I had an epiphany the other day. Unlike most of my epiphanies, it wasn’t related to food or toys. It was about money. Specifically, it was about who has it, who doesn’t, and most importantly, how robots are going to take it all away from us.
I was doing what seems to be my number one pass-time these days, listening to people bitch about THE ECONOMY. Since I tend to be pretty liberal in my politics and really liberal in my ideology, the people I listen to tend to swing that direction, too.
So, to them, the problem with THE ECONOMY is rich people. Rich people keep us down! Rich people bend us over the proverbial kitchen table. Rich people, man! They suck.
Most of the time, I would join them. Rich people do suck. They’re generally so hoity-toity with their having things I want and their strong sense of financial security.
They just suck all the butt.
Of course, everyone agrees it isn’t the fact that rich people exist. It’s that they do whatever they can to keep all their money and make sure the rest of us don’t have any.
But, in my moment of epiphany, I realized why the fat cats are trying to hold on to everything they’ve got with all their might.
They’re afraid because the “old” economy is dying. There really isn’t anything they can do about it. I would feel sorry for them, but they have all that financial security and greed going on. So, screw them.
Doesn’t really make life any better for the rest of us, though. We’re steal dealing with the robot uprising and globalization.
Just like our ancestors dealt with industrialization and mass-production… and that Great Depression… thing…
We’ve survived it before. We’ll survive it again and come out the other side all the better. Hopefully without a global thermonuclear war.
That would be inconvenient.
But, before we can bask in the light of a new, shiny future economy (preferably one powered by wish granting nanotechnology), we must first go through the grieving process for the old one.
Stage One: Denial
Some of you are in the deep throes of denial’s sweet embrace right now. Chances are, you’re reading this right now thinking one of three thoughts:
- What are you talking about? The economy is perfect and American industrialism will save us all!
- What are you talking about? Rich people really are the problem.
- What are you talking about? Your theory is stupid. You’re dumb and you should feel bad about yourself.
That’s okay. I accept your pain. But, we’ve still got quite a few stages to get through, so for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just assume I’m always right and continue on down the rabbit hole.
Stage Two: Anger
So!? Who cares! The world is going to end and there isn’t anything we can do about it! Maybe we should riot… or elect a sentient yam as president! That’ll teach the world to try and give my job to a robot.
Just because a computer thinks it can do my job better than I can doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep it. And, just because it costs infinitely less to produce infinitely better results doesn’t mean my boss should let me get replaced.
This is pretty much the phase we’re stuck in as a society. We’re raging against the machine.
Things suck for a lot of people. There’s no denying that. Most of us have even come far enough to be able to recognize it.
But, we don’t know how to fix it yet and we feel powerless and used.
So, we lash out.
We’re not wrong in our anger. It is a natural part of human existence.
And, like your denial, I’m willing to accept it for now.
But, world, I’m only giving you three more months. Because, damn it, some of us have been in the anger phase for a decade.
Stage Three: Bargaining
I’m not entirely sure what the bargaining phase is going to look like. Maybe I’m just not ready for it yet. Looking back on the last death of an economy, I’m pretty sure prohibition was the bargaining.
So, maybe that means the modern bargaining has already begun in the form of marijuana legalization? Maybe?
I’m just going to assume I’m right here. It usually works out for me.
I could be wrong. Economically speaking, the bargaining phase of grief is the “If I could only have more time” phase, so what we’re really looking at here is the rich people above.
They just want more time at the top of the food chain and they’re willing to do anything in their power to get it.
Of course, the more they tilt things in their favor, the faster we fall out of balance. The closer we come to the collapse.
Stage Four: Depression
There isn’t a more obvious metaphor than for the depression stage. I mean, come on! We had a literal depression.
And, we’re due for another.
Things might get really dark soon. Some people I know would tell you we’re on the brink of an apocalypse.
I think we’re just going to have some serious growing pains as the final nails get hammered into the coffin of “traditional” industry.
As coal mines turn into wind turbines and telemarketers become robot voices with bad pronunciation, we all have to find a new place in a new world.
(Unless you’re a dentist or a teacher. Those jobs are pretty safe.)
Either way, we’ll eventually come out the other side when we stop trying to fight the inevitable and realize we’ll all be better off if we embrace our destinies.
Stage six: Acceptance
My parents were promised robot butlers and flying cars. Life didn’t deliver.
Now, I’m not going to promise you a Rosie the Robot in every home. We sort of already have that going on. If you super-glued an Echo Dot* to a roomba, you’d have a talking robot maid, right?
And, that’s not a particularly useful robot.
We don’t know what the future is going to bring us. And that’s pretty scary.
I know one thing, though, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be better. And, it’s going to be in the next decade.
And I’m still hoping for wish-granting nano-clouds.
* Cha-chiiiing! This is an Amazon affiliate link. Think of it as me trying to postpone the death of my personal economy.