Thursday, December 13, 2012

Widening divide

Do we live to work or do we work to live?  When I press students, they quickly agree it is the latter.  (This usually introduces the question of whether we import to export or export to import.)  But the recent election showed that people worry about jobs, less about why there are jobs and what they produce.  The President famously blamed ATMs for job losses.  Where will this go if slow growth is with us for years?

I just listened to Russ Roberts talk to Chris Anderson about the latter's Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.  It's a fine discussion and introduced me to "the democratization of manufacturing."  The latest game-changer allows innovators to become manufacturers. I first saw a 3-D printer create gold crowns at my dentist's about ten years ago.  More capabilities move to the desktop all the time.  Add crowd-funding for capital and amazing things will happen.  I also learned that "Tijuana is the Shenzhen of North America."  Who knew?

There are many versions of what divides people.  Charles Murray warned us about one and there are many others that come to mind.  But perhaps the divide to concern us is between those who get the future and those who fear it. Virginia Postrel noted this some years ago. But I fear that divide is widening.