The NYT headline was “How did the robot end up with my job?” It was on an op/ed column by Tom Friedman, the corporate media’s foremost cheerleader for the brave new world of downsizing, outsourcing and off-shoring that is the new reality for the growing number of underemployed Americans.
Friedman’s column is about the forces that helped stoke the outrage behind Occupy Wall Street and similar movements around the country. He likes these forces.
The pudgy pollyanna thinks he’s a visionary, of course. He writes with monotonous enthusiasm and salesman-like optimism about opportunities created by the forces that enrich the corporate cutthroats in the vanguard of the push for further globalization. Plug him in and switch on a button and I bet he could chatter for days on this subject. Here he is in print:
In the last decade, we have gone from a connected world… to a hyperconnected world… The connected world was a challenge to blue-collar workers in the industrialized West. They had to compete with a bigger pool of cheap labor. The hyperconnected world is now a challenge to white-collar workers. They have to compete with a bigger pool of cheap geniuses — some of whom are people and some are now robots, microchips and software-guided machines…
It is a huge inflection point masked by the Great Recession.
It is also both a huge challenge and opportunity. It has never been harder to find a job and never been easier — for those prepared for this world — to invent a job or find a customer. Anyone with the spark of an idea can start a company overnight, using a credit card, while accessing brains, brawn and customers anywhere. It is why Pascal Lamy, chief of the World Trade Organization, argues that terms like “made in America” or “made in China” are phasing out. The proper term, says Lamy, is “made in the world.” More products are designed everywhere, made everywhere and sold everywhere.
How can Friedman, in good conscience, serve up such garbage to readers? In fact, it has never been harder for Americans to find jobs, period. This is largely because the corporate monsters Friedman champions are free to moves jobs overseas with impunity — without even being penalized by the government that has subsidized the growth of these companies, often by granting them outlandish tax breaks.
Friedman notes that competition for high-level freelance jobs that pay next to nothing is becoming fiercer by the day — and he thinks this is a good thing. Coining another of his inane phrases, he refers to “The Great Inflection” that is collapsing multiple jobs into one, in just about every line of work. He believes this is a good thing, too.
Apparently, Friedman thinks the sort of unregulated free market capitalism that continues to lower the quality of life in this country is an incentive for entrepreneurs to be more productive and inventive. He pretends the forces driving the destruction of the middle class and the deeper impoverishment of the poor are inexorable, and that the idea of putting the brakes on these forces is absurd.
Ultimately, Friedman is an apologist for the ruthless few who, for the sake of higher profits, would destroy the existence of a social safety net for the poor and luckless. Like most pollyannas, he is blind to the dark side of his grand notions of how to improve the world.