Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Krugman points out today that Education is no substitute for a Job and as someone who has programmed I’ll tell you flat out there is no repetitive task I can’t automate (well, once I install my compliers and linkers and blow the dust off my language skills).
Sort of off topic, I’m looking for a script that will cycle through a Soapblox database (they’re sequentially ordered) and save the page with contents, links, and comments to a hard drive so I can burn offline archive CDs and DVDs for the authors on our sites.
Yes, I could do it myself, but it’s mind numbing grundge work of the type suitable only for interns and computers.
Degrees and Dollars
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: March 6, 2011
(T)he idea that modern technology eliminates only menial jobs, that well-educated workers are clear winners, may dominate popular discussion, but it’s actually decades out of date.
The fact is that since 1990 or so the U.S. job market has been characterized not by a general rise in the demand for skill, but by “hollowing out”: both high-wage and low-wage employment have grown rapidly, but medium-wage jobs – the kinds of jobs we count on to support a strong middle class – have lagged behind. And the hole in the middle has been getting wider: many of the high-wage occupations that grew rapidly in the 1990s have seen much slower growth recently, even as growth in low-wage employment has accelerated.
(A)ny routine task – a category that includes many white-collar, nonmanual jobs – is in the firing line. Conversely, jobs that can’t be carried out by following explicit rules – a category that includes many kinds of manual labor, from truck drivers to janitors – will tend to grow even in the face of technological progress.
And here’s the thing: Most of the manual labor still being done in our economy seems to be of the kind that’s hard to automate. Notably, with production workers in manufacturing down to about 6 percent of U.S. employment, there aren’t many assembly-line jobs left to lose. Meanwhile, quite a lot of white-collar work currently carried out by well-educated, relatively well-paid workers may soon be computerized. Roombas are cute, but robot janitors are a long way off; computerized legal research and computer-aided medical diagnosis are already here.
(T)here are things education can’t do. In particular, the notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade.
So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer – we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.