Professor Postel on the Future of Work, Coming Political Storms

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Photo of Charles Postel in front of a world map

PACIFIC STANDARD -- Charles Postel is the author of The Populist Vision, which won the Bancroft Prize, and he teaches history at San Francisco State University. He contributes an opinion piece on the future of work in the U.S. and the accompanying political implications.

“The nature of work, we are told, is being transformed by technology,” Postel writes. “As the authors of the Second Machine Age explain: ‘[T]here’s never been a worse time to be a worker with only 'ordinary' skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate.’

“It is, truly, ‘a worse time’ to be a worker. Over the last 30 years, American workers have suffered declining wages, longer workweeks, eroding benefits, and intense insecurity. But technology only explains so much. Government policy and corporate strategy explain much more.”