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Send the Observer to name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription; send card in my name $20 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $20 name address city state zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 2.According to Ed Shuh, an agricultural specialist at the University of Minnesota: “All of the agricultural output from the mid-1920s to the mid1970s was accomplished with no increase in the stock of physical resources. It was all due to increased productivity, with most of that due to new knowledge or information. 3.The information revolution, along with international competition, has contributed to the decentralization of work. According to one estimate, about two-thirds of all new jobs created in the United States during the 1970s were in firms with 20 or fewer . employees and all of the net non-farm job growth was in non-metropolitan areas, which gained jobs during the 1970s while metropolitan areas lost. Economic activity also shifted out of the industrial heartland of the North and East and into the so-called Sunbelt of the South and West. The shift of manufacturing employment is mainly to areas with low wages and to women, who are paid less than men for the same labor market characteristics. \(We should not, however, confuse trends [based on percentage increase from bases of varying sizes] and levels. There has been a relative decline of the industrial heartland and a growth of the Sunbelt, but in the absolute more jobs and total output will be created in the industrial heartland for the rest of this century than in the Sunbelt. Indeed, six of the ten slowest-growing states will be among the ten states with the largest What impact will the new technology have on jobs? The answer to this question is hotly debated. Some believe the impact on the quality and quantity of jobs will, on balance, be positive, and others believe it will be negative. In the aggregate, the total number of jobs will depend on the extent to which job growth offsets the displacement from technology. The truth is that nobody knows what the net effect will be because there are a number of possible outcomes, none of them predetermined. Most experts agree that there will be considerable change and displacement and that the impact is likely to be mainly on relatively high-paid semi-skilled manufacturing, service, and office jobs. Carnegie-Mellon University analysts estimate that 38 million of the country’s 50 million white-collar workers will be “affected” by automation. There is considerable evidence from case studies that technology will de-skill many jobs and change some traditional promotion lines by eliminating mid-level jobs. Unless other avenues are opened for advancement, this will cause more white-collar and service workers to be trapped in dead-end jobs. A typical impact of new technology is to require at first greater skills and then fewer. For example, when the computer was first introduced, programming required considerable skill, but now, with “user-friendly” computers, little skill is required. In fact, according to the new LISA advertisement, a person can learn to program that computer with 20 minutes’ training. The pessimists also point out that while the high-tech jobs will grow at a fairly rapid rate, they will actually account for very few jobs. High-tech jobs accounted for only 6.2 % of jobs in 1983 and will increase to only 6.9% by 1995. Another distributional impact of technological change and the growth of services could be to accelerate the wage polarization noted earlier. Wages will be depressed because of the de-skilling but also because of large influxes of immigrants and refugees from the Third World countries, international competition, the weakening of unions and their ability to protect workers, the ability of multinational corporations to shift jobs to low-wage parts of the country or overseas, and sustained high levels of global unemployment. Moreover, the regressive policies of the Reagan administration have accelerated these trends. The optimists, on the other hand, argue that high tech will make the work better, increasing productivity and the quality of work life. They argue that robots are most likely to do dangerous, dirty work at first but probably will move into other things as “smart” robots come on line. Moreover, high tech makes it possible for decisions to be transferred to the work site. According to Wickham Skinner: “With the minicomputer, workers can be given the opportunity for intelligent participation: in effect, they can have a discussion with an ongoing advisor, the computer.” What impact will high tech have on the total number of jobs? The optimists argue that high tech protects jobs in international trade. But robots cost $5 to $6 per hour, while workers cost $20 per hour. It is estimated that by 1985 robots will do 95% of General Motors’ production. This makes it possible for GM to compete and retain the higher paying workers, who can do things robots cannot, or that cannot be done overseas where the lower paying jobs are going anyway. We also will export high tech and, indeed, turnkey factories that can be operated by low-wage, unskilled workers in other countries. Proponents contend that by increasing productivity, high tech will lead to THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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