“The Dropout Economy”

Great article in TIME by Reihan Salam. It’s short, but provides a pretty good indicator of the future to come, particularly for my generation:

But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won’t exist, we’re on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.

It’s important to keep in mind that behavior that seems irrational from a middle-class perspective is perfectly rational in the face of straitened circumstances. People who feel obsolete in today’s information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines. This doesn’t mean that work will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamiliar form.

Look at the projections of fiscal doom emanating from the federal government, and consider the possibility that things could prove both worse and better. Worse because the jobless recovery we all expect could be severe enough to starve the New Deal social programs on which we base our life plans. Better because the millennial generation could prove to be more resilient and creative than its predecessors, abandoning old, familiar and broken institutions in favor of new, strange and flourishing ones.

Only thing missing is the increasing incidence of a five-year plan (or even more) to graduate. Spreading out the experience isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

And at least this means we’ll be good at something. The alternative, of course, being to cryogenically freeze ourselves until the economy improves.

More analysis from Shlok Vaidya here and John Robb here.

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