Of Gaps and Grass-Eaters

Are the American people obsolete? Salon argues that because of globalisation and technology there is now a increased separation between capital and labour. The activities that generate wealth have both been outsourced to cheaper shores, and become more efficient because of technology. As a consequence the social contract in Western society between rich and poor - the rich provide the capital while the poor provide the labour - is breaking down. The rich still have capital, but they can now move the production of goods to the East, creating a shortage of jobs in the West.

Philip Greenspun wonders if unemployed people are 21st Century equivalent of Draft Horses after the Industrial Revolution. Is it far more expensive to keep people in work, than automating their jobs, or outsourcing?

Finally; DailyFinance has a story of how the disappearance of the middle class and the increasing gap between rich and poor has affected Japan. Apparently those that have given up on ever breaching that economic chasm and who retreat from society are termed "Grass-Eaters" by the media. Is this a taste of what will happen in the West if this trend continues?