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Why Income Inequality Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

 

Yves here. I seldom put up a post to use as an object lesson, but this one is a case study in how soi disant progressives have internalized the neoliberal world view and are therefore unable to either challenge its working or come up with adequate remedies.

In the article below, the author not just accepts but actually promotes the notion that “disruptors,” which is the Silicon Valley buzz phrase for companies that break the law but have been allowed to get away with it, are something we need to tolerate. I know far too many people who consider themselves to be left-leaning who have no compunction about using Uber, despite the fact that they live in areas that are reasonably to very well served by cabs. Uber is perceived to be cool because you get to use your smartphone, when people who use Uber should be shamed unless they have a legitimate reason (for instance, blacks are regularly shunned by cabs, and cabs drivers tell me they don’t like going to the outer boroughs of Manhattan, not because they get fewer hails so much as they get stiffed on those rides far more often than on rides within Manhattan or to and from airports). In other words, people who like to style themselves as Good Progressives are all too happy to take a cheap deal even when they know it involves screwing workers (I’ve spoken to a couple of cabbies outside NYC who looked into applying for Uber and abandoned the idea when they worked through the math. Uber pays less than a cab ride of a comparable distance and takes a cut of driver pay on top of that. And this was in cities where cab fare was not all that high to begin with).

But not surprisingly, the author runs an apps-based company, and therefore is personally invested in the Silicon Valley primacy of technology and markets world view.

Stronger anti-trust enforcement, tougher labor laws (benefits, requiring pricing that exceeds the minimum wage or a living wage) and other measures would do more than the weak tea ideas served up below. But first is to change attitudes around using services that intensify the squeeze on workers.

YOu’ll notice the article also perpetuates the STEM shortages myth, which has been debunked here. For instance, anyone who reads Slashdot more than occasionally will tell you that they regularly run stories by new computer science graduates who are desperate to find an entry level job. The reason they can’t find them is obvious: they’ve been outsourced or have been filled by H1-B visa holders. Yeoman work in other fields, like the law, is also being sent overseas, meaning ultimately that the next generation of professionals in these fields will largely be foreign, since we are refusing to grow our own.

By Odysseas Papadimitriou is the CEO of WalletHub. Originally published at Alternet

We’ve all heard about rising income inequality, and for good reason: It’s a huge problem. Just consider the fact that the wealthiest 1% of Americans accounted for roughly 21.2% of all earnings in 2012, compared to just 8.9% in 1973, according to UC Berkeley’s Center for Equitable Growth.

But far less obvious is the eventuality that things will get much worse before they get better. Don’t believe it? Here are a couple of specific reasons why we’re in for more darkness before dawn, plus some ideas on how we can fix the underlying problems.

Why Worse Is Yet to Come

1. Disruption has picked up the pace: Gone are the days when business innovation crept outward from a locale at a snail’s pace, providing ample preparation time for all parties with the potential to be affected. Where a new supermarket, for instance, might once have disrupted a neighborhood only to face a long, unlikely journey to meaningful mass adoption, businesses can now reach a worldwide audience at a click of a button, good ideas spread like wildfire and the game is more of a winner-takes-all affair.

As a result, the uber-wealthy are becoming both richer and fewer in number, while the average worker gets hit with a tidal wave of unpreparedness. Such developments should not come as a surprise, however, as they simply represent the continuation of a pattern that has emerged throughout time, whereby innovation occurs at an increasing pace and becomes increasingly technical in the process.

chart1

2. Niche skills are required:The economy’s increasing focus on emerging technologies renders certain types of old-school training obsolete and puts the select few who are proficient in skills that complement the makeover into high demand.

This effectively devalues certain degrees for those who have already graduated, in addition to providing a roadmap for students making pricey investments in higher education. Just consider the following unemployment-rate discrepancies among college majors as of 2012, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce:

chart_2

In light of this skills-based barrier to riding the tech wave and the costs that prevent us from addressing this limitation, it will take many graduation cycles for our training to sync up with what the economy values most.

How to Bridge the Gap

We are not resigned to our economic fate, nor must our children repeat our mistakes. So in addition to considering the aforementioned factors that are fueling the fire, we should make sure to keep the following in mind in the years to come.

1.Support progressive tax reform:Although “progressive” is a buzzword often applied with a broad brush, the definition you should really care about relates to the tax code. Most agree it’s in desperate need of overhaul, and our focus in that regard should be to separate from regressive policies of the past and abandoning pie-in-the-sky ideas such as the flat tax, which would actually further consolidate wealth.

For example, we should listen to the more than 90% of Americans who want capital and labor to be taxed at the same rate, according to a WalletHub survey. And we should do so with the most powerful tools at our disposal: our voices and votes.

2.Overhaul education to disrupt the disrupters:We need to fundamentally overhaul the education system so it rivals Silicon Valley and the Pentagon technologically. If we use just a fraction of all the wealth being created by the current tech boom to groom the next wave of disrupters, we’ll find ourselves in self-sustaining cycle of growth, providing a rising tide to lift all boats.

Despite what the statistics say, it’s important to remember there’s light at the end of the tunnel for anyone who works hard and focuses on the fundamentals of sound money management. In addition to perhaps making certain jobs obsolete, the internet is a great democratizing force. It offers all of the tools and information that anyone needs to succeed. We just have to put the pieces together to make a profitable puzzle.

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69 comments

  1. Synoia

    Engineers have a limited career life.

    Q: what is a 50 year old engineer called?

    A: unemployed.

      1. ambrit

        Q: What do you call a Theology grad without a rich uncle?
        A: A Minister Without (Investment) Portfolio.

  2. Synoia

    I perceive it is the policy of the United States to crush demand for Chinese products. Such an action is a war against China, which is seen by the US as a threat to its hegemony.

    Warfare’s objective is to make the enemies’ economy collapse.

    Crushing demand put that pressure on China’s economy.

    Similarly Muslim unrest and low oil prices put pressure on Russia, and the the wars in the Middle East and North Africa put pressure on Europe via both austerity, leading to unrest, and refugees, leading to unsolvable waves of immigration.

    Leaving none to Challenge the US’ “exceptionalism”

    1. vidimi

      another policy is a stalemate in syria. hence, the US fighting on both sides of the war.

      it only doesn’t make sense if you ignore policy.

    2. Vatch

      I perceive it is the policy of the United States to crush demand for Chinese products.

      Is it? Is the United States really trying to prevent people from buying cell phones, computers, and clothing, all of which are manufactured in China? Would the billionaires and giant corporations which benefit from low Chinese wages allow such a policy?

      1. Lord Koos

        Since almost every durable (and semi-durable) household item is made in China or elsewhere in Asia, I can’t see this as a policy. That won’t change until this stuff is made in the USA once again, and that won’t happen until the US population is desperate enough to accept working for foreign wages (which the way thing are going, may not be that long). And more and more of our food is coming from China now as well… thus the recent law that allows no country-of-origin labeling on meat. At our local cut-rate grocery store, Grocery Outlet, the freezer is full of Chinese-origin processed chicken, vegetables fish, and shrimp.

  3. paul

    Did he mean to conclude:

    In addition to crappifying existing jobs, the internet is a great centralising force. It offers all of the tools and information that oligarghies need to endure. They just have to put the pieces together to make a profitable puzzle.

      1. polecat

        …..because ‘gwof’ at all costs!!

        ..regardless of how it’s achieved…….right?

    1. RBHoughton

      Not sure I can agree there. Services like AirBnB and Uber, whilst making their inventors tons of loot, have succeeded because they provide really useful services.

      They do not serve the oligarchs, indeed Schneidermann wants to ban AirBnB in New York and Berlin, Germany also – because the hotels are crying poverty. Its the entrenched financial interests who whinge.

      We have seen the law ignored by capitalists before, starting with that Citibank / Travelers merger of Rubin’s, so when someone does it to cut living costs of the little man it seems fair to let it continue.

      I think what the internet is doing is opening the world’s population to the ups and downs of self-employment. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? We get to take charge of our lives. That’s my penny’s worth.

      1. pretzelattack

        uber has had tons of problems, and airbnb also, based on evading really useful regulations and impoverishing people. share the crumbs economy.

  4. allan

    ” overhaul the education system so it rivals Silicon Valley and the Pentagon technologically. ”

    Just imagine surging the innovative ecosystems that gave us Pets.com or the F-35 into the kindergarten space.

    1. jrs

      If it’s skills training they want then maybe there should be some overhaul, not of most of K-12 (except maybe to vocational programs) but job specific education maybe. No that’s not liberal arts education. But if workers are literally having to change their skills every few years and companies are neither willing to train nor even pay for training, then we do need something. Of course retraining often doesn’t work either, as there really aren’t enough jobs.

      I don’t know if that is what is being advocated because well one really can’t get any idea what is being advocated from the vague article above, but it does seem at this point the job market shifts faster than people can train or retrain.

  5. Roger Smith

    I love how the author quotes his company’s own survey.

    Solution? Let unfettered tech be thrust upon your children so that they too can learn to love Google.

  6. Jesper

    One thing that wasn’t suggested: Change the IP-laws. They’re outdated and have outlived their usefulness. As is IP-laws are used to avoid paying tax while at the same time used to force the government to stifle innovation and competition. But it might cause some deflationary pressure though and we all know that lower prices are bad, right?

  7. Skippy

    Ahh the smell… in the air…

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

    PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

    Disheveled Marsupial…. seems the Bernays social PR dept is retching… oops… reaching too far… narrative overload…

    1. Skip Intro

      Freedom for capital, chains for workers!

      The role of neoliberal market state is to pick winners by converting the traditional functions of the state to private rents for select cronies.

  8. Charles 2

    “But first is to change attitudes around using services that intensify the squeeze on workers.”

    You mean I should stop getting my information from bloggers working ungodly hours for a pittance coming from Google Adwords and some crowdfunding, and instead revert back to purchase MSM newspapers made by unionized journalists and printing works employees ?

    1. pretzelattack

      how many papers fit this description anymore? and you won’t get anything close to the same information from newspapers like the nyt or the washington post, instead you will get propaganda on how bad unions are. compare a uber vs taxi decision. you get to the airport either way, assuming your inadequately vetted uber driver doesn’t rob or assault you first. but you may get to pay 10 times more for uber if surge pricing is in effect.

  9. Watt4Bob

    How long until the government passes legislation written by Bill Gates to provide smart-phones to the homeless, on which to run apps that teach “sound money management”?

    1. pretzelattack

      i was reading in a book (“raw deal”) that there are now microjobs that pay almost up to a dollar an hour if you are very adept! homelessness is solved!

      1. Mark P.

        Ha. Good for you — you’ve been quite polite. I’d have just started deleting the guy/gal.

  10. FluffytheObeseCat

    The societal ills he’s described can largely be addressed or eliminated with a return to the laws & enforcement regime that prevailed in the mid-twentieth century. A higher, rigorously enforced national minimum wage, more restriction on trade with nations that do not meet our legal standards, restriction on the rate of immigration by rigorous enforcement of hiring laws, and elimination of H1B and similar visa programs.
    That is all it would take. Hence the ‘learned helplessness’ of this writer & this article. It is well within our power to effect most of the regulatory changes needed to mitigate the situation. We have the template – it’s our own past. Artful, “edgy” brainwashing is the only thing keeping improvement from our grasp. The we just can’t live as well as our parent and grandparents anymore because……. markets! meme is largely nonsense, dressed up as knowledge.

    1. Carla

      “The we just can’t live as well as our parent and grandparents anymore because……. markets! meme is largely nonsense, dressed up as knowledge.”

      Well, if you’ve noticed, it is that nonsense that runs the world these days, and not the wise perspective you provide and many of us share.

      If it is “well within our power to effect most of the regulatory changes needed to mitigate the situation” why do we not do so, pray tell?

    2. Whine Country

      Sounds like you’re saying that we should just go back to enforcing the many laws we already have at our disposal instead of ignoring them and constantly passing new laws to “make things better”. What an interesting idea. Makes me feel old though. That used to be the definition of a conservative back when I was young. Live and learn I guess.

  11. DJG

    Platitude heaven:

    “We need to fundamentally overhaul the education system so it rivals Silicon Valley and the Pentagon technologically. If we use just a fraction of all the wealth being created by the current tech boom to groom the next wave of disrupters, we’ll find ourselves in self-sustaining cycle of growth, providing a rising tide to lift all boats.”

    Yep. He must have picked that up at one of those app-organized express lunches with Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen. These people live in a bubble, which is the politest word I will use for such miscreants.

    Of course, in a day or three, this paragraph of his will be all over the Conserva-Dem tweet zone as the new conventional wisdom. And then they will propose even more charter schools as “disruptors.”

    1. L

      Yeah. It is interesting how fast the article pivots from the beginning which notes the pace of disruption and the way in which it threatens workers to arguing that schools should train the next generation, which would presumably only increase the pace.

      I’m not sure what point he thinks he is making but the vague word-salad sounds like something that Y-labs would spit out.

    2. JTFaraday

      “We need to fundamentally overhaul the education system so it rivals Silicon Valley and the Pentagon technologically.”

      I know, it’s just amazing. That one popped out at me too.

      “Order my world, my Lord and Master!”

      Too much xBox.

  12. Ignacio

    Another typical case of misconduct for both left and rigth-leaning individuals, at least here in Spain, is to ask for services without VAT (and without invoice of course). This was common practice in Spain few years ago, but I don’t know how important is it rigth now. Is it frequent in the US?

    1. FluffythObeseCat

      We have a large cash-only service economy. It’s impressively under-discussed by our chattering class. I suspect this is because they make great use of it.

  13. Jim Haygood

    “We should listen to the more than 90% of Americans who want capital and labor to be taxed at the same rate.”

    Nothing wrong with that … if capital gains are inflation-indexed. Currently they are not, and the lower tax on capital gains represents a rough fudge to exclude phantom gains due to inflation (which are obviously much larger on a 20-year-old asset than a 2-year-old asset).

    1. chucker

      “90% of Americans who want capital and labor to be taxed at the same rate.”

      why even at the same rate?

      If Capital via Compound Interest can earn “Indefinitely” and Labor has a “Finite” life span for most – say 50 years (20 years old to 70 years old – max!) coupled with faster obsolescence

      why should the tax rate be the same or as it is today capital rates be less than labor?

    2. NeqNeq

      I didn’t look at his companies survey. Does it indicate that “same rate” means same official rate, same effective rate, or was it ambiguous?

      1. Vatch

        Absolutely! Nobody should be moved into a higher marginal tax bracket simply because of a cost of living adjustment. Only an increase in real income should lead to a higher tax rate, unless the taxpayer is already receiving a huge income. The people in the top 0.1% who are already receiving enormous amounts of money must be taxed at a higher rate. Of course, neither Donnie, Hillary, nor Pauly is likely to support such a measure.

        Note that I referred to people who “receive” income. I’m tired of references to the ultra-rich “earning” their money.

        1. jrs

          I get what’s being said as so many haven’t even had a COLA in a decade. So yea we need a rasie! But as for taxes the brackets are moved up every year for uh I don’t know what inflation measure they are using probably the CPI.

  14. flora

    sigh…..
    “Overhaul education to disrupt the disrupters”
    uh… “disrupters”. Uber is “disruptive” by running an ‘under the counter’ taxi service that would be illegal under many local laws. AirBnB is “disruptive” by running an ‘under the counter’ hotel service that would be illegal as an above the counter hotel service by many local laws. “Disruption” is a trendy word for a black market trade in locally regulated services facilitated by smartphones and a centralized matching server.
    /end rant.

    1. flora

      “disruption”. I remember when the trendy word for stealing was “liberate” – as in “I’m going to ‘liberate’ this item from the clutches of the establishment.” That sounded almost ethical; sounded so much better than saying “I’m going to steal this item from the store”, which is of course exactly what it amounted to.
      /end rant2

      1. tegnost

        check out the link today regarding google running the transportation/parking with it’s sidewalk app. They want the city to pay for ubering 90,000 low income individuals, you know get them off buses and into cars, sending ubers to crowded bus stops (um, popular routes are crowded, thus making for full buses which is how buses work economically, by having riders, duh…) trading high occupancy for low occupancy, sounds great if you’re a disrupter because think of all those people on the bus that the city could pay uber for and increase traffic plus get started on uprading their infra so the disrupters can get their self driving cars on the road and liberate more dough from the taxpayer. Thanks, but I actually like the bus…and i don’t uber or have a “smartphone”, and don’t want one even if, or rather especially if, it’s provided by the nsa, oops, i mean gov’t

    2. Berial

      I’ve always heard ‘disruptive’ with regards to companies when they use a new (and better) business model to ‘disrupt’ the incumbents(other businesses). It’s a new twist when the disruptive business model is ‘basically illegal’ and THAT is why incumbents don’t do it.

      This ‘basically illegal’ shit seems to be a new twist on the disruptive business as being pushed these days.

      I mean Craig’s List and Amazon were ‘disruptive’ when they emerged but they weren’t known to be illegal. I think we’ve strayed from, there is disruptive in a good way, and disruptive in a bad way, to basically thinking disruptive is always good, when it’s obvious it’s not.

      I don’t think we’re disagreeing I’m just pointing out that those initial ‘disruptive’s were seen positively for a reason. These later ones are getting a free pass on that initial ‘good feeling’ and they shouldn’t.

      1. Jack Parsons

        Amazon cheerfully didn’t pay local sales taxes, and the Congress gave them a pass for years. May still.

        1. JimTan

          BTW – here’s an old article from 1996, before Amazon became big, where Jeff Bezos shows unguarded candor about his firms business model:

          http://www.fastcompany.com/27309/whos-writing-book-web-business

          “We could have started Amazon.com anywhere. We chose Seattle because it met a rigorous set of criteria………….it had to be in a small state. In the mail-order business, you have to charge sales tax to customers who live in any state where you have a business presence.………….I even investigated whether we could set up Amazon.com on an Indian reservation near San Francisco. This way we could have access to talent without all the tax consequences. Unfortunately, the government thought of that first.”

    3. perpetualWAR

      The existence of Uber and Airbnb is overwhelming due to failed governmental policies. Uber exists because NAFTA sent lots of entry jobs overseas. Airbnb exists because many homeowners facing the loss of their home, supplement their income to pay for their homes when their actual wages used to.

      I see the “disrupter” companies as direct response to failed government.

  15. NeqNeq

    Since this is an exercise, I might challenge readers to formalize the argument being made by reconstructing it in the standard form.

    If you do not know what the standard form is, or what argument reconstruction is, I would recommend this link http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/crit_think/ctw-m/recon.htm

    All the premises (reasons) need to be single statements (sentences which can be true or false). Pay close attention to the sub-arguments and implicit premises.

    It is more difficult than it looks, and the reason why that is the case is instructive on its own

  16. F900fixr

    When I hear one of these techno-pukes start talking about “innovation”, it just makes me wonder what part of the workforce they are planning to screw.

    Even out here in Flyover, the H-1Bs are filling all of the full time jobs, while the native born get to “innovate” as consultants/contractors/1099s.

    Or “innovate”, by eliminating all in house research and development, and just scratch out a big check to buy whatever smartphone apps promise to improve your business.

    The good news is that millenials and younger are much more cynical than their parents, when it comes to viewing the actions and motivations of Corporate America

  17. JimTan

    Yves – great post. There are plenty of Silicon Valley companies that provide meaningful innovation, build new industries, and improve the way we do business.

    Unfortunately there are also Silicon Valley companies that use technology to simply create ‘regulatory arbitrage’ to intentionally profit from a contradiction between Laws that allows them to avoid taxes, or remove worker or consumer protections for competitive advantage. Amazon is the grandfather of this, and was basically founded on the business model that Retail eCommerce does not have to collect State Sales Taxes ( I think their arbitrage was the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling – Quill Corp. v. North Dakota – decided right before their founding ). Over the past year or so States have forced them to collect some sales taxes, and I think the current count is they collect Tax on some eCommerce transactions in 29 out of 50 States ( and DC ). Other ‘disrupters’ that use regulatory arbitrage include:

    Uber / Lyft – Have no employees, but use 200,000 ‘contractors’ allowing them to skirt State Legal Protections regarding employee minimum wage, paid leave, employee health benefits, and Social Support Taxes ( Social Security, Unemployment, Disability ):

    http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/22/technology/uber-drivers-labor-settlement/

    Airbnb – Manages a hotel business but pays no Occupancy Taxes (Combines State and City Sales Tax), and skirts other regulations including Zoning Laws, Health Laws to Prevent public Health Hazards, Building Inspections to review Sanitary Conditions, Fire Safety Codes, Heating / Ventilation Regulation, Business Insurance to cover Accidents, Crime/Theft, Premises Pollution, Food Borne Illness, and Room Occupancy Taxes. Airbnb’s arbitrage originate from exceptions to Housing Laws that allow “house guests, lawful boarders, roomers, or lodgers” to rent and reside in a Permanent Residence for Less than 30 Days.

    There are more socially responsible ways to gain a competitive advantage and ‘disrupt’ existing industries.

    1. flora

      Good comment.
      There’s a large element of freebooting, imo, in Uber and Airbnb via “regulatory arbitrage” as you rightly point out. Also in the MERS system, which left homeowners in foreclosure in the MERS system in limbo. What these things have in common is using a new communication tool – the internet and private servers – to circumvent established local, state, and national laws to plunder. Even Hillary’s private State Department email server seems an example of freebooting; using the latest technology as both a tool and excuse to circumvent the law – very possibly for private gain.

    2. flora

      I have a response comment in moderation somewhere. shorter:

      Has the internets become the 21c intellectual equivalent of the Maxim gun?

      (if my earlier comment gets out of moderation this comment will make sense. I hope.)

  18. Darthbobber

    There’s a snake-eating-its-own-tail aspect to some of this.

    The heroic disruptions prevent any combination of “niche” or otherwise skills from having any stable value.

    “it will take many graduation cycles for our training to sync up with what the economy values most.”

    But by then those won’t be the things that the mythical “the economy” values most.

    This is hilarious:
    “We need to fundamentally overhaul the education system so it rivals Silicon Valley and the Pentagon technologically. If we use just a fraction of all the wealth being created by the current tech boom to groom the next wave of disrupters, we’ll find ourselves in self-sustaining cycle of growth, providing a rising tide to lift all boats.” First sentence sounds good when you say it fast, but what does it eve mean? And HOW does deliberately attempting to accelerate “disruption” (however vaguely conceived) guarantee that never-found self-sustaining cycle and lifting of all boats?”

    I can see, however, why Wallethub might like the idea of having the grooming of its future labor force be seen as the primary responsibility of educational institutions. what the hoi polloi actually get out of any of this is by no means clear. (I’m lying. Its actually crystal clear.)

    1. JTFaraday

      No, the first sentence is so devoid of any shred of thought, you should wonder how the monkeys got ahold of the typewriter and never mind the rest.

      Too much xBox, I’m telling you.

  19. casino implosion

    After years of being anti-Uber, I got it for my wife’s smart phone when she was running errands and going about town while big with child because she’s on an allowance and keeping her in cab fare was turning into a major pain in the butt. After riding in the Uber with her a couple of times I was impressed with the contrast between the Uber experience and the car service experience here in the Bronx. They never get lost, there’s no language barrier, and there’s none of this soooo, what do you want to pay? haggling nonsense. One out of two yellow cabbies has no idea how to navigate the freeways north of Manhattan to get me home, and I’ve never had that problem with an Uber driver.

    I still refuse to use the service myself (or even to get a smartphone to run it on), but I sure see why people like it—it’s dramatically superior.

  20. dbk

    Upsetting and unsettling piece.

    Disruption has picked up the pace: uh, the point of disruption is to catch others unawares and unprepared. If they were prepared, it wouldn’t be disruption and there wouldn’t be an opportunity for winner-take-all-gains.

    Niche skills: By the time our training (sic) syncs up with what the economy values most, two-three new innovation cycles will have shifted the original niche skills. It takes 16 years of schooling to obtain a university degree, and de facto, training (sic) will never keep up. Aside: the college majors listed in the table are not niche skills.

    Support progressive tax reforms: as long as interest/gains on capital are taxed as progressively (or more) as income, I’m in.

    Overhaul education: this is a covert call for charter schools. It also contains (a) the Silicon Valley version of the trickle-down effect, which I see no reason to expect to succeed after 40 years of failing, as well as (b) what seems to be the Valley’s version of the American Dream, i.e., work hard, learn fundamentals of sound money management. The latter probably means “invest in your 401k” or “trust your broker”.

    As soon as the folks in Silicon Valley can argue that for every well-paid production job lost to high tech, ten better-paying tech jobs are created, I’ll listen to their arguments.

    Prescription: request the writer to listen ten times to Mark Blyth’s video posted a day or so ago here on nc. Listen, repeat, listen, repeat. Think of it as deprogramming.

  21. equote

    “I don’t believe it makes sense for our generation to believe or pretend that we can solve the problems of the future because do not understand what these problems will be.”
    Lennart Bengtsson

  22. Russell

    There ought be jobs for robot mechanics.
    World of constant war, join the Armed Forces.
    Better yet become a spy and run a Front.

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