David Brooks makes the following point today:
In periods when educational progress outpaces this change, inequality narrows. The market is flooded with skilled workers, so their wages rise modestly. In periods, like the current one, when educational progress lags behind technological change, inequality widens. The relatively few skilled workers command higher prices, while the many unskilled ones have little bargaining power.
I find this point convincing at first glance. It begs the question: How do we promote educational investment at a time at which we are hypnotized (often very justifiably) by technological development? Do we fear sacrificing the latter for the former?
Brooks also argues, however, that the principal reason for America's role as a 20th century superpower was "a ferocious belief that people have the power to transform their own lives gave Americans an unparalleled commitment to education, hard work and economic freedom." I am inclined to think that the aforementioned is just one aspect of a propitious brew that included prolific natural resources and an ambitious (that is, not just educationally/intellectually ambitious) and entrepreneurial populace, inter alia.