Thomas Friedman—Average Is Over

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.

Yes, new technology has been eating jobs forever, and always will. As they say, if horses could have voted, there never would have been cars. But there’s been an acceleration. As Davidson notes, “In the 10 years ending in 2009, [U.S.] factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs — about 6 million in total — disappeared.”

And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

7 Comments
Posted January 26, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. J. Champlin wrote:

Given Friedman’s argument, may we all look forward to the day when the NYT outsources Friedman’s job—and we don’t have to read his very average, not to say mediocre, columns?

January 26, 10:02 am | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

That’s it! Everyone’s got to become above average.

January 26, 10:10 am | [comment link]
3. Mark Baddeley wrote:

Roughly half of us are above average now, so if the other half just lift their game, then no-one will be average.

There. Problem fixed. We can get rid of averageness just by some application.

....Waitaminute….

January 26, 10:14 am | [comment link]
4. John A. wrote:

Khashdrahr stopped translating and frowned perplexedly.  “Please, this average man, there is no equivalent in our language, I’m afraid.”
“You know,” said Halyard, “the ordinary man, like, well, anybody - those men working back on the bridge, the man in that old car we passed.  The little man, not brilliant but a good-hearted, plain, ordinary, everyday kind of person.”
Khashdrahr translated.
“Aha,” said the Shah, nodding, “Takaru.
“What did he say?”
Takaru.,” said Khashdrahr.  “Slave.”

“Player Piano”, Kurt Vonnegut

January 26, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
5. Gnu Ordure wrote:

Jim “The Waco Kid”: [consoling Bart afterwards]:

What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”?

You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers ... these are people of the land ... the common clay of the New West…

You know…

... morons.


Blazing Saddles.

January 27, 12:07 am | [comment link]
6. Tired of Hypocrisy wrote:

Friedman’s article is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. But, I’ll start here: The below averageness of the Chinese workforce is precisely the reason they steal jobs from the U.S. Eventually, these workers will begin to think they deserve more, and when that happens, their jobs will be outsourced to a place where people don’t know any better. Friedman is wrong in another important way: If you look at the difference in overall cost between Chinese production and American, you’ll wonder why there’s such a rush to outsource. It won’t last forever. The pendulum has already started to swing back to U.S. production. Friedman’s sensationalist tripe is already behind the times.

January 27, 12:39 am | [comment link]
7. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Before I read the article I made a bet with myself: the ever-liberal Friedman will NOT mention the impact of minimum wage on the devaluation of all levels of labor in this country.  The frantic pace to implement automation or outsourcing is a result in part of the minimum wage where a compensation level is set irregardless of the value of the labor input.  Business owners learn quickly they can’t afford to pay $X for less than $X of labor.  So, they don’t hire the less valuable laborer, they automate, outsource, or figure out how to combine jobs to achieve a labor value equal to or greater than X.  I been there, done that.  Part of the hue and cry against Obamacare is that it will double (triple?) down on this economic absurdity.

I will give Friedman credit though;  at least he didn’t repeat the Whitehouse mantra that ATM’s are to blame for the economic woes of the country

January 27, 10:25 am | [comment link]
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