Robert J. Gordon

About Robert J.

TED Conference

TED2013

Comments & conversations

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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
When I ask "Is US Growth Over?" I deliberately do not ask this question for other nations. Emerging markets are gowing fast by adopting the technologies invented in the advanced nations over the past century. If we limit the comparison of the US to Canada, Europe, and Japan, then we find ourselves somewhere in the middle and need to ask ourselves what we can learn from other countries. It is amazing how seldom in the Ameircan political debate we ever look carefully at other countries. Some European countries are in much worse shape than we are -- the southern European countries from Portugal over to Greece. Others like France are headed in the same direction. But we can learn from Canada and the Nordic countries. First, we need to broaden our tax base so that we can afford more generous college scholarships and early-childhood remedial education. We need to encourage charter and magnet schools and weaken the stranglehold of some teachers unions on educational innovation. But there's something else that we don't talk about, and this is the cultural attitude toward education among many children of Asian immigrants vs. native Americans. We need fewer soccer moms and more math moms. Stuyvesant HS in NYC has only one admission criterion, test scores, and its entering class was something like 25 blacks and hispanics, maybe 150-200 whites, and 680 Asians. That's an achievement of the parents and their attitude toward education
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
The disappearance of middle-skilled jobs includes both assembly line workers in manufacturing and office staff, e.g., receptionists and administrative assistants, who have been replaced both by technology and fanatical corporate cost cutting (note: no cost cutting on CEO salaries!) The assembly line workers have been partly replaced by globalization and outsourcing, and only partly by robots and other types of mechanization. In the future we will see a hollowing out at the middle and increased demand for labor both at the bottom and at the top. As for the total amount of employment relative to the total number seeking employment, that requires sufficient aggregate demand. Since moentary policy is trapped at the zero interest rate "lower bound" and fiscal policy is impotent due to the high and growing debt-GDP ratio, we may have no alternative but to wait around until consumer demand, including for housing, gradually picks up.
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
Heckman has shown that the problem is not that we don't spend enough resources on education. Reducing class sizes has no effect. The problem is that educational resources are not distributed evenly. In an ideal world we would get rid of property taxation as the basis for educational finance, since that gives an advantage to communities with wealthy residents. We should have education funded by a nationwide value-added tax. The problem with our military, besides the needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the endless buckets of cash poured into ridiculous projects like the F-35 fighter which has no known enemy to justify its cost. We built the B-17 in WWII for $250,000 per plane! Finally, what's wrong with cheap energy? Are you in favor of expensive energy?
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
There's inequality at the top and at the bottom. At the top we need to go further in asking why top executives are paid so much and whether our finance industry that pays so much to so few is actually making a positive contribution to the economy. At the bottom we need to deal with educational failure in college by finding ways to control the cost disease of higher education, and we need income contingent loans where people who are unemployed or go into worthy low-paying occupations like school teaching do not have to repay their full loan. Nothing is more important than early childhood intervention to make up for the cultural failure of poverty parents (usually a single mom) to have books in the house and to read to the children.
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
This relates to another question. Yes, today's generation is very tech literate, and 10-year-olds know more about operating ipads and iphones than do their grandparents. But that doesn't mean that many tech-savvy young people have the skills to obtain high-skilled jobs in high-tech industries. Our college completion rate is 41 percent compared to Canada's 56 percent, our community colleges are remediation factories for the failure of many students to pay enough attention in HS to get basic skills. Plenty of high-school dropouts have iphones or Androids.
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
The most important contribution to raising America's reputation in the world would be to fix gridlock in Washington. Even though our Constitution is a Great and Wonderful Thing that has served us for 220+ years, it is creaking and groaning now. We have had many occasions in the past with a President in one party and at least one house of Congress in the other, but never before such polarization. America's reputation will only improve when Grover Norquist and the Tea Party stop threatening primary opposition to modern Congressmen and when members of Congress start paying more attention to what the public supports and less to what the NRA support.
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
You have to distinguish between "socialism" and the capitalist welfare state as exemplified by Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. Socialism involves government ownership of the means of production and was practiced by the postwar UK Labour government which nationalized Steel, Transport, etc. It was Thatcher's achievrement to reverse all that, and Britain went from being a laggard to one of Europe's most dynamic economies. Yes, we need more of a welfare state, particularly to prepare children in poverty to compete in our educational system. Now they are dropping out of highschool and condemning themselves to lives of manual labor and unemployment
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
The number of assembly line workers has steadily decreased since 1950 and the number of computer programmers and designers has steadily increased. The route from low-skilled manual jobs to higher-paying non-routine cognitive jobs lies through education and training (e.g., German-type apprenticeship system). In my talk I looked only at the tip of the iceberg about what's wrong with the US educational system.
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Robert J. Gordon
Posted over 1 year ago
Is America past its prime? DISCUSS WITH Robert Gordon and Erik Brynjolfsson in a LIVE DEBATE, Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
Wealtth, income, and well-being for the bottom 99% are different concepts. The best way to build wealth is to save, and most people aren't saving enough for their retirement. People also fail to follow basic investment advice. When the marked tanks as in 2008-09, they panic and sell out. Now suddenly with the S&P near 1600, they say, gosh, is it too late to get back in? They should sell high and buy low, but they tend to do the reverse.