President Obama is pushing an initiative to create 15 innovation partnership centers across the country, funded, in part, by $1 billion in federal support. Congress never approved the money, but the administration is still moving forward on three sites with previously approved funding. In a recent address, President Obama touted a new manufacturing institute: “Today, I’m here to act,” Obama told students at North Carolina State University, the leading partner behind the new innovation center in the Research Triangle.
The goal, he said, was “to help make Raleigh-Durham and America a magnet for the good high-tech manufacturing jobs that a growing middle class requires and that are going to continue to keep this country on the cutting edge.”
The new innovation center is a public-private partnership consortium involving 18 companies. The focus of the consortium will be on developing semiconductor technology used in energy-efficient products.
The project was selected as part of a competition for federal support that President Obama first announced in his State Of The Union address a year ago. It will receive $70 million over five years from the Department of Energy, a figure that will be matched by at $70 million from businesses, universities and the state.
While on the surface such partnerships merit support, the technology to be created will benefit the wealthy ownership class of corporate America, while providing desired high-tech jobs for a relative few who will directly benefit during the research period necessary to create the new technology and to operate and maintain the technology once applied to the private sector.
There is nothing disturbing about that outcome except for the reality that the resulting technology will become narrowly owned, given the invisible structure of the present-day workings of our economy.
President Obama and his economic advisors are stuck in one-factor LABOR ONLY thinking. Their focus is on JOBS CREATION and particularly high-tech technology jobs–the selling point to muster support for the initiative.
Given the current invisible structure of the economy, except for a relative few, the majority of the population, no matter how well educated, will not be able to find a job that pays sufficient wages or salaries to support a family or prevent a lifestyle, which is gradually being crippled by near poverty or poverty earnings. Thus, education is not the panacea, though it is critical for our future societal development and needs to be vigorously supported and advanced. But there are limits as to how many Americans will directly benefit financially as a result of obtaining high-tech technology jobs.
For the majority of younger, as well as older Americans, it will increasingly be harder and harder to find and secure a well-paying job–for most, their ONLY source of income. Unless we reform the system they will find themselves dependent on taxpayer-supported government welfare, open and or concealed.
President Obama’s intent to bolster the tech sector with skilled workers is a worth-while objective, but what we, as a nation, must realize is that our scientists, engineers, and executive managers who are not owners themselves of the technological assets they create for corporations, except for those in the highest employed positions, are encouraged to work to destroy employment by making the capital “worker” owner more productive. How much employment can be destroyed by substituting machines for people is a measure of their success–always focused on producing at the lowest cost. Only the people who already own productive capital (non-human means of production) are the beneficiaries of their work, as they systematically concentrate more and more capital ownership in their stationary 1 percent ranks. Yet the 1 percent are not the people who do the overwhelming consuming. The result is the consumer populous is not able to get the money to buy the products and services produced as a result of substituting machines for people. And yet you can’t have mass production without mass human consumption. It is the exponential disassociation of production and consumption that is the problem in the United States economy, and the reason that ordinary citizens must gain access to wealth-creating, income-producing productive capital ownership to improve their economic well-being.
If President Obama and his economist advisors viewed the process of production of products and services as consisting of two independent factors–human and non-human–they would realize that the non-human factor–productive capital–is becoming more productive, NOT human labor. They should also realize that most changes in the productive capacity of the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution can be attributed to technological improvements in our capital assets, and a relatively diminishing proportion to human labor. Productive capital does not “enhance” labor productivity (labor’s ability to produce economic goods). In fact, the opposite is true. It makes many forms of labor unnecessary.
Technological change makes tools, machines, structures, and processes ever more productive while leaving human productiveness largely unchanged (our human abilities are limited by physical strength and brain power–and relatively constant). The technology industry is always changing, evolving and innovating. The result is that primary distribution through the free market economy, whose distributive principle is “to each according to his production,” delivers progressively more market-sourced income to capital owners and progressively less to workers who make their contribution through labor.
This is a simple concept that describes the economics of reality, but President Obama and his advisors have yet to show that they grasp its significance, which when understood leads to ONLY ONE possible solution that strengthens our country’s founding principles in private property.
What President Obama and other politicians as well as economists and national media pundits should be advocating is equal opportunity for every citizen to become a capital owner.