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1935 version of a flying car


You remember The Jetsons. If you're old enough, just mentioning the name is probably enough to start that theme song running through your head. George, with his middle management job at manufacturing firm Spacely Sprockets, Jane, his shopping-crazed wife, pony-tailed teen daughter Judy, super-smart boy Elroy, and that rascal Astro.  All of them living in a cloud-level apartment with a flying car and lovable Rosie the robot maid to attend their every need.

And hey they predicted all this back in 1962. They sure nailed it. Or not.

The funny thing is, if you ask someone what the Jetsons got wrong, they always bring up that car, or maybe Rosie. Like everyone else, I'm still craving my chance to soar into the office and lord knows the place could do with a little robotly love, but that's not where the 60s vision of the future really skewed away from 21st century reality.  It's the human beings that are ridiculous today, not their gadgets. I'm not just talking about how the attitudes toward women were lifted straight out of the the TV 50s. It's George's work life, where automation has reduced his job to a couple of hours tending a button (and indulging the whims of his boss) and his single income is enough to not just keep Jane on a perennial buying spree but their home and children outfitted with the latest of everything. That's far more fanciful today than an auto that folds into a briefcase. We are not these people.

As it turns out the new century wasn't like The Jetsons at all. Instead it's just like Star Trek. Not Trek the Movie, or Trek the series. Star Trek the set.

Remember the doors on Star Trek? Every time Kirk charged off the bridge, they opened with a snappy sideways slide and a high-tech swoosh. The thing is, behind the scenes, those doors were pulled back by hidden stagehands. That's the world we've inherited: a coat of shiny gloss made possible by a lot of unseen, unappreciated human effort. It's a world in which everything we wear, everything we carry, and most of the things in our home have the vitreous sheen of quality—a polish put there by tens of thousands of people working in crippling sweat shop conditions, for pitiful pay, in nations where raising a complaint means being discarded. The appearance of progress pasted over Dickensian tragedy.

It didn't have to be that way. As long as we're looking at visions of future-past, let's peek back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. That's when America's economic future seemed threatened by an implacable, powerful foe: Japan. In less than three decades Japan had gone from a producer of second-rate goods that were often the butt of jokes, to a high tech powerhouse whose cars, video, and audio gear routinely provided high quality and reliability. The threat from Japan seemed so great that it inspired xenophobic polemics like Michael Chricton's Rising Sun in which Japanese investment in the United States is a prelude to takeover by a deeply alien force.

The truth is that American manufacturers were threatened. Japanese factories were newer and their business processes were better integrated with advanced technology. It wasn't just their hardware that had an edge. Japanese managerial practices had been modernized, removing layers of button-managing Georges, and streamlining critical paths. Their ability to execute, to optimize, to improve both product and process generated as many books praising Japanese methods as it did fearful predictions of the threat to America.

American companies saddled with out of date facilities and managerial formulas more centered on ensuring executive's country club privileges than handling competition, were faced with dwindling sales and declining reputations. Fixing these problems would take massive investments in facilities and equally extensive revisions in management.

But manufacturers found another option to that investment and with it a scapegoat for their decisions.

Rather than investing in state of the art facilities, corporations found that the opening of China offered them something that exceeded the cost performance of the best automation: an infinite supply of human hands available so cheaply that for the first time in a century the price of labor was a negligible fraction of the cost of goods.  Why build complex and expensive factories, when you can rent sheds full of people? And hey, you can even get someone else to pay for the shed.

You could—you can—rent people to use without regard for safety laws, pollution laws, health care costs, or any danger of legal recourse. People you can use without concern over discrimination and without compensation for workplace injuries. People who have never heard of a pension. People who will perform the most tedious, repetitious, injurious processes right up until the day they can't.

In fact, you can rent people wholesale and use them as an excuse against ever paying retail. You can rent disposable, untrained kids, work them to destruction for peanuts, and use their very availability as proof that other workers should be willing to accept the same terms. You know, American workers, the most capable, most productive workers on the planet. The people whose efforts and partnership made the corporations possible. Former workers. You can use desperation as proof that the workers who took the wages you paid them and lived under the agreements you offered, were overpaid bums. It's a win-win.

It doesn't stop with the workers. You can produce your goods in a place where environment is not even an afterthought, and justice barely a rumor, then argue the same should be true everywhere. You can drink from the firehouse of statist dictatorship, and use it to declare that the burdens of democracy are too great to be tolerated. You can eat your cake... and a billion other people's too.

China was the weapon that corporations wielded against not just Japan, but American government and American workers. And why not? The business of corporations is to make money. They are obligated by law to maximize profit for shareholders. They're not there to help workers. They're not there to hurt workers. They are agnostic to the concerns of workers. Ditto America. Protecting the nation and workers is the business of government not corporations.

But that can only happen when the government is focused on the welfare of it's citizens rather than the panacea of being "business friendly." Under the motto of being business friendly deregulation in the United States accelerated the outsourcing of jobs, driving up income inequality and destroying our manufacturing base in a way that didn't happen in places that didn't buy into the farce of corporate rights. Because a business friendly government rather than a worker friendly government is a pointless government, an anti-government, a poor quality cartoon of a government only without the helpful robots and the automatic shaving machine.

Like the doors in Star Trek, there is one way that The Jetsons did predict the future. Hanna-Barbera, the producers of the series, were already notorious for creating their their animation on the cheap (voice artist Mel Blanc refered to the work as "illustrated radio"), but just producing their shows with 1/20th the drawings of the completion wasn't saving them enough. So they pioneered the real technology of the future—firing their own workers and outsourcing the job to the cheapest bidder overseas. But hey, you have to love those gadgets!

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Comment Preferences

  •  The "we're going to write a novel" post... (65+ / 0-)

    is taking a week off. Mostly because not only didn't I write a new installment, I also didn't make any progress on my own novel (day jobs may pay the bills, but they can also suck). My apologies to anyone still following this series and I hope to be back up to bat next week.

    On the other hand, I do have some good news on the publishing front. More details later.

    •  Good writing on this. As a carpenter, (I got a (20+ / 0-)

      degree in fine art, heh), and someone who still uses his back for something other than holding my head up to monitor level, I appreciate the awareness of global human effort.

    •  erratum (3+ / 0-)

      competition, not completion, last paragraph.

      Excellent summary of the shiny Apple reality, writ large.   So many pretty objects, assembled by so many aching hands.

      Labor policy in one country is not labor policy.  If capital markets are international, labor policy must be international.  If capital has a means to escape reasonable labor regulations, it will do so.

      Remember the "socialism in one country" argument?  Well this is completely different, but there is a sense in which a labor regulatory regime (if not an organized proletariat) must be international, or else it will be gamed by fast moving capital.

      We also shouldn't lose sight of the truth in the argument that for many of those factory workers an assembly job is a step up the ladder of economic opportunity.  The weird thing is that FoxCon and its fellow factory producers are actually improving the quality of life in China, EVEN AS they are destroying people's bodies while doing it.   I have to believe that a nation, even China, can realize advantages as a low cost producer, but do so under better working conditions.  

    •  A good post (0+ / 0-)

      globalization is the issue of our times - and it doesn't get discussed much here.

      And possible realistic solutions are NEVER discussed, possibly because those solutions are so against the grain (see Andy Groves' statements on how silicon valley creates 10 jobs in the Far East for every job in the US).

      A minor, though not incosequental quibble.  Corporations are not required to maximize projit.  The charter of most corporations merely requires that they pursue the path the board of directors sets, so long as that is illegal.  Corporate law does not require that directors maximize profits.  Director's have a fiduciary duty to shareholders, but may consider objectives not profit related.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:18:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I miss my chance to say "Jane, stop this crazy... (12+ / 0-)

    thing." Of course I'm not saying "Jane, stop this crazy GOP primary season." I'm not crazy; they are.

    Alex Baze: "If you vote against Obama because he can't get stuff done, it's kinda like saying, "this guy can't cure cancer. I'm gonna vote for cancer."" I'm still voting against cancer. Of all sorts.

    by Superskepticalman on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:04:37 AM PST

  •  But You Wouldn't Think to Do Any of That if You (20+ / 0-)

    weren't able to bring those offshore-made wares into the country free of the tariffs the framers wrote into the Constitution, and then take almost all of the resulting jackpots home with you. Both of those things were illegal during the golden age when we built the middle class and became global superpower.

    The sociopathic global economy didn't happen by itself. It had to be carefully built.

    By both parties.

    And both parties strongly oppose the only proven policies that can fix it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:07:43 AM PST

    •  And Obama demanded and got (14+ / 0-)

      ratification of three new Free Trade Agreements - Korea, Colombia and Panama - that Bush had negotiated.

      Korea is particularly odious because few container ships sail from China to the U.S. direct, almost sail to Pusan, Korea, where the containers are transferred onto a different container ship sailing from Pusan to the west coast, usually LA/Long Beach.  This will be a golden opportunity to evade U.S. tariffs on Chinese made articles by falsely claiming Korean manufacture - heck, the bills of lading issued in Pusan by the carrier will match the fraudulent invoices and other fraudulent documentation claiming Korean manufacture.  This was rampant from 2005 to 2008 when there was a quota on Chinese made wearing appael but not on Korean textiles.  Now it will start up again.

      What do we import from Colombia, legally, besides coffee, which is already duty-free?

      We here the same crap over and over and over and over again, Free Trade Agreements promote U.S. exports and create jobs.  But where are the jobs?

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:00:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't forget Clinton's baby: NAFTA. It destroyed (12+ / 0-)

        Mexican agriculture and farming almost overnight, creating millions of destitute farmers who could not compete with Smithfield's subsided pork and U.S. subsidized corn that was dumped on Mexico in huge quantities, contributing directly to the massive immigration crisis that the Republicans love to decry, to worsening the already horrendous income inequality in Mexico, and the hugely destructive narco wars that are tearing Mexico apart.

        At least a number of Democrats voted against NAFTA. But that was in the days before Citizens United made possible the outright purchase of our democracy.

        "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

        by flitedocnm on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:48:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  NAFTA was the first major free trade agreement (6+ / 0-)

          Actually, Israel and Canada in the mid 1980's came first.  These were uncontroversial.  Israel was purely political, and Canada made economic sense as we are comparable economies.  NAFTA was the only one Clinton negotiated.  Under Bush came Chile, CAFTA (Central America + Dominican Republic), Singapore, Australia, Peru, Morrocco, Jordan Oman, Bahrain, and Haiti - and the recently ratified Colombia, Panama and Korea.  (I'm probably forgetting some).  Each of the post NAFTA agreements are modeled on NAFTA - we simply took the text of NAFTA and did a word search, and substituted the approrpriate nation - at least 90% of the texts are otherwise identical.

          NAFTA free trade claims still exceed all the other free trade claims combined.  As we already had a free trade agreement with Canada, you are right that NAFTA was essentially a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico.  We were promised jobs jobs jobs, but where are the jobs?  And the power elite in DC still cry that each new free trade agreement will create jobs.

          You would think that the recent political oppression in Bahrain would make Obama want to think about giving notice to pull out of the free trade agreement - each free trade agreement has such a provision, but that would be fuzzy thinking on my part.

          "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

          by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:02:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not to mention that you can declare that you made (0+ / 0-)

      the money in your Cayman Islands subsidiary, or that your workers are employed there.

      With these handy tax dodges, it's more Cigars for the CEO!

    •  For the first 100 years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Sumner, crystalboy

      of its history the US funded its government in large part due to tarrifs.

      Free trade is not part of the original Constitution.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:19:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mark, nice counterpoint to this morning's Tom (11+ / 0-)

    Friedman column.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

    by ratcityreprobate on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:08:13 AM PST

  •  George is the answer to the trivia question ... (15+ / 0-)
    What TV cartoon figure was routinely ....

    *  Promoted to vice-president at the 1/3 mark,
    *  Fired at the 2/3 mark, and
    *  Re-hired (to his original position) by the end of a cartoon?

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:10:18 AM PST

  •  If a factory job here is replaced--- (11+ / 0-)

    by a job in China, or by a robot here, the result is the same for the worker here, unless that worker already was the owner of that factory, and all the other means of production.
    And yeah. I know what that sounds like.
    Joe

    Dear Ayn Rand fans: Please, would each of you just go all John Galt, immediately? Thank you.

    by CitizenJoe on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:10:46 AM PST

    •  blue collar jobs gone for good (0+ / 0-)

      I agree. Even if businesses kept their manufacturing here they would eventually be '...better integrated with advanced technology...' and the dearth of blue collar jobs would continue. The idea of a high school diploma and a job at 'the plant' in your hometown is history.

      •  A lot of blue-collar jobs are gone forever... (0+ / 0-)

        whether because of robots, or other developments. But we need welders and drivers and plenty of other people in blue-collar jobs, and will, for some time to come.

        Dear Ayn Rand fans: Please, would each of you just go all John Galt, immediately? Thank you.

        by CitizenJoe on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:18:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not completely the same. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, TexasTom, schnecke21, crystalboy, badger

      At least robots here need to be maintained by somebody.

      And Chinese labor is a lot cheaper than robots.

      "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

      by flitedocnm on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:51:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need to get busy on rooftop solar. (0+ / 0-)

        Manufacture subsidies.
        More incentives to get them on more roofs. Schools, hospitals, gov. buildings, airports, etc, then every house.
        We will need installers, and then we will need maintenance personnel into the future. It's just part of the picture, but it's one that's ripe.
        21st century infrastructure.
        By the time we get this going, the idiots on Wall Street should have finally figured out they can't have sustainable free enterprise without a robust middle class.

    •  +1 (0+ / 0-)

      One more Democrat in favor of workers owning the means of production.

      Join the fight for student power on campus: ForStudentPower.org

      by Liberaltarian on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:08:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A focus on purchase of 'Made in America' goods (7+ / 0-)

    sure would help to collapse this corporate-driven frenzy of outsourcing at all costs.

  •  "Im so happy we live... (21+ / 0-)

    ...in a world without slavery and imperialism." is a cartoon I just saw on Facebook. Then it goes on to list many examples of deplorable working conditions around the globe that are giving us a luxurious life.

    Somebody commented on how it resembles the attitude of the Capitol City folks in the Hunger Games trilogy (high living conditions, absolute ignorance of what is driving that "prosperity")

    The only response was "too bad. good thing we live here. not everybody can win."

    Astounding callousness and selfishness.

    www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:17:03 AM PST

  •  In "The Reckoning", David Halberstam (8+ / 0-)

    pretty much nails the rise of Japan's productivity and the decline of America's by examining the microcosm of the automobile industry.

    If you didn't catch it back when it came out, go read it now.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:18:55 AM PST

    •  Ditto (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, MrJersey, esquimaux

      Halberstam nailed it. Read the book a while ago, did he stress Iacocca's travails with the Ford design guys regarding front wheel drive small car as in Europe, or is that in another book which I can't recall the title?

      The most obvious problem with the American paradign is the history of the Cadillac Cimaron. In Europe GM competed against Mercedes with the top of the line Opels, with small Checy V8s and auto transmissions. Here Detroit tried to pawn of a Chevy econobox as a Cadillac.

  •  The Moller Skycar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    prairiesmoke, palantir, xaxnar

    The most elite, corrupt places in the universe are K Street and Wall Street. Mitt belongs to one, and Newt belongs to the other.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:22:03 AM PST

  •  You might think that Nixon deliberately... (12+ / 0-)

    ...opened relations with China in order to secure a source of cheap labor for American corporations, and end the detente that unions and businesses had mostly achieved in the 1970s. ... and you would be right, at least in my opinion.

  •  So much potential; so little attainment... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, divitius, eeff, maryabein, JeffW, Matt Z

    I remember predictions of a Jetson-like future of comfort and convenience.  Instead it seems that in far too many areas we've taken giant leaps backward.  

    The possibilities were unfilled, not because they couldn't be, but because our leaders chose to put enriching multi-national corporations, the MIC--and themselves--ahead of the well-being of the rest of the people of the country and the world.

  •  You should send this to evey newspaper (8+ / 0-)

    in the country. It's a perfect illustration of what has been inflicted on our economy over the last 40 years. And it's got cartoons!

    "I never heard a corpse ask how it got so cold." - Richard, The Lion in Winter

    by divitius on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:32:56 AM PST

  •  Japan built its mfg and mgt models on the (5+ / 0-)

    theories of Dr. Deming.

    An American.

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:34:03 AM PST

  •  Well.... yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir

    "Yes and no" is how I always seem to react to the all-encompassing-explanations-of-recent-history articles on Daily Kos.  There are a lot of good points here, but I would argue that outsourcing to countries with cheap labor probably would have happened with or without the influence of Japan.  Also, I think Japan's competitive threat to United States corporations probably ebbed because the Japanese economy tanked so badly in the 1990's, and in many ways never completely recovered.  

    In addition, I would argue that while people's lives have certainly changed since 1962, human nature has not changed in many ways, and that is not entirely a bad thing.

    I agree with the diary's description of modern day life (or at least middle-class American modern day life) as filled with bling that comes at unseen human expense.  At the risk of sounding preachy, I would say that an easy way to make that less true would be to look at things you have or want, and contemplate how much you really need them.  I don't own a single fancy Apple gadget; maybe I should be prouder of that than I am.  

    An armed society is... a society in which a lot of people get shot.

    by lungfish on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:35:28 AM PST

    •  Foxconn makes a lot of other companies' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania, JML9999, Aquarius40

      gadgets too, though. About 40 percent of all gadgets, I read recently. So I guess they're still avoidable, but whose computers and phones are not made in such circumstances? I would Google it, but then there are some new evils associated with that place. So I guess I'll be Yahooing stuff until we hear about Yahoo evil. So it goes.

      I recently stopped eating chocolate because of the recent mention in the media of about 100,000 unpaid children laboring in that field.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:05:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Buy fairtrade (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JML9999, billmosby, crystalboy

        chocolate, coffee, bananas, etc. Maybe their fair-tradiness is a bit of an illusion, but they're better than the alternative.
        Note that the links go to British companies. The move here to fair-trade has been promoted by our media and is now consumer driven. If people want products either made in America, or made under humane working conditions, they are going to have to quit buying things that aren't. This is much easier to bring about in a small country.

        "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

        by northsylvania on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:17:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I often struggle with the struggle (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, eeff, Anna M, Matt Z, susanWAstate

    to change or add to the mission of corporations to include "for the good of employees and the public.

    I'm pretty sure I'm too olld and I'll never see it happen even if it does which I'm not sure it will. An alternative outcome could be a deadly embrace of ruthless capitalsm.

    Sure there are many people here who are aware of the necessity to change and any more who wish it would but the power of those who don't and who like things they way they are just fine is too much. I know that is cynical and also know that this battle is never-ending. Nevertheless, I'll stay engaged in the battle.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:41:24 AM PST

    •  A Google search for Socially Responsible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream

      Corporations does yield lots of hits.  It's not ALL "corporation eats people" out there.  Example:

      10 Companies With Social Responsibility at the Core

      http://adage.com/...

      The question is, how do we encourage more social responsibility in a country that allows shareholders to sue corporate directors who fail to pounce on every opportunity to make a profit?

      Can't never did nothin'; Can Do did!

      by susanWAstate on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:02:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have said the same thing more (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        susanWAstate

        than a few times. Unfortunately, the predominant focus is on the aspect of corporations which certainly is not about social responsibility but shareholder responsibility. It's rare when we hear a CEO talk about social responsibility in the same breath as shareholder responsibility.

        Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

        by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:42:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  When I saw the preview in one of the open (9+ / 0-)

    threads for this diary, George Jetson getting paid enough to support his family in luxury for a few hours of button-pressing was exactly where my mind went.

    Despite being automated almost to the point where he has nothing to do, Jetson was able to support a family of 4... What I forgot about the show was that he was actually a "management" position.  So I guess that part was correct - despite being nearly useless (entirely useless) drones, many executives are still paid to live that way.  The Jetson's never did explain what happened to the bulk of humanity after they were automated out of jobs, did they?  I think you saw the occasional dry cleaner (who also merely pressed a button to do his job) or hobo, who did nothing but spout some bit of stereotypical nonsense before disappearing again.  Were there entire manufacturing lines of unseen humans, each pressing a button to tell their own robot to do some construction step?

    Automation cost jobs, but those who had jobs presumably made enough to live on, despite only pressing buttons every so often.  So pay for 'productivity' kept pace, presumably, as long as you could find a button that needed pressing.  Pressing that button paid as much as actually doing the work your robot would have in past.  

    We certainly don't see that today, where you're simply cut loose.  The buttons are largely gone, barring a few that shut down production entirely if something breaks, and a few techs scurry out to fix the robot equipment.

    So rather than the benign socialistic vision portrayed in the Jetsons, even when automation rather than near-slave labor replaces human labor, we've taken the darker path of merely throwing the replaced humans into grinding poverty.

  •  When labor is cheap (and desperate), (12+ / 0-)

    there's no need to improve either the product or the process.  And that's true no matter where the labor is located. The company I work for laid a bunch of people off back in 2007 here in the states. Those of us still working haven't had a raise in 6 years (even though I've had two promotions). The staff in India, not surprisingly, has grown - a lot.

    Has the company invested in improving our product or the process? No. They just hire more hamsters and hamster ranchers, here and abroad, to keep those rusty wheels a turnin'.

    "Personally, I tend to let my melons sprawl on the ground." - OH

    by mikidee on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:56:21 AM PST

    •  Outsourced - Loved That Film (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susanWAstate, mikidee

      Rather than trying to get a bigger piece of the pie and to attain the ever expanding American Dream, the film's hero learns to come back to the US and visits his parents as a measure of his new humanity at the end.

      Maybe that's a lesson we could learn as a counter-example to the Jetsons, learning to live more fully, more simply and more richly.

      "Recuerda siempre esto:. Luchan con el dinero y nos resistimos con el tiempo, y que van a quedarse sin dinero antes de que acabe el tiempo" -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:26:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've had the same thoughts about the internet. (5+ / 0-)

    So much free content willingly produced by people in their spare time just to get noticed, or perhaps in hopes of having a snippet of video go viral on youtube and getting a bit of ad revenue from it.

    All neatly summed up in the caption to a Gary Larson cartoon a couple of decades ago: "Hey, wait a minute! This is grass! We've been eating grass!".

    Which reminds me, when I get through with my hundreds of hours of volunteer work shepherding a poorly designed club website through the process of migration from an obsolete, phased-out server to a new one, I'll get back to finishing my free online drawing website project....

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:59:25 AM PST

  •  Beautifully written and powerfully on-target. You (13+ / 0-)

    should win a prize just for this paragraph alone:

    "Remember the doors on Star Trek? Every time Kirk charged off the bridge, they opened with a snappy sideways slide and a high-tech swoosh. The thing is, behind the scenes, those doors were pulled back by hidden stagehands. That's the world we've inherited: a coat of shiny gloss made possible by a lot of unseen, unappreciated human effort. It's a world in which everything we wear, everything we carry, and most of the things in our home have the vitreous sheen of quality—a polish put there by tens of thousands of people working in crippling sweat shop conditions, for pitiful pay, in nations where raising a complaint means being discarded. The appearance of progress pasted over Dickensian tragedy."

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:02:46 AM PST

  •  Chuck Jones (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cph, JeffW, Matt Z, Mark Sumner

    My son informs me that it was Chuck Jones, not Mel Blanc, who called cheap animation "illustrated radio" according to his book on the history of Looney Toons.

    I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

    by Grassroots Mom on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:03:28 AM PST

    •  Hated, hated, hated The Jetsons (0+ / 0-)

      What a travesty of a show: bad animation (inspiring SNL's Mr. Bill cartoon), stupid whitebread plots, bad humor and worse science fiction...

      I couldn't stand to watch it.

      Thanks to Mark S. for pointing out the meta-lesson behind the sliding doors on Startrek and The Jetsons.

      "Recuerda siempre esto:. Luchan con el dinero y nos resistimos con el tiempo, y que van a quedarse sin dinero antes de que acabe el tiempo" -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:31:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  much thanks (0+ / 0-)

      I had the quote in my head, but couldn't find a cite. Now I know why.

      Please thank your son.

  •  There is a flying car that is coming out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein

    pretty soon....

    "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

    by justmy2 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:03:53 AM PST

    •  SORRY BUT THIS IS NOT THE DREAM (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby

      I hate to say this, but that plane/car looks like a rickitty piece of junk!!  Furthermore, it isn't even close to the Jetsons, not even close.  This is not the wave of the future, it is just a distraction.

    •  The ONLY flying car I've ever heard of... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that was feasible and rational, is a contraption called the Maverick, invented by some folks who call themselves the  Indigenous People’s Technology and Education Center (I-Tec), it is a hybrid vehicle that essentially resembles a Southern Cal desert buggy with a parachute on top of it.

      The car's most interesting feature is that it has a long fishing-pole-like structure used to erect the parachute without a crew of helpers like the other powered-parachute trikes already out there, and the folks who built it intend for religious missionaries to use it for getting around in remote areas.  The EAA Sport Aviation article last year described them using the vehicle to save someone's life who lived too far out in the bush to get to a hospital.

      Check out the EAA web page to see the car...

      href="http://www.eaa.org/lightplaneworld/articles/1007_maverick.asp">

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 02:15:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Off topic a bit...but I have always (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Matt Z

    wondered if there was a site with Jetson and Star Trek predictions that came true.

    "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

    by justmy2 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:06:20 AM PST

  •  Actually I think Star Trek was more like socialism (14+ / 0-)

    Imagine a world where people aren't driven to collect a lot of money or "stuff", and there aren't any obvious advertisements and corporate brands everywhere.  People are concerned about ecosystems and the environment and do things for the betterment of all humanity - not personal selfishness and greed.  Doctors are simply concerned about healing their patients - not about fitting people into 15-minute time-slots  in order to pay the bills.  

    The "Prime Directive" is to not interfere in other peoples cultures and not assume everybody wants and needs your "stuff".  Diplomacy before confrontation.  Your purpose in life seems to be about learning about the universe around you.  Friendship and loyalty to those around you - rather than everything being turned into a competition.  

    •  Kirk was always violating the prime directive (5+ / 0-)

      or else phasering into oblivion somebody else who had. And the doctor was a chronic depressive whose main utterance was "He'll DIE, Jim!!!".

      But I loved the concept anyway.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:12:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Second generation Startrek was (10+ / 0-)

        more about what Anna M was speaking to I would guess.  I never did like the original series but enjoyed the second series.  

        •  I was in my late teens (4+ / 0-)

          when the original series came out, so that's the one that comes most easily to mind for me. I also liked Picard, but perhaps partly because of his prior appearance as Sejanus in the I, Claudius series. My kids were hooked on Deep Space Nine.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:38:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Star Trek - The Next Generation (8+ / 0-)

          was like a life-raft for me during the Reagan years.  It's a wonder it survived through all the greed-is-good and Cold War propaganda we were having at that time.

          •  But I Loved, Loved, Loved Star Trek... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Anna M

            ...in almost all of its 6 incarnations (The Original Series (1966–1969), The Animated Series (1973–1974), The Next Generation (1987–1994), Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), Voyager (1995–2001), Enterprise (2001–2005).

            Favorites were the original series and TNG.  Much, much more humane, funny and better science than the Jetsons. Did not much enjoy the final Enterprise series.

            Rec'd for your nice point about being a lifeline in the Reagan years.

            Also disagree strongly about Kirk (or Picard or Sisko or Janeway) violating the prime directive often and phasering away (more likely photon torpedoing) away those who violated the directive. Violence was never gratuitious in Star Trek unless hand to hand combat with evil aliens counts. ;-)

            "Recuerda siempre esto:. Luchan con el dinero y nos resistimos con el tiempo, y que van a quedarse sin dinero antes de que acabe el tiempo" -Utah Philips

            by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:44:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'll admit I exaggerated a little, lol. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Anna M

              And Kirk did treat the tribbles humanely, but maybe I'm misremembering that also...

              Moderation in most things.

              by billmosby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:45:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Scotty Beamed Them Into The Departing... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Anna M, billmosby

                ...Klingon ship. Not sure what fate the tribbles might have met there: probably turned into slave labor and are a metaphor for disenfranchised Chinese factory workers. ;-)

                "Recuerda siempre esto:. Luchan con el dinero y nos resistimos con el tiempo, y que van a quedarse sin dinero antes de que acabe el tiempo" -Utah Philips

                by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:44:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Deep Space Nine (6+ / 0-)

      Often underrated, the show was crippled in building popular appeal in that no regular network carried it - they went the syndication route, so it was on marginal stations often at odd hours.

      But it had some of the most powerful Star Trek episodes of all the series. They explicitly looked at economic issues as part of the show's charter, the Paradise problem. When people have gotten to the point that material wealth and the basic necessities are not a problem to provide enough for everyone, what is it in human (and alien) nature that is not satisfied? How do you deal with injustice? How do you find a way for everyone to realize their potential? When it's not a simple choice any more to either work or starve, what do people do?

      As with all Star Trek shows, they used the show as a mirror to give us another view of our own times. The show is more relevant than ever today - it would be a good time to start rerunning some of those episodes. The GOP primary race right now might as well be a battle among the Ferengi to become Grand Nagus and impose their economic 'morality' upon us forever.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:10:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can stream it on Netflix. I loved that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Anna M

        show. Ferengi indeed!

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:34:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My favorite (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar

        I was sad for weeks when the final episode aired, ending a powerful arch that tested the moral fiber of every character as well as turning up huge doses of hypocrisy lurking in the Federation's high-minded talk. Is it OK to have state sponsored assassination if the bad guy is bad enough? What level of action can you use in warfare when the tide is against you? Torture? Bioterrorism? Is there any li it at all?

        In short, it was a series I found much easier to identify with than any of the other ST series. We've been researching the shows on Netflix, and finding even more things to think about in this post Iraq world.

    •  FUTURAMA a reaction to military future (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M, One Little Victory

      All the Star Treks revolved around a MILITARY organization.

      Groening started Futurama in part because he wanted to see a future that didn't rely on a 'benign military dictatorship'.

      •  And instead we get DOOP... (0+ / 0-)

        AND THE GREATEST STARSHIP CAPTAIN IN HISTORY!

        "There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done." - Theodore Roosevelt, Kansas, 1910

        by One Little Victory on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:23:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why devolve into jingoism and ideology? (5+ / 0-)

    A lot of what you say is true, clever, and well spoken.  

    I think considering Chinese outsourcing means holding some contradictory things together at the same time.  For instance: labor conditions suck, and many people are very poor.  And: the Walmartization of America, and the end of American manufacturing, has coincided with the largest growth of a middle class in world history.  

    Whenever you tell a simple story, you also tell lies.  I liked your style of writing and the star trek doors and the Jetsons references...but I don't think this peice is very thoughtful about what your lies are.  Contrast with Mike Daisy's Apple presentation.  He went and talked to actual people, who make stuff that you use.  Found out who they are.  Your story here is one where Chinese workers are just brutalized insects, and American workers are marginalized heros.  You take one truth -- that conditions often suck, and the scale of commodity manufacturing makes a mockery of working conditiongs -- but ignore other truths, which involve actual labor groups working to improve those conditions now for the people who we are going to keep  buying stuff from.  

    Maybe being a worker doesn't have a nationality attached, so that "American workers are the best in the world".  Maybe being a worker is a human condition, and our focus should not be so narrow -- at least, if we'd like to survive on this small planet together.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:23:49 AM PST

    •  The Middle Class (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical

      "the Walmartization of America, and the end of American manufacturing, has coincided with the largest growth of a middle class in world history. "

      started to disappear with the grows of Walmart.

      How come the Mickey Mouse Cruise Lines get their ships from a landlocked German shipyard, and the US has no civilian shipyards left worth talking about?

      •  our middle class (0+ / 0-)

        not the Chinese middle class.

        I think we should invest in our manufacturing in a way that we have not.  On a vast scale -- especially with things like shipyards.  But I don't think that should be accompanied by protectionism, or by nationalist rhetoric.  Mileage varies.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:24:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hanna-Barbarism with a Human Face (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, Anna M, Matt Z
    Like the doors in Star Trek, there is one way that The Jetsons did predict the future. Hanna-Barbera, the producers of the series, were already notorious for creating their their animation on the cheap (voice artist Mel Blanc refered to the work as "illustrated radio"), but just producing their shows with 1/20th the drawings of the completion wasn't saving them enough. So they pioneered the real technology of the future—firing their own workers and outsourcing the job to the cheapest bidder overseas. But hey, you have to love those gadgets!
    Disney animators' strike The strike lasted five weeks. Toward the end, Disney accepted a suggestion by Nelson Rockefeller, then head of the Latin American Affairs office in the State department, that he make a tour of Latin America as a goodwill ambassador. His removal from the scene enabled passions to cool, and in his absence the strike was settled with the help of a federal mediator, who found in the Guild's favor on every issue. The Disney studio signed a contract and has been a union shop ever since
    How to Read Donald Duck "Here lies Disney's inventive (product of his era), rejecting the crude and explicit scheme of adventure strips, that came up at the same time. The ideological background is without any doubt the same: but Disney, not showing any open repressive force, is much more dangerous. The division between Bruce Wayne and Batman is the projection of fantasy outside the ordinary world to save it. Disney colonizes the everyday world, at hand of ordinary man and his common problems, with the analgesic of a child's imagination
    Except for the pilot episode, which was produced using cutout animation, all episodes of South Park are created with the use of software. As opposed to the pilot, which took three months to complete, and other animated sitcoms, which are traditionally hand-drawn by companies in South Korea in a process that takes roughly eight-to-nine months, individual episodes of South Park take significantly less time to produce. Using computers as an animation method, the show's production staff were able to generate an episode in about three weeks during the first seasons. Now, with a staff of about 70 people, episodes are typically completed in one week, with some in as little as three to four days. Nearly the entire production of an episode is accomplished within one set of offices, which were originally at a complex in Westwood, California, and are now part of South Park Studios in Culver City, California.

    dangerous voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:24:13 AM PST

  •  Well said! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Matt Z

    ",,, the Political whorehouse that is Fox News." Keith Olbermann

    by irate on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:26:48 AM PST

  •  George would complain about his "work" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, JeffW, Matt Z

    Having to push buttons all day.

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:27:28 AM PST

  •  IMO, any story (6+ / 0-)

    about US manufacturing should include something about W. Edwards Deming, the guy who promoted quality control.

    His ideas were rejected by the US automakers, so he went to Japan.  Japan welcomed his ideas.

    And now we see the results of that stupidity by US manufacturers.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:32:14 AM PST

    •  Yep (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      later only Ford brought Dr. Demming in to show what he had done in Japan. At the time they owned 49% of Mazda. Then later when Ford did some big layoffs UP Rail said they would hire every Ford worker under 35 if they were willing to relocate. Why because they had undergone Demming training. I have few them around me maintaining the rail lines they work long hours with overtime and benfits. Then are able to retire at 55 and as some of you know from the jobs you have/had blue collar trades at 55 the body is tired.

    •  Demming is the reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      damfino

      we drive and ride in relative comfort in vehicles that do not fall apart in 2 or 3 years to be replaced by newer but equally unreliable crap from Detroit.

      Take a look at a new Fiat (if you can find one) - beautiful fit and finish, beautiful design. Demming's message percolated around the globe and my now 6 year old Japanese (sorry Detroit) made vehicle has had two or three tiny failures and runs like the day it was new.

      "Recuerda siempre esto:. Luchan con el dinero y nos resistimos con el tiempo, y que van a quedarse sin dinero antes de que acabe el tiempo" -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:50:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Doors Of Star Trek (7+ / 0-)

    what a remarkably apt indictment of our system. Excellent. I'll never be able to read a "made in [insert country of manufacture here]" label again without thinking about it. I'll think about back when I was a little kid watching Star Trek, when the line between fiction and non-fiction was still an unknown to me, and the miracles of 23rd-century technology were as real as those set designers would have had me believe. Ignorance was bliss.

    Thanks Mark for another top-flight Sunday morning read

    Wakeful people make better democracy. Anybody else want some coffee?

    by Hammerhand on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:36:42 AM PST

  •  Then I Grew up (7+ / 0-)

    As a child a felt sorry for Mr Limpet and his plight then I grew up and realized that  Limpet and his atomic belch killed 100's of German Submariners.

    As a child I was amazed by the Jetsons and the cities on stilts, Then I grew up an wondered what's going on down below the cities.

    People are amazed with the technological marvels but they really need to grow up and know there's a whole lot of ugly underneath.

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:37:05 AM PST

  •  There is no inherent morality in Capitalism. (11+ / 0-)

    That was a phrase I tossed off the other day that seemed to hit  nerve. Capitalism has been made into a religion, one supposedly joined at the hip with Democracy.

    That the People's Republic has embraced it so thoroughly while retaining an authoritarian grip on everything puts the lie to that. And the way the flow of money from that symbiosis is wrecking our own democracy proves it even more.

    One of the less appreciated elements from the Star Trek universe is the way the show Deep Space Nine explored the economics of the future (and the present).

    Set in a star system still recovering from conquest and occupation by outside imperialists, the contrasts between the Federation with abundant energy and replicators versus poverty, civil strife, and the struggles to rebuild the institutions of government were stark. The introduction of the Ferengi as a race of star-traveling capitalists on steroids pretty much put the issues right in the face of viewers, as did several episodes involving travel through time back to an earth in our near future where economic justice was just as big an issue.

    As gritty and disturbing as some of those episodes could be, I don't think even the writers would have dared write a story where a group of authoritarian millionaires were throwing tons of money and lies around in a battle to be the one running the country, or that their allies in the legislature were deliberately wrecking the economy to discredit a popularly elected president. The latest wrinkle, that Donald Trump is now threatening to run as an independent because none of them can win would be way over the top.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:40:43 AM PST

  •  And maybe it's well past (5+ / 0-)

    due for a thorough discussion on whether the corporate form of doing business should be replaced.

    After all, corporations in their current state don't exist to maximize shareholder value--they exist to maximize the executives compensation.  And management's attempt to maximize shareholder value, even when not driven exclusively by their interest in their own holdings, results in many negative consequences for the workers, the environment, and even the consumers of their products.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:42:00 AM PST

  •  I agree with those... (4+ / 0-)

    above that say this should be a newspaper editorial nationwide.

  •  In contrast to The Flintstones (12+ / 0-)

    What has always fascinated me are the contrasts between The Jetsons and The Flintstones.  The Jetsons was ostensibly a thematic spin-off of The Flintstones, and yet the dichotomies the creators of the two shows instinctively followed are telling.  Fred Flintstone has a blue-collar job that does not interfere with his private life, George Jetson has a white collar job that constantly interferes with his private life, but is in no better of an economic situation.  Fred Flintstone and his family live in a strong commmunity and have close friends.  George Jetson is isolated from his neighbors and has only his robot as a non-family companion.  When The Jetsons is considered in this context, it creates a very dark, emotionless view of where people in the Sixties thought America was heading.

    •  Or, it could just be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      A couple of imaginative cartoons.

      •  ah, but what when they meet? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones:

        Mr. Spacely makes Fred the spokesman for his company, but R.U.D.I. accidentally leaks this information to S.A.R.A. Just as Mr. Spacely is introducing Fred to some important investors, Cogswell shows up and introduces Barney, who was jealous of Fred for taking all of the glory, as his news spokesman, coaxing the businesspeople to him. Spacely is furious, and Fred becomes angry with Barney to the point where he actually throws Barney out of the window, although Barney survives the fall, and comes back asking him to throw him closer to the ground next time (the irony being that in the world of the Jetsons, there is no ground).

        dangerous voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

        by annieli on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:09:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Look at the opening title sequences (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux, Anna M, damfino

        In The Flintstones, Fred is rushing home to be with his family.  In The Jetsons, not only is George getting rid of his family in different, isolated places, but they are bleeding him dry of cash as he does so

  •  You Get What You (Don't) Pay For (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, susanWAstate, Anna M

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:53:05 AM PST

  •  Made me think of a Cracked article (8+ / 0-)

    http://www.cracked.com/...

    snip:

    So, What's the Problem?

    The natural environment is gone.

    The surface of the Earth is never shown, and the Jetson family never visits it. They often venture off-world like it ain't no thing, but never down to their own planet. We only have a few stray clues that point to the state of the Earth's surface: In Jetsons: The Movie, Rosie pushes a button to have the Jetsons' apartment rise above the planetary smog.
    And in The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones movie, when George visits the past, he makes an offhand comment that grass is something he "remembers from ancient history."
    When something as ubiquitous and hardy as grass -- something that grows in freezing tundra and burning desert alike -- is "ancient history," the only logical conclusion is that nothing grows on the surface of the planet. It is so polluted, irradiated or burned that no life exists there.

    Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

    by GreenPA on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:05:04 AM PST

  •  the world is flat (broke) (0+ / 0-)

    Someone (on this site?) opined that Deng Xiaoping understood he was poking a hole in the bottom of the US economy. That by decoupling wages from product value would flow down the wage scale into China.

    I keep hoping for this site to get interesting China Labor Watch but imagining the US labor battles of the 19th and early 20th centuries played out on a Chinese scale brings up the horrifying possibilities of rivers of blood. Maybe our newly connected world can start bringing solidarity across the global labor force but I type this on a MacBook and Apple ... eh ... you already know.

    Until what's left of the richer world (the US and Europe) start paying a huge premium to "buy local" we are at the mercy of the ecological disaster that is the overwhelming advantage that economies of scale and wage differential give to the international bankers. Years ago (seems like forever now for personal reasons) when Friedeman was talking up his book on Charlie Rose I wanted to yell "we will not be a planet of wage slaves" at the screen (or fire off a nasty blog post there that'll show em). Friedeman seemed to cop to getting Iraq wrong and maybe subsequent books have reexamined how many long, long underpaid hours and beaten down families it takes to support him writing his column in the lounge while waiting for a trans oceanic airplane flight.

    As much as I find Occupy entertaining and, entirely separately, I intend to root, donate and work to retake the House for the centrist Democrats, the problems we have arrived at here in the future are too big for government. Don't get me wrong, government could certainly do a much better job of helping but all our energies have to be expended in lesser-evilism preventing the robber barons from taking complete control again (see: Iraq war). But humanity as a whole has to make less garbage, waste less energy. This can't be mandated from the top down.

    My town, Manhattan, grew into the amazing 20th century metropolis not by specific design but because the time was right. My country, the (good ole) USA will start to get off the automobile habit - seemed like a good idea at the time but now the highways are blighted with strip malls and oil and concrete and you get the idea - when economies and technologies move us toward a more (warning overused meme) sustainable and frankly enjoyable lifestyle.

    On the way: Think global, buy local. I wanted to buy toys for my kids that were made locally. It's very, very hard and I live right in the neighborhood it shouldn't be. What's up with that?

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:07:57 AM PST

  •  Polluted aquifer in Wyoming.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    There's this HUGE aquifer in Wyoming...it supports people's drinking water and crop irrigation....

    So a fracking company comes in and now the aquifer is polluted....The EPA gets called in and determines the fracking polluted the aquifer....

    Governor Matt Mead and Senators Mike Enzi and John Barasso are challenging the results of the EPA....

    I think what they're saying is that the EPA ruined the test while taking samples....I HOPE THEY'RE NOT CHALLENGING THE FACT THAT THE AQUIFER IS POLLUTED...!!!!!  Because, I think that is already established....

    Regardless...let's hope that aforementioned politico's do the right thing for the people in their state who are negatively effected by this aquifer...and do not take the sides of the environmental rapists...!!!!!

  •  Corporations are like the chestbursters in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anna M

    the Alien series of films. They kill the host, despoil the environment and are committed to unlimted growth.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:39:21 AM PST

  •  Small error in last graf? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner

    You wrote "completion" and ITYM "competition."

    (Used to be newspaper editor back when that was a real thing.)

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:39:38 AM PST

  •  A funny thing happened on the way to the future (5+ / 0-)

    American capitalism ate its workforce, belched, and realized too late it had eaten its consumers.

  •  Somehow we've become a nation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, Mark Sumner

    that Loves Things and Uses People.

    I'm guilty - I love my gadgets, new clothes, etc.  and I'm glad they're affordable.  I spoiled my kids and wanted them to have 'lots of stuff'.

    It's going to take a HUGE effort (which hopefully won't have to be triggered by environmental catastrophe) to turn this around so we "Love people, not things; use things, not people."

    I'm not even sure human nature is even capable of achieving this change.

    Can't never did nothin'; Can Do did!

    by susanWAstate on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:32:58 AM PST

  •  I think Mudhoney said it best (0+ / 0-)

    Where is the future

    I was born on an Air Force Base
    Nineteen sixty two
    A rocket launch into outer space
    Knocked me out of the womb
    I cried and cried and cried
    Happy to be alive Astronauts were orbiting Earth
    The Space Age was in sight

    Where is the future that was promised us
    Where is the future for everyone
    Where is the future that was promised us
    Where is our future of fun
    Where is the future that was promised us
    I'm sick to death of this one

    I want to live in a floating city
    I want to drive a bubble car
    I want to fly with my personal jet pack
    I want to visit my family on Mars
    I want to live in an era of peace,
    Of Love and Justice, Wonder and Truth
    I want a world run by giant brains
    Instead of small-minded arrogant fools

  •  doors and the unseen hand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    damfino

    reminds me of an example of thoughtful urban planning, seen in Europe, alas, and not in the US.

    In the US, if you want to go into too many places, you go through a revolving door, which may mean juggling briefcase, suitcase, parcels, whatnot. Awkward and irritating.

    At the railroad station in Carcassonne, France, passengers walk up to the station and ::whoosh:: big glass doors slide open pneumatically (I think), allowing said passengers to walk into the station proper (no stairs) with their bicycles, which they can then take on the train to the next stop.

    I watched that one day and thought admiringly about the follow-through thinking that considered not only ease of access but the next steps in the process of travel. Looking at the situation whole-istically, instead of in separate, outsourced fragments.

    Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? -- Mary Oliver

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:14:23 AM PST

  •  Myst - The Book of D'ni (0+ / 0-)

    Where the surviving D'ni find an apparent utopia called Terahnee, but all the work (including rotating whole rooms) is carried out by hidden slaves. Much like those workers in China (and elsewhere--Bangladesh is worse) who provide all that cheap plastic crap that sits on department store shelves.

    Corporations get both: slave labor and planned obsolescence. When the cheap plastic crap breaks after a few months, back come the consumers looking for newer cheap plastic crap.

    The lesser of two evils . . . is still evil.

    by Pale Jenova on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:18:42 AM PST

  •  Hoi, that's the kind of technically innovative ... (0+ / 0-)

    That's the kind of technically innovative content that both inspires and entertains - this article.  Marvelous! And there is that integral, principled grounds being addressed, consistently, in the article. I am editorially chagrined.

    Well, then. I see that - anthropologically - The Jetsons may be taken as something indicating a sort of middle class fantasy. The cartoonish nature of it, I think, is furthermore entertaining. I do not mean to be too direct, in indicating as much - and neither, too socially detached about it. Precedent is precedent, simply enough.

    Should I feel it personally, then? Should I continue the abject psychology of privilege-paranoia that was my own psychological inheritance, at home? Should I "leave it at that?" as if it was "done" there? I do not think that is the end of the matter. I think it goes rather deeper than that.

    Should I wish to be bitter, then, if so many people draw their goals for success no further than "what I can has?" and deny rational, real gains of their due attention, in all that politics of "privilege", in whatever plastic concept of the same?  I don't suppose I should be too bitter. I has a few things, myself, these days - with a grateful shout-out to Orman West, for his superb and humble characterization of boostrapping. I would apologize for my own lack of evident humility, in this - I would say it is a matter of style, insomuch.

    George Jetson, as I recall his character from the cartoon - in continuing with the matter of allegory - I recall that George Jetson, himself, was a good guy. Spacely, though? He was always the competitively obsessed empiricist, eternally butting head with Cogswell of Cogsswell Cogs. It was the absurdity of Spacely's overwhelmingly competitive character - in contrast to the real results of his competitive actions - that made the material of the greatest comedy of that cartoon. (Reminds one of a couple of cartoons from the times, does it not?)

    Myself, I don't think life should come out looking like a Sartre play. I'll add my two cents, at that.

    In Jean Paul Sartre's play, No Exit - it's not been featured on Broadway, I presume - in that stageplay, we see at least one character going veritably nuts after her hallmarks of identity have been removed. (I would offer a more direct citation into the script of the stageplay, but for the sake of rhetorical expedience, I'm simply going by what I recall of a performance of the play, which I saw at Fresno State University, in 1995. What can I say, it was a profoundly good performance of the script - I digress.)

    The very concept of social identity, I think, must bear some extensive focus, and I cannot say I could completely address the matter, myself - which is why I bring it up - that it bears some extensive focus not only for the concept's more abstract qualities as a concept of anthropological, psychological, and social studies, but furthermore, for its relevance in the political climate of the times. I would with to cite a few works, at that, directly, should one wish to read further:

    [-] Identity Theory,  by Jude Hayes (Oxford University Press)
    [-] Social Identity, Key Ideas, by Ricahrd Jenkins (Routledge)
    [-] Cultural Political Economy, RIPE Series in Global Political Economy, by Jaqueline Best (Routledge)
    [-] Cultural Transmission, Developmental, Psychological, Social, and Methodological Aspects, by Ute Schonpflug (Cambridge University Press)
    [-] Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies, by Lisa Zunshine (The Johns Hopkins University Press)

    ...and that's a heavy reading list, in itself.  Well, though, heavy concepts may take heavy work to address appropriately, and such is life, yadda-yadda-yaddya.

    and then here is:
    [-] Groupthink, an Impediment to Success, by Dr. Clifton Willcox (Self Published)

    Notably, all of those are available as eBooks. I happen to know, personally, that those titles are available as individual titles, at the Kindle store. They should as well be available, in classic printed form, via any local library, at which, the librarians would be the experts of the domain, one assumes - not to play games about lifestyle, either. People are people.

    I assert, again, that the Democrat party needs to re-brand itself, and that may well be a matter in progress, even as we speak, work, and live. In that matter, I think we should take an approach of mindful consideration,  in how we will endeavor to define the Democrat political identity, and our own individual identities, in our own lives. If it my be a more successful party, still, but - before or after any momentary success, in the party's continued presence as a necessary cultural feature of the nation - responsibility and its founding feature of integrity are of a constant significance. Those, then, are features that cannot be "faked." Sustainability, lastly, is ... sustainability is something to not be too attached to, I think.

    (I'll edit this for repost as a diary entry, shortly. Culture is culture. Cheers)

  •  The Japanese success = *Quality*= Deming (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    W. Edward DEMING, an American statistician, is ignored here in his homeland. But, after WWII, Deming was a consultant in Japan and Japanese industry adopted his methods of improvement in design and service, and product quality.

    That is the one word that comes to mind when you say Japan. Quality.

    ... from 1950 onward, he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing, and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.

    Deming made a significant contribution to Japan's later reputation for innovative high-quality products and its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact upon Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage. Despite being considered something of a hero in Japan, he was only just beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death.

    --snip--

    A number of Japanese manufacturers applied his techniques widely and experienced theretofore unheard-of levels of quality and productivity. The improved quality combined with the lowered cost created new international demand for Japanese products.

    Deming declined to receive royalties from the transcripts of his 1950 lectures, so JUSE's board of directors established the Deming Prize (December 1950) to repay him for his friendship and kindness. Within Japan, the Deming Prize continues to exert considerable influence on the disciplines of quality control and quality management.

    14 Points for Management.

    Quality Management appears to be the missing link here in the US. Quality control and quality management are "quaint" Socialist filth words to hear Republicans tell it.

    The preference appears to be for human husbandry and labor in slave-like conditions whether it is the Prison-Industrial Complex chaining Americans into perverse business models of free labor. Or the Chinese and their gulag cities of human fiefdom serving corporate needs and desires.

    Apple management is not to be emulated for free people. It is a Communist Corporation business model and we should drive a stake in it now before it gets its talons any deeper.

    I have no friggin' clue how an American politician can lavish praise on such.


    One may live without bread, but not without roses.
    ~Jean Richepin
    Bread & Roses

    by bronte17 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 01:08:59 PM PST

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