Technology Effect On Society

The microeconomic picture of the U.S. has changed immensely since 1973, and the
trends are proving to be consistently downward for the nation's high school
graduates and high school drop-outs. "Of all the reasons given for the wage
squeeze - international competition, technology, deregulation, the decline of
unions and defense cuts - technology is probably the most critical. It has
favored the educated and the skilled," says M. B. Zuckerman,
editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report (7/31/95). Since 1973, wages
adjusted for inflation have declined by about a quarter for high school
dropouts, by a sixth for high school graduates, and by about 7% for those with
some college education. Only the wages of college graduates are up. Of the
fastest growing technical jobs, software engineering tops the list. Carnegie

Mellon University reports, "recruitment of it's software engineering
students is up this year by over 20%." All engineering jobs are paying
well, proving that highly skilled labor is what employers want! "There is
clear evidence that the supply of workers in the [unskilled labor] categories
already exceeds the demand for their services," says L. Mishel, Research

Director of Welfare Reform Network. In view of these facts, I wonder if these
trends are good or bad for society. "The danger of the information age is
that while in the short run it may be cheaper to replace workers with
technology, in the long run it is potentially self-destructive because there
will not be enough purchasing power to grow the economy," M. B. Zuckerman.

My feeling is that the trend from unskilled labor to highly technical, skilled
labor is a good one! But, political action must be taken to ensure that this
societal evolution is beneficial to all of us. "Back in 1970, a high school
diploma could still be a ticket to the middle income bracket, a nice car in the
driveway and a house in the suburbs. Today all it gets is a clunker parked on
the street, and a dingy apartment in a low rent building," says Time

Magazine (Jan 30, 1995 issue). However, in 1970, our government provided our
children with a free education, allowing the vast majority of our population to
earn a high school diploma. This means that anyone, regardless of family income,
could be educated to a level that would allow them a comfortable place in the
middle class. Even restrictions upon child labor hours kept children in school,
since they are not allowed to work full time while under the age of 18. This
government policy was conducive to our economic markets, and allowed our country
to prosper from 1950 through 1970. Now, our own prosperity has moved us into a
highly technical world, that requires highly skilled labor. The natural answer
to this problem, is that the U.S. Government's education policy must keep pace
with the demands of the highly technical job market. If a middle class income of

1970 required a high school diploma, and the middle class income of 1990
requires a college diploma, then it should be as easy for the children of the

90's to get a college diploma, as it was for the children of the 70's to get a
high school diploma. This brings me to the issue of our country's political
process, in a technologically advanced world. Voting & Poisoned Political

Process in The U.S. The advance of mass communication is natural in a
technologically advanced society. In our country's short history, we have seen
the development of the printing press, the radio, the television, and now the

Internet; all of these, able to reach millions of people. Equally natural, is
the poisoning and corruption of these medias, to benefit a few. *From the 1950's
until today, television has been the preferred media. Because it captures the
minds of most Americans, it is the preferred method of persuasion by political
figures, multinational corporate advertising, and the upper 2% of the elite, who
have an interest in controlling public opinion. Newspapers and radio experienced
this same history, but are now somewhat obsolete in the science of changing
public opinion. Though I do not suspect television to become completely obsolete
within the next 20 years, I do see the Internet being used by the same political
figures, multinational corporations, and upper 2% elite, for the same purposes.

At this time, in the Internet's young history, it is largely unregulated, and
can be accessed and changed by any person with a computer and a modem; no
license required, and no need for millions of dollars of equipment. But, in
reviewing our history, we find that newspaper, radio and television were once
unregulated too. It is easy to see why government has such an interest in
regulating the Internet these days. Though public opinion supports regulating
sexual material on the Internet, it is just the first step in total regulation,
as experienced by every other popular mass media in our history. This is why it
is imperative to educate people about the Internet, and make it be known that
any regulation of it is destructive to us, not constructive! I have been a daily
user of the Internet for 5 years (and a daily user of BBS communications for 4
years), which makes me a senior among us. I have seen the moves to regulate this
type of communication, and have always openly opposed it. My feelings about
technology, the Internet, and political process are simple. In light of the
history of mass communication, there is nothing we can do to protect any media
from the "sound byte" or any other form of commercial poisoning. But,
our country's public opinion doesn't have to fall into a nose-dive of lies and
corruption, because of it! The first experience I had in a course on Critical

Thinking came when I entered college. As many good things as I have learned in
college, I found this course to be most valuable to my basic education. I was
angry that I hadn't had access to the power of critical thought over my twelve
years of basic education. Simple forms of critical thinking can be taught as
early as kindergarten. It isn't hard to teach a young person to understand the
patterns of persuasion, and be able to defend themselves against them.

Television doesn't have to be a weapon against us, used to sway our opinions to
conform to people who care about their own prosperity, not ours. With the power
of a critical thinking education, we can stop being motivated by the sound byte
and, instead we can laugh at it as a cheap attempt to persuade us. In
conclusion, I feel that the advance of technology is a good trend for our
society; however, it must be in conjunction with advance in education so that
society is able to master and understand technology. I think technology has an
important effect on us, the way we act, react, and take actions in society. We
can be the masters of technology, and not let it be the masters of us.

Bibliography

Zuckerman U.S. News & World Report, volume 119, pg 68 (July 31, 1995)?

Wealth: Static Wages, Except for the Rich, By: John Rothchild Time Magazine,
volume 145, pg 60 (January 30, 1995) ? Welfare Reform, By: Lawrence Mishel
http://epn.org/epi/epwelf.html (Feb 22, 1994) ? 20 Hot Job Tracks, By: K.T.

Beddingfield, R. M. Bennefield, J. Chetwynd, T. M. Ito, K. Pollack & A. R.

Wright U.S. News & World Report, volume 119, pg 98 (Oct 30, 1995)