In America in 2008, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. One of the reasons for this is the education system. In an ideal society, the education system would narrow the gap between rich and poor by giving poor people skills which make poor people qualified for high paying jobs. But the american education system has the opposite effect.

In America there are many laws saying that many jobs must be performed by people with licenses, and licenses are given only to people with degrees. It is easier for rich people to acquire degrees, so these laws have the effect of forbidding poor people from have high paying jobs.

For example, in Connecticut in the 1980s, I knew someone who was taking architecture exams to become a licensed architect. This person had not studied architecture in school, but had worked as an assistant to an architect for several years. This person was in a hurry to take the architecture exams because the law was about to change. It would soon be illegal for people without architectural degrees to take the architecture exams.

At the same time a different friend of mine was trying to build a house. This person designed his own house. This person had a job as an architectural draftsman, and so was able to draw professional looking plans. The town government required that house plans must be either from a licensed architect, or else approved by the town building commisioner. My friend took his plans to the building commisioner, who rejected the plans. My friend made the changes demanded by the building commisioner, but the plans were rejected again. After several more revisions and rejections, my friend realized that the building commisioner would always reject his plans. My friend solved this problem by asking his boss, a licensed architect, to approve the plans.

The town government had a policy of requiring that all houses be designed by a licensed architect, and the town government had a policy of lying to everybody and denying that the town government required that houses be designed by a licensed architect. In other words the town had two sets of laws. The first set was public information; the town government said this was the real law, but the town government did not enforce these laws. The second set of laws was secret; the town government said these laws did not exist, but the town government enforced these laws. In other words, the town government did not enforce laws which existed, but did enforce laws which did not exist. This is a form of corruption. By requiring permits for everything, and then keeping the permit rules secret, the government granted special priviledges to a select group of people, in effect creating a two class society. The ruling class of insiders and cronies knew the secret rules and could easily get permits for anything. Ordinary people did not know the secret permit rules and had difficulty getting permits to do anything. Ordinary people were not allowed to do the things which the ruling class did.

So in order to build a house, a person must hire a licensed architect. In order to become a licensed architect, a person must have a degree in architecture. In order to get a degree in architecture, a person must be rich enough to afford many years of education. So a poor person who wants to build a house must first pay a lot of money to a rich person.

It wasn't always this way. A hundred years ago, a person could become a doctor by following a doctor for several years. Abraham Lincoln had very little schooling, but became a lawyer. Teachers used to be poor people with barely more schooling than their students.

When licenses are earned by passing a test instead of by completing many years of school, it is easier for poor people to gain licenses. Clever poor people can learn enough to pass the test by reading books without ever going to school. A school which prepares students to pass a test does not need accreditation. Graduates will be judged on test results instead of on the reputation of the school. This makes it easier for entrepreneurs to start new schools, which results in more competition in education.

But the government keeps increasing the educational requirements for various jobs. This makes it harder for poor people to get those jobs. The best and highest paying jobs are reserved for rich people, just like apartheid in South Africa, where the best and highest paying jobs were reserved for whites.

By making it illegal for poor people to have certain jobs, the government reduces the supply of labor for those jobs, which creates an artificial labor shortage, which causes the pay for those jobs to rise, because shortages cause prices to rise.

By requiring people to have degrees to have certain jobs, the government increased the demand for those degrees, which allows the universities which grant those degrees to raise tuition, which makes it harder for poor people to get those degrees and jobs.

I have no data on this, but I have heard that government jobs frequently require degrees, and government employees are more likely to have fake degrees than private sector employees. This is consistent with the theory that education is a way for the priviledged class to discriminate against the unpriviledged class. If the priviledged class is using its influence with the government to require degrees, then these requirements will be greatest in government jobs. If degree requirements are excessive, then someone without the degree or with a fake degree will be able to do the job as well as someone with a real degree.

If degree requirements are appropriate, then someone with a fake degree will not be able to do the job, and there will be no demand for fake degrees. The existence of a large fake degree industry is proof that degree requirements are excessive.