The Problem With Work


This is a great piece. Echoes of Kurt Cavano’s talk DISRUPTOVIA in Honduras last week……..

The problem with work, Dec 4, 2018

For the last several years, some of the world’s leading thinkers have fretted over robots and artificial intelligence, with one particular worry — whether jobs across the U.S. and the rest of the advanced economies are going to be wiped out.

The big picture: As of now, no one truly knows what will happen, but everyone agrees on one point — that something is substantially broken when it comes to work. Most Americans have not received a real wage increase in decades, one-third of working-age people are not part of the labor force at all, and the education system seems divorced from the future economy.

So fraught has the subject become that radical solutions are now getting mainstream attention.

What’s happening: Trump won the 2016 election in large part by repositioning the Republican Party as the defender of rank-and-file workers in down-on-its-luck communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump had captured the zeitgeist that almost no one else could see.

But the evidence for a building problem was hiding in plain sight in the form of blighted cities, communities and states. The problem of future work had been outlined, too: In 2013, two young researchers at the Oxford University published a thundering study forecasting that 47% of future U.S. jobs could be automated in the coming decades. More recently, studies by McKinsey have said that a massive reskilling of workers can avoid that outcome. But other studies said that, while that may be right, there is no solution on the horizon for flat wages.

Now Oren Cass, Mitt Romney’s former domestic policy adviser and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that the problem is so profound that it will only be solved by essentially throwing out the long-standing economic policies of both parties.

His new book, “The Once and Future Worker,” rejects the usual explanations — that the problem is robots and automation. Rather, he says, public policy has pushed many workers away from physical labor, to which most are suited, and meanwhile taken whacks at the industrial economy, including extraction industries, that might employ these workers. Read More. 


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