The Derb Abides

The clock has struck midnight.  My month’s vacation has turned into a pumpkin.  Ah well.

It was quite productive.  I put gutters and drainpipes on my garage, cleaned up my basement, read Nicholas Nickleby and Tito Perdue’s The Node, and toured Alaska with wife and daughter.  Tried my best to stay off the computer and  ignore the news, but there were one or two brief lapses.

Regarding the Alaska trip, I hope the editors won’t mind if I use the site to express deep gratitude to the Juneau Mountain Rescue squad for their cheerful efficiency in helping my daughter find her way down from the upper slopes of Mount Roberts last Tuesday.

Thanks also to the several civilians who helped, especially Tom.  And shame on me (really) for not having rigorously enforced the first rule of mountain hiking:  STAY TOGETHER!—especially in bad weather.

OK, back in the saddle.  To start off September with a flesh-creeper, set aside 15 minutes to watch the video linked to by Mangan’s website the other day under the blog post heading: “The future of work is here, and it’s going to be a problem.”

It sure is, and the relevance to immigration is obvious.  (It’s obvious, I mean, if you belong to that sliver of the population that has thought about immigration other than in feelgood platitudes.)

I touched on this theme in my 2009 masterpiece We Are Doomed.  From Chapter 12 of that magisterial work:

The assumption here is that like the buggy-whip makers you hear about from economic geeks, like dirt farmers migrating to factory jobs, like the middle-class engineer of 1960, the cube people of today will go do something else, creating a new middle class from some heretofore-despised category of drudges.  But … what?  Which category of despised drudges will be the middle class of tomorrow?  Do you have any ideas?  I don’t.  What comes after office work?  What are we all going to do?  The same thing Bartleby the Scrivener did, perhaps, but collectively and generationally.

What is the next term in the series:  farm, factory, office, …?  There isn’t one.  The evolution of work has come to an end point, and the human race knows this in its bones.  Actually in its reproductive organs:  the farmer of 1800 had six or seven kids, the factory worker of 1900 three or four, the cube jockey of 2000 one or two.  The superfluous humans of 2100, if there are any, will hold at zero.  What would be the point of doing otherwise?

(Concerning that question at the beginning of the second paragraph, the most popular suggested answer among readers of the book who emailed in was “community organizer.”)