I much prefer Phil’s take (HT: Arnold Kling) on jobs to Megan McArdle’s.
The same technology that is eliminating jobs also connects us and empowers us in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. Maybe what’s becoming obsolete is not jobs per se, but the idea that they are something that you simply find.
Increasingly, perhaps, a job is something that we each have to create. We can’t count on someone else to create one for us. That model is disappearing. We have to carve something out for ourselves, something that the machines won’t immediately grab.
That sounds difficult, maybe even a little dangerous. We’re all comfortable with the idea of “finding” a job. We search for them; we hunt them; we land them. All of these images assume the job already exists.
But to create something new…what does that even mean? Do we all become entrepreneurs? (I think the answer to that question is yes, although many of us will have to learn to be entrepreneurs within existing organizations.) Ultimately, it means we have to find something useful to do, something so useful that others are willing to pay for it.
In other words, as my grandparents use to say, go out make yourself useful to somebody.
Given the President’s job speech, I thought I’d link to this post of mine, Government is overhead.
To sum that post up, individuals working in the private sector produce all the wealth that results in the standard of living we enjoy. Individuals working in the public sector consume some of that wealth.
The public sector would not exist if not for the private sector.
They should co-exist in a beneficial parasite (public sector)/host (private sector) relationship. However, the parasite can get too big and and significantly weaken or kill off its host.
A wise vampire once said:
We like to talk big… vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” That’s just tough-guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got…dog racing, Manchester United. And you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction. He could pull it off. Good-bye, Picadilly. Farewell, Leicester-bloody-Square.
This vampire understood he was the parasite and knew where his food came from. He didn’t think there was much sense in killing off his host (bonus points if you can name that vampire).
Those in the government seem to have a tough time figuring out where their food comes from.