Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Knowledge Economy is a Farce

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I was thinking about the Librarians strike in Vancouver today. The key strike issue, historically low pay, because it is "pink collar" work, is trying to be overthrown. I see this pattern repeated over and over. Male dominated jobs, forged in the mid 20th century or earlier, remain well paid, and I'd argue way over paid, while many knowledge occupations remain poorly paid. ALA and others chat up the shortage of librarians, especially in rural areas and sunbelt cities, while the reason the shortage exists is abysmal pay. $22,000 to $32 000 starting salary for a masters degree? You have to be kidding. Even if you made the mistake of going to "library school", you're going to apply yourself where you can get paid much better than that. Schools have the same problem as libraries. What do they do? Bring in bodies from Asia willing to work three jobs to make ends meet. Can libraries do that? Not as easily.

You can find good paying jobs in library land, but the odds of success are not much better than dreaming to be a rock star. Lots of dreamers, but realistically, few ever become rock stars. I mentor so many capable, skilled and trained folks who are spinning their wheels, jumping across the country, to move up the salary ladder. Is that what the politicians and elites talk about, when they praise education as a cornerstone of the knowledge economy? No way hose, I'm telling my son to get a trade skill, run his own company. At least that way his brian will get a living wage.

Why hasn't the knowledge economy lived up to promise?

1. Greed. Workers are not seeing the fruits of their labour. Capitalists are.
2. Young people don't vote. To redistribute wealth from one group to another requires a mandate and support. We don't, so the people who can change laws to allow market forces to re-balance the labor market, maintain the unequal status quo. Public transit cashiers can make $75 000 a year while the people who maintain the website make $35 000.

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