Living in a mathematically unsustainable economy
Why do we keep getting 'more' stuff? Ask yourself that for a moment before continuing. Why do you have a smartphone? Why are iPads selling like mad? Why is the next version of a smartphone such big news? Ponder that for a second yet? Well... it's because that's just progress! The technological age has treated us pretty well, gotta say guys. Here I am, typing on a laptop, waiting for a timer to go off on my smartphone, listening to music made on the other side of the planet. Now, bear in mind that like most people in the country, I'm living paycheque to paycheque, but ignore that for the moment. Feels pretty good to forget all that, doesn't it? Ok, so here we are, in this amazing, technologically advanced world of convenience. Virtually anything you could ever want or know is available with barely more than a keystroke.
A TL;DR is at the bottom by the way, since I imagine virtally nobody will bother reading this entire thing.
So why exactly is it that, despite being dirt poor right now, we have all these fancy electronics and gadgets? Seems pretty obvious really, as stuff breaks down, you've gotta replace it. And it'll be replaced with what's available right now, which is why despite being dirt-poor, we all have laptops and smartphones and vehicles (planned obsolescence aside).
Ok, so a few points. Anywhere online, anytime someone complains about the shitty economy, there's inevitably someone who responds with "* sent from my iPhone" or some other played-out line. For one... whoever's posting that... stop it. By belittling those complaining about a serious and valid problem, you're belittling the problem such that it cannot be taken seriously. That's a major part of the problem, really... nobody wants to speak about it, because there will always be someone saying we have it absolutely AMAZING right now. And when looking through a very narrow window... it is. But there's more out there than just what you see through that little window.
Second point... and this is the main one... those of you who actively tell people that the economy is doing fine, I honestly believe that most of you who are doing it are only doing so because you personally stand to profit from the poverty and debt of others. If you don't have that thought in mind directly, then subconsciously, since yeah... the better life of richness WOULD really be awesome, and I wouldn't want to lose it if I had it. I don't, by the way. So seriously... stop it, it's not helping, and it's not making anyone feel better, if that's your goal. It's doing the exact opposite in fact... making people question themselves, rather than the system that is supposed to be improving their lives. Just because it's great for you doesn't mean it's great for everyone.
So what was I talking about back there? With the "more stuff"? That's what everyone is doing right now. Making more stuff. But not *yourself*... you're just a cog in the machine, so to speak. The majority of our jobs are for companies that produce things. It's also affecting service jobs, etc, but production is where most of us are. Working in stores, working for companies that sell things, working for companies that move things, working for companies that build things.
And we're doing awesome, aren't we? All of our jobs are getting more efficient, aren't they? New technology, faster computers, less paper, less walking, less people. Right, THAT whole thing. And you've noticed it... I know everyone has. Offices are needing fewer employees over the years. Systems are getting more automated, more efficient. Don't know if anyone's remembered in the news about layoffs. Yeah, THAT'S still happening all over the place.
And it makes sense. The company upgraded their stuff, and look at that, a pile of people aren't needed any more. I mean sure, those people did OTHER stuff, but that's no problem. We'll just spread the extra workload over the remaining people. It's all about balance. So we get rid of a few, and the little bit of slack can be picked up by the others until they get the hang of it. Until they become a more efficient team that can do all of that same work that earlier took a few extra people. And we'll get a raise for the extra work, right? PFFFFT, yeah, right. Does anyone even still get raises that barely match (or often not even match) the cost of living increase?
And companies are LOVING this. Less paycheques means more profit! Less raises mean more profit! And after all, that's the purpose of every single company... to make money. Otherwise, how could it stay around... you've GOTTA be trying to make money. That's the point of the company... find some niche to fill, some object to make, some idea that other people will pay money for... and make money off of it. The entire stock market is based on this, and if you're in the stock market, you LOVE the stock market. It's *literally* a money machine! If you've got the computing power and programs, you just have a computer looking at prices, and trading based on the results. Most of it is just computers trading with computers, not much humanity needed, really... it's just numbers. One look at high-frequency trading pretty much confirms all of that... let's buy a million stocks from X company, see the company's stock price go up because of the demand, then immediately sell it back to them, and the stock price goes back to normal. See what happened there? Buy low, sell high, the program. Yes, yes, there's lots more ins and outs of it, I don't fully understand it, it's more complicated than that, blah, blah, blah, keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night. It's for printing money, just accept it and stop getting all uppity about it.
So yeah, the financial industry is doing amazing right now. All over the news, companies are buying other companies for billions of dollars, billions in profit is made, and those company owners are having the time of their lives! They've worked damned hard to get where they are. If they got a helping hand here or there, well hey... sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know. That's just how it is, and I accept that. That IS how it is, and any amount of whining isn't going to change it. Friends help eachother, I got it. And I don't doubt that it IS hard, stressful work. You deserve more than some data entry clerk... yeah, I agree. Unless y'know, you're the type that has underlings to do everything for you, and you just kick back and rake it in... now you're just getting greedy. Greedier than the other unfathomably rich guys, that is.
But see, that's where the problem is. Everything's getting more efficient, because everything is set up to get more efficient. And that's worked out really well for the most part. Look how far humanity has come! Am I slaving away on a farm, hacking down wheat with a scythe? No, I'm typing on this laptop with 4 gigs of ram! I know, could be a bit higher, but it'll do me good enough for now. But that's technological progress... that's just going to keep on progressing as long as there's an interest in it... which there most certainly is.
What's that, you've been told that, like all other times in history, when a job is replaced, those positions will migrate to a different industry related to the new technology, and everything keeps working like a well-oiled machine? That most certainly worked in the past... but it no longer does. There is now TOO many people, and production is becoming more and more efficient, eliminating the need to hire people at all.
But what about that problem? Efficiency? How's THAT a problem? Isn't efficient good? Yes, absolutely! This trend shouldn't stop, look at how much mankind has accomplished in the past decade alone! HOWEVER... the economic model no longer works as a result. Let me throw a few facts at you. Each of them are fully confirmable online with even a cursory google search:
Population is increasing. It always has, and it always will, that's just biology. The separation of wealth wider than it has ever been in North American history. In fact, the last time the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90% was this high, the result was the great depression of the 1930's. Go ahead, look it up, I'll wait.
Here, this'll help: Wealth inequality between great depression and now
Notice that we passed that old mark not long ago? But hey, this and population are only two points. How about average household debt? Don't worry, I got ya:
Average household debt in Canada
Let's throw another monkey wrench into the mix... umemployment! Now, if you've been paying attention, the news has been all over the place on this. Some say it's around 7% in Canada, others say it's much higher due to how it's calculated. Believe what you want, this part's irrelevant right now. What IS happening for certain is that full-time work is being replaced with part-time work, which is *technically* keeping unemployment down. Oh, sorry, lemme get you that one too:
Full time jobs being replaced with part time jobs
But we all know it's not keeping unemployment down. OBVIOUSLY it's not! A person can't pay for food, rent, and fuel on a single part-time job! Gotta work several of those to make ends meet... if you can even do THAT. Obviously, most people don't, because you already clicked on that "average household debt" link above. Of COURSE you did if you weren't already aware of that problem, because deliberately staying ignorant of the issue would be both harmful to yourself, and to society as whole as you would be spreading misinformation accidentally. And don't forget our old friend "wage stagnation" (do you really need more google links?)
So... we've got record high population, record high debt, record high wealth inequality, and fewer and fewer jobs for all of that... all of it growing exponentially. Now, don't get all scared or think I'm exaggerating... an exponent of say... 1.05 is still exponential. Exponential doesn't necessarily translate to warp speed. But it's still getting worse faster as time goes by. And if you've paid any attention to your surroundings, I imagine you've seen indicators of all of this already. People talk... people see things... it's all right there in front of you.
So what do we do about this? Well OBVIOUSLY, we can't *DO* anything directly. We're the peasant class... our opinions are meaningless. Those in power are going to do what their going to do, and the single only thing that matters is that *enough* of the population is appeased for them to stay in power. Those in power don't even do things that people want... they do things, and then one party will explain why you should think this is a good thing, and the other party will explain why you should think this is a bad thing. And then inevitably, everyone fights and squabbles with eachother, bantering back and forth over issues they have absolutely zero control over regardless of the outcome.
Which is exactly where the "what do we do" comes in. Again... we're the peasant class... we have no control over what the financial industry does, what the world leaders do, or what jobs are going to be automated next. We have exactly two options. We can be proactive and protect our futures, or we can be reactive, and wait for something to change.
Well, if you've been paying attention so far... change is coming. Of that there is no question. What's changing? I dunno, I'm a peasant, remember? How should I know what'll happen when the numbers in a broken and unsustainable financial system start causing too many problems? What I CAN do... what EVERYONE can do... is take a look at all of the facts, and discern for yourself what you think your best course of action will be. When's it gonna happen? Again, how should I know? I have a vague hunch that whatever gives is gonna go in 3 years or less, but that's just a vague hunch based on all the information I've collected. Study into it yourself, and make your own judgement calls, you're a grown up... act like one. That, or you can scramble like mad after the fact with no idea of what's going on, where to go, or what to do... your choice.
NOT blindly scrambling around crying for help requires knowledge however. You need to know what's happening, how bad things are, and just... slowly prepare ahead of time for whatever may come. Remember, the last time everything was this bad (or not even as bad, really), the great depression of the '30's happened. However, we're FAR more technologically advanced now. Does this mean you should collect canned goods? Eh, if you think you should. Look into bitcoin? Probably a good idea. Withdrawal spare money from the bank? Personally, I honestly and absolutely trust my neighbours far more than I trust the privately held ledgers of a horrifically corrupt and unsustainable financial system. Yes, it's corrupt, deal with it. There's basically a new political or corporate scandal involving money popping up every month, do you really think that's just *nothing*? Or have you forgotten all about all of that? Because seriously, a little online searching goes a long ways.
So all that said... what to do? For starters... educate yourself. There's a number of websites that aggregate news, which you can use to come up with a middle ground. I highly recommend 'Reddit', either in the 'World News' or even just 'News' categories. Lemme help you out with a few useful links:
Just remember... educate yourself. Being ignorant of the issues, either willingly or unintentionally, solves nothing and just exacerbates the problem. And talk about it. Talk about it openly with others. Nobody ever brings any of this up... NOBODY. And if I do, the topic suddenly turns quiet, and is quickly changed. Politicians and CEO'S LOVE that by the way... absolutely love it. THEY'RE not going to bring it up... it would be political and economic suicide. It's in their absolute best interest if nobody ever thinks about these things. They keep getting money, keep getting elected, keep doing whatever it is they want to do, as long as somehow or another it appeases enough people to keep going. And don't go all "Oh, but MY party will fix the problem, it's the OTHER guys that caused everything". No, if it's a major party, that's a lie and you know it. All of them have sold out to big business, all of them have screwed over the middle class, and all of them will continue to do so, saying anything they can in order to get your vote, so that they can continue to do exactly what they've been doing up until this point.
Not that it really matters, when this massive house of cards collapses (and it will), it will be irrelevant which party is in power, aside from the fact that whoever isn't in power at the time will claim that all of this is because of the party currently elected, in hopes of swaying votes their way again. Sadly, this will probably work... but the damage will still have been irreparably done. Oh, and if you still want to dive into that rabbit hole a little deeper, try looking up Canada's and the USA's national debt, and compare that to the entire global GDP. Everything I've brought up is all really big, hard to understand numbers, but there's a reason I haven't bothered to put any of them down directly. The numbers themselves are mostly irrelevant, it's mainly the ratios between them you want to focus on.
1. Population is always increasing.
2. Average household debt is at historical high and rising.
3. Separation of wealth is at historical high and widening.
4. Job numbers are decreasing.
5. Wages are not going up, while the price of all goods is (ugh, and don't even get me STARTED on the horrifically overinflated housing industry).
All of these points are fully verifiable (including the housing one). This is an equation that IS happening, will continue to spiral downward, and unless an entirely new economic model is adopted by our nation's leaders, and the world leaders as a whole, it WILL crash in the relatively near future. Like seriously... more and more and more wealth is accumulating at the tops of the corporate ladders, and less and less is available to more and more people. Honestly... ask yourself... how tall do you think that house of cards can be built? For how long? Because here's a hint, "forever" isn't mathematically possible. Or are you just hoping everything will magically "stay the same" until after you die and no longer need to worry about it? Because I hate to break it to you, unless you're on death's door, odds are heavily against you on that one.
And I realize that there's a lot of hatred towards 'guaranteed minimum income', since that involves *paying people to do nothing*... but look at that above paragraph and tell me why this is a bad idea. Even if everyone was given a substantial raise, there's still more people than there is paid positions that require a human to operate, and that ratio is only capable of getting worse. 3 day workweeks with same overall pay? Well, if you WANT to keep forcing people to train and learn jobs that they're honestly not needed for. Seems more like cruel and unusual punishment for being alive, really. I won't bother posting links as to the pros and cons of guaranteed income, I'm pretty sure you know how to use google at this point.
On a final note, I highly recommend watching the following video titled "Humans need not apply":
Humans need not apply, by CGP Grey
Not that I expect people to bother. It's 15 whole minutes, that might finish 3 whole levels of Candy Crush, or catch a sports newscaster telling you the stats of your favourite team!