[ExI] How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class
pharos at gmail.com
Mon Aug 26 12:56:42 UTC 2013
On Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 12:42 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> AUGUST 24, 2013, 2:35 PM
> How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class
> By DAVID H. AUTOR AND DAVID DORN
> In the four years since the Great Recession officially ended, the
> productivity of American workers — those lucky enough to have jobs — has
> risen smartly. But the United States still has two million fewer jobs than
> before the downturn, the unemployment rate is stuck at levels not seen since
> the early 1990s and the proportion of adults who are working is four
> percentage points off its peak in 2000.
> This job drought has spurred pundits to wonder whether a profound employment
> sickness has overtaken us. And from there, it’s only a short leap to ask
> whether that illness isn’t productivity itself. Have we mechanized and
> computerized ourselves into obsolescence?
> Are we in danger of losing the “race against the machine,” as the M.I.T.
> scholars Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue in a recent book? Are we
> becoming enslaved to our “robot overlords,” as the journalist Kevin Drum
> warned in Mother Jones? Do “smart machines” threaten us with “long-term
> misery,” as the economists Jeffrey D. Sachs and Laurence J. Kotlikoff
> prophesied earlier this year? Have we reached “the end of labor,” as Noah
> Smith laments in The Atlantic?
This article strikes me as being still a bit too optimistic in
claiming that there could be a middle-class future in 'personal
services' jobs. Mainly because 'personal services' jobs are low paid,
often part-time jobs. That's not middle-class.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe the “widening
gap between rich and poor” is temporary. Maybe the steady growth in
the proportion of jobs that are part-time and/or low-paid will soon
Or maybe the idea that all the homeless need are old laptops and a few
automatically create new jobs for everyone. Maybe, unless something
drastic changes, most people are totally screwed.
This has not been a great decade for the average American. The
recession ended in 2009, but median household income remains 6.1%
below what it was in December 2007…while the income of the top 10%
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