blueollie

An economy based on jobs, self esteem, automation and all that…

Donald Trump was elected, in part, to bring good paying jobs back to America. Sure, the Obama administration has shown some job growth, but, in general, the new jobs simply didn’t pay as well as the jobs shed under the Bush administration. And there are some real questions with regards to Trump’s promises. He has promised faster economic growth which can occur either by making workers more productive (and thereby reducing the need for having as many) OR by increasing the size of the workforce (which will mean more immigration).

The promise of increased automation might lead to an interesting quandary: what if this means that even more well paying blue collar jobs disappear? So assuming that we will still make new human beings (else where is demand going to come from?) this can lead to some serious issue. How can one who doesn’t have the rarer high tech jobs make ends meet? One answer might mean that governments might provide some sort of universal basic income.

Now, of course, this can lead to some issues as well. Here is one big one: in our society, you ARE what you DO, so what if you “do nothing”, even if your basic income needs are met? I can see this being a devastating emotional development for males (though females who have suffered long term job loss have reported self-esteem effects to me). One might even call this a “spiritual crisis“. Now, I don’t agree with some of what the article I linked to says; after all, part of the blame for the rift in our society…perhaps most of it (?) can be laid at the feet of our overglorified “white rural/working class”. The idea that THEY are “real America” and the rest of us are some type of “guests” is bullshit. But, the main point, and yes, Rep. Ryan made this, is that there is some type of dignity that comes with a good job (still...not a good reason to cut safety nets).

So, while there will always be a need for some to work (and I sure hope that I am one of them!), are we approaching a time that goes beyond “everyone has a job” era?

There is a lot to think about here. I probably won’t live to see the “post job” era and I might not want to see the “growing pains” period, if one such era indeed comes.

Now as far as the self esteem thing: yes, people will be drawn to successful people; there is really no way around that. That, IMHO, is harsh reality. You might think of yourself as having all of these wonderful attributes. But ultimately, at least for males, you are what you do. You are your performance; “you are your W/L record” as they like to say in the NFL.

On the other hand, well, one’s success is often tied to factors well beyond one’s talent and one’s willingness to work hard.

Of course, there is society itself. For example if most of one’s day is devoted to gathering food and finding shelter so as to survive another day, one is not going to have the time and resources for “self improvement”. And there is era. Example: Larry Bird is certainly wealthy, and he was known as a hard working basketball player who developed his talents. But what if he were born, say, 80 years ago? It is highly unlikely he would be such a success; professional sports (save baseball) were not that big of a deal then. The ace computer programmer or the successful hedge fund manager would probably not have flourished 100-200 years ago.

So there is the factor of having a “talent suited for the times” as well.

In my case: yes, I am affected by the choices I made. I chose a lower paying, lower stress path for my specialty (pure math rather than applied math or engineering). But I had the type of talent needed for this time; there was a market for college mathematics professors. Yes, I worked hard to exploit my talent, and I was fortunate to have a public university and NSF money to help me along the way. I am doing ok, though that could change in a flash! And I believe that most who are doing ok to “much better than I am” fall into a similar category.

Others have skills that are less marketable in this era, or have had bad luck (e. g. serious illnesses, accidents).

Don’t get me wrong: some don’t have much talent, and some have made some terrible choices, and some of the “good for nothing” crowd (most?) will not accept responsibility for their own actions. I know such people; they are not pleasant to be around. We’ll always have those: I might call them “members of the basket of deplorables”.

But that is hardly everyone who is struggling. And many good people are down on themselves.

Note: I have no answers and make no predictions; many of these ideas are new to me and I have not thought them through.

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December 28, 2016 - Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | ,

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