August 12, 2002
How Far Can the Division of Labor Expand?

How far can the division of labor expand? Is there any limit to the kinds of bizarre things we can think up to pay people to do? Remember that the eighteenth-century physiocrats were horrified at the prospect of agricultural employment in France dropping below 2/3 of the labor force. Remember that in the twentieth-century there were people horrified at the prospect of manufacturing employment dropping below a quarter of the labor force. "What will people do?" they asked, raising the imminent spectre of massive technological employment.

Eve S. Dropper--Berkeley's short attention-span voyeur--comes to the rescue, with a new job category I had never thought of:

In Passing...

"Do you really save money by paying her to follow you around and remember what you already have in your wardrobe?"

"Well yes, because she reminds me of things like that I already have a black skirt."

--Two women outside Berkeley Bowl (which is a grocery store, not a bowling alley, oddly enough.)

Posted by DeLong at August 12, 2002 04:13 PM | Trackback

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The maximum likelihood estimate of the identity of the employed follower is the daughter of the speaker.

Posted by: David Margolies on August 13, 2002 09:41 AM

You mean these huge mansions in the bubble-priced Berkeley and Oakland hills are actually crack-houses?

Posted by: LM on August 13, 2002 01:03 PM

David: I don't know what is worse! I don't think it's very healthy of a parent to pay her daughter to follow her around daylong...

Posted by: JP on August 13, 2002 01:05 PM

Yes, but the dress-rememberer (icky name; clothes consultant?) will be put out of a job soon enough by IT. When we all have PDAs and smart clothes (using low-power computer chips at less than a nickel apiece to identify themselves -- and in the farther future, of course, more powerful chips), then remembering what you own will require no more than Microsoft Closet 2010.

Posted by: Paul on August 23, 2002 06:44 AM
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