America and the great stagnation
January 28th, 2014
08:00 AM ET

America and the great stagnation

By Fareed Zakaria

USA Today has a new poll out that shows that the American public is increasingly concerned about inequality and wants the government to do something about it. So what to do?

There’s little doubt that inequality has risen dramatically. The most eye catching number might be this one – the world’s 85 richest people own as much as do the poorest 3.5 billion put together. If you put this in American terms alone, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune have a net worth that is larger than the poorest 48.8 million American families put together. These are staggering numbers and it does make for some envy. But envy is not a good basis for public policy.

As I have argued before, inequality is made up of three different factors: the rise of the super rich, the rise of a larger group of poor people, and the stagnation of the great middle class.

We're actually beginning to see a healthy discussion about the first two factors, especially about the poor. This is the area where we could make the biggest difference relatively easily. Smart government policies could easily and effectively reduce poverty in most countries. The Earned Income Tax Credit should be expanded, we should fund more early education and day care, and provide more and better nutrition for poor kids. Investing in poor children’s health and education will give them a better chance of escaping poverty. And there really are few perverse incentives in this area. Poor kids are not going to “slack off” because they get vitamin fortified cereal at school!

Less clear is what to do about the problem that gets the most attention – the super rich. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has pointed out that if America had another twenty people like Steve Jobs – and another twenty companies like Apple – it would probably be a more dynamic and productive place, even though inequality would be worse as a result. If we could help the poor move up, in my own view it is less important whether the super rich move up even faster.

The biggest problem relating to inequality – the largest one involving the most people – is what could be called the great stagnation. Middle class people have seen their incomes stagnate for decades now. And with technology taking away work and globalization outsourcing jobs, these trends have actually intensified in recent years.

A new book, The Second Machine Age, argues that in the first machine age, around the Industrial Revolution and all through the information revolution, technology was used to create power systems to work with and enhance human muscle power and human control. Human control was a crucial process every step of the way. Think of a factory where thousands of workers, foreman and managers all played a large role in manufacturing a product.

In the second machine age, the authors argue, we are starting to automate cognitive tasks, control, judgment, calibration. The machines are replacing human control and cognition. They can make more consistent decisions than can humans. And the effect is massively compounded because of new information technologies like big data. The result: you don't need many people.

You can see it in the numbers.

General Motors, when it was one of the world's biggest companies, employed around 600,000 Americans. Apple today, one of the world's very largest companies in terms of revenue, employs around 50,000 Americans.

There is lots of technological progress and economic dynamism in the world today, and there is lots of good news about poverty alleviation and better health care. There just aren’t a lot of jobs for the great American – or Western – middle class.

And unfortunately, during my time in Davos for the World Economic Forum last week, I didn’t hear any new ideas about addressing that central issue.

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Topics: Economy

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Dirk

    The Anglo-Dutch Wars were fought because the British wanted to steal the Dutch trade. They, like people now, thought that trade was limited, and in order to get more trade you had to steal trade form someone else. Sadly today, 300 years later, people still think that wealth is limited and in order to make the poor richer, you have to take that wealth form someone else.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:03 am | Reply
    • Andy

      I suspect that you're Dutch.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:49 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        We all loathe inequalities. It's human, nobody wants to feel inferior. Yet equality is also an illusion, as we humans are different. We will have to live with this dualism, as long as mankind exists.

        January 30, 2014 at 8:33 am |
      • LiveFree

        Duality of rich and poor have always been around since money was invented. Good governance will prevent the duality going too far apart. When they are disconnected, chaos will occur.

        February 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
    • Pat

      30 years of tax cuts for the rich and trickle down economics..where is the boom? We should go back to the 1950's with 90% tax rates for the rich and 70% tax rate for corporations. Combine that with high tariffs on imported goods and we'll put the middle class back to work 1950's style..

      January 28, 2014 at 11:26 am | Reply
      • Melody

        Exactly what gives you the right to take 90% of someone's pay, when others are paying much lower taxes? You call that fair, just because someone has more then they should pay more? You probably have no clue how much in taxes the so called rich already pay... Why don't you go look at that nice new medicare only the rich have to now pay and you think the rich will get anything for return? NOT. When people stop expecting others to pay more than they do is when equality will exist. Until then, the poor and middle class will continue to whine and complain that the rich don't pay enough and be blind to the actual amount being paid. Why don't you look up who in this country pays the most tax and then be grateful you personally don't make enough money to have to then shell out 45% of your hard earned, 15 hour days, stuck in traffic, not enough time to enjoy riches.

        January 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
      • larry

        The problem is much bigger than the greed of the wealthy, illegals that take from our economy and don't put it back in,but send it back to their own country, and the wealthy receiving benefits from the government with the promise of creating more jobs, and only creating just enough to keep our government off their back, and our government for not having a clue, though they think they're the smartest ppl on the planet, Ivan go on for weeks about why our economy is stagnant, but I'll say this, if the middle class and poor stop making them rich by buying their products, they'll begin to consider the matters

        January 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
      • Ian

        Highest corporate tax rate in the world. End of story.

        January 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
      • Ian

        Melody: the familiar refrain of the left is that it is no individual's own fault or responsibility to ensure his or her future. Silly, not passing any standard of rational skepticism, but that's the world we live in -the ignorant believe deeply that the rich are all criminals and the poor are all victims.

        January 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
      • murf

        "..where is the boom?"
        The earth shattering BOOM! Sorry showing my age
        Ahh I think the boom was called the 80s, the 90s and a lot of the 2000s.

        January 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
      • HJC

        There were successive booms in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s .

        The root cause is that the value of the dollar is eroding daily.

        January 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
      • Keith

        We certainly need something close to that. The most dynamic time in out history

        January 29, 2014 at 12:04 am |
      • Taxdummies

        For those who apparently no nothing about the "progrssive" tax system in this country, no one paid 90% in taxes. The rates only apply to earnings above cetrain rather high levels.

        January 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, Dirk. The British not only wanted Dutch trade but their lands as well, like Ceylon and New York. In fact, the British Empire was built on sheer greed.

      January 28, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Reply
      • Keith

        All nations are built on greed, for resources or power

        January 29, 2014 at 12:06 am |
    • poltergist

      It's more like the french revolution were the rich ignored the poor until they started building gallows, than Britain invading other countries... due to orders from the rich...

      January 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Reply
    • poltergist

      It's more like the french revolution were the rich ignored the poor until they started building gallows, than Britain invading other countries... due to orders from the rich.

      January 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Reply
    • Shelia

      Nothing but a bunch of FUD.

      January 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  2. Kanders

    Apple only employs 50,000 Americans because their products are made and assembled in China by Chinese! Bringing those jobs home would make a huge difference to the middle class. And if Apple PAID their fair share of taxes instead of off-shoring their income, that would make a difference to the poor! I've been an Apple owner since 1987. I support them. They should support us.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:09 am | Reply
    • jmh

      My understanding is that the off-shored jobs are hardly middle class jobs. They are fairly simply factory/assembly line jobs - pick up the chip push it into the scoket, pick up the board and place it in to the caseing....

      January 28, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
      • Robot love

        When there are no jobs, tht sounds like a dream job... Even in the USA

        January 28, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • brian meyer

        low end jobs like programming and graphic design? Its not just low end jobs, its anything the employers can find someone in another country to do, and other countries and investing heavily in educating their people so they can do those jobs.

        January 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
      • Jack 2

        One thing I've noticed in my life. the lower paying jobs require you to work harder and faster.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
      • Keith

        That is a middle class job, manufacturing has always been that simple.

        January 29, 2014 at 12:08 am |
    • AaronW

      Most Apple products are assembled in China, but are designed in California, and many of the parts come from other East Asian countries (S. Korea, Singapore, Malaysia). Many of the touch screens come from S. Korea, and at least used to come off the same production line with Samsung ones. A report about a year ago said China captured about 15% of the value of an Apple product assembled there, while Apple and the US captured 70% of the value (15% going to the other Asian countries making parts). Apple announced last year they would begin assembly of some models in the US beginning in 2014.

      January 28, 2014 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • Ian

      And with unionized American workers working for an inflated wage not dictated by the free market, prices of ALL their products would skyrocket. Think beyond the surface of a problem. If the government simply paid everyone $10 an hour to dig a hole and fill it back up, would that solve our economic problems? The problem is far deeper than simply giving everyone a job. Value must be created by our work (productivity). Without it, the economy will forever remain stagnant.

      January 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Reply
      • LiveFree

        Oh! Yeah. The Union ghost is SCARY.

        February 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • Keith

      They should bring the jobs home or we should have a 200 dollar tariff on ever apple product produced over seas.

      January 29, 2014 at 12:09 am | Reply
      • LiveFree

        I think $200.00 may be a little too high. 30% tariff is reasonable.

        February 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • Keith

        Enough to make it more profitable for them to bring the manufacturing home.

        February 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
  3. The Mayor of Medinah

    We can thank the current administration and their inability to set any sort of economic policy that would foster economic growth. so hats of to the current administration and three more years of nothing or moving in reverse.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:42 am | Reply
    • sly

      Ignorance is bliss, and The Mayor is very happy making typical Confederate blame statements.

      If he had real brains he would be aware that every year since 1960 the richest 1% have gotten richer, and the rest have slipped behind.

      Thats 53 straight years of the Rich White Male Americans dominating the world.

      Ok, now back to the TeaBillie spouting out his hate for the black President. Typical white Republican.

      January 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Reply
      • Ian

        Hahaha...You know you've hit the nail on the head when sly responds to a statement with baseless as hominem attacks like 'white' and 'confederate' without addressing the argument with any form of logical thought.

        January 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
      • Keith

        Ian, you dont' understand what ad hominem means.

        January 29, 2014 at 12:12 am |
    • mdsx2

      Most people who read or watch CNN don't seem to get the fact that you hit the nail on the head. It's this administrations fault for the stagnation of America. Big Government and out of control social spending has never been good for ANY country.

      January 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Robot love

        When did the president control what businesses do?? NEVER

        January 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • lcp75050

        Maybe if the GOP hadn't blocked any jobs bill this administration tried to pass, we wouldn't have this stagnation?

        January 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • Jack 2

        hey Robot. The presidents campaign on getting us jobs. It dedfintly is on the presidents back to create a good job climate which creates jobs.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
  4. David spikes

    it isnt just the middle class-its everyone except the top 1%, 98% of wealth created in the past 6 years of "recovery" has gone to that 1%. and even there it has concentrated overwhelmingly in the very top of that percentile. as for davos it is funded, attended annd controlled by that same superrich %. the commentariat knows which side of the bread the jam is on-is it a surprise that no solutions are being proposed?

    January 28, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      QUOTE: It isnt just the middle class-its everyone except the top 1%, 98% of wealth created in the past 6 years of "recovery" has gone to that 1%. and even there it has concentrated overwhelmingly in the very top of that percentile."

      COMMENT: With no supporting data, your allegations are suspect, at the minimum, and are probably inaccurate. REMINDER: Incredible claims require extraordinary evidence.

      I'm not in the 1% (not even close). If I could post the details of my wealth creation since 2008, without fear of exploitation, I could easily refute your thesis.

      In summary, my net worth has risen by a total of 37% (since 2008). The majority of the increase is from capital appreciation and dividend reinvestment of stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. My home value increased by about $93K from its low in 2010-11.

      To reiterate, I'm not in the Top 1%. I estimate I'm in the Top 14% (using CNN Money Portfolio Tracker). My wealth creation is typical of Americans who kept most of their equities and property after the 2008 financial crisis.

      CONCLUSION: I sincerely doubt that 98% of wealth creation over the past six years went to the Top 1%. I may have been lucky, but as a member of the middle class, I survived and prospered during economic chaos, and I wasn't alone.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Reply
      • Keith

        I suppose you doubt science too.

        January 29, 2014 at 12:13 am |
  5. robpyatt

    Reblogged this on Global Politics Review.

    January 28, 2014 at 11:20 am | Reply
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Stop CRATING inequality. That's what hand outs DO! There are more people in poverty since Obama took office, than before. That SHOULD tell you something, but the Dem mentality is unable to grasp the truth.

    The only way out of poverty, is HARD WORK. Making jobs available to people is how those opportunities are provided. Not with food stamps.

    January 28, 2014 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • brian meyer

      The only way out of poverty is hard work at an individual level. If you look at a macro level, the great depression left you out of work no matter how hard you worked. It was WWII and public works projects, followed by investing in education ( GI Bill ), which drove our economy. These are not individual issues.

      Don't give hand outs in the form of cash, but if you provide cheap or free education to the poor and less advantaged, actually even the rich, well every dollar spent on education is proven to be a good return on investment, it just takes 10-30 years to see the effect. Likewise government investment in research such as the genome project, the internet, those things led to huge payoffs in silicon valley and in big pharma.

      January 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  7. Captain Slapaho

    We are also a society that now vilifies the "rich" and thinks ignorance is hip. See our national obsession with the Kardashians for proof of this.

    January 28, 2014 at 11:28 am | Reply
  8. allenwoll

    Wealth (be it cash, stocks & bonds, land or facilities) NOT working AT HOME here in the U S A should be heavily taxed and high barriers be placed in the path of the repatriation of foreign profits.
    If you do NOT wish to be an active, contributing part of the community of the U S A, please GET OUT NOW or sooner ! ! !

    January 28, 2014 at 11:32 am | Reply
  9. AaronW

    Finally Fareed and I agree on something…focus should not be on how to bring down the rich, but on how to raise up the poor. I am sure there are other things we have agreed on, but cannot think of them, as his criticism of US democracy over the 2 Senators per state in Congress remains most memorable. The Senate was one of the first great creations for the protection of minorities…protecting small states from domination in Congress by larger states and protecting minority opinions through the filibuster and rules that encouraged debate. While Fareed and I have had disagreements, I know he is very smart and educated and would love to see more on his thoughts for how to improve the lives of the poor and middle class and how to further the protection of minority rights in developing countries, particularly Africa and the Middle East.

    January 28, 2014 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • LiveFree

      The poor & middle class have to go down to help raising the rich. How do you raise up the poor without bringing down the rich? The only way – MORE DEBT

      February 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  10. mike

    Jobless recovery. And it will continue to be this way. The next generation of parents need to teach their kids to look for a needed career. Not what they want but what will let them survive. This will continue and get worse for the lower and middle classes. Stop holding on to the past and make sure your kids are ready for the future. No more factory jobs. No more Union jobs. No more promises of lifetime employment for unskilled labor. No more retirement promises. It's tough but it's reality and it is not going to change back.

    The sooner everyone embraces it the sooner there will be ideas on how people can still stay relevant in the workforce.

    Teach your kids now. It is too late for the current generation. They will struggle. They will be the victims.

    January 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • Bob C.

      The problem is, the careers that will be needed will require a lot of intelligence. Engineers, designers, scientists, etc. So what do we do with all the people who aren't smart enough to get those kinds of jobs? In the 50's and 60's, these people worked at the assembly line and got overpaid for it, which resulted in the middle class. But these people have no equivalent jobs in this economy. So they have to settle for low-paying jobs, and the middle class falls towards the lower class.

      January 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • Keith

        A living wage is not being over paid.

        February 1, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • Keith

      So, you think we should become another Mexico, the poor and the very rich, no middle class?

      I dont' think that is a good plan, why not unionize America again and build a strong middle class like we used to have? Why not protect our markets like we did the first 235 years of our existence as a nation? Why not stop doing the things that have made the top 1% richer than they have ever been in the history of mankind?

      I am not willing to accept crap, I am willing and will fight for what we deserve. You can teach your children to eat crap and kiss azz, if you please.

      February 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • LiveFree

      Not really, the problem is the trade policy lobbied by corporations that favor outsourcing to the maximum extend. Big corporations not only profits from lower labor, but also almost tax-free offshore cash. With big pile of cash oversea, corporations are more powerful than ever, further corrupt our governance system to serve their objectives.

      We, American people, pay for this scheme not only job loss, lesser income, dignity but also a huge trade deficit debt on the shoulder of our children. We import our own products, invented and designed by our own people, e.g. Apple, and bear the debt created by trade deficit importing our own products. Unbelievable, correct? Yet, it has been happening for the sake of high profit and higher stock market.

      The concept of globalization sold to us in the 90s was to outsource low-pay labor jobs to 3rd world countries so they can raise up to buy our high tech products. Thus, we will eventually move our labor force to higher income jobs. What we end up with are we offshore all jobs and import virtually everything from the toothpicks to finished high-tech products, even electronic components used in our advanced military equipment.

      Does this make sense to any one? Yet, it makes a lot of sense to the congress because no one there says anything about this stupidity.

      I can tell you, the only good jobs left are government jobs, and if your children are lucky sitting in the right place, they can make millions.

      February 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  11. Peter rice

    Did you write this all by yourself or did you copy it?

    January 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  12. J

    Until further notice, machines don't program themselves...people do. Rather than wait for some government redistribution policy that will never work, people need to educate or re-educate for the jobs that do exist and pay well. This liberal fantasy that all work is the same is and has always been total and complete nonsense.

    January 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Reply
    • oognok

      Give it a few years J...the notice will likely be along sooner than most people expect...

      January 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • Keith

      If you dont' fight for those other people's jobs, then programmers will be paid crap wages too.

      February 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  13. Steve H

    Isn't wealth inequality growth almost inevitable? $1M investment at 8% yields $80K, where a $1K investment yields $80. Net wealth inequality grows by $79,920. Bummer for those of us without the $1M, but hardly unfair.

    January 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  14. christina

    I agree with the author about the poor.The problem with the rich and middle class is different though. The rich need much higher taxes and the middle class need more jobs, labor unions and more favorable trade policy. No more lowering wages by importing labor because of a non-existent skills shortage. No more skyrocketing medical and education costs for profit. No more unlimited and hidden campaign contributions. Save the nation from the corruption of capitalism gone wild!

    January 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Gator

      The rich "need" higher taxes? Do you have any idea how much the rich pay in taxes?

      How come liberal twits always think the answer to "how much in taxes should OTHER people (who make more money than I do) pay?" is always "more?"

      January 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Reply
      • Keith

        Don't worry it is highly unlikely that you will ever be that rich. If you are then pay for the opportunities that living in America gave you.

        February 1, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
    • Keith

      You are right, we need to move in that direction.

      February 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  15. Robot love

    It's only going to get worse... Just wait until the robots and AI can design, manufacture and repair THEMSELVES, then there's only a need for a handful of human techs. Couple that with population increasing for the next several decades with fewer human-centric jobs and there's a recipe for disaster. But that's where we're headed in the elites ultimate goal of eliminating pesky human paychecks and demands for decent living wages dipping into their profit margins... Looks like a storms a-brewin'

    January 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  16. JC

    The immediate concept that fixing inequality requires us to create more tax incentives and increase safety net programs is short sighted and foolish. How on earth is anyone going to get a chunk of the wealth from the upper class if they are relying on a $100 increase in benefits from the government? Only education and high skill jobs can balance the idea of income inequality. If you have a degree that makes sense, like business (not journalism or art history) then you have the ability to make a decent living as a member of the middle class. You have to have poor people and lower middle class. There has to be the folks that work as janitors or delivery drivers. If everyone got cushy office jobs the economy would crumble. So what's the right number of poor people? And being that the economy has room for massive growth, why do we need to take away money from the rich? They either earned it or inherited it, but either way it doesn't belong to the poor or the middle class. There's a complete lack of common sense when it comes to this issue. I wish folks would step back and listen to the uneducated drivel that gets spewed on a daily basis.

    January 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Keith

      Education is not paying off now, how is more going to make it better?

      February 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  17. Gator

    The problem is not that people are very rich; it's that the very rich are able to manipulate government to their benefit at the expense of the rest of us.

    January 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • LiveFree

      Right on the spot.

      February 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  18. NewNEReview

    The injustice of income inequality will persist until the cork pops and the drink pours from the bottle. Eventually there will be correction for the disproportional distribution of resources. Whether the turning point will be a massive hemorrhage of blood or a more moderate voluntary relinquishment of wealth will be decided by the elite. Henceforth, the masses will decide the end fate of the superclass.

    January 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • Michael

      The US poor are considered the elites by most of the world's population. "Whether the turning point will be a massive hemorrhage of blood or a more moderate voluntary relinquishment of wealth will be decided by the elite."

      January 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  19. Anoop

    Thanks for your comments, Fareed. I am a big fan of GPS.

    Few thoughts on inequality....would love to hear your viewpoints as well:

    Isn't inequality in terms of Rich/Poor divide a wrong way to look at the problem? I agree it is a big problem if as a society we are not able to provide adequate tools/resources to unfortunate few who are not able to keep up with atleast the inflation growth. But as somebody mentioned, it's not a zero sum game (rich do not get richer by stealing wealth from poor). Shouldn't becoming rich be praised instead...I mean we praise athletes who are good although they increase the gap in talent between Olympic athletes and amateur athletes.

    Secondly, it would be a losing battle if we continue to measure inequality in terms of rich/poor gap. For one, the rich would always have better resources (education/connection/exposure) to excel in life relative to less impoverished. That said, few poor would be able to overcome these shortcomings by excelling in something else (their knowledge, hard work, work ethic ,etc) to rise above. But more importantly, this difference is bound to come with the age that we are in. Companies lie, Facebook/Groupon showed unprecedented rate of growth that was never possible before in the history of the humankind. With technology innovation and global connectedness, we would continue to see unprecedented wealth gains by selected few in a very short timeframe.

    Probably it's time to breaking the problem of Rich/Poor divide into separate discussions on rich and poor. Thoughts?

    January 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • Robot love

      The rich indeed have been stealing the wealth of the nation from the middle class and trying to cut funding for social programs for the poor for the past 30 years... Look at the numbers: the top 1% have seen an increase in profit by 40% since 2009 alone, compared with a measly .4% for the bottom 99%... You think that's because the super rich work harder??? Ha! It's because they can afford to bankroll our representatives into doing what they want at the expense of the rest of us... It all started with Reagan and his ridiculous tax breaks... History will show him to be the grandfather of the biggest socialist backlash which is about to come... It will either come peacefully if the elites come to their senses and realize people need living wages and better opportunities or it will be taken from them... But don't be mistaken, this back door dealing and class warfare against modest income americans has been going on for a longtime

      January 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • wakeupAmerica

        Very good comment. I totally agree. Thank you Robot Love.

        January 29, 2014 at 2:02 am |
      • LiveFree

        Right on.

        February 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  20. dso

    In the first Machine age, and in the second. The employee that lost his job to the machine should have continued to receive his paycheck since the works being done and have to prove they are in fact looking for a comparable job, or using that money to go to school to get a better Job within a reasonable completion time.

    Caught cheating. Stop receiving. Never receive it again. A perfectly transparent Black list.

    We can invent the machines to do it all for us, but you know we can't eat them or use them to keep us warm. So to frame it all up. If you could only a few of us would be able to afford it. I mean really afford it.

    In a lot of cases Improvements are what is keeping us from working. The 1% uses that against us because they can, and are in a position to do so, and our government says that's OkeDoke. Because the bodies in office are put their by them, and they want to get elected again next term, or have their buddies ushered in. Because of other deals that we often don't ever hear about.

    The Co's looking for any way to make more money in their collective pockets say people don't matter, just our dollar. We are already rich now and they need us. So we can do pretty much what we want.

    No any system will over time collapse on it's self. Even the systems that are stealing our jobs. Want a fresh start? Let a human being do that job.

    January 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  21. Ian

    As a strict economic conservative and capitalist, you're one of the moderate liberal voices whose views I really appreciate. Your stances are reasonable, defensible, and very well thought out. If you and Charles Krauthammer could rule the world, it would certainly be a better ruled by rational compassion in which we elevate our expectations of the individual, limit the scope of government to those (few) areas in which it has been demonstrated to be effective, and eliminate the baseless barriers of entry of many sectors into the free market. Every branch of the US government is now so partisan and ruled by reactionary emotion that I see no way out of our current decline.

    January 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  22. Dai

    Thanks to the 'Global Economy' even middle class workers are competing against Indian and Chinese workers pay scales, but in a country where costs are so much higher because of Gov bureaucracy and the EU. Indian and Chinese tax-payers do not have to support failing European countries and green initiatives.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  23. James

    When we reach the point where machines produce most of the things we need, then we need to start giving it all away. Capitalism won't work anymore.

    January 28, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  24. chrissy

    2 of the MOST SENSIBLE comments ive read so far were Christina @ 1:30 and Robotlove @ 4:30! Thank you both!

    January 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  25. Joseph McCarthy

    As long as the right-wing politicians in Washington keep on dragging us into these useless and unnecessary wars overseas, we in the middle class have very little chance of retaining whatever wealth we have left.

    January 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  26. DuluthMN

    It used to be said that America was a place where anyone was free to succeed. Unspoken was the second part of the sentence that added "or fail". Freedom has both parts. You want to break out of stagnation then take away the disincentives. The government safety net that catches those who fail also affects those who want to succeed by taxing and regulating success to pay for those safety net protections. It's not an either-or kind of situation but one of having the right balance. If you took all the money from the 85 richest people on earth and gave it to those 3.5 billion people whose wealth equalled that you would still have 3.5 billion poor 85 new poor people, and 85 less rich people. However we figure this out it has to be something that adds to those who lack while taking nothing from those who have found prosperity.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  27. Rick

    Leave it to Mr Z, to write an anti American article, you can almost count on all his articles containing an anti American twist. The only time he is pro anything, is pro Iran.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:00 am | Reply
  28. musings

    Reblogged this on Nkatha Lucy.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:33 am | Reply
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