|Hi Frank, I hope I am not straying to far afield with this reply.|
"Cross-training for other positions within the existing employ, as a prelude to, or substitute to layoffs, is something I've given a fair amount of attention to, ... But we don't see very much of this today."
This is where social policy has to play a role to protect the citizen from predatory interests. The rational for government is to provide a fair and just system with a judiciary, police force and an army that upholds and enforces the rule of law to protect the citizen from internal and external predators. The question, is maximizing his/hers freedom to live a fulfilled life happening today under current policies?
It appears to me that the policy over the past number of decades has been to atomize the citizen, let them fend for themselves in an unfettered global market, and leave it to the discretion of powerfully global (not national) business interests whose goal us to maximize short term profits. Every thing else will take care of its self, so the story goes.
The direction to atomize can be a positive evolutionary direction (with the right policies) of a healthy market economy with the help of ICT, the catalyst. A more efficient marketplace where opportunities for the majority of citizens to migrate from working for the owners of capital to that of becoming independent entrepreneurs may be one direction the future will take. Think of the artisan of the past only in much more interconnected world, not a small locality, i.e. village, town. [this not an original thought.]
What will it take to change the policy in place today that has taken the mantra of unfettered capitalism and small government to where we are at a point where we have an unprecedented open door policy for lobbyist to write our laws? [and government is not getting any smaller] For example, is the Greenspan/Bernanke put** helping our economy or just helping the special interests that our politicians are beholden to for their next job?
This issue is too complex to address in a few words, only a small part of the whole. And that part may be incorrectly seen based on biases. Certainly I do not have the breadth of expertise to think that I have answers. I can only say with confidence that things can get better only through civil discussion. Not polarized camps shouting at each other, which unfortunately is the situation we find ourselves in. We, coming from a science perspective, should be more resistance to that kind of behavior.
** This is not the only factor that exemplifies the policy in question. Even if it plays a minor role, it is on the table as potentially one of the influencing factors with some nuanced underpinnings.