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View Diary: the new outsourcing; why the jobs are NEVER coming back. (316 comments)

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  •  It's not a necessary skill. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Horrible, Sparhawk, FlyingToaster
    How many people can weave?
    How many people need to know how to weave?

    The reason weaving was a skill that more people had 200 years ago wasn't because it's so much fun; it was because having someone in the family who could weave was a necessity, so they could make the cloth that would clothe the family.

    And learning how to weave took time—time that is now used to learn algebra, or history, or engineering, or literature, now that people no longer have to spend years learning and perfecting something that can just as easily be performed by a machine.

    You prefer to deal with a person at the checkout counter. That's wonderful, and I would never deny you that choice. I, however, prefer the self-checkout, because it means that I'm in and out of the store more quickly, and moving on to things I want to do.

    I don't judge you for your preference, or tell you that you should be using the self-checkout instead; I ask only that you offer me the same courtesy.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:48:21 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's a necessary skill, period (0+ / 0-)

      When we tell the Triumph of Technology history, with its teleological laudets for homo superior, we speak of the development of string as one of the great elements. The development of weaving was a necessity for human life.

      I'm no survivalist, but it's a bit weird when the entire first world lives without a basic skill for survival. This is not the loss of the buggy whip we're talking about.

      Also, by the way, the weavers had algebra quite well, and literature. (Honestly: read E. P. Thompson's "Weavers" chapter from The Making of the English Working Class -- it focuses on an earlier period, but it shows the degree to which it was grinding poverty, but in which home-based artisanal work was superior to what followed in the factory based work and why the weavers had a legitimate reason for uprising.) Where labor was so horrific that laborers had no time for even basic school was in the fields. We saw no real protests over threshers coming along, no protests over plows, no problems with harvesters.

      As I say, examine the assumptions: not all labor saving redistributes productivity's gains back along the labor chain. The Luddites were making a reasonable protest, as it turns out. We're overdue for similar protests, as American workers, in particular, have been squeezed to unimaginable productivity and seen wage deflation as a result.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:26:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So what's the solution, then? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Alexandra Lynch

        Break the machines and make us all learn to weave our clothing by hand? Are you seriously suggesting a Luddite revolution of sorts, where any "skill" task done by a machine is now done by a person?

        What other basic skills for survival do you propose we all learn instead of having specialist humans or machines do? Are we all to return to subsistence farming as well? To digging and pumping our own wells?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:25:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Instead of? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          flowerfarmer, joegoldstein

          I'm suggesting that we be conscious.

          It is not the role of industry to be conscious of the price of technology on society. It is the role of industry to make a profit. Therefore, if we rely upon the gods of the market for our technological guidance, we will end up with larger accumulations of capital, but not good social organization or healthy societies.

          I point to the loss of the essential skill of weaving simply as a caution. When we plunge ahead because of profits, we inevitably replicate prior moments that we did not anticipate and obsolete technologies that we never imagine could be lost. From the point of view of the textile maker, it's no concern. From the point of view of a society (and therefore public intellectuals or, if necessary, a state), it matters.

          (We can learn to weave again from books, obviously, until those are all electronic.)

          Everyone's innocent of some crime.

          by The Geogre on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:54:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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