PROSPERITY by Bob Davis

PROSPERITY

The Coming Twenty-Year Boom and What It Means to You
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The American middle class has remained economically stagnant for the past 25 years, despite endless prophecies during this time that computer technology would bring a new age of productivity and prosperity; the authors, both with the Wall Street Journal, explain why this has been so and why it may soon change. Computers have not, so far, created huge leaps in productivity because that is not the way technology works, say the authors; it is not a “quick fix” (General Motors spent billions of dollars in the 1980s “robotizing” its production, and promptly lost about the same amount of money). Just as it took decades for producers, both managers and workers, to learn how to adapt the new technology of electricity to their work processes in the early part of this century, the same is true with computers today. New technology must still be refined (computers for the most part have been maddeningly and unnecessarily complex), and the creative integration of computers into the processes of producing goods and services has yet to fully occur. It has taken time to realize that computers will not replace people but, more significantly, allow them to do more. The authors carefully analyze signs that computers are finally ready to create a burst of sustained productivity. At the same time, the middle class will share in this productivity as it reeducates itself to use and help refine this new technology on the job. Finally, the forces of economic globalization—dislocating as these forces have been—are now creating in the US a net increase not only in jobs but in better-paying jobs. Davis and Wessel’s arguments are not always new and not always convincing, yet they bring to this work elements often missing from popular writing on the technological future: solid reporting, detailed research, and a regard for historical context. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8129-2819-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998