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(24,692 posts)
4. "Modern factories are highly advanced, requiring fewer workers and more skills."
Wed Oct 10, 2012, 09:14 AM
Oct 2012
But according to a new paper by Robert J. Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University, the US must also face the prospect that today’s technology innovations may not bring the same job growth of past technologies.

While the Internet helped boost productivity from 1996 to 2004, its effect may now be diminished. In fact, he says, it is disrupting old industries, such as music and newspapers, without creating enough jobs fast enough to replace them. Like the World Bank, he lays out a need for basic reforms, such as better education, reduced inequality, and more energy sources.

Thanks for posting this, Zalatix.

I tend to agree with the 2 main points made by the author in the article you linked to: 1) "Modern factories are highly advanced, requiring fewer workers and more skills." Manufacturing output continues to increase in the world (including the US), but manufacturing employment continues to decline everywhere (including in China). A strong manufacturing sector may be essential to a healthy economy, but in the 21st century it will not be the mass employer that it was in the pre-automation era.

2) "... poorer nations must look more to their own markets or neighboring countries." As their incomes rise in these poor countries workers deserve an economy that caters to them, just like the US economy has since WWII been focused on the mass consumer market. Also, as wages rise in these poor countries their manufacturing sector loses some of the advantage that it used to have. They would be better off to redirect it to a market (their own) where purchasing power is rising and they have the advantages that any company has when it markets in the country it is most familiar with.

Prior to the past few decades workers in China and India were so poor that there was almost no consumer market for companies to manufacture and sell products to. Now there is. "Export-led growth" may have kick-started the economies of poor countries but, as the author points out above, the time comes when they "must look more to their own markets".

How could anyone mistake this as xenophobia?
: "... the third world has got to find another way to prosper besides relying on Americans lowering their standards of living to send them jobs (and) ... stealing jobs from America... ." (Granted this could be perceived as a "special" kind of xenophobia since not all foreigners are not blamed, just those in the Third World. Canadians, Europeans and Australians are exempted.)

Similarly would there not be the slightest tinge of racism for someone to say:
"Blacks have got to find another way to prosper besides relying on whites lowering their standards of living to give them jobs (and) ... stealing jobs from whites ... . It's a fact of nature(?)?

And would it not be the least bit misogynistic to say: Women have got to find another way to prosper besides relying on men lowering their standards of living to give them jobs (and) ... (and) stealing jobs from men ... . It's a fact of nature.

Neither of those statements are 'facts of nature'. "Facts of nature", in this context, are subjective. I'm sure that the someone in the KKK or a modern teabagger/birther thinks it is a 'fact of nature' that Blacks are inferior and have stolen 'white jobs'. I'm sure that Todd Akin thinks it is a 'fact of nature' that women cannot get pregnant as a result of rape and it wouldn't be surprising if he thinks women steal jobs from men.

The economy of the 1950's was great for white men. They had almost all of the good jobs. Blacks were, of course, restricted to low class occupations. Women, to the extent they were employed outside the home, were relegated to 'female occupations' like teaching, nursing and secretarial work.

That does not mean that all white men in the 1950's were racist and misogynistic, but in retrospect it is obvious that they benefited from the laws and cultural attitudes of the time. Similarly for 30 years at least after WWII the US economy benefited from the poverty and economic disfunction of the Third World and the war-related destruction of much of the industrial capacity in the rest of the world.

As racism and misogyny were tempered (though obviously not eliminated) in the decades since the 1950's, white men have had to deal with a new "world" in which minorities and women are competitors for the jobs they used to have all to themselves. Similarly as poverty and economic disfunction have been tempered in the Third World and as industrial capacity has been restored and grown elsewhere, American workers have had to deal with a new "world" where things are different. We can't make the new "world" go away either domestically or internationally.

In some ways white men might miss the good ol' days of the 1950's at least in terms of jobs and incomes. Obviously liberal white men realize that the same reasons that make the 1950's seem like the 'good ol' days' to some white men make the very 'bad ol' days' for many others. Many teabaggers, OTOH, want to "take their country back" to precisely those 'good ol' days' when white men had it pretty good. And these teabaggers would also like to go back to the 'good ol' days' when we didn't have to worry about Mexico, China or India (or any other foreign country except maybe the USSR) because, at least economically, they did not matter to anyone.
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