Withdrawing from the Rat Race Is Going Global

Mere mortals are left in a hopeless situation. In response, they’re withdrawing from the competition en masse. How Your House Works: ... Wing, Charlie Best Price: $11.15 Buy New $14.25 (as of 04:30 UTC - Details)

The world has changed over the past two generations in ways that don’t fit the heavily promoted narratives of “growth” and “progress.” The “growth” and “progress” narratives hold that everything is getting better in every way and every day–next stop, Mars!–but if we consider everyday life, a much different picture emerges.

1. Globalization shifted high-pay work overseas to the benefit of capital, who reaped the profits from global wage arbitrage and to the detriment of workers in developed-nation economies.

The conventional-economic apologists glorified this as a net positive: everyone who lost their jobs to globalization would move up the food chain and get jobs as currency traders, highly paid tech workers, etc.

2. In reality, most were left with lower pay, precarious jobs as developed economies were producing ever larger cohorts of elites–college graduates and increasingly, those with advanced degrees–competing for those highly paid jobs.

Laid-off production-service workers could not compete with the growing army of credentialed elites for the remaining secure, highly paid jobs. Stretching to Stay You... unknown author Buy New $16.64 (as of 04:30 UTC - Details)

3. At the same time, the lower levels of the university-educated elites could no longer compete due to the overproduction of elites described by historian-author Peter Turchin as a key destabilizing dynamic in eras of social disorder. Two generations ago, a PhD was scarce enough to guarantee a secure job in academia, government or industry. Today, even a PhD from an elite university is little more than a ticket to enter the next round of cut-throat competition for the few tenure-track positions available.

4. This competition for the remaining secure, highly paid jobs was intensified by another change: the mass entry of women into the labor force in the 1970s led to the rise of households in which both spouses had well-compensated jobs in the upper reaches of the economy. These households had far more resources to pour into the advancement of their children, and a heightened awareness of the winner-take-all nature of elite competition.

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