Category Archives: Economics in Brief

Forget planned obsolescence; it will happen, planned or not

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of, Founder and former CEO, JP Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation, Adjunct Professor(ret.), Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

Millions of American “smokestack” jobs no longer exist. Millions of other American jobs, from nearly every sector, have been exported. Tens of millions of Americans are now sustained only by the “safety net,” or by working multiple part-time jobs at low wages with no benefits. More than one-quarter of working Americans lack enough resources to sustain themselves three months if laid off, a number that no doubt has risen since it was last compiled. This is a very, very bad time to be an unskilled worker with no prospects of being retrained in a way that will land a job. A human being whose skills are obsolete is among the saddest of stories. Some of these Americans, especially older workers, are going to be left behind. Millions more will never earn the kind of living they once did. This states one hellacious problem; but it does not define the problem in any useful way for a problem-solver.

In getting one’s arms around what might seem like an unprecedented catastrophe, it’s good to start by realizing that today’s displaced workers are not alone in the American experience. Our workforce is undergoing massive transition, a tectonic shift, really, in the way Americans earn their livelihood. But it is not unprecedented.

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Some Things Are Not Reversible

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of, and Founder and former CEO, JP Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation

Certain actions described in the laws of physics are not the only indelible forces in our world. Many powerful genies cannot be put back in the bottle. “Irreversible” is a descriptor of immense power, something I first pondered scientifically in an MIT physics class. It’s a concept—a fact—that lays the foundation for all economic, industrial, political, or social discussions. One could fairly say that my  book published 5 years ago, see reference at the end of this article, is about how best to cope with irreversible changes that we can’t put back in the bottle, even if we wish we could. In the end it is also about a grave danger I see for the free-market economy and innovative, self-reliant national mindset that has made the United States the world’s destination of choice.   In that light, we begin by discussing our era’s two great, and irreversible, socioeconomic drivers: technology and globalization.

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It’s the Livelihood, Stupid:

JP Bio PhotoDr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of, and Founder and former CEO, JP Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation

How Dumbed-Down Politics Is Riskimng Us Lose the Economic Competition

With ideological shouters exhorting the citizenry toward one precipice on the left and another on the right, a polarized America seems poised for a rocky future.  The debt bomb and the entitlement bomb, to say nothing of other bombs, wait for no man. Depending which true-believer cliff one leans toward, America is descending into either a communal hell of withering fortune and lost freedoms, or an eternal blue flame of capitalist greed. If you find the shouters outrageously out of touch (not in their Doomsday forecasts, but in their self-fulfilling gridlock), you obviously are not alone. So where can a reader turn to find a compelling centrist message for our generation, or even a little book of bull’s-eye polemic? Where is Frank Capra when you need him, someone who can make us believe in the American Dream even as the 21st Century limps into adolescence?

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