Strategies & Market Trends : Booms, Busts, and Recoveries

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To: westpacific who wrote (3434)5/4/2001 3:59:20 PM
From: JMD  Read Replies (3) of 74301
WP--re: "this postindustrial economy is what is leading to the job losses. And it will continue. Only manufacturing can offer safe, secure and long term jobs."
I see this notion repeated frequently, and wonder if you would be kind enough to provide the reasoning which supports it? There is nothing sacred about earning a buck by turning a screwdriver nor is there anything evil about bringing home the bacon as an IPR attorney. As for the presumption that manufacturing jobs are "safe" "secure" and "long term"--well, jim has admonished us all to hew to the civil side of the tracks, but I wouldn't recommend advancing that thesis in a steel, railroad, or meat packing town [to pick the first 3 that come to mind].
I think the theory of manufacturing job supremacy is an illusion based on nothing more than the abstract nature of services versus the "you can touch it and feel it and weigh it" nature of the traditional blue collar job. The only constant is change [as someone far more famous than I once said] so longshoreman are as extinct as teletype operators. The burly muscled guy doing a 'real' job was obliterated by containers just as surely as the wimpy dude got waxed by the fax and e-mail. The capitalistic economic cycle characterized by Schumpeter as "waves of creative destruction" doesn't give a fig about service OR manufacturing jobs and will happily eliminate either. The only criterion of significance is profitability: a positive return on invested capital after paying all the costs of production, labor being the cost here under discussion. Folks that are making money hire people to work for them; folks that are losing money fire people that are working for them. They do it in law firms and they do it auto body shops, and they do it for precisely the same reason in each.
So while I find myself in agreement with the majority opinion on this thread regarding a fairly dire outlook for the economy over the next few years, that 'bearish' view has nothing whatever to do with the fact that we are in a post industrial economy wherein service jobs predominate over manufacturing jobs. To me, that is not even a data point, i.e., it is true but it is useless information. Now ask me if I think it's peachy-keen that Mr. and Mrs. America are in hock up to their leveraged Ford Suburbans even while housing costs eat up 147% of their take home pay (sorry, I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area), well now that's a different deal. The American consumer has been 'the little engine that could' for many, many years now and has pulled the whole damned global economy along for the ride. I think the old gal is about out of gas which means that 2/3 of our GNP is, how to say this, on shaky ground, up for grabs, heading for a cliff, timberrr? And, if true, we are talking major Alka-Seltzer time.
P.S. I have just been informed that Jim Black is "on the take"--he receives $.15 in SECRET ROYALTY PAYMENTS under the table for each copy of Devil Take The Hindmost purchased by SI members, and an additional $.10 each time he conjures a means of working the title into his posts. While this may seem an innocuous practice, he has already pocketed $13.75 and I feel he should make full disclosure and disgorge the profits earned with unclean hands. How about it Jim? :-) best regards, mike doyle
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