Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quote of the Week (I love Washington)

Washington, D.C. amuses me. The culture there is just... special. Having lived in New York for several years, I became used to the concept that everyone who lives there either thinks they own the world, or thinks they will some day. In D.C., a similar attitude prevails, except that everyone seems to think that they run the world, or some day will. That's an interesting distinction, but it makes for two vastly different cities and cultures.

This week's Quote of the Week is a brief window into the culture that is D.C., and it comes courtesy of Tyler Cowen of the Marginal Revolution blog, citing an article in Time.


"Most of the people who have moved to Washington since 2006 have been under 35; the region has the highest ­percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds in the U.S. 'We’re a mecca for young people,' [George Mason University economist Stephen] Fuller says. One recent arrival says word has gotten out to new graduates that Washington is where the work is. 'It’s a place where a ­liberal-arts major can still get a job,' she says, 'because you don’t need a particular skill.'"
                                               - Andrew Ferguson, Time 

That last sentence is somewhat terrifying to me, and I can't think that I'm alone in that regard--if our nation's capital is becoming the last refuge of our least skilled workers, then its days are almost certainly numbered.

I've written here before about the impending death of the liberal arts degree, and I don't think Washington or any other city has enough job-creating power to change that dynamic any time soon. I also don't think that Washington can survive for very long by continuing to be a mecca for people who "don't need" or "don't have" any particular skills.

While I don't think we should be encouraging our younger people to over-specialize at a young age, I also don't think that we should be producing thousands of unskilled workers every year who have no idea how to operate in any world outside of the weird little Washington bubble. Our education system is pretty badly screwed up, and this week's Quote is just one more piece of evidence.

[Marginal Revolution]

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