Having chronicled the US’s economic vulnerability in The Great Stagnation, Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University in Virginia, says we have entered the age of “hypermeritocracy,” in which the top 10 to 15 per cent of Americans are “extremely wealthy” and lead “fantastically comfortable lives” and the rest work in “stupid and frustrating” jobs for falling or stagnant wages.
These trends are clearly evident today. He writes that 60 per cent of the jobs lost during the recession were mid-wage jobs, while 73 per cent of the jobs created were for workers on $13.52 (£8.36) an hour or less. In the longer term, intelligent computers will further dampen demand for mid-wage jobs and only those with the ability to work with intelligent machines, or whose skills are irreplaceable, will benefit.
Free online education – something that Cowen is already pioneering with his online economics courses at the Marginal Revolution University – will offer opportunities to those from deprived backgrounds to join the new elite, and so the future will be both “more meritocratic and more unfair.”
“The point is that this world will be confusing and it will be disorientating . . .” Except for those who work closely with machines and recognize the value of programs nudging us to make better choices…
- Why the future will be unfair (newstatesman.com)
- Marginal Revolution University Launches, Bringing Free Courses in Economics to the Web (tutoringtoexcellence.blogspot.com)
- No, technology isn’t going to destroy the middle class (washingtonpost.com)