This visualization shows stacked time series of reported occupations in the United States Labor Force from 1850-2000. The data has been normalized: for each census year, the percentage of the polled labor force in each occupation is shown. The data is originally from the United States Census Bureau and was provided by the University of Minnesota Population Center.
Fascinating article about the “genetic flaws” if you will of the capitalist system. It’s actually kind of amazing to read an article like this in a major newspaper—and of course, there are others these days—but a decade ago, even five years ago, opinions such as the ones reported here never would have gotten mainstream exposure. Maybe in The Nation or Harper’s or the Atlantic, but not in a daily paper. It’s about time the public wakes up to the facts about “the system” we exist in… and seeks a better one. Capitalism sure ain’t the best we can do, people… It’s not the only—and it’s certainly not the smartest—choice for the greater good.
Since the global financial system started unraveling in dramatic fashion two years ago, distinguished economists have suffered a crisis of their own. Ivy League professors who had trumpeted the dawn of a new era of stability have scrambled to explain how, exactly, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression had ambushed their entire profession.Amid the hand-wringing and the self-flagellation, a few more cerebral commentators started to speak about the arrival of a ?
I love this! Artist James Reynolds on Boarded Up: “With more and more businesses being forced to close down, the sight of bare wood across the windows and doors is now commonplace and unsightly. By pasting the wooden panels with actual images, this problem is solved.”
Dangerous Minds pal Charles Hugh Smith has posted another must-read essay at Of Two Minds:
I just Googled “demand exhaustion” and came up with an obscure real estate paper from South Korea. Therefore I am claiming the right to coin this phrase as a general description of the end-state of global over-capacity and the saturation of U.S. consumer “demand” for more stuff.
Classic economic theory holds that consumer “demand” is insatiable and can never be completely filled. While that is true of the FEW resources (food, energy and water) and essential items which eventually wear out like say, tires, the “demand” for everything else appears to be largely artificial now, an urge prompted by relentless advertising and the accessibility of instant credit for more purchases (credit cards).
How much of the “demand” is organic, that is, flows from human desires for additional comfort and amusement? It could be argued that all of this is “organic demand”—or in the case of the dog bed and treats, “projected demand” (since the beloved pet probably would be just as happy or even happier with an old pillow and blanket).
On the other hand, it could also be argued that the returns on investment are increasingly marginal for most of these consumer goods. How much comfort and amusement can you wring from a second or third TV or your 40th shirt? How about that spa which gets used less and less as time marches on? Shall we label this “marginal demand” because the returns are increasingly marginal?
Terrific new essay by Dangerous Minds pal Douglas Rushkoff at John Brockman’s Edge website:
We must stop perpetuating the fiction that existence itself is dictated by the immutable laws of economics. These so-called laws are, in actuality, the economic mechanisms of 13th Century monarchs. Some of us analyzing digital culture and its impact on business must reveal economics as the artificial construction it really is. Although it may be subjected to the scientific method and mathematical scrutiny, it is not a natural science; it is game theory, with a set of underlying assumptions that have little to do with anything resembling genetics, neurology, evolution, or natural systems.
The scientific tradition exposed the unpopular astronomical fact that the earth was not at the center of the universe. This stance challenged the social order, and its proponents were met with less than a welcoming reception. Today, science has a similar opportunity: to expose the fallacies underlying our economic model instead of producing short-term strategies for mitigating the effects of inventions and discoveries that threaten this inherited market hallucination.
The economic model has broken, for good. It’s time to stop pretending it describes our world.
Economics is Not Natural Science by Douglas Rushkoff
WELLINGTON, FL—Debra Mitchell is a lead code compliance officer for the Village of Wellington. During the collapse of the housing market, the community was left with a large number of foreclosed homes.
Pointing out one example Mitchell said, “It has an unsanitary, abandoned swimming pool, stagnant swimming pool. There’s no electricity running at this location.”
The code compliance department was paying nearly 7,000 dollars a year to dump chemicals into the pools to treat the scummy buildup.
That’s when Mitchell and some of her colleagues came up with an environmentally-friendly idea to get rid of the green. An idea with a much lower price tag of just 700 dollars.
“Some of us got clever and decided to try the fish-eating…er algae eating fish,” she said.
At a typical home that needed help Mitchell revealed, “We have dumped 15 pleco algae-eating fish in here to take care of the algae situation.”
(via Arbroath )
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new plan to bail out California? Signing some of his old crap and selling it on eBay?
Let’s hope Congress throws a bone to that Cash For Clunkers program, fast! In what feels like a further sign-of-our-Ballardian-times, My Interesting Files has posted these photos of unsold cars from around the world. The sheer acreage of unclaimed autos is staggering. As are the numbers behind them: Sales of new cars in the UK have slumped to a 12-year low, and the number of cars rolling off production lines fell, at the tail of last year, 47.5% to just 53,823.
Check out this “credit card commercial” from Derek Jarman’s “The Garden” (1990). Sums up our current situation rather well?