Gongol.com Archives: June 2014
Manufacturing jobs aren't for dummies anymore
There's a popular romantic notion that people should be able to earn incomes in the $80,000 or $90,000 a year range for mindlessly turning a wrench in a factory every day. The reality is that high-income jobs are absolutely available in manufacturing, but they require technical skills and knowledge. The manufacturing industry is growing frustrated by the gap between the skills they need and the ones many workers have, so now there's a $500,000 campaign underway to promote those skills (and their required training programs) in Iowa. Labor demand is strong, but we're probably creating all kinds of counter-incentives at the national level by doing even more to subsidize the cost of college for people who don't earn anything extra for their degrees. If your college degree (undergraduate or graduate) doesn't leave you with enough added income to pay back your student loans, that's not a burden for everyone else to bear. Nothing should stop anyone from studying the things they love, but it's a perverse incentive to make some people pay more in taxes because other people want to pursue uneconomical coursework. Go to the library. Take courses on a pay-as-you-go basis. Be an autodidact. But the Obama administration's latest effort to defer and reduce loan repayments for high-cost graduate school programs rewards going to school for the sake of going to school -- which is emphatically not necessarily the same thing as learning, particularly not learning anything productive for the rest of society. And the scorecard on whether it's useful for the rest of society is a pretty easy one -- if the market doesn't reward the extra education enough for the student to pay for the education, then it was (speaking strictly economically) waste. The problem comes when it's waste that someone else (who didn't get to enjoy the time on campus, or the other psychic benefits of the degree) is being forced to pay for. Not every bit of education has to be strictly practical, but there's also no shame in telling people they should learn something practical alongside what things they enjoy learning. We'd be a much better society if we equally welcomed plumbers who know about classical literature and accountants who know how a combustion engine works. The practical, the technical, the professional, and the liberal arts ought to live in some harmony.
Doctor sees first-hand how the ER system needs reform
It's easy to get locked into our silos and to fail to see how systems ought to come together to work best -- in medicine and everywhere else. We don't do much to incentivize systems thinking.
Google drops half a billion dollars on Skybox Imaging
The company has a satellite for taking pictures of the ground below. The company says straight-out that it's an acquisition to benefit Google Maps, but they certainly have other uses for the imagery in mind as well, including but not limited to the data needed for self-driving cars.
Solar flares expected
The NFL team in Washington needs a new name