September 18, 2007
The Job Market in an American Utopia

Okay, I think I’ve got it. Here’s how we build an American Utopia.

First let’s examine what we’re starting with:

  1. Our manufacturing base is pretty much gone. We still make more weapons than everyone else put together, but other than that most of our heavy industry is blowin’ in the wind.
  2. Computers are ever more capable of handling routine tasks. We think nothing of machines handling our money; soon they’ll be flipping our burgers, and probably do a better job. They can already land jets better than the pilots.
  3. Our economy is thus based today on weapons, finance, and service jobs, including all sorts of retailing, most of it legal.
  4. Thus, as the last gasp of the American military empire peaks and then fades over the next few decades, the service and retail sector will take on a much larger share of the burden of supporting us.
  5. The problem is that this will happen at the same time that our economy slows as our military expenditures no longer drive our wealth, and as a result, our overseas bills begin to come due. Let’s see, here’s $850 billion for Japan, $800 billion for China… Say, I’m running a bit short, you carrying your wallet?
  6. This will lead to a “euphemism”, probably a new one to avoid comparison with depressions and recessions of the past. But lots of jobs will be lost. And there’ll be a flood of sitcoms.

Before the Great Depression, manufacturers actually manufactured goods, which they then distibuted for a price. If a short economic slowdown occurred, the manufacturing plants just slowed down, but kept going for a while. As they became more and more efficient, and the economy slowed, they eventually built up overwhelming inventories and stopped manufacturing altogether and laid off their workers, thus decreasing demand and reinforcing the negative cycle.

Today, goods come from overseas, and we make our livings on computers or with service and retail jobs. Thus, everyone suffers quickly if there’s a serious slowdown, and it’d be far worse if we weren’t spending more on “defense” than the rest of the world combined.

There’s only one solution as far as I can see. The corporations are making record profits, computers are taking over more complex tasks every day, goods come from overseas, and they’re not buying themselves.

The corporations should pay us to shop.

Most of the stuff is pretty crappy anyway, so it’s not like they’d have to pay us much to shop for it; plus, it’ll break or be recalled, and we’ll have to take it back and get another one. I suppose we’d have to submit to a bit of advertising, but collectively we do a pretty good job of that as it is. What’s television for, after all, if not to let us know when we’re doing a good job of shopping and when there’s something we’re not getting?

They wouldn’t even have to give us money, just credit cards. They already control and record most of what we buy, eat, wear, watch, and listen to. This would just make it official: the corporation as doting parent.

Think of the advertising campaigns this would generate. “Don’t worry, Mom, Viacom will take good care of your kids!’ “Hungry? Call ConAgra, she’s in the kitchen!’ “CNN: we’ll let you know if anything happens.’

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at September 18, 2007 06:35 PM
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