- We’ve ignored manufacturing being automated. Yes, we know it happened, but we’ve pretended that everyone just went on to find new paid work, without critically evaluating the nature of that paid work. Unemployment isn’t a problem, right, because the unemployment rate is at a record low? Tell that to the person who went from a 40-hour per week career with benefits and a sense of security to three different jobs/gigs without any benefits, working 80 hours per week to earn less total income in a far more insecure life just trying to get by each month. Tell that to the person who feels marriage has become something only the rich can afford any more. Tell that to the person who attempted suicide, or self-medicated their depression with opioids after their town’s manufacturing plant closed down, obliterating their town’s local economy and leaving them with no means of paying others for their own existence.
I wouldn't necessarily call this a downer article but it certainly gave me that cold feeling that only dire predictions about the future can. Whenever I see pieces about this topic I get suspicious about the ultimate causes and effects of the opioid crisis. Addiction seems to be worst in places that have been ravaged by economic collapse, and that's not gonna get better anytime soon. We'll almost certainly see similar issues in the coming decades thanks to this rampant hyper-concentration of wealth. It puts the recent anti-consumer legislation and tax reform in an interesting light, as both of those issues promise further steps to exacerbate the problem. Do we have a life raft? Will basic income pan out as a viable option, if it's even allowed to be tested? Is there a way for individual Americans to insulate themselves from the effects of this crisis? Or will we complete our descent back into feudalism, with the new knights and tradesmen being robotic and perfectly obedient to their hyper-wealthy rulers?
Sorry, I'll take off the sandwich-board sign now.