2016 August 27 Saturday
Hourly Worker Hours Becoming Less Predictable

Not knowing how much they'll work or how much they'll make.

Around 13 percent of hourly workers in 2001 and 2004 reported an "irregular schedule," for example. After 2009, that number increased to more than 15 percent. The proportion of workers who reported "varying hours" jumped to 29 percent after the recession, from 21 percent before.

The workplace future of the cognitively less able looks quite grim. What's the fate of college drop-outs 20 years from now? They won't drive delivery trucks, long haul trucks, garbage trucks, or taxis. They won't drive farm tractors or pick fruits and vegetables. They won't work in factories. They probably won't work in fast food restaurants. I'm doubtful that they'll work even in Wal-Mart (humans would need to still shop there and the shelves would need to be stocked by humans).

So what jobs will still exist for high school drop-outs 20 years from now? Housing construction? Suppose full home construction isn't automated until 30 years from now. High school drop-outs could work in housing construction. But there'll be too many o them available to get them all jobs building houses or roads.

I think manual laborers face the same fate as horses of 100 years ago: no longer needed by the economy.

By Randall Parker 2016 August 27 10:35 AM 
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2016 August 20 Saturday
If President Hillary Clinton Then More Foreign Interventions

The big name neoconservatives are thrilled about Hillary and this does not bode well for US foreign policy.

Few reputable critics would argue that Hillary is herself a neoconservative. Far more plausible is that she’ll enable the implementation of a neoconservative foreign-policy agenda by casting the neoconservatives’ goals in liberal-interventionist terms, thus garnering Democratic support for initiatives that would face widespread opposition were they spearheaded by a Republican president.

Members of Hillary's foreign policy inner circle are keen to ramp up America's intervention in Syria and overthrow Assad.

If Assad is overthrown and Syria gets put back together under a single government then likely that government will be Sunni majority and more repressive toward minorities and women than is the Assad government. Eventually it could become a more formidable threat to Israel (which the neocons seek to protect) than Assad's regime.

Hillary's foreign policy probably won't be her area of biggest damaging mistakes. Though that depends in part on whether US jets start shooting down Russian jets. She could make really big mistakes in foreign policy, bigger than helping more fundamentalist Sunni regimes come to power.

Hillary's biggest mistake is likely to be Open Borders. Bring in a much bigger lower class even as software advances automate more manual work. Throw in higher minimum wage and an expanded welfare state to support all the unemployed and America becomes even less a republic of limited government and even less a democracy of the people.

By Randall Parker 2016 August 20 07:18 PM 
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Turning Away From Democracy

Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk think the decline in support for democracy in Western countries does not bode well for the continued existence of liberal societies.

According to Foa and Mounk, these numbers do not reflect growing indifference to liberal democracy, but growing opposition. In the surveys, young people increasingly express openness to authoritarianism—especially young people who are rich. An astonishing 35 percent of wealthy young Americans say it would be “a ‘good’ thing for the army to take over” the country! This is a profound change from prior generations, in which “affluent citizens were much more likely than people of lower income groups to defend democratic institutions.”

Elite indifference or contempt for the non-elite manifests partly in a step away from democracy. After all, in a democracy it is conceivable that the majority could elect leaders who won't do elite bidding.

The Foa and Mounk paper in the Journal Of Democracy looks at Pew World Value Surveys data. It is entitled Democratic Disconnect:

How much importance do citizens of developed countries ascribe to living in a democracy? Among older generations, the devotion to democracy is about as fervent and widespread as one might expect: In the United States, for example, people born during the interwar period consider democratic governance an almost sacred value. When asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how “essential” it is for them “to live in a democracy,” 72 percent of those born before World War II check “10,” the highest value. So do 55 percent of the same cohort in the Netherlands. But, as Figure 1 shows, the millennial generation (those born since 1980) has grown much more indifferent. Only one in three Dutch millennials accords maximal importance to living in a democracy; in the United States, that number is slightly lower, around 30 percent.1

I am guessing that an authoritarian regime in America would not appreciably increase the legitimacy of the government. One problem is that there is no longer a single shared moral code and set of assumptions about what is sacred.

Jonathan Haidt gave the American Psychological Association APA Convention Keynote 2016 how American society is splitting into two hostile factions which are moving apart and reducing their exposure to and understanding of each other.

Many fundamental forces are deepening the split between the people who identify with the two main political parties in the United States. Not just the liberals but also the conservatives now have their own news sources. Immigration increases diversity which decreases shared identity. Migration of people to live with like minds reduces exposure to other views. Improved use and effectiveness of negative advertising makes people on each side view those on the other side in a negative light.

The increasing ideological purity of academia makes academics cheerleaders of on side of the split against the other. Increasing education of the cognitive elite and their shared experiences separate from the cognitively less able make them view the world with different values and with less sense of shared community with the less cognitively able (and the resulting condescension increases resentment by lower class whites in particular).

Similarly, the end of the military draft and reduction in the size of the US military eliminated military service as a source of shared experience, at least for men. Also, the decline of community service organizations (Kiwanis, Lyons, Rotary, etc) eliminates a place where people across a community interact and work together.

I do not see how Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again. What could reverse the trend toward deeper partisan divisions, declining trust in major institutions, and even declining support for rights including freedom of speech for those with different views? In the last couple of years the safe space movement in colleges has reached an absurd level with no end in sight.

My reaction to all this is that perhaps we need to split societies up into separate societies of those who are similar in their moral sensibilities and tribal loyalties. Got any other ideas?

By Randall Parker 2016 August 20 04:36 PM 
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