Monthly Archives: October 2014

New blue collar jobs and an unconditional basic income experiment in India

WBUR’s recent On Point radio show, “The New Blue Collar Jobs Of Tomorrow,” discussed a USA Today study, “Where the jobs are: The new blue collar,” that was cautiously optimistic about new blue collar jobs between now and 2017:

By 2017, an estimated 2.5 million new, middle-skill jobs . . . are expected to be added to the workforce, accounting for nearly 40% of all job growth, according to a USA TODAY analysis of local data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder.

One of the guests on the show was Eirk Brynjolfsson. Earlier this year, I reviewed his book, The Second Machine Age. In this review, as well as an earlier post, I discussed the concept of a basic income as a possible policy to help cope with the projected impact that technology will have on the economy in the long-term. I felt before, and feel today, that this idea needs more study. In the comments section of the WBUR report, I found an encouraging video that discussed the results of a study in India. Here’s the introduction:

What if everybody received every month enough money to live by? Will society collapse? Will we all become slackers? Myths and facts about Unconditional Basic Income, with analysis from a real world experiment conducted in India between 2011-2013. Keynote speech by Federico Pistono at the Future of Work Summit, NASA Ames Research Park, California, June 30, 2014.

Eirk Brynjolfsson was in the audience and spoke to Federico Pistono during the question and answer session. Brynjolfsson suggested that results in developed nations, such as the U.S., might be very different from India. He’s right. Nevertheless, this is a very interesting video and I fully support repeating the experiment in other countries. As Pistono concluded at the end, this is not a panacea. Nevertheless, it could be one element of a future solution. Enjoy the video.

Redefining capitalism

Allan: This is an important topic, and I like the way Beinhocker and Hanauer frame it.

Once we understand that the solutions capitalism produces are what creates real prosperity in people’s lives, and that the rate at which we create solutions is true economic growth, then it becomes obvious that entrepreneurs and business leaders bear a major part of both the credit and the responsibility for creating societal prosperity.

The accelerating pace of technological change is no longer news; the question now is how will society adapt. Let’s talk about how to evolve capitalism to make sure that this digital age ushers in an era of prosperity.

Originally posted September 2014
Eric Beinhocker and Nick Hanauer, McKinsey & Company: Redefining capitalism

Capitalism is under attack. The financial crisis of 2008, the stagnation of the middle class in many developed countries, and rising income inequality are challenging some of our most deeply held beliefs about how a fair and well-functioning society should be organized.

Many business leaders are of two minds about the situation. They note that market capitalism has yielded massive increases in human prosperity, particularly in the West in the 19th and 20th centuries. More recently, it has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty in emerging economies. Yet despite these historic accomplishments, it’s also easy to worry that something is wrong with how the system is performing today.

This article will argue that while we have been correct to believe that capitalism has been the major source of historical growth and prosperity, we have been mostly incorrect in identifying how and why it worked so well. By analogy, our ancestors did know that the stars and planets moved in the sky and had various theories to explain their observations. But it wasn’t until the Copernican model replaced the Earth with the sun at the center of the solar system and Newton articulated his laws of gravitation that people understood how and why they move.

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