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Unemployment, and the Return of "Averageness"

One sometimes wonders when the mass layoffs, and the consequent unemployment will end. The cure appears to be around the corner, as it was in the 1930s, the most nearly comparable period in American history. It is found in the rearing of another "civic" generation, the so-called Millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, and the cure will occur when the last batch is ready to enter the workforce, around 2020, or shortly thereafter. This is what is taught by the experience of the World War II generation, the most nearly comparable generation in American history.

The mass mechanization, of computers and computer-based products such as cell phones and ipods, have created a generation of workers relatively equal in productivity. One text messager is as good as another. A similar thing happened to the World War II generation with the mass production techniques developed in the 1920s and 1930s. In such a world, the key to growth was to hire as MANY such peopla as possible, not the fewest number.

Mechanization (and social institutions) are geared to workers of AVERAGE productivity. With the Boomers (and to a lesser extent, Generation X), there was an unusually  dispersion of productivity among indivuals. Hence it made sense for organizations to undertake r"e-engineerings," which at their heart were geared toward getting rid of people that had no better than average producitivity. The smarter, or rather sharper CEO types also used this differential productivity to justify higher salaries for themselves, relative to other workers, than CEOs of other generations.

The cure for rising unemployment is around the corner. It consists of a return of "averageness" in American society, that will lessen the rewards for hiring one worker over another.