T Nation

LOL! Marx May Have Been Right


#1

"Workers making about $40,000 to $80,000 a year constitute the bulk of labor costs for many companies, and these workers may be on the chopping block, said Jeffrey Joerres, chief executive of ManpowerGroup, a Milwaukee-based staffing services firm.

â??Thatâ??s your middle class,â?? Joerres said. â??Companies are finding ways to reduce the number of people in those areas, and change the jobs to make them more simple, to reduce the skill that is required.â??

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-well-paid-middle-class-job-is-in-danger-2011-06-16?link=MW_story_popular

If the middle class is eliminated, who will buy all the products?

People working for peanuts in 3rd world sweatshops? Employees at Wendy's?

And then, rioting will begin as standards of living fall.

Marx was right long term.


#2

no it's not. The magic invisible hand will solve everything.


#3

Ok does anybody well-written have anything good to say on this? It's pretty interesting.


#4

Luddites.


#5

#6

Of course Marx was correct. In a free-capitalist system of course it is in the corporations best interest to reduce the amount of skilled labour it employs.

The "de-skilling of labour" will only continue, and as the price of robotics continues to fall it will rapidly accelerate.

Have you ever thought of how pointless and not "value-adding" the majority of 'upper-middle-class' jobs are? It's kind of terrifying.


#7

First of all, raising productivity makes us all better off in the end.

Second, a lot of people are just plain stupid. I do not mean ignorant or intellectually lazy, but lacking sheer processing power. If you can find a way to simplify work in order for them to deal with relatively complex problems without them even noticing you not only put them to better use than packing grocery bags, you also improve their lot in life.

Ideally, work would be a version of Counterstrike or Black Ops and even dumb and lazy people would vigorously compete to crack the highscore.


#8

Actually this goes against what Marx was saying, so he was wrong after all.
The very foundation of his "class struggle" approach is that all members of a "proletariat class" share the same interests across national borders - the whole "proletariat unity" doctrine obviously doesn't fly as we see here.


#9

True, to an extent. The Chinese middle class is slowly beginning to appear more American in style, aspirations, values. There could come a time when call center workers in Mumbai acquire costlier and loftier expectations than their American counterparts.


#10

Then the jobs will move to another poorer country. Capitalism needs cheap labor.


#11

That is not entirely true.

It needs comparatively cheap labor, if you can make it up in productivity youcan make more.

In the end there is nothing magic for capitalism in cheap anything.


#12

It appears though that we eventually get a very wealthy and powerful elite (based on banking) and then a huge swath of people earning on average $20,000 per year or equivalent. A society that is 5% elite and 90% low income (5% professionals and such) is a formula for chaos, especially when we have Twitter and Facebook, as in the Middle East. It also sounds a lot like Marx's prediction.


#13

Says you. but feudalism was remarkably stable.


#14

True, but weapons are now much more powerful and of smaller scale. Weapons are cheap too. And we have instantenous communication.


#15

Which could be easily summed up by: capitalism is inherently labor-saving.


#16

you're forgetting that the main consumer base for all these products made for US companies overseas is still here and it's our supply/demand that is setting the market trends.

also, even though there are some r&d, engineering, etc jobs that are being outsourced, companies that do outsource quickly realize that they get what they are paying for, with low cost, most of the time, comes poor quality, which may be OK for a t-shirt, for a mission critical IT app - not so much.


#17

Why bother making it up in productivity when you can have both? Non-skilled workers breaking their ass for 18 hrs a day for pennies. Where does Nike go for manufacturing? Vietnam and Indonesia. Vietnam, of course is communist, where one cannot bargain for a wage.
Greed, my friend.


#18

Sure. For IT you go to India. 40-60% savings, english-speaking and dirt poor. 1/3 of homes in India have no elecrtricity.


#19

Not greed, economic competition, my friend. Without businesses like Nike building factories in Vietnam and Indonesia those people they employ would be worse off -- they would not be doing it if they had to jump through labor union wages.

If you want to see examples of greed look no further than your friendly, neighborhood politicians.

Greed is wanting something for nothing.


#20

You cannot have both.

I know people who produce in China and if you think that you can have a Chinese worker that stumbled off a ricefield operate a few hundred thousand dollars of sophisticated equipment you are mistaken.

There are Siemens engineers who do virtually nothing but fly to China and back in order to troubleshoot.