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pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing


8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

And dark forces spread in the political arena. We will come to those after considering who is entering the precariat and what is happening to the key assets of the global market society. 3 Who Enters the Precariat? O ne answer is ‘everybody, actually’. Falling into the precariat could happen to most of us, if accidents occurred or a shock wiped out the trappings of security many have come to rely on. That said, we must remember that the precariat does not just comprise victims; some enter the precariat because they do not want the available alternatives, some because it suits their particular circumstances at the time. In short, there are varieties of precariat. Some enter the precariat due to mishaps or failings, some are driven into it, some enter hoping it will be a stepping stone to something else, even if it does not offer a direct route, some choose to be in it instrumentally – including old agers and students simply wishing to obtain a little money or experience – and some combine a precariat activity with something else, as is increasingly common in Japan.

The precariat outside will no doubt welcome the competition. Concluding points The precariat does not consist of people with identical backgrounds and is not made up just of those groups we have highlighted. It makes sense to think there WHO ENTERS THE PRECARIAT? 89 are varieties of precariat, with different degrees of insecurity and attitudes to having a precariat existence. The growth of the global precariat has coincided with four remarkable shifts. Women have been displacing men, to the point where there is talk of ‘mancessions’ and feminisation of labour markets. Men have been dragged into the precariat, while women have been confronted by the prospect of the triple burden. More remarkably, old agers have been marching back into labour markets, subsidised in taking precariat jobs and pushing down wages and opportunities for youths. For their part, youth are faced with status frustration, career-less prospects and subsidised competition from home and abroad.

Printed and bound in Great Britain by the MPG Books Group, Bodmin, Cornwall Cover designer: MP Cover image: Construction Workers at Kings Cross by Colin Gray CC licensed Contents Preface vii List of Abbreviations ix 1 The Precariat 1 2 Why the Precariat Is Growing 26 3 Who Enters the Precariat? 59 4 Migrants: Victims, Villains or Heroes? 90 5 Labour, Work and the Time Squeeze 115 6 A Politics of Inferno 132 7 A Politics of Paradise 155 Bibliography 184 Index 191 v This page intentionally left blank Preface T his book is about a new group in the world, a class-in-the-making. It sets out to answer five questions: What is it? Why should we care about its growth? Why is it growing? Who is entering it? And where is the precariat taking us? That last question is crucial. There is a danger that, unless the precariat is understood, its emergence could lead society towards a politics of inferno. This is not a prediction. It is a disturbing possibility. It will only be avoided if the precariat can become a class-for-itself, with effective agency, and a force for forging a new ‘politics of paradise’, a mildly utopian agenda and strategy to be taken up by politicians and by what is euphemistically called ‘civil society’, including the multitude of non-governmental organisations that too often flirt with becoming quasi-government organisations.


pages: 297 words: 89,206

Social Class in the 21st Century by Mike Savage


call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clapham omnibus, Corn Laws, deindustrialization, deskilling, Downton Abbey, financial independence, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, precariat, psychological pricing, The Spirit Level, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, very high income, winner-take-all economy, young professional

But let us now turn to another very hard-working group, who do not have these economic advantages – the group we have called the ‘precariat’. We now move to a very different world from that of the elite. This is the ‘precariat’ class, who are positioned at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They are a group who have very low amounts of all the kinds of capital which we have analysed, with incomes of only a few thousand pounds a year, little savings and wealth. They also – unlike our ‘ordinary’ wealth-elite – were not attracted to being part of the GBCS. Although around 15 per cent of the population fit into the precariat class, fewer than 1 per cent of the GBCS respondents fitted the precariat profile – and those small number who did do the GBCS were rather atypical, being more likely to be downwardly mobile into this class than born into it. The precariat are the GBCS’s ‘missing people’.

We thus learn that 51 per cent of those in our elite class had parents who were in class 1 (senior managerial and professional) compared to only 11 per cent who had parents who were in the precariat. This is a remarkable difference, with over twelve times as many of the elite coming from the most advantaged backgrounds compared to the precariat. Only 11 per cent of the elite have climbed from the valley floor compared to the majority, who, because of their starting position high up on the mountain, have had to do little or no climbing at all. At the other extreme, the picture is reversed: 65 per cent of the precariat remain where they grew up, on the valley floor (their parents having been in semi-skilled and routine employment). And we can see that only 4 per cent of the precariat come from senior managerial or traditional professional backgrounds: there is not much mobility going from top to bottom of British society either.

This kind of categorization can be put in the context of the long history of stigmatization of the poor, which can be traced back for many centuries, and the nineteenth-century preoccupation with the differentiation of the deserving and undeserving poor which we saw in Chapter 1 (when Charles Booth designated the lowest classes as ‘vicious and semi-criminal’ on his famous map).12 The naming of the poorest has always been problematic, with the danger that defining them at all might stigmatize their inequality and add to the rhetoric about them as a ‘dangerous class’. Given this difficult politics of naming and classification, we think the precariat concept is preferable to that of an underclass because Standing’s term draws direct attention to the way that the vulnerability of these groups is linked to their structural location in society. It also avoids the clichéd stereotypes. The precariat are not passive, culturally disengaged or morally limited. Although the term ‘precariat’ runs the risk of giving an over-rigid definition of this group, it captures the structural instability of a global market, and a group of people at the mercy of that structure. The precariat concept also recognizes that there is mobility into and out of its ranks, because it situates this group within the wider processes of contemporary labour markets rather than fixing on them as being outside employment altogether.


pages: 75 words: 22,220

Occupy by Noam Chomsky


corporate governance, corporate personhood, deindustrialization, Howard Zinn, income inequality, invisible hand, Martin Wolf, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, union organizing

So, for example, Alan Greenspan, at the time when he was still “Saint Alan”—hailed by the economics profession as one of the greatest economists of all time (this was before the crash for which he was substantially responsible)—was testifying to Congress in the Clinton years, and he explained the wonders of the great economy that he was supervising. He said a lot of the success of this economy was based substantially on what he called “growing worker insecurity.” If working people are insecure, if they’re part of what we now call the “precariat,” living precarious existences, they’re not going to make demands, they’re not going to try to get wages, they won’t get benefits. We can kick ’em out if we don’t need ’em. And that’s what’s called a “healthy” economy, technically. And he was very highly praised for this, greatly admired. Well, now the world is indeed splitting into a plutonomy and a precariat—again, in the imagery of the Occupy movement, the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Not literal numbers, but the right picture. Now, the plutonomy is where the action is. Well, it could continue like this. If it does continue like this, the historic reversal that began in the 1970s could become irreversible.

In his classic Wealth of Nations, that’s the only occurrence of the phrase, “invisible hand.” Maybe England would be saved from neoliberal globalization by an “invisible hand.” The other great classical economist, David Ricardo, recognized the same thing and hoped that it wouldn’t happen—kind of a sentimental hope—and it didn’t for a long time. But now it is happening. Over the last thirty years that’s exactly what has been underway. Plutonomy and the Precariat For the general population, the 99 percent in the imagery of the Occupy movement, it’s been pretty harsh. And it could get worse. This could be a period of irreversible decline. For the 1 percent and even less—the one-tenth of the 1 percent—it’s just fine. They are richer than ever, more powerful than ever, controlling the political system, disregarding the public. And if it can continue, as far as they’re concerned, sure, why not?

They said that their plutonomy index was way out-performing the stock market, so people should put money into it. As for the rest, we send ’em adrift. We don’t really care about them. We don’t really need ’em. They have to be around to provide a powerful state, which will protect us and bail us out when we get into trouble, but other than that they essentially have no function. These days they’re sometimes called the “precariat”—people who live a precarious existence at the periphery of society. It’s not the periphery anymore. It’s becoming a very substantial part of the society in the United States, and indeed elsewhere. And this is considered a good thing. So, for example, Alan Greenspan, at the time when he was still “Saint Alan”—hailed by the economics profession as one of the greatest economists of all time (this was before the crash for which he was substantially responsible)—was testifying to Congress in the Clinton years, and he explained the wonders of the great economy that he was supervising.


pages: 82 words: 21,414

The Myth of Meritocracy: Why Working-Class Kids Still Get Working-Class Jobs (Provocations Series) by James Bloodworth


Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, cognitive dissonance, Downton Abbey, gender pay gap, glass ceiling, income inequality, precariat, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%

Yet there is evidence that, as inequality has soared in recent decades, the elite has become more exclusive and un-meritocratic. This perhaps goes some way to explaining the widespread assumption that social mobility is in reverse: we see a good deal of the elite on our television screens and are thus liable to assume that the ‘stickiness’ of their social position reflects a collapse in mobility right across society. Similarly, at the other end of the ladder, the so-called precariat has become even more entrenched. The stereotypical images of Burberry-clad twenty-somethings trapped on benefits have come to denote a country in a parlous state of social stagnation. Relative to other comparable nations, social mobility in Britain is poor. According to the OECD,36 Britain has some of the lowest rates of social mobility in the developed world. In the UK, a person’s earnings are more likely to reflect their father’s than in any other country.

While Oxford and Cambridge graduates comprise just 1 per cent of Britain’s population, according to the aforementioned report they make up 75 per cent of senior judges, 59 per cent of Cabinet ministers, 47 per cent of newspaper columnists and 12 per cent of the Sunday Times Rich List.39 A nationally representative survey of 1,026 people conducted by the market research firm GfK for the BBC found further evidence of a closed shop at the top. Using seven social classes,40 the study found that over twelve times as many of the elite in 2011 came from the most privileged backgrounds compared to those from the precariat. Just 11 per cent of the elite had risen from the lowest social class.41 The Sutton Trust, which has been carrying out surveys of Britain’s professions for over a decade, has talked of the ‘staying power of the privately educated at the top of the UK’s professional hierarchy’. In its 2016 annual report, it found that almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of top military officers were educated privately, while 61 per cent of Britain’s top doctors were educated at independent schools (another 22 per cent attended grammar schools).42 Even the music industry, which once gave expression to working-class authenticity, is increasingly dominated by the children of privilege.

There is only so much room at the top. 37 ‘Kate and Lottie Moss to become Vogue’s first cover sisters’, Charlotte Griffiths, Daily Mail, 21 August 2014. 38 ‘Kate Moss’ little sister made her catwalk debut’, Ella Alexander, Glamour, 10 March 2015. 39 ‘Closed shop at the top in deeply elitist Britain, says study’, Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian, 28 August 2014. 40 The seven categories: elite, established middle class, new affluent workers, technical middle class, traditional working class, emerging service workers, precariat. 41 Social Class in the 21st Century, Professor Mike Savage, op. cit. 42 ‘Leading People 2016’, Sutton Trust, 24 February 2016, 43 ‘Has pop gone posh?’, Tom Bateman,, 28 January 2011. 44 ‘Julie Walters warns of a future where only “posh” can afford to act’, Andrew Hough, Daily Telegraph, 3 September 2012. 45 ‘Class a big issue in arts, says BBC drama boss’, Hannah Furness, Daily Telegraph, 23 August 2014. 46 ‘Conservative MP: How the Queen secured my selection for the party’, Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2012. 47 ‘Exclusive: Cabinet is worth £70 million’, Christopher Hope, Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2012. 48 ‘Leading People 2016’, Sutton Trust, op. cit. 49 ‘Record numbers of female and minority-ethnic MPs in new House of Commons’, Helena Bengtsson, Sally Weale and Libby Brooks, The Guardian, 8 May 2015. 50 ‘The concept of class is absent from political debate, even as inequality in Britain reaches new heights’, Sean Swan, Democratic Audit, 11 February 2016. 51 ‘Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite’, Samuel P.


pages: 258 words: 63,367

Making the Future: The Unipolar Imperial Moment by Noam Chomsky


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, full employment, Howard Zinn, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mikhail Gorbachev, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, precariat, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor

The brochure informed investors that the index has greatly outperformed the market ever since the mid-1980s, when the Reagan-Thatcher regime was settling in. “The world is dividing into two blocs—the plutonomy and the rest,” Citigroup summarized. “The U.S., U.K. and Canada are the key plutonomies—economies powered by the wealthy.” As for the non-rich, they’re sometimes called the precariat—people who live a precarious existence at the periphery of society. The “periphery,” however, has become a substantial proportion of the population in the United States and elsewhere. So we have the plutonomy and the precariat: the 1 percent and the 99 percent, in the imagery of the Occupy movement—not literal numbers, but the right picture. The historic reversal in people’s confidence about the future is a reflection of tendencies that could become irreversible. The Occupy protests are the first major popular reaction that could change the dynamic.

The International Assault on Labor May 2, 2011 In most of the world, May Day is an international workers’ holiday, bound up with the bitter nineteenth-century struggle of American workers for an eight-hour day. The May Day just past leads to somber reflection. A decade ago, a useful word was coined in honor of May Day by radical Italian labor activists: “precarity.” It referred at first to the increasingly precarious existence of working people “at the margins”—women, youth, migrants. Then it expanded to apply to the growing “precariat” of the core labor force, the “precarious proletariat” suffering from the programs of deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation that are part of the assault on labor throughout the world. By that time, even in Europe there was mounting concern about what labor historian Ronaldo Munck, citing Ulrich Beck, calls the “Brazilianization of the West . . . the spread of temporary and insecure employment, discontinuity and loose informality into Western societies that have hitherto been the bastions of full employment.”

The crash left the United States with levels of real unemployment comparable to the Great Depression, and in many ways worse, because under the current policies of the masters those jobs are not coming back, as they did through massive government stimulus during World War II and the following decades of the “golden age” of state capitalism. During the Great Moderation, American workers had become accustomed to a precarious existence. The rise of an American precariat was proudly hailed as a primary factor in the Great Moderation that brought slower economic growth, virtual stagnation of real income for the majority of the population, and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for a tiny sector, mostly the agents of this historical transformation. The high priest of this magnificent economy was Alan Greenspan, described by the business press as “saintly” for his brilliant stewardship.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams


3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

Another, much smaller, set of arguments has been interested in the claim that the surplus population has a secular trend to grow in size. 49.Marx, Capital, Volume I, p. 798. 50.Richard Duboff, ‘Full Employment: The History of a Receding Target’, Politics & Society 7: 1 (1977), pp. 7–8. 51.While NAIRU is debatable as a measure of full employment, the postwar period saw unemployment typically below NAIRU, and the neoliberal period has seen unemployment consistently above NAIRU. Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker, ‘Full Employment: The Recovery’s Missing Ingredient’, Washington Post, 3 November 2014, p. 10; José Nun, ‘The End of Work and the “Marginal Mass” Thesis’, Latin American Perspectives 27: 1 (2000), p. 8; Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011), pp. 46–7; Jeffrey Straussman, ‘The “Reserve Army” of Unemployed Revisited’, Society 14: 3 (1977), p. 42. 52.Economic Projections of Federal Reserve Board Members and Federal Reserve Bank Presidents, December 2014, Federal Reserve Board, 2014, pdf available at, p. 1. 53.Claire Cain Miller, ‘As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up’, New York Times, 15 December 2014. 54.Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Civilian Employment–Population Ratio’, Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, 2014, at; Deepankar Basu, The Reserve Army of Labour in the Postwar US Economy: Some Stock and Flow Estimates, Working Paper (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 2012), p. 7. 55.ILO, Global Employment Trends 2014, p. 17. 56.The job growth rate dropped from 1.7 per cent between 1991 and 2007 to 1.2 per cent between 2007 and 2014.

ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook, p. 16; ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook, p. 29. 57.Ibid., p. 20. 58.Workers in developing economies, of course, have long lived under conditions of precarity. The new concern for precarity is therefore a symptom of the collapse of a model of work peculiar to developed economies in the postwar period. 59.A more thorough exploration of these characteristics can be found in Standing, Precariat, pp. 10–11. 60.Marx, Capital, Volume I, p. 789. 61.Francis Green, Tarek Mostafa, Agnès Parent-Thirion, Greet Vermeylen, Gijs van Houten, Isabella Biletta and Maija Lyly-Yrjanainen, ‘Is Job Quality Becoming More Unequal?’, Industrial & Labor Relations Review 66: 4 (2013), pp. 770–1; Andrew Glyn, Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization, and Welfare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 114. 62.Carrie Gleason and Susan Lambert, Uncertainty by the Hour, pp. 1–3, pdf available at 63.While this aspect of precarity has often been emphasised, irregular work still remains a small portion of the labour market in most advanced capitalist countries.

Gregory Elliot (London: Verso, 2014), p. 67. 126.ILO, ‘Trends’, World Employment and Social Outlook, p. 23. 127.Peter Cappelli, ‘The Path Not Studied: Schools of Dreams More Education Is Not an Economic Elixir’, Issues in Science and Technology, 27 November 2013, at; Stanley Aronowitz, Dawn Esposito, William DiFazio and Margaret Yard, ‘The Post-Work Manifesto’, in Stanley Aronowitz and Jonathan Cutler, eds, Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 48; Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For? (London: Penguin, 2012); Andrew McGettigan, The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education (London: Pluto Press, 2013). 128.Standing, Precariat, p. 45. 129.Notably, even Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers are doubtful that skills training will be able to solve the upcoming problems. Paul Krugman, ‘Sympathy for the Luddites’, New York Times, 13 June 2013; Lawrence Summers, ‘Roundtable: The Future of Jobs’, presented at The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine, Hamilton Project, Washington, DC, 19 February 2015, at 130.Glyn, Capitalism Unleashed, pp. 27–31. 131.Harvey, Companion to Marx’s Capital, Volume 1, pp. 284–5. 132.PMI surveys suggest the annual growth rate has been 2 per cent, which is far below what has been standard for global GDP growth.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen


3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

No matter that much of the business generated at networks like Airbnb is under investigation by US authorities, with many of the fifteen thousand “hosts” in New York not paying tax on their rental income.15 Nor that TaskRabbit’s so-called distributed-workforce model—whose simple goal, according to its CEO, Leah Busque, is to “revolutionize the world’s labor force”16—profits from what Brad Stone calls the “backbreaking” and “soul-draining” nature of low-paying menial labor.17 “This revolutionary work built out of Silicon Valley convenience is not really about technological innovation,” warns the podcaster and writer Sarah Jaffe about the role of labor brokers like TaskRabbit in our increasingly unequal economy. “It’s just the next step in a decades-old trend of fragmenting jobs, isolating workers and driving down wages.”18 And with 7.5 million Americans working in part-time jobs in July 2014 because they didn’t have full-time jobs, Leah Busque’s “revolutionizing” of the world’s workforce is, in truth, a reflection of a new poorly paid class of peer-to-peer project workers, dubbed the “precariat” by the labor economist Guy Standing.19 “With piecemeal gigs easier to obtain than long-term employment,” warns the New York Times’ Natasha Singer, this highly insecure labor model, the dark underbelly of DIY capitalism, is becoming an increasingly important piece of the new networked economy.20 But that’s all beside the point for these self-styled disrupters who, without our permission, are building the distributed capitalist architecture of the early twenty-first century.

Rather than an Internet Bill of Rights, what we really need is an informal Bill of Responsibilities that establishes a new social contract for every member of networked society. Silicon Valley has fetishized the ideals of collaboration and conversation. But where we need real collaboration is in our conversation about the impact of the Internet on society. This is a conversation that affects everyone from digital natives to the precariat to Silicon Valley billionaires. And it’s a conversation in which we all need to take responsibility for our online actions—whether it’s our narcissistic addiction to social media, our anonymous cruelty, or our lack of respect for the intellectual property of creative professionals. The answer lies in the kind of responsible self-regulation laid out in William Powers’s Hamlet’s BlackBerry, his excellent guide for building a good life in the digital age.67 “You have only one identity,” Mark Zuckerberg so memorably trivialized the complexity of the human condition.

Harris, “The Airbnb Economy in New York: Lucrative but Often Unlawful,” New York Times, November 4, 2013. 16 Alexia Tsotsis, “TaskRabbit Gets $13M from Founders Fund and Others to ‘Revolutionize the World’s Labor Force,’” TechCrunch, July 23, 2012. 17 Brad Stone, “My Life as a TaskRabbit,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 13, 2012. 18 Sarah Jaffe, “Silicon Valley’s Gig Economy Is Not the Future of Work—It’s Driving Down Wages,” Guardian, July 23, 2014. 19 Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (Bloomsbury Academic, 2001). 20 Natasha Singer, “In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty,” New York Times, August 16, 2014. 21 George Packer, “Change the World,” New Yorker, May 27, 2013, For my TechCrunchTV interview with Packer about his New Yorker piece, see “Keen On . . . How We Need to Scale Down Our Self-Regard and Grow Up,” TechCrunch, June 19, 2013, 22 For a video of Kalanick’s FailCon speech, see


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason


Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey,, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, wages for housework, women in the workforce

In the developed world, the core-periphery model first envisaged in Japan has become the norm, replacing ‘unskilled vs skilled’ as the most important division within the working class. The core workforce has been able to cling on to stable, permanent employment, with non-wage benefits attached to the job. The periphery must relate either as temporary agency workers, or via a network of contracting firms. But the core is shrunken: seven years into the post-2008 crisis, a permanent contract on a decent wage is an unattainable privilege for many people. Being part of the ‘precariat’ is all too real for up to a quarter of the population. For both groups flexibility has become the key attribute. Among skilled workers, much value is placed on the ability to reinvent yourself, to align yourself with short-term corporate objectives, to be good at forgetting old skills and learning new ones, to be a networker and above all to live the dream of the firm you work for. These qualities, which would have attracted the word ‘scab’ in a Toronto print shop in 1890, are since the 1990s obligatory – if you want to stay in the core.

In the first place, the current global division of labour can only be seen as transitional. The workforce of the global south will achieve higher living standards and at some point capital will react by introducing greater automation and pursuing higher productivity in the emerging markets. This will place the workers of China and Brazil on the same overall trajectory as the rich-world workforce, which is to become service-dominated, split into a skilled core and a precariat, with both layers seeing work partially de-linked from wages. In addition, as the Oxford Martin School suggests, it is the low-skilled service jobs that stand the highest risk of total automation over the next two decades. The global working class is not destined to remain for ever divided into factory drones in China and games designers in the USA. However, the struggle in the workplace is no longer the only, or most important, drama.

Other forms of needs-based welfare – such as family, disability or child payments – would still exist, but would be smaller top-ups to the basic income. Why pay people just to exist? Because we need to radically accelerate technological progress. If as the Oxford Martin School study suggested, 47 per cent of all jobs in an advanced economy will be redundant due to automation, then the result under neoliberalism is going to be an enormously expanded precariat. A basic income paid for out of taxes on the market economy gives people the chance to build positions in the non-market economy. It allows them to volunteer, set up co-ops, edit Wikipedia, learn how to use 3D design software, or just exist. It allows them to space out periods of work; make a late entry or early exit from working life; switch more easily into and out of high-intensity, stressful jobs.


pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby


AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar

The question, of course, is whether the provision of income with no strings attached will create too much disincentive to work for recipients’ own good and the good of society. Proponents of unconditional income believe the impulse to create value is innate in humans, and if anything is channeled into less socially valuable activities then the point must be to gain payment for one’s work. University of London professor Guy Standing, who coined the term “precariat” to describe a working class increasingly stressed by precarious work arrangements, says that, even more important than a redistribution of wealth, guarantees of basic income would constitute a “redistribution of security.” Opponents of the idea are much more inclined to think humans are naturally lazy, and that if given the opportunity to do nothing for their income, will do exactly that. While such critics are legion, we would put, for example, New York Times columnist David Brooks in this camp.

.), 163 Nayar, Vineet, 204 NBA, 116–17 New Division of Labor, The (Levy and Murnane), 27 Newton, Isaac, 165 New York Federal Reserve Bank, 90 New York Stock Exchange, 11–12, 18 Nicita, Camille, 62–63 Nokia, 239 Nordfors, David, 248 Northeastern University, 232 NYU Langone Medical Center, 138 Obama, Barack, 95 Office, The (TV show), 109–10 office workers, 3, 157, 187, 217, 239 Off the Grid News, 110, 111 Oracle, 133 Orellana, Marco, 202 Oremus, Will, 127 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 27 Osindero, Simon, 126 Oxford study, U.S. jobs at risk, 2, 30 Painting Fool, 125 Palmer, Shelly, 234 Parikh, Jay, 206–7, 211 Partners HealthCare, 66 Patil, D. J., 179 Persado, 121 personal shoppers, 111 Pink, Daniel, 169 Plett, Heather, 110–11 Popa, Dan, 123 Port, David, 87 precariat, 241 Predictably Irrational (Ariely), 113 Press, Gil, 191 productivity automation and gains, 1, 3, 167, 227 BYOD and, 13 knowledge workers and, 100 man-machine partnerships and, 234 price reductions and, 14 “silent firing” and, 24 Progressive insurance, 197 “Prose of the Machines, The” (Oremus), 127 ProSystem, 22 “quantified self” movement, 68 Race Against the Machine, 31 RAGE Frameworks, 45, 216–17 Reimsbach-Kounatze, Christian, 236 Rethink Robotics, 50, 182, 193 Rhodin, Mike, 55 Riedl, Mark, 126 Riordan, Staci Jennifer, 160 Rise of the Robots (Ford), 205 Risi, Karin, 210, 220, 223 Ritchie, Graeme, 125 Robinson, Sir Ken, 115 robotic process automation, 48–49, 187, 221, 222–23 robotics, 24, 35, 40, 49–52, 54, 157 anthropomorphizing and, 49 collaborative robots, 49–51, 182, 193 DARPA Robotics Challenge, 51, 56 education for, 232 patience and, 123–24 programming language, 49, 50 self-awareness and, 56 transparency and ease of use, 193 warnings and predictions about, 225–26 Ronanki, Rajeev, 187–89, 220 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 238, 248 Rudin, Cynthia, 193 Rumsfeld, Donald, 214 Russell, Stuart, 227–28 Sachs, Jeffrey, 228 Sadler-Smith, Eugene, 117–18 Safecast, 247 Saffo, Paul, 24 Salovey, Peter, 113, 116 Samasource, 168 Sand, Benjamin, 6 SAP, 133 SAS, 104, 132, 140, 141, 194 Saxena, Manoj, 45 Schneider National, 132, 147–48, 189–90, 196 Short Haul Optimizer, 147, 190, 191 Scientific Music Generator (SMUG), 126 “School of One,” 141 Science: The Endless Frontier (Bush), 248 Scott, David, 67 Scott, Rebecca, 162 Second Machine Age, The (Brynjolfsson and McAfee), 6, 74 self-driving vehicles, 4, 51–52, 213–14, 244, 246 Sharp, Phillip, 209 Shaughnessy, Dan, 117 Shiller, Robert, 7 Simon, Herbert, 163 Singapore, 250 Singularity Is Near, The (Kurzweil), 36 Skype Translator, 56 smartphones, 53, 235, 239 “social license to operate,” 233 Spanish National Research Council, 54–55 Spielberg, Steven, 125 spreadsheets, 69–70 Standing, Guy, 241 Starner, Thad, 65 Stats Inc., 97 Steinberg, Dan, 124–25 Stepping Aside, 77 artisanal jobs, 119–21 augmentation to free people up, 121–24 characteristics of a candidate, 129 for financial planners and brokers, 87 how to build skills for, 129–30 incursion of machines into human attributes, 124–27 in insurance underwriting, 81 jobs with nonprogrammable skills, 109–12 learning “noncognitive” skills, 115–18 multiple intelligences and, 112–14 for teachers, 85 value of human involvement, 127–28 what it means, 108 where a candidate is likely found, 130 Stepping Forward, 77, 176–200 adding new sources of data, 196–97 broadening application of tools, 194–95 broadening the base of methods, 194 characteristics of a candidate, 199–200 consultants, 187–89 creating usability and transparency by business users, 192–94 data scientists, 179–80 embedding automation functions, 196 entrepreneurs, 185–87 examples, successful people, 179–89 for financial planners and brokers, 88 focusing on behavioral finance and economics, 198–99 how to build skills for, 200 in insurance underwriting, 83–84 internal automation leaders, 189–91 jobs, technical and nontechnical, 177–91 marketers, 183–85 number of jobs, 191–92 product managers, 182–83 programmers and IT professionals, 178 reporting and showing results, 195–96 researchers, 181–82 for teachers, 85–86 what it is, 176 where a candidate is likely found, 200 working on the math, 197–98 Stepping In, 77, 131–52 automation technologies and, 134–35 bright future for, 149–51 characteristics of a candidate, 151–52 common attributes of, 145–49 examples, successful people, 132, 134–35, 137–48 for financial planners and brokers, 97 having an aptitude for, 142–45 how to build skills for, 152 in insurance underwriting, 81–82 predecessors of, 132–34 purple people, 131, 133–34, 135, 147, 151 for teachers, 85 value provided by, 138–42 what it is, 131–32 what candidates are and aren’t, 135–38 where a candidate is likely found, 152 working with vendors and, 140–41 Stepping Narrowly, 77, 153–75 achieving mastery and, 162–66 augmentation and, 166–69, 173–74 building on your narrowness, 161–62 characteristics of a candidate, 174 education for, 232 examples, successful people, 153–54, 159–60, 162, 163, 164, 170, 172–73 for financial planners and brokers, 87–88 finding a specialty, 158–61 “hedgehog” thinker and, 171 how to build skills for, 175 individual psychology and, 169–71 in insurance underwriting, 82 “long tail” and, 157, 162 machine-unfriendly economics and, 155–58, 162 in medicine, 157 niche business, 153–54, 171–73 for teachers, 85 where a candidate is likely found, 175 Stepping Up, 76–77, 89–107, 155 automation decisions and, 93–95 big-picture perspective, 98–100 building and ecosystem, 100–102 careful work design for automated business functions, 103–4 characteristics of a candidate, 106 creating a balance between computer-based and human skills, 105–6 examples, successful people, 89–91, 95–98 for financial planners and brokers, 86–87 in financial sector, 92–93 how to build skills for, 106–7 in insurance underwriting, 80 in marketing, 93 staying close, but moving on and, 102–3 for teachers, 84–85 what it is, 91–93 where a candidate is likely found, 107 Stewart, Martha, 111 Summers, Larry, 95, 227 Suncor, 205 Surrogates (film), 125 Sutton, Bob, 170–71 Sweetwood, Adele, 104 taste, augmentation and, 122 TaxCut, 22 tax preparation, 22, 67–68 Tegmark, Max, 243–44, 247 Telefónica’s O2, 49 Teradata, 43 Terminator films, 65 Tesla, 213, 246 Thiel, Peter, 243 Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman), 236 Thinking for a Living (Davenport), 5 This, Herve, 164 Thompson, Derek, 242 Tibco, 194 Time magazine, AI cover and article, 36 TopCoder, 168 Torrence, Travis, 132, 147–48, 189, 190 Tourville, Lisa, 83–84, 137 TurboTax, 22, 67–68 “12 Risks That Threaten Human Civilization” (Armstrong), 249 2001: A Space Odyssey (film), 76, 245 Udacity, 178 UltraTax, 22 UnitedHealthCare, 83 University of California, Berkeley, 51 University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, 115 “Unusual and Highly Specialized Practice Areas” (Bohrer), 159 UPS automated driver routing algorithm (ORION), 196 USAA, 87–88 U.S.


pages: 179 words: 43,441

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab


3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Although the human cloud is in its infancy, there is already substantial anecdotal evidence that it entails silent offshoring (silent because human cloud platforms are not listed and do not have to disclose their data). Is this the beginning of a new and flexible work revolution that will empower any individual who has an internet connection and that will eliminate the shortage of skills? Or will it trigger the onset of an inexorable race to the bottom in a world of unregulated virtual sweatshops? If the result is the latter – a world of the precariat, a social class of workers who move from task to task to make ends meet while suffering a loss of labour rights, bargaining rights and job security – would this create a potent source of social unrest and political instability? Finally, could the development of the human cloud merely accelerate the automation of human jobs? The challenge we face is to come up with new forms of social and employment contracts that suit the changing workforce and the evolving nature of work.


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman


autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

And while it’s still often more efficient to outsource work cheaply to Asia and Africa,29 the moment wages and technologies in those countries start to catch up, robots will win out even there. In the end, outsourcing is just a stepping-stone. Eventually, even the sweatshops in Vietnam and Bangladesh will be automated.30 Robots don’t get sick, don’t take time off, and never complain, but if they wind up forcing masses of people into poorly paid, deadend jobs, well that’s just asking for trouble. The British economist Guy Standing has predicted the emergence of a new, dangerous “precariat” – a surging social class of people in low-wage, temporary jobs and with no political voice. Their frustrations sound eerily like those of William Leadbeater. This English craftsman who was afraid that machines would destroy his country – or, indeed, the entire universe – was a part of such a dangerous class, and of a movement that laid the foundations of capitalism. Meet the Luddites. The Battle of Rawfolds Mill April 11, 1812 – Some 100 to 200 masked men have gathered on a darkened plot of land near Huddersfield, between Manchester and Leeds in England.


The Economic Singularity: Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism by Calum Chace


3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Elon Musk,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lump of labour, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

Many freelancers find that in hindsight, the reassurance of a steady income goes a long way to compensate for the 9 to 5 routine of the salaried employee. Whether or not the new forms of freelancing opened up by Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy and so on are precarious is a matter of debate, especially in their birthplace, San Francisco. Are the people hired out by these organisations “micro-entrepreneurs” or “instaserfs” - members of a new “precariat”, forced to compete against each other on price for low-end work with no benefits? Are they operating in a network economy or an exploitation economy? Is the sharing economy actually a selfish economy? Whichever side of this debate you come down on, the gig economy is a significant development: a survey by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found that as many as 7% of US adults were involved in it.


pages: 823 words: 206,070

The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin


accounting loophole / creative accounting, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, continuous integration, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global value chain, guest worker program, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, oil shock, precariat, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, very high income, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration, zero-coupon bond

From 1991 to 2006, the urban workforce increased by 260 million, 85 percent of that through migration to the cities. An estimated 120 to 150 million workers, accounting for almost two-thirds of the industrial workforce and one-third of the service sector, had no formal status in the cities; they joined newly laid-off SOE workers to swell the ranks of the 270 million Chinese known as “dispatch workers”—the world’s largest “precariat.”102 Notably, the commodification, deregulation, and exploitation of labor power was based, as Ching Kwan Lee has emphasized, on a “remarkable and momentous increase in law-making activity by the central authority and the professionalization of the judiciary . . .”103 Workers were left vulnerable to local administrations competing to attract investment, and to overworked judges closely linked to the same local officials.

In actual expenditures, the US spent close to $700 billion and China $60 billion, and even if China’s official numbers are doubled, as the Pentagon suggests, that still leaves China’s expenditures at only 17 percent of the US’s. Gordon Fairclough, “China Slows Increase in Defense Spending,” Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2010. 101 Ching Kwan Lee, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007, p. 71. 102 In 2004, only 10 percent of the Chinese precariat had medical insurance, less than half were paid regularly, over half were never paid overtime, and two-thirds worked without any weekly day of rest. At the same time, employment in state-owned enterprises peaked in 1995, and over the next decade fell by 48 million (30 million of those being laid off and the rest transferred to TVEs). See Eli Friedman and Ching Kwan Lee, “Remaking the World of Chinese Labour: A 30-Year Retrospective,” British Journal of Industrial Relations 48: 3 (September 2010), pp. 510–16; as well as Fang Cai, Albert Park, and Yaohui Zhao, “The Chinese Labor Market in the Reform Era,” and Loren Brandt, Chang-tai Hsieh, and Xiaodong Zhu, “Growth and Structural Transformation in China,” both in Brandt and Rawski, China’s Great Economic Transformation, Table 6.1, p. 168, and Table 17.1, p. 690, respectively. 103 Ching Kwan Lee, Against the Law, p. 10.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey


accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

Their political presence is more often marked by spontaneous riots and voluntarist uprisings (such as those that occurred in the Paris banlieues in recent times or the piqueteros (demonstrators) who erupted into action in Argentina after the country’s financial collapse of 2001) rather than persistent organisation. But they are fully conscious of their conditions of exploitation and are deeply alienated by their precarious existence and antagonistic to the often brutal policing of their daily lives by state power. Now often referred to as ‘the precariat’ (to emphasise the floating and unstable character of their employment and lifestyles) these workers have always accounted for a large segment of the total labour force. In the advanced capitalist world they have become ever more prominent over the last thirty years because of changing labour relations imposed by neoliberal corporate restructuring and deindustrialisation. It is wrong to ignore the struggles of all these other workers.


pages: 385 words: 111,807

A Pelican Introduction Economics: A User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, post-industrial society, precariat, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working-age population, World Values Survey

HUMPHRIES Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). S. LEE, D. MCCANN AND J. MESSENGER Working Time Around the World: Trends in Working Hours, Laws and Policies in a Global Comparative Perspective (London: Routledge, 2007). K. MARX Capital (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), vol. 1, chapter 15. U. PAGANO Work and Welfare in Economic Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985). G. STANDING The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011). J. TREVITHICK Involuntary Unemployment: Macroeconomics from a Keynesian Point of View (New York and London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). ‘Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.’ RONALD REAGAN ‘The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole.’


Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, corporate governance, corporate personhood, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden,, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, wage slave, WikiLeaks, working-age population

One discusses how Republicans fervently oppose any deal “that involves increased revenues”—a euphemism for taxes on the rich.26 The other is headlined “Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves.”27 This developing picture is aptly described in a brochure for investors produced by Citigroup, the huge bank that is once again feeding at the public trough, as it has done regularly for thirty years in a cycle of risky loans, huge profits, crashes, and bailouts. The bank’s analysts describe a world that is dividing into two blocs, the plutonomy and the rest, creating a global society in which growth is powered by the wealthy few and largely consumed by them. Left out of the gains of the plutonomy are the “non-rich,” the vast majority, now sometimes called the “global precariat,” the workforce living an unstable and increasingly penurious existence. In the United States, they are subject to “growing worker insecurity,” the basis for a healthy economy, as Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan explained to Congress while lauding his own skills in economic management.28 This is the real shift of power in global society. The Citigroup analysts advise investors to focus on the very rich, where the action is.


pages: 320 words: 87,853

The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, bonus culture, Brian Krebs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, don't be evil, Edward Snowden,, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, hiring and firing, housing crisis, informal economy, information retrieval, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, kremlinology, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, mobile money, moral hazard, new economy, Nicholas Carr, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, search engine result page, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steven Levy, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, two-sided market, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, WikiLeaks

Television commercials feature tales of woe about those who let their credit scores slip, and some pitilessly equate low scores with laziness and unreliability.7 The sponsors of these ads profit from the insecurity they both publicize and reinforce. They don’t include in their moralizing the top fi nanciers who walk away unscathed from their own companies’ debts when too-risky bets don’t work out. The importance of credit reputation grows as public assistance shrinks.8 Austerity promotes loans as a lifeline for an insecure precariat. Students who once earned state scholarships are now earning profits for government or private lenders. In our “market state” and “ownership society,” private credit rather than public grant is the key to opportunity. Would-be homeowners, students, and the very poor are forced back on commercial credit to buy places to live, to prepare for careers, or even just to pay the costs of day-to-day living.


pages: 561 words: 167,631

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson


agricultural Revolution, double helix, full employment, hive mind, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Kuiper Belt, late capitalism, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, phenotype, post scarcity, precariat, retrograde motion, stem cell, strong AI, the built environment, the High Line, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent

Back in Chad she had seen clear signs of heavy internal parasite loads. She had seen hunger, disease, premature death. Wasted lives in blasted biomes. Basic needs not met for three billion of the eleven billion on the planet. Three billion was a lot already, but there were also another five or six billion teetering on the brink, about to slide into that same hole, never a day free of worry. The great precariat, wired in enough to know their situation perfectly well. That was life on Earth. Split, fractionated, divided into castes or classes. The wealthiest lived as if they were spacers on sabbatical, mobile and curious, actualizing themselves in all the ways possible, augmenting themselves—genderizing—speciating—dodging death, extending life. Whole countries seemed like that, in fact, but they were small countries—Norway, Finland, Chile, Australia, Scotland, California, Switzerland; on it went for a few score more.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski


Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

In a sense, playing slot machines or attending betting parlors or blackjack or roulette tables is not just the privilege of the idle rich, but rather, a mass version of simulated practice for an ideal life. In the neoliberal era, the state went from trying to quarantine gambling to insinuating it into every hamlet, high street, filling station, and Indian reservation. In the United States, individual states have been falling over one another to promote every form of gambling they might tax. Not only was it lucrative, but it taught the precariat to live suspended in a delirium of lottery fever, the better to be distracted from working life. This elevation of risk as the heightened consciousness of the neoliberal self has direct causal connections to the crisis, as one might expect. This case has been made by Christopher Payne in his Consumer, Credit and Neoliberalism. He explicitly documents how various think tanks in the neoliberal Russian doll took it upon themselves to refute the older “paternalistic” Keynesian identity of the “worker-saver” household and replace him/her with the swashbuckling entrepreneur.