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Ben Sasse On The World To Come

This weekend I am at an event called The Gathering [1], for Christian philanthropists. I did a panel yesterday with Michael Gerson of The Washington Post, discussing The Benedict Option [2]. I met law professor John Inazu over breakfast, and he generously agreed to do a dialogue with me about the differences and similarities between my ideas and his concept of “confident pluralism.” [3] Watch this space in the weeks to come for that. John, an Evangelical Christian, is more optimistic than I am about prospects for Christians in post-Christian America. I think it will be an interesting discussion.

Yesterday I heard a wonderful lunchtime address by Sen. Ben Sasse, who told the audience that the US is going through an unprecedented historic transition right now, driven by economic restructuring, technology, and other things.

“We’re entering an era for the first time in human history where people are going to hit forty to fifty [years old], where their entire skill set will cease to exist, because of technology,” he said. Sasse went on to discuss the strong challenges this new world pose to human community.

According to Sasse, social science data show that a human being needs four basic things to be happy:

Sasse said that technology and automation is going to rob more and more people of meaningful work — and that whether we like it or not, this is going to have tremendous impact socially and psychologically.

He also quoted some statistics showing that loneliness, isolation, and the withering of friendship in recent decades has gone up markedly.

 

In the years to come, he said, we will see lots of confusion as fragmented, atomized people scramble to find a “new tribe.” The senator said that Christians will have to “figure out how to revalue place and the local at a time when place and the local is evaporating for most people.”

 

He ended by urging the philanthropist to “invest time and treasure” figuring out how to teach people to do this, and to make it possible.

Whether the senator realized it or not, he’s talking about sociologist Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of “liquid modernity,” [4] in which nothing is solid. The world Sen. Sasse describes is Bauman’s world. In the Benedict Option [2] chapter on the Monks of Norcia, I wrote about the Benedictine vow of “stability” as an antidote to liquid modernity:

Along those lines, a tree that is repeatedly uprooted and transplanted will be hard pressed to produce healthy fruit. So it is with people and their spiritual lives. Rootlessness is not a new problem. In the first chapter of the Rule, Saint Benedict denounced the kind of monk he called a “gyrovague.”

“They spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,” he wrote, adding that “they are always on the move, with no stability, they indulge their own wills”—and are even worse, the saint said, than the hedonistic monks whose only law is desire.

If you are going to put down spiritual roots, taught Benedict, you need to stay in one place long enough for them to go deep. The Rule requires monks to take a vow of “stability”—meaning that barring unusual circumstances, including being sent out as a missionary, the monk will remain for the rest of his life in the monastery where he took his vows.

“This is where the Benedictine life is probably the most countercultural,” said Father Benedict [of Norcia]. “It’s the life of Mary, not Martha: to stay put at the foot of Christ no matter what they say you’re not doing.”

The Bible shows us that God calls some people to pick up and move to achieve His purposes, Father Benedict acknowledged. “Still, in a culture like ours, where everyone is always on the move, the Benedictine calling to stay put no matter what can call forth new and important ways of serving God.”

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman says that liquid modernity compels us to refuse stability because it’s a fool’s game. “The hub of postmodern life strategy is not identity building but avoidance of fixation,” he writes. In Bauman’s pitiless analysis, to succeed today, you need to be free of all commitments, unbound by the past or the future, living in an everlasting present. The world changes so quickly that the person who is loyal to anything, even to her own identity, takes an enormous risk.

Instead of believing that structure is good and that duties to home and family lead us to live rightly, people today have been tricked by liquid modernity into believing that maximizing individual happiness should be the goal of life. The gyrovague, the villain of Saint Benedict’s Rule, is the hero of postmodernity.

The more uncommitted people today are to anything — to a faith, to an institution, to a community, to a family, and so forth — the more they will thrive in the world of liquid modernity. “Thrive,” that is, in terms of “get ahead.” But it should be obvious that this kind of person will be a dead soul spiritually, and enormously stressed psychologically and emotionally by loneliness and purposelessness.

For Christians, navigating liquid modernity successfully while being faithful to the truth is a prime task of the church. As the senator indicated in his talk, we have no real model for this kind of thing — but it’s coming at us, and coming at us hard. We cannot afford to be complacent. Sen. Sasse’s charge to his audience — to spend time and treasure helping others to deal with the radical and constant instability that will characterize our world for the foreseeable future — is profound, and profoundly true.

It does make me wonder, though, whether men like Ben Sasse are at their best serving in politics, or if founding and leading civil society institutions is more important work. I did not realize until hearing the senator speak yesterday that he and his wife are Christian homeschoolers who educate their children by the classical method. Had there been audience Q&A after his speech, I would have asked him to reflect on the role education has in forming Christians to be faithful and resilient in liquid modernity. This passage from my book came to mind:

“Education has to be at the core of Christian survival—as it always was,” says Michael Hanby, a professor of religion and philosophy of science at Washington’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute. “The point of monasticism was not simply to retreat from a corrupt world to survive, though in various iterations that might have been a dimension of it,” he continues. “But at the heart of it was a quest for God. It was that quest that mandated the preservation of classical learning and the pagan tradition by the monks, because they loved what was true and what was beautiful wherever they found it.”

As crucial as cultural survival is, Hanby warns that Christians cannot content themselves with merely keeping their heads above water within liquid modernity. We have to search passionately for the truth, reflect rigorously on reality, and in so doing, come to terms with what it means to live as authentic Christians in the disenchanted world created by modernity. Education is the most important means for accomplishing this.

“Retaining the imagination necessary to see or to search for God is going to be an indispensable element in the preservation of true freedom and Christian freedom when our freedom under law becomes more and more limited,” Hanby says.

Today, across the Christian community, there is a growing movement called classical Christian education. It is countercultural in both form and content and presents to students the Western tradition—both Greco-Roman and Christian—in all its depth. Doing it right requires a level of effort and commitment that contemporary Americans are not accustomed to—but what alternative do we have?

Prof. Hanby and Sen. Sasse both work in Washington, DC. They should meet and talk through these ideas. I’ll do what I can to make that happen.

UPDATE: Judging from some of the comments, a few of you think Ben Sasse was arguing that we just have to accept this rootlessness. That’s not the sense I got from his remarks. He was saying that this is simply the reality we live in, and are going to live in ever more; the challenge he put to this Christian audience is to figure out how to develop rootedness in this kind of environment. He clearly said that we cannot be happy if we surrender to what I call (after Bauman) liquid modernity. I don’t know that he has read The Benedict Option, but this is essentially my approach: saying that believers have to deal realistically with what’s happening, and develop practices and institutions to help us stay rooted amid this kind of environment.

79 Comments (Open | Close)

79 Comments To "Ben Sasse On The World To Come"

#1 Comment By March Hare On September 24, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
The only things people need to be happy are to crush their enemies, see them flee before them and to hear the lamentations of their women.

That and a cold beer. If you have those things then you have all that you need to be happy.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

An evolutionary biologist would say that you are unwittingly taking one side in a grand primatology struggle. You’re taking the attitude of the chimps. Over here on the other side of the Congo River, we bonobos have a much more chill view of happiness. It involves a lot of tropical fruit, mutual grooming, and, well, friendly interpersonal relations.

#2 Comment By TR On September 24, 2017 @ 1:51 pm

I think Galanx and I make the same point. But his example of the air-conditioned combine that can put a 100 farmhands out of work is far more colorful.

Note to city slickers: It’s not an exaggeration. One man can easily farm six hundred acres of cotton providing he can borrow the money to buy some very expensive air-conditioned machinery.

#3 Comment By redfish On September 24, 2017 @ 2:30 pm

@Tim F,

Yes, the focus on robots and automation always seem to me a distraction from the fact that the majority of job losses in the West have not been to automation, but exploitation of low-wage labor abroad. And from people not wanting to admit that free trade agreements like NAFTA were bad for the country, or that illegal immigration is bad for the country — so they point the finger at automation.

Then, there is some argument that Pandora’s box is open, and in order to compete in the new low-wage economy, the only solution is automation; but then this precludes a lot of other possibilities, including building third world economies into modern, middle class economies, in which automation may play a role, but supplemented by a workforce.

A lot of the arguments about automation also seem to overly buy into corporate-driven futurism which is more about lowering labor costs than it is about creating solutions that actually work better. So for example, self-driving cars on any large scale seem more trouble than they’re worth, because although on their own they’re not accident prone, if they’re competing with human drivers on the road, it seems a recipe for disaster. Self-driving cars would need their own freeway lanes to be safe. And then you get into even more hair-brained proposals like delivery by drone, where so many things can go wrong.

There’s a large degree of corporate hucksterism here.

#4 Comment By Nate J On September 24, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

@GregR: “Where automation has historically been used to replace the blue collar market it is now being used to replace intellectual workers and the pace is accelerating. IBM and WATSON are legitimately starting to replace, or supplement doctors. FEA programs are starting to reduce the need for new engineers…”

– – –

This is the crux of the matter: automation and technology will not displace the lower end of the spectrum, but the higher end. We will have robots interpreting MRI results before we have robot janitors, and it won’t even be close. We will have human plumbers for generations to come, but the materials they use will be designed by machines.

The end result will not be displaced poor people, but displaced upper-middle class folks who find themselves doing manual, low-cost labor. There will be fewer openings at med schools, engineering firms, and the like. Then will come the upheaval.

It sounds cynical, but revolutions don’t come because the underclass gets mistreated. The poor and downtrodden have been easily ignored and abused in every society since the dawn of man. Revolutions come when the upper class gets knocked down a peg into the bottom.

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 24, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

After the revolution, CatherineNY should definitely be a conservative delegate to the National Peoples Congress. (Tongue in cheek, I don’t expect that kind of revolution, or Jack London’s Iron Heel oligarchy… not any more. Life has become too complex for anything so simple.)

Instead of believing that structure is good and that duties to home and family lead us to live rightly, people today have been tricked by liquid modernity into believing that maximizing individual happiness should be the goal of life.

That’s the inevitable result of cold war anti-communism, not the Enlightenment. How dare those commies impose social demands on individuals who should be free to do whatever they want, like we are in America. (We are? Oh boy, lets get on with it!)

As I’ve mentioned before, I took Liu Shao Chi’s assertion “communism is the greatest and most arduous cause in the history of mankind” with a large grain of salt, precisely because no collective enterprise can sustain such a claim unless, in the long run, and on the whole, it ultimately makes life more beneficial for the individual souls who make up “mankind” (generically, including the women).

Reminds me of when I was working in the Canadian Prairies and listening to people mourn the disappearance of all those small towns and the farmers they services- while sitting in air-conditioned combines that could do 100 times the work.

And how might the financial “savings” resulting from those combines have been shared with all the small family farmers who abandoned those small towns? (Not to mention the former migratory manual labor work force)? Some would have been less wealthy, but all could have had a share. Local churches would have been stronger too.

When the communist party lost control of the Polish government, the hot-shot liberal economists who came in from the west to “help” advised that those little family farms were just so inefficient, they needed to be combined into more rational units. (Remember when those family farmers were the bulwark of resistance to Stalinist collectivization?) Ironically, it seemed to me that a most Stalinist innovation, the Machine Tractor Station (sharing expensive equipment among several cooperating farm families) might be just what was needed to save the conservative Roman Catholic anti-communist farmers from the liberal agnostic anti-communist liberal globalists.

Another concern is that too many people are so out of it, they are not even aware of the Mariel argument and its role in influencing elite thought.

It certainly escaped my attention. Is there some reason I should care?

#6 Comment By Nate J On September 24, 2017 @ 8:30 pm

After reading some of the comments here, I think traditionalist conservatives (and traditionalist leftists, to the extent they exist) would be wise to avoid the siren song of Universal Basic Income. The first tip-off should be who is supporting it, folks like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

These people are hardly traditionalists. They are the new prog-capitalist globalists who have made their fortunes promoting and exploiting liquid modernity. It seems to me that UBI is just a scheme to create good, numb consumers. It would allow the Zuckerbergs of the world to continue to chip away at the traditional foundations of society while salving their guilt about it, and perhaps avoiding revolutionary conditions that they know would work against them. “Pay off the stupid masses so that our heads don’t roll” as public policy.

As with any vast, new government entitlement these prog-capitalists promote, they know full well they will not be paying for it. You think these folks will lose their billions to make the dream happen? Ha.

#7 Comment By JonF On September 24, 2017 @ 8:46 pm

Re: There is no way to save those jobs once self driving cars hit the road.

Trucks will not be allowed on the road without a human escort to provide security and take responsibility is the tech glitches (tech always glitches)– much as self checkout lines in stores require a human on the the scene to make sure no one is shoplifting and to help out when things don’t work.

#8 Comment By Lllurker On September 24, 2017 @ 9:45 pm

“UBI can’t work because to be both universal and basic as most people might reckon that term would be prohibitively expensive. To provide every household in this country with an income at the federal poverty level ”

Noah for this issue I think you have to look a little farther into the future. Keep in mind that although automation (using the term in a broad sense) can certainly reduce the need for labor it actually *increases* the capability and productivity of the economy.

The only problem here is the distribution of the wealth, not the creation of it. It’s an entirely different paradigm, and I would argue that it can’t even be analyzed while looking through the old lenses, or while thinking in terms of the old tired talking points.

By the way everyone here has become so damn conditioned to negativity, and so accustomed to obsessing over coming apocalypses, it’s sad thing to witness. Can you not even see the possibilities? Of economies that produce more wealth than ever before yet with a fraction of the labor?

Again it’s not a problem of resources. The problem/opportunity is how to make sure the new wealth gets allocated in a humane and caring fashion, with sense of balance that also looks to the proper care of the golden goose.

#9 Comment By The Color of Celery On September 25, 2017 @ 8:20 am

@NateJ

We are being turned into consumers first, then workers or UBI recipients in order to maintain consumption, and humanity is optional and achieved on your own time. Corporate globalists know that low-paying jobs are the future for most, so to sustain consumption, a UBI and possibly basic housing will become necessary.

A more utopian socialist future where society is maintained in comfort and leisure hours are used for betterment would be preferable, but unlikely. There is too much reaction against the word socialism to work toward a more equitable future. So menial workers we’ll become, to support the corporate government.

Finding structure and stability when we are being stripped of our choices and constantly becoming more dependent will be difficult indeed. Privately sustained communities may be a reaction to corporate control.

#10 Comment By C. L. H. Daniels On September 25, 2017 @ 9:13 am

Can you not even see the possibilities? Of economies that produce more wealth than ever before yet with a fraction of the labor?

What I see for our future, as an avowed pessimist (I prefer “realist”, but whatever), is a tiny oligarchy of vast wealth that controls the robots. The robots produce almost everything. They also do a lot of our research, educate our children, provide our medical care, and increasingly, fight what wars there are and provide for public security. They do all of this, of course, in the manner of robots – with cold, unthinking efficiency.

Everyone else (with the exception of a small class of expert managers that is educated and employed by the oligarchy) is basically a prole. What form this prole-ship will take is as yet unknown, but I am increasingly leaning toward the Brave New World theory of the future. A sea of atomized individuals, provided with just enough wealth to head off any revolutionary inclinations, is kept dumb and pacified by a hyper-consumerist culture that prizes sensation, hedonism and The Next Big Thing. Everyone is on drugs, immersed in video games (which are increasingly realistic), and generally engaged in a frenetic struggle to deaden their souls to the existential pain of their otherwise entirely meaningless existences by subjecting themselves to as much sensation and stimulation as possible.

Maybe we’ll rediscover religion, then, but I’m not sure our robot overlords would tolerate it; too much revolutionary potential.

#11 Comment By Lllurker On September 25, 2017 @ 10:05 am

Nate J: “After reading some of the comments here, I think traditionalist conservatives (and traditionalist leftists, to the extent they exist) would be wise to avoid the siren song of Universal Basic Income. The first tip-off should be who is supporting it, folks like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.”

Two thoughts. The first is “what else ya got?” Meaning that to this point no one has produced a viable alternative to transfer payments. There are endless variations as to how to go about it, but at the end if the day transfers of some sort are the only serious ideas that anyone has put on the table.

Secondly, consider as you evaluate the sources for these ideas, that none of this thinking originated with the current occupants of Silicon Valley. In fact Musk and Zuckerberg weren’t even born when these discussions began. Those working to automate and computerize industry — where until recently most of the advances were taking place — have been concerned about this for decades.

We need to pay attention to the signals that are now coming out of Silicon Valley because these are the people whi are actually developing the technology. And *everyone* out there has now become concerned about these issues.

The technology of the futuure is almost here but our politics are still stuck back in 1985.

#12 Comment By bacon On September 25, 2017 @ 10:06 am

In re Senator Sasse’s first need, a theological or philosophical view that explains death and suffering, as someone who has lived past my biblical 3 score and 10 year allotment with neither theology nor philosophy as a crutch, I’m suspicious of both. They seem more like intellectual worry beads than disciplined endeavors. Death is easy enough to explain for someone trained in its mechanisms – every living thing yet studied dies, has a shelf life, so to speak. Ours seems most closely related to cell division limits (see Hayflick phenomenon). As for suffering, some suffer and some thrive in the same circumstances. As a strategy, try to thrive.

#13 Comment By Lllurker On September 25, 2017 @ 10:38 am

Redfish:”Yes, the focus on robots and automation always seem to me a distraction from the fact that the majority of job losses in the West have not been to automation, but exploitation of low-wage labor abroad. And from people not wanting to admit that free trade agreements like NAFTA were bad for the country, or that illegal immigration is bad for the country — so they point the finger at automation.”

Redfish I agree with your observation that more US industrial jobs were lost due to companies seeking cheaper labor than were lost to automation. But that parade passed 20 years ago, and it’s irrelevant to what is happening today.

#14 Comment By Craig On September 25, 2017 @ 11:21 am

If you are a business owner, or a certain kind of white collar professional, like a doctor or lawyer who has an established practice, then it is still possible to put down roots in an area and be economically successful. You then merely have to adapt to the technological changes that sweep through your business, and hope that sufficient demand remains for the services that you supply. But if you wish to make a career by working for corporate America, then you may well need to become a nomad. This may also apply at blue collar level. We are often told that the big mistake made by people living in declining rust belt cities is that they don’t pick up and move in search of better job opportunities.

I’ve often thought that economic necessity is part of the reason that younger generations aren’t buying houses and accumulating possessions in the way that their parents did. Decorating a one or two bedroom apartment with disposable furniture from Ikea might be a wise idea if you need to move every few years for the sake of work.

This kind of movement is not necessarily new. What drove previous waves of migration into the US in the 1800’s and 1900’s, but the pursuit of better economic opportunity? Likewise, why did people flood into cities from farming communities during the first wave of industrialization?

So these kind of occasionally wrenching economic dislocations have been with us for as long as we have had capitalism. It is just that the scale and pace of change have started to accelerate, and we poor humans, with brains equipped by evolution to support a hunter gatherer lifestyle, find it ever more difficult to keep up. The collective is better off for it, but the suffering at an individual level is rarely taken into account. (Consider the switch from a hunter gatherer economy to an agricultural one. The archeological evidence suggests that the produced, for awhile, a decline in the markers of individual health, even though the societies that developed were richer, stronger, and more capable than the ones which faded away.)

So we have progress, but whose progress, and at what cost to the individuals who make up the society? There are no simple answers here. Managing the balance the needs and obligations of the individual against the needs and requirements of society seems to have been a source of contention for most of recorded history,

#15 Comment By charles cosimano On September 25, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

“So, future discussion seems very appropriate. We have to agree upon some limitations that allow us to keep our worldview at the forefront.”

Problem with that is everyone else may agree not to agree with you and just ignore your self-imposed limitations.

#16 Comment By Lllurker On September 25, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

@Nate J: “This is the crux of the matter: automation and technology will not displace the lower end of the spectrum, but the higher end.”

Nate here is an article about a 2016 study that was done to determine which salary levels are likely to be impacted in the near future by automation. Jobs paying < $20/hr are predicted to take an enormous hit:

[5]

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 25, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

The problem/opportunity is how to make sure the new wealth gets allocated in a humane and caring fashion, with sense of balance that also looks to the proper care of the golden goose.

Precisely.

You think these folks will lose their billions to make the dream happen? Ha.

Well, that’s where the real work comes in.

#18 Comment By Lllurker On September 25, 2017 @ 4:03 pm

JonF: “Trucks will not be allowed on the road without a human escort to provide security and take responsibility is the tech glitches (tech always glitches”

Something to consider: there will be a point in the development of the technology where AI driven trucks are causing fewer accidents, killing fewer people, and costing less to insure than trucks driven by people, regardless of tech glitches.

To be viable the new technology only needs to progress to where it is safer than vehicles driven by humans, which isn’t a very high bar.

#19 Comment By CarlS On September 26, 2017 @ 2:59 am

Problem with that is everyone else may agree not to agree with you and just ignore your self-imposed limitations.

Not everyone will agree and not everyone will ignore – that is for sure. But ideas and actions have consequences. And ultimately no one will be able to ignore the consequences of continuing to travel down the road we are on.

Again, what I am saying is that it is possible to go too far technologically and there are things that we should not do. I believe that we need to talk and reach consensus on what is appropriate for human beings.

I am a Christian, myself, and ultimately, I will not be afraid of what may come. I must put my faith in God. But if you think for one minute that a society that bases its view of humanity, or what it means to be human, solely on naturalism (time + matter + chance), and you don’t expect a devolvement of not only humanity, but of whatever governments are erected to ensure continuation of that humanity, then I must wonder if you’ve really thought it through.

Because the only thing that keeps this government – or has – running and working has been the acceptance and belief in God of the Bible by most people, Christians, in this nation. Certainly, without that, we never would have achieved what we have.

Because ultimately you are talking about man taking the place of God. And as we are seeing, everything begins to lose meaning. We are and will be increasingly relativistic, and we will have no absolute standard of right and wrong.

Whatever you say is right for you and whatever someone else says is right for them. And taken to the extreme, as history shows, ultimately, rights will cease to exist and tyranny will take over.

I think that there are number factors that worked together to make what has happened to us happen. I think that the tipping point was World War II and Hitler and the NAZI’s. After the war we won, there were some, perhaps well-intentioned people who decided “never again” and who began to work toward rebuilding society with that in mind: everything had to be acceptable so nothing would be unacceptable. Nothing, except, what “they” determine is unacceptable.

So, if the Bible has verses that indicate that homosexual behavior is an abomination to God, then either those verses must ultimately be cut out of the Bible by law, reinterpreted by law, or the religion that ascribes to that Bible must be outlawed.

So, as far as technology goes, I think we should go forward carefully and evaluate with a good conscience the consequences or our actions. I don’t see it as necessary to paint a detailed picture of how we can go wrong with our technology – it seems straightforward to me. I see too many examples – daily and even in reflection of my own life at times through the years, we are far from being angels. I happen to believe that as good as the potential is in us, we have shown that there an enormous potential for bad or evil in us as well. That is, evil, to the extent that you accept that evil is real. Because, if there is no God, or absolute standard from which to measure, the only important thing is how each individual feel. And that feeling is simply based on some impulse.

#20 Comment By JonF On September 26, 2017 @ 6:33 am

Re: Something to consider: there will be a point in the development of the technology where AI driven trucks are causing fewer accidents, killing fewer people, and costing less to insure than trucks driven by people, regardless of tech glitches.

I didn’t say we would not allow auto-drive vehicles. We will, in the not so distant futures. beginning with the freeways. However the points you raise do not address at all the points I raised which will remain valid and are somewhat orthogonal to tech issues: there will still be a need for humans to accompany vehicles.

#21 Comment By JonF On September 26, 2017 @ 6:35 am

Also, predictions about tech and the future have a way of coming a-cropper. Where’s our flying cars? That electricity too cheap to meter? The standard ten hour work week?

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 26, 2017 @ 11:36 am

Also, predictions about tech and the future have a way of coming a-cropper. Where’s our flying cars? That electricity too cheap to meter? The standard ten hour work week?

Regarding the work week… that’s capitalism for you. A cooperative enterprise would say, fellow workers, we can cut our work weeks back to 15 hours, with a ten percent increase in weekly pay. A capitalist enterprise says, we can lay off 55 percent of our work force, and raise dividends by 150 percent.

#23 Comment By CatherineNY On September 26, 2017 @ 3:40 pm

@JonF writes: “Where’s our flying cars? That electricity too cheap to meter? The standard ten hour work week?” Never mind that — where are our jet packs?

#24 Comment By CatherineNY On September 26, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

@Siarlys Jenkins writes: “After the revolution, CatherineNY should definitely be a conservative delegate to the National Peoples Congress.” Nicest compliment I’ve had in a while!

#25 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 26, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

After reading some of the comments here, I think traditionalist conservatives (and traditionalist leftists, to the extent they exist) would be wise to avoid the siren song of Universal Basic Income. The first tip-off should be who is supporting it, folks like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

Personally, I view th concept of a Universal Basic Income as a poisoned glass of wine, and I wouldn’t drink it if you paid me. Before cosmopolitan liberals were supporting the idea, it was being touted by the libertarian economist Milton Friedman.

Rather than a Universal Basic Income, I’d much prefer having the government take on the role of Employer of Last Resort. People want a job, not just some money.

Argentina actually did the ELR thing quite successfully in the early 2000s, and ended up employing, IIRC, 2 million people. The project was ended for social rather than economic reasons (it was employing mostly women and conservatives were worried it would undermine the traditional family).

#26 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 26, 2017 @ 5:55 pm

But how can he be from Nebraska and act like we are “entering” an era when skill sets will disappear by age fifty. Has he checked the decline in farm laborers needed on the average Nebraska farm in the last fifty years?

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is partly a result of the kind of crops that nebraska grows, and also of the technological methods of growing them. Wheat and corn don’t require a lot of labour, relatively speaking: fruit orchards and vegetable farms require a ton. And of course, it’s possible to do agriculture at a lower technological level than otherwise possible (Europe does exactly that with their refusal of GM cropes). I think the European shunning of GM is asinine and stupid, but if it’s possible to do this kind of thing for bad reasons (= fear of science and veneration of the ‘natural’), it’s also possible to do it for good reasons like providing employment.

#27 Comment By Llllurker On September 26, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

“Where’s our flying cars? That electricity too cheap to meter? The standard ten hour work week?”

Gotcha covered Jon:

Does it fly? Check.

Electricity too cheap to meter? Check.
(Well sorta since I’m pretty sure Crown Princes don’t bother watching the meter.)

Ten hour work week? Check.
(Well presumably even less for Crown Princes right?)

And to top all that, pursuant to the subject at hand, it flies itself!

[6]

We won’t even need “one in every garage” as one on every street should do the trick just fine.

#28 Comment By CatherineNY On September 27, 2017 @ 7:51 am

All the comments I have posted in the last couple of days have vanished. I can usually see my own comments before they have been approved, but I can’t even see the pre-approval versions. Something may be amiss with your software.

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 3, 2017 @ 9:31 pm

There is too much reaction against the word socialism to work toward a more equitable future.

Of course. That’s why smart political leaders change their labels the way they change their shirts, and for the same reason… the old one got dirty.

Call it communitarianism, call it distributism, call it the cooperative commonwealth (a venerable name with a nice conservative ring to it). But the substance has a lot to recommend it, and presented with an eye toward people’s actual aspirations, rather than some philosopher’s infatuations, it can be a going concern.