Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Mike Rowe Vision For America Or The Mark Zuckerberg Vision. Which Will It Be?

I keep banging this drum but I can't help it and don't want to. People are whining about the $15 an hour minimum wage at McDonald's, as if working at McDonald's is supposed to be a job that pays a "living wage". The whole notion is just dumb, McDonald's is where you learn to have a job, not where you spend your career. Sure some people move up and become managers and then regional managers but for the most part these are temporary jobs, low-skill jobs that (hopefully) give you skills like actually going to work when scheduled, dealing with people, customers and co-workers, and so on. The $15 minimum wage perfectly captures the contemporary American mindset. I want more money so you should give me more money and not expect me to do anything other than want more money. Mike Rowe, no surprise, has a different take. If you want to earn a higher wage, learn skills that make you more valuable to employers.

In one year you can get a certificate to be a welder. One of my sons is doing this and will be fully certified before his 19th birthday and hopefully working a job making way more than $15 per hour right out of the gate. By the time he is the age of people who are graduating with a degree in Gender Studies or some other nonsense he might be making $60,000, $80,000, who knows, while the sociology degree kids are living at home and sullenly working at Starbucks. You can learn to be a carpenter or plumber or auto mechanic, something in demand and that has value in the workforce, a demand shown by unfilled jobs. Or you can flip burgers and whine about your low wages until automation replaces you.

On the other hand, Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to have a "universal basic income", or as I like to call it "free money provided by people that actually work". Contrast the view Mike Rowe is talking about where people take responsibility for themselves and their future with what Zuckerberg and Sam Altman, whoever he is, are calling for.

Altman's view is similar. A year ago, Altman said he thinks "everyone should have enough money to meet their basic needs—no matter what, especially if there are enough resources to make it possible. We don't yet know how it should look or how to pay for it, but basic income seems a promising way to do this." Altman believes basic income will be possible as technological advancements "generate an abundance of resources" that help decrease the cost of living.

We don't know how to pay for it? Especially if there are enough resources to make it possible? What part of a debt about to hit...

$20,000,000,000,000 confusing to you? See the contrast here between people with skills who are working high income jobs and paying taxes into the system versus universal basic income where people who are not working are taking money out of the system. One is sustainable (or at least more sustainable) and one is not.

If people have enough money to meet their basic needs, no matter what they do or more to the point don't do, what do you think they will do? I am pretty sure a ton of them will just stay home and browse Facebook all day, which might be exactly what Zuckerberg is hoping for. If a lot of people can stay home and have their basic needs met by magic money, who is going to pay into the treasury? Or Social Security?

I am also pretty confident that Zuckerberg is positioning himself for a run for the Presidency in 2020, with his "listening tour" among all the little people, showing up at churches and etc. He is only 33 now but by 2020 he will be older than the requisite age of 35 to run for President. Even his Wikipedia page (which I am sure is carefully managed by his people) description of his "religious faith" is perfect for this political age:

While raised Jewish, Zuckerberg later identified as an atheist, a position he has since renounced. He has shown an appreciation for Buddhism.With regard to Christianity, both Zuckerberg and his wife told Pope Francis in August 2016 "how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he's found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world." In December 2016, when asked "Aren't you an atheist?" in response to a Christmas Day post on Facebook, Zuckerberg responded, "No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important."

That is a beautiful way to be appropriately religious in this day and age, making the right pious noises while actually not believing in anything. He doesn't offend anyone but makes nice sounds about everyone. I like Buddhism! I like ("Pope Francis" style) "Christianity"! I was raised Jewish! Mark my words, Zuckerberg and his "vision" of a mass of the population staying home with their universal basic income sitting around and staring at Facebook will be on the ballot somewhere in 2020.

We are facing two competing visions, two futures for America, represented however imperfectly by Mike Rowe who calls for people to invest in themselves and find value in work versus Mark Zuckerberg who wants people to have their basic needs provided by the labor of someone else. Could we see a 2020 race that is Mike Rowe vs. Mark Zuckerberg? I would love to see that debate!

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