The Economist highlights what I believe is our generation’s greatest challenge:
Over the past 30 years the digital revolution has displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th-century middle-class life.
We’re only at the start of this change and as The Economist points out, if the “analysis is halfway correct, the social effects will be huge.”
As I wrote last May, overall I am optimistic about the future but there are going to be significant negatives that come with the advances. It’s important that we address the problems while nurturing the progress.
The Economist puts forward two ways for governments to support their citizens in the years ahead. The first is education. However, the paper points out that a dramatic change in education is needed, from rote-learning to creativity and critical thinking. The second is through some form of minimum income support.
Changing these systems in any developed nation will require incredible political will. At a time when partisanship makes it difficult for government to enact even minor reform and political leaders appear most interested in governing for electability, it’s hard to believe that changes of this nature can be done without a sizable negative event. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
This is indeed our generation’s biggest challenge, but education and minimum income (which is an idea I love) are small potatoes compared to the moral reform this will require.
Many humans’ labor will soon be worth close to nothing. In many instances, it already is. Meanwhile, in the United States, work ethic is strongly linked to moral worthiness. I mean, we use the term work ethic – if you don’t work, you’re good for nothing.
There’s no doubt that we’ll need to invent new things for people to do, but we’ll also likely need to train ourselves to be perfectly ok with people who do nothing. Particularly if we want to implement any kind of minimum income. That’s a far cry from the moral outrage we see directed at “welfare queens” today.