The Intercept usefully preports Michael Bloomberg’s proposals for higher education, focusing on plans to upgrade workforce skills along the lines desired by employers. Here’s the selection they excerpted that covers this, worth reading carefully:
There’s a lot here that would be useful to businesses located in the US if they want to take advantage of it: money for vocational degrees geared to business needs, improved credentialing for these degrees, and support for internships and similar on-the-job training programs. As the language of the press prelease makes clear, businesses would play a determining role in deciding what is worthy of being learned, how instruction and work experience would be carried out, what criteria would be used to ascertain skill acquisition, and how credentials would be standardized for use in an economy where workers primarily move horizontally across employers. Some of this is based on a partial reading of the German apprenticeship system, where businesses work closely with education and training institutions to promote similar types of skills.
So far so good. At the risk of being labeled a billionaire’s stooge, I think all of this is worth doing. Societies need lots of abilities that aren’t found in books, and lots of people are more oriented to this type of learning than the standard-model higher ed classroom. Let’s do it.
But delivering an improved American workforce to business without delivering business to the American people is pure exploitation.
Consider again how Germany does it. Most of the workers who go through the apprenticeship system are unionized. (How does Mike feel about that?) Unions are nearly coequal partners in establishing, overseeing and updating the apprenticeship system, like it used to be with the skilled trades in the US when the construction sector was mostly union. Large firms in Germany are required to allot half (minus one) of their supervisory board seats to worker representatives; smaller firms get most of their funding from public and cooperative banks which set limits on how exploitative they can be. All firms have works councils with jurisdiction over issues like work organization and skill. In other words, public policy in Germany does most of what Bloomberg is talking about, but it does the other half too, ensuring that the use of skills by business is at least somewhat responsive to workers’ interests. In addition, enlarging worker and public influence within the firm makes it more likely workers will be viewed as assets and not just costs, so employers will be true partners in these public-private partnerships.
And in my view, Germany doesn’t go far enough. There should be a requirement that all firms that draw on publicly subsidized skill development also emplace publicly-appointed educational professionals in supervisory positions, either on the board or in top management. Businesses need to contribute to other social goals too. This is not just a matter of being regulated so they won’t do egregious harm, necessary as this is, but also taking positive steps to solve pressing social problems. There should be representation of environmental, regional, social equality and other interests on boards as well, something the nonprofit sector has experimented with for decades. Like Germany we should promote public and cooperative finance and then adopt reforms to make these bodies more democratically accountable than they are over there. Finally, steps should be taken to gradually socialize ownership of corporations above some threshold size; I have sketched an approach here.
Bloomberg wants Americans to serve business interests. That would be fine if business interests also served Americans and were accountable to them.
UPDATE: David Leonhardt, who I’ve disputed in the past, has a column in today’s NY Times endorsing Bloomberg’s higher ed proposals. What I wrote before still stands.
Does not matter.
It looks like Bloomberg is finished. He just committed political suicide with his comments about farmers and metal workers.
BTW Bloomberg’s plan is highly hypocritical — like is Bloomberg himself.
During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a “neoliberal revolution from above” was staged in the USA by “managerial elite” which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d’état) changed sides and betrayed the working class.
So those neoliberal scoundrels reversed the class compromise embodied in the New Deal.
The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the neoliberal managerial class and financial oligarchy who got to power via the “Quiet Coup” was the global labor arbitrage in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations.
So all those “improving education” plans are, to a large extent, the smoke screen over the fact that the US workers now need to compete against highly qualified and lower cost immigrant and outsourced workforce.
The fact is that it is very difficult to find for US graduates in STEM disciplines a decent job, and this is by design.
Also, after the “Reagan neoliberal revolution” ( actually a coup d’état ), profits were maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of the immigrant workforce (the collapse of the USSR helped greatly ). They push down wages and compete for jobs s with their domestic counterparts, including the recent graduates. So the situation since 1991 was never too bright for STEM graduates.
By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. Many of the “soft neoliberal” backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton’s defeat — the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI.
See also recently published The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite by Michael Lind.
One of his quotes:
I am not sure with Likbiz is coming from but to the extent he is saying Bloomberg is just like Trump except marginally less corrupt, I have to agree.They both are oligarchs and like that model–just a matter of how they sell socialism for business and naked capitalism to the masses. I remember as far back as the early 70’s the debate about government doing more to train workers and the comeback was why should the government do the work of business? It is the same thing with Big Pharma–the government undertakes almost all the research and Big Pharma takes all the profits.Indeed I would argue that to the extent government trains the workforce rather than business it makes employees even more dispensable because it reduces business investment in human capital. Certainly if I was an older employee I would oppose the process–the last thing I would want is a lot of cheaper and well trained competition for my job. Bloomberg is so wrong on so many levels that if he is the Democratic nominee I am not sure i will vote for him. I have reservations about Sanders and Warren as well but would not hesitate to vote for them against Trump. With Bloomberg it will be an agonizing decision–I surely hope that the United States has not sunk to that level, but it appears that the transformation to rule by obscenely wealthy, authoritarian, racists has been completed.I note that Trump pardoned Milliken. I remember when he was convicted that I was relieved to find out that he did not work 400 times harder than me and was not 400 times smarter–he was just more dishonest. I was really naive back then.
Without knowing, I would say the odds of Bloomberg being in favor of unions is almost zero.
But I will say one thing about the election if Bloomberg wins the nomination(and I doubt that for reasons below), all progressives have to vote for him.. I don’t like him one bit, but he is a shining star next to trump in every way, shape or form. And he does not need to steal money from the taxpayers.
I think Bloomberg’s rising in the polls can be attributed to his campaign consisting almost totally of attacks on trump. That is getting his name in front of Dem voters in a way they are certain to like. When he has to campaign on other issues I think he will fade away(at least I hope so).
IMO, all the preceding are being blinded by obsolete beliefs holding over from the 1950s. First consider that the purpose of government is to ensure the welfare of its citizens – & that’s not protection against just foreign threats but also against domestic threats (like for-real life, liberty & happiness). Given attainment of that purpose, unions are unnecessary. Think that level of welfare is not affordable? Shed the economic blinders of yesterday & start grasping the economic realities of today’s monetary soverneignities – see eg, Peter Coopers’ recent article, http://heteconomist.com/politicians-who-want-us-to-live-beyond-our-means/ . The problems that are concerning you in this thread are clearly political – not economic or social.
Second, don’t expect the jobs of the last century to continue. Recognize that we’re in the middle of a digital revolution. Technology is about doing more with less (unlike yesterday’s capital economy that was about doing more with more). We’re in an irreversibly shrinking (conventional) job market & the only reason we don’t see it shrinking faster is because today’s MBAs are as STEM-illiterate as the general public. And don’t think there will be much STEM work in the job market once today’s MBA’s get a better handle of the requirements for productive STEM work (which can be done only by the upper 1-2% in intelligence). The digital revolution is the leading edge of a societal revolution that will leave the slow-to-learn behind
That level of micro management of employers will make a bureaucratic mess.
Educational professionals are some of the world’s worst supervisors – ugh.
Works in Germany though.
Umm, union membership in the 50s was over 1/3 of workers. Yes, things have changed, but there is no reason why service jobs cannot be unionized except for the control of the Rep Party (state and federal).
That can change. For example, look at Nevada’s Culinary Union. And that is in a right to work state. Workers deserve and need union membership.
Bloomberg and Sanders both need to drop out.