|Heard of an interesting study...
||[Mar. 15th, 2016|10:00 pm]
...and I'm not trying to be scientific or anything, but some social scientists have been measuring what happens when economic opportunity leaves a place, and they find broken families and drug use and increases in crime and, well, basically, all of the things people use to blame black people for causing their own problems. |
So, go figure. Human beings who are robbed of economic activity aren't the perfect "Leave It To Beaver" families imagined earlier.
And it's come full circle. I saw a conservative rag attacking these people for having these problems. And I couldn't help but wonder if there's some added anger, at the thought that they're acting like "those people".
I also had the ugly thought that some of these folks may have been staunch "conservatives" and yet liberal folks still have to fight to try to make their lives better. And if it worked well, in one location, they might go right on back to hating "those people" and scorning folks who have problems with broken families and drug use and crime... something about "no good deed goes unpunished" comes to mind.
But I've also been pondering. Do you know, since NAFTA was signed, Mexico's done a lot more manufacturing? But their GDP per capita hasn't really risen. Someone's making money - but it's not spreading to the people. How does a nation advance, these days?
That's a more important question than it might seem, because the next question could well be "how do we bounce back?"
2016-03-17 01:00 am (UTC)
That's a good question. If the current market model of economics has failed -- and if it's not providing a significant majority with economic opportunity than it has -- we're on the cusp of a change in political organization of states as great as any we humans have experienced since the Renaissance and the subsequent end of the age of feudalism. Whatever comes next isn't going to be communism, but may be some kind of socialism with managed economies. China was making progress on that front for a while, but is right now having problems with bureaucrats who aren't the enlightened Confucians needed to intelligently manage a large and dynamic state.
Or heck, we might get something like Neal Stephenson's claves.
I do think we're hitting what I think of as the Star Trek limit. There's a lot of manufacturing moving back to the US, I've heard - but it's not providing a lot of jobs or economic growth.
And with 3D printing and ever-smarter robotics, manufacturing is going to become smaller and smaller.
I heard it said that there was a time when 30% of the population of the US worked in food production, at least part time. And now, with factory farming methods, it's down to a tiny percentage - maybe 5%.
Standard economics says "that's *twenty five percent* of the population freed up to pursue other economic activity!" and there was a time when that was true. That would be more people to work in factories to produce goods... but now the factories don't need as many people to work there, either. And new services aren't growing so fast as to soak up the rest.
So what do ordinary people do?
People need to work - they need to feel useful. (And for those who don't fit the general rule, well, people whine about welfare, but you know something? As long as a person making minimum wage is substantially better off than a person on welfare, I'd rather pay those who don't want to work to stay the heck out of the workplace and not take up a space that someone interested and ambitious could have had!)
I'm reminded a bit of Vonnegut's Player Piano (which I read far too many years ago to remember well) but I remember that after the revolution, people were starting to feel good being able to do a bit of work on their own again - but what they were doing was rebuilding the automatons providing all the goods and services. Which points out the difficulty of the questions, I suppose.
One thing that might help temporarily is a huge carbon tax. It's artificially cheap to ship automobiles and refrigerators and washing machines - maybe we'd be better off if we made it so expensive they had to be built close to home. But that's a temporary fix; technology will overwhelm that, too.
I do hope you're right - socialism at some level is what I think we need. Properly managed, it can make almost everyone better off with minimal pain for the most wealthy now. And honestly, I'm not going to shed any tears if the uber-wealthy feel their children will be worse off (but still filthy rich), if the remaining 99.5% all know their children will be as well, or better off.