As the saying goes, “And now for something completely different.”
There are many people who feel, probably quite accurately, I am a pessimist. A strong pessimist at that. As an example, my views on the US economy, and the global economy are best expressed as, “It’s bad. And it’s going to get much, much worse.”
I’ve mentioned, on Facebook, such news items as the Bill Gates story, in which Mr. Gates says more and more jobs being performed by robots, resulting in growing numbers of unemployed, unless the unemployed are willing to work for less that the cost of maintaining the robots.
I’ve spoken with my doctor about the pending demise of such employment powerhouses as Federal Express and UPS, as indicated by companies like Amazon investing in package delivery drones to use for direct from their warehouse to your front door package delivery. The demise of such employment powerhouses as McDonalds, where making burgers, fries, and McNuggets becomes a task performed by robots.
The employment picture is not going to get any better. It’s going to get worse. And worse.
I could continue alone this negative path, and give links to countless stories indicating the end is coming. But that’s such a negative view.
What I have not spoken of, on Facebook, Twitter or others, and have not spoken of with friends, through e-mail, or face-to-face, is a much more optimistic view of what is happening, and what will continue to happen.
It is my view the existing, conventional economy is dying. Look at the closure rates of brick and mortar businesses. Look at the collapse of the music industry. Look at the collapse of the publishing industry. Can you remember a few years ago, when there were small bookstores like Waldens, and B Daltons. Remember Borders? How long with Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble survive?
Examine the television business. What is the impact Internet data streaming is having on that? What’s happening with Cable and Satellite TV? How are they coping with Netflix, Roku, and others?
Even Wal-Mart is not the profit and growth machine it was a few years ago. What does that mean?
The economy is changing. It’s becoming a very different, very highly optimized, very profit oriented, very controlled process. And people are becoming more and more of an impediment to profitability. Wages reduce profit. Benefits reduce profit. Accidents reduce profit. Mistakes reduce profit. Humans reduce profit.
As a result, there are less and less humans working in the economy. Because that’s how to increase profit.
Yeah. A very negative, pessimistic view indeed.
But, look more closely. What do you find. People are working, but not inside the economy. They’re creating new jobs, new businesses, new ways of earning a living that don’t depend on having a job, working for a company.
For example, look once more at the music industry, with independent musicians, taking control of their careers, producing their own music, and marketing it themselves, resulting in bands like Abney Park, and Cruxshadows. Bands outside the corporate world, making their own path to success.
Look at the book publishing business, and the growth of indie publishing. Writers producing their own books, publishing them on their own, and no longer needing the approval of a giant publishing house to become successful. My Kindle Reader account on Amazon shows this trend clearly, given 90% of the books I’ve purchased in the past four years came from independent writers, and small publishing houses. Titles you can’t find at Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million. Independent publishers, with fiction types and kinds, and stories a big publishing house wouldn’t touch.
Then, look at what happens outside the conventional economy, at the small, independent business level. Some people refer to it as the gig job market. People have started offering their skills, their talents, directly to others. It’s the old neighborhood market, returning, with a vengeance, outside the control of the conventional economy. So far outside, it can’t be measured.
Is the unemployment rate really less than 10%? Or is that a way of hiding the number of people not participating in the conventional, working for a living, economy? Search for yourself. Check the Internet. See what you can find about people working in unexpected ways.
Don’t get me wrong on this. I do expect things to get much worse, with many people becoming unemployed, under employed, and living in or near poverty as defined by the economic measures of the country.
I also expect the changes in the economy to continue, with the unmeasurable part of the economy growing larger, becoming the dominant way people make a living. Independently of companies, and their profits, and automation, and their management of human resources.
I may well comment more on this topic in the coming months. Time will tell. But for now, I simply wanted to show I’m not as pessimistic as I sound. In fact, I have a very optimistic view of human adaptability, and ingenuity. I believe the old economy, and its ways of doing things is dying and the new economy, with independent people determining their own economic destinies and fates is replacing it. I don’t expect this transition to be pleasant, but I do believe it’s already in progress, and is growing each year, and will, in the end, change our society into something better than it is today.
I’m not all pessimistic. Remember that.