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1.28.2004

The new new economy 

Kevin Drum and friends muse about the social effects of an increasingly technological economy. One of the commenters predicts that unless the government does something to ensure a higher standard of living for unskilled workers, they will someday outnumber the educated elites to the point where they will reenact the French Revolution. (Actually, come to think of it, this prediction of the future is more in line with the Unabomber's vision than with Robespierre's.)

The problem that unskilled laborers face is not that their work is intrinsically not very valuable; the problem is that the market places such a value on their labor because they have few other options for work, while they have to compete with cheap immigrant labor and cheap outsourced labor overseas.

As the intellectual prerequisites for work in the new new economy continue to increase, our schools have to be able to train people to succeed in such jobs. If this isn't possible, then people who don't have the aptitude for this kind of stuff need to be trained as plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, or whatever else -- they need to be able to find jobs that aren't likely to be automated or outsourced in the near future.

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