The Sept. 2 Point of View “ By ballot or bullet” compared current conditions in the United States with those in France prior to the French Revolution. Income distribution has become less equal in the United States and many other countries, but not because of special privileges to the monarchy.
Global technical change has increased the relative demand for skilled labor. As a result, the earnings of engineers and scientists have increased, and the adjustment in relative earnings acts as a signal for workers to acquire skills in short supply. The alternative of holding earnings constant would produce a shortage of skilled workers and a surplus of others.
We observe chronic shortages of certain kinds of teachers (often science and mathematics) in public schools that pay uniform salaries to teachers of all subjects. Changing relative earnings plays an important role in responding to changes in the demands for various skills. Is this adjustment process so objectionable that we should threaten scientists and engineers with the guillotine?
Thomas Grennes, Raleigh