The Shrinking Need for a Workforce: This Time it’s Different

There’s a YouTube video making the rounds of the internet that I highly recommend.  Go ahead and watch.

I’ll wait.

Done?  Good.

For those who will stubbornly refuse to watch the video, this is the synopsis.  Automation over time has made things easier for us since it’s reduced the demand of physical labor, which we’ve benefitted from.  But automation is not only continuing to reduce the number of boring, repetitious jobs, it’s now going after higher end jobs.  An Oxford Study predicted that 47% of US jobs could be lost to automation in 20 years.  Burger flippers and baristas for sure, but also lawyers and doctors are at risk. There is a lot fewer tax preparers now then there were in the days before tax preparation software.  So it’s not just low end drudge jobs that will be going away, it’s upper end jobs that require education that used to provide a lot of middle class and upper middle class incomes.

Previous automation, since the Industrial Age, has often provided a springboard to new industries and new jobs.  In 1870, between 70 and 80 percent of the US workforce was involved in agriculture.  In 2008, it was less than 2%.  But industrialization created vastly more jobs than were lost.  Automation in agriculture didn’t cause widespread unemployment, it freed up millions to work.  Within my lifetime, there has been an explosion of new jobs that just didn’t exist when I graduated high school.  Web Designer anyone?

There are, as a percentage more professional, high paying jobs than there used to be. That’s part (but only part) of the reason for expanding income inequality; more “good jobs” at the upper end. Professional jobs for people with technical BS degrees or graduate level.  But what about the percentage of new unskilled or semiskilled jobs?  Is the economy creating unskilled jobs paying much better than the minimum wage?

So never mind the video and its predictions. We can just look back over the past 50 years and see that the new jobs that are created are for a more highly educated and highly skilled subset. Automation improvements like cash registers becoming easier to operate as they become oversized calculators, are not creating new jobs, they are making already low skilled jobs even more low skilled.  At least until the jobs are automated away all together.

If these trends continue, with more newer jobs being for the more educated class and few new low skilled jobs created, what are we going to do with people who are just not smart enough to get a Phd in Neurolingustics (as an example)? We are improving automation along the lines of Moore’s Law, but there isn’t a Moore’s Law for human intelligence or ability. That is my concern. Not that we hit the Singularity and every human is unemployed and targeted for termination, but that the gradual change in the economy means few jobs for people on left side of the Bell Curve. We’ll have a growing cadre of people permanently unemployable no matter how great the stock market is doing or how much increase in GDP there is.

After watching this video, I had more questions than answers from it.  Frankly I don’t know what to do about the problem of people being rendered permanently unemployable.  Maybe someone should make an app for that…

 

No Moderates in Palestine

I don’t think I’ve written specifically on the Israeli-Palestinian permanent crisis before; mostly because I just don’t have the background on the various agreements, history, and grievances that make this continuing conflict such a stain on the planet.  But as the latest Gaza War winds down, I’ve learned a few lessons that make it a lot easier to know which side to be on.

I’ve been on a web forum for politics for several years now that has an international flavor; there are posters from all over the world who show up to lodge their opinions.  So the Gaza conflict naturally brought out people from all over the world to post their opinions, which, it’s no surprise, were almost uniformly anti-Israeli.  Actually, I’m being kind by referring to the comments as “anti-Israel.”  The real basis of it is good old fashioned anti Semitism.

That’s one of the sad things I’ve learned about the world.  When I first started posting on this particular political forum, I was shocked by the amount of casual anti Semitism that was on display.  That was something that was rarely seen on American political web boards.  Or at least not that I’ve seen. But it really brought into focus one of those issues that confound students of history; namely, how could a civilized nation like Germany fall to such depths that it operated extermination camps for the purpose of mass murder of the Jews?  After a few months on that board, the real question is why aren’t those camps up and running now, considering the depth of hatred that currently exist all over the world for Jews?  It seems that outside of the United States (and I recognize that a slice of internet commentary isn’t the “real world”) that despite the various ranges of language, culture, class, ethnicity, and politics, the world is united in it’s antipathy for the Jews.

So during the Gaza conflict, I was enjoying a discussion thread with a Jordanian who, based on previous postings, was not in any sense, a fanatic. So I thought it would be enjoyable and enlightening to discuss the pros and cons.  I admitted that I didn’t know every in and out of the conflict, but of the two combatants, one was clearly representing civilization, and one was representing barbarity, so in a world of limited information, I’m on the side of civilization.

It was enlightening anyway.

One of the problems in discussing this issue is that the pro-Palestinian side is never honest about their endgame.  I’ve heard from foreign policy experts, diplomats, and pundits that everyone knows what peace will look like:  A two state solution.  The problem is that only one side really believes in a two state solution.  That was the case for this Jordanian, who after saying he supported a two state solution, ended up opposing the best two state solution, the original UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and the second best one, which was the Camp David Summit that took place in 2000 under Bill Clinton where he got Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to hammer out an agreement that Arafat ultimately rejected.

My Jordanian friend explained that the Camp David agreement would only provide 92% of the West Bank, therefore was unacceptable.  I thought 92% was pretty good terms for the losing side.  And that’s what the Palestinians and their apologists don’t seem to get.  They not only lost the war at the partition and the declaration of Israel’s independence, they’ve lost every single war since then.  Of course, if they had won even one, Israel would no longer exist and it’s likely they’re would be a scarcity of Jews in the area.  For Israel, every war is an existential one.

But losing sides don’t dictate terms, they accept them.  Every other side that has been on the losing end of a war they started and lost territory; at least understands why they lost the territory.  Does Germany get to claim the Sudetenland or Danzig (now Polish Gdansk) back from the war they started and lost?  Nope.  Nor would the world tolerate ethnic Germans living in UN financed refugee camps in 2014 for a war they lost in 1945, whining to get those territories back. Germany makes a good example for another reason:  The Arabs sided with the Nazi’s during World War II.  There are no spoils of war for the losers.

The Palestinians have lost their war and don’t know it. Every other people who get defeated in war and lose territory…don’t get it back. The Mexicans are not getting the Southwest back. Nor were the Mexicans living on the US side of the border put in refugee camps for decades. They either became Americans or left for Mexico. Look how many times the borders of Europe have been changed due to war just in the past century. The losers don’t get do overs. Is the Ukraine getting The Crimea back? Nope. If the entire world was as crazy as the Palestinians, sitting in their refugee camps decade after decade, human life would be extinct. We would have nuked each other over and over until there wasn’t a human left. They should either accept the borders they have and declare themselves an independent state, or pack up and try to find a country to accept them. I don’t understand the entire world having to revolve around the genocidal ambitions of the Palestinians. There doesn’t seem a logical reason for it, unless  virulent anti-Semitism counts as a reason.

If Israel isn’t legitimate than none of the Arab states are since they were all drawn up the same way, on the drawing board of Europe.  And my Jordanian debater?  He eventually admitted that the real occupied territories are the ones Israel took with them on independence.  In other words, the entire state of Israel is an occupation.  So you can see, there is no room ever for compromise in the Arab mind.  The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in refugee camps are not refugees from the West Bank, they are “refugees” from Israel, and their intention is to return home when there is no longer an Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a good talking point in Western media when he said, “We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”  That’s the civilized side and that’s the side I’m on.

Trolling Feminists

I was being entertained the other day by a buddy of mine who for no discernible reason started trolling one of his feminist Facebook friends.  Now that’s more of a game that I like to play, although usually not on Facebook and usually not with friends.  And it was especially surprising since this particular friend is a very non confrontational sort who more often plays the peacemaker rather than the instigator.   He’s more than once tried to mediate disagreements between friends with a joke or distracting comment. But social media makes jerks of us all, and I guess basic humanity prevented him from being assimilated longer than most.  But the lure of being a smart ass pulls us all in eventually.

The set up is this:  His feminist friend posted a slightly bawdy joke.  As jokes go, it’s it’s mildly amusing to a guy, but to women, for whom the threshold of humor is much lower, it’s Hee-lar-e-us.  If you want the full story, go here.  The gist of it as that an old codger begins signing his credit card with a penis illustration.   Hilarity ensues when the card reader at Wal-Mart doesn’t recognize the penis as his signature and management is called in.  Funny right?  Well not to a feminist; at least usually.  In fact if my friend had posted this joke, he likely would have been subject to quite a bit of written finger wagging from busy body feminists.  But he got the upper hand and by lefty standards, the moral high ground by posting a critique of said joke:

Smart Ass Friend:  “Not funny, what if the cashier had been a victim of sexual assault? Being subjected to the drawing could have been a triggering event for her PTSD. Not to mention the stomping on her civil rights if she was Lesbian or Transgendered, this kind of humor is perpetuated by the hegemonic phallocentric patriarchy that has committed all the evil in the world. I bet you Ted Nugent would have found this hilarious…I’m disappointed in you.”

Extra points for the use of your typical “Wymyn’s Studies” terminology, that’s used nowhere else and serves no useful descriptive purpose.  Therefore feminists love to use it.  So that was all it took to set his feminist friend (although probably by now his former friend) on a tear of foul language, and threats.  After that, all my friend had to do to egg on another tirade of butthurt was to toss in a few lines about a living wage, challenging hetronormative behaviors, gender binaries, and of course the “-isms.”  Leftists in general and feminists in particular love those; racism sexism capitalism, classism and so on.  The thing is, you don’t even have to use them in a coherent sentence, just list them.

The thread proceeds in a predictable manner, screaming incoherence from the feminist, and the arrival of a white knight to defend milady’s honor.  A white knight seems to be an accessory that every feminist needs since she’s incapable of using man tools like “logic” and “reason” herself.  She needs a big strong man to heft those.  Hey, you can’t fight the cisgendered, transphobic patriarchy without a fella can ya?  Am I right gals?

Of course, as dominate as it is in our culture, feminism is a stupid ideology.  It’s the idea that there are no differences between men and women other than genitalia, and now that trans-you-name-it is replacing homosexuality as the next civil rights frontier, genitalia are less and less important to one’s identity.  Even though the stupidity of feminism has become so obvious that now only 23% of women call themselves feminists, it’s still left a damaging mark on our culture.

Oddly enough, the same poll shows that 16% of men call themselves feminists too.

Lest anyone get the idea this is just some misogynic rant, I do support equal rights for women, and love and respect women.  My marriage isn’t about me bossing my wife around and tossing my shirts at her to make sure they get ironed.  It’s an equal partnership, meaning she bosses me around.

And my shirts never get ironed.

Links

I’ve added a new page to the site, called Links. It’s a collection of web links I’ve collected over the years that have interested me for one reason or another, and were about topics that I figured I would either want to go back and research at one point, or that I wanted to use as a reference in future blog posts.

I’ve kept it and expanded it over the years, listing the links by topics to make them easy to find again. If there are any suggestions to how to organize them better, I’m open to suggestions.

How I Ended Up Here

Although this is a brand new blog, I’ve been blogging on the internet for years.  Originally I was invited to post at the now defunct Muchedumbre site.  The origins of that site are, by internet standards, ancient.  But first I have to explain that once upon a time, I became a fan.  I had never been an extreme fan of anything (Lost In Space lunchbox in 3rd grade excluded).  So I surprised myself by becoming a fan of a radio show of all things in my thirties;  The Monsters on Real Radio 104.1.  It was a combination opportunity; I was able to listen to the radio at work, and just being ready for the type of “hot talk” and comedy that the Monsters provided.  So for the first time in my life, I actually started talking up a radio show, inviting friends and co-workers to listen, and actually going to radio events.

From there, it was a hop, skip, and dial up connection to the radio station website.  At that time, the radio station hosted what was called, Comic Chat.  It was an online forum that graphically represented the users as cartoon like characters, in which postings would appear as bubbles above the characters… yes like a comic book.  That didn’t last long, but the radio station eventually installed a web board.  I, along with many others, became a frequent user because of my desire to chat about the show with like minded people.

But this really isn’t about a show.  The show was the accelerator, but the web board, and the community that developed around it, became something real, that powered along after legal issues forced the  radio station sponsored web board to join the trash heap of internet history.  This particular internet community managed to stay connected and eventually found another web board to hang out for a while, and then finally a permanent home at The Muche.  This was a true community, or at least as much of one that can exist online.  People got together, had parties, went to shows, camped, dated, married, divorced, cheated, then camped and dated all over again.  The internet circle of life.

Of course, nothing is really permanent.  But the site did have  it’s glory days of activity and internet hits.  It fed off of the popularity of the Monsters, and as the show was broadcast on XM Radio, internet searches brought posters and yes, more internet hits.  It was during this heyday that I was invited to post on the home page of the site.  The Powers That Be of the site had an original vision that included a home page that had frequent new content to attract regular return visits, with the intention of making the site a hub of both a community, and podcasts by some of the frequent, long time posters on the site.  Yes, no surprise that radio fans also nursed a dream of having their own radio show.  Me?  I supplied just a small niche; I posted about politics mostly.

But things began to decline as they always must.  The skyrocketing popularity of the Monsters leveled off as the show and cast entered middle age, resulting in a declining number of new viewers and posters.   And the estrangement between show and fans became pronounced.  The Powers That Be, began to lose interest in their own website and couldn’t even be bothered to update it.  Although never the most communicative bunch, their Asperger-like personalities lead to the closing of one of the most popular sections on the board, the political section, without warning or explanation.  At that point, the numbers declined precipitously so it became obvious that the end was near.

So although it’s popular to say it’s an end of an era and all that, usually by the time the era ends, there are few to mourn that era, and that’s the case here.  It wasn’t worth hosting a site for 6 to 8 regular posters, although I’ll regret the lose of the thousands of conversations, jokes, and comments, people grew up, got other interests, and moved on.

I’ll also regret losing the many posts I made on the site, going back to 2008.

But I’m grateful that the opportunity given to blog there honed my writing and my arguments, and appreciate the new hobby that site inspired.