Lion of the Blogosphere

Razib Khan on the declining middle class

A reader directed me to Razib Khan’s blog post from last week where he predicts that the next phase of globalization will harm the college educated. That at least is true with respect to engineers, because there’s the perception that engineers don’t need good English language skills or an understanding of American culture.

He concludes:

Globally it means great gains in median wealth. In the United States though it may mean the shift away from the ideal and reality of a broad middle class society. Because of economic productivity driven by technology the bottom 75-90% of the American population will feel minimal material want. There will be food on the table and consumer gadgets galore. But they will lack the markers of relative affluence. For example, I see no prospect that air travel will become cheaper in the near future. So fewer and fewer Americans may have the means or inclination to travel abroad. In some ways this is a back to the past scenario, where the few controlled the levers of society, and the many were powerless.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 25, 2013 at 7:45 AM

Posted in Economics

6 Responses

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  1. “So fewer and fewer Americans may have the means or inclination to travel abroad.” You need a passport to travel abroad.


    January 25, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    • There are 109 million passports in circulation amongst US citizens.

      albert magnus

      January 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    • Getting a passport is slated to become much more difficult and expensive in the near future.

      Gap year

      January 26, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      • [citation needed]


        January 27, 2013 at 11:59 AM

  2. “Global gains in median wealth”

    Very clever phrase. It sounds like “we’re all better off this way” which indeed razib Kahn believes is true about globalization (totally false, many of us are much much worse off due to globalization). But it doesn’t actually mean that. It means that poor people in poor countries will get richer, while middle class people in rich countries get poorer. Ie wealth for median people, worldwide, will tend to converge. For people in America this means they will be worse off than previous Americans. The world will be more “fair” though.

    Gap year

    January 26, 2013 at 8:02 AM

  3. i think it’s more likely that there is some kind of transportation breakthrough led by elon musk or someone like him, than that we go backward in the ways described.

    plus – the cat’s out of the bag – no more serfs – the serfs have realized they can vote themselves the master’s property. that’s a big game changer.

    lion of the lionosphere

    January 26, 2013 at 9:23 PM

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