Second, America’s solvency inflection point is coinciding with a technological one. Thanks to Internet diffusion, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and the shift from laptops and desktops to hand-held iPads and iPhones, technology is destroying older, less skilled jobs that paid a decent wage at a faster pace than ever while spinning off more new skilled jobs that pay a decent wage but require more education than ever.Um, so . . . wait, what? iPhones are destroying jobs? How? Why? Where? "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones. With the advent of the iPad, we no longer need a CPA in receivables." Huh? Cloud computing is destroying jobs? Social networking? What is this man talking about?
Don't worry. These are rhetorical questions. The teleology of economic liberalism naturally encompasses an historical narrative arc in which "technology," which could historically be taken as a synonym for automation, displaces manual labor. Some new employment comes from tending the new machines, but the rest comes in the form of, let's see, how wouold a neoliberal put it, "spinning off more new skilled jobs that pay a decent wage but require more education than ever"--in effect, from creating new layers of managerial bureaucracy and engaging the credentialing sector, the colleges and universities and professional associations and job retraining programs and so on, in the great game of gatekeeping. Thus: "skills."
But iPads aren't taking the place of workers on assembly lines; they aren't writing code on their own; their portability doesn't fundamentally alter the amount of human labor required to design a bridge, let alone a, uh, an exotic financial instrument. Cloud computing is a neat phrase, and I am a big fan of Google Docs, but it is hardly the conceptual or practical revolution that our editorialist believes. Do you work in an office? Is your computer networked? You've been "cloud computing" in a fashion since the nineties.
The notion, above-proposed, that the advent of some new consumer electronics, or whatever, renders people economically obsolete is nothing more or less than a program of disinformation designed to wring further concessions from employees. Code words: skills, flexibility, education. Although superficially concerned about a lack of decently remunerative work, Friedman is really pimping for a system whereby work is more volatile, employees more dependent on the "will" of employers, and wholesale deprivations of livelihood can be justified anytime because of the release of a new gamepack for Wii.
Also, this is funny:
You still don’t sense our politicians are saying, “Wait a minute; stop everything; we have got to work together.” Don’t these people have 401k plans of their own and kids worried about jobs?LOL, no.