What the New Economy Has Cost Us

The internet economy offers a lot, but it has also taken some things away. This video takes a look at the pros and cons.


Hello All. There’s a story I believe in. Our new 21st century economy is filled with dynamism. New tools and new attitudes are letting people crush the old hierarchies. Software is eating the world ANDREESEN, and it’s building a stronger more interesting economy. Everybody is an entrepreneur and the average working life will now include dozens of different jobs and approaches. The old hidebound ways of doing things are dead. Old white men won’t be able to tell us what to do anymore. Everything will be disrupted! Hooray! ABBIE HOFFMAN DON”T TRUST ANYBODY OVER 30 CROSSED OUT 40 CROSSED OUT ANIMATED LINE AND RESUMES

I really do believe most of that, but no change comes without cost, and as I cruise into my late 30s, I tend to think more and more about what we’ve lost along the way. The current system is great for those who are motivated, clever and well-connected. You might be able to make it with two of these elements, but you can’t succeed with just one of them. Think back to high school. How many of the people you graduated with had all three? What almost everyone does have to offer at the beginning is youthful energy. HOFFMAN THREE THINGS, RESUMES, 1936-1939

The old system was often sexist, and always racist, but it did offer a deal that worked better for a larger slice of the population, not just our high fliers. In your youth you worked hard, and learned a job. After paying your dues you could move up a hierarchy. You could then rely on younger employees to do the boring stuff and handle any new skills that were necessary. In a system that respected age, business relationships built over decades mattered more, and we needed old men to manage them. IT WAS ALMOST ALWAYS MEN Even if you didn’t move up the hierarchy, back then the largest companies tended to be more than a decade or three old, and institutional memory actually mattered. In the old system more people had a place they could rely on. As you aged, the scramble slowed down a bit, and more time could be spent outside of work, building family and community. As political scientist Robert D. Putnam has pointed out, institutions like bowling leagues, or even a regular seat down at the local bar helped to build civil society, and made us a stronger country.

We don’t have time for that anymore. In the new economy we’ve got business to chase, or skills to build. We’re a little too busy for our neighbors and our communities. That’s a problem. The new economy has provided great wealth to those with marketable talent, and created new worlds of opportunity for the rest of us. If we’re interested in preserving those opportunities though, we need to be aware of what we’ve lost along the way, and find ways to replace it. People without a place won’t accept it forever. Washington, DC is too busy getting fat on the one percent’s tax dollars to change anything. A centralized solution wouldn’t work anyway. We need local governments and communities to think harder about what comes next. Heck maybe even Silicon Valley could get involved. Replacing what we’ve lost would be a social application with real value.

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Robert Morris

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet on the drug war that can be found here.

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