Mark Schneider of The Atlantic believes that the S in STEM is overrated:
It’s rote that we need more STEM students – more science, technology, engineering and math grads – sprinting off American campuses into the labor force. But according to the data, employers don’t like paying science grads quite as much as we like talking about them.
Is STEM one letter too long?
Sadly, Mark falls into the same trap that most people do when they think about science: basic research is not profitable. Scientific research (at least the fundamental kind) cannot be operated by a business.
Mark's premise is right in the fact that TEM graduates earn a lot more, because their skills are applicable to industry and are able to turn a profit by implementing ideas found using fundamental research.
The moral of the story isn't that science programs are a lot cause and people should abandon them in droves. It's the opposite: we should be funneling more government money into basic science research so that those wages go up, and we improve many aspects of our lives through the innovation it provides.
Without the S in STEM, we would be missing a lot of the T we have today, and E wouldn't be able to design half the things they do. Talking about M is a whole other topic.