Here’s an amazing piece at the Intercept by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole (obv. no relation) about Erik Prince’s push to create his own air force and the horrifying implications that would come with that:
The story of how Prince secretly plotted to transform the two aircraft for his arsenal of mercenary services is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Prince over the years, including current and former business partners, as well as internal documents, memos, and emails. Over a two-year period, Prince exploited front companies and cutouts, hidden corporate ownership, a meeting with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s weapons supplier, and at least one civil war in an effort to manufacture and ultimately sell his customized armed counterinsurgency aircraft. If he succeeded, Prince would possess two prototypes that would lay the foundation for a low-cost, high-powered air force capable of generating healthy profits while fulfilling his dream of privatized warfare.
As they say, read the whole thing.
I can’t think of anyone I would trust less with this capability. And why isn’t this guy in jail yet?
Cause he ran to the Middle East-answer to why he is not in jail
The Second Amendment on steroids.
Reading the article, I find little difference between him and any other garden variety terrorist.
The Patriot Act offers plenty of grounds for arrest. Actually, the simplest thing to do would be disappear him. Not like he doesn’t have plenty of enemies to be suspected or that the lower-paid official paramilitary forces of the “intelligence community” wouldn’t jump at the chance.
Our tax dollars at work.
They hate us for our freedoms.
You go to war with the army you’ve got . . .or bought.
For some reason this story reminds me of the novel Market Forces.
@Baud: Don’t give the NRA any smart ideas, OK?
And, why aren’t you out lobbying for top spot as GOP savior at the convention. Your chance, finally.
Your slogan “Every man his own strategic command!” The NRA will love you.
Not to be contrarian, but the idea that Prince (and company) could own their own counterinsurgency aircraft scares people is exactly why I like it. Bear with me…
Ammosexuals are constantly atwitter over Big Gummint Coming For [Their] Guns. Their arsenals, though enough to massacre hundreds of civilians (each), are paltry compared to what Big Gummint really could hit them with if their fear were at all reasonable. To be effective, private arsenals have to be sufficient to give Washington pause. A pair of CVNs owned by the Kochs (one each, naturally) would be sufficient for this. So would Prince’s toys.
Yet Prince scares sh!t out of people precisely because he’s trying to build things like this. And so far nobody’s suggesting that Prince (or anyone in a similar position) volunteer those munitions for national defense or disaster relief, which is the OTHER reason for amassing so much ordnance (on the contrary, since all those munitions are expensive, Washington is expected to pay for the privilege of deploying private equipment).
Unless the ammosexuals are willing to sign on to Prince’s private army / air force ambitions, then their wailing about Freedumb™ and Second Amendment!!!11!1! is hogwash (it almost certainly is, but wiping out their official argument for armed-to-the-teeth living is the first order of business). What Prince is doing is the logical extension of their stated position. Either they own it and look like paranoid fools, or they denounce it and undermine their own argument. In either case, having Prince as the prime example of ammosexuality taken too far is valuable to us.
“Every man his own strategic command!”
Baud. James Baud.
Sorry, but I think they are. A lot of them already aspire to very heavy ordnance, and given the feelings of inadequacy that seem to drive them, I think they’d find Prince’s ideas very cool indeed. And of course they’d never dream that it might be used against them — they don’t believe that the multitude of guns brandished by idiots now could be used against them either.
Adam L Silverman
the bigger issue, as Scahill has also reported, is that
KingPrince now works for the Chinese. The majority stakeholder in his company is a Chinese company that is controlled by the Chinese government. Every bit of classified info that Prince has ever accumulated is now, most likely, in the hands of the PRC. And he’s still trying to sell mercenary services in many parts of Africa.
Gin & Tonic
@Adam L Silverman:
Did he get a promotion?
Adam L Silverman
@Gin & Tonic: No, operator head space timing error. That should read as Prince. Thanks, I’ll go and fix it.
At some point, we’re going to end up in a full blown war with a PMC.
Well. Either that or we’ll just keep outsourcing and privatizing the government until our entire military IS a PMC.
Also: Erik Prince is one of two people I can’t believe still hasn’t had a Bond villain based on him.
(A. Q. Khan being the other one).
Is one of them named Enola Pay?
@Chris: PMC? Private Mercenary Company? Private Military Corporation? I googled, but nothing fits your context.
Here’s another article supporting what I’ve been saying about higher education.
Now, degree requirements for employment is a bit self-fulfilling. The more degree holders in the labor pool, the more employers will look at a degree as a way to select new hires, even if the degree isn’t necessary for the work to be preformed. But other labor trends suggest that there is increased need for post-high school training, so it’s not entirely artificial.
Regardless, there is tremendous demand for degrees and insufficient capacity to support them. The rise in tuition is an expected outcome from this. The universities that are trying to use that revenue to add seats are now being criticized for not adding seats for students that their state legislators refuse to pay for.
The only solution to this dilemma is to expand higher education. I don’t feel that the most immediate need is in the research universities, but in publicly supported trade programs. That’s not necessarily where the employer demand is strongest, but it’s where voter anxiety is strongest.
Major Major Major Major
@SectionH: Paramilitary something, I’d guess.
Back when Prince was still running Blackwater, a sizeable portion of the mercenaries recruited hailed from South Africa.
Not a country exactly lauded for its air force.
“Qualified people that will accept minimum wages for meeting 3 pages of job requirements”, the CEOs added.
How about this, you fucking deluded cocksuckers? Hire potential candidates and *invest* some of your cash hoard in actually training up those people?
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
They never got Milo Minderbinder, either.
USAF could use something like that. Probably not interested, unfortunately.
“Listen. We need you to be able to TIG weld underwater, have a CDL and drive a commercial tractor trailer, speak 4 languages, have a PhD in Mathematics, a teacher’s certificate and also be able to lift 40 pounds. Oh, and the job pays $9 an hour with no benefits.”
“WHY CAN”T WE FIND ANYONE QUALIFIED?!”
Mike in NC
Everybody needs to read Rachael Maddow’s “Drift” to get an understanding of the outsourcing of military roles and responsibilities in this country for the last 25 years.
A normal person trying to send firecrackers to the Middle East is likely to wind up in Guantanamo. Things are different for our billionaires.
When I was little, I sometimes pretended I was a multi-quadrillionaire and had my own private army and navy stashed away in case aliens attacked. But then I grew up and understood why that that was a phenomenally terrible idea.
I mean, we’d never beat starfaring aliens.
Forget the CDL and languages, there are probably less than 3 dozen people that can do TIG underwater.
@Davebo: Part of the joke.
Mike in NC
These days, it seems that even the shitiest, most demeaning, low paying, no benefit jobs in America require a 10 page application listing every school you attended back to kindergarten, every position ever held with salary and name and phone number of manager, comprehensive drug screening, credit check, DNA sample, and at least half a dozen personal references. Any blank spaces result in your application getting filed in the trash can.
Glad to be retired.
@Baud: A well-regulated Air Force, being necessary to the security of a free state…
A Ghost To Most
USAF already has it; the A-10. And yes, many of them aren’t interested.
I blame Obamacare.
@A Ghost To Most: If you think the genreals hate the A-10, what about the Super Tucano?
A Ghost To Most
Thanks for the link. Reading it now.
@? Martin: Lack of skills is a red herring. Jobs go unfilled because they don’t want to pay what the skills are worth.
We currently have a shortage of industrial engineers – about 50,000 unfilled openings. Starting salary of about $60K, that cannot be met with on the job training – it’s typically a 4 year degree or a MS. We confer about 5,000 IE degrees per year across the nation.
There are jobs more difficult than barista out there.
Wow – Cole links to the Intercept and after 36 posts nobody has thrown a “Griftwald” tantrum. Is BJ in danger of growing up?
@Steeplejack: Was Cha Gio at 10th and Juniper what you were talking about? They’ve been closed for quite some time.
Another suggestion to solve the ‘no qualified applicants’ problem: It is not actually a qualification for a programming job to be a graduate of a big-name university and under 40. Many who are over 40 and/or graduates of little-known colleges and/or not college graduates are more than capable of holding down a programming job but are never considered.
Private Military Contractors.
Villago Delenda Est
@Corner Stone: What are needed are tumbrels for these CEOs.
@Corner Stone: Or have 6 years experience with a software package that’s only been on the market for 4 years. Riiiiiigghht
Villago Delenda Est
@? Martin: Then the CEOs need to create incentives for to get qualified applicants. But they’re not willing to part with their hookers and blow funds.
@smith: In which case, they own that attitude and look like paranoid fools.
BLS estimates the country will have a shortage of 1.2 million nurses within the next 5 years. How many people believe a nurse should be employed with no educational training?
We currently have a shortage of about 30,000 primary care physicians, estimated to grow to 75,000 within 5 years. Again, on the job training for them too?
Thrush specifications are underwhelming. Assuming all the armor, etc., they added was a wash compared with what they ripped-out (hardly) and subtracting the weight of the pilot there’s only about 1,300 kilos of max take-off weight for armament. Two 23mm machine guns, ammo, mounting brackets, ammo carriers, etc. will take care of at least 800 kilos (3,000 rounds, 30 seconds of firing for a Vulcan M61) of 23mm ammo per gun is around 500 kilos leaving 700 kilos for everything else. With a maximum speed of 140 mph this thing would be a sitting duck for the ZPU line of anti-air machine gun systems of which there are a plenitude in Africa.
@Anoniminous: Didn’t seem all that overwhelming to me either.
@Adam L Silverman: And once again privatising what should be in the public sector yields predictably unpleasant results. Totally predictable that a mercenary would be for sale to the highest bidder. And now thanks to eight years of Shrubbery they’re armed and ready. Peace In Our Time has become such a dated concept.
@Villago Delenda Est:
They have incentives. Average salary for an RN is $65K. That’s not bad at all – considering you only need a 2 year degree to become an RN. But when the legislatures refuse to fund additional university seats to train nurses and prohibit the universities from enrolling unsubsidized students, then how are the CEOs supposed to solve this problem aside from building their own private universities?
I don’t know how that 2 million breaks down by profession, but I’d guess that software development forms a non-trivial chunk of it.
Things change so fast that it is impossible to be properly qualified for many positions, no matter how smart and hardworking you are. If you are truly an expert in your field you are probably working with outdated technology.
The most important credential for a software developer now is not past experience, but the ability to pick up new technology fast enough to be productive quickly.
@? Martin: A lot of the work of primary care physicians is increasingly being done by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Mechanical engineering skills have great overlap with industrial engineering and business practices. Job titles are not black and white.
And I’m really enjoying the liberal argument against expanding education opportunities to our students. This is really productive.
@Anoniminous: The future of close air support is drooooooooooooones. There’s no point in armoring up one plane when you can send in 20.
@? Martin: What liberal argument against expanding education opportunities?
When you have a shortage of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, that’s not an argument in defense of why you have a shortage of primary care. When you have a shortage of mechanical engineers, that’s not a defense of why you have a shortage of industrial engineers. And how are we supposed to get to our vaunted manufacturing utopia when we don’t turn out nearly enough people qualified to build a production line? There isn’t a mechanical engineering program in California – public or private – that isn’t turning away at least 50% of their qualified applicants due to lack of funding.
I can’t think of anyone I would trust less with this capability.
@Omnes Omnibus: Denying that there is any market need for doctors, nurses, engineers, etc.
@? Martin: I don’t see anyone arguing against education. I disagree with your premise. Jobs do not go unfilled because of lack of skills. Employers do not want to pay what the skills are worth, so applicants do not take them.
Where have all the cowboys gone?
Nope, won’t work. Think arms race framework: the more people with degrees, the more companies will demand only people with Ivy League degrees. The more people with bachelors, the more companies will demand only people with masters, etc.
Qualified for a programmer has nothing to do with what languages you know. Any decent programmer can jump into anything short of befunge in a few weeks. When I worked for a big company, I hired more liberal arts people than CS types, just because they knew how to think, even if they had never installed eclipse before.
@Mike J: Ignore the dangling footnote.
Wait, so the shortage of primary care physicians is because the $182,000 average salary is too low?
The shortage of RNs is because the $65,000 average salary is too low?
Does this argument make any sense?
@? Martin: In some states to be an RN you need to do a 4-year BS degree. By now there aren’t many who can be grandfathered in — I know an psychiatric RN who was trained before NYS changed the requirements. Hospitals do try to cut staffing by closing units. My friend was part-timing through two staffing agencies but most the L.A. hospitals stopped offering psychiatric care.
ETA: Yes, there is an incredible lack of college seats for nursing programs. And a lack of teachers, too.
@Chris: Ok, so I was in the ballpark at least. TY.
@? Martin: I am an engineer and began working in telecom at start of the cellular boom. We did a survey globally all of the people who had the skill sets to build the networks that were coming. My company already employed 60% of them and we were anticipating tripling our size in a few years. We hired folks with business degrees and trained them in engineering and the company thrived. You need to find people with basic skills and the capability to learn and adapt and work hard. Universities don’t create cogs ready made for specific jobs which need to be matched to industry demands.
That’s not really a CEO problem, though — that’s an HR trying to cover their asses so they can’t be blamed for bad hires problem. I’m not entirely sure how to fix it.
@? Martin: $65,000 in the Washington DC area is practically working poor. That primary care doctor has $200,000+ in student loans and overhead costs. We have doctors. They prefer to specialize because the pay is better. If we paid primary care better, we would have more of them.
Gin & Tonic
@planetjanet: In the most recent year I could easily find, US nursing programs turned away 80,000 qualified applicants because there wasn’t room for them (shortage of faculty, clinical space, budget, etc.) BLS is projecting a shortage of approximately 1,000,000 nurses over the next ten years. How will paying nurses more create more slots for nursing students?
Agree. Drones and autonomous aircraft are the the future.
Why am I so not surprised? Little as I like to believe it, the more I listen to Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”, the more I find myself muttering, “but of course,” when I think of stories like this.
@Adam L Silverman: btw…rightly or wrongly, the longer I spend with this book, the more I feel like emailing you and saying it, “forget it, I think I understand”…
@Gin & Tonic: I think Martin’s point is valid in the case of any job that has legally mandated educational requirements,
Burn all HR people at the stake.
@Gin & Tonic: One thing we are trying to do is streamline the RN process is to use prior learning experiences to supplant coursework for LPN’s with time in grade.
@Mandalay: Re: ability to learn new tech.
Preach! I’ve been in the same dinosaur job for a while but in previous jobs I’ve learned new tech and programming languages on the fly. It’s very hard (at least for me) to break through the HR screen though to prove that ability.
@different-church-lady: Isn’t HR in charge of hiring the stake-burners?
It’s both/and. We don’t have enough slots for students who are interested in nursing and other fields that require education, not just on-the-job training, but the subsequent jobs also don’t pay enough to justify the loans people have to take out.
IMO, the problem with medicine is not that doctors are underpaid, but that a medical education is overpriced. I think we could do a lot with loan reduction and loan forgiveness programs for doctors who go into primary care or common but not astronomically lucrative specialties like endocrinology or oncology.
@Baud: I was talking about doing it myself.
@different-church-lady: Ok. The position pays $8.50/hour with no benefits. And you need to supply your own matches.
@? Martin: “The only solution to this dilemma is to expand higher education. I don’t feel that the most immediate need is in the research universities, but in publicly supported trade programs. That’s not necessarily where the employer demand is strongest, but it’s where voter anxiety is strongest.”
Yes. We must expand our notions of education – pre-K to continuing adult education has to be viewed as a continuum of life-long learning, or, I am convinced, there will be no meaningful reform. But that would mean a profound shift in the way education is viewed in this country, and I don’t know if we are there, or even gimpsing there, yet.
Maybe so, but most employers don’t want to invest in people without a proven track record in a particular field. They don’t want to pay someone for a few weeks to get up to speed, and they really don’t want to risk paying for someone who eventually turns out to be a dud. They want people who can be productive on day one, and there just aren’t enough qualified people out there looking for a job to satisfy that demand.
I can’t think of any other field of employment where obsolescence kicks in so quickly.
there is definitely no shortage of engineers. There may be a shortage of engineers that have some bizarre combination of skills that only can be met by people that are lying about their qualifications. I have way too much experience with that, it would be funny if it wasn’t so true. And I hate to show my engineering bigotry too much, but industrial engineering is full of mechanical engineers that couldn’t hack it in the big leagues.
Paul Ryan delivers Shermanesque rejection of running for president
Whut? I did not make that title up. Who writes this shit?
@Omnes Omnibus: I agree. But increasingly those credentialing requirements are coming into question as well. Many nurses are burdened with tasks that don’t use their expertise as hospital cut staffing overall, but are required to maintain a certain number of nurses.
@Miss Bianca: Oh, we’re glimpsing it.
@Gin & Tonic: Paying nurses won’t solve the training problem. But a state, city, or private college budgeting for a nursing program could change that. Or hospitals offering training programs again would help too. My RN friend went to a nursing program Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital in NYS. When NYS began closing psychiatric hospitals the Pilgrim State program also closed. When NYS changed requirements for nursing degrees, my friend luckily was grandfathered in because he’d taken a 2-year program and a 4-year BS degree program. If the hospitals and legislatures wanted to solve the problem, they could find ways.
Tell it brother. Programming languages come but rarely go. Programmers adjust.
Wow, Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas.
I believe many a problem was created when the Personnel Department became Human Resources.
@Mike in NC: “Shock Doctrine”. > : > Totally twisting my melon right now.
@raven: You think?
Iowa Old Lady
@Davebo: I know a guy with a masters degree in computer engineering who wound up working for a defense contractor on devices programmed in Ada, which I gather is old. So this guy is afraid he’s rendering himself obsolete.
@Miss Bianca: I have to, it’s what I do.
@Iowa Old Lady:
In the 90’s I setup a dialup internet connection for a guy who had a Phd in CS but couldn’t figure it out for himself. He was, and still is, one of my competitors in our little niche software industry.
Degrees don’t mean squat when it comes to tech.
Yeah, it was around there. I was thinking it had closed, but I haven’t been down to Atlanta in four years, and I didn’t get to Midtown on that trip. And I was eating Mexican! I can’t find a good Tex-Mex place up here in NoVA.
I seconded your recommendation on Nuevo Laredo, and if you ever go to Snellville (actually just south, in Centerville) you definitely should try El Jinete.
@PurpleGirl: my bad
should be: and not a 4-year BS degree program.
@Eric S.: I was just talking about how worthless HR people are with my students today. I have a student that has a lot of capability with one of the most difficult cad packages available, and not so practiced with the many lesser, but much easier packages out there. HR people don’t want to understand that if he can master the hard packages that the easier packages will be much easier for him. Lots of companies have pre-screening software that makes sure you have the right keywords before they even have a HR drone look at the resume. In cases like that, you just have to look at what they are asking for and lie to them. They don’t even care.
@Steeplejack: OOh, I have to take my bride to the airport Sunday, maybe I can hit it.
Do the M.E. programs have a lot of seats that are going unfilled?
@raven: What is that you do in your off-line life?
And mechanical engineering is full of aerospace engineers who couldn’t hack it in the big leagues?….
You must not know how averages work. Median salary for an RN in DC is over $80K. That primary care doctor with $200K in loans is well served with a $180K salary. No problem paying off those loans with that salary. Average salary for anesthesiologists is over $300K. Are we supposed to pay all doctors $300K to get them to switch away from anesthesiology? And how exactly does this help bend the cost curve for medical care when we pay at least 2x what every other industrialized nation pays physicians?
We’re importing physicians with H1B visas due to the shortage. How would we have more physicians if we paid them better when US medical schools have been at capacity for 20 years? How is a 21 year old undergraduate supposed to take that promise of a higher salary to the state legislature and convert that into a seat at a medical school?
Does anyone here understand how supply and demand can be constrained on either side? State legislatures are constraining the supply of educational opportunity. It doesn’t matter what happens on the demand side when policy prevents supply from expanding.
@Steeplejack: at our university, the M.E. department is increasing the requirements for enrollment. The number of students has grown far faster than we can hire faculty. Core courses have 150 student sections because otherwise there is nobody to teach the courses.
@Mandalay: I have never met a mechanical engineering Ph.D. with an aero degree other than myself. I only have an aero degree because the Air Force made me get one. There are people that really want to work on aircraft, but there are lots of people that don’t want to work on aircraft. It takes all kinds
Naomi Klein is a brilliant lady.
Here is more of her writing I’m sure you will find illuminating:
The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview.
(shamelessly stolen from JSF)
@Miss Bianca: Work with faculty on teaching and learning with an emphasis on college completion and adult learning.
@Miss Bianca: I spent a decade working on this.
Definitely doable. Several ways to get there from Hartsfield, then Highway 78 all the way home to Athens.
There is not a single ME (or nursing) program in California with unfilled seats. Our program has over 4,000 applicants for 225 seats. Easily 2500 of those are qualified.
We had 2000 applicants for our nursing program and admitted fewer than 100. At every university in California, the nursing program is the hardest program to be admitted to. Highest GPA needed. That’s not because anyone believes the high GPA is needed, but in order to get one of the coveted seats you better show up with top marks.
Obviously the low salary is the problem here. ?
Got it. But Martin seemed to be hinting that we’ve got an M.E. shortage because it’s harder than being a barista. Seems like it’s more the case that the pipeline is not big enough.
@Iowa Old Lady:
Yeah, Ada is pretty old; it came out in the early 80s and never took off. However, Oracle’s database programming language, PL/SQL, is based on it. So if he knows some database principles and reads up on PL/SQL, he can be relevant again. Programming languages aren’t the big hurdle in keeping current; it’s the technologies they are used for which you have to keep an eye on.
ETA: Using Java to program embedded devices isn’t much different from using Ada. Same principles; different tools.
@raven: ooh, we will have to chat sometime…very much wanting to get back into the field…
@cbear: wry smile
@Baud: $8.50? That’s outrageous — I’ll happily pay $15.
@? Martin: None of that means that there aren’t a large number of jobs in this country going unfilled because companies set absurdly high baseline requirements for getting in the door.
I often hear this argument, but there are two sides to it, and you need to show some initiative to land a job. If you really have the ability, all you need is a computer with access to the internet, and lots of time. You can teach yourself, you can produce software, and you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in technical interviews.
I’m not saying it’s easy to get your foot in the door, but there are fewer barriers to entry in software development than in other professions that pay well.
A Ghost To Most
PL/SQL is based on PASCAL. ADA was also based on PASCAL, but far more verbose to suit govt bureaucracy.
/20 year PL/SQL programmer
@Miss Bianca: Under the circumstances, that’s a good response. And I say that with respect.
Did you have a chance to actually read the article? The second half of the piece regarding “philanthrocapitalism” is especially accurate, IMHO.
@Steeplejack: M.E. is a degree where it isn’t likely to go out of date any time in the next 75 years or so. But there is still significant age discrimination. The funny thing is, the companies that are creating this “shortage” still have to pay 90% of the wages they would have to pay for a U.S. trained engineer.
One criteria companies use for software engineers is contributing to open source software. Sure, it’s an investment, but it’s also a path to future employment.
@srv: It wasn’t good enough to be Mr. Peabodyesque.
@Eric U.: I know an aerospace engineer who was in an aerospace position when funding from the government was cut. Her company made an offer to buy her out of her contract. Since this was like the third time a company wanted to buy her out, she decided to take the offer and then invested the money in a glass working kiln and real workshop and went into her “hobby” on a full time basis. She began making glass beads and jewelry with the beads she made. I have a number of beads she made. She’s much happier now.
The Republic, Blah Blah Blah...
There… now that statement is complete…
@cbear: Yes. And I will say only this: I firmly believe that it is Sec. Clinton who will be the Democratic nominee for President. I also believe that she is susceptible to persuasion from the left. I think that Sen. Sanders has shown that economic arguments from the left are finally starting to resonate thru’ the body politic. I think the time is ripe and right to start exerting that pressure and that she – like FDR and LBJ and PBO – is capable of saying, “make me care and make me act.” That is all I’m going to say about *that*.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
This cannot be repeated often enough.
I know someone with a masters in composition from a very competitive conservatory who also has what are widely regarded as excellent tech capabilities.
ETA: I am not this person, which is probably quite apparent.
A general rule of thumb of mine with interviews is that it says something about the company whether you’re being interviewed by the people you’ll actually be working with, or the clueless HR drone squad.
Helps that the one relative I have who runs an HR department is also the most reliably right wing blinkered ideologue in the family.
No, I was arguing that you can train almost anyone to be a barista on the job, but you can’t take someone without a degree and turn them into a mechanical engineer. I agree you can move some degree holders across disciplines to some extent, but the premise of the article I linked to is that this country is not turning out enough degree holders. I then got a bunch of arguments that the problem was employers refusing to train and pay enough. How do you take a high school graduate and on-the-job train them to be a nurse or industrial engineer simply by paying more?
The point of my post and the linked article was precisely that the pipeline is not wide enough – and not just wide enough for ME, but not wide enough for BA/BS that you could take someone in a related field and adapt them to a ME job. It’s not wide enough for nurses or doctors.
This on-the-job-training bullshit may apply to non-professional occupations, but not to professional occupations. It may be an argument that applies to a host of jobs, but not the ones where there are shortages. There is not a shortage of retail workers. There is not a shortage of JDs, either. But there are shortages of engineers (particularly advanced degrees) and nurses. 80% of the advanced degrees in engineering in this country are given out to non-citizens. That suggests that the demand for BS degrees is high enough to dissuade most graduates from taking that $60K+ job and instead going for a MS or PhD. Those seats instead go to students from other countries that hope to parlay that advanced degree into an $85K or $100K job in the US with a visa. If there were enough BS degrees going out, salaries would stabilize, and more domestic students would pursue advanced degrees and that would help slow the H1B train. I know that’s controversial to many people, but there’s a data point that most people overlook. Engineers that need security clearance must be domestic students, so the H1B option is cut off for those jobs. Our salary surveys show that with a BS degree, they often earn $80K+, with a PhD over $150K. Thats a sign of an inelastic market – one where supply is unable to meet demand. That’s not a problem of salaries but of pipeline. If there was enough supply, the salary gap between security clearance and non-security clearance (which is often tech here in CA) wouldn’t be nearly so large.
@a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): A person from my undergrad class who majored in music (digideroo performance, to be exact – after graduation, he had a fellowship to travel the South Pacific and study indigenous music) ended up at Microsoft. He rose fairly high in the company and made a packet. Then he got bored and left. He is now the dean of the music conservatory at our alma mater.
@? Martin: but what do you see as the answer? What is preventing us from expanding nursing programs, say, or engineering programs, to better meet demand?
Funny, I was going to ask you that, but…nevermind. Not really worth it.
You have no fucking idea what’s going on with RNs. Or the delivery of medical services.
What’s wrong with the idea of on the job training for a wide range of job classes? Why should we think society needs to pay for the job specialized education of people working for the most profitable companies?
@Miss Bianca: Understood.
I will definitely vote for her if she becomes the nominee, but I have gone from being a HUGE (yuge) supporter of hers since the 1990’s (I loved the 2 for the price of 1 meme) to now seeing her in much the same way as does Naomi Klein.
Thanks for the response.
@Corner Stone: Education should produce people who can think, learn, and communicate. If a company needs a particular skill set, I see no reason why they can’t hire a person with an appropriate level of education and then train the person.
@Miss Bianca: State legislatures. The thing to understand is that these are the most expensive programs to offer if done right. They don’t scale well. You can’t shove 400 nursing students in a lecture hall and have them emerge able to insert a foley or assess an ER patient. There are a lot of high-contact instructional needs for nurses. For engineers you need them to go through the process – they can’t appreciate the design/build/test cycle without actually making something, and for many disciplines that means equipment, skills training, etc. These are disciplines where experiencing failure is pretty fundamental to getting good practitioners. But the high demand for these individuals means that faculty are also very expensive so the costs just keep stacking up.
By comparison, many universities programs are really cheap. You can crank out sociology students almost without limit. Some nice cheap multiple choice tests, big lecture halls, and out comes another sociology grad with limited job prospects. When the state is mandating a certain number of students go through the system, but keeps cutting the per-student funding and seems to care fuck-all about whether you are turning out anthropology degrees or nursing degrees, then you’re going to get the situation we have.
One option is differential tuition. Charge the nursing students and engineering students more to cover the higher cost of education. Their salaries will be high enough to make up for it, but states are really loathe to get into gaming out the value of a given degree (I don’t blame them).
That’s why I like the solution of having graduates pay off their public education by being taxed x% for some period of time and returning that money to the institution. The universities now have a big incentive to help students get employed and employed well, and revenue will return proportional to demand. It’s not perfect. Some disciplines like early childhood education would get hammered – pay there is terrible, and universities would have a disincentive to invest in it, where now they don’t.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
So Prince has discovered the Cavalier Mustang?
The man is the new Albrecht von Wallenstein
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
Gustavus Adolphus was better. He just died young.
One would wish. Unfortunately, far too many companies think about prospective employees as inventory to be managed using just-in-time practices. They expect schools to deliver the exact piece they need at the exact moment in time that they need it. They don’t value a liberal education. Schools are a way to minimize their own training costs.
edited to add: This is another area where we are hurt by the gutting of unions.
@SoupCatcher: Oh, I know that. I disagree with the concept and what I perceive to be Martin’s acquiescence to that concept.
@A Ghost To Most:
Not according to Oracle’s documentation or Wikipedia. I remember getting the Ada specifications from SIGPLAN in the late 70s.
@Omnes Omnibus: Yeah, I completely agreed with your comment.
A thing I appreciated about my graduate school professors, who were all engineers, was how they passionately articulated and defended the value of a liberal education to industry. Granted, it’s easier to push back against training creep when you’re a Cardinal than when you’re an Anteater (couldn’t resist an intrastate dig at Martin).
Villago Delenda Est
@? Martin: Somehow they can’t manage to hire any lobbyists to change the situation. Funny, that.
@? Martin: Well, businesses could try backing politicians who properly fund universities so that we have the training programs for engineers and nurses. Since it’s the businesses who want them, perhaps they could chip in? Maybe cut a deal – a school expands their nursing school in return for grants for scholarships? You know, not wait for the government to take care of you?
Incidentally, where are you getting data that production of sociology majors is soaring? According to this, BAs in Sociology peaked at 35,000 or so in the early 1970s. Which was a long time ago. The number climbed back up to 30,000 by 2012 – not sure what did that. That’s basically a generic liberal arts degree – the Master’s and PhDs which are required for an actual job in sociology are a far smaller number. By comparison, according to this (apologies for the pdf file) over 142,000 candidates passed the licensing exam to become an RN in 2011 – see Figure 18 on p. 37. If my math is correct, that’s much larger than 30,000 so it doesn’t seem like sociology majors are crowding out nurses. Turning to figure 19 on page 38, we see over 58,000 BSNs taking the exam for the first time – that’s nearly twice as many as there were sociology majors and we’ve probably got a few BSNs who don’t take the exam. According to this, there were 20,000 or so Mechanical Engineering BS degrees awarded. Fewer than sociology degrees but note the rise over the past decade. By comparison, there were over 366 thousand business Bachelor degrees awarded in 2012. Maybe we should cut back on those?
@Villago Delenda Est: Weird and shit, right?
@Corner Stone: @? Martin: Bullshit. Hire some laid off 55 year old industrial engineers and spend 90 days training them. There are 250,000 of them – what do you think, all those laid off guys evaporated into thin air when we closed over 150,000 factories in the last 15 years? This is such fucking bullshit. And here you are again, being all Bloombergian for us. Cornerstone is exactly right.
@Crouchback: Martin is our staff Republican centrist. He’ll repeat anything that comes out of the PR department of a Fortune 500 company.
@? Martin: Just complete BS. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-the-science-and-engineering-shortage/284359/
@Crouchback: Martin is welded to the importance of STEM education.
@dollared: Basically, you’ve got a lot of businesses that got spoiled because the baby boom combined with the women’s movement of the 1970s gave then a ginormous educated workforce and now the boomers are getting too old to work full time plus jobs and the employers need to get creative. Which, as you say could mean hiring 50 something STEM workers, being more flexible on hours, thinking outside of the box, etc. All the things they’ve been demanding from their workers for decades. Or they could be whiny little punks who run crying to the state to fix all their problems. Guess which option they picked.
@? Martin: One other thing – if we want more engineers & nurses but fewer liberal arts majors, shouldn’t we charge less for engineering & nursing degrees?
@Crouchback: Who says universities want more engineers and nurses?
Been married to an RN for 25 years. She has 15 years of critical care experience, including several stints in the ER. She has only recently reached the 60k mark. Younger, less experienced nurses face all kinds of obstacles on there way to that magical number….increased schooling (with it’s associated costs) departments that routinely call them off for lack of patients (which is partly caused by having the nurses on the floor care for too many patients at one time) reduced benefits, and fairly low starting salaries. The health risks are real as well. Hospitals are not the cleanest of work environments. Not to mention that bedside care isn’t really the place to have people just chasing a paycheck.
Paul in KY
@Chris: I think he’s trying to be Blofeld.
Paul in KY
@WarMunchkin: Agree. Their technology would be like difference between 2000 U.S. and 12th Century England.
Amanda in the South Bay
@? Martin: Are you sure there’s a nationwide nursing shortage? That’s been a canard for years, but I do have an RN friend who has found it difficult to get an entry level job in CA for the past few years. I think its something often mentioned but rarely analyzed. what’s next, Martin touting the benefits of pharmacy as a career?
@dollared: This. We know what a market shortage looks like. It looks like Manhattan real estate.
If there were actually a shortage of engineers, there would not be an unemployed engineer anywhere in the US. If there were actually a shortage of nurses, it would not be meaningful to speak of “the starting salary” of a nursing student, because each newly graduated nurse would be met with an auction as she walked across the stage at convocation.
I’ve said this before, but I think the last fig leaf fell away from the labour market when the tomato crop rotted on the vine in Georgia. Undocumented immigrants were not available and “Americans won’t do those jobs” so instead nobody picked the tomatoes. Well, what does “Americans won’t do it” mean? If you were paying $10000/tomato, plenty of Americans would do it. Hell, WALMART has people line up around the block; if you were paying minimum wage + benefits, people would pick your tomatoes.
It seems to me that employers have a fixed sense of what a job “is worth”. An RN should make $X. We will not increase that offer. If we can’t find anybody willing to do the job at that price, we complain of a shortage. This is not how a market works. I don’t get to claim there is an iPhone “shortage” because nobody will sell me an iPhone for $2.99.
I mean, by all means, let’s train more engineers and more nurses! YAY, training! But this “shortage” language hides an ugly reality.
@Paul in KY:
Right down to the Chinese sponsors!
I think Crouchback’s “employers have become spoiled” is the problem in a nutshell. Yes, by the Baby Boomer workforce and all… but it’s more than just that; since the Reagan years and with all the worship that’s lavished on them, 1%ers really have become used to the idea that they’re so special that the very fabric of the universe bends before them. To the point that they’re now incapable of understanding such simple economic principles as “you get what you pay for.”
(The Reagan revolution was never about free markets as a general principle – it was about worshiping the rich. And they’ve forgotten that there’s a difference between the two).