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Sep 01, 2004

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CROSSROADS -- Part of the Mass Communication and Culture course examines the "Workplace of the Future" and that's an area explored by Evelyn Rodriguez' writings about "knowledge work." In fact, it's a concept appealing to the Irish Department of Enterp... [Read More]

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Gordon Weakliem

"There has never been an economic discontinuity of this magnitude in the history of the world" - I'd say this is false. Consider the history of slavery; in this day and age, slavery is illegal most places. While it's still practiced, I'd venture (without proof) it's practiced less widely than at any time in recorded history. Definitely consider the US, where slaves provided a considerable portion of the agricultural labor in this country until the Civil War, and freed slaves remained effectively slaves under the sharecropping system for many years following that.
The interesting point is the stat that in India, the cost of living is 70% of the US, but people earn 14% of a US worker. Simple cost of living doesn't explain the wage discrepancy. Either the standard of living is lower, or the cultural standard is such that the perceived cost of living is lower. I definitely have anecdotal evidence for the latter, many of my co-workers who grew up in China or India simply don't spend money the way Americans normally do. But if the former is also true, I don't think that can last, either. The wage imbalance will become more balanced, but so will the imbalance in the standard of living.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Gordon,
I too was skeptical of that specific statement "There has never been an economic discontinuity of this magnitude in the history of the world..." as well. I guess my eyebrows raise when words like "never" or "always" are bandied about. But I think the point was that there are much cheaper substitutes for you and I - unless we're doing something exceptional. Basically adding multiples of value compared to your expense.

I've never been to China or India (both are in my short-term travel plans) but have traveled to many other emerging countries. It's difficult to judge standards of living - especially quality of life - solely based on income levels, cost of living, GNP, et al.

I entirely agree that the wage imbalances will probably be corrected - and is already rapidly increasing in India - but it will not be evenly distributed throughout a country's workers; the 'creative class' will most likely have the disportionate share.

My main point is that there is a whole world out there of bright people vying for jobs - each of us can stretch ourselves to create more value and contribute more efficiently.

I

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