TUESDAY, JUN 14, 2011 07:01 ET
We need a New Deal for information technology
BY MICHAEL LIND
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America’s attention is focused on the faltering recovery from the Great Recession. But we cannot neglect another question: Where are we in the long-term technology cycle?
In the mid-20th cenIn the mid-20th century, the economist Joseph Schumpeter observed that technological innovation is not a continuous process, but tends to be concentrated in bursts of economy-transforming change. Within the industrial epoch that began in Britain in the 18th century and continues today, historians have discerned three or four or five successive industrial revolutions, driven by “general purpose technologies” like the steam engine, electricity, automobiles and airplanes, and information technology.
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The evolution of a transformative technology can be retarded or accelerated by public policy. In particular, government policy can remove roadblocks on the path to the new technology’s implementation. These can take two forms: infrastructural roadblocks and social roadblocks.
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Today’s universities and hospitals are the equivalents of neighborhoods hosting numerous individual blacksmiths working independently. They need to be replaced by higher education factories and health (not sickness) factories. Tasks done today by a few highly paid, credentialed elite professionals and an army of low-paid lecturers and health aides should be broken down, analyzed and reassigned to the moderately paid, middle-class Ed workers and Med workers of tomorrow. This may require a combination of capital deepening (the use of new technology) and deskilling (a moderately educated, moderately paid nurse with high-tech equipment may be a better diagnostician than today’s highly educated, richly remunerated M.D.)
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Finally, we can promote “universal capitalism” by increasing ownership of income-generating assets, like shares in growing corporations, although the disastrous experience with 401K’s shows that any such programs must limit risk. Some combination of these reforms will probably be necessary to remove low wages as a social roadblock to the maturation of the information economy.
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Michael Lind is Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation and is the author of “The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution.” More: Michael Lind
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The last thing we need is more Gooferment.
Part of the reason for the mess that “we” are in is the continued interference by Gooferment into the “free market”.
And, he wants the Gooferment to lead us into the “Promised Land”.
My personal connection with the Gooferment and “technology” is my cousin, who was a happy elevator operator, and me at AT&T. The elevator operator was thrown out of work by the minimum wage law. I was a casualty, along with Bell Labs and a lot of good folks, by Judge Green and divestiture.
Without Gooferment, people would just lead their lives. Instead, the “plantation masters” use Gooferment force to channel us like the cows in the stockyards.
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