Monday, August 18, 2014

Employable (a start)


By 2089, most people will be unemployable by the Private Sector. Probably much sooner.

Wait, did you think full employment was some sort of immutable law of nature? It's not.

It's not the Transformers' fault. The Private Sector is regulated to serve its primary function of transforming raw materials from the earth into value useful to humans. Inevitably, removing humans from the transformation chain becomes cheaper than employing them.

Full employment was a lucky co-incidence that happened at particular moments in history. Agriculture, War, Socialization, the Industrial Revolution – these shifts needed labour, and humans were the best machines around. Those days are in their final spasms.

Soon, much sooner than we're ready to face, the cracks and fissures of high unemployment will become a gaping chasm, as the Transformers require fewer humans and the population grows. The Transformers just don't need those human machines anymore. They have computers, and robots, and when they do need humans, humans come cheaper in countries with fewer scruples about human rights than Canada.

Not that the Transformers won't need people. They just won't need the Assembly Line people they were using before the computers and robots took over manual labour and repetitive tasks. They don't need humans raised and educated in the social systems we've created. Those humans can rot on the streets, for all the Private Sector is allowed (through regulation) to care.

While all those useless people rot out the foundations of our cities, and cities go bankrupt trying to stave it off, the Transformers will still whine that they can't find good employees. That's because they don't need Assembly Line employees, they need Custom Built employees.

The only people eligible for Private Sector Employment in the future will be those who can do what robots and computers can't do, an arms race the humans are poised to lose. Right now, most of the population can find some form of employment for money. That won't be the case for long. What will we do with all the Assembly Line humans, when all our systems and social norms require hard work in exchange for basic necessities and the dignity of comfort? What will they be doing, and who will pay them to do it?

When the Information Age gives way to the Age of Understanding, humans may begin frantically trying to fix what is broken beyond repair, turn the ship after the crash. If society wants to flourish when full employment is no longer necessary, with happiness almost close enough to grasp, the humans will need another way to earn.

At the same time, if Society wants to continue to sell its human resources to Transformers, it will grow the social, family and education systems that allow custom-built humans to rise into Private Sector employment. Who will pay the humans to re-make their societies to value the work of nurture and care in the fruition of individual potential? Where does this value get tracked and assessed?

Before we ask who will pay, there are more fundamental questions to answer.

At some point, the current technological and global shifts will push the majority of people below the entire capitalist system. Local, barter-based, gang and guild-based economy will operate below the financial consumption economy, allowing the rich to deal primarily among themselves. Instead of having more consumers, there will be fewer consumers with more money, reducing the breadth and depth of innovation to the tastes of those few, from the perspective of their socio-economic bubble.

What is society? Who is part? And what do we deserve as members when our only means of earning our keep is no longer required, on a wide scale? When the transformers don't need very many humans to advance innovation through the capitalist consumption model,  how will people earn their keep? Should they have to?

Perhaps they can earn their keep in a symbiotic system that feeds the Private Sector Transformers with the only resource that we, as society, have left in abundance – Human Resources. Better Human Resources. Custom Built.

The Unemployable (who will increasingly be most people) can focus their understanding on the problems of society, rather than the problems of commerce. They can focus their efforts on creating the systems – education, family, neighbourhood – that support children in becoming Employable Adults, and Adults in being participatory citizens regardless of their employment.

How is that work valued? Currently, at $0.00. So we get what we get. Assembly Line Humans increasingly unemployed and unable to earn the basics or the dignity of comfort. Kids living in stress-filled environments with limited access to their parents, often skating through a system that was never designed to bring their best forward in the first place.

We get what we pay for, and all the Transformers whining about lack of talent – you get what we pay for, too.