[ExI] How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Aug 26 12:56:42 UTC 2013

On Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 12:42 PM, Eugen Leitl  wrote:
> http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/how-technology-wrecks-the-middle-class/?_r=1&&pagewanted=print
> AUGUST 24, 2013, 2:35 PM
> How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class
> 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
JavaScript textbooks is not unlike the claim that new technologies
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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