Dismal economics post:
First off, last week Apple announced that its workers in China would be getting an increase in pay, up to $400 a month, or a 25% increase.
That comes to $2.50 an hour (up from $2.00/hr). And people in developed countries are expected to compete with that?
Basically, the twin engines of conservative and neoliberal economics - expressed mostly through free trade policies - has done enormous damage to the middle and lower classes. On that score, Thomas B. Edsall has a long op-ed in the New York Times, Is This the End of Market Democracy?
(Meaning a healthy democracy within a market economy.)
Short answer is Yes. He covers a lot of territory, but here's an excerpt towards the end:
Overall, [global trade advocate (!) David] Autor has found that the combination of three trends — automation; the emergence of a trade-based international labor force; and the movement of jobs offshore — has polarized the job market. There is growth at the high and low ends, but the middle collapses:
Concretely, employment and earnings are rising in both high education professional, technical and managerial occupations and, since the late 1980s, in low-education food service, personal care and protective service occupations. Conversely, job opportunities are declining in both middle-skill, white collar clerical, administrative, and sales occupations and in middle-skill, blue-collar production, craft and operative occupations.
Edsall's op-ed is quite interesting with so many quotes from economic notables. As I read it, I thought to myself that the late Kurt Vonnegut said much of the same in his first novel "Player Piano" published in the early 1960s. Is it time to play another roll?
Don't fall into the trap of 'TINA' (there is no alternative) or that these are impersonal, indifferent, unstoppable market forces.
It's just the actions of men and can be undone by the actions of men.
We fought a civil war in America over this issue--free labor versus slave labor.
It's rarely cast in those terms nowadays, but it's there if you look. It's not history that is 'emphasized'.