Bloomberg Said He Could ‘Teach Anyone To Be a Farmer’ Because Farming Needs Less ‘Gray Matter Than Modern Work’ In 2016 Comments

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The former mayor of New York City made the comments, in which he implied farmers would need”grey matter” for information economy jobs. The comments were made at a university forum in 2016. Bloomberg was responding to a question about whether it is possible to unite people in middle America and the coasts.

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 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.”

The former mayor’s controversial remarks at the Saïd Business School re-emerged less than a week after a clip of Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk and putting “all the cops” in minority neighborhoods at a 2015 talk resurfaced. In a statement released shortly after the footage re-emerged, Bloomberg apologized for not cutting back stop-and-frisk “faster and sooner,” but added that his comment did not “reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”

The self-proclaimed “social democrat” rival Bernie Sanders’s camp responded:

Bloomberg has made it clear that he is willing to spend even more money on his campaign. He wants to spend $1 billion or more.


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