Yesterday, I blogged about Robert Reich’s Luddite concerns regarding technology. Today, I came across a Facebook post from him regarding teacher pay. What struck me about the two pieces is his contradictory conclusions.
Let me explain:
In the Alternet article, Mr. Reich is concerned technology is making labor obsolete, that more and more can be provided by fewer and fewer. In the Facebook post, he lays out a logical scenario (presumably one he supports) that would lead to exactly the same conclusion he decries at Alternet.
In the Facebook post, he talks about how increasing the pay of teachers would lead to more people seeking teaching positions. This is true: a minimum wage does indeed increase quantity supplied of a good/service. But, as Mr. Reich says “the law of supply and demand isn’t repealed at the classroom door.” The effect of such a minimum wage on quantity demanded is to lower it. Higher wages mean schools will be unable/unwilling to higher more teachers. Assuming no one shuts down and schools still want to service the same number of children, this means there will be fewer teachers educating the same number (or more) students. These teachers would likely have to rely on technology to help them meet demand, lest they face overcrowded classrooms. So, we can see that, by advocating a minimum wage in teaching, Mr. Reich would ultimately lead us down the path to “production [in this case, of education] by a handful” that he claims is “a recipe for economic and social collapse.”
I’ve written an email to Mr. Reich asking him to reconcile these two views. if I hear back, I’ll be sure to post the response.