Living with a daily glut of breaking-news, we can be excused for not recognizing news that is truly epic. While sorting through the daily tweets and twists from the White House, and the daily roar and reaction from the critics, it’s easy to see why we are caught up in what is daily.
But what about the day after….? Because ready or not, it’s coming.
When it does, our fixation with yesterday [Make America Great Again] will eventually run into tomorrow [Amazon]. In other words, while the White House preaches jobs for a dying coal industry and away from job-seeking immigrants, Amazon President Jeff Bezos preaches universal guaranteed income for all Americans. Picture this. An old man from the old-school patronizing a base that want what they had; meanwhile a young man from the world’s biggest new-school player predicting what we will need, as the very concept of jobs starts to change.
Bezos should know, because his multi-trillion-dollar behemoth is gobbling up jobs faster than the President can preach jobs at his rallies. The epic news, then, is how our very notion work will eventually have to change. But wait. To new-school CEOs like Bezos, fewer jobs doesn’t translate into fewer opportunities. It can also translate into newer opportunities.
Wall Street Journal columnist Scott Galloway disagrees [9/23]. Consistent with the old-school mantra, he writes about Bezos: “It is tempting to admire his progressive values and concern for the public welfare, but there is a dark implication here too. It appears the most insightful mind in the business world has given up on the notion that our economy, or his firm, can support that pillar of American identity: a well-paying job.”
Galloway in the Wall Street Journal and the billionaire in the White House both identify with Benjamin Franklin’s mantra: “Time is money.” We have been reared in the Puritanical work ethic which says work is good, it’s godly, it’s what you do. Even today when we should know better, we have this tendency to ask people we meet, “So what do you do?” Meaning ‘work’ is somehow more valuable than play or sleep or creating or daydreaming.
The dilemma here is no longer just grist for Futurist’s in their ivory tower seminars. It’s what’s happening with each new job-snatching app from Amazon, Google, and Apple. Some day soon, there may be far more people at those jobs rallies, because they will have far more time.
Somebody will have to confront this impending reality. Not Professor Galloway or President Trump. Instead, perhaps the growing legion of blue-jeaned wizards who are busy creating this new world in which there will be less to be busy with. Instead, they are easing us into a new age in which we may now more fully understand the Bible’s view that work is the divine curse from Adam’s fall. Or later Aristotle’s view: “Nature requires that we should be able, not only to work well, but to use leisure well.”
If you got up on your recent vacation morning feeling extraordinarily content and fulfilled, maybe you were unconsciously resonating with how Bezos and Aristotle see our lives in the near-distant future. Where technology is concerned with products and services; and people are more concerned with people. It’s not here yet, but it’s coming. And angry job rallies aren’t the best way to get ready….
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