[FoRK] why Dilbert is doomed

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Fri Nov 6 07:14:05 PST 2009

Seems to be advocating careers in telephone sanitisation and such; you know,
the non-tradeable stuff... the stuff no-one but Americans can do... the
stuff that doesn't need to be globally competitive... yeah that's what you
want the education system oriented to - a back scratching nation, or rather
a front-scratching nation for those face-to-face situations. Lets put
Michael Lind in charge; his vision is just so... appealing and grand.

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 1:57 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2009/11/02/healthcare_employment/print.html
> Why Dilbert is doomed
> The jobs of tomorrow are not what you'd expect
> By Michael Lind
> Nov. 03, 2009 |
> Where are tomorrow's jobs going to come from? The question is more urgent
> than ever, with official unemployment hovering around 10 percent and with
> nearly one in five Americans unemployed, if you count part-time workers who
> want full-time jobs and people so desperate that they have given up looking
> for work entirely.
> Most popular discussion about jobs focuses on the effects of offshoring of
> manufacturing jobs to China and other countries, many of which, like China,
> manipulate exchange rates and use subsidies to promote their industries.
> Combating predatory trade practices and rebalancing global trade by means
> of
> higher U.S. exports is important, in the short and medium term. But in the
> long run technologically driven productivity growth is the most important
> factor in shaping employment in the U.S. and every country in the world.
> Productivity growth substitutes machinery or more efficient techniques for
> physical labor (engines) and mental labor (computers). Even if the U.S. had
> a
> completely closed economy, over time inventors and investors would figure
> out
> ways to replace people with machines.
> Since the beginning of the industrial revolution more than two centuries
> ago,
> sectors that have adopted labor-saving machinery have shed labor to other
> sectors. The mechanization of agriculture and mining -- "primary
> production"
> -- freed up labor for factories. Increasing productivity in the "secondary
> production" like manufacturing, by allowing one person with advanced
> technology to do the work of dozens, freed up workers who were then
> employed
> in "tertiary production" -- office work and business services that support
> primary and secondary production. Thus the evolutionary progression, from
> yeoman farmer to factory worker ... to Dilbert in his cubicle.
> With the ruthlessness of Skynet in "The Terminator," computerization in the
> tertiary sector is now committing mass Dilberticide, replacing
> receptionists
> with automated phone systems and travel agents with services like
> Priceline.
> The emptying of the cubicles won't result in permanent mass unemployment,
> the
> present prolonged crisis notwithstanding. As it has always done in the
> past,
> labor will shift from more mechanized to less mechanized sectors. But what
> will those jobs be?
> We already know the answer.
> The most numerous and stable jobs of tomorrow will be those that cannot be
> offshored, because they must be performed on U.S. soil, and also cannot be
> automated, either because they require a high degree of creativity or
> because
> they rely on the human touch in face-to-face interactions. The latter are
> sometimes called "proximity services" and they include the fastest-growing
> occupations, healthcare and education.
> Most job growth in the last decade has been concentrated in three sectors:
> healthcare, education and government, mostly state and local government.
> Since the recession began, healthcare has added 559,000 jobs. Even more
> remarkable, the average monthly gain of 22,000 jobs during 2009 has been
> only
> slightly lower than the average increase of 30,000 jobs a month in 2008.
> Last July, in a study titled "Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs
> of
> Tomorrow," the Council of Economic Advisers predicted that between 2008 and
> 2016 employment will decline in manufacturing, retail and wholesale,
> business
> and financial services and other sectors. Public-sector employment will
> remain steady, and there will be growth in transportation and utilities and
> construction. The greatest job growth, according to the White House, will
> be
> in the health and education sectors. Healthcare-related jobs make up seven
> out of the 20 fastest-growing occupations, and 14 out of the 20
> fastest-growing jobs. The fastest-growing occupations are home health aides
> and registered nurses.
> The aging of the boomers accounts for only 10 percent of the growth. The
> rest
> comes from increasing demand. That's because productivity growth in
> agriculture, construction and manufacturing has greatly reduced the cost of
> food, shelter and appliances. In the U.S. and similar nations, the freed-up
> income tends to be used on quality-of-life goods, of which healthcare is
> the
> most important. So-called ambulatory healthcare services, defined as
> healthcare provision for people who do not need to be hospitalized, form
> the
> fastest-growing part of the healthcare field. This underlines the point: As
> other expenditures are reduced, Americans are spending more income on
> non-emergency healthcare, a superior good that makes it possible to enjoy
> the
> other goods of life all the more.
> It's true that the U.S. needs to reduce unnecessary health cost inflation.
> Paradoxically, however, a more efficient healthcare sector is likely to
> hire
> more, not fewer, people, if tasks that are now carried out by highly paid
> doctors are allowed to be performed by nurses and home health aides. Two
> Stanford economists, Robert E. Hall and Charles I. Jones, have predicted
> that
> even if healthcare is delivered in the most efficient possible way,
> Americans
> are likely to seek to devote "30 percent or more of GDP on health by the
> middle of the century."
> The healthcare sector as a whole should not be considered a drag on the
> real
> or productive economy. On the contrary, while employment in manufacturing
> is
> declining overall, employment in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing
> in
> the U.S. is expected to expand. In the words of the economist Robert Fogel,
> "Just as electricity and manufacturing were the industries that stimulated
> the growth of the rest of the economy at the beginning of the 20th century,
> healthcare is the growth industry of the 21st century. It is a leading
> sector, which means that expenditures on healthcare will pull forward a
> wide
> array of other industries, including manufacturing, education, financial
> services, communications and construction."
> Another widespread myth holds that most Americans need to go to college in
> the future. In reality, most of the fastest-growing jobs, including those
> in
> healthcare, do not require a four-year bachelor's degree. According to the
> Council of Economic Advisers: "The categories with some education required
> beyond high school are growing faster than those not requiring
> post-secondary
> schooling. The growth is not solely among occupations requiring bachelor's
> degrees; occupations that require only an associate's degree or a
> post-secondary vocational award are actually projected to grow slightly
> faster than occupations requiring a bachelor's degree or more." The
> appropriate public policy response is not necessarily to send more
> Americans
> to expensive four-year colleges, particularly if that means crippling
> burdens
> of personal debt in the form of student loans. We need to expand the
> vocational training provided by the community college system.
> None of this means that we don't need world-class scientists and engineers,
> or that we don't need to rebuild our manufacturing export industries, or
> that
> we don't need to hire people to design and build up-to-date infrastructure
> and energy systems. High-tech agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure
> and related business and professional services will remain essential to
> economic dynamism. But thanks to ever smarter machines, fewer and fewer
> people will work in the primary (field), secondary (factory) and tertiary
> (office) sectors. Most of the job growth will be in the "quaternary" sector
> of healthcare and other qualify-of-life services.
> Dilbert's days are numbered. Look for Dilbert Jr. at the nursing station.
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