Our Economy Needs More Engineers and Fewer MBA’s
In a previous post, I expressed my opposition to a new consumer spending stimulus package proposed by the Democrats. Instead, I favored jump starting the economy through increased government spending on energy technology R&D and alternative energy infrastructure.
Shortly after the interview ended, the studio hosts were reflecting on what the economist had just said, with periodic references to the scrambling and fumbling around by Wall Street investment bankers.
Suddenly, one of the hosts (a female) had an “ah hah” moment, evidenced by this statement: “You know, we need more engineers and fewer MBA’s in this economy.” The statement was so profound (and true) that the two other hosts were compelled to agree, as well they should.
The problem with Wall Street is that the thousands of MBA types who occupy it do not produce anything tangible. Even worse, they don’t even know how to produce anything tangible or to manage those who do. All they know about are credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, risk arbitrage, cigar and martini bars, and weekends in the Hamptons. Most of what they know and do is focused on taking financial risks, packaging the risks, passing the risks on to others (like us), and shoving millions into their pockets. They are also adept at spelling “bailout” and “rescue” in several languages.
We need to return to an economy that actually designs, builds, and sells stuff. By “stuff”, I mean things we can touch, see and use productively. Wall Street MBA’s don’t know how to do that. Engineers know how to do that. In fact, they love doing that. But we do not train or graduate enough engineers. MBA programs continue to pop-up like weeds to grab tuition money from students who are taught exciting subjects like “leadership,” “sustainability,” “diversity,” and “money counting.” (OK, there probably isn’t a class in “money counting” but that’s what the students are thinking about when the “leadership” lectures start.) Two weeks later, they forget it all because such training has no practical application.
So, can we please send the Wall Street MBA’s back to school to learn something productive? If they can’t handle calculus, I know there is a need for good auto mechanics.
Now to those of you getting ready to point out that Mr. ToughMoneyLove is a lawyer, and that we definitely don’t need more lawyers, I say hold on just a minute. First, I agree that we don’t need any more lawyers. In fact, we ought to recycle a lot of the lawyers along with the MBA’s. Second, I was an engineer before I became a lawyer. I actually designed stuff that people bought and used. I am proud of that. I would love to do it again. Now, I help protect technology that others develop. I am proud of that also. I am also very proud to say that I am not an MBA.
I have a parting suggestion to all of you parents out there. Remember the Waylon and Willie song about mamas not letting your babies grow up to be cowboys? Sing that song to your spouse. Just substitute “MBA’s” for “cowboys” and you are good to go. Waylon and Willie won’t mind.