CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®
Login | Register for Engineering Community (CR4)


Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: I'm outa here
Posts: 1927
Good Answers: 196
In reply to #8
Find in discussion

Re: The New Blue Collar

04/20/2010 11:41 AM

We're forgetting something here. As we move into a technologically advanced world where one person can do the work previously done by several we have tended to forget the effects on those potential workers in our society that are no longer needed.

I recall the "futurists" of 30-40 years ago and their New Years day predictions of a world where automation would enable people to work only 2 hours a day and have the rest of the time for recreation, etc. Has anybody noticed that this didn't happen?

Instead we have many people working longer hours and growing unemployment problems. For years we kept this problem at bay with an artificially induced culture of borrow and consume. We held back the tide so to speak until the flood gates finally broke and the water flowed toward its natural level. A large segment of the population is working enormously longer hours (note families have mostly two workers instead of the single worker of 40 years ago) and accumulating staggering wealth (at least on paper). The rest are facing a future of low level employment that will barely keep a roof over their heads and feed them.

Yes, there will be opportunities for those with the right combination of talent, education, energy and personal discipline to work the new blue collar jobs. But only a delusional dreamer will find similar opportunities today for the rest who in generations past had a way to turn their manual labor into a ticket to middle class prosperity . Instead, the weeding process that, even as we speak, is getting ever more brutal and competitive (mandatory passage of algebra to graduate high school) is creating a population group of designated losers. Do you really think that your bright, witty, but dyslectic kid who can't grasp algebra is going to be happy emptying bed pans in a convalescent home?

I could go on about how this will play out in an America that appears unready culturally, politically and legally to deal with it. But that's for some other topic or venue.

Ed Weldon