In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.Agreed. And this is even more frightening:
Yes, new technology has been eating jobs forever, and always will. As they say, if horses could have voted, there never would have been cars. But there’s been an acceleration. ....“In the 10 years ending in 2009, [U.S.] factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs — about 6 million in total — disappeared.”No kidding, Tom. YIKES!! But, none of this is anything new. Tom has been saying that "average is over" for quite a while. The problem is that half the population has a "below-average" IQ. What can they possibly do to become "above average?" Smile a little harder (through whatever untreated physical or emotional pain they are experiencing) as they clean a .01-percenter's toilet? Or, sing a little tune as they change an elderly 1-percenter's sleeping diapers? Or, work 3 minimum wage jobs just to pay for their spouse's dental work? Wait, are we sure we want them to smile? it might reveal their rotted teeth (from a lifetime without good nutrition or dental care)... COME ON, TOM. Not everyone is an artisan, an "Iron Chef," or a Mother Teresa.
And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Last April, Annie Lowrey of Slate wrote about a start-up called “E la Carte” that is out to shrink the need for waiters and waitresses: The company “has produced a kind of souped-up iPad that lets you order and pay right at your table. The brainchild of a bunch of M.I.T. engineers, the nifty invention, known as the Presto, might be found at a restaurant near you soon. ... You select what you want to eat and add items to a cart. Depending on the restaurant’s preferences, the console could show you nutritional information, ingredients lists and photographs. You can make special requests, like ‘dressing on the side’ or ‘quintuple bacon.’ When you’re done, the order zings over to the kitchen, and the Presto tells you how long it will take for your items to come out. ... Bored with your companions? Play games on the machine. When you’re through with your meal, you pay on the console, splitting the bill item by item if you wish and paying however you want. And you can have your receipt e-mailed to you. ... Each console goes for $100 per month. If a restaurant serves meals eight hours a day, seven days a week, it works out to 42 cents per hour per table — making the Presto cheaper than even the very cheapest waiter.”
REAL PEOPLE ARE HURTING. We've shredded their safety net, while simultaneously vaporizing the jobs that "average people" used to do.
Moreover, of the other half of the population who are "above-average," only about 5% have seen any increase in income growth over the past couple of decades. Why? Well, being above-average isn't enough in our increasingly winner-take-all society. It's not. With RARE exceptions, our society is only working out for those who are lucky enough to be born physically and emotionally healthy to married, healthy, telegenic, college-educated parents (preferably with advanced degrees), who earn more than $300,000 (enough for the children to afford a vibrant, safe neighborhood, and elite pre-K through grad/med/law school educations—including tutoring, gifted programs, music, art, and dance lessons, and athletic coaching); and access to a strong social network of business, finance, and educational connections. Wake-up, Tom. For all but a few, The American Dream is just that—a dream. Our survival, as a nation, is going to require something more than nostrums to "The 95%" on how they need to be exceptionally exceptional at something "The 1%" wants and needs.
Our society is going to need either a safety net for the 95% of the population whose lives and livelihoods are becoming more tenuous by the moment—or, we are going slide deeper into the Third World abyss of hyper-stratification, in which 95% of the population lives in impoverished servitude, enslaved to an inter-generational ownership class of landed-gentry and the like.
Tom, it's time to be creative. We need to start thinking about how our society can leverage its wealth to the benefit of the larger society and not just the real "lucky duckies" born with the ergonomic, hypoallergenic, certified organic spoons in their mouths. We need to think about ways to use our productivity to create more time for family, education, and faith.
Perhaps, Tom, you ought to wax poetic on the 30-hour workweek; or, extended family leave (with pay); or, LOWERING the retirement age to allow more workers into the wage pool; or, INCREASING social security benefits for the many, by eliminated it for those who don't need them, and thus, encouraging older workers to retire EARLIER. What about a sliding scale for college tuition, with the .00001-percenters like Mitt Romney paying $1 million for Harvard tuition, so that a middle class family can pay $1000?
Quit whining, Tom. Become part of the solution. Yes, we need to provide more job training; increased access to outstanding pre-K through grad/med/law school educations—including the aforementioned gifted programs, music, art, and dance lessons, and athletics. But, the 95% also needs better access to good, consistent nutrition, low/no-cost medical and dental care; affordable, safe housing; reliable, efficient transportation; and healthier family environments, in which the stress of economic survival doesn't inhibit child development.
It's easy to read to your kids, if you're a Romney. It's a lot tougher when you're working three jobs to pay the mortgage on an overpriced home that you bought in order keep your kids in a "good" school district—or, paying off the student loans you took out to finance your third career (nursing), because the first two were outsourced out of existence.
BTW, Tom, your current work, is just about "average." If you were truly "above average," you would think a whole lot bigger. Wake up and smell the Fair Trade coffee, Mr. Friedman—most of us can't afford it, especially those of us who didn't marry into multibillion-dollar fortunes.
****Noto bene: If you want more of our running critique of Mr. Friedman, please see: "Wake up, Tom. Your Head is Flat...."