One thing we could do is to regulate or eliminate non-productive aspects of the economy to shrink their share of the labor market. For example, phase out the health insurance industry in favor of a more efficient single-payer system. That'd free up a lot of college educated workers. Make some changes in the tax structure and financial regulation to reduce the profitability of speculation and overly complex financial instruments. Put all those Ivy League hedge fund guys to more productive use!
Have you read "The Race Between Education and Technology" by Goldin and Katz?
They do a lot of empirical work around whether our current economy and technology is unique or not for the industrial era, peep into some reasons why the US was so successful during industrialization, and what has or hasn't changed recently to alter the US's ability to succeed.
It's a pretty good book, though the heavy empirical stuff that rules about half the book is a bit dry. I'd be happy to let you borrow it if you were interested. At the heart of this study is whether or not pushing for a more college educated workforce is critical for our continued economic success.
Let me know...
Thomas Friedman brought up a similar point in a recent oped piece:
For a decade we sent our best minds not to make computer chips in Silicon Valley but to make poker chips on Wall Street, while telling ourselves we could have the American dream — a home — without saving and investing, for nothing down and nothing to pay for two years.
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