In an article titled “Where are the Jobs?” author David Brooks observes two things:
- Innovation except in Information Technology has slowed down and
- Jobs (in America) have gone scarce
He offers some reason – and reader comments offer a lot more. Frankly, some comments were even better than the original article – to the extent that I read all the 370+ comments.
To summarize, here is what the writer and the reader base thought: (It is more chaotic over there in the comment section. It almost sounds like a class war in the comments section)
- We are hitting the “hard” stuff in science (Rep. argument)
- Innovation progress non-linearly and unpredictably (bipartisan argument)
- We have lost the faith in future and the fantasy part of it (Rep. argument)
- Too many regulations (and green activism) have stifled the industrial growth (Rep. argument)
- American talent in 1980’s was drawn to MBA’s rather than to science and engineering (Dem. argument)
- Wall Street rewards shorter profit cycles and at any cost – hence there is less motivation in the executives to take long term risks (Dem. argument)
- Government sponsored research is drying up (Dem. argument)
- American conservatives started wars, turned “anti-science”, denied pollution and global warming etc. strangling “green growth” (Dem. argument)
- Jobs fled to China (and even to India!) and remaining were substituted by captive labor (original use ‘slaves’) of H1-B’s and L1’s. (Dem. argument)
- As tax breaks for 30 years increased gap between the rich and the middle class, the rich have less reason to take risk, investing less in technology and it cycles down (Dem. argument)
- Automation has taken away jobs (Dem. argument)
Can someone please tell the crowd that ALL of the arguments above are correct and there is more?
1. Markets too develop inertia.
a. Fiber did not universally reached to home because copper does the job good enough
b. Bicycle industry never adopted to brake energy storage, despite it is so taxing on knees to start a bicycle from 21st gear
c. Car industry never embraced rear wheel steering – and parallel parking is still a challenge
d. Car industry, not even Japanese car industry, introduced six stroke or five stroke engines. Just by going that way, it could have given us half a decade of “Moore’s 130% law of automobiles”, wherein every year, car efficiency could have gone up 30%, resulting in a car that could run 50 kmpl (or 80 mpg)
2. One development may inhibit another.
a. For example, touch based phone interface by Apple is clearly inferior to “no touch” based interface by Pranav Mistry. However, the former had more marketing muscle – and they won out
3. The motivation to innovate is substituted by non-technical solutions
a. The biggest motivation behind innovation was to seek cheaper labor through automation. Once labor in China (and to some extent India) became available, this motivation is blown to pieces
4. New markets are not as competitive for innovation
a. Typical consumer in BRIC countries and other emerging economies are still deprived. For her, getting a Tata Nano is more important than gee-whiz rocket ride to Moon for a weekend. As these deprived masses are driving current corporate profits of Wall Street, innovation is luxury at the moment
b. Having said that, however, disruptive innovations (once again, like Tata Nano) may do better