Could William Gibson and Donald Trump Both Be Right?

William Gibson, the acclaimed sci-fi author, has often said: "The future is already here-- it's just not very evenly distributed," and not only does this apply to access to technology and first world infrastructure, but it also applies to the benefits of globalization; the Freakonomics podcast has been examining Donald Trump's claim that the American Dream is dead, and it seems that in certain places, Trump is right-- while a few decades ago, 90 percent of thirty year olds earned more than their parents, now that number is down to fifty percent-- and the effects of globalization, which economists initially thought would be a win-win for everyone, are-- in the words of economist David Autor: "slow, frictional, and scarring," and so it's not that the American Dream is dead-- plenty of people are taking advantage of the global economy, plenty of people are richer than ever before, and most people have access to first world technological wonders . . . but the American Dream is unevenly distributed, especially if you're a non-college educated male who is unwilling to work in healthcare, or someone who wasn't given a head start (not that the government isn't trying to help a bit, listen to the new Planet Money podcast Retraining Day to hear how this works) which includes black Americans . . . I just finished a treatise on how to survive in this new-fangled, fast-paced, unpredictable world, called Whiplash-- it's coauthored by Joi Ito, the Director of the MIT Media Lab and Jeff Howe, the Director of the Media Innovation program at Northeastern) and they point out that "between 1934 and 1962 the federal government backed 120 billion dollars in home mortgages" which generated trillions of dollars of equity and 98 percent of these loans went to white families, so by 1984, the median white family had a net worth of 90,000 dollars and the median black family had a net worth of six thousand dollars . . . and the trend has continued, so white or black, if you get left behind, you get "whiplash," meanwhile, even the people with money are having a hard time predicting the future, and the only certainty now is that things will move at a dizzying pace, the internet has connected all the knowledge and minds of the earth, artificial intelligence and genetic modification are going to make wholesale changes to everything we do, and while human beings are adaptable, this trait is going to be pushed to the limit in the near future, and we're going to have to have a "healthy relationship with uncertainty," so the traditional American Dream is certainly dead for some, and it may be too late for them to retrain for the new economy, and the Dream is going to be revised often and fast, like the ascension of Uber . . . so you're going to need to both hang on tight and stay loose, so you don't suffer whiplash in the inevitable crash . . . or you'll find yourself in a rusted out tombstone of a town, voting for Donald Trump and hoping for a past that never existed and will certainly never return.


zman said...

"A Future Without A Past" is my favorite LOTNS album.

Dave said...

leaders of the new school? do i need to listen to this?

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