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Going Full Socialist

Since i revealed my plans to conquer America and install a socialist dictatorship in the previous post, i might as well comment on this New York Times article that takes a look at industrial decline along the East Coast rail line as well. It's a good article that i recommend that you read, but i wanted to focus on this passage because it called me back to my Noam Chomsky days.

The atrophying of the country's ability to "make real things" has been much lamented, but the truth is that U.S. manufacturing has never been stronger. While there are no universally accepted numbers, the United Nations Statistics Division calculates that the dollar value of goods made in America is at an all-time high of $1.9 trillion, just about even with China. The catch is that the number of American workers needed to create all thatvalue has dropped steadily... a handful of highly trained workers guiding machines that return huge value to shareholders while all the time finding ways to produce more goods with fewer workers.

If you ever go back to articles from the 1950s and 60s and read about the coming wave of automation, you'll be amused by people talking about how the work week will be drastically reduced because of how so much of our jobs will be done by machines (See here: "Perhaps the gains of the automation revolution will carry us on from a mass democracy to a mass aristocracy.... The common man will become a university-educated world traveler with a summer place in the country, enjoying such leisure-time activities as sailing and concert going."). It sounds insanely naive and idealistic but it really was how some people were thinking at the time. We had some choices - we could keep having the same levels of growth and profit and do less work, or we could increase profits by working the same. We chose the latter, and while some people continued to work the same (and in many cases more), others were simply no longer needed (or wanted, or cared about... soup is good food). We had a choice where everyone could share in those profits or whether the profits would only go to the owners of business, even if they weren't responsible for the gains in productivity that allowed them to increase their profits. Again, we chose the latter.

Good paying manufacturing jobs aren't coming back, and they shouldn't have to in order for everyone in this country to share in our country's wealth. We have the highest GDP in the world; it's just that many of the citizens along the Amtrak line (and elsewhere!) don't get their share of it.

By fnord12 | November 5, 2012, 10:00 AM | Liberal Outrage

Reference from SuperMegaMonkey

Following up on my socialistic outburst from yesterday... Kevin Drum has an incredible chart showing how jobs that can be outsourced to automation simply don't come back when a recession ends. As Drum hints at, when you hear politicians talk...    Read More: We can't be a nation of doctors

Reference from SuperMegaMonkey

Paul Krugman has a list of four... I'll add a fifth: because we can afford it and everybody deserves to share in this nation's productivity gains.    Read More: Why we shouldn't raise the retirement age

Reference from SuperMegaMonkey

And Yglesias suggests hiring the leaf-blower and using the savings to pay the old guy a pension. But the company would never do that because workers don't share in a company's productivity gains, as i've written previously.    Read More: Almost literally priceless

Reference from SuperMegaMonkey

Quoted from an interview with Ian Welsh by Jay Ackroyd. File this under "echo chamber" because i'm not sure Welsh, a pretty radical Scottish politician, is bringing any new data to the discussion, but i agree with his sentiment (as...    Read More: Non-productive jobs

Reference from SuperMegaMonkey : chronocomic

I don't think Nocenti's attempt at showing another side to Coppersmith works very well. I mean, we can all sympathize with someone who has lost their job to automation. I ramble about it regularly on my main blog. And if Coppersmith had been specifically targeting Zum, i could see a more lenient approach here being appropriate. But he was killing random people!    Read More: Daredevil #257