Skip to comments.Liberal Nostalgiacs Don't Understand Jobs of the Future
Posted on 04/23/2012 3:27:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
I don't know how many times I've seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable retirement.
As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal nostalgiacs. Which is that people hated those jobs.
The assembly-line work was boring and repetitive. That's because management imbibed Frederick W. Taylor's theories that workers were stupid and could not be trusted with any initiative.
It was also because the thousands of pages of work rules in United Auto Workers contract, which forbade assembly-line speedups, also barred any initiative or flexible response.
That's why the UAW in 1970 staged a long strike against General Motors to give workers the option of early retirement, 30-and-out. All those guys who had gotten assembly line jobs at 18 or 21 could quit at 48 or 51.
The only problem was that when they retired they lost their health insurance. So the UAW got the Detroit Three auto companies to pay for generous retiree health benefits that covered elective medical and dental procedures with little or no co-payments.
It was those retiree health benefits more than anything else that eventually drove General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and into ownership by the government and the UAW.
The liberal nostalgiacs would like to see an economy that gives low-skill high school graduates similar opportunities. That's what Barack Obama seems to be envisioning when he talks about hundreds of thousands of "green jobs."
But those "green jobs" have not come into existence despite massive government subsidies and crony capitalism. It's become apparent that the old Detroit model was unsustainable and cannot be revived even by the most gifted community organizer and adjunct law professor.
For one thing, in a rapidly changing and technologically advanced economy, the lifetime job seems to be a thing of the past. Particularly "lifetime" jobs where you work only 30 years and then get supported for the next 30 or so years of your life.
Today's young people can't expect to join large organizations and in effect ride escalators for the rest of their careers. The new companies emerging as winners in high tech -- think Apple or Google -- just don't employ that many people, at least in the United States.
Similarly, today's manufacturing firms produce about as large a share of the gross national product as they used to with a much smaller percentage of the labor force.
Moreover, there's evidence that recent growth in some of the professions -- the law, higher education -- has been a bubble, and is about to burst.
The bad news for the Millennial generation that is entering its work years is that the economy of the future won't look like the economy we've grown accustomed to. The "hope and change" that Barack Obama promised hasn't produced much more than college loans that will be hard to pay off and a health care law that lets them stay on Mommy and Daddy's health insurance till they're 26.
The good news is that information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and interests.
As Walter Russell Mead writes in his brilliant the-american-interest.com blog, "The career paths that (young people) have been trained for are narrowing, and they are going to have to launch out in directions they and their teachers didn't expect. They were bred and groomed to live as house pets; they are going to have to learn to thrive in the wild."
But, as Mead continues, "The future is filled with enterprises not yet born, jobs that don't yet exist, wealth that hasn't been created, wonderful products and life-altering service not yet given form."
As Jim Manzi argues in his new book "Uncontrolled," we can't predict what this new work world will look like. It will be invented through trial and error.
What we can be sure of is that creating your own career will produce a stronger sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Young people who do so won't hate their work the way those autoworkers hated those assembly line jobs.
GM management, as usual, destroyed GM.
This comnmentary is by Michael Barone, not Michael Savage.
The only reasons the academic white towers offered this garbage is because it was easy for the lazy to matriculate, they received billions of dollars in tuition (most of it loans from students who could not afford them), and the curriculum was decidedly anti-Judeo-Christian and Western.
And here she is, a San Diego Mesa College graduate with a BS in "Black Studies."
What does the marketplace need with these graduates? Their only hope is a government grant job or an affirmative action hiring for a job they are totally unqualified for.
Oops, thanks. Before posting the article I read a thread title that someone posted about Michael Savage. (My cup of coffee hadn’t worked yet)
Whew! Am I ever so glad we’ve grown beyond boring and repetitive jobs that promised a comfortable retirement. Nothing but excitement now. Whee.
Barone, not Savage.
IT-based productivity tools, on the other hand, are designed to help people to work more efficiently and productively at jobs that create something, or that provide a valuable service. In an America that doesn't promote the creation of new industry and small business, or at least the sustainability of existing industry and small business, there won't be an expanding market for IT-based productivity tools. Just my take.
Back in the early ‘70’s (I think) the Detroit News or Free Press ran a week-long feature on boredom on the assembly lines. They interviewed workers and described in detail the down sides of having a job like that.
“IT-based productivity tools, on the other hand, are designed to help people to work more efficiently and productively at jobs that create something, or that provide a valuable service.”
Microsoft Project might be a good example of that.
Admin moderator: Author should be Michael Barone
I’ve pointed out for some time that real employers should run screaming from job candidates with these degrees. They have been trained to be anti-business nightmares, ready to sue at the drop of a hat. A high school graduate is a better bet. They haven’t gotten all the nasty indoctrination from our modern academics.
>> In an America that doesn’t promote the creation of new industry and small business, or at least the sustainability of existing industry and small business, there won’t be an expanding market for IT-based productivity tools. <<
You seem to be operating — perhaps unconciously — under the Progressive-Utopian assumption that good things will happen if only “an America” (that is, an “enlightened” American government) will “promote” some specific plan to sustain existing businesses and industries.
But that’s not how free-market capitalism works. America and her capitalist system have thrived for 200+ years precisely because there has been no overarching national “plan” and because the market has been allowed to engage continuously in “creative destruction.”
Moreover, in those thankfully-rare instances where government has sought massively to promote a specific sector, like the effort during the 1990’s and early 2000’s to grow home-ownership among the minority population, and like Obama’s recent love affair with solar panels, the results have generally been failures if not outright disasters.
So except for a few sectors that clearly are “natural monopolies” — like perhaps the Interstate Highway System —let’s keep “an America” (that is, her government) out of wht you call “new industry and small business” and out of promoting “the sustainability of existing industry.” If our fed and local governments will simply reduce regulation to the bare required minimum, reduce government spending, hold the line on taxes, and maintain a steady money supply, then the high-tech sector will do just fine — as will the rest of the American economy.
I call those degrees “Grievance studies”,
much to the consternation and enragement of my libinlaws.
Average kids - not so much. Oh, they can throw up web sites and sell semi -useless information and/or physical products if they have a natural talent for self-promotion. But that isn't economic growth - it's rats fighting over crumbs.
Not even close. If that's the way it came across, then I need to get more sleep before writing. Rather than thinking of American government as ‘enlightened’, I generally think that elected office attracts marginally qualified people with delusions of grandeur. I don't for a second buy into the ‘enlightened oligarchy’ bs that many on the left - in a very self-serving manner - embrace.
I absolutely agree with you that the answers have to come from private individuals, not from some contrived government policy. What I was trying to say was that unless we stop punishing the successful, and stop the overregulation and taxation that is suppressing entrepreneurial activity in the US, we won't need IT because there will be no industry for IT to support. Paraphrasing what someone else said much more succinctly and better than I did on this thread, we aren't going to build a vibrant economy based on people writing apps for the iPad etc.
“... it fails to recognize that information technology has to have a purpose in order to have sustainable marketplace relevance - beyond entertainment.”
Why? Do you have any examples to support this statement?
Television, movies, and commercial radio are examples of early information technoplogy that are 90-99% entertainment-based. Entertainment is a legitimate marketplace all by itself. Note the tremendous inroads these industries have made in the information tech market over the last 10-years. Like the telephone (another early IT technology), people use them for business, but people also use them for chit chat, personal (non-work-related) business or entertainment. Businesses advertise on facebook. If social media has no purpose, why would businesses do that?
You are correct in one sense; that there may not be a long-term future for current social media technology. Not for the reasons you cite, but because a better social media technology will replace them relatively quickly compared to the past.
I’ve never been impressed by Michael Barone. A private school brat, ‘the Cranbrook School’, and then Harvard. Too elite for my taste. And an Open Borders cheerleader as well.