How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

Full piece here.

We’ve got holes where the jobs are and will be, holes where the people looking for jobs and passing through our education system can’t/aren’t able to fill some of the new jobs being created, and automation is going to make fewer manufacturing jobs in many fields, pound for pound.

Greene on the new business in an old manufacturing town:  Rochester, New York.

‘That said, this picture is far from perfect. You look at this factory: making incredible things with machines both old and new, but there’s almost no one here. The factory has more than 16,000 square feet, but only 80 people work here.’

Imagine some process with which you involve yourself daily:  Driving, for example.  Right now teams and teams of people are designing the hardware and software to automate that process, and some will make a healthy dollar doing so. Think about how important your mobile device has likely and/or could become in your life.

Now, imagine our founding fathers getting around:  Bumping over rough, dangerous roads over a period of many days, weeks and months, hearing of important news through the grapevine and horseback.

Activities in our lives which already consume much time, sweat and labor, or with which we often engage mindlessly/habitually etc. will continue to be made easier or simply done for us by new technology. That rate of change is pretty high at the moment.

New jobs are gong to come out of that process, but not always where and how many we think.


As to NPR and keeping the activists from putting techno- and bureaucrats in charge: NPR has great production values, but their particular ideological preferences lead to less overall wealth and dynamism in the economy; an over-promising, under-delivering American government, or some Americanized version of European-style Statism sold as ‘private/public partnerships’ coming with lots of bloat, byzantine laws and bad incentives.

We can do better than that.

Warmed-over 60’s activism and Left-liberal populism often drives the car, and those along for the ride can be blind to how local politics actually functions, especially in our cities, and to many abuses of power and corruption that go hand-in-hand with politics across the political spectrum.

Often, I suspect that many NPR listeners are there for the culture, the quality of reporting, and the lack of advertisements.  Many listeners probably don’t pay particular attention to the deeper way in which events are being interpreted for them; the possible contradictions between their commitments and the activist, ideological base which often drives the next issue for debate.

Instead, there’s a lot of literature and poetry, an exposition of secular humanism and a rather modern liberal worldview, softly material, usually pushing environmentalist, feminist, and multicultural causes.


Larry Summers via the Democracy Journal has an easily-accessible review of Piketty’s ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century‘, called ‘The Inequality Puzzle.’

Among other interesting thoughts, there’s this.  Globalization is at play, as well:

‘…there is the basic truth that technology and globalization give greater scope to those with extraordinary entrepreneurial ability, luck, or managerial skill. Think about the contrast between George Eastman, who pioneered fundamental innovations in photography, and Steve Jobs. Jobs had an immediate global market, and the immediate capacity to implement his innovations at very low cost, so he was able to capture a far larger share of their value than Eastman. Correspondingly, while Eastman’s innovations and their dissemination through the Eastman Kodak Co. provided a foundation for a prosperous middle class in Rochester for generations, no comparable impact has been created by Jobs’s innovations’

Eastman Kodak is going through Chapter 11, as those Kodak innovations have been surpassed as well (I remember family gatherings around the slide projector, holding strays up to the light).


The idea of Singapore is bandied about in the piece.

David Brooks-style NPR house conservative praise for authoritarian Singapore is at least a step in the right direction:  At least it isn’t Mao nostalgia but it’s still…pretty top-down and authoritarian.

You won’t buy or sell gum in Singapore, damn it.  And you’ll only chew it under doctor’s orders.

David Brooks got in on that action:

‘In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own’

Let’s be a little more autocratic, America, at least at the national level.  It’s just so we can compete and plan for the future.  Someone’s got to take hold of the meritocracy.

Get on board!:

‘The answer is to use Lee Kuan Yew means to achieve Jeffersonian ends — to become less democratic at the national level in order to become more democratic at the local level. At the national level, American politics has become neurotically democratic.’

That’s the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

We need to restrict freedoms in order to get more freedoms, you see.

We are getting a good look at the kinds of people NPRites are putting in power, and it ain’t pretty.

We can do better than that.

5 thoughts on “How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

  1. Chris, this thought of mine needs some development as I just heard the idea yesterday. In short, the goal of the environmental activists is not preventing climate change. That is incidental to their real goal of returning the world to it’s pre industrialized state. Regulation of CO2 is the means because by limiting access to energy industrialization can be halted and ultimately reversed. This came up in the context of the EPA power plant rules which call for a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This goal is impossible to meet when resistance to nuclear power and growth in demand is considered. Before you say this is nuts look at how well it meshes with folks who advocate back yard gardens, oppose GMO’s or even income inequality. Their path to income equality is destruction of opportunity and wealth along with confiscatory redistribution.

    • Ron,

      Not nuts at all, I don’t think. You can’t say it in polite society, but seriously, there are a lot of Reds who’ve gone green. Many didn’t have anywhere else to go.

      The broader platform for the movement is a mix of these true ideologues naturally wishing to attach themselves to climate science (ultimately, though, their ideology claims to be able to replace the sciences, because they follow a failed theory of history, supposedly predicting what will happen in the future) plus a lot of people who are less ideological, vaguely anti-capitalist, anti- industrial, Romantically primitive (Romantic poets like Wordsworth).

      On top of that, there are a lot of well-meaning people and a lot of public sentiment accepting this prediction of the future as legitimate: education, politics etc. This is apart from genuine science.

      In other words, part of what we’re seeing is a desire to reconstitute moral and ethical principles within the ideology through environmentalism, hence the desire to live on a hippie commune, or an equally miserable tribal group somewhere with windmills and locally sourced food, in ‘harmony’with nature.

      After a certain point, the modern becomes anti-modern, the humanists anti-humanists, the pro-technology folks anti-technology and Luddite radicals.

      In he meantime, such folks don’t have much use or built in understanding for capital markets and private property.

      • Reds have gone green is so vividly descriptive. If the EPA plan survives court challenges, Texas is destined to have a massive shortage of electric power. Houston nearly had rolling blackouts last February because of coal plant retirements.

  2. Ron,

    Sorry to hear about this, and I’m sensitive to the plight of all the people who will suffer at the hands of these activists in the meantime, as they price poorer people out of the market, to be subsidized with your money run through ‘their’ coalitions running the gov’t according to their predictions and ideals.

    The poor always get it first, but later on everyone gets it, even the ‘1%’ who went along to get along should these ideas be followed to their conclusioons.

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