Tuesday, October 15, 2013

American Workers becoming Hunter-Gatherers

Take a horrific peek at the dismal future awaiting those who expect to earn a livelihood in the near future. This is what's forecast in this New York Times article titled "After the Jobs Disappear". It reminded me of a time in earlier human existence where hunter-gatherers traded and bartered goods and services with their counter-parts, such as nomadic herders.

This shift from employment to livelihood, while far from prevalent, has become a necessity for many in the wake of the 2008 global financial collapse, which led to the loss of more than 8 million jobs in the United States. At the time, I and other observers predicted that these jobs — a victim of labor-saving technical change, globalization and financialization — were unlikely to return. Five years later, the employment-to-population ratio in the United States, 58.6 percent, is at its lowest since 1983. As jobs disappear, people have begun to carve out new ways to gain access to income, goods and services.

In the sharing economy, people are returning, in a sense, to modes of independent production and self-provisioning that preceded (and persevered through) the industrial revolution...Like most economic innovations, these trends promise their share of pain. [Web] sites where people bid to perform tasks have the potential to create a race to the bottom, particularly in times like now, when the supply of labor in wealthy countries is abundant, and the demand is limited.

These trends won’t solve the most urgent economic afflictions facing the West — a shortage of jobs, soaring inequality and a fraying of the welfare state — but they represent one significant response to it...They can participate in urban food growing, an increasingly popular phenomenon...So while they are no panacea, the emergent trends of community fabrication, self-provisioning and the sharing economy collectively suggest a future for work in wealthy countries that involves more making, sharing and self-organizing.

Now keep in mind: Globally, those sitting on over $1 million in personal net worth make up just 0.7 percent of the world’s adult population, but they hold 41 percent of the world’s wealth. This striking info-graphic from Bloomberg neatly depicts how rising income inequality tends to slow upward social mobility. Meanwhile, read why a vineyard in Italy is now a "must-have" for the super-rich.

But last week Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was opining about how unjust our society would be if people of means could stuff no more than a mere $3.5 million into the pockets of their favorite political candidates. Said Scalia: "I don’t think $3.5 million is a heck of a lot of money."

Maybe it's true, and it's only a matter of time before the starving peons begin storming the ramparts.


  1. Early on in the federal government shutdown — a move he helped engineer — GOP lawmaker Michael McCaul of Texas announced he would give to charity his entire House paycheck for the duration of the unpleasantness.

    But McCaul might have some trouble noticing that any of his income has gone missing. He and his colleague Darrell Issa of Texas each have more than twice as much personal wealth as any other lawmakers in Congress. The Center for Responsive Politics puts McCaul’s personal fortune at $501 million, Issa’s at $480 million.

    Members of Congress get $5,400 every two weeks in salary. If McCaul nets a 3 percent return on his investments this year, he’ll take in over $7,200 every working hour.

    Opps! Did I just drop a penny on the ground?

  2. The company outsourced our jobs to an Indian company. I lost my job after I trained my replacement in India.

    I have been with the company for 30 years. I started as a software engineer and gradually promoted to managing a team of 40+ technical personnel contributing $200+MM revenue to the company annually. I am a certified Scrum Master in agile/lean software development and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. I have worked on all phases of product development, from requirements definition, design and development, planning & oversight, design verification and documentation to customer engagement.

    It is hard to get used to not having to work, after working for the past 30 years and throughout my college years. The most difficult is to find a sense of purpose for each day and feel productive at the end of each day.

    While our trade relations with China and Japan have resulted in the loss of manufacturing jobs, trade with India is resulting in the loss and outsourcing of high paying, professional services jobs. The primary focus of India’s national economic strategy, according to J.R. Martin, is the development of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries.


  3. I feel for you anonymous.
    While I never had the title, I have worn all hats in software just as you have with one notable difference.

    I didn't obtain the certifications etc. because both of us have seen plenty with certifications out the ying yang that can't do squat.

    Give me a shout at Keep America At Work and maybe we can figure out a way between both of us to put back the guys and gals like us to work because believe me, I've heard from a few and there are a lot of us out there.

    Keep America At Work