Apr 6, 2009

Who needs work? Now we can just bang on our drums all day

During the course of this past weekend, I completed the following commercial transactions:

Self serve grocery checkout
Self serve gas fill-up on the Turnpike
ATM cash withdrawal
Online e-book purchase & delivery
Online train ticket purchase (w/future kiosk pickup)
Online event purchase & ticket printout

All six have one thing in common: none involved my interacting with another human being. All six would have involved one a half-generation ago; a couple would have required such just a few years back.

My reason for keeping track of the obvious must be the fact that I just completed reading (for at least the third time) the 1995 book The End of Work. Here, author Jeremy Rifkin makes us face the fact that technology and its inherent productivity gains are resulting in an inevitable decline of jobs, many of which will not be offset by knowledge / service sector replacements. The ramifications of this sea change are immense --– read the book for some insight.

Certainly, a good deal of Rifkin’s reality check has been cloaked by the cheap & easy credit(primarily thru home equity) Ponzi Economy of the past twenty-five years. But, as we are now aware, that rooster has come home to rest…

Interrupting that train of thought was a conversation on immigration policy -- brought about, naturally, by Friday’s insanity in Binghamton. My traveling companion -- who for some reason is of the Republican persuasion – wondered why his party (the Country Club wing of it, at least) tended to favor large immigration numbers. This, he felt, was contrary to their general inclination of ‘exclusive membership’ standards.

The answer (to me, at least) is obvious: more immigrants result in cheaper labor and ever-rising housing demand. Right there are two of the main stars of any GOP fantasy dream.


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