Pipelines, coal, protectionism = Jobs?
But what next?
The people are in pain, they need jobs, they need purpose and direction. They need protection from the insane belief that globalization is good for everyone.
You make some fair points in your comments. It is too much to presume everyone has the ability to seek deeper fulfillment when they don’t yet have the basic means to live.
People do need jobs and a living wage. Given the political circumstances, Trump probably has the best opportunity to provide those jobs. Some of these circumstances are artificial in nature, i.e. if a Democrat (or Libertarian for that matter) were to propose a trillion dollar stimulus they would have been stonewalled by the Republican Congress into perpetuity. But that’s another matter for another day.
The matter at hand is what is at stake. Assume for the moment that we do bring back jobs via a pipeline or a coal mine or some other means that is “short term net positive” to the surrounding community. What does this truly buy us?
As you rightfully said, the Americans in need don’t just need jobs, they need that in combination with a sense of purpose and direction. I presume you agree, that the jobs Trump may be providing will not help in this regard. In fact given his divisive rhetoric, our best case scenario is that he serves as a foil for the collective American public to come to a greater sense of purpose or direction either in contrast or in direct opposition to him.
Based on some of your other writings, I think you would also agree that capitalism alone isn’t going to provide this purpose or direction. At its core this isn’t a crisis of economy, or even ecology. It’s a crisis of philosophy. A crisis of values.
In this crucial regard, Trump has proven himself painfully inadequate in being a proper leader.
But maybe this isn’t such a bad thing? B/c philosophy is not something so easily outsourced. It is and should be a deeply personal reflection.
Perhaps, what we need is less argument about what Trump is or is not, and more discussion about what we as individuals will do about it? Your article on Data of Things is particularly poignant in this regard. What we need is for people to realize the inherent opportunity that this moment in time offers. The simple opportunity to make things.
Perhaps it’s a pipe dream, but I think the best opportunity for our Americans in need is to have universal access to some of the things that you described. The Arduino boards, the raspberry pi’s as well as the 3d printers, the laser cutters.
Maybe a mining job is the right stopgap to get to this point just to put food on the table. People need to eat before they can build. But quickly, very very quickly after the initial coal checks start coming in, these Americans in need will be facing a less tangible but equally devastating conundrum.
How they answer that and how we answer that as a nation is the most important question facing us in the years to come.
PS — Globalization may be to blame for many people’s lost jobs. Sidestepping this change with short term jobs may be a temporary salve but it’s far from an adequate solution. Globalization is coming whether we like it or not, whether it’s deemed “good” or not. We can put the blinders on and stick our heads in the coal mines, but that won’t change the reality that technology won’t slow down. For example, when self-driving trucks upend the domestic shipping and freight industries, should we sidestep that as well? Some will try I’m sure. But I think the best use of our collective time and energies is to give Americans universal access to more individually productive resources. Whereas libraries were the indispensable community resource of ages gone by, I would argue that the analogous resource for today and the future is something more akin to a MakerSpace. A collection of communal tools and equipment and knowledge that will get our communities building together and not just working and living together.