Liberal Nostalgiacs……

25 Apr
 By Michael barone
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen liberal  commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of  high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line  at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable  retirement.
As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next  door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal  nostalgiacs. Which is that people hated those jobs.
The assembly-line  work was boring and repetitive. That’s because management imbibed Frederick W.  Taylor’s theories that workers were stupid and could not be trusted with any  initiative.
It was also because the thousands of pages of work rules in  United Auto Workers contract, which forbade assembly-line speedups, also barred  any initiative or flexible response.
That’s why the UAW in 1970 staged a  long strike against General Motors to give workers the option of early  retirement, 30-and-out. All those guys who had gotten assembly line jobs at 18  or 21 could quit at 48 or 51.
The only problem was that when they  retired they lost their health insurance. So the UAW got the Detroit Three auto  companies to pay for generous retiree health benefits that covered elective  medical and dental procedures with little or no co-payments.
It was those  retiree health benefits more than anything else that eventually drove General  Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and into ownership by the government and the  UAW.
The liberal nostalgiacs would like to see an economy that gives  low-skill high school graduates similar opportunities. That’s what Barack Obama  seems to be envisioning when he talks about hundreds of thousands of “green  jobs.”
But those “green jobs” have not come into existence despite  massive government subsidies and crony capitalism. It’s become apparent that the  old Detroit model was unsustainable and cannot be revived even by the most  gifted community organizer and adjunct law professor.
For one thing, in a  rapidly changing and technologically advanced economy, the lifetime job seems to  be a thing of the past. Particularly “lifetime” jobs where you work only 30  years and then get supported for the next 30 or so years of your life. Today’s  young people can’t expect to join large organizations and in effect ride  escalators for the rest of their careers. The new companies emerging as winners  in high tech — think Apple or Google — just don’t employ that many people, at  least in the United States.
Similarly, today’s manufacturing firms  produce about as large a share of the gross national product as they used to  with a much smaller percentage of the labor force.
Moreover, there’s  evidence that recent growth in some of the professions — the law, higher  education — has been a bubble, and is about to burst.
The bad news for  the Millennial generation that is entering its work years is that the economy of  the future won’t look like the economy we’ve grown accustomed to. The “hope and  change” that Barack Obama promised hasn’t produced much more than college loans  that will be hard to pay off and a health care law that lets them stay on Mommy  and Daddy’s health insurance till they’re 26.
The good news is that  information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to  find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and  interests.
As Walter Russell Mead writes in his brilliant  the-american-interest.com blog, “The career paths that (young people) have been  trained for are narrowing, and they are going to have to launch out in  directions they and their teachers didn’t expect. They were bred and groomed to  live as house pets; they are going to have to learn to thrive in the  wild.”
But, as Mead continues, “The future is filled with enterprises not  yet born, jobs that don’t yet exist, wealth that hasn’t been created, wonderful  products and life-altering service not yet given form.”
As Jim Manzi  argues in his new book “Uncontrolled,” we can’t predict what this new work world  will look like. It will be invented through trial and error.
What we can  be sure of is that creating your own career will produce a stronger sense of  satisfaction and fulfillment. Young people who do so won’t hate their work the  way those autoworkers hated those assembly line jobs.
Michael Barone,  senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner is a Fox News Channel
Read more:  The Marietta Daily Journal – Michael Barone Nostalgic liberals don’t understand the jobs of the future

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