IPCC: ‘Climate change endangers life on planet’

Big business: ‘Profits come first’

By Fred Goldstein, April 14, 2014

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a dire report based on the findings of thousands of scientists and environmental experts. It shows that climate change has already left its mark “on all continents and across the oceans,” damaging food crops, spreading disease and melting glaciers.

Big business polluters like ExxonMobil shrug it all off. The Heartland Foundation, the chief corporate climate denier — backed by the Koch brothers, the Olin Foundation, Walmart and a host of other right-wingers — issued anti-science rebuttals to the IPCC report. The Republicans in Congress tried, unsuccessfully, to pass legislation restricting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from carrying on any research on climate change.

Automation threatens 47 percent of U.S. jobs

By Fred Goldstein on April 17, 2014

A wakeup call for labor movement and working class

Two scholars at Oxford University have made an exhaustive study of 702 U.S. occupations and new techniques in automation. They concluded that 47 percent of existing jobs are at high risk of being automated in the next decade or so.

The authors, Carl Benedikt Fey and Michael Osborne, studied machine learning (ML) and mobile robotics (MR), the latest developments in automation that have enabled robots to handle complex, nonroutine tasks. The study, entitled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?” showed trends flow­ing from what has already been done to jobs in order to project present and future possibilities. (Oxford Martin School, Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology)

Marxism and long-term unemployment

By Fred Goldstein on April 5, 2014

A study published by Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute in January compiled figures on unemployment that have important significance for the working class and for a Marxist analysis of the present dead-end crisis of capitalism.

The figures in the study confirm that the bosses’ need for labor power at all skill levels and in all occupations drastically declined between 2007 and the year ending July 2013. This is further confirmation of Marx’s general law of capitalist accumulation discussed in our last column.

Shierholz was rightly trying to refute the widespread campaign by the publicists for the bosses about how unemployment is caused by a “skills mismatch” — workers not having the right skills or enough skills to get all those jobs out there that are going begging.

The study, “Is There Really a Shortage of Skilled Workers?” thoroughly refutes the “skills shortage” argument. (epi.org, Jan. 23)