THE WORK REVOLUTION by Gaff Garfield & William Neikirk Schwartz


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The same few, debatable contentions iterated over and over--with a few personal and public solutions not worth the time to get to them. Economic consultant Schwartz and economics reporter Neikirk believe that a resurgent economy alone won't produce sufficient jobs--on account of technological displacement of workers (the #1 point), plus foreign competition, illegal immigration, ""the steady march of American women into the workforce,"" the need of the elderly to go on working. Much of the book is given over to arguing these stale points--tritely, sluggishly, clumsily. (""Restructuring of the Bell System may have a hastening effect on attrition of personnel."") As a scare story, it's disturbingly shaky as regards illegal immigration--doubly erroneous, for instance, in maintaining that ""every Mexican or Vietnamese who works in that [Chicago] plant is taking a job from an American."" Not only is there solid evidence that ""Americans"" don't want those jobs (see John Crewdson's recent The Tarnished Door), but the Vietnamese are not illegals. In any case, Schwartz and Neikirk don't see how (practically or in principle) we can close our borders: they just want to build up the unemployment problem--or, as they sometimes construe it, the two-level employment problem (smart and dumb jobs). ""The solution is more jobs and more leisure, which will come about only with an enlarged public sector and shorter working hours."" These are the points that occupy the remainder of the book--along with the deficiencies of American education and everybody's need for computer skills (and ""synergistic"" area-expertise). Plus--importantly: undefined tax reform to prop-up displaced workers. (""It is crucial that the income derived from productivity increases be taxed and distributed back to the people who helped pay for the productivity, and who, as a result of it, don't have jobs."") Whether any of this is a good idea or not, the whole doesn't hang together. And as regards both unemployment or re-employment, on the individual or national level, there are numerous books with more substance and usefulness.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Rawson/Scribners