No – it’s not the Sophie’s Choice of Clinton or Trump. Actually, Sophie might have had both of them taken away. It’s the economy, stupid. The systematic eradication of the world’s middle class via mergers and consolidations – now featuring offshoring, reshoring, automation, and AI. There will be no jobs very soon, and I don’t hear anyone outside the fringes seriously talking about this.
In Rise of the Robots, the ultimate pessimist Martin Ford (@MFordFuture if you’d like to be depressed daily on Twitter) warns of a near dystopian future where financialization has rewarded a few well-placed oligarchs with winner-take-all spoils and leaves the rest of us grasping for crumbs. Some of you might think, “Great! I won’t have to do shit because the robots will do everything for us! Murica! Yeah!” Well, you genius Trump supporters, there’s a fundamental problem with your laziness. No jobs equals no income. No income equals no spending (and no taxes). No spending equals no capitalism. No capitalism equals no shareholder wealth, and the collapse of everything you know and love. Ford correctly observes that no one in our government seems to be talking about solving this problem.
I’ve talked about this before in Diary of an Angry Father, and how I am having a devil of a time telling my children how they should plan their schooling and subsequent careers, because every single piece of parenting advice ever written will be obsolete and foolish by 2020. Forget cooking, driving, medicine, law, stockbroking, financial advising, software development, or just about anything else you can fathom, because all those jobs are toast. Damn computers are writing symphonies that have fooled critics. The only sliver of hope I can past the 2020 horizon are the trades – plumbing, electricians, roofers, and builders – and only until they’ve built the buildings that will house their own replacements by 2025. When the middle class dies, the economy stops – and everyone will suffer.
So, one-percenters, it’s your responsibility to do something about this now before it becomes a government issue. Take some of that fabulous wealth (that we, the middle class, have made possible) and sock it away in some sort of special publicly-managed fund. Let it grow for a couple years at the same rate your income is growing, and gradually release it as a Universal Basic Income to those who will never have the opportunity to work a job again. This way people keep eating, they keep spending, you can still spoon-feed them your Fox News bullshit, and everyone is happy. You can’t even spend 60 billion dollars, so why keep it all to yourself when you’re going to lose it all anyways?
As far as my kid goes, I’m keeping tight-lipped for now. That’s all I need – a kid who knows no matter what he does, he’ll end up unemployed. He’ll never leave the house. Keep this one under your hat, fellow parents.