Lion of the Blogosphere

Sucks to be an old engineer

As if the coming wave of foreign engineers resulting from the inevitable immigration bill isn’t bad enough, I saw this comment left on a Wall Street Journal article:

At my recent 40th Stanford reunion, everyone I knew who had stuck with engineering (as opposed to becoming an entrepreneur or a VC) was either unemployed or in fear of becoming so. A woman from my freshman dorm told me her brother who’d gone to MIT was also unemployed as were many of his classmates.

When not even a Stanford or MIT engineering degree is good enough to keep an engineer employed at 60, there is genuinely no market for engineers that age. Plan accordingly.

Do your future self a favor, find another occupation.

* * *

Read the follow-up post .

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Posted in Labor Markets

147 Responses

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  1. Meanwhile, in the British labour market:

    “Laura Fernee says her good looks are so powerful they are ruining her life – and have forced her to quit her job.

    The 33-year-old science graduate says her slim figure and pretty face attracted unwanted attention from her male colleagues.

    She also claims she has been ostracised by other women in the workplace who are jealous of her beauty.

    Miss Fernee now lives off her wealthy parents after quitting her £30,000 [$45513.02] job in scientific research two years ago.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2327173/The-woman-claims-pretty-job-Graduate-hounded-sex-pests-jealous-females.html#ixzz2UKhIl8Sg

    aki (@DSGNTD_PLYR)

    May 25, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    • She’s just a delusional rich girl with a bad personality who’s too lazy to work. She’s nice looking but not half as beautiful as she thinks she is.

      • I second Lion. She’s not that hot enough to incur such wrath from HR wenches.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      • Ugly to me.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      • “…too lazy to work…”

        I’m sorry LOB but that Staten Island came out in that comment.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 26, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      • That’s a bit harsh, no? I don’t really think you are in the position to judge how she felt.

        AnonAnon

        May 28, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    • She’s aging badly for “thirty-three.” I suspect that she just doesn’t want to work the 9-to-5 grind; and, from the glamour shots, she’s an aspiring model, but way past her prime. There are several more attractive women at my work place, and they’re not harassed in any way; in fact, they’ve received many subtle advantages throughout life because of their looks.

      E. Rekshun

      May 25, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      • She’s writing a book so is an aspiring author. She’d look a lot better without all the makeup and weird eyebrows. She does look much older than 33, maybe being hounded by amorous geeks sapped her youth.

        islandmommy

        May 25, 2013 at 10:00 PM

  2. I wonder if immigration and globalization will begin to cut into Wall Street jobs. I taught English to Tiger Grandparents who wanted their Asian grandchildren to get into the Ivy League so they can make a killing on Wall Street. I guess first generation immigrants are engineers, second generation immigrants are doctors and midlevel businessmen, and third generation businessmen are being trained to storm the Ivory Towers.

    Of course, getting into posh finance jobs requires a lot of social savy, which immigrants and recent Americans don’t have. The social order arising is one where jobs requiring hard work and solid intelligence are being gutted, while high paying jobs that require negotiation, insider knowledge and other such tact can still be lucrative, because immigrants almost never understand how to navigate social know how as smoothly as Machiavellian Americans.

    Sid

    May 25, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    • many bank jobs are going away, and it’s mostly because technology is replacing people (it’s actually one of those things: why didn’t this happen earlier?) Dodd-Frank has some requirements:

      1. market makrer jobs: DF will move some markets from over the counter to exchanges, which is very good for the investor, but not so good for the middle-man market maker investment banks.
      2. back office: bank office functions are getting more and more automatized.
      3. front office and investment jobs: moving towards hedge funds (also a Dodd-Frank requirement) — much better for taxpayers, since hedge funds are not backed by government (taxpayer money)

      Most jobs in finance are bank jobs. The hedge fund industry is tiny (at most 10k front office jobs in total) and VCs are really really tiny. Ofc, most people from banks now want to move towards HFs, VCs or PEs, but it’s very hard right now, because there are very few openings and lots of candidates. All my friends in finance (and I really mean all) that are at banks want to move to HFs, PEs or VCs…

      TC

      May 25, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      • HF’s aren’t explicitly backed by gov, but as LTCM/Asian-Russian late 90’s Crisis showed, they are implicitly backed by us nevertheless.

        If Bridgewater was on the verge of blowing up, it would be covered by us.

        uatu

        May 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    • I wonder if immigration and globalization will begin to cut into Wall Street jobs.

      Yes there will eventually be pressure on Wall Street Jobs just as there has been in BIGLAW, medicine, and other UPMC careers. The past ten years have witnessed the first time white collar Americans have really begun to feel pressure from the combined forces of mass Asian immigration, outsourcing to Asia, and automation. There’s more more anti-immigration comments than ever coming from white collar Americans in establishment comments sections like the WSJ and NYTimes.

      With these pressures, even the children of the upper class doubt whether they will equal their parents because of the death of self actualization careers like elite journalist, or tenured academic.

      In the past (60s-90s), the UPMC and upper classes never cared about the immigration-automation-outsourcing triangle of doom because the negative effects were limited to blue collar, and middle-middle class Americans. Now that the UPMC and uppers are getting squeezed out of careers and elite schools, there seems to be a lot of rethinking going on. Immigration in particular is being rethought by outer party elites like Douthat and Frum.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      May 25, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      • Thank you both. Very interesting.

        Sid

        May 26, 2013 at 1:18 AM

      • That’s actually a good thing that they’re starting to feel the pressure. They hate proles so they’d just laugh and say, “day terk er jerbs” while proles are getting screwed. Now that some of them are getting screwed there might be some back pressure. Like LotB says, change starts at the top not the bottom.

        destructure

        May 26, 2013 at 2:26 AM

      • That’s actually a good thing that they’re starting to feel the pressure.

        This is definitely a new phenomena. For the first time since Industrial Revolution all the UPMC career tracks have come under severe wage pressure. Go through a list all the upper-middle occupations and all of them are facing pressure from some combo of immigration-automation-outsourcing:

        Medicine
        IT
        Finance
        Engineering

        Even the upper class might be feeling the squeeze just a bit. Self-actualization jobs the TOOS enjoy such as elite journalist and liberal arts academic are becoming less attractive because the internet has cut the legs out of the news industries business model and because of the flood of cheap foreign TAs.

        They hate proles so they’d just laugh and say, “day terk er jerbs” while proles are getting screwed.

        Obviously nobody important cared about immigration-outsourcing-automation in the 1960s to the early 1990s. But now that the best white collar fields are under attack…

        Now that some of them are getting screwed there might be some back pressure. Like LotB says, change starts at the top not the bottom.

        The upper class is much more likely to listen to the complaints of the upper-middle simply because they spend more time socializing, having sex with, and working with UPMC strivers than the middle class. The uppers also have UPMC relatives who are on the cusp of being upper so they are more tuned to anything that may block their relatives from breaking out into the elite.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    • My uncle tried to retire from engineering when he was 60, but the companies keep calling him for contract jobs. He has mega skill though. Probably takes five guys to maybe do the work that he can do just three days a week.

      not too late

      May 26, 2013 at 3:02 PM

  3. 1. what type of engineering are we talking about? People graduating with an engineering degree 40 years ago were in different fields that today’s engineering fields. CS is rather new. Maybe civil engineering? Mechanical engineering? Chemical engineering?

    2. In CS, engineering is a stepping stone. You can’t do the same thing for 40 years. (things change to fast) You have multiple options:
    a. become a super engineer that invents the next thing (then possible start your own company)
    b. become a super engineer that’s irreplaceable. This is actually much harder to pull off than people think, since you’ll need deep industry knowledge, and if you have that generally you can break off on your own
    c. use your knowledge about engineering and couple it with some business knowledge and knowledge about a particular field (possibly need partners here) and start your own company
    d. become a manager (this is the most common option)
    e. go to the investment side. This is very hard to pull off, especially towards VC, which requires serious connections, and lots of other such as market knowledge, due diligence knowledge, good with people, business knowledge, deal flow knowledge, etc.

    VC requires the most skills and without connections it’s extremely hard to make it. The fact that they mentioned VC, means that we’re not dealing with averages. Only a tiny tiny minority of the best colleges, best work experience and strong connections can make that leap

    TC

    May 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

  4. Well, I’m a software engineer still employed at 64. I graduated from a top state school, not one of those elite private schools. I have lots of friends my age that were unemployed in 2009. Some of them had been working at start up companies that folded in 2009. One very good engineer had been working at a big company that had to drastically downsize because of bad management decisions. He had just recently transferred to a new group, so he was the most expendable since he was just learning the new code.

    If you lose your job at 60+, it is very hard to find another job. This is true in almost any field, not just engineering. At 60 what school you graduated from is irrelevant. What you have accomplished is more important. You need to plan your career so that when you reach 60 you are working at a stable company and in a position where you are not easily replaced because of your knowledge and experience. That is hard to do. To large extent I was just lucky to be in such a position.

    mikeca

    May 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    • >>If you lose your job at 60+, it is very hard to find another job.

      If you lose your job at 40+ (maybe even 35+) it’s hard to find another job.

      Get a government job, we are going socialism anyway. Lifetime tenure. Platinum plated health and pension benefits. What more could you ask for?

      Daniel

      May 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      • Get a government job, we are going socialism anyway.

        Have you ever been in a government IT department? Let’s just say that white people are scarce and getting scarcer by the day. Only exception is the military.

        peterike

        May 26, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      • How easy is it to get a government job at 60?

        John

        May 26, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    • At 62, college dropout, I’m constantly being recruited (10+ contacts a week). You just have to be in a good market and keep you skills up. I do java,spring, JavaScript (jquery, node.js), groovy/grails and more and earn well over $110k in a perm position and $75hr on contract. I am also convinced you need to change job every 2-3 years to keep your skills up to date and not become stale at any given company.

      mortsahlSteve

      May 27, 2013 at 5:59 PM

  5. The idea that you go to school, study something and then do that for the rest of your life is obsolete for more and more good professions. The reason is simple: you choose these professions because the rate of return was high, but it was high for a reason, that that was that they were developing fast and there’s not enough workforce for the work. You think a 19th century doctor will have a job today?

    This applies to engineering too. Work experience matters and at different points you have different options. If you choose not to take any of those options and do the same thing, sooner or later will find out that you became obsolete (even if originally you had lots of opportunities) The field changes and expands very fast. The faster it changes, the more opportunities, but the harder it is to keep up.

    TC

    May 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    • “You think a 19th century doctor will have a job today?”

      No, because he’d be dead. But there are doctors in their 80s still working as doctors. They may quit doing surgery, but people still want to see them for their other medical expertise.

      • DeBakey did surgery in his 90s.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 25, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      • The medical fiend is also changing more and more rapidly. A friend had a child with a condition and the doctors couldn’t help him. He researched and found the best in the field, which was able to heal the child. That doctor remained in touch with what was happening in the field, and this is why he was able. So yes, if you need to see a doctor for some basic knowledge you can see a general practitioner (which are much cheaper) the same way as you can call the geek squad to install your cable or something.

        The only reason the general practitioners are making what they are making is the high barriers of entry put up by hospitals, doctors associations, etc, at the detriment of the consumer/taxpayer. Hopefully this will change, the same way it changed with lawyers

        TC

        May 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      • Older doctors who are in large groups or who work for hospitals can be pushed out. And if they are in specialties that don’t involve direct patient care, it’s not possible for them to start seeing patients as a second career. One of my older relatives may be facing that situation with his group because they younger people want to preserve income. I expect this to become more common as health care reform kicks in and reimbursements decline.

        Surgeons are a mix. A lot of them go into surgical specialties because they hate bread-and-butter office visit medicine. The surgeons like that won’t continue to practice after they can’t operate unless they are desperate for income. The moral of that story is not to marry a greedy trophy wife and to live within one’s means.

        nebbish

        May 25, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      • I’ve encountered many older doctors still chugging along. Many have prestige positions in their departments. For the younger crowd, there is a lot of competition from foreign born medical students and residents.

        islandmommy

        May 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      • Speaking of medical doctors, what social class would you assign to this guy:
        http://thebillfold.com/2013/05/i-made-570k-last-year-but-i-dont-feel-rich-in-fact-i-feel-worried/

        Upper middle class but with a status-conscious, middle-class striver inferiority complex? Or is this typical for UPMC?

        anon

        May 26, 2013 at 1:39 AM

      • Just a bobo, definitely not toos or upper class. Higher classes would talk about money like that.

      • Class is defined by more than money, and earning a high income can’t confer upper class status. In my experience there are very few upper class physicians. The ones I know of were born to their status and have inherited money. For whatever reason, they’ve chosen to spend their time practicing medicine even though they don’t have to work.

        The guy in the website interview earns more than most docs, so I would guess that he is in a procedural field or radiology. Your average neurologist or endocrinologist (not reproductive endo) earns far less.

        nebbish

        May 26, 2013 at 12:46 PM

  6. I will only buy this argument (maybe) against 60 year old doctors and lawyers.

    But I don’t know how familiar LotB is with old lawyers who get pushed out of law firms, and go into “private practice.” Happens all the time. Seems pretty crappy.

    I have doctors who are pushing 65 and seem fully engaged so maybe they are the lucky ones because they are all mini-entrepreneurs.

    But is this guy implying that VCs and entrepreneurs don’t experience failure, or don’t have to contend with the fear of failure? Like employment, everything can be tentative.

    lion of the lionosphere

    May 25, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    • “mini-entrepreneurs” working for a company are much more valuable because they don’t need baby-sitting — no management needed. Also, since they are closer to the problem (they are working on), they know how to follow up and what problems to tackle next (low and mid level management is generally bad at this)

      unfortunately to be a “mini-entrepreneur” it takes a lot of dedication and they need to love their jobs. most people hate their jobs, so they have no chance of being a “mini-entrepreneur”

      TC

      May 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      • Proles hate their jobs. Bobos and top-out-of-sights get self-actualizaton from their jobs.

      • Yes.

        I admire entrepreneurs but at the same time I can excuse myself as lacking the experience, capital, and passion to be one. The successful business founder is at the top of the social scale but it takes a lot more than IQ to get there.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 25, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      • Not necessarily. What about Joe Plumber and his plumbing company? Is that not self-actualization?

        Plenty of bobos in Manhattan hate their jobs in Finance and BIGLAW, they’re just doing for the paycheck, and expect to downgrade when they have enough money.

        Just Speculating

        May 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      • LOTB said: “Bobos and top-out-of-sights get self-actualization from their jobs.”

        Bobo women might get self-actualization from a job, but I don’t know any guys who do.

        Most guys are unable to afford the bobo lifestyle without selling out (at least a bit). Women can always fall back on marriage (if they’re attractive), and thus are able to spend 100% of whatever they’re taking home. They’re also far more likely to get parental assistance.

        Renault

        May 27, 2013 at 6:42 AM

  7. Maybe.

    It probably depends on the specific area and the individual.

    My guess is civil engineers age the best.

    Generally the factor in IQ tests engineers rely on most declines after 35 or so whereas the verbal factor much later.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    May 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM

  8. At my recent 40th Stanford reunion, everyone I knew who had stuck with engineering

    Don’t most engineers move on up to management positions or different careers altogether?

    Do your future self a favor, find another occupation.

    What other careers are there that don’t have this problem?

    The Undiscovered Jew

    May 25, 2013 at 4:11 PM

  9. This will be true of every field by the time the majority readership of this blog is in their 50s.

    Combined with the retirement age being raised to the 70s

    And of course medicare being slashed too.

    The future is not a good time to be old.

    Anonymous

    May 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM

  10. I think it sucks to be ANYTHING as you get older– that is if you are working for someone else. I was in my mid 40s when it was clear that anyone in any senior role was more worried about 1.) getting the next job or 2.) keeping their current job (with more focus on #2). This was leading to less innovation and was driving out younger talent. My old boss is now effectively investing his own next egg to keep the semblance of the company alive– even when the market has already voted. He’s trapped– lashed to a dying model– because he’s unemployable and has no skills other than being a corporate cog.

    I quit and started my own small biz in a new field I had researched for years in advance. Like any small biz, we have ups & downs– but I sleep at night and I no longer wonder “what did he mean by that?” or “what does that mean for me?”.

    Ex-pat in Oz

    May 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    • And you’re an ex-pat in Oz?

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 25, 2013 at 9:15 PM

  11. That comment doesn’t quite pass the smell test. Forty years after college graduation most of the people would have been 61 or 62 years old. Some would be a few years older as a result of military service, having been of draft age during the Vietnam War. Given all this, I would expect that a significant percentage of the alumni would be retired, no longer in the labor market at all.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    May 25, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    • Retired at 62? Do you think these people live in France?

      Seriously though, as LotB has pointed out, these days you need to work to have social status. Only rich proles retire at 55. My father is an Ivy Leaguer of about that generation – none of his peers have retired willingly. Some simply died, others were forced out of their law firms or architecture firms or I-banks by younger ambitious partners, but most are still working. No upper class professional these days turns 65 and says “screw it, I’m going to play golf!” People may retire to “pursue their passions”, but generally they still tell the world they have some new career.

      Peter the Shark

      May 27, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      • The thing is, at that time do you have to work, or do you opt to work?

        Glengarry

        June 2, 2013 at 7:23 AM

  12. Right out of undergrad, I worked as a “software engineer” for a few years for a large defense contractor before I went and got my MBA. I can’t imagine doing engineering or programming as a career at age sixty. I can’t imagine working a full-time job or needing to do so at age sixty.

    E. Rekshun

    May 25, 2013 at 7:32 PM

  13. Why isn’t there a glut of good software engineers?
    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2013/05/01/why-isnt-there-a-glut-of-good-software-engineers/#comments

    “As Google hires all of the world’s good software engineers and my friends with startup companies fight over the scraps I am left to wonder how everyone could have been so wrong in predicting that the world would be glutted with good programmers and sysadmins by now…”

    E. Rekshun

    May 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    • All of the smartest Americans are going into more lucrative fields like finance, medicine, and law. As much as you think the creme-of-the-crop engineers are getting paid, they aren’t making as much as investment bankers, and even the best computer programmers don’t make as much money as an average surgeon.

      The market is flooded with mediocre Indians willing to work cheap, and that’s what every IT department wants, cheap labor.

      • Exactly. Upper middle class do not encourage their offspring to pursue Engineering or IT. Heck, Engineers discourage their kids from Engineering.

        E. Rekshun

        May 25, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      • Engineering would be a great field, with lasting, decent prosperity for upper middle class types, if it weren’t for the fact that Corpratists have convinced the US that an infinite flood of H1B visas (or equivalent) are needed because we have a “tech shortage” or something.

        An entire profession destroyed by a lie.

        Some Guy

        May 25, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      • I work tech and my starting salary out of undergrad was 150k. At this point traders are essentially engineers and people move between proprietary trading and the top silicon valley tech firms all the time.

        Alex

        May 26, 2013 at 3:16 AM

      • I predict engineers are going to rise in status in the next decade at the expense of these IB types. It would only take another banking crisis (very likely looking at how eurozone and china is doing) and you can say good-bye to big money and high status on wall street.

        On the other hand, tech and automation will make engineers (even the foreign ones) some of the most valued and pretty much the only people with good jobs in the future economy. Upper class MBA and business ‘alphas’ with minimal technical chops will be practically begging good engineers to join their companies and subsequently waved off like random salesmen at the mall.

        nycisdirty

        May 26, 2013 at 3:24 AM

      • People get paid based on how much they demand and not how much value they create. A mass flood of foreign engineeers means they will get paid little, no matter how much value they create.

      • @lion

        Demand for engineers is just going to increase given how reliant we are on technology. Hell even the financial sector these days is very very dependant on engineering talent. Being a senior level engineer 10 years from now is going to be a very sweet position both compensation and status-wise.

        Engineering is very unlike law or banking in that it actually creates value. Creating new value leads to even more value being created (ex. engineers who create electric car batteries create new jobs for engineers designing electrical charging stations and electricity generation). More immigration of engineers means more innovation and more jobs for other engineers.

        I’d argue that the demand for other professions will keep sliding. Just look at lawyers today; lots of jobs killed by automation and now there is a glut and plummeting status because of that. The next area is banking; people will have pitch-forks out wanting the heads of these bankers when the next financial crisis hits in a few years.

        nycisdirty

        May 26, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    • His website has some interesting posts about the deskilling of software engineering. Basically, the first customers were insurance companies and airliners that needed rock solid systems, or they would go out of business. That software is still being used today. But the customers were annoyed that the hired help was getting paid more than the managers, so increasingly, when the software is not critically important, the customers prefer to throw lots of cheap labor at the problem and choose quantity over quality.

      bjk

      May 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    • @Alex

      For what company? None of the tech big boys (Google, Amazon, Palantir, Oracle, eBay, whoever) pay brand new devs $150k per year.

      Renault

      May 27, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    • I don’t understand why it is so difficult for science and engineering types to understand basic supply and demand. The danger of the “craft mentality” really gets in the way of understanding marginal analysis. Marginal analysis is simply asking what is the value of adding an additional engineer to the pool of engineers?

      The mor you supply something with a given level of demand, the more the price (wage) will drop. This is because someone is going to take an offer given at a lower rate. That lower rate will become the market-clearing price.

      map

      May 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

  14. A person in their ’60’s is unemployed? Shouldn’t that read ‘retired’. Sell your house (that should be paid off) and go fishing or play golf.

    Boxthorn

    May 25, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    • And where are you going to live after you sell your house?
      I’m 58 and work as a lecturer in a university. My job is protected by tenure and a union. When I retire I will be replaced by part time non-tenured people who are paid very poorly. I worry a lot about my 4 grown kids

      melykin

      May 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      • One of those 55+ retirement communities in FL. My parents live in one and every time I call it sounds like a frat party’s going on in the background.

        islandmommy

        May 26, 2013 at 7:55 AM

      • Those retirement communities don’t appeal to me at all. They have too many rules. I like to have my own house and yard.

        Melykin

        May 27, 2013 at 2:24 AM

  15. I don’t expect to be working when I’m 60. My savings rate reflects that reality. I suspect most engineers are similar to me, we tend to be very future time oriented.

    My father-in-law was an engineer, and he retired at 55. He was an executive by then, but still.

    A buddy of mine at work is retiring, and he is about 60. There are very few engineers that make it that long at my company (big oil), most are ready to go by their late 50’s.

    Many come back and work as contractors after they retire, but that is a whole different situation. The stress level is a lot lower for a contractor who has a independent stream of income.

    The Engineer

    May 25, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    • Yep. My father never earned more than $50K, yet after thirty years as a “design engineer” at four large defense contractors, my father fully & happily retired in the mid ’90s at age 55.

      E. Rekshun

      May 26, 2013 at 6:09 AM

  16. I have a neighbor who had no trouble at all finding work as an electrical engineer well into his 70’s, mainly because he was in an essential but low glamor specialty with a lot of overseas customers who want Americans doing the work. Nobody cares who designs semiconductors, but when it’s high dollar projects that have to work right the first time, people still want Americans. As another commenter noted, when you’re old, what you know is what matters, not where you went to school.

    J1

    May 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM

  17. I’m a 32 year old programmer who dropped out of college. I’m good at what I do. I’m not very good socially: I might be an aspie. At the least, I have aspie like tendencies.

    I’m blessed(?) with a baby face. Many people from other departments have confessed that they thought I was an intern in his early 20s.

    What should I do? Move into accounting? I don’t really see many options. I played pro poker for 2 years but my meager skills earned me a meager “salary” – and I didn’t even get health insurance.

    anonface

    May 26, 2013 at 12:24 AM

  18. This blog is full of idiots.

    1. Econometric data shows that immigration has very little effect on wages. Why? Because immigrants both produce and consume more. Why do you think white babies haven’t reduced US wages and employment by 90% since 1850? If the US imports lots of high IQ people on H1B visas specifically the GDP per capita will go UP not DOWN because the quality of the workforce will increase. Did anyone actually read those thousands of posts on HBD?

    2. You guys don’t really care about income, what you really care about is your relative social status. This is why you are afraid of high IQ immigration: they will push you a bit further down the ladder in relative terms not absolute terms.

    3. You care about this because you didn’t have the social skills to make it in a business-related field. Being an “investment banker” isn’t a straight choice from being an engineer whereby you just get a decent SAT score and an “investment banker” degree and you have a high paid job for life; if you think that you know nothing about the industry. Being an investment banker is much harder than being an engineer and much more precarious, requiring skills that you do not have. This is an internal failing of your own not an external failing of the world you live in.

    4. You also don’t have the social skills to find something other than your career to give your life meaning, like a girlfriend or children. So you are clinging to the “high status” of jobs that anyone can get just by having an above average IQ and passing exams.

    This is why the author seems to think that girls with fake jobs like “fashion commentator” who “summer” in Nantucket and may be a wholly mythical stereotype derived from television are the top elite of our society. And they don’t need much money, apparently. You might just as well argue that the top elite of society is some fat slob who inherited $1m from his rich grandmother and sits at home playing starcraft all day. He is the equivalent of the “fashion commentator” only with the social skills closer to the median of readers of this blog.

    What you really mean is that cool people with good social skills are the social “elite” which by definition they are. This has very little to do with money, intelligence, technical skills, or anything else you actually talk about.

    dha

    May 26, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    • This is a nerdy blog, with lots of bitter losers. Nerdy occupations are hit hardest by high IQ immigration.

      AsianDude

      May 26, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      • Exactly. But most nerds are too stupid to fight for their own interests by opposing immigration. So the nerds who read this blog are smarter than the average nerd.

      • I’m not an immigration critic myself, but I’d concede that one of the most powerful arguments against mass immigration is that it distorts the labor market against the occupations that require less social skills or fluent English ability.

        1 million immigrants are qualitatively different from 1 million additional American babies. Immigrants tend to flock to certain occupations, lowering wages in those fields, and enriching those who hire them (directly or indirectly). It is more efficient to pay an immigrant 50% as much to do a job 80~90% as well.

        AsianDude

        May 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      • asiandude: “i’m not an immigration critic myself”

        Yeah, we knew

        Anonymous

        May 26, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      • There is still this absurd narrative of social skills vs IQ, nerds vs jocks.

        There are boring shy people with high IQs, but not that high.

        So called “social skills” will be developed in abundance by high IQ people IF they have the opportunity.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 26, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      • Oh I’d like to correct that I am not a critic of immigration per se, but I am a critic of various quotas and H1b programs that seek to import a specific group of workers while shutting out others.

        AsianDude

        May 27, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    • Not everyone in finance is an investment banker. Any finance position is higher in status than any engineer.

      Social status is determine by race, income and looks. A highly paid Asian or Indian engineer will not have the same social status as a White guy who has a white collar job or even a good looking Black guy who is a barista at Starbucks. As long as the liberals are in power, America is one big Hollywood.

      Just Speculating

      May 26, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      • Status is perceived differently by different people. All you can say is how you perceive it and how others that you associate with seem to perceive it.

        John

        May 26, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      • If you work in back office in “finance” you will be treated much worse than an engineer at an engineering firm for around the same money (but much higher cost of living). Middle office is about comparable to engineering in location-adjusted pay and absolute (but not relative to your colleagues) prestige.

        The fact is you could start a second Boeing with all the unemployed “investment bankers” hanging around NYC – except their superspecialised “skills” have been literally regulated out of existence. Have fun if that happens to you at 55! Although that implies you’re already means you’re extremely lucky having survived the >3 years that eliminates most front office employees.

        dha

        May 27, 2013 at 1:38 AM

      • Status for many young men is basically being able to connect with attractive women. We have been reinforced by the idea that a man needs to make a lot of money and be at a top position to be able to have that privilege. But the social dynamics are not as apparent as that. Most high earning Asian and Indian men wouldn’t be able to land a date even at gunpoint, in a multiracial setting such as NYC. They could have all the money in the world, a posh apartment and a fancy car and struggle heavily with women. Meanwhile, good looking Black or Hispanic guys working at Starbucks seems to be have a lot more success attracting young nubile 20 year olds.

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      • Indians stick to themselves; Indian men date Indian women, and the family back home in India will arrange a marriage for them.

      • Just Speculating said: “Not everyone in finance is an investment banker. Any finance position is higher in status than any engineer.

        That’s not really true. When people say “investment banker” on this board, I think it’s safe to say that we’re talking about all front-office finance jobs (IBD, S&T, some PWM, some client relations, management, front-office buyside jobs, etc.). Back-office stuff is pretty low status, even when compared to regular engineering jobs.

        Ceteris paribus, a socially capable white guy who works a fancy job at Google’s Chelsea office is far higher status than a socially capable white guy who works in ops or compliance at Goldman.

        Renault

        May 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      • Just Speculating said: Status for many young men is basically being able to connect with attractive women. We have been reinforced by the idea that a man needs to make a lot of money and be at a top position to be able to have that privilege. But the social dynamics are not as apparent as that. Most high earning Asian and Indian men wouldn’t be able to land a date even at gunpoint, in a multiracial setting such as NYC. They could have all the money in the world, a posh apartment and a fancy car and struggle heavily with women. Meanwhile, good looking Black or Hispanic guys working at Starbucks seems to be have a lot more success attracting young nubile 20 year olds.

        I agree with much of this.

        Where the money really comes into play, however, is within race/class/whatever. A 30-year-old white banker will have far more dating options than a 30-year-old white barista.

        Renault

        May 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      • “Ceteris paribus, a socially capable white guy who works a fancy job at Google’s Chelsea office is far higher status than a socially capable white guy who works in ops or compliance at Goldman”.

        True, I have met White guys who work for small private hedge funds and earn more than 500K, and White guys who are Google Directors of some sort at the Chelsea office who earn significantly less. The Google guys are at a higher status than someone who works for a hedge fund that no one really knows about.

        But again, status is about attracting hot women and nothing else. You can have all the money in the world with a fancy job at a prestigious company, and still be a lonely bachelor, if you are rather average or below average in looks.

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      • “Where the money really comes into play, however, is within race/class/whatever. A 30-year-old white banker will have far more dating options than a 30-year-old white barista”.

        Not necessarily, I knew a White model who worked for Abercrombie & Fitch and was also a barista at a Starbucks. He was more desirable to women than the average White Banker on Wall St. That is if you want to compare the type of women he dates vs the banker, usually younger and hotter women who go for looks.

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      • I think this video says it all about guys who are unattractive, regardless of income and other measures of status.

        Asian and Indian Men are generally less attractive and less popular to women than Black and Hispanic men. Looks have a lot to do with it.

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      • Any finance position is higher in status than any engineer? Really? Mortgage loan officers get more respect “on the streets” than a lowly engineer who designs industrial light fixtures?

        Cody

        May 27, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    • on 1, I could add that nowadays immigration has little effect on wages because multinational companies can hire everywhere. somebody can be working from St Petersburg and Silicon Valley, as the big companies Google, FB, Yahoo, Apple, MS can easily open offices everywhere. More immigration will improve the companies because if you put everybody in the same location you increase productivity (change of ideas happens faster)

      on 2, yes, quite clearly immigrants with high IQ will dilute the status of the current elite. When I moved from a tech company to a top hedge fund, money was the first consideration, and status was the second. I can see it clearly. When I go out, girls are considerably easier to pick up at all levels, and the model types that were outside of my reach before now are quite reachable… it could be a NY thing

      TC

      May 26, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      • on 2, it’s not always about intelligence and money. Obviously for many men, status is about their success with desirable women. Most Asian and Indian men in NYC are high earners, but can’t even compete with the popularity of a handsome Arabic guy working at a Falafel joint, when it comes to female attention. This is a real observation, as I know this dude who gets plenty of accolades and phone numbers from fairly attractive ladies who patronize his business frequently.

        Just Speculating

        May 26, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      • Women actually prefer handsome guys over high earners. As I was saying how a Middle Eastern stud at a Falafel joint attracts more women than an Indian or Asian STEM guy or a Beta looking White guy in a suit working for Wall St.

        http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/women-prefer-attractive-men-to-high-status-men/

        Just Speculating

        May 26, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      • Rule 1 of civilization: all hetero women are whores but only a few of them know it.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 27, 2013 at 2:02 AM

      • Rule 1 of civilization: all hetero women are whores but only a few of them know it. — Nicolai

        Like I said earlier, you’re vulgar… and apparently bitter. Your comment was still generally true though not completely. I would suggest that if you don’t know any decent women that you’re associating with the wrong kind of people.

        Remember, Spengler’s “Universal Law of Gender Parity” states that in every corner of the world and in every epoch of history, the men and women of every culture deserve each other. To which I would add destructure’s corollary — to find the kind of partner you want be the kind of partner they want.

        destructure

        May 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      • Well yes destructure I am vulgar. This world is vulgar and fallen, and there is one worldy virtue I lack, the ability to lie to myself.

        How can one love a whore? I can’t.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 27, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      • How can one love a whore? I can’t.

        A timeless literary theme NY has expressed in a way worth of the Bard.

        Gawd.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 27, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      • A rose by any other name UJ.

        Wait there is also that small group of straight women who dig black guys. I have no idea what that’s about, unless they’re black women of course.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 28, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    • No, what we care about is that the clear trend is that a smaller and smaller portion of the population is gathering a larger share of income and wealth, and that the people in this elite (financial elite, not “social elite” whatever that is) get there by social skills and not productive skills. Technical and productive skills create wealth. Social skills mostly just redistribute it from people who are not good at influencing others to people who are.

      Making it in politics and/or business (are they even separate anymore?) is not harder than being a chemical engineer. It does require a different set of skills. The problem is that the chemical engineer is probably making a real contribution to society, and the politician in a net drag. The problem is that most people would rather be led by a persuasive type who tells people what to do rather than the person who wants people to just mind their own business. This is a failing of the world and we are right to resent it.

      Social skills alone are not enough to make it into the elite. There are plenty of poor people with good social skills, but they don’t have the needed initiative, intelligence, and luck to make it into the elite.

      By the way, I have kids, so blow me.

      John

      May 26, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    • Hey dummy, have you ever worked in a major tech company flooded with H1B’s? They are not “high IQ” at all. The vast majority of them are docile mediocrities, content to punch keyboards for long hours without complaint. They don’t have a shred of imagination or initiative or inventiveness. They are grunts, churning out code.

      A few in the mix will be smarter than average and rise. For the Chinese, the problem is language. I’ve seen engineers who’ve been in America 15 years and they still can’t be understood. And since climbing the corporate pole is about ass-kissing, deceit, manipulation and back-stabbing, the Chinese aren’t good at it. They don’t have the verbal chops to behave like lawyers.

      Indians, on the other hand, often do. And Indians have a corresponding wealth of unctuous ass-kissing ability combined with extraordinary levels of deceit and duplicity, and an utter lack of anything resembling honor or decency. As a result some are very, very good at schooling the multi-culti loving SWPLs that run the VCs (“what a business plan! we’ll hire 100 Indians and develop cheap!”), and you see Indian CEOs of startups everywhere. Most of the time they burn through a few hundred million in funding and then shut the doors, heading home with a bucket of money. A few make it big. None are especially concerned about hiring Americans other than in sales jobs.

      peterike

      May 26, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      • Have you ever worked anywhere else? Most people are too dumb to be mediocre programmers.

        dha

        May 27, 2013 at 1:49 AM

      • “And since climbing the corporate pole is about ass-kissing, deceit, manipulation and back-stabbing, the Chinese aren’t good at it.”

        Well, they are in China. Chinese in China, speaking Chinese, have fantastic verbal chops. Maybe the 2nd generation of Asian immigrants has been held back by immigrant parents with poor English, and because they tended to get pushed into STEM track. But the 3rd generation of Chinese Americans will do just fine in climbing the corporate ladder in the US.

        Peter the Shark

        May 27, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      • Hey dummy, have you ever worked in a major tech company flooded with H1B’s?

        It’s not only the workforce, the problem with too many Asian immigrants is that whites can’t live in neighborhoods where there are too many of them and whites are rapidly running out of places to live with non-white immigration. White immigrants don’t have thesame negative effect on native whites because there’s little native white flight when a neighborhood suddenly becomes predominantly white immigrant.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      • “But the 3rd generation of Chinese Americans will do just fine in climbing the corporate ladder in the US”.

        Have you heard of the Bamboo Ceiling? Many acculturated Asians complain about not rising to the corporate ranks.

        Again, Asians are psychologically different from Whites, and their differences is what keeps them behind the scenes. Behavorially, Asians have a lower verbal ability, where they are less extroverted, less curious minded and less creative. You could say that how Mongoloids were evolved, due the colder climates in Northern Asia where survival was the most important. Does it surprise you that in Confucius traditions, conformity and not speaking one’s mind are virtues?

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    • @ dha

      You’re an idiot who needs to stop parroting the Wall Street Journal. We already know how this movie ends just look at the third world. Overpopulation is a primary reason people immigrate elsewhere because there simply aren’t enough jobs where they live and the worthwhile ones go to children of the elite. If high IQ alone was so important most of Asia wouldn’t be dependent on the west for export markets, foreign direct investment, education, etc.

      Conquistador

      May 26, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      • No sorry you are totally wrong here, not me. The third world was even poorer before it became “overpopulated” by native births (remind me how US’s population increased from ~10m at the time of the Revolution is we ignore immigration?). Institutions matter I agree and importing vast numbers of leftists is long term bad. Importing wealthy programmers and so forth does not produce an inevitable left-bloc vote however.

        dha

        May 27, 2013 at 1:42 AM

      • Exactly, I just get a laugh when Asian supremacists say Asians are more evolved than Whites, and have higher IQs. High IQ doesn’t mean anything when you look at their 3rd world Chinatowns with the exception of Japan.

        Just Speculating

        May 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      • Exactly, I just get a laugh when Asian supremacists say Asians are more evolved than Whites, and have higher IQs.

        Though more tolerable in small numbers than NAMs, Asian immigration lowers white quality of life because too many Asians forces white flight out of once good neighborhoods and schools and causes whites to get into a bidding war over the fewer remaining white areas to live in.

        Why are whites supposed to lower their standard of living for Asians when we can just import high-IQ Europeans on a temporary and/permanent basis to do the work of Asia? Why should whites be happy the Asian swathes of California are prosperous if whites can’t live in those spots anymore?

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      • I think you’ve posted enough anti-Asian comments. Writing the same thing over and over gain creates the appearance of being mean-spirited.

      • “Why are whites supposed to lower their standard of living for Asians when we can just import high-IQ Europeans on a temporary and/permanent basis to do the work of Asia? Why should whites be happy the Asian swathes of California are prosperous if whites can’t live in those spots anymore?”

        Asians are like parasitic locusts (different from Blacks and Hispanics who suck on welfare), because they don’t create thriving neighborhoods on par with those of Whites. Asians aren’t happy with their 3rd world Chinatowns and feel a need to invade a prestigious White neighborhood, which causes White flight.

        Asians are usually not trendsetters and value creators for society, they are best suited as workers, which of course takes away jobs from qualified Whites. Even Proles are more adept in creating thriving businesses for themselves than highly educated Asians. Now the argument Asians would make, is that White racism prevents them from ascending to absolute status, which of course is not true as we can see how Jerry Yang of Yahoo was able to become a billionaire, yet he stagnated, because Asians are known to lack creativity and dynamism, strong qualities of Whites, as we can see with the Google twins.

        And where are the Asian tech/engineering geniuses after Wang Laboratories? They aren’t any.

        Just Speculating

        May 28, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    • What “dha” misses, sadly, is that what he calls “social skills” are very often, but not always, acquired by being born to the right parents and growing up in the right milieu.

      I’ve seen it 1000 times.

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 26, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    • 1) The econometric data is pretty bad actually, and it doesn’t take into account the myriad of effects outside of the metrics is measuring.

      2) Everyone is worried about social status, including you. And its clear the median incomes have been going down even on an absolute basis since 1970. We can expect the people effected by that to keep creeping up the ladder.

      3) I’ve worked in investment banking and a more technical career that would have many engineer types. IB is not that hard, and most IB people will tell you that. IBs are flooded with interchangeably talented applicants and only a minority will get jobs. Half of the people there got jobs solely because of family connections.

      4) This is definitely 100% true for Lion, but doesn’t really address the issue at hand. I met plenty of nerdy guys in IB too, they were called quants. The only difference between them and engineers is that they got on a career track that made a lot more money, which generally lead to a better life.

      asdf

      May 26, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      • 1.2. Median compensation in the US has been going up but most of it has been eaten by health insurance costs. I don’t live in the US so I don’t have this problem.

        3. IBD is not hard in itself I agree (at least at the lower level, at the higher level it is a sales job), but getting a job in IBD is much harder than getting a job as an engineer and keeping it is harder still.

        4. And which then catastrophically imploded and has possibly now been regulated out of existence. I don’t work in finance or live in a financial centre and I know as more long-term unemployed quants than any other profession. Of course you can make more in the short term and a few of these guys saved a lot of money and really a lot better off despite the fact they may never work again. But if your main focus is your family, an engineer job that lets you work 9-5 and that is much less volatile is not an obviously worse choice.

        dha

        May 27, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      • 1.2 We have the reality we have. The simple truth is that median income is down, we can’t will away various things about our society. GDP growth and compensation growth decoupled in the 70s, even if you consider healthcare.

        1.3 If the job is hard to get but not hard to do it makes sense that it is assigned via lottery & connections. Hence not merit.

        1.4 They got bailed out, and they still have jobs (the ones that even still need to work).

        asdf

        May 28, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    • Once again income = virtue.

      I have the virtue “social skills” to make bank without producing anything.

      plus les choses changent…

      f—ing retard.

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 26, 2013 at 8:47 PM

      • Pirate kings are lousy with “social skills”.

        “social skills” is largely, but not entirely, an ideological term. That is, it is a term used to explain success and failure independent of class which is “officially” denied. It is an especially absurd term in the US.

        There is a whole vocabulary of abstractions used to explain success and failure in the US which NEVER takes class into account. And the US is ALONE in the world in that those from humble backgrounds are always at pains to deny it. There can be no class consciousness in the US, because every American who isn’t rich hates himself for not being rich.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 26, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      • “social skills” as virtue is just another way of saying that a talent for exploitation should be rewarded. Should it?

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    • These “social skills” people are for the most part losers and criminals.

      I remember when I was 17 some SHORT guido psychologist told me Hitler had no social skills. I suppose Nixon was also deficient in social skills.

      VOMIT!

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 26, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      • Everything the “social skills” people do with their “skills” will eventually be a crime. Or at least that is what history predicts.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 26, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      • Your guido psychologist was exactly right. Hitler, a life-long anti-social loser and deadbeat until age 30, was very lucky to end up in 1920s German, a chaotic environment where traditional social skills had temporarily lost their value. The guy wasn’t even well liked by his fellow division mates in WWI. If there was ever a politican who met the classic Asperger’s definition it was A. Hitler. Nixon was no social charmer either. Just goes to show that extreme amounts of self-confidence and a willingess to single-mindedly focus on your goals can overcome a social skill deficit.

        Peter the Shark

        May 27, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      • I’ll disagree with Peter. Hitler was a great speechmaker and charming sociopath. He manipulated all the people who thought they would be manipulating him and, once he had power, acted ruthlessly to deal with potential opposition and people who knew too much. He was a nasty piece of work, but he had great social skills.

        SFG

        May 27, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    • “3. You care about this because you didn’t have the social skills to make it in a business-related field. Being an “investment banker” isn’t a straight choice from being an engineer whereby you just get a decent SAT score and an “investment banker” degree and you have a high paid job for life; if you think that you know nothing about the industry. Being an investment banker is much harder than being an engineer and much more precarious, requiring skills that you do not have. This is an internal failing of your own not an external failing of the world you live in. ”

      My opinion based on experience: Engineers (whether native or foreign) can be total dicks, which was one of the reasons I left the field.

      markus

      May 26, 2013 at 10:10 PM

  19. OT, Jonathan Turley has discovered the Cathedral:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/in-praise-of-slow-learners.php

    The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency. . .

    This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.

    The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    May 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    • That would certainly be the case with tax law, in which the “regs” are massive in comparison to the actual tax code itself.

      • That would certainly be the case with tax law, in which the “regs” are massive in comparison to the actual tax code itself.

        The extensive “regs” exist so bureaucrats can justify a bigger budget and giving their agencies more power. This is why the current technocrat Western left is nuttier than the Communist left: In the Communist systems the civil service bureaucrats did whatever the Communist dictator wanted. In the Western system, the “fourth branch”/Cathedral IS the government because they can’t be held accountable for their actions by the other three branches easily (Government workers are exceptionally hard to fire).

        What we need are laws that will allow governors and presidents to unilaterally fire government workers and veto their regs. As it stands now, the fourth branch/Cathedral is acting as a rogue shadow government that exists only to create more bureaucratic jobs.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 27, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    • This is just one more instance of a larger problem.

      When a small minority can produce everything which everyone needs, the remainder must necessarily be engaged in value destroying make work.

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 26, 2013 at 9:28 PM

  20. USF gets millions to train new STEM teachers, Tampa Tribune, 05/25/13
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/college/usf-gets-millions-to-train-new-stem-teachers/2123057

    “…The University of South Florida is focused on producing a new crop of STEM middle school teachers, thanks to the school’s largest ever gift from the Helios Education Foundation — $3.16 million…The National Science Foundation gives STEM a broader definition, including chemistry, computer science, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, materials research, math, physics and astronomy, psychology, social sciences and teaching STEM…Organizations from the National Science Foundation to NASA to the Boy Scouts of America have launched STEM programs. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have preached the merits of STEM. In the world of immigration reform, some politicians have advocated easing green card access to immigrants skilled in STEM.”

    Great new teachers get trained to teach STEM to future unemployed American STEM workers. STEM teaching might be the next hot career.

    Why is it that so many non-STEM individuals loudly and continually claim how great STEM careers are?

    E. Rekshun

    May 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    • In Canada there is a huge surplus of teachers at every level and in every subject, including STEM. Yet the universities keep cranking out more and the idiotic government keeps importing more.

      Melykin

      May 27, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    • I hope Obama lets more STEM immigrants in because that means fewer for Canada.

      Melykin

      May 27, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      • On further thought, I take this back. The Indians and Chinese should stay in their own country and fix it instead of invading our countries.

        Melykin

        May 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM

  21. OT. but knowing you’re a Deborah Harry fan, I thought I’d mention this excellent Blondie video ‘Hanging on the Telephone. I only discovered the song (originally by the Nerves) while watching the slightly off the wall indie movie ‘Electrick Children’ (which I would thoroughly recommend btw). I think Harry looks even better in this than she does in Heart of Glass.

    Kiwiguy

    May 26, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    • A favorite of mine since… well, 1979 or so! Nice to see the video.

      steve@steve.com

      May 27, 2013 at 8:23 PM

  22. Various comments to this post bring up a bigger issue.

    To what extent does a moral man pursue value creation vs income and wealth accumulation.

    By the very dim lights of fresh water economists there is no difference. But they are very dim.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    May 26, 2013 at 9:19 PM

  23. Doctors also face a threat from improved technology. The one thing that really differentiates an outstanding medical doctor from a mediocre one is the ability to diagnose difficult maladies. Over the next 50 years there will be a raft of medical tests that will make it much easier for lesser skilled doctors and technicians to do what only the top drawer doc can do now. It will be the equivalent of playing chess against the computer. You can be the best and the computer will still win every time.

    Prof. Woland

    May 27, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    • You are probably right, but making diagnoses is not the only thing that doctors involved in direct patient care do. Most patients are relatively uneducated and desire explanation and teaching. Treatment has to be monitored, and maintaining compliance with a regimen often requires cajoling. Patients requiring inpatient care have to be formally admitted to the hospital for any billing to take place. Like you, I expect medicine to be winnowed over the next few decades, but there may be a residual (crappy) job left over even if the interesting aspects of the career go away.

      nebbish

      May 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      • You are right also, but those jobs can all be “deskilled”. There is no need to pay someone a six figure salary to tell us how to eat and when to take our medicine.

        Prof. Woland

        May 27, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      • A lot of the big HMOs have already figured this out. The strategy now is to quickly find the high risk patients and devote a lot of follow up care. Even someone with cancer, might only see the doctor to review the progress of the treatment while all the real care is handled by nurses, etc. The treatment has been developed elsewhere and all of them, including the doctors, are just reading the cook book which anybody can do.

        Prof. Woland

        May 27, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      • There are enough gray areas in medicine that the cookbook isn’t always so straightforward. Cancer patients on chemotherapy often spend stints in the ICU with severe infections and multi-system organ failure. The ICU is a touch-and-go scenario that ought not be left entirely to nurses, at least not to make the final decisions. But this is a quibble. As I wrote before, I see your point and agree that medicine will be winnowed. The current crop of younger doctors out of training are probably the last cohort that will have any semblance of the careers their professional forbears had, and those careers will be comparatively disappointing from the perspective of earnings and prestige.

        nebbish

        May 27, 2013 at 6:01 PM

  24. I’d argue that the demand for other professions will keep sliding. Just look at lawyers today; lots of jobs killed by automation and now there is a glut and plummeting status because of that.

    Automation and other demand-related factors has been relatively minor reasons behind the decline of the legal profession. The exploding supply of law school graduates has caused most of the damage, with going to law school – no math, no science, no computers – being a natural progression for liberal arts graduates trying to ride out the recession.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    May 27, 2013 at 9:31 AM

  25. Lion is a bitter ex programmer. For any field there are tons of bitter workers. I’ve met many lawyers and business types who were bitter. I’ve been a full time career programmer for 18 years and it’s not perfect, there is a lot of dull maintenance work, but I am treated well and there is some actualization and fulfillment and growth involved.

    clay

    May 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM

  26. Congrats – same situation over here in europe, especially in Germany! (Yes, give a sh*t on all that government speech!)

    Lelala

    May 27, 2013 at 3:08 PM

  27. […] article at the top of Hacker News today is entitled “Sucks to be an old engineer“. The comments are fairly interesting and play out the common struggle of technology workers […]

  28. Norway lacks 10000 Engineers

    McUsr

    May 27, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    • Says who?

      The Engineer

      May 27, 2013 at 10:26 PM

  29. If you feel your CS skills are no longer required, yet feel that some 40 year old engineering qualification is good enough, then did you stop learning? Change is the normal state of things. Maybe you could usefully review the difference of the curricula then and now at the same colleges and for the same course (if it still exists) and wonder if you could make the grade using today’s criteria…?

    komone

    May 27, 2013 at 5:53 PM

  30. As I’m brought here by chance…

    1) Lovely blog title, it certainly catches the reader’s attention – whether by design (and lack of any modesty), or by coincidence (and not seeing it coming back at you…)
    2) I assume you’re from the magnificent-and-benevolent (ok, that _was_ harsh) U.S. of A.
    3) I also assume you’re older (…than me – that was vague)

    If we hold the above as true, then:
    – Degree doesn’t matter, either way (imho, that’s actually a good point)
    – Foreign workforce is cheaper(TM)
    – In the U.S. (of A), you make money, and simile (at the same time, _always_)
    – … I’ll only descent into critic from here…

    The only thing that comes to my mind at this point is that ‘world is cruel, make money or die’, and that perhaps, we all are missing the bigger picture…

    ..but if your life expectancy is around 80yr (lucky you!), how can you blame anyone?… Churn churn churn, who cares about your degree – there are people (maybe like me, but I’m from the other hemisphere and I still haven’t got over that) skilled enough to make the profit _right_now_ and no-one cares how as long as ‘your $1B business’ is _shiny_.

    Morality and money does not compute.

    At least for now.

    dRbiG

    May 27, 2013 at 6:30 PM

  31. This article and comments is totally depressing. As far as the “immigration doesn’t lower wages” argument.. there happens to be this thing called supply and demand. Tech CEOs take my job away if you must, but Jesus don’t insult my intelligence!

    In a decade and a half, Globalization changed from a dandy idea to a looming specter that promises to finish off what’s left of the middle class. I do think we need to be aware that anti-immigrant and other racial prejudice remains wrong and in the USA we need to watch out for that. Just keep your families’ fed the best way you can, and stay positive, and I’ll try to do the same..

    Mid-Aged Engineer

    May 29, 2013 at 1:04 AM

  32. “Any finance position is higher in status than any engineer? Really? Mortgage loan officers get more respect “on the streets” than a lowly engineer who designs industrial light fixtures?”

    Tell a girl in NYC that you are a mortgage loan officer for clients who buy pricey Manhattan apartments vs an engineer.

    Women care about engineers as much as they do with the guy who cleans toilets.

    Just Speculating

    May 29, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    • This is a bit exaggerated, but relatively true. There’s always a way for socially clued-in guys to up-sell their engineering jobs in order to impress women, though.

      Renault

      May 29, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      • There ya go. The “socially clued in” know how to “up-sell”. When did sociopathy become a virtue?

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 31, 2013 at 12:34 AM

  33. “Engineering would be a great field, with lasting, decent prosperity for upper middle class types, if it weren’t for the fact that Corpratists have convinced the US that an infinite flood of H1B visas (or equivalent) are needed because we have a “tech shortage” or something.

    “An entire profession destroyed by a lie”.

    The rich powers to be, of course do not want to see more competition and a surgence of the upper middle class who will challenge their status quo.

    By importing more Asian and Indian betas and paying them measly salaries will keep the things the way it is. Finance and BIGLAW are rapidly disappearing and so any chance for the White middle class to climb is null.

    Just Speculating

    May 29, 2013 at 9:58 AM

  34. “Wait there is also that small group of straight women who dig black guys. I have no idea what that’s about, unless they’re black women of course”.

    There are a lot more non-Asian women, including White women who dig Black guys than Asian and Indian men. A low tier college educated Black or non-White Hispanic guy, has more dating options than a stellar Ivy League educated Asian or Indian guy. Now what happens when you put one of these non-Asian minorities into Harvard. They get treated like rock stars by the ladies.

    Just Speculating

    May 29, 2013 at 1:18 PM


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