Friday, March 18, 2016

Can Education "Grow", as a Services Marketplace?

Formal education at all levels, is facing a series of challenges. Many now question the value of a college degree, as graduates are faced with diminishing returns in the job market. Meanwhile, educators in primary and secondary education continue to seek further revenue, to bolster the chances of success for low income students. A recent Equitable Growth article noted by Mark Thoma, reasoned that students from low income districts benefit from additional funding in programs designed for them. Nevertheless, it's an argument which stands in contrast to a states argument, that throwing money at the problem is no longer working.

Regular readers know that my primary concern is how the marketplace as a whole is already structured. Today's existing work opportunities, can be thought of as part of a platform which is only partially capable of absorbing the personal investment of education. From the beginning of the progressive movement, education as a "social purpose" (rather than personal challenge and practical need), has been too closed ended. However, in fairness to progressive reasoning, institutional formation also responded to a value in exchange economic framework, which had little room for value in use economic definition.

Hence some of the education most needed in the present, would particularly apply in a value in use framework. There are few marketplace opportunities to engage with others in practical or experiential services product, at a personal level. Both production and consumption are compromised in the marketplace, as individuals attempt to coordinate for knowledge use among today's existing institutions.

Invariably, an incomplete platform for work formation in the marketplace, makes it appear that "more money is needed", for what in fact has not worked as planned. Implicit in the "more money for better outcome" requests, is the understandable desire for education to be a growth industry. I am just one of many, who would like for broader educational capacity to contribute to long term growth! That said, more education is not needed just for the sake of more education. More education is needed for a stronger marketplace outcome, than has been the case thus far. And education as a "growth industry" on present day terms, is no longer the way to get there.

"Shifting gears" in this discussion: Not enough attention has been consciously given, to the fact that monetary flows for education (as non tradable sector activity), are mostly to replace already existing asymmetric compensation. By way of example, time bank services are also replacement monetary flows rather than potential growth activity, as noted in the last post. Today's educational compensation exists mostly in a replacement flow category, in that employment capacity was established by associations which assigned compensation value according to their perception of general equilibrium potential. These assignations became a services component of monetary valuations, as national medium of account.

One reason educational compensation can be a notoriously sticky wage (especially for administration), is the fact educational (time based) product is mostly a derivative of preexisting growth. Contrast this to educational product which is (already) capable of contributing to further growth, since product separate from time value can add to marketplace capacity, when cronyism is not involved.

In a marketplace for time value, it is possible for the product of personal time value to achieve the same result. Symmetric compensation (or time matched activity) would generate new wealth instead of drawing from preexisting wealth. Symmetric compensation would provide means for time based educational product to "grow" - not just as a marketplace component but in the more important terms of aggregate growth potential. In other words, growth potential for time based educational product would exist, that need not crowd out other wealth formation. The time arbitrage of symmetrical compensation, would allow time based educational product to escape the derivative or secondary category of wealth creation and monetary flow.

Let's break down the process of educational compensation on asymmetric terms a bit further, in terms of (supposed) economic access. While one hears that a STEM education is more valuable than a humanities education to gain employment, this assumption is nonetheless time and marketplace dependent. Part of the employment result depends on what the marketplace presently needs for STEM, as opposed to job openings in humanities.

Even so, compensation for humanities education, is that which is more clearly limited, in terms of (present) marketplace availability on asymmetric terms. This likely has bearing on the temptation in public dialogue, to discount a humanities education in terms of hiring potential. However, while job opportunities for humanities graduates at times appear equally lucrative to job opportunities for those with a STEM education, this is mostly true in terms of staff replacement within the existing educational structure.

Theoretically, STEM education has a better payoff in terms of job opportunity, because these skills are applicable in the initial wealth structure of tradable sectors. Presently, a STEM education is positioned to be the "logical" provider in terms of potential growth. The symmetrical compensation of time arbitrage, would allow time based product with a humanities perspective, a similar position.

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