The Instigator
Daktoria
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points

America Does Not Need More STEM Education

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,723 times Debate No: 31288
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

Daktoria

Con

This is an argument against the common belief that STEM is the way out of the current financial crisis and into a new age of prosperity. To be clear, I used to personally agree with the belief, but have changed my mind after reflecting about labor economics.

As much as any other market, labor markets adhere to how when supply goes up, price goes down. The key to modern prosperity, therefore, is not to increase supply. Raising the supply of STEM in America would only depreciate its value. Instead, we need to resolve the supply we have while outcasting supply from abroad.

America today has plenty of nerds who simply cannot network into the workforce despite succeeding in science and math classes while growing up. They are neglected by social alienation due to the deconstruction of humanities and pervasiveness of consumerism, and ignored due to outsourcing and Asian immigration. In order to facilitate their networking, nerds need to be enabled through elevated language arts and discourse ethics. That way, they can actually socialize, communicate, interact, express, and talk their way into a workplace.

Likewise, employers need to be motivated to remain socially responsible not only by employing domestic natives first, but also by not supporting the unweaving of social fabric through consumerism. We need to ensure that Americana is preserved through organic, holistic, sustainable folk community where people can thoroughly celebrate who they are. This will ensure that American students remain focused on their studies as well as have rejuvenating outlets so they don't suffer from burnout. It will also give them something to study for while involved with STEM so they're not stuck wondering, "What am I going to need this for?"

The bottomline is American nerds lack social skills, not technical skills. STEM education facilitates the wrong skill set.
RoyLatham

Pro


Thanks to Pro for challenging me.


Pro claims, “As much as any other market, labor markets adhere to how when supply goes up, price goes down. The key to modern prosperity, therefore, is not to increase supply.”


According to Pro it is impossible to ever have a need for anything, because supply always meets demand at a price. A few years ago there was a shortage of flu vaccine, and we needed more. It's true that the existing vaccine could have been auctioned off to the highest bidder, but that would have only solved the problem of allocation, not of meeting the health need. Where people are starving in Africa, food is available at a price, yet that doesn't eliminate the need. Pro's error is assuming that need is defined by supply meeting demand, whereas need really means “a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful.” http://www.merriam-webster.com...


We need more health care professionals. “...not only is there a decline in the number of primary adult care doctors, but there is also a shortage of nurses, physician’s assistants, community healthcare workers and nurses, ...”http://tinyurl.com... Education is the main way in which the need will be addressed, because we are near the limit of how many qualified health care workers can be attracted from overseas.


Pro claims that keeping prices high is the key to prosperous economy. No, a prosperous economy is one in which prices of basic needs are low, so people can afford medical care, food, shelter, education, and all the things that make for prosperous economy.


Education is not a free market


The supply of education is heavily controlled by government, not a free market as Pro claims. For K-12, only about 11% of students are in private schools, and government controls the rest. http://nces.ed.gov... Public school policy is trending against skilled trades in favor of standardized college prep. http://tinyurl.com... 43% of undergraduates are in government controlled community colleges. http://tinyurl.com... In all of higher education, government subsidies and unrestricted student loans result ever-increasing tuition costs. A free market would allocate more education to students able to earn more in the STEM professions, but such is not the case.


Pro's nerd theory


Pro claims that technical people are properly characterized as nerds who lack social skills, that there is a large supply of unemployed people having technical skills, and that the reason that the alleged pool of unemployed technical people is that they lack social skills. Everyone of these claims is wrong, and Pro does not provide any proof.


I have spent my life at nerd schools and in the Silicon Valley high tech industry, and I've hired at least a hundred engineers over the years. Tech professionals are mainly recruited through web ads and by contacting the placement offices at universities. What younger tech people seek is something new and interesting and they tend to change jobs every few years. Social networking has a role, particularly in start-ups, but tech types are as good at social networking as anyone.


There are some unemployed software engineers. A top software engineer is literally 100 times more productive than a substandard one. To get a highly skilled workforce, companies outsource overseas if the supply is limited locally.


The high tech labor market is government controlled


Silicon Valley is now dependent upon tech-savvy immigrants admitted under the government-restricted H-1B visa program. Last year applications from sponsoring companies were accepted starting on April 1, and the quota was reach before the end of June. http://tinyurl.com... Clearly there is a need for more. Democrats are firmly opposed to expanded immigration of tech workers http://tinyurl.com... , so for the foreseeable future we will need more STEM graduates to meet the demand.


Debate Round No. 1
Daktoria

Con

There are a few problems with my opponent's rebuttals:

First off, Con mischaracterizes what's said about supply, demand, and price by purely focusing on the product market. He doesn't consider the labor market side of the equation which requires sustainability. There's no reason to believe that just because prices go down in one sector of the economy that wages will necessarily sustain in that same sector. This is especially in a society with free trade and free labor where not only can wages become skewed between sectors, but wages can also become skewed from domestic, towards foreign, labor supply.

This is even more so in a debt, service, consumer economy where the international balance of payments has more expenses than revenues. A debt, service, consumer economy also discourages the long-term thinking required to appreciate what engineers do. Instead, people literally borrow money in order to live in the moment, and take engineering for granted.

A classic example I give about this is how engineers don't make as much as Hollywood celebrities, especially despite how engineers design the very information, transportation, and energy technology used to catalyze consumption of film, music, television, and other forms of media. They also don't make as much as professional athletes whether in basketball, baseball, football, or elsewhere (and I'm assuming this is so blatantly obvious that it doesn't need citation).

On the other hand, there's also what I call the "nerd paradox" in how the unmitigated exercise of engineering today inhibits the cultivation of engineering tomorrow. For example, let us say engineers design mp3 players. These mp3 players get purchased by students in school who engage in a popularity contest by consuming pop culture. In turn, serious proto-engineering personalities who lack effective language arts skills become socially alienated. One, the exhibition of pop culture via mp3 players is distracting in itself. Two, by being immersed in incompatible culture, proto-engineering personalities lack the rejuvenation required to "sharpen the saw" in their studies to avoid burnout.

This can also take place in public and private schools alike; I'm not sure where Con came away with the impression that I said education is based on a free market. In fact, I agree with him about the student loan crisis, but he hasn't explained how that connects to the topic at hand. While it is possible for engineering careers to be lucrative, engineering graduates still need to network into the workforce.

In fact, Russell Kirk and Harold Innis had much to say about the information technology revolution not being all that it's cracked up to be in terms of being self-destructive. That is because IT consumption discourages long-term thinking, the production of IT becomes unsustainable. Furthermore, the increasingly frustrated attitudes of engineers from society being filled with idiots leads to an alienating communication style that inhibits instruction to potential future generations of engineers:

http://www.kirkcenter.org...

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Lastly, in building off what I said about networking into the workforce and Con's rebuttal of my "nerd theory", Con's position (on Democrats) is just flat out wrong: http://www.salon.com...

While I do agree that American cultivation of engineering is lacking, this is because of unmitigated consuming patterns as previously described. Without language arts, engineering will be used to indulge in hedonist, libertine, unsustainable pop culture instead. Interest in engineering will remain a will-o'-the-wisp. In fact, Korean Cheabol and Japanese Keiretsu (which we outsource to) are two examples of success from organically cultured conglomerates. On the other hand, China and India are notorious for reverse engineering.
RoyLatham

Pro

Pro's R1 argument was "The key to modern prosperity, therefore, is not to increase supply. Raising the supply of STEM in America would only depreciate its value." STEM comprises health care; research scientists; engineers who write software; engineers who design electronics, roads, power plants, automobiles, water supplies, agricultural equipment, new sources of energy; skilled trades like machine tool operators, lab technicians, police and fire fighters, and repair technicians. More STEM education produces more people qualified to do all of these tasks.

In the second round, Pro argued, "... Con mischaracterizes what's said about supply, demand, and price by purely focusing on the product market. He doesn't consider the labor market side of the equation which requires sustainability." I used the example of health care, in which limiting the supply of health care professionals keeps them well-paid, but it doesn't meet society's need for health care. He claims that in general, product prices may drop despite limiting the supply of the people who design and produce the products. How will health care costs drop despite shortages of doctors and nurses? One way health care costs might drop is by developing new drugs and medical devices. But to do that, we need more scientists to do the development, but Pro proposes to limit the amount of scientists the education system produces. There are now more bio tech startup companies in Silicon Valley than traditional software and electronics companies. Staffing them is a major problem.

I claimed that Democrats are limiting the immigration of skilled professionals. Pro responded with a reference to a left-wing blog post on salon.com. Obama gets a lot of money from hi tech CEOs so he tells them that he wants to expand H!B visas, but he in fact blocks it to please union supporters. If Obama wanted to expand it, and the Republicans want to expand it, then why is the quota under the program still filled in less than three months? The salon.com guy goes on to assert that there are plenty of unemployed engineers, but gives no data to support that claim. In fact " the unemployment rate for biomedical engineers in 2012 is 0.4%." http://bmes.org... The lower limit for unemployment is determined by how often people change jobs, because the time between jobs counts as unemployment even though it's deliberately taken time off. Bio engineers must like to stay put. "... the national average unemployment rate for software developers of application and system software was 4.4 percent." That's full employment because software types choose to change jobs often and take time off between jobs. "Across the STEM fields, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by almost 2-to-1. Even in a tough economy, STEM is where the jobs are." http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

The average entry level salary for a software engineer is $59K, and in 8-10 years they are making $117K. This is not a profession with salaries beaten down by oversupply. Many engineers would like to make more by limiting supply, just as unions work to restrict supplies of labor in skilled trades. Pro claims without proof that high tech companies pay immigrant engineers less. In fact companies use standard pay scales for everyone.

Pro argues, "because IT consumption discourages long-term thinking, the production of IT becomes unsustainable." Pro cites an opinion by Russell Kirk in 1983 to support his case. IT has done well since then. Pro wrongly equates STEM with IT; even in the abstract, the argument doesn't apply to 90% of STEM fields. Moreover, in any field the number of long term thinkers is tiny compared to the number of practitioners. Apple had Steve Jobs, and got by just fine with that one. There is no evidence that Jobs was impaired by being tech savvy, nor is there any sign of tech running out of ideas or direction as Pro says it should. It evolves nicely.


Debate Round No. 2
Daktoria

Con

At this point, I'm not sure is Con is getting my argument because he still believes his static health care analogy accurately portrays what I'm saying about the labor market, so I'm going to water things down a little.

My argument at hand is not about generally limiting supply. It's about realizing that domestic supply is remaining undeveloped due to an unfamiliarity with language arts. The dynamic endogenous demand required to become interested and successful in STEM is not being activated. We should also note that if pop culture demand goes down from the development of endogenous demand, product prices will go down as well. Instead, STEM expertise will be organically applied to students' own language arts instead, and STEM expert communities will become more widespread such that consumers won't need third party producers because they can use their own capital and hardware.

For example, despite how parents of students acknowledge the necessity of STEM, few believe STEM is cared about enough, nor are parents willing to commit the resources needed to become successful in STEM. Likewise, even though parents would like their kids to pursue STEM careers, kids want to pursue careers in art and music instead. Also, barely half of parents agree about the value of STEM over global competitiveness, and less than half believe in STEM's value over solving problems. Even worse, barely a third believe in STEM as a well paying career, not even a third believe in STEM as being a fulfilling career in the future, and less than a third have children where STEM classes are their favorite subject in school: http://www.microsoft.com...

Likewise, when students pursue STEM careers, they drop out from a lack of discipline and envied social lives. They aren't inspired enough to care about what they're studying: http://www.policymic.com...

Furthermore, there's widespread understanding across STEM fields that communication skills are vital anyway. If language arts is lacking, then it's uncertain how people can or ought to succeed: http://www.onlinecollege.org...

Likewise, music is an effective technique to get students interested and remain motivated in STEM fields: http://www.rdmag.com...

Moving on, Salon is not a blog. It's a pioneering, award-winning, news site from a professional media group (and if anything, a "left-wing" reference would show honesty in evaluating Democrats). My reference also has around 19 secondary references about recent hi-tech labor lies. Con says that the industry evolves nicely, but that evolution is not sustainable. It's coming at the expense of the endogenous demand required to have something to produce. In fact, (as previously described) the debt, service, consumer economy that we're "evolving" towards is the real cause of why jobs are shipped overseas - a difference in wages and working conditions: http://www.salon.com...

In contrast, Con referred to the single highly specialized field of biomedical engineering, and of course we should recognize that field having low levels of unemployment since America's health care system is becoming more dependent on Big Pharma. By no surprise, this dependence coincides at the same time that language arts are being ignored from elders not passing down language arts through the generations...

...all the while of a globalized labor supply that supplants domestic language arts by foreign language arts.

The bottomline is that the sustainability of American STEM depends on familiarity with language arts. If you can't talk, then you can't work. If you can't celebrate who you are, then you can't be motivated to work.
RoyLatham

Pro


Thanks to Pro for an interesting debate.


The resolution Pro defends is "America Does Not Need More STEM Education." The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in STEM occupations in the nation there are two job openings for every unemployed STEM worker, whereas in in the non-STEM occupations there are three unemployed workers for every opening. More STEM education is the method by which we can get more STEM workers and fewer non-STEM workers.


Pro's first argument was "labor markets adhere to how when supply goes up, price goes down. The key to modern prosperity, therefore, is not to increase supply. Raising the supply of STEM in America would only depreciate its value." The objective is not to keep the salaries of STEM workers high, the objective is to fulfill the needs for qualified workers in society, ranging from health care to skilled technicians. That makes society as a whole the most prosperous.


Pro argues that there are really plenty of STEM workers available, but they just don't know how to find jobs by networking. With two job openings for every applicant, applicants readily find jobs by responding to employment ads. In the information technology field the 4.4% unemployment rate nationwide in that field is effectively full employment, considering the frequency of voluntary job changing.


In some STEM occupations like Bio Engineering the shortages are severe. We would need more STEM education even if it were only for specialized fields.


A blog associated with salon.com is still a blog, and it did not provide data supported Pro's case.


Pro never cites statistics showing that there are available STEM workers as he claims. He cited the example of Apple Computer moving production overseas to obtain lower labor costs. However, mass manufacturing like Apple's is not a STEM job, it's unskilled labor.


Instead of providing more STEM education, skilled immigrants could be allowed to fill more of the jobs. Pro cited President Obama saying he wanted to expand the H1B visa program to facilitate that. However, Democrats have in fact blocked every move to actually expand the program, and the visa quotas for the year are used up in three months. Obama gets a lot of money from high tech CEOs, so he tries to placate them, but he gets a lot more money from labor unions intent on restricting supply.


Pro offers no evidence that immigrant STEM workers are paid less than native workers. They are not.


Pro argues that there is a problem attracting students to pursue STEM education, but that does not reduce the need for more STEM education. It increases the need to get students on board early. Pro argues that increasing language skills will somehow motivate more students. That's contradicted by the very large numbers of foreign students, having lesser language skills, in STEM. The cure is to reduce the subsidies for non-STEM education like law. The government effectively controls education, so its a matter of policy.


Pro argues that many students drop out of STEM careers in the first year. That is true for the most difficult professions like engineering and medicine, and the main cure is to have better preparation in high school. However, there is a large range of STEM fields. A person not qualified to be an engineer may chose a career as a skilled technician. The problem is match skills to abilities, not limiting STEM education.


Pro argues that because IT focuses on short-term consumer needs, the occupation is ultimately doomed by lack of long-term thinking. There is no sign of this theory having any effect, but Pro assures us that the problem looms. He recommends more study of the humanities, including music, as the cure. The problem hasn't occurred, and will not, because (1) very few visionaries are required and mass education will not produce more of them, and (2) products evolve successfully without visionary planning. Visionaries speed progress, but progress happens incrementally regardless.


The resolution is negated.


Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
* from reading Secondguy's posts.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
Firstguy is hard to read. Many sentence-like structures don't make sense no matter how many times I read them. He cannot be persuasive because he isn't intelligible. To the extent that I understand what Firstguy is arguing for, I got that understanding of Secondguy's posts.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Daktoria, Change the character limit to at least 6000, better 8000, and the voting period to one week and I will accept. 2000 character debates are too short to really argue anything. I'd like to do the debate so please make the changes.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
DaktoriaRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro used the most reliable sources and made arguments that were easy to understand, so I vote Pro.
Vote Placed by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
DaktoriaRoyLathamTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I think what this debate came down to was the supply of the STEM educated workforce, and Roy had more convincing evidence that there was not only not a surplus, but a shortage. I found Con's claims that 'nerds' were held back by their unfamiliarity with non-nerd subjects unconvincing and without evidence.
Vote Placed by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
DaktoriaRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.