geändert / updated: 17/04/08


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(We 're working; 02-03; p.3)

Structural changes

Since the eighties structural changes took place of which consequences are still in effect today and which still have to be addressed politically. Put in words of the historian E Hobsbawm: "The US steel industry now employed fewer people than McDonald's hamburger restaurants." (Hobsbawm, E.: The age of extremes, London 1994, p.303)
- The quote has been chosen, because it indicates two facts: the global dimension of the changes - the USA as well as other industrialised countries go through this development - and the different time cycles of these developments - the structural change from booming industries to "rust-belts" started in the US already in the 1960s, in the FRG in the 1970s, and in Eastern Central and Eastern Europe after 1991. (Hobsbawm indicates both dimensions, cf. ibid., pp. 302-5.)

With the "chip and data-processing revolution" another dimension came up: the de-valuation of traditional skills of industrial workers and service employees. To quote Hobsbawm once more: "The ideal result was an entirely idiot-proof set of buttons or a keyboard which only required pressing in the right places to activate a self-acting, self-correcting and, so far as possible, decision taking procedure which required no further inputs from the limited and unreliable skills and intelligence of the average human being. Indeed, ideally the procedure could be programmed to do without human intervention entirely, except when something went wrong." (ibid., p. 528)
- An in the literal sense telling example of this are the so called automated telephone-enquiries; if a caller reacts as foreseen by the programmer, he will not get into contact with an employee of the service provider. It also shows that the development pointed out by Hobsbawm is not restricted to the industrial sector but, as far as technically realisable, includes ever growing fields in the service sector.

With it comes that exactly the fordisticly shaped chain of effects cannot be applied any longer. Companies which hold their biggest assets in their machinery or their hall of computers by principle cannot but share the profits made among ever less employees.

A possible way out consists of loosening the influence of income on employment: workers should become share-holders of companies, e.g. in form of shares, pension funds or the like or they should get subsidies by the state in form of "negative income-tax" or DSS payments.
In the first cases, the entrepreneurial risk is turned over to the employees, i.e. not only when spectacular frauds like the Enron case happen, employees will get the fruits of their work depending on markets. In the latter cases, the state has to generate enough revenue to finance payments for social security. (read on here)

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Struktur / sitemap 2003 (i)

Struktur / sitemap 2003 (ii)

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