Thomas Friedman’s It’s a 401(k) World – facile, misleading
May Day 2013 brought a piece in the NY Times by Thomas Friedman, “It’s a 401(k) World” that points out the enormous changes in employment, technology, personal access to information and personal responsibility for larger swaths of life. Work changed from a steady job as a regular feature of life to a series of part-time or short term engagements with corporations who view labor as a throw away element.
Reading this op ed leaves one with the notion that these changes have arisen through some immutable forces of nature.
He fails to mention that in parallel with the individual being more and more alone in the world, big corporations and governments are becoming ever more well integrated, feeding at each others’ troughs.
For example, corporate tax contributions as a share of total taxes at Federal and State levels are as low as before the 1930s . In parallel the burden on individuals to support government has grown proportionally. With the help of changes in government policy, union protection of workers has steadily declined for decades, not just here but more generally. Globalization of the world economy has certainly been driven in part by new technologies (containerized shipping and the Web being key examples) but these technologies needed to be accompanied by the trade policies of government and finance to enable the worldwide integration of corporate power.
Within the US employment market one phenomenon is particularly noteworthy, that is the flagrant violation of rules concerning who is an employee and who is contract (1099) labor. The IRS has an exte
We are in an environment in which the domination by corporations in combination with government of all aspects of daily life is surging. Thus, the tiny reactions of local food, local economies, and local culture in the midst of this dominion.
Friedman regularly drives me to diatribes. He is so intellectually lazy.