No, what I think he's saying is that there may be tens of millions of those "people employed in obsolete manual labor jobs" who can't or won't transition to higher tech. It's precisely the efficiencies created by high tech that may render many of them permanently unemployable.Omar wrote:Are you saying we should stifle new, efficient technologies just to keep people employed in obsolete manual labor jobs?
If that happens, we will have come full circle to where we are once again competing with beasts of burden. Somehow I suspect the Stones will still be around to write another song about it.JQP wrote:If you think out far enough, manual labor might be all that's left for us.
I think that may be a rose-colored dream. As off-shoring, automation and other labor-eliminating efficiences continue to increase, there's a strong likelihood there won't be enough "work in other fields" even if people re-educate or retrain out the wazoo. I'm not sure we aren't already seeing the start of that change with the number of college graduates who can't find work commensurate with their education levels.Omar wrote:Those who undergo reducation or retraining could find work in other fields.
I agree. I just don't know what kind of Soylent Green solution we'll come up with for all those who adapted but still can't make it because efficiency has passed them by. Hopefully "die" is just a metaphor.Omar wrote:In our capitalist society the key to survival is innovation and productivity, survival of the fittest. Improve and adapt or die. That goes for the workers too.
I suspect many people are already doing that.Omar wrote:Or is there nothing to be done but throw up our hands and hope we die before our jobs disappear, too?
Warren Buffet wrote:Think back to the agrarian America of only 200 years ago. Most jobs could then be ably performed by most people. In a world where only primitive machinery and animals were available to aid farmers, the difference in productivity between the most talented among them and those with ordinary skills was modest.
Many other jobs of that time could also be carried out by almost any willing worker. True, some laborers would outdo others in intelligence or hustle, but the market value of their output would not differ much from that of the less talented.
Visualize an overlay graphic that positioned the job requirements of that day atop the skills of the early American labor force. Those two elements of employment would have lined up reasonably well. Not today. A comparable overlay would leave much of the labor force unmatched to the universe of attractive jobs.
That mismatch is neither the fault of the market system nor the fault of the disadvantaged individuals. It is simply a consequence of an economic engine that constantly requires more high-order talents while reducing the need for commodity-like tasks.
The remedy usually proposed for this mismatch is education. Indeed, a top-notch school system available to all is hugely important. But even with the finest educational system in the world, a significant portion of the population will continue, in a nation of great abundance, to earn no more than a bare subsistence.
To see why that is true, imagine we lived in a sports-based economy. In such a marketplace, I would be a flop. You could supply me with the world’s best instruction, and I could endlessly strive to improve my skills. But, alas, on the gridiron or basketball court I would never command even a minimum wage. The brutal truth is that an advanced economic system, whether it be geared to physical or mental skills, will leave a great many people behind.
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