Jobs

| 1 Comment

I've been thinking about a comment this blog got from about gentrification:

I think we can resolve the apparent contradiction ("damned if it gentrifies; damned if it doesn't") by looking at the post 70's history of DC, and black economic mobility. For about three decades, the focus was on "jobs creation". This took the form of DC government creating as many government make-work jobs as it could (at the cost of fiscal collapse), and putting poor residents into those jobs. This lifted tens of thousands of DC residents--and their families--out of poverty and into the middle-class. They largely moved to the suburbs once they had the means.

Suburbs, probably PG Co., also known as Ward 9.

With gentrification, you've seen a switch in focus away from maximizing public employment to optimizing government services. (Number of public employees went from 30k to 12k between its height during the Barry years and nadir under Fenty)........

Efficiency, probably made the jobs that the city might tried to create to lift some of its citizens out of poverty, unneeded and unwanted. Considering government budgets and bond problems, I don't see a change in the trend. The trend is to do more with fewer people, not just in government, but in business, everywhere.

When I look at period dramas like Mad Men, Life on Mars (British) and Downton Abbey, I see jobs that will be swept away by techology and trends. The chambermaid who wakes up early to light the fires in the great house will be replaced by a good HVAC system with timers and automatic temperature settings. The Afro-American elevator operator will be unneeded as people discover they can press their own buttons. The textile factory workers will all be let go as consumers favor cheaper fabrics from overseas. And personally I wish offices and agencies still had a Joan, keeping the paperwork and the office in order. Oh, and have you noticed the complete lack of a secretarial pool in your office?

In the book Shopcraft as Soulcraft, author Matthew Crawford, makes note of how jobs have been dumbed down, starting with blue collar work and slowly creeping into white collar professions. As the jobs start making specialized knowledge and skills unnecessary, it makes the number of skilled workers, expensive workers unnecessary. So if you need fewer college educated workers, you might not need an army of minimally educated DC citizens either.

So the government, and efficient government, isn't going to hire an army of lower income DC citizens, provide them with jobs, employer sponsored health care and a sense of worth. It's just easier to maintain a paternal system of handouts. Besides if you provided jobs they'd just wind up moving out of the city anyway, which does nothing to hold back gentrification.

1 Comment

What ordinary people once made, they buy: and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves replacing an entire system because some minute component has failed.

Leave a comment