America Is Turning Into ‘Blade Runner With Food Stamps’
James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute
May 23, 2013
Walter Russell Mead outlines two possible futures for middle-class Americans: one where most of us lose “the race against the machine,”the other where smart government policies enable an eventual successful transition to an economy where IT and robots do a shockingly large percentage of the jobs humans do today — but the carbon-based life forms still have plenty of meaningful work to do.
Mead calls that first scenario, “Bladerunner with food stamps.” Mead:
It’s likely that an information age welfare state would consist of two components: straight out welfare and “social inclusion” payments for some, subsidized make-work jobs (like Postal Service employment in an age of email) for others. …
If the information economy works like this, the whole country would start looking more like California and New York City: unbridgeable class divides, huge inequality, fountains of innovation, and tiny islands of great wealth and privilege surrounded by proles on the dole. Inside the glittering bubble, the digirati and their courtiers would live lives of intense purpose and excitement.