14 January 2011

Buggy Whips

My title refers to something you may or may not have heard before...
As the popularity of the automobile made numbers of horse-drawn carriages dwindle, one of the industries that suffered was those making buggy whips...
There was just no need for them any longer... the world had changed.
Folks making buggy whips had to find new jobs.

In the mid 1980's an acquaintance lost his job as a butcher in a small grocery. For weeks he tried to find employment to no avail. Finally he and his wife decided to take a risk...
They pooled all their savings, rented a vacant store near a busy intersection, bought a ton of movies on VCR tape, and opened a store renting movies.
It was an almost immediate success.
They worked together, both putting in more than 70 hours a week, paying themselves modest salaries, putting most of their profits into new movie releases.
Business increased to the point they bought the space next to their store and expanded their inventory. For five years their numbers increased and they did very well, but both were still putting in very long hours to insure the store's success.

Then the construction across the street started.
The sign out front said "Future location of 'Blockbuster Video'".
They struggled against the competition for a year but would have been better off financially if they had closed their shop the moment Blockbuster opened.

Buggy whips.
Lots of folks out there are in that situation now...
Their skills no longer apply in the world of today.
They can either accept that fact and get an education toward new employment opportunities, or they can sit at home and collect unemployment for two years, then try to learn a new trade when they're two years older.

Econ. 101, Soc. 101, Psy. 101...
Tell me again...
What are we REALLY rewarding these days?


Bob Barbanes said...

...And soon the Blockbuster Video will be a thing of the past. With Netflix and that thing that rents movies but looks like a Coke machine in Walmart, does anybody actually go out and *rent* movies anymore?

Vinyl records gave way to cassette tapes which gave way to CD's which inevitably will give way to downloaded digital music.

Henry Ford probably put a lot of saddle makers and blacksmiths out of business too. Times change.

Old NFO said...

And 'progress' just continues to leave more and more behind... or clinging to their union jobs and praying they can retire and collect their big pensions. It's the little folks that end up out of business/work when the big boys come in. My cousin is now on his THIRD career, having had to change twice due to technology. BUT, he gets it, and does what is necessary. OBTW, he's never drawn a day of un-employment...

Brighid said...

Tis ever so, change or

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

WHAT are we rewarding?

Very easy: sloth, esteem, inflated egos, living in mom & dad's basement; T-ball; not keeping scores in sports; insisting that a GOOD team NOT run up the points on a bad team. You know: the important stuff.

We reward the parasites because, after all, the hosts can afford it, can't they? That's WHY they're HOSTS.


Unfortounately Anonymous said...

I work in the field of Entertainment Lighting Design and we are seeing a similar trend right now. Conventional lights are being phased out and LEDs are coming more and more into play. The rules of lighting are changing completely as this is happening, and those who cannot keep up with the changes have no choice but to leave.
As I am typing this, I am teaching myself circuit design, video effects and editing, animation, and three programming languages, just to keep up with changes in technology in the field. From what I have seen in the last five years, most of what I am learning will be obsolete in a decade.
My class laughed when my professor told us that we would have to teach ourselves enough to earn the equivalent of a bachelor's degree every four years for the rest of our careers, just to keep up, and more than that if we really wanted to get ahead. None of us are laughing now.

the golden horse said...

Sometimes I wonder if progress is the correct word.

wksaz said...

Back in 1994 or so I had numerous discussions with my co-worker friend re: the internet and IT boom and wondered what would happen to all of the "work" we were profiting from saving? It seemed every new gadget or operating system would increase efficiency by X percent....so what would we all be doing when the "DREAM" came true? He didn't have an answer.

I would inquire about all of the manufacturing jobs, the construction and the like that could not be done by software or computers and his answer was that those wouldn't matter.... It seems while they cannot be done by machine they can be completed very well by 1 billion Chinese that are aided by intelligent manufacturing and just plain hard work. You know, the kind that your average Americano doesn't want. Hot, sweaty, bloody dangerous kind of work.

If the US Govt. was not so f*****g $$$ blind they could have encouraged the same types of capital investments much earlier maybe 20 years ago like the Chinese and we would probably now be the creditor with 3% voluntary unemployment but noooooo. The commies have beat us at our own game.

Capitalism is a dish best served cold. No or limited welfare, no Medicaid, no Social Security, you don't produce or plan ahead, you suffer or die. The parallels to actual communism are striking, only we have a choice as to how far we want to achieve.

I wonder what's next? Remote Autonomous Control EMS pilots anyone??? No thanks, GB, come and get me please, weather permitting of course.

Sorry so long...

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

You and Unfortunately Anonymous make an overall excellent point, but I'll go you one further:

What is technology and the rampant, never-ending techno-change doing to our brains, our abilities to be human, our jobs, our social structure, our personal interactivities, our very souls?

Rate of burnout, rate of ability to cope, geometric rate of knowledge sphere, rate of elimination of us to cope with the basics? There can be no generalists anymore, only specialists within specialists.

Where will this lead?

Toffler, it turns out, was spot-on even back in the 70s. And this will create rifts in society that can never be repaired.