Dec 5, 2022·edited Dec 6, 2022

Re: tech productivity

I work in engineering design and construction. I started working when we were still using typewriters for a number of things and word processors were standalone devices used by secretaries.

We are still doing a lot of things where handwritten notes are transcribed. It is just in the last few years where direct acquisition of data in the field on tablets etc. can get uploaded directly into computers to be analyzed and produced without transcription of data by a person. That is turning into a significant productivity boost, but has effectively taken several decades to get there.

Being able to produce and transmit reports electronically instead of using typewriters and snail mail makes it easy for lots of people to review them who never would have 40 years ago. So it takes the same amount of time and manhours to produce a work product as it did 40 years ago. People don't believe me, but I have produced those reports in both environments and I can assure you that there are far more comments on reports by far more people today than there were 40 years ago. People are people and you can only create so much additional productivity when it comes to how they operate. Work expands to fill the time available.

Many of the people getting laid off in tech should be able to find good jobs in good companies at the heart of the economy producing basic goods and services used by consumers and industry instead of video games, crypto-currency, NFTs, etc. They won't have game rooms, catering, and dog-walkers at their new jobs, but they will be paid well and will be helping many sectors become more productive using tech. They may need to move away from Silicon Valley, but the good news is they will be able to afford housing in fly-over country.

I think the era of real productivity growth due to tech is just starting. We are moving past the glitz and into industrial fundamentals now. BTW - pets.com was just chewy.com 20 years early. They just didn't have the capability to do what chewy can do today. It took a full decade for Amazon and Netflix to grow from being effectively mail-order companies to real tech companies. Only a few companies were able to take the VC capital and the IPO capital and make a real, functioning company two decades ago.

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The last podcast with Jon Meer was excellent. I've recommended it to several people, including one educator, just because it had a lot of food for thought on what it means to be skilled, what a classroom should look like, and the mental "depression" that is coming as covid kids age through our education system.

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Why is QE not symmetric? What if the Fed decided to sell some of its portfolio? Would that not be contractionary?

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