The Lecturing Style in American Politics

Blog-friend Joe Gandelman has a lengthy commentary on the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s crude put-down of Sen. Barack Obama:

There was once a movie titled “Destry Rides Again.” If you made a movie about the latest controversy involving a shoot-from-the-lip Jesse Jackson making what he thought was an off-mike, crude verbal blast about Democratic party presumptive Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s comments to some in the black community you might title it: “Jesse Jackson Steps In It Again.”

I’m afraid I’m more in agreement with Mickey Kaus on this:

Didn’t Jesse Jackson Sr. have a point? There is something condescending, or arrogant, in Obama’s lecture to a town hall meeting in Georgia…

Now I’ve got to be honest: given the choice between being lectured for four (or eight) years by Barack Obama and being lectured for four (or eight) years by Hillary Clinton, I’d pick Obama every time. I’d rather not be lectured at all.

It is simply not true that if we all study hard enough we can all go to undergraduate school at Columbia University and law school at Harvard. Both schools limit their enrollments. That can’t possibly be what Sen. Obama is holding up as an example. I think there’s a kernel of truth in what he’s saying—that you can do better in life with an education—but it’s a pretty small kernel. As I’ve said before in a variety of contexts I think the real issue is one of incentives.

I think the job picture in this country is actually pretty lousy and, while getting a better education is good life advice and it was an article of faith during the Clinton Administration (until so many white collar jobs moved overseas) and still is in some circles, it may not actually that much to the point if you think of education as job training.

Name three jobs that a) require a college or post-graduate degree; b) have unlimited or nearly unlimited openings in educational institutions; c) pay good salaries; d) have experienced substantial growth over the last three years (ten would be better—you can’t expect people to work hard and put themselves into debt for transient outcomes); and e) don’t limit their memberships (other than by the degrees). I’m serious. I’d really like to know.

As I read the statistics over the period of the last eight years almost all of the growth in jobs has been in construction, government, and government’s handmaiden industries, education and health care. Construction is now in the doldrums and may be for some time because of the sub-prime brouhaha. It doesn’t require a college or post-graduate degree and most of the construction trades do limit their memberships.

Government, education, and health care all limit their memberships.

3 comments… add one
  • DaveC Link

    There are still a fair amount of computer programming / electrical engineering jobs out there, as well as nursing positions. Can get started in both without a degree, but higher education in the fields really pays off. Sorry, that’s only two.

  • You can add Physician’s Assistant to that list.

  • According to the IEEE, last year jobs for electrical engineers increased (beyond the number of H1-B visas for electrical engineers) for the first time since 2000. It doesn’t qualify. According to the published reports I’ve read the number of programming jobs returned to their level in 1998 just this year. Doesn’t sound like a growth field. Pay levels have been flat or near flat for computer programmers for a long time. Neither qualify.

    I don’t know about physician’s assistants. Are the number of degree programs increasing? Last I looked the number of billets was quite limited.

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