A Recession? No. A Fundamental Shift In The Nature Of The U.S. Economy

The social and political impact of new emerging technology is always disruption and acceleration. Those institutions that are intractable are swept away unable to divine a way forward.  We are witnessing this very impact in the United States today.

The arrival of the internet has permanently altered the relation between old mercantile ‘brick and mortar’ institutions like newspapers, media, gender relations, shopping, even the status of ‘the book’ has become irrevocably altered. Nothing can withstand the titanic shift in relations implosive electronic media induces.

The United States economy is currently facing what is termed by economists as ‘structural unemployment’.  This refers to the loss of entire industries from the arrival and impact of implosive electronic media with open markets.

If you study major economic recessions since the U.S. began keeping records you see three major ‘resets’ in the economy.  All resulting from the social and political impact of emerging technologies bringing fast cultural change to both the American consumer and producer simultaneously.

First reset was when the United States changed from an agricultural to an industrial economy.  The second was the emergence of suburbia with the subsequent rise in housing and consumption.  Our present crisis is the third great ‘reset’.  This regards the immediate death of our industrial command based economy.  What is emerging is a knowledge based economy driven by skills in high demand.  Witness the rapid emergence of both nano and petro-chemical based technologies.

The weak upshot to this schism in our contemporary culture is that low grade service skills will be ubiquitous.  This along with quantitative easing will bring massive inflation.

The United States in the long term will out pace other emerging political economies due to our historical commitment to egalitarian principles enshrined in institutions grounding our political economy.  Other nations will be paralyzed as they grow without the ability to address serious social grievances.

The disruption of this third ‘reset’ will completely eradicate the old template that dominates institutions of higher learning, for numerous disciplines will be faced to admit total irrelevancy.  The good news concerning all this disruption is that historically it took twenty years for a ‘reset’ to playout, with electronic implosive technologies the cycles of transformation are much faster.  The playout ratio is now around five years!

What are the consequences?

This means workers must continuously learn new skills to be productive.  Socially and politically it means that centers of power must acclimate to a more informed citizenry.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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