Nanny Consulting: Meet the Jobs of Tomorrow

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 14 2013 9:18 AM

Nanny Consulting: Meet the Jobs of Tomorrow

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Like every sensible denizen of the Internet, I find myself apalled by Caroline Tell's article about how Dan Yashiv and Stephanie Johnson hired a consulting firm to instruct their nanny in how to cook fancier food. The basic problem is that people who hire nannies are fancy people, and they want their kids to eat like fancy people. But people who take jobs as nannies aren't so fancy. In particular, "their nanny, from Wisconsin, does not always know the difference between quinoa and couscous."

Into the breach steps marc + mark, a company whose slogan "Teaching nannies how to cook for YOUR kids" more or less says it all.

But beyond cringing, we really ought to think a bit about the future of work and the future of the economy. It's obvious that in the future manufactured goods will increasingly be produced by machines. It's also pretty clear that if you compare rich people in developed countries to middle class people in developed countries, the rich people don't consume vastly larger quantities of manufactured goods than the middle class people do. Instead the rich people consume more and fancier services. The middle class kids go to day care. The rich kids have nannies. The really rich kids have nannies and nanny consultants. There's a sort of infinitely elaborate hierarchy of personal services one could take advantage of in life were one to have limitless quantities of money.

And a big problem here arises because this kind of service work strikes us as servile in a way that proper working class jobs on assembly lines or in factories isn't. If you squint at it right, you can make the mark + marc saga look like a happy story. Instead of whining about "skills mismatch" and unemployment, here are Yashiv and Johnson acting like pro-social employers and investing in the skills of their workforce. Not only will little Erela Yashiv get her fancy dinners, but the nanny will be able to command a hire wage in future years now that she's a super-fancy nanny instead of a regular old heat-up-the-box-of-mac-and-cheese nanny.

Yet I seriously doubt anyone sees it this way. In a factory context, you have kaizen. In a domestic employment context, you have obnoxious and fussy rich people.

Chris Hayes is ready for the revolution:

And conservatives and libertarians agree:

But like it or not, a huge share of the jobs of the future are going to involve taking care of old people and taking care of kids. The best caretaking jobs are the ones that involve working for the richest, fanciest, fussiest people. Time to get depressed.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.