blue-collar work

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pages: 338 words: 92,465

Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katherine S. Newman, Hella Winston


active measures, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, Computer Numeric Control, deindustrialization, desegregation, factory automation, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job-hopping, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, performance metric, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, two tier labour market, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

But his emphasis on the aspirations and cultivation of elites faded away in favor of a universal call to open the doors of educational institutions, provide employment opportunities, desegregate housing, and guarantee the right to vote. Everyone should be able to seek a spot among the ranks of the talented tenth. Accommodating to inequality—as Washington was prepared to do in the name of economic security—was unacceptable. Upward mobility into the professions was the path toward respect. White America did not see the world so differently. Class intruded everywhere. Blue-collar work paid well, at least during the heyday of industrial unions, but it was not a source of pride. In David Halle’s book on New Jersey chemical company employees, America’s Working Man, a line worker instructs his eight-year-old kid to wave the father’s paycheck in front of his second-grade teacher and ask whether she had anything to say for herself. On the defensive, the blue-collar dad argued that his money trumped her prestige.

The notion that we should turn away from the dire consequences of the educational disaster unfolding in inner-city America and trust in the power of the college ideal is an irresponsible position as long as the pathway to college is strewn with so many obstacles. Moreover, it draws upon a different kind of prejudice: biases against careers that utilize the kind of intelligence and skill it takes to program a huge high-speed precision lathe, determine the cause of a plumbing problem, or spot a mistake in a drug dose in a hospital ward. This kind of talent built a booming nation and was once the bedrock of a proud blue-collar working class, whose unions organized for good wages. As a country, we stood in collective admiration of their achievements written in stone, glass, and metal. The United States was a mighty industrial power in the past and could be one again, but not until we find it in ourselves to respect what workers produce as much as we admire lawyers, doctors, or Silicon Valley computer wizards. * * * Modern manufacturers in the newly reindustrializing states are looking for people who can work with their hands and their heads, and they are having a hard time finding enough of them.

States were encouraged to spend federal funds on vocational education for students who had dropped out of college, workers who needed training or retraining, and individuals with academic, socioeconomic, or other handicaps.26 It was this very association of vocational training with disadvantage, especially urban black and rural white poverty, that would saddle it with a remedial taint. That valence was reinforced by the association of practical training with blue-collar work in a country fixated on white-collar employment as a mark of upward mobility. While other countries linked skilled manufacturing to international trade dominance with almost nationalist zeal, Americans pushed the blue-collar training agenda into an educational corner and virtually ensured that anyone who ventured there would be tarred by stigma. The route to middle-class status ran through the managerial, white-collar, or professional world and getting a ticket was the ambition of the upwardly mobile.

pages: 356 words: 91,157

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class?and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida

affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbine, congestion charging, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Ferguson, Missouri, Gini coefficient, Google bus, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land value tax, low skilled workers, Lyft, megacity, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, occupational segregation, Paul Graham, Plutocrats, plutocrats, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, superstar cities, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, young professional

It was the advantaged and dominant class of our time, I argued, and its members’ tastes, preferences, and proclivities were reshaping not just our cities but our culture, workplace practices, and society at large. I also identified two less advantaged classes that together made up the rest of the workforce: the larger and much-lower-paid service class, roughly 60 million workers, about half of the workforce, who toiled in low-paid food prep, retail, and personal service jobs, and the shrinking ranks of the blue-collar working class, who worked in factories, construction, the trades, and transportation and logistics and constituted about one-fifth of the workforce. The cities and the larger metropolitan areas that were most successful economically, I argued further, were those that excelled at what I called the “3Ts of economic development”: technology, talent, and tolerance. They had clusters of technology industry; they had great school systems and research universities that produced talent; and they were open-minded and tolerant, which allowed them to attract and retain talent regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

The service class is concentrated in a tight band outside downtown Boston, continuing north past Marblehead and south to Quincy along the coast, forming two big clusters at the northern and southern fringes of the metro. Nine of the ten most concentrated service-class neighborhoods in the metro are in the city of Boston, mainly in South and East Boston around historically black Roxbury and near Logan Airport. Slightly less than 15 percent of the region’s workers belong to the blue-collar working class, well below the national average—and a stark change from the middle of the twentieth century, when Boston was a preeminent manufacturing center. Figure 7.7: Boston Source: Map by Martin Prosperity Institute, based on data from the US Census. Washington, DC’s, creative class makes up nearly half the metro’s workforce, one of the highest levels in the country, spanning large areas of the city and the suburbs (see Figure 7.8).

Some will say that Trump and the Republicans are in the way here, but a lot can be done on this front by states and cities and the private sector. The strategies that politicians typically offer up for rebuilding the middle class will not even come close to solving the problem. Many, most notably Trump himself, like to talk about bringing middle-class manufacturing jobs back to America, for instance. But only 20 percent of Americans do blue-collar work of any sort today, and that includes huge numbers of construction and transportation workers. Just 6 percent of workers actually make things in factories. Even if we were able to bring large numbers of manufacturing jobs back, and even if the much-publicized successes with advanced and so-called artisanal manufacturing continue apace, these new jobs will still amount to just a drop in the bucket.

pages: 311 words: 130,761

Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America by Diana Elizabeth Kendall


Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, David Brooks, declining real wages, Donald Trump, employer provided health coverage, ending welfare as we know it, fixed income, framing effect, Georg Cantor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, haute couture, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, lump of labour, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working poor

FADING BLUE-COLLAR FRAMING: OUT OF WORK OR UNHAPPY AT WORK Twenty-first-century media representations of the working class have described the diminished political and economic clout of the laboring class as compared to the heyday of unionized blue-collar workers’ earning relatively high wages with good benefits and job stability. News reports now focus on the “fading” of blue-collar work due to job loss, the threat of cheap immigrant labor, the outsourcing of jobs to other countries, the downgrading of blue-collar work generally, and the number of working-class families joining the ranks of the working poor or unemployed. A political cartoon summed up the problems of the formerly well-paid union factory worker by showing a man wearing a hard hat and work shirt sitting across a desk from a young woman at a computer. Behind them, a sign reads, “U.S.

The focus had shifted from workers’ issues and why they were threatening to strike to how workers’ actions inconvenienced and harmed other people. Congressional investigations, governmental actions, and violence during labor strikes provided reporters with fodder for numerous articles on the working class and its problems; however, the focus of many stories remained primarily on labor organizers and what Puette refers to as a “cartoon image” of labor unions—one that portrayed the “worthless, unproductive, overpaid blue-collar work force, which is considered the unhappy but inevitable result of unionization.”33 In articles ranging from coverage of the 1920 Palmer Raids (in which federal agents arrested more than five thousand people to break a nationwide strike)34 to news reports about passage of the Taft-Hartley Labor Act in 1947 (which curbed union strikes),35 reporters had ample opportunity to inform their readers about key issues facing workers.

With regard to the impoverished class, classic films like Gone with the Wind popularized the phrase “po’ white trash”; since the 1980s, the media have employed the whitetrash caricature to portray blue-collar and lower-income white-collar families. The term has also been bandied about in television situation comedies like the now-syndicated Roseanne, which features a working-class family that prides itself on its “trashy” origins and behavior. In an episode titled “White Trash Christmas,” Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr), a blue-collar working mother, and her husband, Dan (John Goodman), snub their neighbors by putting up gaudy Christmas decorations outside their house. In another episode, Roseanne sits in the garage on a favorite sofa the family discarded when they purchased a new one. Roseanne is laughing at an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, a “whitetrash-made-good” show, which she is watching on the family’s discarded TV set.

pages: 255 words: 75,172

Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America by Tamara Draut


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, always be closing, battle of ideas, big-box store, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, creative destruction, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, ending welfare as we know it, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, full employment, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, occupational segregation, payday loans, pink-collar, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, white flight, women in the workforce, young professional

As companies shuttered factories in the United States and income inequality began its steady ascent, jobs for home health aides, child-care workers, fast-food workers, janitors, and waiters swelled to accommodate major cultural and social trends, including the growing disposable income of the upper echelon and the time crunch facing all workers, but especially those who have young children or aging parents to care for. The New Big Jobs: Feeding, Serving, Caring, and Stocking America The old leviathan of the blue-collar working class, the auto industry, is commonly referred to as the Big Three, meaning GM, Ford, and Chrysler. In their prime, these companies symbolized American ingenuity, prosperity, and industrial hegemony. Despite major setbacks, including bankruptcy filings, the Big Three automakers have rebounded, though employing a fraction of the workers they did at their peak. And in an unprecedented concession, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union agreed in 2007 to a two-tier wage system, with new workers hired at lower wages and with fewer benefits.

Arlene, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago at the age of seventeen, today works in a job where she compares the way she’s treated to our nation’s greatest moral stain. Arlene isn’t alone in her dissatisfaction. Various surveys find that jobs in retail and food service rank very low in terms of job satisfaction.12 The Blue-Collar Jobs In the top-ten list of occupations providing the largest number of jobs in our country, two of the ten (laborers/material movers and janitors) could be described as traditional blue-collar work, that is, physical labor done overwhelmingly by men. But unlike four decades ago, these jobs aren’t on the assembly line or factory floor. Today over 2 million people in the new working class are employed as janitors or cleaners, earning an average hourly wage of $10.73.13 Nearly seven out of ten of these jobs are held by men. About half of them are held by whites, whereas Latinos make up 30 percent, African Americans 16 percent, and Asian Americans 3 percent of the other half.14 The other big occupation for working-class men today is what’s known as hand laborers and material movers, employing 3.4 million people.15 This is classic manual labor: moving freight or stock to and from cargo containers, warehouses, and docks.

pages: 345 words: 92,849

Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk,, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

But if we do that, then it is entirely possible to overcome our disadvantages and build a career for ourselves that is financially and spiritually rewarding. Take someone who, despite his best efforts, struggles with academic work. There are still enormous opportunities for skilled blue-collar work—for mechanics, electricians, plumbers, welders, and the like. These are well-paying jobs that can be deeply fulfilling, and yet millions of such jobs are going unfilled right now because there aren’t enough workers trained to do them. As former Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe has argued, the main reason for this is that “our society [has] waged . . . a sort of cold war on [blue-collar] work. . . . [L]ook at the way those industries are portrayed in pop culture. Show me a plumber, and I’ll show you a 300-pound guy with a giant butt crack and a tool belt. He’s a punch line.”37 But it’s the plumber who gets the last laugh: the fact is that with only a couple years of training, a junior plumber can earn between $40,000 and $50,000 a year, and an experienced plumber can earn upward of $70,000.38 Even the low-skilled service-sector jobs at places such as McDonald’s and Walmart have been unfairly maligned as “dead-end jobs.”

Social Capital and Civil Society by Francis Fukuyama


Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, p-value, Pareto efficiency, postindustrial economy, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, transaction costs, World Values Survey

The degree to which power has been moved down to the bottom layer of the organization is symbolized by the famous cord at each workstation in Toyota’s Takaoka assembly plant, which allows each individual blue-collar worker to stop the entire assembly line if he or she sees a problem in the production process. The cord constitutes what game theorists would call a unit veto, by which each actor can sabotage the entire group’s effort. It is obvious that this kind of authority can be safely delegated only under certain conditions : the blue-collar work force has to be adequately trained to be able to undertake the management skills formerly performed by white-collar middle managers, and they have to have a sense of responsibility to use their power to further group rather than individual ends. The post-Fordist factory requires, in other words, a higher degree of trust and social capital than the Taylorite workplace with its comprehensive workplace rules.

pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser,, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

We will return in subsequent chapters to the enormous change in the occupational distribution between 1870 and 2010. Farming has almost disappeared as an occupation, the share of blue-collar work has declined by one-third, and there has been an explosion of the share of service occupations as well as of managers and professionals. The share of professionals today is about the same as that of farm laborers in 1870, implying a tremendous change in working conditions along all dimensions, including physical difficulty, exposure to the elements, risk of injury or death, and educational qualifications.66 Throughout this book, we trace the gradual transition from unpleasant to pleasant work. If we describe farming, blue-collar work, and domestic service as unpleasant, then 87 percent of jobs in 1870 were unpleasant. In 1940, this percentage was 60.4 percent, and by 2009, it had declined to only 21.6 percent.

Consider the greatly diminished disutility of a farmer who now plants his field in an air-conditioned and GPS-equipped tractor, contrasting it with the 1870 farmer guiding a plow behind a horse or mule. This approach interprets the improvement in the standard of living by viewing members of each household both as consumers and as workers. The greatly increased quality of work includes the shift from the physical strain and danger of manual blue-collar work to air-conditioned work in offices, hotels, and retail stores. It includes such improvements of quality as increased flexibility and control over one’s own work hours, a contrast to the highly regimented nature of assembly work in the heyday of manufacturing. Likewise, the “quality of youth” has been improved by the end of child labor and the advance of educational attainment, captured by the sharp contrast between the children of 1900 guiding mules in dark and dangerous coal mines and the pampered teenagers of 2015 texting, tweeting, and playing games on multiple electronic gadgets.

To some extent, the rising share of professionals mirrored the rising share of employment in the education and health sectors; also, the growth in the professional category was a natural by-product of rising college completion rates. A crude way to summarize the transition toward lessened disutility of work is to tally the share of total employees engaged in relatively disagreeable work, whether outside, exposed to the elements; involving heavy lifting or digging; or featuring monotonous repetitive motions on the assembly line. For this purpose, we will include all those engaged in farming, blue-collar work, or domestic service as having “unpleasant” jobs and everyone else as having “pleasant” jobs. This two-way classification does not allow for nuances—for instance, that cashiers in retail stores may have jobs that are as repetitive and boring as those of assembly line workers, whereas some craft workers in manufacturing or construction create objects of which workers can be proud. Nevertheless, the shift in the nature of work since 1870 has been striking, as the share of those in unpleasant occupations declined from an initial 87.2 percent over the years to 21.6 percent in 2009.

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray

affirmative action, assortative mating, blue-collar work, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate governance, David Brooks,, feminist movement, George Gilder, Haight Ashbury, happiness index / gross national happiness, helicopter parent, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, new economy, Ralph Nader, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working-age population, young professional

In 1960, 40 percent of Manhattan’s jobs had been industrial. By 2000, that 40 percent had shrunk to 5 percent. By 2000, 15 percent of all jobs in Manhattan were in the financial sector, another 15 percent fell into the category of “professional, scientific, and technical services,” and another 9 percent were in a category labeled simply “information.” That’s 39 percent of all jobs. That doesn’t mean blue-collar work wasn’t being done in Manhattan anymore. It just means that by the year 2000, people who lived in Manhattan south of the Nineties weren’t doing them. Instead, Manhattan south of the Nineties had turned into an abode for a highly educated, highly paid professional, managerial, and technical class. Even excluding the Upper East Side, the median family income of Manhattan south of Ninety-Sixth Street had risen from the $39,300 of 1960 to $121,400 in 2000.

Murray, 2006, 21. 25. Fogel, 2000, 17. 26. Ibid., 25. 27. Ibid., 176–77. Appendix A: Data Sources and Presentation 1. Cleveland, 1979. 2. Fischer and Hout, 2006, 253. Appendix C: Supplemental Material for the Chapter on Belmont and Fishtown 1. “Blue-collar professions” refer to high-skill blue-collar jobs that lend themselves to self-employment or have a natural career path to supervisory positions on blue-collar work sites. 2. This stipulation means that a person whose spouse has an AA degree or higher is not assigned to Fishtown even if both the husband and wife are in Fishtown occupations. 3. For databases that show a person’s years of completed education rather than highest degree completed, persons who have completed a thirteenth year of schooling are categorized as “no more than a high school diploma.”

pages: 225 words: 55,458

Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education by Mike Rose


blue-collar work, centre right, creative destruction, delayed gratification, George Santayana, income inequality, moral panic, new economy, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the built environment, urban renewal, War on Poverty

Unpacking the College-for-All Versus Occupational Training Debate When I was in high school in the early 1960s, the curriculum was split into three tracks: an academic or college preparatory track, a general education track, and a vocational track. Upon entrance, students were placed in one of these on the basis of their previous academic records or a measure of ability, typically an IQ score. The curriculum directed the students toward a four-year college or university, possibly a community college; toward service or lowlevel managerial careers; or into blue-collar work. The curriculum also contributed powerfully to the school’s social order. The college-bound were in student government, edited the newspaper and the annual, and at year’s end had a thick list of activities under their class photographs. I swear, looking back on it all, that the college prep crowd walked around campus with an air of promise. Since the mid-twentieth century, sociological and educational studies have documented the bias at work in the way students got placed in these tracks; for example, working-class and racial and ethnic minority students with records of achievement comparable to their advantaged peers were more frequently placed in the general ed or vocational tracks.

pages: 361 words: 76,849

The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun


barriers to entry, blue-collar work, Broken windows theory,, Firefox, future of work, Google Hangouts, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Lean Startup, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, remote working, Results Only Work Environment, Richard Stallman, Seaside, Florida, side project, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the map is not the territory, Tony Hsieh, trade route, zero-sum game

Instead those ideas are rooted in the origins of work; we've just lost our way. Through the last two centuries, work has become increasingly abstract, which of course, is, in some ways, progress. Fewer people (at least in the First World) are exposed to dangerous, backbreaking labor. But at the same time, we've lost the beneficial effects work used to have on our psychology. In Shopcraft as Soulcraft, a book about recovering the lost values of what we call blue-collar work, Matthew Crawford identifies how often we mock the emptiness of modern workplaces: “The popularity of Dilbert, The Office, and any number of other pop-culture windows on cubicle life attests to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar work.”2 It has been only in the past hundred years that work has become this way. In the centuries of civilization prior, many more of us had crafts and skills that gave us pride.

pages: 223 words: 77,566

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, blue-collar work, cognitive dissonance, late fees, medical malpractice, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, working poor

Apparently not paid employment, since the man has never worked a paying job in his life. Ultimately, the verdict of his own son is damning: “Daddy says he’s worked in his life. Only thing Daddy’s worked is his goddamned ass. Why not be straight about it, Pa? Daddy was an alcoholic. He would stay drunk, he didn’t bring food home. Mommy supported her young’uns. If it hadn’t been for Mommy, we’d have been dead.”15 Alongside these conflicting norms about the value of blue-collar work existed a massive ignorance about how to achieve white-collar work. We didn’t know that all across the country—and even in our hometown—other kids had already started a competition to get ahead in life. During first grade, we played a game every morning: The teacher would announce the number of the day, and we’d go person by person and announce a math equation that produced the number. So if the number of the day was four, you could announce “two plus two” and claim a prize, usually a small piece of candy.

pages: 265 words: 74,941

The Great Reset: How the Post-Crash Economy Will Change the Way We Live and Work by Richard Florida

banking crisis, big-box store, blue-collar work, car-free, carbon footprint, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, creative destruction, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labour mobility, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, Menlo Park, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, total factor productivity, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

Manufacturing cities and regions—the ones with the rusting steel beams and the pigeons roosting in the rafters—weigh most heavily on the minds of economists and policy makers. Will the lost jobs ever come back? Can they be replaced? Can we reclaim our industrial might? What’s really in store in those places? Chapter Twelve Death and Life of Great Industrial Cities There’s a long history of writers extolling the virtues of blue-collar work. From Leo Tolstoy’s Levin finding happiness alongside his field hands in Anna Karenina to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in 1974, our greatest intellects have repeatedly been surprised to discover the simple joys of hard physical labor. In his best-selling book Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew Crawford, a University of Chicago philosophy PhD, walked away from his knowledge-work career in a boring think-tank job and, following in Pirsig’s footsteps, found far more satisfying work in a motorcycle repair shop.

In the Age of the Smart Machine by Shoshana Zuboff

affirmative action, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, data acquisition, demand response, deskilling, factory automation, Ford paid five dollars a day, fudge factor, future of work, industrial robot, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, job automation, linked data, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, old-boy network, optical character recognition, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Shoshana Zuboff, social web, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, zero-sum game

It may well be that those individuals who remain in the manufacturing sector of the work force will be able to trade in their blue collars for ones that are gleaming white. However, this historical trajectory of the blue-collar body does little to inform our understanding of what has been white-collar work and what it is likely to become. The evolution of white-collar work has followed a historical path that is in many ways the precise opposite of that taken by blue-collar work. Manufacturing has its roots in the work of skilled craft. In most cases, that work was successively gutted of the elements that made it skillful-leaving behind jobs that were simplified and routinized. An examination of work at the various levels of the management hierarchy reveals a different process. Elements of managerial work most easily subjected to rationalization were "carved out" of the manager's activit- ies.

Pierenkemper compares his own data to that of several other studies of white-collar employment at that time and concludes that "the evidence suggests that industrial white collar employees in the late nineteenth century were a distinct but heterogeneous group. They performed a broad range of tasks-at one extreme close to those of management, at the other difficult to distinguish from those of the blue collar work force. ,,47 The White-Collar Body in History 11 5 Another study documented the experiences of female clerks in the federal government during the later part of the nineteenth century. The testimony of one woman who worked as a clerk examining the accounts of Indian agents, reveals the range of her accountability: For years I worked faithfully. . . the work being brain work of a character that requires a knowledge not only of the rulings of this Department, but also those of the Treasury, Second Auditor, Second Comptroller, and Revised Statutes; demanding the closest and most critical attention, together with a great deal of legal and business knowledge. ,,48 The experiences of another clerk, Jane Seavey, have survived in her corre- spondence.

pages: 299 words: 83,854

Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy by Howard Karger


big-box store, blue-collar work, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, delayed gratification, financial deregulation, fixed income, illegal immigration, labor-force participation, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, microcredit, mortgage debt, negative equity, New Journalism, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, payday loans, predatory finance, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, underbanked, working poor

Finally, the complaints included Byrider’s discouraging customers from purchasing certain cars; hiding or failing to reveal the real purchase price; and requiring detailed financial information and a credit check before disclosing a vehicle’s price.22 It seems that Byrider’s mission to “Deliver dependable cars and provide affordable financing in a friendly and professional atmosphere” may need some fine-tuning.158 BHPH dealers foresee a brisk future as more middle-class families face increased debt and blemished credit. In fact, the BHPH sector is beginning to stratify, with middle- and higher-end lots selling vehicles costing $10,000 or more. Some are even selling newer cars and trucks for $20,000 and up. According to Michael Linn, CEO of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), “We’re no longer just talking blue-collar working people.… We’re talking doctors, lawyers. It’s a growing industry because of what is going on economically, and the influx of immigrants. The common denominator is no credit or damaged credit.”23 Like much of the fringe economy, the BHPH industry is driven by the profitability of financing rather than the profitability in selling a product. As one BHPH customer described, “They wanted $1,900 for that car.… These people wouldn’t take cash; they wouldn’t take cash for any of their vehicles.

pages: 309 words: 91,581

The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It by Timothy Noah


assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, Branko Milanovic, call centre, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, manufacturing employment, moral hazard, oil shock, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, positional goods, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Powell Memorandum, purchasing power parity, refrigerator car, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, upwardly mobile, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War

Not easy, but not impossible either.”9 Levy and Murnane’s larger point, however, is reinforced by Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s caveat. The elimination of rule-based jobs tends to fall heavily on middle incomes—including, conceivably, truck drivers. Higher-income jobs seldom involve, in Manjoo’s formulation, doing “a single thing.” In 1969 the two broad categories encompassing the occupations of the largest proportion of American workers were blue-collar work and administrative support. Together, Levy and Murnane calculate, these categories described 56 percent of the workforce. By 1999, they described only 39 percent. The decline occurred because many of these jobs were sufficiently rule-based that industrial robots and desktop computers could do them. During that same period, sales-related occupations increased from 8 to 12 percent; professional occupations increased from 10 to 13 percent; and managers and administrators increased from 8 percent to 14 percent.

pages: 352 words: 104,411

Rush Hour by Iain Gately


Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Beeching cuts, blue-collar work, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, car-free, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, connected car, corporate raider, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Dean Kamen, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, don't be evil, Elon Musk, extreme commuting, Google bus, Henri Poincaré, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, Marchetti’s constant, postnationalism / post nation state, Ralph Waldo Emerson, remote working, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, telepresence, Tesla Model S, urban planning, éminence grise

In each case he was placed on a manslaughter charge until the coroner’s inquest had established that the traveller was seeking oblivion. On the second occasion, he needed three months’ sick leave and counselling before he could work again. The stress is as bad on a day-to-day basis among bus drivers. According to Professor M. A. J. Kompier, a Dutch psychologist, driving a bus is ‘a high-risk occupation’, cruel to both body and psyche, in comparison to office work, blue-collar work, taxi driving or working at a brewery or as a civil servant – or indeed almost every other occupation. Sitting down all day and driving a large vehicle slowly is more dangerous than it seems. The ergonomics of many drivers’ cabs are poor – the steering wheels are too big, the seats are one-size-fits-all and the pedals are either not close enough or almost out of reach, with the result that most drivers have to twist, stretch or hunch up while they’re being shaken by the motion of the bus, blasted with hot or cold air whenever they open the doors, and abused by their passengers.

pages: 332 words: 89,668

Two Nations, Indivisible: A History of Inequality in America: A History of Inequality in America by Jamie Bronstein


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, blue-collar work, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, obamacare, occupational segregation, Occupy movement, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, wage slave, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

The Depression and wartime periods forged widespread agreement among all parties that the best way to end poverty was through economic growth, consumerism, and regulation of the economy to guarantee fundamental fairness.96 Postwar prosperity enabled political leaders to focus on those still living in pockets of poverty, a trend examined in the next chapter. CHAPTER 6 The Great Compression and the War on Poverty: 1945–1979 The years between 1945 and the late 1960s saw unprecedented compression between the wealthy and the poor. It was fueled by high taxes on upper incomes, healthy American industries with high wages for blue-collar work, demographic growth, and an expanding managerial sector. The union movement flourished, and 35 percent of the workforce was unionized in 1954—the highest percentage in American history.1 The GI bill greatly expanded access to a college education. Returns from a college education actually slightly decreased, helping to compress inequality further.2 Between 1945 and 1973, the economy grew at the impressive rate of 3.42 percent.

words: 49,604

The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy by Diane Coyle


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, clean water, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, full employment, George Santayana, global village, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McJob, microcredit, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, two tier labour market, very high income, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, working-age population

For educated women, the rates climbed from 3.2 to 4.1 per cent and fell back to 3.5 per cent in 1989. Signs of a modest upward trend. For men with only a basic education, however, the unemployment rates in 1970, 1979 and 1989 climbed from 4.0 to 6.6 to 9.7 per cent, and for women from 5.7 to 8.3 to 8.4 per cent. According to the OECD’s figures, only in Italy and for Japanese women was unemployment higher for the better-educated at any time. Typically, those likely to be in blue collar work are two or three times more at risk of unemployment than those likely to be white collar workers. Beyond that, the one striking feature about redundancies is the upsurge during the 1980s recession. It has fallen sharply since. That episode of industrial restructuring has dwarfed any other. One could therefore argue that during the past decade this unwelcome aspect of flexibility has diminished.

pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

There are exceptions to the rule, and America’s increasing affluence hasn’t been without shortcomings. One need only read the New York Times’s 2013 profile of a homeless girl living in the Big Apple to realize that many have been left out.11 The discretionary income of many middle- and lower-income families, measured in real terms, has declined.12 The three decades preceding the Great Recession of 2007 saw wages stagnate for full-time male workers, particularly those doing blue-collar work.13 And retirement security remains a real worry for many Americans, even as few have embraced strategies that would help to finance the elderly lifestyle they dream of enjoying. Nevertheless, in the aggregate it’s almost impossible to deny that the goods that define the average American’s material life have improved. The destitution that was so palpable to even middle-class adults who survived the 1930s and 1940s—the scenes described in The Grapes of Wrath and typical in the nation’s Hoovervilles—have been pushed further to margins.

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler


A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, mass immigration, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

The building boom associated with the new automobile suburbs started fizzling in early 1928. There were only so many office managers, regional sales direc­ tors, and other business executives to buy those new "colonial" houses out in Lazy Acres. The bulk of American workers toiled in the very factories that were overproducing cars and electric waffle irons, and even before they were laid off in the Depression, few blue-collar work­ ers could have afforded a new house in the suburbs and a car to drive there. They were the very ones who remained behind in the cities until after World War II. The huge public expenditure in paving streets and building new high­ ways had also reached a kind of natural limit in the late twenties; the basic infrastructure for cars was now in place. The slowdown in car and home sales and in road-building affected suppliers down the line : steel makers, tire makers, glassmakers, lumber companies, cement compa­ nies.

pages: 441 words: 136,954

That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andy Kessler, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, Climatic Research Unit, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, full employment, Google Earth, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, obamacare, oil shock, pension reform, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, WikiLeaks

There is this concept that you have to go college and not become a blue-collar worker. We pay health care, pensions, all the holidays, and $18 to $22 an hour. I think it is going to be a major issue for this country in the next few years. Our biggest problem is finding factory workers who are going to replace this group of men and women in their fifties who started with us.” That is especially a problem, he explained, because blue-collar work is not what it used to be. On the shop floor, as is the case everywhere else, average is over. “We look for a guy who can think for himself a little bit, not like before,” said Stevenson. “We sell an $80,000 to $150,000 computer-controlled cutter, and it has a software program that helps the customer design parts. So when we hire these young guys, I tell them, ‘You are the face of the company.

pages: 423 words: 129,831

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways by Earl Swift


1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, big-box store, blue-collar work, Donner party, edge city, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, side project, smart transportation, traveling salesman, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen

In retrospect, the surveys were self-fulfilling—their yardsticks were motorist safety, travel time, gasoline use, and incidence of repair, all facets of the driving experience. The effects on those not using the roads were neither as easily tallied nor as eagerly sought. And they rested on a fundamental assumption that would soon prove flawed: that in the years to come, white-collar jobs would remain clustered in downtown office buildings, along with most retail shopping and nighttime entertainment, and blue-collar work would stay concentrated in well-established industrial zones. Most urban traffic, then, would continue to move back and forth between these few defined destinations and a city's residential neighborhoods. The Chief failed to grasp that his roads would change the old patterns, that in addition to addressing traffic that already existed, they would spawn new centers for business and entertainment, and farther-flung subdivisions—that they would explode the traditional city built around a nucleus, something resembling a cell, into a blob sprinkled with smaller nodes of activity.

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku


agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

Computers give the illusion that they possess intelligence, but that is only because they can add millions of times faster than we can. We forget that computers are just sophisticated adding machines, and repetitive work is what they do best. That is why some automobile assembly-line workers have been among the first to suffer from the computer revolution. This means that any factory work that can be reduced to a set of scripted, repetitive motions will eventually disappear. Surprisingly, there is a large class of blue-collar work that will survive the computer revolution and even flourish. The winners will be those who perform nonrepetitive work that requires pattern recognition. Garbage collectors, police officers, construction workers, gardeners, and plumbers will all have jobs in the future. Garbage collectors, in order to pick up the trash at different homes and apartments, have to recognize the garbage bags, place them in the truck, and haul them out to the waste yard.

pages: 484 words: 131,168

The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop, Robert G. Cushing


1960s counterculture, affirmative action, American Legislative Exchange Council, assortative mating, big-box store, blue-collar work, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, demographic transition, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, music of the spheres, New Urbanism, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Ralph Nader, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, union organizing, War on Poverty, white flight, World Values Survey

The top five cities in percentage of creative-class workers were Washington, Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, San Francisco, and Austin. Las Vegas had the lowest percentage of creatives, followed by Miami, Memphis, and Louisville. Florida found that the cities teeming with creative-class workers had fewer working-class jobs—the assembly-line, mechanical, construction, and production jobs traditionally called blue-collar work. The cities with the most service jobs (Las Vegas being at the top) also lacked creative-class workers. There simply wasn't much overlap. Few cities had both a sizable working class and a large creative class. The same kind of segregation was happening at work. Older firms—General Motors and U.S. Steel—hired people with all manner of skills. In the economy being created, there were high-skilled firms and low-skilled firms—Google and McDonald's.

pages: 497 words: 143,175

Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies by Judith Stein


1960s counterculture, affirmative action, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, desegregation, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial deregulation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invisible hand, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, post-industrial society, post-oil, price mechanism, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yom Kippur War

The notion of naming a southern banker damaged by scandal and identified with an unpopular president demonstrated Mondale’s tin ear. It was another instance of the Democratic attempt to attract white southern voters with symbols, not policies. Many whites had left the Democratic Party in the South, but those who remained had characteristics similar to Democratic whites in the rest of the nation: older, Catholic, union member, blue collar, working class, less educated, and less affluent.49 During the 1970s, southern Democrats learned to represent biracial constituencies. The addition of black voters and the departure of more affluent whites made white Democrats more liberal than their predecessors on economic matters. Carter was weakest and Reagan the strongest in the white suburbs and other affluent communities.50 The South was still in play during the 1970s.

pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin


banking crisis, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, cashless society, collective bargaining, computer age, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, general-purpose programming language, George Gilder, global village, hiring and firing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, pink-collar, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, Thorstein Veblen, Toyota Production System, trade route, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

Between 1981 and 1991, more than 1.8 million manufacturing jobs disappeared in the US.15 In Germany, manufacturers have been shedding workers even faster, eliminating more than 500,000 jobs in a single twelve-month period between early 1992 and 1993. 16 The decline in manufacturing jobs is part of a long-term trend that has seen the increasing replacement of human beings by machines at the workplace. In the 1950s, 33 percent of all US. workers were employed in manufacturing. By the 1960s, the number of manufacturing jobs had dropped to 30 percent, and by the 1980s to 20 percent. Today, less than 17 percent of the workforce is engaged in blue collar work. Management consultant Peter Drucker estimates that employment in manufacturing is going to continue dropping to less than 12 percent of the US. workforce in the next decade. 17 For most of the 1980s it was fashionable to blame the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States on foreign competition and cheap labor markets abroad. Recently, however, economists have begun to revise their views in light of new in-depth studies of the US. manufacturing sector.

pages: 436 words: 141,321

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux, Ken Wilber


Albert Einstein, augmented reality, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, failed state, future of work, hiring and firing, index card, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, the market place, the scientific method, Tony Hsieh, zero-sum game

FAVI, a family-owned French brass foundry, was the first example I stumbled upon of a blue-collar company that operates with Evolutionary-Teal principles of self-management. FAVI was created in the late 1950s and started off creating brass pieces for faucets. Today most of its revenue comes from the gearbox forks it produces for the automotive industry; its other products include components for electrical motors, water meters, and hospital equipment. Work at FAVI is physically demanding; it’s real blue-collar work. The factory is not a squeaky clean automotive assembly where you can see robots perform elegant and silent dances. It’s a workshop where operators work hard loading and unloading metal pieces onto noisy workstations. The nature of batch production at FAVI allows for only limited automation. Walking through the factory, you might not notice immediately what is special about it. You could be forgiven for thinking that cranking out gearbox pieces isn’t a very sexy or rewarding business.

India's Long Road by Vijay Joshi

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Basel III, basic income, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business climate, capital controls, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Doha Development Round, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, financial intermediation, financial repression, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Induced demand, inflation targeting, invisible hand, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, obamacare, Pareto efficiency, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, school choice, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, special drawing rights, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban sprawl, working-age population

An optimistic forecast would be that it will add another 1.5 million to employment in the present decade. But that number pales into insignificance compared with the forthcoming additions to the labour force, which run into tens of millions, over the same period.14 In any case, the sector mostly employs skilled labour. It is not the answer to the employment needs of millions of low-​skilled people with only primary and secondary education. They require industrial blue-​collar work, with most training received on the job. The second manifestation of the bias against labour is the highly peculiar employment-​ size-​ distribution of India’s business enterprises. The economy has an inordinate number of tiny firms with very low productivity. The following data refer to 2005.15 In manufacturing there were around 50 million workers. They worked in no less than 17 million enterprises.

pages: 390 words: 109,870

Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change the World by Jamie Bartlett

Andrew Keen, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, brain emulation, centre right, clean water, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, failed state, gig economy, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, life extension, Occupy movement, off grid, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, QR code, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rosa Parks, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism

A similar dynamic is taking place in the United States too, where large numbers of the white working class, traditionally Democrat because of its pro-worker and pro-union stance, are drifting away from the party, feeling it has become culturally distant from their lives and their concerns. As I discuss in Chapter 5, with the story of Beppe Grillo, this is in part a rebellion against a professional political class that speaks its own PR-honed language. But it also reflects a fundamental rift within many left-wing parties that now seek to represent both a socially and economically liberal graduate class and a less liberal blue-collar working class. The two groups’ interests don’t always align, and most political leaders—well-educated liberals themselves—are more at ease with the language, politics, lobbying groups and ideas of the progressive wing. As a result, billionaire right-wing politicians with economic policies that won’t help them, like Donald Trump, can attract millions of working-class voters who feel forgotten with the right language and identity-based promises.

pages: 506 words: 167,034

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane


affirmative action, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, feminist movement, financial independence, invisible hand, Magellanic Cloud, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent, your tax dollars at work

From start to finish, a task that might have taken me five minutes on Earth had consumed nearly thirty minutes in space (and covered about eight thousand miles). There are times in an astronaut’s life he or she would pay dearly to have a gravity vector. Using the toilet is one of those times. Our third and last communication satellite was successfully deployed on flight day three. Compared with the missions of the early space program this was blue-collar work, completely devoid of glory. We weren’t beating the Russians to anything. We weren’t planting an American flag in alien soil. On Earth, there was no Walter Cronkite removing his dorky glasses, wiping his forehead, and shaking his head in relief while telling a waiting, breathless world, “They’ve done it! TheDiscovery crew has just released another communication satellite!” The space program had become a freight service, justifiably ignored by the press and public.

pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski


Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Galt Foucault refuses to allow that people may be mired in “false consciousness,” or to concede that there are means by which they may become instilled with systematically distorted beliefs about both themselves and their place in the social order, distractions that work in regular ways against their own interests and welfare. There have been a fair number of writers who assert the contrary; one worth considering because he has been specifically concerned with political developments in the last three decades in the United States is Thomas Frank. In his breakthrough book What’s the Matter with Kansas? he posed the question in a rather American idiom: Why had the blue-collar working class abandoned the Democratic Party in favor of voting for snake-oil neoliberal salesmen who had demonstrated open contempt for their welfare? Or as he himself put it: All they have to show for their Republican loyalty are lower wages, more dangerous jobs, dirtier air, a new overlord class that comports itself like King Farouk—and of course, a crap culture whose moral free fall continues, without significant interference from the grandstanding Christers whom they send triumphantly back to Washington every couple of years.27 Frank’s answer to his own question was, crudely, a version of “bait and switch” that subsequently gained a fair level of acceptance among circles of the U.S. left, at least before the crisis.

pages: 669 words: 210,153

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss


Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it. In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unnecessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home. A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise. And accept that quality long-term results require quality long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps in the road. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process.

pages: 585 words: 165,304

Trust: The Social Virtue and the Creation of Prosperity by Francis Fukuyama


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, business climate, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, double entry bookkeeping, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Gilder, glass ceiling, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, industrial robot, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, liberal capitalism, liberation theology, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mittelstand, price mechanism, profit maximization, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transfer pricing, traveling salesman, union organizing

The former sold 30,000 copies by 1922, and the latter went through thirty successive printings in the following years, leading to minor cults of Taylorismus and Fordismus.1 The enormous advance in productivity represented by Ford’s Highland Park facility impressed on German manufacturers the need to adopt mass production techniques in their own operations, and lay behind the “rationalization” movement in German industry during the mid-1920s. But while German industry adopted mass production, Taylorismus never sat very well with German managers and industrial engineers, much less German workers. The deskilling of the workforce, its overspecialization, and the unsatisfying nature of blue-collar work in a Taylorite factory threatened the long-standing German belief in the importance of Arbeitsfreude, or “joy in work,” whose origins lay in Germany’s powerful premodern craft traditions. Industrial engineers who wrote on the subject of factory organization in this period, like Gustav Frenz, Paul Rieppel, Friedrich von Gottl-Ottlilienfeld, and Goetz Briefs, all tended to distinguish between Taylorism and what they regarded as the more human system that Ford actually implemented.2 That is, while Taylor and Ford are closely linked in historical memory as the codifier and implementer, respectively, of the low-trust mass production factory system, Ford’s early plants actually practiced a form of company paternalism that was never part of Taylor’s scientific management principles.

pages: 797 words: 227,399

Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bill Joy: nanobots, blue-collar work, borderless world, clean water, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, cuban missile crisis, digital map,, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Francisco Pizarro, Frank Gehry, friendly fire, game design, George Gilder, Google Earth, Grace Hopper, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, New Urbanism, pattern recognition, private military company, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Yogi Berra

Every revolution in technology has its winners and losers. The telegraph was great for news junkies, but bad for the Pony Express riders. The same will be true with robotics. Numerous professions have already been displaced by very simple robotics, from automobile factory workers to maids, and this will continue as robotics gets more and more capable each year. As the trend plays out, robots won’t just be doing blue-collar work, but also service and even white-collar jobs. And for each job they eliminate, there will be one more person competing for the remaining jobs. It’s the robot version of outsourcing, just that your job is being shipped to a piece of faceless hardware, rather than some textile worker in Bangkok or engineer in Bangalore. If history is any guide, many will speak out against what they see as a technology-caused injustice and some might translate their anger into violence.

pages: 772 words: 203,182

What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . And What Other Countries Got Right by George R. Tyler

8-hour work day, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Black Swan, blood diamonds, blue-collar work, Bolshevik threat, bonus culture, British Empire, business process, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lake wobegon effect, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, pirate software, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Or at least the market as interpreted by the business community and their Washington men. Blaming Globalization for the Sins of Reaganomics Here is conservative author Ross Douthat writing in February 2012, shifting responsibility for the outcome of Reaganomics onto globalization: “It was globalization, not Republicans, that killed the private-sector union and reduced the returns to blue-collar work.”26 Too many economists were taken in by this canard delivered with certitude by folks like a writer for the Economist in June 2006: “The integration of China’s low-skilled millions and the increased offshoring of services to India and other countries has expanded the global supply of workers. This has reduced the relative price of labour and raised the returns to capital. That reinforces the income concentration at the top, since most stocks and shares are held by richer people.