Creating Wealth - and Jobs.
Isn’t really happening, is it? In fact, do you know anyone who actually creates wealth and, most importantly, jobs?
A recent statistic showed that the biggest employers in the world were either involved in the military, retail, fast-food, or (the one noble entry), the British National Health Service.
This pretty much reflects the dysfunctional nature of our society, economy, culture: we are either preparing for war, buying crap we don’t need, eating crap food that we certainly don’t need, or trying to get our weary bodies fixed as a result of the damage caused to us by modern life.
Not that long ago, everyone you knew either worked in a factory or an office. A few worked in an odd thing called retail but that wasn’t a real industry. Nobody you knew worked in media or finance. Yet, somehow, we survived. We even prospered: the swinging 60s that are so fondly remembered for encapsulating all we wish life to be (fun, work, money, optimism, freedom, aspiration) was a decade devoid of industries (sic) that we now see as essential to modern life and the creation of wealth. And jobs.
They’re not. And they don’t.
Let’s get this straight: society’s ills are not going to be remedied by a proliferation of independent coffee-shops. Nor by a wave of boutique venture capitalists. Nor by artisan software startups.
Bespoke cupcakes once promised salvation, but that dream was short-lived…
The supply-chain of life’s meaning has been irrevocably broken and we are desperately trying to apply old economic principles to the contemporary world we have created.
It’s not going to work.
The factory’s long gone; converted into retro industrial kitsch offices and apartments for hipsters who won’t ever create anything real. The hipster will pop to the independent coffee-shop on the corner, maybe buy a cupcake, and return to his ergonomic desk and ponder writing some more code for an app that will most likely serve no real purpose and never make a profit, let alone create jobs/wealth.
Thus, the self-appointed masters of the universe bankers have manipulated the pseudo-economy (now it is no longer a real thing anyway) and ‘make’ money from money, and the remaining mere mortals still solvent ‘make’ money from their homes spiralling in ‘value’ - an asset of worth only because it is a currency for proof of our existence, to be traded with others on the same merry-go-round.
All the time nobody actually does anything of any real merit.
The swinging 60s is but a distant memory; a time we look upon so fondly yet we have let all our values from that time erode to the point where real economics is considered nostalgia.
So, we now have the service-industry niches as our sole growth employment sector - work which is typically low-paid, menial, pointless. An utterly circular function: pour a drink, collect the dirty glass a few minutes later; wash, rinse, repeat.
Nothing has been created, it leads to nothing - transient, vacuous. So much work, so little purpose. Zero reward. Survival. This is our future, serving the increasingly elite few who have disposable income and because they have all they can buy, their only method in gaining a daily consumerism-fix is via the frequent patronage of service-industry establishments. And how many of them have accrued their money by creating wealth and jobs?
Good luck to those with a comfortable lifestyle - it’s an increasingly rare luxury - but just how sustainable is any of this and how uncomfortable will our fractured society become before it finally breaks?
I responded to an online question the other day, via Gary Chou’s Twitter, asking how I felt. I simply replied ‘empty’.
I sense many feel that same way. Maybe to go forward we need to look backwards to the 60s for example. Why do we always assume progress is a good thing? This blinkered endorsement of everything ‘tech’ bestows upon us is myopic; society best functions when we can see and understand what we and our neighbours do for a living; we are now so detached from real work we have nothing to talk about, no hope, no aspirations.
The 60s hope and optimism was reflected in the vibrancy of the youth - the future. Most had decent, honest, well-paid jobs. The youth of today have worthless degrees that are a huge debt for the rest of their lives, with little chance of ever securing a meaningful job. The service-industry beckons for most of them.
We have all become the aspiring actor working in Hollywood - serving tables until that big opportunity comes along…