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What shall we do when we realize the high-paying middle class jobs are disappearing forever?

Everybody is standing around waiting for all the great well-paying jobs to come back. I’m not clear why. We’ve been waiting now for, depending on how you count, the entire 3rd millennium. It’s beginning to seem like a Cargo Cult. I have to say that judging by the evidence and arguments available, those jobs are gone forever. Anybody seeing a way around this? Manufacturing jobs are trickling back in. A few. Don’t pay like they used to. Get more education and then try to compete with a worldful of well-educated people at lower pay levels. And robots. Let’s not forget robots with the Jeopardy-winning Watson-sized brains. This is the way it’s going to be. The good news? There’s plenty of capacity to generate tons of wealth. But the new way the wealth gets produced and the way it gets shared is relentlesslly cranking forward, further and further out of sync with what we’ve been used to.

Every economic argument we’ve debated so fiercely is obsolete now. Globalization changed a lot, and robots/computers will change the rest. The nature and rewards of work in society is going to be radically different. We could start having this new, relevant, conversation. But I think that conversation has been sequestered.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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