We can argue ideology as long as we like but I would like to suggest that the real reason for all our troubles has nothing to do with liberal Democrats and country-club Republicans. I offer three things that have changed our world and require all us to rethink our assumptions.
- The world has never seen as many old folks relative to young folks as we see today. And, as we die off in the next couple of decades, populations will shrink in a way that they have not done since the Black Death in Europe in the 1300’s. Demographics are playing havoc with all our economies.
- Computers have changed the nature of work out of all recognition. When we graduated, we were competing against graduates from UT. When my students graduate, they are competing against graduates in India. The big firms now ship their work overseas where it can be done more cheaply — and, sadly, often more efficiently. Computers have made this possible. Plenty of jobs that people with average brains were able to do in the past such as typing and bookkeeping have disappeared and are being performed by computers. (I even do my taxes with a computer program!) The situation is going to get worse. Jobs will become fewer as computers take over more and more jobs. Information technology is playing havoc with all our economies.
- China has reentered the world economy. Asians are brighter and more hard-working that Anglos — in the opinion of many who teach them both. American manufacturing jobs have collapsed as we have been unable to compete with their technological skills and to a lesser extent these days their lower labor costs. Foreign competition is playing havoc with all our economies.
Put those three things together — demographics, computers, and foreign competition — and I think you account for most of the ills affecting us and Europe. We argue politics but I think the problem is deeper than politics.