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Tribalism vs Inequality, DAVOS versus the SOTU Vol 37

February 6, 2014

If you remember even one Knock Knock joke, you must be a Boomer !

Boomers should be proud of their accomplishments and their place in this era of civilization. I sometimes forget to honour our fellow Boomers for their vision and accomplishments, as we focus on our failings and the future. My fault. So Boomer of me, really !

There are less conflicts in the world today, then ever in our history. More people, but less violence. Less poverty, no matter what your definition. More human rights for more humans. Religious freedoms coupled with ethnic tolerance. An unstoppable path to renewable energy, and the start of working on the environment. A focus on Mars. Medical breakthroughs at the start of life, and to prolong it. Imaging living until 100, imagine the things life will show you in 40 years ? I could go on. Why then, are we so bored ? And, if we are bored today, imagine how bored we will be in a few decades ?

Allow me to circle this positive thrust with a few random thoughts. First, I believe that everyone is prejudice to some degree. To like yourself, you have to like who you are, like people like yourself, and love the offspring you produce. I would suggest that Boomers have the smallest prejudice index, or internal view of what they hate, than any society on history. If you are white, a Muslim is not a terrorist, but a co-worker, or a friend. Our tolerance is only growing.

Thus, our tribalism is ebbing, as we address the inequality issues that are color blind. There has been a lot written about our capitalistic system and it resulting inequality. Boomers own this problem, and must work on the fixes. This could prove to be a generational process, as many of the suggested solutions tackle issues that will not be easy to get our hands around. For example, one could argue that our inequality is due to parents not sacrificing their time for their kids, like few of us did. Dual working parents do not have the time to spend the quality time with their kids, teaching them things like how to read critically, social discipline, and a long term view versus instant gratification. One could argue that the vicious cycle, needing to work to support their kids as opposed to spending time investing in their kids, causes inequality. Our kids kids see marriage breakups, many caused by economic issues. They act out at school because teachers are not given the discipline stick Boomer parents gave our teachers – remember if your teacher threatened to tell your parents that you were trouble at school ? Kids getting pregnant, falling into drugs as a pass-time activity, latchkey kids with no structure. participants who are not allowed to fail, and so lose the whole concept of self worth and the purpose of sacrifice.

In reading the results coming from the Davos conference, where these issues were discussed, there were as many solution ideas as there were attendees. Scary really when you consider the brainpower discussing the problem. Personally, as a Boomer, I was more interested in the potential economic issues surrounding work, employment, and productivity than I was the social aspects. In this regard, reading about the technological changes that we will see shortly is just scary. Artificial intelligence, new materials, an internet of everything, well I can now believe the idea that new types of jobs will be prevalent in the near future. At 58, I must accept the fact that I will need training for my next career, whether I like it or not. Better to accept the future than fight it. Our kids will only learn from our acceptance.

So, what can we expect from our leaders ? Based on the Obama State of the Union address, we will see a Liberal agenda try to address these issues of inequality. It must be remembered that Liberalism is new, and is being invented as we go along. Conservatism is well known, is existing, is the familiar. This is not a judgement call, but does bespeak to the idea that as we evolve, we have tugs at us. Tugs that point to prior success, prior stability, prior outcomes that have proven to be advantageous to Boomers as a species. Liberalism really is a “what if” exercise, as it has been since Christ’s time. I grant you that some of the things we hold most dear surely came out of a liberalism, but not everything.

Boomers should not try to make a Conservative argument, whether they be from Utah or Iran, on the pros or cons of liberalism. I believe the focus should be on the long term. Think of liberalism as a short term focus, or timeline. and Conservatism as a long term focus, or timeline.

As a bridging exercise, we should all look at the SOTU ideas, like a higher minimum wage, from all sides. A conservative view might focus on rebalancing the capital versus labour equation. Capitalism need customers, and if people cannot afford to buy your stuff, you go out of business. Think feudalism. A liberal view would be to increase social justice, allowing poor working mothers more money to increase their kids nutrition.

We worry about our kids not growing up and moving out. How could they expect to just stay at home forever. Who are they, Italian ? It has been suggested that perhaps Boomers are doing the same thing, and is that a bad thing ? If everything has its time, is it fair that our kids, who will live a long time, not feel the same urgency to launch as we believe they should ? In that spirit, it it fair for Boomers to also have a time-out ? The answer is a resounding NO, to both. Tying these ribbons of ideas together is the challenge of our times, and there is lots of room for individual improvisations as long as we start soon.

Wouldn’t it be classic if the appropriate analogy of our day is a slave ship where we all have to row together to survive.

Next time on Boomers – wtf !, Nudging and why its good for you.

One Comment
  1. I would leave a comment but they seem to disappear. If I did leave a comment, I would suggest some history reading–some of it by John Stuart Mill

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