With Brexit nearing conclusion and a new era for Great Britain approaching, our country falls ever more deeply into crisis. The arguments for Brexit: Freedom, sovereignty, global trading, accountable representatives, national pride, a more coherent tax and judicial system and most importantly, independence. The arguments against Brexit: Economic decline, certain business unable to compete, lowering of product standards and most importantly of all, not enough jobs for everyone. And, with factories closing and mass redundancies on the way, it is clear we need a plan for the future of work in our United Kingdom.
Of course, the Job crisis is not a problem isolated to a post Brexit Britain. Within the EU, Greece youth unemployment is at around 45%, similar in Spain and Italy and they haven’t even Grexited, Spexited or Italexited yet. We must ask ourselves, what is the future of jobs in the Western world? Why are there not enough jobs for everyone and what are we going to do about it?
The Trump solution is good old fashioned ultra-free market capitalism whereby we lower taxes and regulations on job and wealth creators so they can employ more people and thus, get more of us into jobs. Solved… for now at least. And it is of course working in America where unemployment is at record lows. Should we do the same here and would we get the same results? We would no doubt create more jobs and thus continue to make rich people richer by finding things for poor people to do in exchange for money. Oh, how noble an endeavour. And with each passing day, the planet slowly dies as we rape and pillage its recourses until there is nothing left to give.
Let us categorise our jobs. First up, essential jobs: Care worker, nurse, construction workers and trades people, midwife, farmer, logistical operatives, production operatives, cooks, cleaners, police, fire service and many more. Second, non-essential jobs: Sales person, actor, singer, musician, comedian, footballer, Minister of Parliament and again, many more. Interesting isn’t it, how the non-essential jobs pay so much better than the essential ones. A footballer can earn in a week what a care worker earns in 5 years and yet without care workers, we’d all die horrendous deaths of suffering and anguish. Without actors and singers we would have to entertain ourselves. Perhaps we have taken a wrong turn somewhere.
Now let us look specifically at tech jobs. The apparent future of employment as we all converge upon the techno-singularity dreamed about by futurists and morons. We now have an AI industry! Artificial intelligence they say is the future. But the future of what may I ask. The future of shopping? AI to understand consumers buying habits so advertisers can target market their products to the appropriate audience? Is that the AI future? Or social analysis AI so social media platforms can understand better how to get your attention, fuel your serotonin receptors and keep you coming back for more more more! Is that the AI future? Or perhaps natural language processors so we can talk to our phones instead of each other as we continually check facts and ask computers to tell us where to eat, sleep and everything else besides. Oh how did we ever survive when we had to know things and make our own decisions?!?!
Facebook, for example, generates no revenue. Does it? Think about it for a moment. If you are not paying for it, and I am not paying for it, then how does it make money? Do you ever click on those adverts? Does anyone? I sincerely doubt it. And yet, it is worth billions. Why is it worth billions? Because rich business people who have invested in it think they can find a way to generate revenue from it in the future. It’s a big gamble and it is definitely not going to pay off, mark my words. People with money have invested their money into a future money making scheme and thus created some jobs for people until the whole thing collapses. And this is considered a success story in our age. Our age on nonsense. Where up is down and left is right. An age where 2 + 2 = 5.
The future techno-utopia of screens and AI will not deliver the jobs of the future. Technology with a purpose is a fantastic thing. We have an International Space Station above us with people actually living and working in space. We have a large hadron collider exploring the inside of atoms. But science projects require funding which require jobs for people to have money to pay taxes to pay for the science projects and the cycle goes round and round forever as we progress at the pace of a snail.
And what of manufacturing jobs? A car manufacturer would like you to buy a brand new car every year and throw away the old one. Of course, that is tremendously wasteful and such an attitude will destroy our planet in no time at all. And we all know our excessive consumerism is unsustainable but when a car factory closes down and thousands of jobs are lost, we see the closure as an injustice and not progress. Why, because what are people to do without jobs? Gone are the days of manufacturing things which are built to last and can be repaired and upgraded. Today, we manufacture products with limited lifespans that need replacing and cannot be upgraded because the business’ which do the manufacturing need repeat business to secure the jobs of the workers. No repeat business, no more jobs.
So what exactly are the jobs of the future? What are we all going to do? It seems the consumer model slowly kills the planet and I can give countless examples from rainforests being cut down and replaced with soya bean plantations to oil pumped out of the ground to power machines which produce waste products destroying the atmosphere and filling the oceans with plastics. And we haven’t even discussed the automation of manufacturing with robots and 3D printers, making much of the workforce redundant.
What we need is a rethink of why we are here. Why are we alive? Is it so we can work jobs to buy stuff to feel happy, only to throw that stuff away so we can buy new things. This doesn’t seem like a particularly satisfying or meaningful existence to me. Many of us work jobs we hate to buy things which do not fulfil us. And if we stop doing this, the whole economy collapses. At one time the economy served us, now we serve the economy. We change to meet its needs. We are becoming economic nodes of production and service. We bailed out the banks in the financial crash of 2008 so that we can keep the system going. The banks failed. The system failed but we saved it and endured a decade of austerity which continues still. We have surrendered to a life of working to prop up the economy. And this is the best idea all our great economic thinkers can come up with.
There are indeed solutions to the problem of not enough jobs. First up, population cull in the guise of a great war. War is great for the economy and once loads of people have died, there are plenty of jobs for everybody. I’m sure nobody would vote for this solution but such things are rarely a choice. Second, Universal Basic Income whereby everyone receives a subsistence income and can therefore live without need for a job. Third, Space War. Similar to a great war but in space which would move the collateral damage of war off the planet and once the dust has cleared and a victory declared, many people will be working in space… and there is lots of space. My preferred solution though is goal oriented economics. John F Kennedy sent America to the moon and in doing so, created millions of jobs, thousands of new institutions and opened up a world of infinite possibility. When we set a destination for our economics we begin working toward something instead of working for the sake of working. And space is bar far the most profitable destination we can aim for. In space we have a veritable infinity of resources, an infinity of space, an infinity of other worlds to colonise, an infinity scope for population growth. Down here on earth, everything is limited and everything we do has an effect on our planet, usually to its detriment. In space we can produce gigantic amounts of pollution and space will hardly notice, because it is unimaginably massive. Even within just the confines of our solar system, we can grow to a human population of literally trillions. And think of all the space jobs: Asteroid mining, space station building, ship building, transport and logistics, communications, space healthcare, space doctors and nurses, space managers and IT professionals. Literally an infinity amount of jobs are created once we move our systems of commerce off planet. There is a natural limit to how far we can go here on earth. If we carry on as we are, we will kill the planet or kill each other. If we carry on making up jobs for the sake of it, people will all go insane from the lack of purpose (consider the mental health crisis of today). We must, once again look to the stars and grow into our solar system and perhaps beyond. Staying here will be the end of us. And something as simple as setting a goal to work towards could be the answer we have all been seeking.