full text of speech here).
(They want to cut Medicaid) by a third over the coming 10 years. Of course, that’s going to really hurt a lot of poor kids. But that’s not all. Lot of folks don’t know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid.
It’s going to end Medicare as we know it. And a lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, including a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down’s syndrome or autism or other severe conditions. And honestly, let’s think about it, if that happens, I don’t know what those families are going to do.
So I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do everything I can to see that it doesn’t happen. We can’t let it happen.
So, we start with the human, compassion argument.
Then, we go to this. People without a college education simply cannot find the work they need to live a financially stable life. And if they do not have the income, they will not be able to buy the products, the goods and services, that will then keep our economy working well. (Richard Florida has stated this clearly – without increase in demand, there will be no full recovery).
Though you may think that this has always been the case — that people without a college education could not find a good job — you would be mistaken. That has not always been the case. People without a college education could find good jobs for most of my lifetime. Yes, the better jobs were for the college-educatied. But not the only jobs!
And, in fact, we are at an all-time high in the percentage of high school students who go on to get a college degree – if! they are white, non-Hispanic.
It is the people of color, many, many of whom are on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, who are being left dangerously behind. They are not moving up that ladder. In the past, such people could find work, a job that was steady, and predictable. Not so much any more (Read this earlier blog post, Jobs, Jobs Everywhere – But Not for the Lesser-Educated, with a link to this study from Brookings: Education, Job Openings, and Unemployment in Metropolitan America).
And, then, consider this, from the excellent book by Linda Darling-Hammond, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future.
…in 1979, Pell Grants covered 75% of the cost of a 4-year college education; in 2009, that had dropped to 33%.
Let me state the case simply. Without jobs, people will not have the financial resources to fully, actively participate in our economic-driven society. Without a college education, they likely will not find those jobs. And without more help for people on the “lower rungs” of our society, they will not get that education, and thus will not get those jobs.
Cutting such help is a very, very bad long-term business decision for this country. Increasing such help is a very good business decision for this country.
Now, back to the compassion, “human” concern. I read this line this morning from Emily Bazelon: The Conscience: Jonathan Kozol has spent 45 years reporting on the children left behind. I’ve read, and presented synopses of, some of Kozol’s books. They are “tough” to read. But, I think, well worth reading. This is the most heart tugging line of Bazelon’s article. I hope we can, and will, “think about” these aspects of American life.
Kozol’s intensity and moral rectitude has always been part of his appeal. He is aghast about aspects of American life that most of us can’t defend but would prefer not to think about.