Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is too much knowledge and "social connectivity" a good thing?

I've been posting to Twitter lately, and have discovered that there are quite a few intelligent people on the site! It's kind of got me hooked as I discover links to people and then other people -- then I end up reading their tweets, and so on. I was a bit puzzled why some people decided to "follow" me, but I "followed" them back, and discovered interesting people in the process! But one can really spend more time on Twitter than one should, and if I had work to do right now, I'd probably be missing what's going on in Twitterworld.

There was an article by New York Times writer David Brooks today () called "The Experience Economy" (What happens when wealth and living standards diverge?) which really got me to thinking, "what has happened to this country lately?" Well, I have my own ideas on the matter, which revolve around a certain political party, American corporate greed, China, and the powerlessness of the American people. I discovered a blog called "The Terry Report" () whose writer echoes my sentiments exactly on many issues.

But, back to the NYT article. I agreed with what Mr. Brooks wrote about the changing condition of the US manufacturing capability. The new "information and social networking age" doesn't create a lot of jobs for people -- he said that Facebook has about 2000 employees and Twitter 300. The wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. At one time, most of the goods sold in America were made here, and sold here. Many people who didn't have college degrees could live a decent life, raise a family, buy a house, and retire to relative security due to many jobs in the manufacturing sector. Now, we are all so fascinated with the information that is available out there (myself included) that we waste time becoming more informed but not wealthier; socially connected (electronically) but with no real person-to-person interaction. There are those few who capitalize on the Internet and use the social media to further their own agenda. There is a problem with all of this information and social media -- we can't all be sitting at a computer (just like I am,) and typing away, or busily thumbing away on our smartphone. This activity produces nothing of physical utility, such as an automobile, steel, or electronics. We all can't be doing this in the future -- if we are doing that, here in the US, and relying on China or some other third-world country to create our products, we will become slaves to them, in a sense: in debt, without work, and reliant on them to create our everyday products. They will have conquered America without firing a shot.

I keep hoping that our decision makers in Congress will wake up some day and decide that China (in particular, since most goods sold at Wal-Mart are made there) is not our friend, but is a serious threat to our economic security, and will immediately create a steep tariff against their products. Also creating an incentive to "buy American" again by crediting the makers of American-made (and American-sourced) products with a significant tax break to stimulate the economy by creating jobs again that actually produce something physical with real value. It's probably just a pipe dream, however. American Greed will reign, regardless of the political party in power. We will continue to "race to the bottom" in pay scale and quality of life.

On the technology front, we will continue to outsource jobs -- that is why it is difficult getting employment in I.T., because the foreign workers have dropped the pay rates by almost half in ten years. Only if you have a very specialized kind of training can you demand the pay that I used to get just ten years ago. This outsourcing is not just in I.T., either -- I read that Boeing is outsourcing some of its work to China. Imagine that -- the company that is a symbol of American greatness, outsourcing its workers to save money and lay good people off! I hope that the younger generation coming up sees what's going on, and once they manage to push out the "old folks" out of Capitol Hill, bring back some sanity to this country.