Saturday, July 8, 2017

Of Course It Doesn't Necessarally Mean A Strong Economy

We are only just waking up to the fact that touting big, overall growth numbers in "jobs", without much context, has been a time honored tradition by both parties to put the best spin on labor statistics that one can.

We should also be careful in considering numbers of jobs employers would like to place but can't because there aren't enough qualified people to fill them. That these jobs exist is without question, but the real issue there is a good deal more complex in our society today.

First of all, of course, it should go without saying that a big part of that problem lies with Big Money mentality at the outset. If we had schools that people could afford, academic and technical, perhaps the number of people adequately trained would be a good deal higher. But good, affordable schools is a proper social benefit that these people seem to feel little, if any, responsibility in helping to maintain. What other conclusion can we draw when we see the lengths these people are willing to go to locate their places of business in localities that tax them to the least extent possible?

Then there is the problem of runaway competition in the age of electrified everything; an electrification whose common element is the speed for which technical change is occurring, and for which the nature of change also occurs; which means two things: first that entrepenures now value "disruption" precisely because it blows the existing competition out of the water, but also because, obviously, a skill that has application now might not be so applicable a year or two down the road. In that context, even if education, or retraining in general, were less expensive, having to have to continually pay for it, over and over again, becomes something of a questionable proposition.

More pertinent for me, however, is the psychological cost of us thinking we can pretend to be de facto machine tools who throw on new behavior patterns, and relationships with new tools, with machine like efficiency; forgetting the human need to develop deep, lasting connections with our tools, as well as with the purposes we put those tools to use for. Not having those deep, lasting connections there, not to mention with each other, in our respective communities, and as a part of daily life, is costing us immensely; both in terms of our sanity, and in ever decreasing abilities to be constructively social with each other. Something, the lack for which, we see now in how fractured we've become, as well as crazy.

You have all of this going on even as you have an obsolete economic operating system that no longer is able to properly value any form of human skill precisely because technological change has put that skill at a tremendous competitive disadvantage; whether from new developments in transportation, and logistics, so that businesses can take advantage of labor prices anywhere, or from the fact that skill retrieval via automation makes a machine ever more likely to be a great deal more cost effective alternative.

The bottom line here is that it simply does not matter if the system can create more jobs. Not when most of them won't pay a living wage, or when the ones that do only serve to keep us on a treadmill to nowhere but insanity, and chaos.

Capitalism's time has come and gone. It is patently obsolete and it is and it's time to deal with it.

America Is Hiring, But Does That Always Mean a Strong Economy?