Don’t jump the gun


It started with interchangeable parts in a gun factory, then “re-engineering” in the auto-assembly plant to full automation (former Secretary of Labor Reich said that if workers lose their sense of optimism, then there is no replacement). In NY, the manufacturing sector employs 40% a century ago, now it stands at mere 4% (conversely, a decade ago, only 5% of US adults joined social network, now 50%).

A separate Harvard study showed 2/3 of workers don’t feel engaged at work. The “showing-up” economy is nearing its end (not when machines had been at work all night long).

Whatever left for the US based workers ( to protect patents, marketing and sales, or the experience economy like casual dining and Disneyland, licensed-based like massage and health care) to do, ought to be of high-value, high yield. In short, being indispensable.

ATT and other big firms are re-shoring call center jobs as a trade-off for tax rebate.

The T in EBITDA is now split to T1 and T2, offshore tax haven and in-shored tax rebate, respectively.

Consumers win thanks to global competition and cheap technology (since when can people talk-and-ride, productivity level once reserved for first-class train passengers between Connecticut and NYC – where WSJ copies were on everyone’s lap).

Inter-changeable parts, inter-changeable markets/regions, inter-changeable skills (at follow-the-sun call centers). In short, tradeable services (Michael Spence).

We see the emergence of 21st-century self-help guru who urges us, e.g.the 4-hr work week, to outsource everything (so we have time to build our 4-hr body).

Civilization and its discontent.

Penny-slot nation.

Native American reservations open to everyone at all hours.

It history is of any guide, we are reverting to a 21st-cent version of aristocracy (instead of land, it’s machine owners vs workers) albeit Sino-Indie centric as opposed to Euro-centric.

Speaking of land, Ted Turner owns a vast amount of land in the South. He apparently wants to have a portfolio mix between the air wave and estate value. Common sense tells us we can only substitute the real with virtual for so long.

Human interaction takes time. It’s called building trust. Indispensable and non-interchangeable. Just don’t jump the gun on things that are human.

 

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