The Shortage of STEM Workers: Another Bogus Crisis Crafted to Benefit the 1%
by Fabius Maximus, FabiusMaximus.com
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— Marx (1847, unpublished work)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:
- "The STEM Crisis: Reality or Myth?", Michael Anft, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 November 2013
- "The truth about the great American science shortfall", Karin Klein, op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, 24 February 2014.
It’s an example of how America works in the 21st century: well-meaning but foolish people serving the plutocracy:
- Plutocrats (e.g., Bill Gates) see a need for more cheap workers.
- Create fake scare: a shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM! Some seed money, mostly for marketing.
- A thousand organizations — Federal to local schools, charities (e.g., Boy Scouts), businesses — rally to action.
That the shortage of STEM workers was bogus was quite obvious from the start, as Klein explains. It is Econ 101:
- If there were a big, general shortage of these workers, you would expect to see their wages rising. That hasn’t happened.
- There would be relatively low and declining unemployment rates compared with people of similar educational levels. Hasn’t happened.
- There should be faster-than-average employment growth, which is occurring in some occupations but not others.
Scores of articles pointed out these obvious facts (include two posts on the FM website; see below). But nothing stops the needs of the 1%; we eagerly bow to their truth and march to their tune.
It’s useless unless put into action
We have real problems, including increasing inequality and loss of control to the 1%. But instead we’re like sheep, herded to suit the needs of the 1%. The wealth of online information, from government data to Wikipedia to free analysis — all in vain to a gullible people.
Perhaps the question we must ask ourselves is no longer how can we govern ourselves, re-taking control of the political machinery.
Perhaps the question should be do we deserve a Republic? Can we govern ourselves?
This story ties together three themes dominating the FM website:
- Our desperate need to see the world more clearly.
- The source of our problems is the man in the mirror.
- We should feel anger at what we have become and how far we’re fallen.
These are just seeds tossed into the wind. I see no signs that they have or can take root. Until conditions change my guess is that reform remains impossible in America. We are beyond the point at which further description of the problem — the articles fill websites like Naked Capitalism — have any useful effect (other than entertainment for the politically passive). Pouring still more water on a rock does not make it wetter.
For More Information
See other posts providing a mirror into which we look at see America
Other posts about the STEM crisis: