Guest Post: The Jobs Plan We'd Get If Leading Innovation Scholars And Growth Economists Weren't Being Volckerized -- Part 1

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TraderMark's picture

In link is an updated chart of all job loss rates in post WW2 recessions, and how awful this one is.  In every 'recovery' at this stage (27 months in) all jobs were recovered except in 2001-2005.  While that recession took longer to recover from the job losses were a fraction of this one.

The fact we are even discussing "flattish" job losses is a sham, at this point in a real recovery we should be discussing whether 250K or 400K jobs were created (we need 125K just to keep up with population growth)

edupreneur's picture

guest-entry-author frank ruscica here.

re: the data at your link

yep, that's the stark reality.

worse still, as is shown in the graphic at the below link, about 50% of job losses in this recession are structural (i.e., the jobs are permanently lost).

imho, this is a primary reason that jobs stimulus should provide ce vouchers to the unemployed...



Anonymous's picture

not a buyer, fwiw, a quest passion for knowledge per the bell curve is small 3%, doubt custominzing things will change things, it will help though, good luck

louisash's picture

Interesting collection of references on the emergence of customized education as a growth industry and catalyst for job growth.  The leap from there to promoting government subsidy and intervention is a hugh chasm not justified in the article.  In most cases, government "help" adds bureacracy, inefficiency, and distortion of free enterprise.

edupreneur's picture

frank ruscica here (author of this guest entry).  much to discuss about your reservations, obviously, but it is interesting to note that paul romer is a big believer in the role of government specific to subsidizing education...



jedwards's picture

Is the issue at hand going forward really the US jobs situation?  

Or is it the European jobs situation?  It's clear that the US markets are being held by the short-and-curlies by the situation in Europe through the PIGS.  If the employment situation doesn't get better and in fact gets worse, doesn't this increase the chances of a default, thus causing the domino effect that everyone is so concerned about?

Even a recovering US jobs market won't necessarilyl improve the markets and is still vulnerable to getting sideswiped by European contagion, much like the Asian currency crisis sideswiped the entire region.  Except this time it's not regional, it would be based on the relative vulnerability to a financial collapse.

Anonymous's picture

Since creative destruction always is unpredictable, it is hard to predict it.

Anonymous's picture

This administration is fos...

February 5, 2010
Pediatrician Margaret Flowers speaks about protesting for change and her recent arrest in an effort to get a Medicare-for-all plan back on the table.

Anonymous's picture


Ellen Brown
February 5, 2010

Rumor has it that Timothy Geithner is on his way out as Treasury Secretary, due to his involvement in the AIG scandal that is now unraveling in hearings before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Bob Chapman writes in The International Forecaster:

Each day brings more revelations of efforts of the NY Fed and Goldman Sachs to hide the details of the criminal conspiracy of the AIG bailout. . . . This is a real crisis on the scale of Watergate. Corruption at its finest.

But unlike the perpetrators of the Watergate scandal, who wound up looking at jail time, Geithner evidently has a golden parachute waiting at Goldman Sachs, not coincidentally the largest recipient of the AIG bailout. At least that is the rumor sparked by an article by Caroline Baum on Bloomberg News, titled “Goldman Parachute Awaits Geithner to Ease Fall.” Hank Paulson, Geithner’s predecessor, was CEO of Goldman Sachs before coming to the Treasury. Geithner, who has come up through the ranks of government, could be walking through the revolving door in the other direction.

Master Bates's picture

Unfortunately, education is not really a public priority in the United States.

While education budgets are being slashed, we spend enough money on wars to give each person who wants to go to college a full ride scholarship to a state school.  (Just the money we spend in Iraq would provide over 4 million full scholarships a year)

Education is marginalized more and more in the media, and post high school education is increasingly ridiculed by the people who want to see our country ignorant.

I agree that we need to export the quality of education to other countries to grow our economy.  Still, it seems like education quality isn't even respected here.

Anonymous's picture

From Ivan Illich's: Deschooling Society:

School has become the world religion of a modernized proletariat, and makes futile promises of salvation to the poor of the technological age. The nation state has adopted it, drafting all citizens into a graded curriculum leading to sequential diplomas not unlike the initiation rituals and hieratic promotions of former times. The modern state has assumed the duty of enforcing the judgment of its educators through well-meant truant officers and job requirements, much as did the Spanish kings who enforced the judgments of their theologians through the conquistadors and the Inquisition. Two centuries ago the United States led the world in a movement to disestablish the monopoly of a single church. Now we need the constitutional disestablishment of the monopoly of the school, and thereby of a system which legally combines prejudice with discrimination. The first article of a bill of rights for a modern, humanist society would correspond to the First Amendment to the US Constitution: "The state shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education."

edupreneur's picture

guest-post author frank ruscica here.

re: deschooling society

good stuff.  imho, operationalizing this idea largely equates to ushering in the markets-centered model previewed in my zh entry, and that i detail at




rc's picture

Customized education will require a lot of non-trivial programming if it's going to provide more than just online textbooks. I've been in higher education for 20 years, and I've developed as much "customized education" as anyone. Tell me, who's going to write all the code?

Don't expect anything from faculty. They don't get paid more for "customizing" their educational products. But they can provide what students need - a diploma that is valued in industry. Until companies in the education business can come up with a diploma of equal value, it's going to be hard for them to compete with universities.

Code costs a lot of money to develop. Schools have none to spend. What's the business model?



edupreneur's picture

rc, guest-entry author frank ruscica here.  re: a lot of code being required, you are 1000% correct (query optimizer, constraint-solvers, algos for combinatorial auctions, learning algos for bidding agents, and on and on).

see for lots of info re: the biz model.

i'll check back here periodically, if you want to follow up.




Anonymous's picture

“When a child gets to choose, they presumably choose activities they’re motivated to do [says Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Berkeley]. Motivation is crucial. Motivation is experienced in the brain as the release of dopamine. It’s not released like other neurotransmitters, into the synapses, but rather it’s sort of spritzed onto large areas of the brain, which enhances the signaling of neurons.” The motivated brain, literally, operates better, signals faster."

Maria Montessori understood that ages ago....

Ironic one would expect the US to become the silicon valley of education while current policies are simultaneously working to undermine public schools and devalue the worth of a higher education. But perhaps that's why we'd need to move towards customized education? We've certainly created the need for it here. Is that true of the rest of the world though?

edupreneur's picture

guest-entry-author frank ruscica here.

re: a main reason we haven't had ce yet

from an article by harvard education psychologist howard gardner in the may-june 2009 issue of Foreign Policy magazine:

"now for the first time [because of advances in IT] it is possible to individualize education -- to teach each person what he or she needs and wants to know in ways that are most comfortable and efficient."

re: the rest of the world wanting/needing ce

if you review the data at the below url, imho you'll come away thinking that parents everywhere will soon insist on ce for their children.




Anonymous's picture

The real purpose of US education these days is not knowledge, but a degree. Just look at IVY league graduated and Nobel Prize winning economists who have been running the US economy. Ben Bernanke is one of the best educated man in the world, right?

It turns out you don't need any education for the job, all you need to do is print money. What people pay tens of thousands of dollars of tuition for, is to eventually get to the position where they can print or have direct access to printed money.

Charley's picture

The ultimate product of the 21st Century: Creating social containers that make paid work necessary.


Work is dead, Frank. China killed it.

Anonymous's picture

As far as jobs are concerned, the new programming jobs will be created in India.

JR's picture

In “The Crisis Is Not Over,” Reagan’s assistant secretary of the treasury, Paul Craig Roberts, writes: “Readers ask if the financial crisis is over, if the recovery is for real and, if not, what are Americans’ prospects. The short answer is that the financial crisis is not over, the recovery is not real, and the U.S. faces a far worse crisis than the financial one…"

Says Roberts, “The global crisis is understood as a banking crisis brought on by the mindless deregulation of the U.S. financial arena.” And: “The crisis will not be over until financial regulation is restored."  But, says Roberts, “Wall Street has been able to block re-regulation. Moreover, the response to the crisis has planted seeds for new crises.”

Excerpt from his February 2 column:

…A third crisis is also in place. This crisis will occur when confidence is lost in the U.S. dollar as world reserve currency. This crisis will disrupt the international payments mechanism. It will be especially difficult for the U.S. as the country will lose the ability to pay for its imports with its own currency. U.S. living standards will decline as the ability to import declines.

The financial crisis is essentially a U.S. crisis, spread abroad by the sale of toxic financial instruments. The rest of the world got into trouble by trusting Wall Street. The real American crisis is much worse than the financial crisis. The real American crisis is the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing, industrial, and professional service jobs such as software engineering and information technology.

Jobs offshoring was initiated by Wall Street pressures on corporations for higher earnings and by performance-related bonuses becoming the main form of managerial compensation. Corporate executives increased profits and obtained bonuses by substituting cheaper foreign labor for U.S. labor in the production of goods and services marketed in the U.S.

Jobs offshoring is destroying the ladders of upward mobility that made the U.S. an opportunity society and eroding the value of a university education. For the first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. economy has been able to create net new jobs only in domestic nontradable services, such as waitresses, bartenders, sales, health and social assistance and, prior to the real estate collapse, construction. These jobs are lower paid than the jobs were that have been offshored, and these jobs do not produce goods and services for export.

Jobs offshoring has increased the U.S. trade deficit, putting more pressure on the dollar’s role as reserve currency. When offshored goods and services return to the U.S., they add to imports, thus worsening the trade imbalance.

The policy of jobs offshoring is insane. It is shifting U.S. GDP growth to the offshored locations, such as China, thus halting growth in U.S. consumer incomes. For the past decade, U.S. households substituted an increase in indebtedness for the lack of growth in income in order to continue increasing their consumption. With their home equity refinanced and spent, real estate values down, and credit card debt at unsustainable levels, it is no longer possible for the U.S. economy to base its growth on a rise in consumer debt. This fact is a brake on U.S. economic recovery.

Stimulus packages cannot substitute for the growth in real income. As so many high value-added, high productivity U.S. jobs have been offshored, there is no way to achieve real growth in U.S. personal incomes. Stimulus spending simply adds to government debt and pressure on the dollar, and sows seeds for high inflation.

The U.S. dollar survives as reserve currency because there is no apparent substitute. The euro has its own problems. Moreover, the euro is the currency of a non-existent political entity. National sovereignty continues despite the existence of a common currency on the continent (but not in Great Britain). If the dollar is abandoned, then the result is likely to be bilateral settlements in countries’ own currencies, as Brazil and China now are doing…

The threats to the U.S. economy are extreme. Yet, neither the Obama administration, the Republican opposition, economists, Wall Street, nor the media show any awareness. Instead, the public is provided with spin about recovery and with higher spending on pointless wars that are hastening America’s economic and financial ruin.

That said, if a Jobs Plan "to make American the Silicon Valley of the global market for customized education," ie CE, is so hot, why do we need to subsidize it?

edupreneur's picture

this-guest-post author frank ruscica here.

of course, the u.s. does not have to provide such subsidies.  but if the issue is "how to get the biggest bang for the jobs-stimulus buck" than, imho, there is a very strong case to be made for subsidizing ce consumers and producers, and operators of ce markets...







Anonymous's picture

Re: offshoring

THis is classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Profits for management/ shareholders here, work for workers somewhere else. Where is the productivity gain?, what does the company give back? Paying someone less to work 8 hours is not a productivity gain...they need to produce more in that 8 hours...thats a productivity gain.

This goes back to the minimum wage argument made by those who do have money, 'better a low paid job than no job'. Well actually this should be true but isn't. Many of these jobs are a complete waste of time for a productive individual, thus imposing a material productivity cost on the nation. Many low paid jobs impose restrictions that attempt to trap and lower someones productivity. Such as long hours and restrictive contracts, all to force those doing these jobs to support a usually very marginal business plan (aka cheap wages) in some pointless activity. At what cost to the nation do people work these jobs? Instead we offshore high paying jobs.....

Anonymous's picture

There is already a ton of diploma mills and after work programs. If anything, I think a lot of diploma mills need to be shut down because they're giving sub-standard educations.

bugs_'s picture

More education - while more factories close

and more small businesses close.  More

Americans throwing in the towel.  Stick to


boooyaaaah's picture

Obama says "ok give me a solution"

That is the problem

Solutions come from the bottom up not from the top down -- top down solutions lead to tyranny -- which is ok in the Army but not America

All Regan did was cut the government, the regulations, added a tax cut and voila you get a kid named Gates


Anonymous's picture

Fast track children from kindergarten. Let each learn at pace. Maintain challenge for "gifted kids". Let them fall off if that's their wont. Ensure socialization along the way.....a bunch of smart nutjobs does noone good.

Government pays up to point y (private school available for opt-out parents). Venture funds, endowments, et al pay for continuing ed.

Point being, let brains expand WITHOUT debt.

Grad says.....I'm affiliated with Vfund Q.

40muleteam borax

Mark Beck's picture

Interesting point of view. But, perhaps the conclusions are too "academic".

The underlying strength of education is a strong economy.

Let me narrow my comments to the remnants of the middle-class.

Education has become a business, based on the beleive that skills will be marketable.

Forgive my bluntness but; Universities care about one thing, how many bodies they have enrolled. This is key because it represents the schools revenue. How many are enrolled and how many make it to graduation, the number of students in the pipeline. Simple, they have to make their numbers, or rely on donations.

Once the government started subsidizing education through student loans, higher education saw a way to cover increasing costs. Essentially passing the up front costs to the government in the form of student loans. 

What does the school care about, getting paid first, without regard to student or government debt. The problem with this is that the graduating student will have a large debt burden, and without a strong economy, potentially no job prospects.

So worse case, the student spent a lot of time, effort and money (borrowed), to obtain a degree which generates no revenue. The "investment" question comes into play here, because the time and money spent could have been put towards a business venture of some sort. To make sense, the investment must generate some type of return.

No I am not against higher education, but there comes a time when the costs are too high for what you get. School is investment, time and money spent, in the end it must generate a return. Obviously, I am leaving out the more emotional well-being, lets hold hands and sing Kumbaya, aspect of higher education. Which I must admit can be fun, but really doesn't pay the bills.

Everyone talks about the strength of education, Bill Gates (never completed his degree?) and so on, but what is not discussed is that the benefits are rooted in a strong and fair democracy. The structure is what makes education strong, the possibilities for growth and innovation, not the issuance of a diploma.

Mark Beck

merehuman's picture

mark beck. Well said. The better off tend to forget the basics.

Anonymous's picture

Agreed. What is never discussed in the push of the "necessity" of higher education in the last 20 years is who bears the financial risk. Why? Because as long as the universities and the banksters make their money, no one cares if we have a well educated workforce. As long as countries like India have a well educated workforce, your gov't dear citizen will enable them to come here under HB2 visas undercut your wages. Your gov't does this to you after taking tens of thousands of dollars in risk for an education.


Anonymous's picture

Online education has low completion rates relative to face to face (less than 20% at times) and a lot of clutter from dodgy competition.

Lots of potential but not an easy path to take broadly across the US to save the economy.

Will be a winner for some but lead to nowhere for many

Anonymous's picture

Frank & Mark Beck,

Frank commend your effort and I'm sure there's a niche for it........large market, not buying into it, and I'm the one you need too buy in.

Why? Having educated for the last 15 years, my point of view is similar too Marks. The issue with your idea is market, on the bell curve only 3% have a passion for knolwedge, passion is the power engine to learn, if you have that, which Gates did, nothing stops you, there are always paths, librariers, experts who would die to have some one listen to them, etc.

I've counseled half a dozen 20 somethings who have 75k in debt from school and no careers. Mismatched believe systems and reality. This summer I counseled a family, child going for Sports Communication degree, I asked some sports q's and all the answers were, awesome this, awesome that. I explained the reaility of the competition, the nerd who loves sports stats and said it was a waiste, she has no interest in sports. Her best option would be a job and community college to find something she likes, versus the parents desire to keep up with the Jones.

I use a chart for folks, 100 years of Believe Systems.

A. Get any job you can, save your money, so if you hate your job you can quit and find another.

B. Get a good job. Now a good job was mfg, or large stable company, any position is fine.

C. Get an education, get a good job.

D. Get the best education, get a very high paying job.

In B, when the middle class was exposed to upper management they realized they were no smarter, just had a piece of paper, so they passed on scenario C, thus more opportunities to upscale were in play. The regrets from folks in C were, ahhhh, shoulda got that mba, taken that extra year, etc. and more opportunity awaits.

Of course the problem is those strategies were number game based, when the numbers flip, most flop.

good luck

fwiw, Mark is very correct if you study business when government comes into support them, magically big biz sprouts around it, the blindness is that it takes decades for it too happen. Biz likes stability and getting paid and when the government gives and explicit guarantee, that's the bizz to be in. Medicare created health conglomoretes, IRA's financial behemoths, Student Loan gurantee's college explansions and tech schools and now online for mba stuff..........

edupreneur's picture

guest-entry-author frank ruscica here.

thanks kindly for your feedback

re: the 3% estimate

history may tell a different story

a good book to examine for an alternative view is The Populist Vision, by charles postel.

an excerpt from the book overview at google books:

"But what did Populism represent? Half a century ago, scholars such as Richard Hofstadter portrayed the Populist movement as an irrational response of backward-looking farmers to the challenges of modernity. Since then, the romantic notion of Populism as the resistance movement of tradition-based and pre-modern communities to a modern and commercial society has prevailed. In a broad, innovative reassessment, based on a deep reading of archival sources, The Populist Vision argues that the Populists understood themselves as--and were in fact--modern people, who pursued an alternate vision for modern America.

Taking into account both the leaders and the led, The Populist Vision uses a wide lens, focusing on the farmers, both black and white, men and women, while also looking at wager workers and bohemian urbanites. From Texas to the Dakotas, from Georgia to California, farmer Populists strove to use the new innovations for their own ends. They sought scientific and technical knowledge, formed highly centralized organizations, launched large-scale cooperative businesses, and pressed for reforms on the model of the nation's most elaborate bureaucracy - the Postal Service. Hundreds of thousands of Populist farm women sought education, employment in schools and offices, and a more modern life. Miners, railroad workers, and other labor Populists joined with farmers to give impetus to the regulatory state."

(unfortunately, text from the book is not available via google books.)

in particular, the book chronicles the extent to which poorly educated amaericans sought out -- and leveraged -- education during the 1880s and 1890s.

that extent is almost impossible to overstate.

another historic episode that may be revealing, via,_Freedmen_and_Abandoned_...

"The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (usually referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau) was a U.S. federal government agency that aided distressed refugees of the American Civil War.

...The most widely recognized among the achievements of the Freedman’s Bureau are its accomplishments in the field of education. Prior to the Civil War, no southern state had a system of universal, state-supported public education. Former slaves wanted such a system while the wealthier whites opposed the idea. Freedmen had a strong desire to learn to read and write and worked hard to establish schools in their communities prior to the advent of the Freedmen's Bureau.

...Overall, the Bureau spent $5 million to set up schools for blacks. By the end of 1865, more than 90,000 former slaves were enrolled as students in public schools. Attendance rates at the new schools for freedmen were between 79 and 82 percent."

thx again.




Anonymous's picture

fwiw, frank i've read all the alternative views, the problem is they use 50 cent words when 5 cent ones will do, thus they negate the simple fact on knowing how people think, bad, or they write for other like minded for kudos, good for them i guess

education is essentially increasing the ability to communicate on several levels, ie ability, not thinking or passion

if you like references, Dr. Levin, One Mind At A Time, that is the mountain and very few teachers want to climb it, ie, that passion thing again, it's a biotch

Anonymous's picture


I teach entrepreneurs. With my team I develop the code as you put it. I incorporate things most entrepreneurial training plans don't, complexity as well as game theory, for example. We also provide an extremely broad range of hands on skills, negotiating, accounting, marketing, etc. Without saying too much about our prorietory business model we a)have students write their own busines plans based on a sample one we all create together in class, b) provide students with an opportunity to try running a real busines with no risk to themselves, and c)legitimate their businesses. We do all that for $10,000 ($4,000 to tuition and $6,000 that goes to starting up the student's business. We have done that now (I and my partners) for thousands of entrepreneurs. I have stood in class and said the same thing to generations of students. Education is what you make of it.

From my prospective your idea (government funding for customized education of intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs)seems to come up short on a number of fronts.

First, you don't see to be reading the counter literature. You have only taken in one point of view, all enthusiasm no balance. I'd suggest maybe you need to read Scott Shane's The Illusions of Entrepreneurship.

The core of Shane's lucid argument is that we need less entrepreneurs not more. That we are simply wasting resources on anybody who doesn't want to be a gazelle. David Birch, brilliant guy, you might want to read some of his work as well, coined the term probably back in 95, maybe earlier. It refers to a high growth company. Those sort of enterprises do employ people.

However, as Shane points out, the vast majority of new enterprise establishments are "me too" businesses founded by people who are simply looking to replace a job they hate with one where they are the boss. Nothing wrong with that but it has nothing to do with employing people other than the founder. In economic terms most startups just draw resources away from the few gazelles which are all we should be encouraging if we are truly interested in economic benefit.

In class I tell people all I can do is guarantee they will be happier, not richer because the research actually supports that as a deliverable for these programs.

You also have a naive view of how government funding is likely to play out. I have actually worked in government funded programs (one of the very best as it happens). It helped unemployed people launch their own business. Our first year rates were fabulous, ie. people launched (I gather you are unaware that the big problem with teaching/training entrepreneurship is that most people never launch). We got numbers in the 90% range for establishment versus 10% (or less) without aid.

We also didn't lose quite as many companies to failure over a five year time horizon as happens to the total population of new establishments. Failure rates by the way are over estimated. The problems are, so you know, entrepreneurs don't launch and the companies they do launch stagnate. Nobody is sure why this is so though theories abound.

That said, the return in terms of total employment produced was very small, averaging less than .5 of a person per student taking the program when measured over 5 years. We are proud of the numerous businesses our students have founded and grown. However, as a mechanism for creating jobs funding entrepreneurial training programs is, as some people here have speculated, frought with difficulties and poor returns.

For example, if governments are going to fund such programs they will create, believe me, I used to fill it out, a blizzard of paper work. Then they will have jurisdictional disputes. They will also create a first mover advantage. For example, a program like Fast Trac or Babson College has far more chance of getting funded that you do however inniovative you are. The problem is the government funding gives them an advantage in the overall market place of entrepreneurial training and creates winners and losers rather than letting the market place determine outcome. There is also a distinct moral hazard in that the priorities of the government will become the priorities of the educators. Trust me, it is that or lose your funding.

There are also already a number of great tools and programs out there with which an aspiring entrepreneur can train themselves. Group process and having somebody hold your hand as well as pick the best resources probably helps new entrepreneurs get started but it is hardly essential. Lots of very successful entrepreneurs think the whole idea of teaching entrepreneurship is balderdash. David Birch a pioneer in the field of entrepreneurial education who then went out and tried to build his own companies with varying degrees of success says only entrepreneurs should ever be allowed to teach entrepreneurship and he isn't sure it can be taught.

In fact, your fundamental premise is wrong. Just because an educational program is customized to the end user doesn't make it necessarily better than something mass market and institutional. Think about it for a moment, you are assuming you can actually predict/ascertain what individual skill sets the particular student needs and what pedagogic tools will best meet that need. Yet the future is not ours to see so what you teach today may be irrelevant tomorrow and that includes teaching atttiudes. I am betting, on the other hand, that knowing where every penny is at all times will always be a handy skill for a start up entrepreneur to have in their back pocket.

Just some random thoughts I hope you will find helpful.

Anonymous's picture

The friggin I-Pad is NOT going to save the economy!