Monday, December 17, 2012

Industrial Capitalism's #GreatDecoupling. #Jaws2013. No Signs of Closing. Ever.

For followers of this space, this is the best Christmas gift possible. Must reading at NYT by @erikbryn. Sadly, human on the whole haven't even reacted to climate change in any meaningful way; so we're not particularly any more enthusiastic about how the humans will respond to these facts, as to any others.
first drawn by the economist Jared Bernstein, productivity growth and employment growth started to become decoupled from each other. Bernstein calls the gap that’s opened up “the jaws of the snake.” They show no signs of closing.

As the jaws of the snake opened, wages suffered even more than job growth. Adjusted for inflation, the average U.S. household now has lower income than it did in 1997. Wages as a share of G.D.P. are now at an all-time low, even as corporate profits are at an all-time high. The implicit bargain that gave workers a steady share of the productivity gains has unraveled.

Digital labor, in short, substitutes for human labor. This happens first with more routine tasks, which is a big part of the reason why less-educated workers have seen their wages fall the most as we moved deeper into the computer age.

As we move ahead the Great Decoupling will only accelerate.

Digital progress lowers prices, improves quality, and brings us into a world where abundance becomes the norm.

But there is no economic law that says digital progress will benefit everyone evenly. As technology races ahead it can leave a lot of workers behind. In the short run we can improve their prospects greatly by investing in infrastructure, reforming education at all levels and encouraging entrepreneurs to invent the new products, services and industries that will create jobs.

While we’re doing this, however, we also need to start preparing for a technology-fueled economy that’s ever-more productive, but that just might not need a great deal of human labor. Designing a healthy society to go along with such an economy will be the great challenge, and the great opportunity, of the next generation.
While there is "no economic law that says digital progress will benefit everyone evenly," we live in an era that we are participating in the very process of biological evolution; amending natural laws and processes that humans had absolutely no hand in engineering. In contrast to the relatively immutable laws of physics, economics are completely man-made; these are not immutable laws by any stretch. We can and must re-make economics in the image of service to humanity; before the machines fully incorporate a contrary belief system. It's worth repeating tried and true reason statement of these principles and aims:
"Human progress is our Cause,
Liberty of thought our Supreme Wish,
Freedom of Conscience our Mission, and
The guarantee of Equal Rights To All People Everywhere,
Our Ultimate Goal."