Every day in the media we are being constantly reminded about how dysfunctional our government is, and that the government shutdown is a reminder of how deeply divided our country is on so many issues. Many are questioning the future of our middle class and our economy since many of the jobs and industries that were the lifeblood of the middle class either don’t exist anymore or have been transferred to third world countries for cheaper labor. This is certainly concerning and annoying. Instead of hiking at Red Rock Canyon today (National Parks are shutdown), I am forced to write this blog post instead to keep me busy. Here is a photo from the BLM to give you an idea of how amazing our National Parks are. The rocks are on furlough, but will be getting back pay thank goodness.
These important political issues are confusing and frustrating, but are masking the bigger issue. In a world where goods are mass produced using machines for pennies on the dollar, the economy is shifting from industrial production using skilled labor to one of ideas and technology. The middle class jobs are changing from manufacturing goods to manufacturing ideas. We are in the middle of the greatest change in the world economy since the industrial revolution. The birth of the internet was the first part, and now with mobile instantaneous computing on smart phones, smart watches, smart glasses, and tablets, the entire world has access to information and is connected in ways that even emperors or presidents in the past could only dream about. We are in the midst of an Information Revolution. The future great jobs will be those who dream up and design better ways to find and transmit information. As Paul Graham eloquently stated, http://www.paulgraham.com/wealth.html, “there is not a fixed amount of wealth in the world. You can make more wealth.” There are entire industries and billion dollar companies that are waiting to be created.
This is all interesting and fun to talk about. But what does that mean for the average person? The future of the American economy (yes, that still means the world economy despite all the doom and gloom) is in the distribution and control of information. It is not surprising that two of the five most valuable companies in the world are technology companies (Apple and Google). Who would have predicted that making sure your exes are more miserable than you are (shout out to Facebook) would be worth $124 billion? Who would have predicted in 1990 that internet search would become a trillion dollar business? Google is being correctly rewarded ($290 billion valuation) for understanding that the true value of the internet is not just for looking at porn (although this is certainly very profitable), but rather in its ability to connect people, businesses, and ideas. Ideas create companies, and companies create jobs, and the good news is that due to the rapid decrease in the costs to make internet startups, there are now more startups than ever. As I said in http://sirtunelv.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/how-to-build-a-better-google/, by 2017 there will be more money spent on mobile advertising than internet advertising. Everyone you know either has a smart phone or is probably getting one right? My daughter’s school does not even have computer class anymore. All of their reading and math testing is done on Ipads in the classroom. She is seven years old and already knows how to use a smartphone better than me. The new economy will be in the way that goods and services are bought and sold in real-time by smart phone users looking for easier and better ways to find what they need. People finding what they need=the economy.
The new economy means new jobs. As we discussed in http://sirtunelv.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/what-do-bill-gates-mark-zuckerberg-and-chris-bosh-all-have-in-common/, the technology industry needs 1.4 million programmers over the next decade. Those are highly paid jobs with amazing perks. Free dry cleaning, free food, napping room anyone? But internet companies also need people who understand marketing, graphic design, search engine optimization, accounting, sales, legal, etc. The best way to get a great job is to have the skills needed for that job. The best news is that you don’t even need a college degree for many of these jobs! As I have previously posted above, people all over the world are learning to code interactively for free on great sites such as Codecademy (http://www.codecademy.com/), Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/cs). I met a high school kid at dinner the other night who is studying art. Want to become an artist? Great! What better way to get paid for what you love than helping people translate ideas into web or app design custom artwork? You will use your skills to create the new economy and will be highly paid for doing so.
The national discussion needs to change from shutdown to the lowdown on what is happening all around us. We are the midst of rapid change and access to information for all that is truly an Information Revolution. Imagine if all of the energy and money spent on blame politics was used to teach people the skills they need to succeed in our new world economy? In the immortal words of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother that would be….