Work! We grew up in a world where work was assumed. We would go to school as children while learning to work, take pride in our work, and then grow up to spend the best years of adulthood earning the right not to do any more of it. We all realised the fact that such inventions as electricity, tractors, pumps and a million other things were taking care of much of the work that the preceding generations had been required to physically take care of. What few, if any of us thought of in those wondrous years of our youth, was the fact that as more technology came into our world we would one day become obsolete as workers. That day has crept upon us.
The farmer of today replaces 99% of the farmers of yesteryear with equipment that can cover thousands of acres. Robots in factories do ever-increasing amounts of the work there, while computers have largely replaced an otherwise massive business workforce.
The young person’s future is nothing like ours was. As the need for the worker decreases and the supply increases his/her value decreases to the extent that the ability to earn a living wage vanishes. Most, continue to strive for some semblance of success, sharing homes with room-mates, staying with parents longer, not having children and more desperate measures like living in their cars. Many assume they are to blame for their predicament and few grasp the cause of their problems, or, for that matter the futility of their continued struggle.
My son and I have spent some time discussing this problem. Governments are aware of it and have begun to experiment with universal basic income measures. In our own province, an experiment that by all accounts held quite a lot of promise back in my childhood was scrapped when a conservative government replaced an NDP one. I spoke to Mr Steve Derewianchuck, who served as an MLA for the NDP at the time earlier this year. He still gets upset at the loss of the program after all these years. (Thank you for your service, Sir.) When one considers the concept of universal basic income it seems immediately unfeasible, but upon a closer look, the math does seem to work out somewhat.
But, there is always a but. I recently read an article by Shai Shapira on Quillette.com http://quillette.com/2017/10/09/universal-basic-income-threat-tyranny/ which outlines some of the potential problems. Basically, it would seem that as we workers become less needed, we predictably become a burden. Governments and corporations alike have little to benefit from our well-being or reproduction aside from the few that they actually need to do the remaining work. Can we expect corporations to pay for our survival when the only thing they can get from us is the purchasing power their own money provides? My observations indicate that to be rather unlikely. With governments, things appear no less gloomy. As I understand it, currently the wealthiest eight people on this planet have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion which if they simply give it to the poorest half it inevitably ends up back in their accounts, but why would they? We are in something deep and smelly here folks. The deeper we get the more important the next step gets. I believe we would be best served by charting our own course and as long as all the money we get our hands on ends up going to governments or corporate business we will be told how things are and swallow what they give us.
We need a new way forward.