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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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