ROK Drop favorite Tom Coyner has an article published in the Joong Ang Ilbo about how workers in advanced countries such as South Korea need to learn to reinvent themselves in today’s economy:
Furthermore, according to my observations in Ireland, the U.S. and Korea have been steadily spreading economic disparity. In all three economies, I have seen an erosion of the middle classes, and a strengthening of the upper-middle classes and upper classes, while the lower classes are growing in size. At the same time, I have seen the middle class getting by on less, and becoming much less aggressive consumers.
On the flip side, we see in certain parts of China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, India and now parts of Africa the creation of expanding middle and upper classes. While the global economy does not operate on a zero-sum-game basis, it is undeniable that wealth is being more equitably redistributed at the expense of the traditionally advanced markets. Standing back and looking at the overall reality, there are many positive things to be said about globalization. But as an American, I can feel some real pain.
Looking at the U.S., I noticed that two years ago there was a political backlash in the form of the Tea Party movement and related reactionary forces, who issued the following demand: “I want my country back!” Most of these hand-wringers were white, middle class, middle-aged or older. I also know there are people in Ireland who look back to the days of the Celtic Tiger, hankering for “the good ol’ times.”
The harsh reality is that we are not going to get our countries back to the good old times. The world has moved on, largely removing economic boundaries and thereby creating new commercial realities. Similar observations are being made by increasing numbers of people. But what is unsettling is that none of us can completely get our heads around the scale of this change. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read the rest at the link, but what Tom Coyner writes about goes hand in hand with what Tom Friedman in the New York Times has often written about as well that workers in today’s globalized economy need to continuously reinvent themselves by learning new skills as old skills are outsourced to countries with cheaper labor markets.