A friend recently referred to "the devaluation of American labor pool" as an explanation for what is happening in the American economy. I'm struck by the succinctness of the explanation. Yes, that explains a great deal of what is going on. Obviously, it does not apply to the entire labor pool. But it applies to well more than half of it.
I recommend you think about this at both a personal and societal policy level. We should get personal first. First get your emotional reaction right. My advice is to skip rapidly thru Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Get to acceptance as fast as you can. Accept that the American labor market of the 20th century is roadkill from globalization, automation, and rising natural resource costs.
Once you've reached acceptance you need to think about your career. Hey, don't want to think about your career? The acceptance stage involves a willingness to accept that your career is threatened. Take a long hard look at what you do for a living and ask how long your job is going to last. When does it get automated out of existence? Or hen does your skill set start becoming obsolete if you don't moderately or drastically update it?
Even if your job isn't going to disappear due to automation try to guess whether your pay will keep up with inflation. If it looks like demand for your labor is going to fall then you need to start looking for ways to learn new skills and pursue a strategy that'll insulate you from declining living standards. Accept the need for change. Accept the nee for you to change.
What should be done at a policy level? First off, keep in mind that even if you have great answers to that question (or even mildly good answers) the odds of your answers getting implemented are tso low you should not make national policy your main focus. So don't approach the advocacy of smart national policies as the pursuit of some attainable holy grail. Advocacy ends up being status posing and lame attempts at self psychotherapy. Avoid this. At the same time, it can be satisfying to understand what national policies really ought to be. Making sense of the world can be intellectually satisfying and even useful. But don't let national policy debates distract you from being responsible about your own career and skills development.
At the policy level here are some items the US government ought to do:
Any major items I've missed?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2012 December 20 10:18 PM|