It’s not that Michael Bloomberg is a stupid man. You have to have something going for you if you amass a $60-billion fortune.
But given all the tone-deaf, eyebrow-raising comments that Bloomberg has made in the recent past, you have to wonder what he was thinking when he said some of this stuff.
Of course, anything Bloomberg has ever said in public is fair game, as the press is gleefully making perfectly clear. As a rich man, Bloomberg has certain attitudes, biases, preconceived notions, and ideas that are unique to those who don’t have to work for a living or who only spend their time with other rich people. Hence, Bloomberg’s inability to grasp how everyone else actually lives their lives is a product of class-ignorance, not malice.
It won’t help him here.
Joining the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, Bloomberg was responding to a question about whether it is possible to unite people in middle America and the coasts. One of the issues standing in the way of that, Bloomberg said, was the inability of blue-collar workers to adapt to the information economy even if they have their education subsidized.
“The agrarian society lasted 3,000 years and we could teach processes. I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that. Then we had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job. And we created a lot of jobs. At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture, now it’s 2 percent in the United States.”
Bloomberg doesn’t know much about farming. In fact, he knows nothing about farming. One might even say he knows less than nothing about farming, except we’re not supposed to post mean things about people.
Does he think his Caesar salad appears magically because he told a waiter he wanted one? Maybe he thinks his steak grows in his refrigerator. The guy doesn’t have a clue.
Bloomberg continued: “Now comes the information economy and the information economy is fundamentally different because it’s built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets that you have to learn are how to think and analyze, and that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter. It’s not clear the teachers can teach or the students can learn, and so the challenge of society of finding jobs for these people, who we can take care of giving them a roof over their head and a meal in their stomach and a cell phone and a car and that sort of thing. But the thing that is the most important, that will stop them from setting up a guillotine someday, is the dignity of a job”
If he keeps talking like that, he’s going to be first in line for that guillotine. The “information economy” is not about replacing anyone. But firing people is his answer to everything, apparently.
Bloomberg’s ignorance about farmers could have been avoided if he’d only listen to Paul Harvey, whose “So God Made a Farmer” clip, delivered as a speech to the Future Farmers of America many years ago, pretty much sums up what farmers actually do.
Mike Pence schooled him in a tweet.
So God Made a Farmer 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/sbXSugMNyO
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) February 17, 2020
It’s been a very bad week for Michael Bloomberg.