The Flat Society, Earth 2016


Centuries ago, science proved that the earth is round, but today, in 2016, the world is becoming flat. I have watched this happen from the inside as I fled like a refugee out of one job after another: technology chomped its way through the communications industry like Pack-Man, taking out switchboard operators, typing pools, typewriters, and even the grand dames of the publishing empires. Earlier this summer, an article in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the “…best way to cope with a radically changing US jobs market…: is to have a UBI–Universal Basic Income. To me, it looks like Social Security on steroids and the idea made me want to reach for the Rolaids. The article, “A Guaranteed Income For Every American” , suggested that such a scheme would simplify into one all-encompassing thing that mishmash of helping programs associated with poor people and the evaporating middle class we lovingly call “the welfare state”.

“…The UBI is to be financed by getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, housing subsidies, welfare for single women and every other kind of welfare and social-services program, as well as agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare…”

This idea allegedly responds to the prophesies blowing in from Silicon Valley:since at  an increasing rate, jobs currently performed by the middle spectrum of the workforce will become obsolete, certain skill sets in the management and support areas of the workforce spectrum will be “made redundant”. So, tech takes a big bite out of the economy, obliterates entire professions, and leaves the very top and the very bottom strata. Enter “the flat society”.

What will the former middle do? Great. Either become part of the very top or use your annual grant, the Universal Basic Income to live. Occupy Wall Street was just a minor tremor. “The big one” is coming.

Here’s to the coming “flat society”, earth 2016: a thoughtful Columbus Day, one and all