The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.
A little less fantasy about jobs is in orderWe tend to talk about manufacturing jobs like they're some kind of fantasy fiction. The truth is that there are excellent, stable, high-pay opportunities in manufacturing, but only if people are realistic about one fact: They're not for dummies.
It's a fact of economic nature that you can only make really good money if you do what other people can't or won't. So if you don't want to do the jobs that other people don't want to do, then you have to do the jobs that, for some reason, other people can't do.
Businesses generally, but especially American manufacturers, are doing some very rational things:
- Reducing time to market
If we can recognize these realities and deal with them as the facts that they are, rather than the fictions we might want them to be, then we can have a thoughtful, rational, and functional set of political policies that will get us what we want.
- First, we need to stop imagining that government can do much to "create" jobs or "grow" businesses. Those things are done by the people who own and work for those businesses, and by them alone. The more government interferes, the more it tends to distort the outcomes. Not improve them -- distort them. And if we expect the people who are in business to operate through a fun-house mirror, then they're going to make inefficient and distorted decisions that can be very costly.
- Second, we need to make sure that everyone emerges from primary and secondary education with a full set of tools for making decisions as an adult. 18-year-olds will always be naive and prone to making rookie mistakes. But we're not doing our job right as a society if we're sending people out into the real world when they're illiterate, innumerate, and totally unaware of how the economy works.
- Third, we need our educational system to continue to provide access well past age 18 for anyone who makes a reasonable effort to get it. We need to revive the intent and the spirit of the land-grant college system, which was the nation's way of making sure that the majority of Americans could better themselves economically at a time when 54% of the nation's workforce was in agriculture. That number is in the low single digits today. If we were establishing something in the spirit of the land-grant colleges today, we'd make sure that everyone in every state had access to an affordable education in an industrial or service sector. We are clearly not using the tools available to us very effectively right now -- 70% of Americans have broadband Internet and the majority of adults have smartphones. But there's still far too much insistence on requiring a physical presence in a classroom for someone to earn a post-secondary education. The mismatch is inexcusable and it has to be fixed.