The greatest economic transformation in US history as they slide into a veiled aristocratic system

One person writes that the US is undergoing the greatest economic transformation in their history (and that must impact on the world economy), and another writes that chronic disempowerment represents a threat to their democracy.

Andrew Yang: We’re undergoing the greatest economic transformation in our history

For Americans who are still trying to figure out why Trump is President, the answer is simple — we automated away millions of manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, and Trump spoke directly to the fear and anger of those voters. He promised them that he would restore those jobs — a promise on which he has notably failed to deliver.

Here’s the reality, though: The financial crisis of 2008 brought our 14 million manufacturing jobs (itself a low plateau from the 17 million in 2000) down to 11.4 million, and 10 years of expansion has only brought us back up to 12.8 million.

But what happened to manufacturing workers will soon happen to retail workers, call center workers, fast food workers, truck drivers and others, as the next Industrial Revolution takes hold of our economy.

Bain, a leading consulting firm, projects automation will disrupt jobs at about three times the rate of the Second Industrial Revolution, which sparked thousands of strikes and mass riots at the turn of the 20th century.

If you doubt that this is already happening, consider that America’s labor participation rate (the ratio of people who are working compared to the total population aged 16 and over) today has fallen to 63%, about the same level as Ecuador and Costa Rica.

For the US labor participation peaked around the turn of the millennium at just over 67% and largely declined through to 2013 and has been fluctuated mostly below 63% since then, so it isn’t a recent fall. See Civilian labor force participation rate

New Zealand’s recent trend in labour force participation rate is different, rising from 68.8% in January 2016 to level off at about 70.8-71% in mid 2017.

In the US, almost one out of five prime, working age men have not worked in the past year, and our life expectancy has declined for the past three years, in part due to surges in drug overdoses and suicides.

This is before a projected 33% of American malls and retail stores may be forced to shutter their doors, and it might not be long before truck drivers are replaced with self-driving trucks.

Malls and retail stores are being impacted by online sales.

But here’s the reality: We are undergoing the greatest economic transformation in our history, and we are dealing with it by pretending nothing is happening.

We need to wake up to the fact that it is not immigrants who are causing economic dislocations. It is technology and an evolving economy that is pushing more and more Americans to the sidelines.

Further, according to Marianne Williamson, it is pushing many people under – America is becoming an aristocracy

And many of the richest financial aristocrats are tech company owners.

While I have spent my career empowering people and turning them into leaders, Washington has been disempowering people and turning them into followers. The stress and anxiety that has become so endemic in American society, due to chronic economic and social despair, has fostered a population disconnected from civic engagement. Today, this chronic disempowerment represents a threat to our democracy.

Relatively few Americans have abused their rights at the expense of the many, turning the US government into their own personal playground. From tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest among us, to corporate subsidies that aid industries (oil, big pharma, agribusiness, etc.) already profiting to the tune of billions, money has been sliding for decades away from expenditures that support the public good to expenditures that support the lucky few.

Though American politicians continues to say we are a democracy, we are sliding ever more dangerously into a veiled aristocratic system. The mindset of the new aristocracy has not only imbued our politics — it has hijacked America’s value system, leading us to swerve from our democratic and deep human values. We have forgotten that public morality even matters.

We need to remind ourselves that economic injustice is a moral transgression. Neglecting the medical, educational and social needs of millions of people so that a few can swell their bank accounts is a moral transgression. And until we bring our political policies back into alignment with our moral core, then nothing will fundamentally heal this country.

Politics in the US has been dominated by huge amounts of money and rich lobbyists for a long time, but the democratic process has is now under serious threat from the use of technology to manipulate elections and opinion, with serious efforts being made to divide and conquer.

Financial favouritism has helped the rich get richer, but that has been at the expense of millions of Americans suffering from inferior education, health services and living conditions.

If the third (and claimed to be the greatest) industrial revolution reduces employment opportunities and levels further, and more drastically, then the divide will get worse.

There is no sign of political leadership or will to address this.

Our situation in New Zealand is on a much smaller scale, but we are also vulnerable. We also have political leadership that is talking as if they understand at least some of the problems of financial inequity, but they haven’t yet done much to address it. There is a lot of interest on what will be delivered in next month’s ‘well-being’ focussed budget.