From the beginning of time, humans have worked to find ways to make life easier and more enjoyable. To that end, once someone invents a new product, other people immediately look for ways to improve it or make it obsolete.

It’s only natural that visionary people strive for efficiency and perfection. With advances in technology, the possibilities are unlimited. Inventors and innovators rarely consider the consequences of their actions. That’s something for other problem solvers to deal with.

Today, our obsession with cost cutting has eliminated millions of “entry-level” jobs which were once necessary for “inexperienced” people who were ready to take Step 1 of their career path. Once they mastered Step 1, they could advance to Step 2, and then to Step 3.

If we eliminate Step 1 opportunities, how will young people, and people with limited skills, get started? For millions of people, that first job was where they learned to work, take orders, develop skills and earn a shot at Step 2. Step 1 jobs are rarely glamorous, but they build a foundation for the future.

Economist Joe Schumpeter came up with the idea of “creative destruction” in the 1940s. It refers to the problems with constant economic upheaval. It “revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old ones, incessantly creating a new one,” he said.

As older industries evolve, consolidate or even die, younger companies and sectors emerge. This economic evolution is often disruptive for workers and shareholders in mature companies, yet promising for young companies on the rise.

Companies don’t live as long as they once did. The average life span of a company listed in the S&P 500 Index of leading U.S. companies has dropped by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today, according to Richard Foster, a Yale University professor and an emeritus director of McKinsey & Co.

Foster has estimated that by 2025, more than 75 percent of the S&P 500 will be made up of companies virtually unknown to us today. How do we prepare when tomorrow’s jobs haven’t even been invented yet!

Just 30 years ago, tens of millions of high school and college graduates could expect defined jobs and careers. Today, because of daily changes in technology (creative destruction) graduates must be prepared to create their own jobs and careers. Talk about stress.


Maybe the creative destruction phenomenon hasn’t impacted your industry yet? Don’t say it can’t or won’t…because it eventually will. When it does, your good job will be replaced by an inferior one through no fault of your own.

Jobs give people pride and dignity. You need to pay attention when our government negotiates trade deals. Free trade is good for the economy…we get less expensive clothes, toys, electronics and goofy gadgets. But there are human costs here in America as workers are dislocated and left unemployed and underemployed.

Russ Roberts recently explored the theory that all progress is good…that there are no consequences when it comes to scientific, medical, technological or engineering innovative breakthroughs.

Roberts is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and author of the book “The Human Side of Trade.” The world is changing almost every day. And no concept is impossible. Just look around. Iconic American industries are falling by the wayside leaving millions of middle class families wondering “what happened?”

While it might be inconceivable, Roberts asks us to ponder the hypothesis that a scientist invents a pill that once you take it, it lets you live until you turn 120 with no health issues whatsoever…but you die a peaceful death on your birthday. This miracle pill would costs you just $100.

Would you choose to take the pill? Would this life-changing discovery be good for the country? Why would anyone not embrace this advancement in medical research?

Many current industries are being wiped out, but unless you are affected, you don’t care. But in this case, we’d see devastation hit the careers of doctors, nurses, health care workers, businesses that build and supply hospitals.

Universities that teach medical students would suffer. People that sell health care insurance, pharmaceuticals, physical therapy and related services would have their lives disrupted.

We’d still need some of these people as there would still be accidents and mayhem requiring medical expertise.

Roberts says millions of these highly intelligent, highly trained and skilled people would suddenly be unemployed and looking elsewhere for challenging work. Their incomes would likely drop substantially while they try to find comparable opportunities and careers.

Many of these people would suddenly appreciate the plight that millions of their fellow Americans are experiencing as a result of outsourcing, innovation, technology, automation and the use of robots. In fact, have you talked to a medical doctor lately about how she needs to be a computer whiz because the profession has been engulfed by new technological marvels.

The good news is, because of the miracle pill, people would be wealthier. They wouldn’t need to pour as much of their earned income into health care and pharmaceuticals. They would spend their newfound disposable income on something else. By the way, what would people 110 years old do?

What would those highly intelligent people in the medical fields do with their time, talents and energy? I’m sure they’d find challenging careers in social work, engineering, teaching, technology and other fields of science.

They’d surprise us with “things we haven’t even thought of yet.” They’d pursue challenges that would lead them to financial and psychologically rewarding lives, says Roberts. In other words, they’d bring about more creative destruction.