Volume 70: The Truth About Competition

Posted on 06/12/2012


Is this about increasing or decreasing competition?

A great time of year has just passed: Graduation season! It’s that time students at every level get their degrees and the hope that comes with beginning a new chapter (college), beginning their career (undergraduate degree), or expanding their knowledge base (graduate degree). Graduation season is a time where we bask in the glow of the “American Dream”.  You know, the dream where we believe if we apply ourselves and finish school, our future(s) will/would be bright. The dream where we believe the rhetoric about how a more “competitive marketplace” helps us all. I believe there’s a cliché suggesting a rising tide lifts all ships – or something to that effect. But, can (may)  I ask a question? What if we don’t really mean it when we say we want no child to be left behind? What if the aforementioned rhetoric about a “more competitive marketplace” is just like that juicy steak you eat while being plugged back into the matrix? What if, by continuing to read this post, you learn The Truth About Competition?

Less IS More or, At Least, Better

Take a moment and think about why we go to and finish school in the first place? It’s not to make the marketplace more competitive. In fact, I would suggest the exact opposite is true. Let’s face it, statistically speaking, having a high school diploma eliminates about 25% of  people applying for jobs requiring diplomas. Result? Reduced competition. Subsequently, we continue our education to further diminish our competition. For example, only about 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have a Bachelor’s degree. Do you see a pattern? The further we go in our education, the less competition we face for jobs (8.9% of Americans have Master’s degrees and 3% have PhDs). Forget the statistics, think about how we all oooooh and ahhhh when someone we know has attained their M.D., J.D., PharmD, PhD – or whatever other “D” is out there. Are they smart? Absolutely! Are they getting these degrees to increase their competition for jobs? Hell no!

Unintended Benefactor

So, if we realize that our personal motive for continuing education is more about reducing competition, why continue the rhetoric? Well, I would say the more important question is, “Who benefits?” The answer: Corporate America. Think about it: The more candidates with advanced degrees they can interview for a position, the better their chance of hiring an exceptional candidate. Additionally, they can lower the starting salary for that same position. It’s a win-win for them. They get better employees at a cheaper price. They even apply the “we need increased competition” rhetoric to their own dealings. Corporations are constantly lobbying Congress to reduce regulations so there can be “increased competition” resulting in “lower prices” and “more choices” for consumers. Really? Then why has inflation risen at a higher rate than salaries over the past ten years? Prices have gone up while salaries have declined or remained stagnant. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Finally, what happens when a new company starts eating into the market share of the big boys? Yep, you guessed it. They get bought out (see eSurance). Kinda shoots holes in the need for increased competition talk, huh?


For those of you that have been reading my blog over the past couple years (thank you), you know that my ultimate goal is for you to look at a common situation in an uncommon way. This post is no exception. We all learn to recite the rhetoric (there’s that word again) about how everyone needs an education so our society can get better. And, yes, that is most certainly true – from a collective point-of-view. At the same time, I want us to understand that our system(s) can only bear so much competition. Capitalism is more concerned with reducing competition and cornering a market than having to compete. The competition conversation is so the rest of us feel like we had a fighting chance. Do I still believe that we can be successful if we work hard smart? Absolutely! No one should ever give up on their dreams. At the same time, we sleep/dream for only eight hours a night. What are you going to do with the other sixteen?

That’s just my three cents…


“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”