Thursday, July 25, 2013

The end of jobs

My boy Matt Yglesias weighs in that the recent uptick in manufacturing jobs, is by no means the harbinger of a return to the golden age. Check out the long view:


Then you get an even more pessimistic take in a review of Jaron Lanier's book, Who Owns the Future:
A country that has made its self-definition utterly dependent on the ubiquity of paying work now has an insufficient number of jobs. This is not short-term economic cyclicality; labor-force participation has dropped, fairly steadily, for decades. Capital-biased technological change contracts industry after industry. The most powerful, most profitable companies now employ a tiny fraction of the workers that similarly sized enterprises once did.
The author goes on to remind us that social capital ultimately protects us, not cops, and that, as events in Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere suggest, when the people get angry because the social contract of a livelihood in return for work done is eroding, the results are not pretty.

I count myself among the technological optimists disparaged in the essay, and I find it hard to envision a populist scenario where an angry mob storms the Google campus; but I am less confident at the moment, thinking about the Occupy movements in a new way and envisioning the rise of a party more determined to tax the wealthy and redistribute the gains from technology more equitably.

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