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Internet is Destroying the Middle Class

Where have all the jobs gone? Computer scientist, and many people say, visionary, Jaron Lanier (he supposedly coined the term "virtual reality" when he helped pioneer the field), has found the culprit: the Internet.

In his new book Who Owns the Future? Jaron explains why the Internet is destroying the middle class by killing jobs, wealth (except for the lucky few) and even - gasp - democracy itself:

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face,” he writes in the book’s prelude: “At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?” [...]

So Kodak has 140,000 really good middle-class employees, and Instagram has 13 employees, period. You have this intense concentration of the formal benefits, and that winner-take-all feeling is not just for the people who are on the computers but also from the people who are using them. So there’s this tiny token number of people who will get by from using YouTube or Kickstarter, and everybody else lives on hope. There’s not a middle-class hump. It’s an all-or-nothing society.

Read more in this interview with Scott Timberg of Salon: Link (Image: My Dream is to cut all ties with civilization but still be on the Internet)

I don't think you can blame the internet any more than you can blame robots, outsourcing, deregulation, consolidation, or other particular thing. They all come together to ensure that we need fewer people to get all the work done. That's the problem that keeps people unemployed.

What we need is an entirely new system that takes excess people out of the workforce without making them poor. One thing we are doing is extending education later into adulthood, but at an enormous cost. We could also have people retire earlier, but we'd have to support them. Or we could have everyone work part time, less than 40 hours a week. The only problem with any of those ideas is that money would have to redistributed so that everyone could have a decent income, even in the times that their labor is not required for the continuation of society.
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I didn't read the whole piece or the book, but Kodak wasn't REMOTELY killed by Instagram.

It killed itself by failing to keep up with digital in any meaningful way.

They also failed to acquire when they were at the height of their powers.

You could just as easily say that Samsung, Nokia, Apple, Sharp, Philippe Kahn, and the inventors and manufacturers of CMOS and CCD killed Kodak.

The Freakonomics guys and Robert Reich are probably better at analyzing this type of thing. -Here's one good example:
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