...You stop by Borders Books & Music over the holidays to buy some CDs
for gifts and notice that the music department has shrunk to a fifth of
its former size, with little to choose from. Turns out that music has
mostly gone digital and kids aren‘t buying CDs anymore because they can
order it cheaper online (or just rip it off for free). Hmmm... wonder
what happened to all of the people who used to make CDs and the people who
...You drive over to Meijer and notice that there are only three cashiers
working at the entire store. But there are more than a dozen of those
irritating self-scan stations. Hmm... wonder what happened to the people
replaced by those machines?
...You hear a talking head on CNN who chirps excitedly that online sales
are up 16% for “Cyber Monday“ this year -- the equivalent of Thanksgiving
weekend‘s “Black Friday“ shopping frenzy. Turns out that more people are
shopping online from home. Hmm... wonder what will happen to all of the
people who used to depend on part-time jobs at local stores at Christmas?
Wonder what will happen to the store owners? Wonder if online shopping is
part of the reason a local outlet mall seems to be going under?
...You hear of GM laying off another 10,000 workers. Flash back to a time
in the early ‘80s when you did a story about the new industrial robots
being installed at GM‘s Orion Township plant. Several nervous-looking
union chiefs were on hand, drinking the Kool-Aid from the guys in suits,
who said that the new welding robots wouldn‘t put anyone out of a job --
they‘d just take over “the dirty work“ that no one wanted to do anymore.
Yeah, sure. But even then, you couldn‘t help noticing that the production
workers looked like a flock of hens accepting a crocodile‘s word of honor.
Hmm... wonder if any of them lost their jobs to those robots?
...You read a business story that amazon.com has raked in $27 billion
this year, and the guy who launched the online sales company is so
smart that he located his distribution centers in states such as
Arizona and Pennsylvania, where he won‘t have to pay any sales tax.
The article notes that these states desperately need tax dollars to pay
for cops, teachers and road workers, but tough beans... that‘s a perk
of “e-commerce.“ Wonder what will happen to those cops, teachers and
other public servants?
...Speaking of amazon.com, you hear that its top seller this season was
The Kindle, a reading device that allows you to download books at a
discount. Nice. Soon digital technology will be able to eliminate all
bookstores, just like it did music stores and CDs. Why, B. Dalton‘s just
closed at Grand Traverse Mall this week. Wonder what will happen to their
...You hear that Booth Newspapers has suffered its first round of layoffs
ever (50? 65? No one seems to know) at the Grand Rapids Press, Kalamazoo
Gazette and Muskegon Chronicle. Hmm, wonder if it has anything to do with
them giving away the news for free online? You know, like the grave
digger who thinks he can get out of his hole if he just digs a little
...Speaking of which, you wonder what will happen to all of the millions
of people who used to work for newspapers, book publishing, the lumber
industry, forestry, trucking, magazines, paper recycling, graphic design,
bookstores, book binding and distribution once everything goes online?
Point of our story? Several years ago, a professor at Harvard
University‘s School of Economics noted that it‘s not illegal immigrants or
globalization that are destroying jobs in the U.S. The chief job eater is
digitalization and technology.
Basically, we‘ve gotten too smart for our own good by digitizing our jobs
away. Today, a handful of software engineers can replace millions of jobs
in music, publishing, manufacturing and retail with a few keystrokes,
aided by you, the helpful online consumer. Like the Greek god Saturn, we
are devouring our own children.
Americans spent the past 25 years shipping their jobs off to China, Mexico
and Japan, buying cheap, imported flat-screen TVs, cars and computers
without a care for the future.
Now the future has come home to roost, but sadly, we don‘t see the other
pillar of job destruction, even though its evidence is everywhere in front
of our eyes.
If a socialist society or revolution ever does come to America, it won‘t
be because of Barack Obama or the Democrats -- it will be a result of the
digital destruction of jobs and the need of the have-not‘s in the face of
Every few years we try to brush off the moss here at the Express and
launch a few new features in the hope of keeping you entertained and
coming back to our pages.
Several years ago, this was accomplished by launching our popular Northern
Seen photo section, along with MyStyle, GearBox, Tastemakers and Bottoms
This time around, we‘re building the ‘front end‘ of the paper with an
emphasis on opinion. You may have noticed that co-publisher George Foster
launched his new sports column, The Score, last week. George knows far
more about sports than anyone I‘ve ever met and once predicted the entire
game-by-game results for the Pistons prior to the start of the playoffs.
Also new in this issue is Steve Tuttle‘s column, Spectator. Steve is a
political consultant who has advised both Democrat and Republican
candidates through the years. He wrote a column by the same name for many
years at the Arizona Republic -- the state‘s largest newspaper -- and we
expect that he will elevate the level of discourse here at the Express
with an insider‘s perspective on politics, among other topics.
We‘ve also added Mike Terrell‘s Call of the Wild in recent months.
Northern Michigan is still an outdoorsy place, and we take pride in
promoting and preserving that heritage by continuing a popular column he
wrote for many years for the Record-Eagle.
Finally, we‘re proud to welcome Erin Crowell as our newest full-time
reporter. With a talent for strong leads and colorful writing, Erin will
strengthen our features section. As a recent journalism graduate from
Grand Valley State University, she brings youthful eyes and experiences to
Our goal is to have more meaningful commentary on issues, events and the
people who have an impact on Northern Michigan.