James Fallows reports something that rings true to me from the Aspen Ideas Festival, quoting some comments by Bharat Balasubramanian, an engineering executive from Daimler AG in Germany (Today’s Pithy, Cautionary Note on Economic Trends, The Atlantic, 7/10/10):
I will state that there will be a polarization of society here in the United States. People who are using their brains are moving up. Then you have another part of society that is doing services. These services will not be paid well. But you would need services. You would need restaurants, you would need cooks, you would need drivers et cetera. You will be losing your middle class.
This I would not see in the same fashion in Europe, because the manufacturing base there today can compete anywhere, anytime with China or India. Because their productivity and skill sets more than offset their higher costs. You don’t see this everywhere, but it’s Germany, it’s France, it’s Sweden, it’s Austria, it’s Switzerland…. So I feel Europe still will have a middle level of people. They also have people who are very rich, they also have people doing services. But there is a balance. I don’t see the balance here in the US.