Friday, December 23, 2016

From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture, from Ag to Industrialization, next?

One of the common themes on this blog, along with , "the essence of normality, is the refusal of reality", is that we're in the middle of fundamental transformation that is completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.

I've irritated folks over the years, and probably stretched it too far, by arguing it's the root cause of every major political event in the last 20 years or so.  Why do people fly planes into the World Trade Tower, this transformation led by globalization has them really scared and they acted out of fear.  Why would people vote for someone like Donald Trump, who by any standards is not only unqualified but not a decent person that anyone should aspire to emulate much less follow... because they're scared and want someone to "fix" it, stop this transformation, stop these changes, make things like they used to be.

A piece of this going forward about 30% of the population are going to thrive and 70% are going to struggle to make ends meet.  This fact will continue to raise animosity, polarization and ultimately conflict for scarce resources.

Richard Florida had a nice thread on Twitter about this a few weeks back -

"1. We are undergoing several nested transformations at once that are causing incredible disruptions of the economic social & political order

2. The first is the shift from natural resources & physical power/labor to knowledge - where the mind has become the means of production.

3.  This shift advantaged roughly a third of the workforce/ population while 66% falls further behind.

4. The second shift is from toward clustering as the source of innovation & economic advantage.

5. This massively concentrates talent & economic assets in a handful of super-star cities & knowledge-tech hubs ...

6.  The world becomes spikier & spiker, across nations, across regions, & within cities ...

7. This clustering of talent & economic assets also makes the city/ metro the new economic & social organizing unit ...

8 Undermining two core institutions of the old order the large vertical corporation & the nation state

9. I would suggest this transformation is perhaps the most disruptive in human history -  the clustering of knowledge > physical labor ..

10. So it should not be surprising that such a widespread transformation & the upheaval of myriad social categories leads to backlash ..."

A couple of books on the subject worth checking out;

Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century

And this one definitely worth preordering -

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I wouldn't vote for me either... The Big Sort

An important point to President Obama's interview with  Bill Maher, especially as it relates to my blog, was when the President said, "If all I watched was Fox News, I probably wouldn't vote fore me either"...

We're becoming so divided, I have previously and do now blame demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly for this... but, nevertheless, it's all part of what Bill Bishop called "the big sort"... and I think it's clear.. it will get worse and nobody knows where it will lead.

You are voting for Trump? Why?

Reasonable people cannot disagree on this election.  Trump is a dangerous con artist who has exposed a disturbing percentage of the population that would willfully trade their freedom, democracy, and risk permanent damage to our country for a demagogue's promises.  

Perhaps you're voting for Trump because you're an evangelical...
 Donald Trump Exposes "hypocritical" evangelicals 

Or you're worried about your money in your retirement accounts...
Financial markets rattled at prospect of Trump victory

A Trump Win Would Tank the Markets 

Global Markets Shudder on Prospect of Trump presidency 

Or just angry about all the damage that Obama has done...

       He took your guns, the stock market tanked, gas prices skyrocketed? ... hmmm.

Because you're a 'business guy' and we need a 'business guy' running things:
       From business guru Tom Peters on twitter:
"Trump stands for hatred, small-mindedness, revenge, exclusion. (I am borderline embarrassed to be an old white male.)"

See also Trump Steaks, Trump Water, Trump University and his tax returns (he isn't rich, he's a showman, a con artist).

Because he'll bring your jobs back?... No, we're in a fundamental transformation of our economy, largely due to automation/technology/globalization...

"Given the volatility of the changes, the idea of an “average” worker was becoming obsolete. And while much of the discussion about economic inequality has centered on the top 1 percent, it’s the gap between the top 20 percent and the rest that’s more salient to young people. “That is a dividing point,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. People in the top 20 percent of income — roughly $100,000 in 2013 — have taken nearly all the economic gains of the past 40 years. (Of course, the top 1 percent and, even more so, the top 0.01 percent, has taken a far more disproportionate share).

This uncomfortable fact, which many economists have recently accepted, suggests that we are living not simply in an unequal society but rather in two separate, side-by-side economies. For those who can crack the top 20 percent, there is great promise. Most people in that elite group, Rank told me, will spend at least part of their careers among the truly affluent, earning more than $250,000 a year. For those at work in the much larger pool, there will be falling or stagnant wages and far greater uncertainty. "
“Weaver and Osterman offer a more industry-specific explanation: The manufacturing industry has become so specialized that companies are looking for hyperspecific skills that few outside workers could be expected to have. But companies have also become less likely to offer training for new hires. Companies, the authors write, “are unwilling or unable to solve their skill challenges through internal training, even for skills that are highly specific to a particular plant.”
Even if companies invested in more training, though, it’s unlikely they would go on a hiring spree. Ultimately, the slow pace of job growth in manufacturing isn’t companies’ fault any more than it is workers’. The cause is more fundamental than that: Due mostly to automation, U.S. factories now produce more than ever with fewer workers. That’s a trend no job-training program will reverse.”

Sadly, most are supporting Trump because they are scared.  As the NYT's piece above points out all the gains are going to the top .01% and the rest of us struggle to make sense of an economy that doesn't look like the one's we were taught about by our parents or our schools.  We must have serious, big, conversations about what success looks like and what a meaningful life is, in this new transformed economy and world.  I hope that after the election we'll be able to have those conversations, but my guess is this has all been a con from Trump to start his own TV network and try to pay off his billions in debt to the Russians.  And he'll take 30% of the population, along with Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and others.  And they'll continue to divide this country, caring only for their fame and wallets not the future of the country.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Charlatan

Good piece from Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post - The GOP's coronation of a charlatan 
"(Trump) lacks the knowledge, curiosity, temperament, wisdom, compassion and resolve to be president. The GOP is about to formally endorse a charlatan for the most important job in the world."
noun: charlatan; plural noun: charlatans - a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.

Any other candidate would be long gone.  He won't release his taxes, he's flip flopped daily on issues, his statements are beyond the scope of common sense and decency, not to mention reality.  He really is someone who lacks the knowledge, temperament, and wisdom.  He is nothing more than a cheap con artist, a manipulator, a con man.  He blatantly lies and often the lies are based on his lizard brain need to be loved by the people in front of him.  If he did a rally in front of democrats he would change all of his positions on every single issue. And, of course, he has no earthly idea what pathological means.  Along with being a pathological liar, you can't read the definition of someone with Nacissistic personality disorder, without recognizing it fits him to a tea:
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings.[4][5] People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them.
And he stands just less than a 50/50 shot at becoming President of the United States.

Why? How?

In part, I suggest it's 25 years of the Rush Limbaugh and Fox News convincing poor whites that they are victims of the liberal elite and that the only media they can trust is conservative media.  So, it doesn't matter what the New York Times says, or Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post - they're on the 'other team'.  It's us against them and we must hunker down and support our own. 

The other piece, which I've suggest many other times on this blog, is that people are really really scared.  They don't understand the economy, education was the answer but now nobody is really sure what school is for, they are worried about their children, and their retirement, and their communities, and they just want someone to fix it.  And Fancy Donnie says that he'll fix it.  They're willing to bet it all that the charlatan can fix it.  They saw him on tv in that show, and he's got a plane and fancy things, maybe he can fix it, maybe he will bring those jobs back, and Make America Great White Again.  For nearly 50% of the population, who apparently I don't understand at all, it's worth the risk that he can.

And how powerful are these two things?  We end up with Trump,  an east coast, New York city billionaire, who has become the voice of, and for, the white working class.   And he's not just a New York City billionaire, he is an obnoxiously fancy one.  He went to fancy schools, sent his children to fancy schools, lives in fancy houses, has fancy wives, wears fancy clothes.  Poor whites don't like fancy.  They picked on fancy kids who wore izod shirts and penny loafers.  But, Trump they like.  And they also want to vote for 'someone they can have a beer with, but Fancy Donnie had never had a beer or an alcoholic drink of any kind.  Much less a smoke or a chew of tobacco.  And yet, the hold is so tight they ignore all of that?  But, at least he's a christian?  Not even close.  He's never opened a bible in private in his life and everybody who has paid any attention to him knows it.  A narcissist like Fancy Donnie believes he is god and damn if he's going to worship someone else.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trump and Brexit - Libertarian dreams of an authoritarian who will fix it?

A number of really good recent pieces on the Trump phenomenon...

Trump: The Haunting Question

All very well written and most of which allude to a critical point I would highlight.

We are in the middle of a transformation of historic proportions which is completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.  Many want to compare this era to the transition from Agricultural to Industrialization, but a more accurate comparison is between Hunting and Gathering societies and Agricultural societies.  Figuring out where the extra people would work when everyone wasn't either hunting or gathering is different that retraining people from working in farms to working in a factory.

We very much want to retrain, because it is the only model we can imagine.  But, retraining is not nearly enough, primarily because we can't imagine what this new economy will look like.

Trumps supporters, and those who supported Brexit, don't want to transition, they want things like it used to be, their nostalgia about industrialization is misguided and simply wrong.

It's a fascinating conundrum that they say they want 'freedom', they want 'self-rule', they want 'to take care of themselves'... they argue that it's their 'libertarian spirit'.  Yet, at the same time they want authoritarian politicians and leaders like Trump to just "fix it", to bring the companies back.  And though they won't say it, the companies they want back are the ones like their fathers and grandfathers used to work... companies who will 'take care of you'.  It was the grand bargain, perhaps part of the social contract, where if you worked hard, played by the rules, you could get a job that would pay the bills and ultimately retire and 'do what you want'.  I've written multiple times on this site that that deferred life plan many signed up for didn't workout as most hoped it would, nevertheless, we're nostalgic for the dreams that we were sold, even if they didn't come true.

We don't know much about this new economy, but right now it appears one of the keys appears to be that companies simply do not need people to make record profits and  won't be hiring people for the long-run, they'll being hiring freelancers and temporary contract help when they need it.  So, they won't take care of you and thus for individuals to succeed they'll need to 'take care of themselves'.

Which is interestingly enough what many say they want, but are not prepared to do in this new economy.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Manufacturing Jobs Are NOT Coming Back

Speaking at the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) Conference, Vivek Wadhwa said:

 "we need to understand innovation so we aren't focused on solving yesterday's problems"...

Are schools set up to challenge yesterday's problems or tomorrows?

If they are worried about  segregating, ordering, rating, separating, grading, competing, rewarding some and disciplining others - I think it's clear which it's focused on.

Two other pieces get to the same point:
Five Thirty Eight - Manufacturing Jobs Are Never Coming Back

"Here’s the problem: Whether or not those manufacturing jobs could have been saved, they aren’t coming back, at least not most of them. How do we know? Because in recent years, factories have been coming back, but the jobs haven’t. Because of rising wages in China, the need for shorter supply chains and other factors, a small but growing group of companies are shifting production back to the U.S. But the factories they build here are heavily automated, employing a small fraction of the workers they would have a generation ago." ...

Washington Post: Factory jobs trickle back to the U.S., giving hope to a once-booming mill town

"In 1994 there were 3.5 million more Americans working in manufacturing than in retail. Today, those numbers have almost exactly reversed, and the gap is widening. More than 80 percent of all private jobs are now in the service sector."

Every community college, especially those in rural areas, are ramping up for the pending manufacturing revival... training people for yesterday's problems. Every high school, especially those in rural areas, are focused on developing dual-enrollment programs so there students can earn practical, hands on skills to get "practical" jobs, at these returning companies.  The logic appears to be that some companies are just looking for people with the "right skills" to adopt and take care of for the next 35 years, at which point they'll give the employee their leave with a nice bonus and encourage them to move to Boca... it's a beautiful fairy tale, one which our parents bought hook, line, and sinker some 50 years ago...

And most challenging, it's the fantasy that Donald Trump is selling million's of people, that there is just a silver bullet fix that can return everything to they way they mis-remember them.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Full of Doubts, Full of Confidence

Attributed to Charles Bukowski:
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

 (Click HERE to learn more about Bukowski)

Attributed to Bertrand Russell:
 “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

 "Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality." 
  (Click HERE to learn more about Russell)

Attributed to William Butler Yeats:
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity."
 (Click HERE for more from Yeats)

For the curious all quotes investigated by the Quote Investigator - here 

As I read these quotes, Donald Trump and his supporters come instantly to mind... as does this:

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell
Read more at:
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell
Read more at:

Looking for Superman, Finding Scapegoats

Four Really Good Pieces about the Trump candidacy:

David Corn in Mother Jones - How the Republican Elite Created Frankentrump  
Charles Pierce in Esquire - There Is Only One Way to Stop Donald Trump Now
Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone – How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable
David Brooks in the NYTimes - The Governing Cancer of Our Time

Brooks in the NYTimes piece - 

 "Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero."

 We see this same thing at the local/state/federal level in economic development, education, workforce development, etc.   Everyone’s looking for someone to blame and someone to “fix” “it”.  Among the ‘fix it’ folks, their erroneous assumption, I think, is that with the right moves by a superhero, we’ll come out of “it” and everything will be ‘back to normal’.   But, we’re in the middle of a fundamental transformation of the economy, rather than simply coming out of a recession.  We’re looking for (perhaps looking at) our new normal.   And people are scared to death, because they don’t see clear pathways, they can’t see around the corner, etc.

Add to it a reality t.v. show culture, prosperity theology and this guy may be the next president.

Chris Sacca is a successful VC, like the Donald he’s got a billion or so dollars.  His comments on Tim Ferriss' podcast in Jan are, I think, related to the Trump phenomenon:

Chris Sacca on Tim Ferriss Podcast- 1/15/16
“… one of you asked a question that postulated that in the future 30% will have it good and 70% will have it bad.  I actually think on this current path it’s going to be way worse than that.   There will be way fewer people who have it good and the rest will struggle.  In the old economy where people used to have careers, pensions, and benefits that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s been replaced by people who are called associates, who are hourly, who don’t qualify for benefits, who don’t really have a safety net and there is scary implications to that.  I saw a prophetic comment on twitter where the future will be 10 trillionaires and the rest of us will be taking turns serving vente expressos to each other and driving around in each other’s ubers.  Obviously that’s intensively dystopian but there is a trend line pointed in that direction…”
“You’ve got a huge group of people in the United States who have basically lost control of their own destiny.  The small businesses they used to run have gone away.  They’ve lost their farms, they’ve lost their houses, they’ve lost the ability to plot their own future.  When they get up in the morning committed to work hard, they don’t necessarily know that’s it’s going to work out for them.  If that were you, you’d probably be looking for scapegoats too.  Now, I think some of those scapegoats are misplaced and the blame is placed in the wrong place, but...”

Monday, February 8, 2016

Flipping Each Others Burgers

Job security used to be checking off the boxes - good grades, good networking, "right" college, good employer and they'd take care of you.

Job security today, appears to be multiple income streams.  Thus far, I've failed miserably at this blog being one of my other income streams...

A former boss of mine used to protest that "we can't all buy hamburgers from each other, somebody has to make something"

Chris Sacca on the Tim Ferriss podcast recently said:

"...the old economy where people used to have careers, pensions, and benefits that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s been replaced by people who are called associates, who are hourly, who don’t qualify for benefits, who don’t really have a safety net and there is scary implications to that.  I saw a prophetic comment on twitter where the future will be 10 trillionaires and the rest of us will be taking turns serving vente expressos to each other and driving around in each other’s ubers.  Obviously that’s intensively dystopian but there is a trend line pointed in that direction…”
He's probably right... most of us will have to create  ways that entice others to ride in our uber and order our vente expressos to make ends meet.