Monday, February 15, 2016

Where has the Middle Class gone?

This seems to be a question of great concern over the past five years. Actually it has been going away for much longer. I believe there is a direct correlation between the college degree and the disappearance of the middle class. It must also be stated the Middle Class is synonymous with majority. The Middle Class are where most people are identified on a social economical scale.

In the years following World War II the majority of workers could get good paying jobs after high school by learning a trade or taught by an employer. Starting in the late 1960's and in to the 1970's a 4-year college degree started to become necessary to gain good employment. Then in the latter part of the 1970's having a degree with 2-4 years’ work experience became the norm to gain worthwhile middle class employment for many careers that at one time required just a high school diploma. 

Colleges and Universities at the same time became more business oriented (I don’t care what they say they are not “Non-Profit”) and found the more students the more money and in order to entice more students competition between Universities became the norm and along with this it would require more dollars to advertise and build structures to house and provide pleasures for leisure instead of learning.

So how did the universities keep the money flowing in order to stay in business? It’s simple, they started to declare (In the 1980's) that 4-year degrees now require a graduate degree and then a few years later it is a graduate degree with 4 years of work experience in order to gain good employment. With that being said it is very hard to get a 4 year degree in 4 years because of the scheduling hurdles and obstacles (i.e., Price/Cost) that colleges put in place to graduate.

So what are the new norms?  Some degrees like physical therapy now want doctoral degrees. Others following suit include the nursing and educational fields.

Along the way the cost of obtaining a degree has outpaced the monetary level of the middle class and the only way to keep pace is to take loans to pay a for a future that may or may not be there by the time one graduates (Especially in Technology). Student debt will make the housing bubble look like walk in the park. We have mortgaged away a generation of students from life in the Middle Class ( Think Bernie Sanders).

What is very troubling now our K-12 education systems are now competing for students through school of choice marketing ploys that does nothing more than water down our educational system through competition and cost. 
So what is the solution? First we must realize in order to compete we must cooperate. Education is not a sporting or business competition. Education is the lifeblood of a society’s on-going improvement that must be for all citizens at a reasonable and obtainable price. By this I mean costs should be standardized and degrees should be normalized to make sense. Businesses want colleges to keep students longer and charge students instead of providing in-house training like they did in the 1960's-1980's. By shifting this burden and guilt (Companies say colleges are not doing their job in preparing students for work) to colleges has saved the business environment millions of dollars and provided money to universities. The losers are the vast majority of people whom were known as the Middle Class.

Now that the Middle Class is dwindling we will start to see universities and colleges default and only the elite will survive. Maybe that is the solution. We need to come full circle and colleges should only be for the elite and the majority of people should be able to have a good life through hands on training and apprentices like it was when there was a viable middle class that made our country strong. 

Want proof? Look at India and China – Both have huge middle classes that have been mostly trained and employed by American companies that have trained (Not the Universities) them for the vast majority of jobs that make up their middle class.  We have simply priced our own country out of the completion for the almighty dollar. My state of Michigan is a prime example:

While I am not endorsing a candidate here I will say Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have both hit at the heart of the American People about the trade agreements and what they have done to the middle class.

We should not forget about the one Trade Agreement that has been the worse and that is NAFTA! Do you remember who signed this in to effect?

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