Monday, March 13, 2006

Bounced Email

I tried to send an email to the author of this article, but email to him bounced. Here's what I tried to send him:

Mr Colvin:

I read your article on the possible reverse of income inequality. In it you state:

"Rising income inequality has settled comfortably into America's big economic picture as a reliable--and much lamented--megatrend... The college graduate's income started beating the high school graduate's income by a wider margin every year--and income inequality began to swell. That explanation makes sense, and the data support it."

My question is: why only think about this trend since the 1960's? The trend of ever increasing knowledge started long before that. Probably it started in earnest with the development of the printing press. That's when it became relatively easy to disseminate information. With that easy dissemination of information came the
growth of those who used it to their advantage. Those who didn't bother to gather that information were left behind.

But that is nothing compared to the demands that the industrial revolution has made on increasing knowledge and skills. Someone with a high school level education in 1900 (with little or no exposure to the internal combustion engine) would have a VERY difficult time getting a high school graduate's job in 1960. Someone with a high
school education in 1965 (and little or no exposure to computers) would have a difficult time working at McDonald's today - a job for pre-high school graduates.

The increasing demand of knowledge is not a trend to be lamented. It is, rather, a trend to be celebrated because it's a mark of our progress. It's the natural result of innovation.

As far as the trend changing, I think it's more of a blip than a trend. I think it's much more akin to what Schumpeter called "creative destruction". A great description is available in a paper called "The Churn".


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