Lion of the Blogosphere

Technology “wrecks” jobs in the NY Times

The NY Times online commentary on How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class has been doing very well on the Most Emailed list, so the message is getting out.

The article itself doesn’t say much I haven’t already said in my blog. Technology hurts value creation jobs. The replacement jobs are high-skill value transference jobs and low-skill service jobs, providing unnecessary services for the people with better jobs.

Remember that just any old college degree isn’t good enough to ensure that you get into the value-transference track. Many college graduates are working at those low-skill service jobs. Harvard is highly recommended.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 27, 2013 at 7:27 AM

Posted in Economics

30 Responses

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  1. I’ve been stuck in fast food jobs ever since graduating from college four years ago. It’s really hard work – much harder than my summer warehouse jobs before the economy tanked. I usually get fired within the first month, because I can’t hack it. Not sure how I’m going to sustain myself.

    Scott

    August 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    • Consider a career with the military you might die but you’re already dying slowly now. The future growth industries will be in the security area anyhow since the elites always need protection and muscle.

      eradican

      August 27, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      • They’re going to need a lot of protection before I get through with them.

        Robert the Wise

        August 28, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    • Go teach English in China, assuming you’re white.

      anon anon

      August 27, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      • You can even get a job teaching English in Poland, Slovakia or Czech Republic. Even if you live in some sleepy village, you can go to Prague or Krakow on the weekends. If I were in your position, that would be my course.

        anon666

        August 27, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    • I second eradican’s advice. I have many classmates who couldn’t land real jobs after graduation, so they went into the military. Try to become an officer. Then it will be more like showing up for a desk job in mid-management than actually being in the military. Your chances of dying will be much lower.

      AE

      August 27, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      • If a person isn’t able to secure gainful employment after graduating from college, the odds of that person getting an officer gig are pretty much nonexistent (these are extremely competitive these days, even in the navy and army).

        Enlisting is always an option, though.

        Renault

        August 28, 2013 at 1:50 AM

  2. Off topic, but I think you’ll be highly interested in this (also be sure to see my comment there, addressing many of its points):

    What’s Really Behind the Ever-Rising Cost of Raising a Child in America – Christopher Carr – The Atlantic

    JayMan

    August 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM

  3. If this country weren’t overpopulated with illegals and NAMs, I’d say we look hard at the the idea of mandating 30 hour work weeks at the same wages and slashing executive pay. Increased technology should be a tool for greater universal leisure and plentitude, not a mad hammer of of those at the top to get even richer and everyone else poorer.

    fakeemail

    August 27, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    • And also don’t forget the proles, especially those who live in the suburban and rural wastelands. If they could just wakeup and get their asses moving, maybe America would be heading in the right direction, where competition would prevent the value transferors and wealthy from being too rich, while leaving everyone else financially strapped.

      JS

      August 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    • I’m maybe bias because I live in NYC, but the rest of America needs walking cities and better mass transit. Just look at all the fat slobs throughout the nation because of our car culture. Most downtown areas of most American cities look like ghost towns because no one cares to walk.

      JS

      August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

  4. One thing to consider is that the standard of living of the average welfare/ food stamp/ section 8 recipient today is much higher than the typical standard of living of a 19th century cotton mill worker (for instance). So as jobs disappear or transform standard of living may well continue to improve (even for the poor) due to automation & technology. Many of the comments to that article describe a dystopic future where 99% of humanity will be crawling through trash looking for scraps. I doubt it will look like that, since robots will efficiently pick up trash and advancements in waste management will process the trash into some kind of useful substance.

    islandmommy

    August 27, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    • But what if all the robots are too busy maintaining the huge mansions of the rich to have time to bother with cleaning up the trash in poor neigbhorhoods? And we can’t just build more robots because there aren’t enough raw materials left?

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 27, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      • “And we can’t just build more robots because there aren’t enough raw materials left?”

        Asteroid mining?

        “Yes, welfare recepients today live better than the 18th century laborer. The future of human worth is about status. What school, job and neighborhood are you part of?”

        Status aside, standard of living has steadily increased even as jobs disperse. So we may have a situation with a lot of depressed, low status individuals living at a high standard of living compared to how the poor have historically lived.

        islandmommy

        August 27, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    • Yes, welfare recepients today live better than the 18th century laborer. The future of human worth is about status. What school, job and neighborhood are you part of?

      JS

      August 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM

  5. > Harvard is highly recommended.

    I realize you’re using “Harvard” as synecdoche, but anyway… There’s enormous dispersion even within my Harvard graduating class cohort. Several of my classmates from years ago are billionaires, and most (?) are comfortably-situated “butlers to the wealthy” such as lawyers and bankers, but many are struggling financially and elsewise.

    Sam

    August 27, 2013 at 2:44 PM

  6. My guess is that a guaranteed income is in the future. As automation/robots/weak AI eliminates even more middle-income jobs, there will be calls for “spreading the wealth” around. You can bet on that.

    Jay

    August 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

  7. That article is ridiculous. People have always found ways to make themselves useful to others and get paid for their work. Technology is not going to change that.

    Perhaps LotB would like to return to the medieval era, when everyone did useful things and nobody provided “unnecessary services” for others.

    Blog Raju

    August 27, 2013 at 4:52 PM

  8. I think there will still be a lot of cognitive work that is left over from what the computers can’t do efficiently. Basically dealing with data, analytics (this is higher level), and help desk type stuff. This is mentioned in Venkat Rao’s post that you linked to earlier, and in the article linked to here.

    shiva1008

    August 27, 2013 at 5:48 PM

  9. While I like some aspects of the Paleo-Right, the economic ignorance is almost grounds to write off the whole movement.

    Given your stance on this you must also oppose all technological innovation. In fact, if you were consistent, you should also oppose ANY use of technology for precisely the same reason. Congratulations, Mr. Lion! You now agree completely with Barack Obama, who once bemoaned the fact that ATMs have “displaced” some bank tellers. You’re basically a Marxist. Yeah!! Since technology makes businesses more productive — and thus able to lower prices for consumers — by opposing technology, you also oppose low prices. I don’t think American workers like paying high prices for food, cars, computers, etc..

    Similarly, if you oppose the displacement of workers because of technology, then you obviously bemoan the loss to the U.S. economy of all those candlemakers who were displaced by Edison’s incandescent lightbulb and its mass production; you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all those buggy and whip manufacturers who were displaced by the automobile and its mass production; and you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all the many hard working whalers, who hunted whales mercilessly for their oil — so essential for lighting people’s homes at night — until a very nasty man named John D. Rockefeller put them all out of business by his innovative process of “standardizing” the refining of kerosene from crude oil (hence the name of his company: Standard Oil). To which I say “Hooray for John D. Rockefeller! He saved the whales!” then you must also oppose all technological innovation, because it does exactly the same thing. In fact, if you were consistent, you should also oppose ANY use of technology for precisely the same reason. Congratulations, Mr. BioConservative! You now agree completely with Barack Obama, who recently bemoaned the fact that ATMs have “displaced” some bank tellers. Since technology makes businesses more productive — and thus able to lower prices for consumers — by opposing technology, you also oppose low prices. I don’t think American workers like paying high prices for food, cars, computers, etc., any more than any other “population group” in the U.S.

    Similarly, if you oppose the displacement of workers because of technology, then you obviously bemoan the loss to the U.S. economy of all those candlemakers who were displaced by Edison’s incandescent lightbulb and its mass production; you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all those buggy and whip manufacturers who were displaced by the automobile and its mass production; and you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all the many hard working whalers, who hunted whales mercilessly for their oil — so essential for lighting people’s homes at night — until a very nasty man named John D. Rockefeller put them all out of business by his innovative process of “standardizing” the refining of kerosene from crude oil (hence the name of his company: Standard Oil). To which I say “Hooray for John D. Rockefeller! He saved the whales!” (LOL! Try saying that to a lib enviro-wackjob and watch his expression. You’ll love it.)

    The problem with arguing this issue with conservatives (Paleo/Bio/HBD/Manoshere or otherwise) is that they don’t believe there’s such a thing as “economics.” The “economy” is an abstraction, or an artificial construct, and can be gotten around by simply passing laws. The source of economic progress and a rise in the general standard of living for everyone is producing the same amount of something, or more of something, with less effort, i.e., reducing the costs of production. If you argue against this you might as well argue against gravity.

    Jack

    August 27, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    • If technology is doing all of this, then why does the nation need to import cheap labor?

      map

      August 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM

  10. Edited for clarity. The first post was cut and pasted from other discussions I have with the same anti-technology mindset which is endemic to the Paleo-Right.

    While I like some aspects of the Paleo-Right, the economic ignorance is almost grounds to write off the whole movement.

    Given your stance on this you must also oppose all technological innovation. In fact, if you were consistent, you should also oppose ANY use of technology for precisely the same reason. Congratulations, Mr. Lion! You now agree completely with Barack Obama, who once bemoaned the fact that ATMs have “displaced” some bank tellers. You’re basically a Marxist. Yeah!! Since technology makes businesses more productive — and thus able to lower prices for consumers — by opposing technology, you also oppose low prices. I don’t think American workers like paying high prices for food, cars, computers, etc..

    Similarly, if you oppose the displacement of workers because of technology, then you obviously bemoan the loss to the U.S. economy of all those candlemakers who were displaced by Edison’s incandescent lightbulb and its mass production; you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all those buggy and whip manufacturers who were displaced by the automobile and its mass production; and you should bemoan the loss to the economy of all the many hard working whalers, who hunted whales mercilessly for their oil — so essential for lighting people’s homes at night — until a very nasty man named John D. Rockefeller put them all out of business by his innovative process of “standardizing” the refining of kerosene from crude oil (hence the name of his company: Standard Oil). To which I say “Hooray for John D. Rockefeller! He saved the whales!”

    The problem with arguing this issue with conservatives (Paleo/Bio/HBD/Manoshere or otherwise) is that they don’t believe there’s such a thing as “economics.” The “economy” is an abstraction, or an artificial construct, and can be gotten around by simply passing laws. The source of economic progress and a rise in the general standard of living for everyone is producing the same amount of something, or more of something, with less effort, i.e., reducing the costs of production. If you argue against this you might as well argue against gravity.

    Jack

    August 27, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    • Standard of living is in itself a bogus concept. According to Westerners, the natives in Polynesia have a shitty standard of living.

      The rest of your post is one gigantic straw man argument.

      shiva1008

      August 28, 2013 at 3:52 AM

  11. The NYT commenter that suggested Kurt Vonnegut had this all down 60 years ago in Player Piano was really pretty much correct…… http://ebookbrowsee.net/vonnegut-player-piano-pdf-d423377922

    MoMoMoliere

    August 27, 2013 at 7:55 PM

  12. John D wasn’t a chemist or engineer he just went into business with one then bought him out. He was an account and his Dad gave him the money the money to start his first business which was the same sort of business John D was working for, a produce wholesaler.

    I wonder how much of “real” GDP growth is bogus…services which people did for themselves before or have no affect on quality of life like mobile phones

    Hugh Lygon

    August 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    • Should have been effect retard.

      But what % of the workforce is engaged in automation? What fraction of the brightest are engaged?
      A small minority in both cases.

      Those who advocate laissez faire are intellectually LAZY.

      Hugh Lygon

      August 27, 2013 at 10:35 PM

  13. “Technology hurts value creation jobs. The replacement jobs are high-skill value transference jobs and low-skill service jobs, providing unnecessary services for the people with better jobs.”

    But I thought Thatcher discovered that unemployment was caused by laziness.

    Hugh Lygon

    August 27, 2013 at 9:37 PM

  14. If this trend continues, doesn’t this mean that tech nerds will rise greatly in social status since they’ll be on the well-paying side of the divide? I think we are already seeing this today as tech companies are becoming ‘cooler’ (ex. latest steve jobs movie).

    nycisdirty

    August 28, 2013 at 2:12 AM

  15. Robots can mass produce crappy clothes and cars but technology you have to interact with is just frustrating. For instance, call the bank and try to get anything done with a robot. I always have to speak with a representative. Anything else the computer can help me with i can find easier onlne and don’t have to deal with shoddy voice recognition.

    I fantasize about a great uprising against our oppressive billionaire masters but it won’t happen. Even when things are bad and getting worse, it’s still too good to die in a rebellion to make it better.

    I see a movement away from mass produced/consumed items anyway. Here on the west coast, there are so many off shoot brands and stores which cater to them. Some grocery store chains here don’t even carry General Mills items, which just is mind blowing. Perhaps this is heralding a movement towards hand crafted items rather than mass produced.

    ibejeph

    August 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    • “Perhaps this is heralding a movement towards hand crafted items rather than mass produced.”

      Only among elite bobos, and that’s what I mean about most people will be doing unnecessary jobs that exist only to aid the elite in a status competition among themselves.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM


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