This just in: you make more money if you decide to be a doctor, engineer, or if recent information about the distribution of wealth on aboriginal reservations is true, Indian chief, than if you choose to complete a B.A. I am extremely thankful for this ground breaking discovery. It was also partly funded by me as it was commissioned by the banking industry (zero interest chequing accounting that must hold at least $2,000 at any time, I’m talking to you…) I don’t think this was a true longitudinal study (the gold standard for those of us who are in the research biz), but the grabber headline was that people who complete liberal arts degrees can look forward to earning 1.7% less than those who have only a high school diploma. Luckily, since I completed the type of degree(s) that allow me to perform a critical assessment of the results of the study, I am able to tell you the real story about the value of hitting the books that do not include equations of any kind (bank people: you know my account number – just deposit $500,000 plus HST for this analysis and insight and we are good).
The study did not mention that unfortunately not all of us are cut out for a career that involves science and math. My mathematical shortcomings are well known so no need to repeat that story. The chemistry part of my science education ended in Grade 10, after the incident with the hydrochloric acid when I was permanently banished from any active participation at the lab bench. In fact, I think I am doing the world a great public service by not mixing chemical compounds, interpreting ECGs or calculating the maximum load for bridges.
Imagine a world where everyone is an engineer, doctor or rocket scientist. This would be a disaster for the economy and civilized society. Here’s why:
• There would be no manufacturing plants because everyone would be too over qualified to work there. As a result, there would be lots of designing of things that will stay on the drawing board, but come to think of it this would be great as you wouldn’t need to be concerned about whether or not they would actually work.
• There would be no scarcity of healthcare and the competition between specialists would be so fierce it would pull fees down and drive people away from doctoring towards sociology or early childhood education to make more money.
• There would be no newspapers or magazines or books of fiction because there would no one capable of putting a decent sentence together. The internet would be full of typos, or at least more full of typos than it already is, if that is even possible. Recently, there was a typo on the main page of Microsoft Outlook Online for at least a week (I think it said “connect with your Fiends”) before some non-computer scientist noticed it and fixed it.
• There would be no fast food joints, because neither junior rocket scientists nor retired neurosurgeons would stoop to asking about our preference for fries, but neither would we have fine dining because there would be no chefs (although molecular gastronomy may survive, but try making a decent meal out of asparagus foam and crab ice cream).
• There would be no Walmart. Oh wait, that would be a good thing.