2013 October 05 Saturday
Tyler Cowen On Those Seeing Lower Wages

For his new book Average Is Over Tyler Cowen is interviewed by Erik Barker. With more data and more processing power comes more things that can be done with data.

The more information that’s out there, the greater the returns to just being willing to sit down and apply yourself.

I know lots of sharp motivated software developers who fit this description:

isn’t what’s scarce; it’s the willingness to do something with it. So if you’re an individual, say from China or India, and you’re really smart and motivated, you’re going to do much better in this new world than say 10 or 20 years ago.

It is no longer enough to be born in an industrialized economy to grow up, apply yourself moderately, and get a decent job, career path, and income.

Is Tyler describing you?

But there are a lot of people in the wealthier countries, I wouldn’t describe them as lazy, but they’re not super motivated. They think they can more or less get by. I think in relative terms those people are already starting to see lower wages because they’re just not quite the prize commodities they think they are. They’ll do okay. They’ll be able to get jobs, but they’re not really individuals who are going to see a lot of income growth, and I think this could be a rude awakening to a lot of people.

By the way, most people who work in exempt jobs (not paid by hour) greatly overestimate how many hours they work per week.

I am amazed at the number of people who won't put up the effort to change and develop new skill sets. The longer they wait the harder the change will be. Check out the dropping median incomes in most states in the last 12 years. Michigan is down 19%.

Not everyone is smart enough to adapt to the new world of smart machines. But if you are smart enough and you aren't trying to get better skills you are being irresponsible to yourself. No political party is going to save you. No political movement is going to preserve your market value. If you aren't independently wealthy then your choices are either a safe government job (which does not include all government jobs) or lots of technical skills or awesome management or sales skills or some combination thereof.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 October 05 06:18 PM 


Comments
Daniel said at October 5, 2013 9:53 PM:

Advocates for globalization, such as Cowen, used to argue that we shouldn't worry that high skilled manufacturing jobs were going overseas. They made the claim that value is all relative. If America once had valued you as a skilled machinist, well now she would value you as a server in a restaurant, or a porter or janitor, or a landscaper, because we had collectively made the choice that good restaurants and clean offices were relatively more valuable than skilled technicians. This would imply that waiters, porters, landscapers, laborers should be paid equivalent to what former machinists and skilled technicians had earned, because we were told to relax, these new skills are what are valued by society. Well, the likes of Cowen don't want to pay laborers and janitors what the former skilled trades had earned so they harped upon the idea of mass immigration to destroy the only leverage that the unskilled and semi-skilled had to negotiate better pay and conditions and make certain they did reap the benefits of this globalization: the relative scarcity of labor. Cowen and his ilk have changed the rules midway in the game. They don't want to pay Americans for skilled work and they don't want to pay them for unskilled or semiskilled work. I have nothing but contempt for Cowen. He hides behind the mask of dispassionate scholarship when it is clear to me that what motivates him are the interests of himself and his affiliates. I hope bad things happen to Cowen.

map said at October 6, 2013 9:39 AM:

Cowen is worse. He is a useless academic whose lifestyle is financed by the debt slavery that the students go into. It's amazing how many of these "libertarians" live these lifestyles.

Student loans should be treated the same as credit card debt...easily dischargeable in bankruptcy. Then the Tyler Cowens of the world will disappear.

radical centrist blogger said at October 7, 2013 4:22 PM:

yep, cowen is a fake-libertarian. He is actually a statist. And a hypocrite. He deletes civil, on-topic comments on his blog that point out how limited and narrow his posts are.


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