Some well-known (and some lesser-known) facts about digitalisation, deindustrialisation and the future of work

Skills and Work

By Stijn Broecke.

blog52-0Today the OECD has released a new working paper by Thor Berger and Carl Frey (famous from his work on theautomatability of jobs) which provides a systematic overview of the literature examining the impact of digitalisation on labour markets. By now, the stylised facts are becoming well-known:

  • Over the course of the 20th century, technological change has increased the demand for skilled workers more than for unskilled workers (i.e. technological change has been skill-biased)
  • In more recent decades, computers and robots have been increasingly used as substitutes for workers performing routine activities (i.e. technological change has been routine-biased)
  • The latter has resulted in a “hollowing out” of the labour market in many countries in terms of jobs involving mid-level skills, combined with an expansion of low-skilled and high-skilled (i.e. job polarisation)
  • While technologies have displaced workers in a wide range of jobs, they have…

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University of Wisconsin – La Crosse: Students Encourages To Submit Their Halloween Costumes For Review For Possible Racist Elements


unknownThe University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse has been much in the news these days and, for some, the news is not good.  The school seems at the heart of a national trend toward hyper-sensitivity and intense scrutiny over the use of free speech.  In one recent inside, a student objected to a Harry Potter mural that was condemned as depicting  “Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.”  Then there is the school’s “Hate Response Team” which has investigated such alleged offensive terms as “All Lives Matter” and “Trump.”  Then last December, the Vice Chancellor apologized for the “fear and angst” caused by a truck that drove through campus with a rebel flag on its grille.  Now the Ethnic and Racial Studies Department of UW LaCrosse have posted signs for the review of Halloween costumes to determine if they are racist.

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bias in social movement research

Earlier this week, we discussed the need to study failed movements, not just the successes. Here, I want to draw attention to the general issue of bias in social movement research. The way I see it is that movement research is shaped by the following biases:

  • Survivor bias: We tend to focus only on movements that succeed in mobilizing.
  • Success bias: We tend to focus only on movements that get what they want.
  • Progressive bias: We tend to focus on movements that come from the left.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, Rory McVeigh is a well known student of right wing populism and Kathleen Blee’s latest book looks at a random sample of Pittsburgh area movements.

But in general, the overall focus of movement scholarship reflects these tendencies. For every Ziad Munson who studies pro-life groups, we have five other scholars studying pro-choice groups. Collectively, movement scholars…

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There’s Nothing Moral about Stop the War

Soft Left Politics

Making the case for war should always be the last resort. An intervention should only be motivated by our duty to save lives.

The world is now interconnected by global social media and corporate media outlets. An atrocity cannot happen that we will not hear about.

The question is do we just stand by and allow it to happen?

For many on the left, post-Iraq War foreign policy is one afraid to answer that question. Humanitarian intervention, even in the case of human atrocity, is ‘bad’ because any Western intervention creates only more chaos and instability.

The solution must merely be a political one, longer and driven by discussion.

Yes, we must search political solutions where they exist. But the left have forged a supposedly leftist position in which one is ‘anti-war’ to the extent of apologising for fascists, tyrants and terrorists – and ideologically opposing any intervention, even when…

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Conflict Urban Dictionary: Nadering

Creativeconflictwisdom's Blog

Nader (origin: US Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader 2000 election)
1.Verb Transitive: a.To Nader(an election): to divide the progressive forces and thereby ensure the election of a catastrophically awful candidate, who stands for the polar opposite of what you support.b. Voting to achieve this result. c. To set the pre-conditions for a disastrous war, the opposite of what you wanted.
2. Verb Intransitive: To Nader: to take an egotistical pseudo-principled kamikaze stand that furthers everything you hate and then deny that is what you did, blaming everyone else.                                                                                                                                                           3. Noun: A Nader a. a person who Naders b. the downward path followed by the supporters of a Nader aka the road to hell that is lined with good intentions.
See also: Nader Blind Spot: an ignorance of history thereby guaranteeing its repetition though this time as farce. (Karl Marx refers)


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Milton Friedman is said to have mesmerised several countries with a flying visit!?

Milton Friedman visited Australia in 1975. He spoke with government officials and appeared on the  TV show  Monday Conference. Apparently, that was enough for him to take over Australian monetary policy setting for the foreseeable future.


When working at the next desk to the monetary policy section in the late 1980s, I heard not a word of Friedman’s Svengali influence:

  • The market determined interest rates, not the reserve bank was the mantra for several years. Joan Robinson would be proud that her 1975 visit was still holding the reins.
  • Monetary policy was targeting the current account. Read Edwards’ bio of Keating and his extracts from very Keynesian treasury briefings to Keating signed by David Morgan that reminded me of macro101.

See Ed Nelson’s (2005) Monetary Policy Neglect and the Great Inflation in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand who used contemporary news reports from 1970 to the early 1990s to uncover what was and was not ruling monetary policy. For example:

“As late as 1990, the governor of the Reserve Bank rejected central-bank inflation targeting as infeasible in Australia, and cited the need for other tools such as wages policy (AFR, October 18, 1990).”

Bernie Fraser was still sufficiently deprogrammed in 1993 to say that “…I am rather wary of inflation targets.” Easy to then announce one in the same speech when inflation was already 2-3%.


When as a commentator on a Treasury seminar paper in 1986, Peter Boxhall – fresh from the US and 1970s Chicago educated – suggested using monetary policy to reduce the inflation rate quickly to zero, David Morgan and Chris Higgins almost fell off their chairs. They had never heard of such radical ideas.

In their breathless protestations, neither were sufficiently in-tune with their Keynesian educations to remember the role of sticky wages or even the need for the monetary growth reductions to be gradual and, more importantly, credible as per Milton Freidman and as per Tom Sargent’s End of 4 big and two moderate inflations papers.

I was far too junior to point to this gap in their analytical memories about the role of sticky wages, and I was having far too much fun watching the intellectual cream of the Treasury senior management in full flight. At a much later meeting, another high flying deputy secretary was mystified as to why 18% mortgage rates were not reining in the current account in 1989.

Friedman’s Svengali influence did not extend to brainwashing in the monetarist creed that the lags on monetary policy were long and variable. The 1988 or 1989 budget papers put the lag on monetary policy at 1 year, which is short and rapier, if you ask me.

Earth’s obliquity and temperature over the last 20,000 years

Watts Up With That?

Recently, there was a timeline comic from XKCD about the history of Earth’s temperature over the Holocene which got quite a bit of play, due to the fact that it had the inevitable “hockey stick” splice onto the end. Josh came up with a much less dogmatic and more detailed version, which we covered here.

That led Javier, who is a PhD level scientist in molecular biology and biochemistry who recently published an essay at Dr. Judith Curry’s website here, to come up with a similar but even more technical cartoon. We may have more on his essay later, but for right now I present his excellent timeline cartoon, that includes Earth’s obliquity and temperature over the last 20,000 years. Changes in Earth’s obliquity and thus solar insolation angles is believed to be the main driver of long term climate change, initiating and ending ice ages. As seen in the diagram below…

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Citizen Tom

In the foreword of 1956 American edition of The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek, Hayek discussed the terms “Liberal” and “Conservative.”

The fact that this book was originally written with only the British public in mind does not appear to have seriously affected its intelligibility for the American reader. But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term “liberal” in the original, nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that “liberal” has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty…

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The Joy of Small Majorities: Labour & 1974, & the end of Consensus

RGS History

_80175979_wilsonIn the 20th century, the two governments with the smallest winning majorities were Labour. The election of February 1974 was, in effect, a draw. Both major parties saw their share of the popular vote fall, and the Tories were some 200,000 votes ahead of Labour. However, with 301 seats to 296, Labour were the largest party in the Commons. Heath tried to broker a deal but, wisely one might feel, neither the Liberals under Jeremy Thorpe, nor the now separate Ulster Unionists, would not play ball.

Harold Wilson thus formed a minority government. Wilson had won a tiny majority in 1964, as explained here; in 1966, he went to the country and won a handsome victory. In October 1974, he tried the same trick. In some ways it was a result very similar to Cameron’s. Labour had a majority of 3, and polled 3Wilson_1974electionaddress2_CPA9% of the popular vote…

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The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion: Jon Haidt: Top Ten Conflict Tips

Creativeconflictwisdom's Blog

Long ago and far away, my then girlfriend very conservative Sally said one day to a very radical me: ‘You know there are just as many assholes on my side in politics as on yours. And she named some examples on our politically divided, unruly university campus. And just as many good people, like you, on your side as on mine and she named them.’ I have never lost sight of that insight.

Moreover, a few years back, Sally, who is still a good friend, was being sounded out to be a British Conservative MP, and asked if I would be her agent. I said: ‘One small problem, I am not a Conservative’. ‘That’s exactly why I want you as my agent, and you have strong morals that are far more important to me for that role.‘ She wisely in my view decided to stay…

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