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Replicate 2

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And Mike says:

>>>”OF COURSE jobs came to replace all those he listed–jobs as software engineers, technical writers, special effects technicians, CGI artists and directors,”



And I say:  YES.

I wasn’t giving a comprehensive list, just a set of examples.

And the fact is that there are not fewer jobs in the US now than there were 50 years ago, there are more.

And some of those jobs certainly pay less, but some of them pay more, and some jobs that used to pay very badly pay much better now than they did.

And yes, eventually the jobs we know of now will go away too–they always do–and it will be something else in demand instead of what we have.

And then what will work will be something else.

And then, like now, most jobs WON’T be in big companies or offer stability.

As for the rocket–bring it on.

I’m not afraid of this kind of change, and I see no indication that we have stopped being what we have always been:  the creature that innovates and invents. 

I don’t have a lot of patience with the idea that well, these new jobs won’t count, because you won’t be able to do them if you haven’t bothered to get much training and you’re not very bright.

This is beginning to remind me of the obesity hysteria–we’re all getting fat and dying early because of obesity related diseases!

Except, well, on the whole we’re all getting fat, but we’re ALSO  (on the whole) living longer.

Somebody ought to investigate the dissonance.

The machines are taking all our jobs away–but on the whole, we’ve got more jobs (not less) than we used to have and one the whole people are better (not worse) paid than they were before.

Don’t believe me?

Go look at the average middle class house from, say, 1955.  It’s about 1000 square feet (half the average now), has no central air conditioning, contains exactly one television and one if any cars.  There are no game systems, no computers, no DVDs, and very little in the way of stuff to play music except maybe on single hi-fi, and probably not. 

And, yes, we do go into debt for some of that (or some people do), but not nearly everybody does, and debt levels won’t even begin to explain the expansion of personal comfort over the last 50 years.

And the bottom line is and always will be simply this:

Apple gets to be a billionaire company by selling things to people who are not billionaires.  That’s the case with everybody else–oil companies, electric companies, electronics companies, you name it.

The dystopia you imagine cannot exist.

If we ever even approached it, it would fall apart.  Wealth isn’t just “there.”  It must be created.  An Apple Computer with nobody to sell computers to will go bankrupt.   A Google without companies able to sell stuff to people and therefore take out ads would go bankrupt.

The consumers are as important to the system as the producers.  A world in which Apple makes one computer a year for one rich guy in Malaysia is a world in which Apple is just about as poor as everybody else.

And everybody knows it.

Written by janeh

February 20th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Replicate 2'

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  1. Seond the notion. My family moved into modern suburban tract housing in 1959/60. The biggest units in the addition were 26′ x 44′ and the smallest 24×36. No AC. No garages. Painted masonite exteriors. The owners were store managers, foremen and a sprinkling of skilled profesionals.

    I own a house in that same suburb, and my parents still live there, so I can see current conditions. Virtually without exception, the houses have AC and aluminum siding, and usually a garage or an added room. And the residents are retirees, unskilled labor and students. The apartments at one end of the addition are filled with unskilled-labor immigrants. The family I knew there in my youth was headed by an expatriate engineer.

    Fifty years of automation elimiating jobs and “the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer” has left the 2011 working class with the standard of living of the 1961 middle class.

    Sixty years ago, Painted toy soldiers were coming from London–painted there in the Britain’s factory. Forty years ago, we bought them from Spain, painted by fishermen’s wives. Today, miniature wargamers are shipping tin soldiers off to Ceylon to be custom-painted these days. I DON’T think we want London wants those “lost” jobs back, nor the standard of living those women had.

    When labor really loses ground, you’ll stop seeing management buying expensive machines they can’t lay off to replace it.


    20 Feb 11 at 2:34 pm

  2. Well, I hope you’re all right and I’m wrong.

    I would very much like it if my nightmares finally quit coming true.


    20 Feb 11 at 3:38 pm

  3. Hey, Mike, do you read Cory Doctorow? You might enjoy Makers.

    Yeah, most people I know do have some kind of job. But they are making less, often temp work or short-term contracts, no or few benefits. And I do know people on long term unemployment. I think there is going to have to be some kind of shakeout in the economy, because we are not set up to handle huge amounts of unemployment, and yes, I think we are going there. Economies have crashed before, and this one can too. Although I think we’re likely to take a slow slide further into mediocrity first.

    Sure, the upper middle class still has jobs. The middle class is largely screwed. The poor are doing in home child care and/or drug dealing. What the hell else are they competent to do?


    20 Feb 11 at 6:39 pm

  4. “Apple gets to be a billionaire company by selling things to people who are not billionaires. That’s the case with everybody else–oil companies, electric companies, electronics companies, you name it.

    The dystopia you imagine cannot exist.”

    My four-year old grandson is right this minute sitting beside me playing with an electronic games machine that even billionaires couldn’t buy even 10 years ago. When I need a reality check, I think back to my mother’s life-style in the early 50s. It wasn’t very different to that of any farm woman in the western world. No electricity, no labour saving devices. Very limited rain water supplies meant no garden, neither ornamental nor kitchen. Household cooking utensils were invariably repaired rather than replaced, crockery – most of which were the remnants of wedding presents from many years earlier, were treated with elaborate care lest they be broken. You know the sort of thing. Your parents and grandparents probably lived similar lives.

    In those days a large percentage of jobs were in the agricultural sector. Even we employed a full-time farm hand for most of the year. Many of our neighbours employed several. 10 years later, most of those jobs had disappeared. Electricity had arrived in a big way, and labour saving devices not only became possible for my mother and other farm wives (yes, they were nearly all wives in those olden days, and partners only in the business sense!), but also made possible all sorts of labour-saving machinery around the farm.

    Was this a painless process? Not hardly. Most of the farm and other manual workers who made up the bulk of the small communities that dotted the countryside every 20 miles or so along the main roads and railway lines were gradually thrown out of work. Many moved to the cities with their families. The remaining few were more than enough to satisfy the farms’ seasonal labour demand and were able to turn their hands to whatever other work was available throughout the year. In only a very few years, most of those little villages and even towns are now little more than names on a map and only decaying churches and overgrown graveyards exist as evidence that communities ever existed in those places.

    Individuals suffered much hardship, particularly those too old and too uneducated to move or adapt. But this process has been going on inexorably since the dawn of time, with industrial revolutions occurring every day somewhere in the world, together with Luddism and all the other bye-products. Globalisation is here to stay, and we in the decadent west better very quickly come to terms with the fact that there is no way short of a nuclear holocaust that this particular genie is ever going back into the bottle. We have to learn to adapt to the prevailing circumstances because no matter what economic theory is in the political ascendency at any given time and place, the circumstances will very definitely NOT adapt to us.


    20 Feb 11 at 6:52 pm

  5. The US, Australia and New Zealand all have ghost towns but the countries haven’t collapsed.

    Detroit seems to be on the way to becoming a ghost town but the car industry has moved to the US South.

    An industry failing may mean that people have to move but it doesn’t mean they starve.


    20 Feb 11 at 9:14 pm

  6. What else are they competent to do? Home care for the elderly – a growing sector, although an ill-paid one, and one that requires no education or training. Some people who do it do get training – maybe take a special course to enable them to care for those with trachs, or even an LPN program which can be a ticket to a unionized job with benefits in the local health care corporation, if they’re lucky. A local company has the contract for a lot of the short-term child care, now that foster parents are becoming scarcer, and they too hire people with little education or training. These two sectors are growing. There are the old standbys – cleaning (offices or homes), snowclearing/mowing grass, ‘contracting’ of the minor repairs variety, and lots of things in the retail sector, from stocking shelves to working checkouts or security. The local private security companies often seem to hire the hard-to-place people who want to work. Cooking and food service – technically you should have a certificate, but small cheap places often advertise for people and ask only for experience. They don’t need people with a lot of expertise.

    God knows we’ve been through economic disruptions in my part of the world. It’s hard and painful, and people suffer. But eventually, life goes on. Some retire in poverty. A lot move to other centres, with or without retraining. Some move into another occupation locally. A surprising number start their own small businesses – hairdressing salon, gift shop, B&B – especially if they live in an area with increasing tourist trade, don’t want to move, and already have the house or other building.

    Towns die. Some are now almost ghettos of the elderly, with all the working-age people having moved on. But unemployment goes through its usual cycles, and you have the usual small percentage who figure out they can make as much off social assistance as they can working for a living, but overall, life goes on, just in a new place or in a new way – just as with Mique’s farmhands.


    21 Feb 11 at 7:47 am

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