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Is There a Technology Trap?

If you took an introductory economics class in college, you may remember studying for your midterm and assessing the “comparative statics” effect of a change in price: the result can be decomposed into a substitution toward the lower price alternative, and an overall increase in affordable possibilities.

Almost all economic changes have these two aspects, something akin to a “substitution” effect, and something akin to an “income” effect. For example, suppose that the price of food falls. The substitution effect says I would buy more food. I’m also wealthier; the income effect means that I can use some of the savings on food for other things. Cheaper food means I spend more on the opera.

Proponents of the “technological unemployment” flavor of apocalyptical studies—much like their close cousins the environmental eschatologists—focus only on the substitution effect. Wages are falling, or the environment is getting worse, so the end is near. And it’s easy to think this way. If technology reduces our ability to find high-paying jobs, that’s bad, right? If population growth harms the environment, that’s terrible. Isn’t it?

The answer is, “Wait. You’re only looking at one part of the problem.” If the changes come with an increase in resources, either in the form of wealth or other means of coping with change, then those changes may not be as bad as they seem, and in fact may be positively good. Consider the sharp increase in the affordability of a wide variety of products and services made possible by dramatically cheaper labor. Sure, wages may fall, but if prices fall by more, the income effect bails us out. Environmental damage from sooty air was once taken as a sign of prosperity; sure, good air is now more expensive, but the income effect of greater command over goods and services bails us out. In fact, the increase in wealth can provide the means of adapting to the changes in jobs, or the changes in the environment, with enough left over to spend more on going to the opera.

It’s an ancient problem. As Suetonius wrote of the Roman emperor Vespasian:

He was the first to establish a regular salary of a hundred thousand sesterces for Latin and Greek teachers of rhetoric, paid from the privy purse. He also presented eminent poets with princely largess and great rewards, and artists, too, such as the restorer of the Venus of Cos and of the Colossus. To a mechanical engineer, who promised to transport some heavy columns to the Capitol at small expense, he gave no mean reward for his invention, but refused to make use of it, saying: “You must let me feed my poor commons.”

That’s pure substitution effect, there. It’s true enough that the effect of the invention would have been to “price” some labor out of the market, but that would have resulted in freeing up that labor to do other things, thereby increasing the wealth of the society.

Vespasian was wrong. Prosperity is not “good jobs.” Wealth is widely shared access to useful products and services, and suppressing innovation is not the way to get there. Interestingly, one of the people who recognized this aspect of “technological unemployment” was J.M. Keynes. In a 1930 essay, he argued:

We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come—namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.

But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem… Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well…

The most interesting prediction Keynes made was about the shape of the work life of the future. He combines two insights, neither of which are yet visible, at least not to the extent Keynes expected. The first was the elimination of scarcity on a wide scale; the second is the reaction of workers in seeking to “buy” more leisure with the increased income they receive from working. He did recognize that process might be slow, slow enough that it might be happening before we fully recognize it.

The key elements of Keynes’ argument must be that either (1) labor displaced by technology in one area, such as agriculture or manufacturing, will find well-paid applications in other sectors, or (2) people will simply work less, and substitute paid work for leisure, or construct communities of meaning around voluntary group activities. And that’s a useful way of briefly summarizing the argument in C. B. Frey’s timely book, The Technology Trap. Frey argues that there is no evidence of effect #2. In fact, the work hours of the most highly paid members of society are going up, not down. And the evidence on effect #1 is even less promising, with wages rapidly declining or jobs simply disappearing in sector after sector. It’s not just that Keynes was wrong, but that we are on the verge of a job crisis, according to Frey.

His core claim is that the nature of the technology now being deployed is different from analogous technological changes in the past. For many centuries, improved “capital” mostly meant better tools, which improved productivity of people such as blacksmiths or shoemakers, increasing their wealth. The Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, because of its economies of scale, created dramatically increased inequality. My own go-to observation on this difference comes from Upton Sinclair, who said: “Private ownership of tools—a basis of freedom when tools are simple—becomes a basis of enslavement when tools are complex.”

Except that, after a brief transition period that Karl Marx (and Upton Sinclair) thought portended the end times, the use of capital for mass production actually increased the wealth of even the poorest citizens. Think Adam Smith’s “woolen coat” logic, but applied to every aspect of our lives, ranging from clothing to food to transportation to entertainment. The displacement of labor by machines made people much better off, and created a wealth of opportunities for new and even better-paying uses of labor. The advantage of mass-production, as Frey sees it, is that it creates many niches for workers, unskilled and uneducated in many cases, to occupy positions in factories and other enterprises. So far so good.

But now, according to Frey, we are in an historically unprecedented “this time is different” setting. Once again, technological changes are immanent, and the consequent increases in inequality are rampant. But this time there is no hope of the ensuing benefits of mass-producing for mass-producing new jobs for the lower classes. Where the 19th century replaced people with machines but then required average people to run the machines, the new wave of innovation displaces a large number of unskilled workers and requires only a few highly skilled workers to replace them.

The difficulty, as I argued in my own recent book Tomorrow 3.0, is an increasingly problematic analogy: software and highly portable, connected “apps” are having the same effect on “service” jobs that robots, automation, and power tools had on manufacturing and agriculture. Frey’s key distinction, or so he thinks, is between technology that augments labor, making it more productive, and technology that substitutes for labor, making labor obsolete or redundant. If I have power tools, such as an electric drill and circular saw, I can be a much more productive (and therefore more highly paid) carpenter. If I am a tax accountant, or pharmacist, however, my entire job can be done more cheaply, and possibly better, by a software-driven expert system.

That distinction is not nonsense, but it’s not as meaningful as Frey appears to believe. Skill with power tools makes some workers more employable, and availability of software to do the entire job makes those same workers less employable, it’s true. But consider the example of ATM’s or automatic teller machines. Frey rightly notes:

As is evident by the existence of ATMs, we can easily write a set of rules that allows computers to substitute for bank tellers in accepting deposits and paying out withdrawals. Yet we struggle to define the rules for dealing with an unsatisfied customer. Naturally, banks have taken advantage of this… [A]s the handling of money has been automated, tellers have taken on nonroutine functions.

This would be evidence for Frey’s position—automation is reducing employment—if the result had been a sharp and persistent decline in bank teller employment. But the opposite is true: as the number of ATMs has exploded, banks have been able to expand the number of local branches because the costs of doing so are reduced by being able to automate the routine functions. As Eric Schmidt, head of Alphabet, said at a Columbia University forum in 2017:

There are more bank tellers now than ever because banks are more efficient… You’d have to convince yourself that a declining workforce and an ever-increasing idle force, the sum of that won’t generate more demand… That’s never been true.

One must be careful, of course. It is not literally true that the lower cost of ATM technology has directly caused an increase in bank teller employment. What’s true is that overall adjustments, including the increase in wealth caused by automation generally, have compensated for the narrowly defined displacement of workers in banking. And that’s why the Technology Trap argument is wrong, or at least not entirely right: Say’s Law is always operating in the background. The availability of inexpensive, educated, and productive labor is being increased by technological advances. This kind of glittering and highly profitable opportunity is available for entrepreneurs to take advantage of. It’s true that Frey cannot imagine what form these new developments will take—and neither can I. But the categorical claim, made now by many alarmists, that “this time is different; jobs are gone forever” is no more plausible now than when almost the same claims, and for the same reason, were made in 1848, in 1938, or in 1998.

The fact that there has been rapid adjustment in a few industries—everyone on my “side” cites the ATM example—doesn’t mean that there is no problem. The question is whether the problem is one of adjustment, with a period of sharp disruption followed by a new and hard-to-predict prosperity, or if it this time things really are different. Further, even a relatively “short-term” period of adjustment is a misleading way to characterize what will surely be a decade or more of substantial disturbance in labor markets. If you graduate from high school, and play by the rules, our system has for decades promised a life of relatively prosperity and a period of comfortable retirement. Frey’s observations, and detailed historical analysis, are useful for even those of us who cling to a more optimistic view in the long run.

Reader Discussion

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on January 14, 2020 at 08:45:13 am

Very nice essay. The “technology trap” argument is Nate Luddism pretending to be something new.

Machinery will become so productive there’ll nothing left to do; in the extreme, automation and AI will be able to produce unlimited goods and services with no human input, so we’ll all become unemployed and die. This seems the essence of the argument. Put that way it ought to seem fantastical and absurd.

The real issue instead is that in a period of rapidly improving technology, human capital — “educated and productive labor” — will be increasingly important. Our current wretched system of government schools and increasingly politicized universities is not particularly good at preparing people to be smart and adaptable. Foolishness such as Common Core seems more focused on training drones. The popularity of socialism and victimhood politics among the young suggests schooling is actually becoming destructive in some cases. If, as I suspect, our system is often training people to become *less* productive, we are likely to get the growing unemployment and underemployment the “technology trappists” predict without them being right.

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Charles N. Steele
on January 14, 2020 at 09:12:56 am

In a democratic republic system the increasingly displaced masses continue to have a growing voice because the rewards are increasingly being funneled to a smaller segment of the population. Jeff Bezos getting another billion in his bank account does not help the average working family struggling to keep up with household bills and a mortgage.

Despite our low unemployment numbers the biggest problem is not the lack of jobs but the displacement from higher paid careers to low paid part time entry level (servant class) work.

When trucking is automated in the near future the massive volume of angry underemployed displaced voters will overwhelm our current status quo.

It's interesting to see this play out in the current election as we observe Trumps economic nationalism vs Bernies version of socialist populism. Sadly the only candidate directly addressing this issue is Yang but he's not getting much traction thus far.

Given current trends it looks like we're going to get a reelection next year and then in 2024 the ever growing displaced masses will demand a hard swing toward economic socialism to create some sort of equilibrium.

I pray for peace during these turbulent times!

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Steven
on January 14, 2020 at 11:52:41 am

"But the categorical claim, made now by many alarmists, that “this time is different; jobs are gone forever” is no more plausible now than when almost the same claims, and for the same reason, were made in 1848, in 1938, or in 1998."

Willful ignorance is no impediment to certainty and confidence. This phrase is often employed to highlight the ongoing error(s) of many Leftists.
It would appear that it is equally applicable to our free market economists and / or those who would have us understand humanity to be simply an updated technological version of homo economicus.

Here is the (willfully) ignored element missing from this discussion. Whereas Munger avers that, as in the past, a carriage maker (my example) may move into a Ford automobile plant, he neglects to consider the impact upon employment of MASSIVE immigration, both low-skilled and H1B visa types.
Yes, the craftsman, adept with many tools, may want to accept employment in a similar craft - or better still, and as one example, in construction, a field which historically has paid a rather livable wage.
Yet, for those of us WILLING and capable of observing the ACTUAL not the theoretical world, we observe that on any given residential construction (and indeed in an ever growing number of commercial) sites, these positions are becoming the almost exclusive domain of immigrants often of questionable legal status. The same is true for any number of other industries.

Where does the carriage maker go now?
Ahhh! Why, yes! He goes into retail as some pundit in the most recent issue of Claremont Review of Books has argued. Retail is booming. Let us all learn how to ask, "Would you like to Supersize that, Sir / Madam" - all the while keeping a smile on our face as we contemplate all that may now be enjoyed, all that leisure possible from a minimum wage job. Gawd, Edith! What a great deal!
The "increased" wealth from lower prices is something that may only be enjoyed by those who have a bloody income.

Enough of this nonsense and the wondrous powers of the market!

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gabe
on January 14, 2020 at 12:19:06 pm

I have no idea how you bring immigration into this as if it's something new, but you make a good point that this imagined future relies on some argument about markets alleviating unemployment, when that is not guaranteed in any economic model or empirical study. Since you seem intent on focusing on the "actual" world, which apparently theory doesn't apply to (it does), then we have no example of this free-market-and-technology future in any world history. There has never been a free market in the academic economics sense but always regulation- at the very least we have been minting coins for a couple thousand years, creating regulated markets. No matter how this debate goes, more people will have their jobs automated and find themselves in the situation you described.

So what's the purpose of having a job? If the point is to support yourself honorably, then taking a job that could more easily and cheaply be done by a machine yet is preserved through citizen action or regulation is not that. If the point is to work a meaningful career, well, if the job could be automated, is it meaningful? If the point is to live, then why not live by the products of all this automation? I think we are going to see dramatic policy changes as people like those in your comment demand meaningful work and a good standard of living. That's what will bring about Munger's imagined future of prosperity-- certainly not a free market, and probably not income effects accruing to the owner of the automation technology. However, like Munger I can't imagine what these new policies will be, and I would be pretty pissed if they resemble historical approaches to policy in a world that actually needed demeaning work. This blog is all about self-determination, so I would hope it supports using automation to increase freedom for the low-income workers who are the heroes of this technology story.

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xkz
on January 14, 2020 at 13:12:31 pm

xkz:

We are NOT really in disagreement. iSI mply intended to assert that "this time may [truly] be different" owing to present factors that did not historically obtain.

Yes, the wheelwright was able to move to a Ford auto plant. Perhaps, not so readily today.
Earlier generation's craftsman could also move into related fields or at least some craft that also placed a high value on his / her skills.
However, in an age when we permit (if not encourage - see The Chamber of commerce, etc) almost unrestricted low skill and even higher skilled immigration, we are introducing a) significant levels of competition against our own citizenry, b) disadvantaging our own citizenry and c) hastening the dissolution of a viable and loyal strata of our people and their attachment to, and confidence in this regime.

So let us allow the market and technology to work its (presumptive) wonders; BUT, let us not introduce additional impediments against those that we should recognize as our own.
The market may or may not provide a viable, if not immediate solution. But to listen to the National Review Free Market types, the economists who believe that the market is the panacea for all social / economic problems is to place one's head in the "ideological sands" along with the rest of the irresponsible cadres spouting nothing more than Hayekian shibboleths.

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gabe
on January 14, 2020 at 13:26:51 pm

I wouldn't make immigration the focus. Rather, I would point to the fact that in the last 20 years 2 billion additional workers have entered the modern economic workforce, all seeking the same kind of good, decent-paying jobs. Technology has certainly affected agriculture, so that billions of peasants working small plots are no longer needed to produce humanity's food. And it does not require the entire world's labor pool to produce the goods and services consumed by that labor pool. And billions of people are not going to morph into artists and entrepreneurs. So what are all those people going to do? In the past dislocations, it was only a small portion of the world's population that was involved, and even with the assistance of machines, it still required a great deal of Western human labor to produce the quantities of goods that only the West could then produce but which made their way around the globe.

I disagree with Munger's assertion that prosperity is not good jobs. He is simply doing what libertarians and other utilitarians always do, gauging "prosperity" by what they can measure and quantify, which is stuff. Prosperity is stuff. And it was, throughout most of human history when there was not enough basic stuff, food mostly, for everyone. And most people in all parts of the world were farmers, as they had to be in order to be able to feed themselves. And farming is a "good job" in that even a poor farmer works according to his own rhythm, without micromanagement or close supervision, usually alongside family members, and can experience satisfaction in the way of life that was agriculture. Yes, this is too idyllic a portrait, but still. Central to such a life is that there was always something to do that needed doing by someone who knew how to do it.

What people want is happiness or at least satisfaction, which are not the same as prosperity. I am more of commenter Steven's view. Billions of people with their consumption requirements met are not therefore satisfied or happy people if they have nothing to do. Nothing to do that garners recognition from their fellows for being particularly worthwhile. Nothing that satisfies them in the doing of it (I particularly like his trucking example; I have known many truckers and they really enjoy doing it). Maybe a few million out of those billions will turn their release from a "job" into satisfying creative activity, but as for the rest, what are they going to do? That is the real issue, not the availability of enough stuff to spread around to everybody for their consumption.

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QET
on January 14, 2020 at 16:11:53 pm

I see no mention of the loss of beauty and truth that comes with the sterile world of Progress, where humans are replaced by automation and robots. No need even for procreation in the old-fashioned way since Science can now replace the human interaction that used be an essential part of the equation. The happy couple doesn't even get seated by a real maître de at a real posh restaurant that offers real food served by a real waiter who expects real tips...in fact there may not even be a happy couple. Maybe science will populate the earth with clones designed for specific functions and everyone will be related to a common Grandfather nobody ever knew. The ugliness of the modern world now includes a nightmarish future that we leave to real children who never saw the old days and do not know what they're missing.

It may interest your to know that this idea manual labor is too demeaning for men and women of gentle birth (this is the attitude of the aristocracies of the world, like the antebellum Southern Cavaliers who lived in their fantasyland where human slaves did the work and their masters worried about an uprising) is alive and well among Progressives and Pro-Science moderns. It is not based on the eternal truths of the Laws of God and Nature.

One thing that I have concluded about the future, if it turns out as all the robot-loving elites hope, is that it will be ugly, boring and inhumane.

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Standing Fast
on January 14, 2020 at 16:20:52 pm

The temptation to project the future by using past experience is strong. We certainly make mistakes when we ignore past experience, but it does not continue in a straight line. Our instinct is to improve our personal circumstances, maybe to provide what we need in the future. As conditions change, our imagination comes into play to meet them. Technology is creating new circumstances in a rapid fashion and we are using our imaginations in ways never needed before. It remains to be seen how this impacts education and personal responsibilities, etc. But hopefully people will be developing better ways to provide for themselves, while resolving humanity's problems. This has been the historical trend, accelerating in the recent past. Those retiring today could not imagine what conditions would be like today when they started their careers.

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Don
on January 14, 2020 at 16:50:37 pm

QET:

YEP!

"Billions of people with their consumption requirements met are not therefore satisfied or happy people if they have nothing to do. Nothing to do that garners recognition from their fellows for being particularly worthwhile. Nothing that satisfies them in the doing of it (I particularly like his trucking example; I have known many truckers and they really enjoy doing it). Maybe a few million out of those billions will turn their release from a “job” into satisfying creative activity, but as for the rest, what are they going to do?"

And as for "what are they going to do"? - it appears that the essayist and some commenters believe that all that new wealth will *somehow* find its way to these unfortunate many - not few. Indeed, according to these lights, the wealth produced will be so extensive, so vast as to enable those left behind / replaced to not only subsist but enjoy a "creative" life once this new wealth finds its way to them.

Ahhh! But that damn devil is, as always, in the details.
How precisely is this to be accomplished?
How is the wealth to be distributed?
Who will be the distributors?
Ohm that's right:
"From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs.?

Gee, have we not had sufficient experience with such dicta that we are unable to observe the utter implausibility, if not fallacy of such schema?

BUT more than this as you rightly state, such an economic / political regime DENIES the essential nature of human beings.
We do derive immeasurable satisfaction from "a job well done", from creative accomplishment. I would add that the work of a carpenter, a machinist / tool maker and / or a landscaper is as creative (and likely more substantive, realistic and valuable) as the creative fevered *creations* of the typical academic product.

But EVEN more than this, it denies other elements of human nature. Greed, envy, and the resentment that often develops as a result of dependency upon others. Furthermore, what of the nature of those who would distribute this new wealth? Reviewing the historical record of those who have exercised like powers, are we to be surprised when the ever present traits of dominance, arrogance and a drive for power manifest themselves within the newly created Distribution bureaucracy?

Always - the details! Always.
It has been my experience, over many decades, that the surest way to "present" a solution is to DENY / obfuscate / minimize the actual mechanisms and actors that will be charged with implementing the solution. And, of course, we all KNOW and appreciate the beneficent motives of state factotums.

Odd, isn't it - How our libertarian reformers so often find themselves embracing a system that would require a radical transformation of the political regime and one that may, at best, be characterized as undemocratic and anti-liberty.

And all of this so that we may purchase a bloody TV for $25 less than otherwise.

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gabe
on January 14, 2020 at 17:32:19 pm

Immigrants flooding labor markets, taking our jobs and depressing wages, is just the tip of the iceberg. Some *Americans* are still having children, who will also enter the labor market, taking our jobs and depressing wages. Economic doom is certain. /s

This "pauper labor" really is just a variant of the overpopulation argument. It runs counter to economic theory and empirical reality. Also counter to reality is the claim that we have a few people like Bezos getting ever richer and everyone else shunted into minimum wage jobs.

Unemployment is declining, and earnings, esp. at low end of the spectrum, increasing. Human capital remains the scarcest resource.

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Charles N. Steele
on January 14, 2020 at 19:22:23 pm

More tellers! Good grief! Banks I've dealt with for years have many more posts for tellers that they ever use now.
In the city where I have lived for decades the number of people working in its banks has very significantly declined even though the population of the city and the surrounding area has increased very substantially as has per capita income. It is obvious to me, who taught college students money and banking for decades, that in order to conduct a given amount of business banks are both reducing the number of employees needed per branch and the number of branches.

Clearly AI differs from all previous technology. Tractors increased the productivity of agricultural workers. AI makes it possible do do without a human to drive a tractor. If you need to know something, your bank expects you to use your phone to hear a computer present a menu from which you select to hear what a computer has to say about it or instead go on the web to get this information.

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Carole Scott
on January 17, 2020 at 15:33:11 pm

The world has no experience with today's flavor of accelerated change. That's why this time is different. There is less time for culture to adapt to change. And part of the change occurs within the human psyche.

The difference between yesterday's and today's technological change is that today's change supplements human intelligence. Stronger human intelligence improves technology, which in turn supplements stronger human intelligence. This creates a loop that amplifies human intelligence. The rate of technological and human change is accelerating.

I anticipate many sweeping and profound changes to human lifestyles within one or two generations. Immortality and the stars are just a short ways down the road--unless we blow ourselves up before we get there.

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Scott Amorian
on January 17, 2020 at 15:50:58 pm

I can't think of anything more depressing than the future you describe. Also, I fail to see how the technological advances of the modern world are evidence of increasing the intelligence level of human beings. To wit:

Most "advances" are ill-considered, causing catastrophic side effects for which we have only inadequate remedies for--when we have any at all. The geniuses who develop the advances are not very bright, in my opinion, and many or most seem oblivious of the complexity of the world around them and the hardships their inventions and advances cause other people. For no good reason, often, except something being done faster.

Going to "the stars" is not ever likely to happen. Nor should we think it is a desirable goal. What we should be concentrating on is how to live good lives without depending upon machines & other technological marvels. Human intelligence has been trained in the basic arts of survival, which include social interaction and responsibility. People who do not exercise Common Sense and Common Courtesy are neither Wise nor Good, but that is what we need to aim at--not relieving ourselves of the dignity that comes with honest labor and our duties to God and Man.

I'm not advocating that we all live in caves and eat raw meat & plan food, but I am saying that when we eradicate the charm of everyday life from our world, no matter however smart or dumb we are as human beings, we will have nothing worth living for.

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Standing Fast
on January 18, 2020 at 09:41:20 am

[…] 5. Law & Liberty’s Michael Munger ponders the question – “Is There a Technology Trap?” From the essay: […]

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Odd Man . . . In? - Non Perele
on January 18, 2020 at 22:09:16 pm

People like this, who fear change, just because it is change, will always fight change. This will become an issue as time goes on and change accelerates. The regressives will become increasingly hostile and the frequency and severity of their responses will increase. That's human nature. And that's one thing that could lead us to blowing ourselves up.

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Scott Amorian
on January 19, 2020 at 11:00:31 am

Germany and Japan, and then all of Europe and most of Asia, changed in the 1930s, and people were right to fear that change. Russia changed in 1917 and people were right to fear that change. Change per se should not be anyone's idol. What matters is the content of the change. Change always benefits some and harms others; there is nothing necessarily irrational or "regressive" about applying one's own judgment to the content of a change and evaluating it in the negative. "Change" is not a reason but is frequently offered as one by persons unable to refute someone else's objection to something they desire.

As for immortality and the stars, our technology in those directions is still so immature that it will be many centuries more before those become more than just wishful thinking. But our technology for representing the contents of our imaginations is so far developed that we more and more mistake our own art for our reality. Personally, I do view the latter as a desirable goal, but am less convinced of the value of the former.

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QET
on January 19, 2020 at 13:17:44 pm

Scott:

Long time, no "read." Hope all is well.

Now as to the "stars":

Just two days ago, I was reading about the expanding universe. It appears that the more distant galaxies are receding away from us at a rate of 45,000 miles per second (Amazing, is it not) and that rate of recession is itself accelerating. No matter how much we develop new propulsion systems, it would appear that we may never reach the stars.

So, too, we observe over the centuries that our intentions / aims of reaching that "perfected" state of human society / nature also appears to ever recede despite our new "political / economic" propulsion theorems. Witness, the great crusades of the 20th century - communism, socialism, fascism - and now Social Justice Crusades on the one hand and the New and always hoped for Technology Crusade - yet, disorder, discontent and other defects continue to afflict the polity AND at an ever increasing rate.
Utopia, like the Stars, is an ever receding object. curiously, it also appears to recede at an accelerating rate.

Change is inevitable. Change is to be understood and managed and not deified as a new psychological / social Mammon.

Good to see you back!

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gabe
on January 19, 2020 at 13:18:40 pm

Thank you, QET, for illustrating my point for me.

In any group of people about half will be for a change, and half against. Roughly 50% of the people, whether they are for or against a change, will not fight it and they will just go along with it. Roughly 25% will support it and roughly 25% will openly oppose it. Roughly 5% will be champions and roughly 5% will be "resistors". Roughly 1% will be champions for change and roughly 1% will actively fight against it. That's human nature.

When there is more change there will be more "resistance warriors" because there will be more changes to resist. For the same reason there will also be more champions.

That's what coming, and no mental tangents will change that.

Be ready.

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Scott Amorian
on January 19, 2020 at 13:26:28 pm

Yeah, the site was getting too political after the Trump election, so I left for a while. Looks like the moderators and writers are getting back to the business at hand again (for the most part).

It's kind of funny how I point out a simple fact--the rate of social and cultural change is increasing--and people read the oddest stuff into that and have me saying things I never said and have me believing things I don't believe. That's just part of the weirdness of how forums like this work.

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Scott Amorian
on January 19, 2020 at 15:39:36 pm

I understand the concept but your numbers look made up to me. Not that it matters. How, exactly, have you made yourself "ready"?

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QET
on January 20, 2020 at 14:20:39 pm

What makes you think I "fear" change? You've missed my point entirely so I will spell it out in words you may be able to understand:

1. Change is part of the order of the Universe, but all change is not equal.
2. Some changes are good and some changes are bad and some changes are neither.
3. Good changes bring blessing to all life on earth.
4. Bad changes bring trouble to all like on earth.
5. Wisdom is being able to tell the difference. Only God knows what the difference is in advance.

Based on my own experience in life (I am not almost 70 years old) I can truthfully say that most of the changes I've seen have been varying degrees of bad. I am unhappy to see so many people racing at warp-speed headlong toward what is blithely referred to as "the future" as if it were a fixed location on a map, when, in fact, it is an ever-changing point in time that human beings cannot reach. Ever. As if whatever is ahead is desirable, more desirable even than watching the stars as they traverse a night sky, or the waves on a seashore, or a pair of eagles teaching their young to hunt, or a flock of sheep grazing in a meadow, or your children at play, or a thunderstorm roll across the sky, or a tall ship as it catches the wind, or...a great many other things that people in times past called blessings...

I'm sure you can hardly blame me for preferring the simplicity of God-given blessings than to the so-called wonders of modern Science which to me are more like horrors. Because of Modern Science mankind has polluted the Earth to such an extent it may never recover.

No, I am not a Socialist, or Climate-Change Chicken-Little. I am not hostile to fossil-fuel provided it is clean and we do not destroy our National Parks and other wilderness to procure it. I am not against motor vehicles that run on fossil fuel, but I am against self-driving vehicles for popular use.

What you call "fear" is really a preference by people like me for the human touch, a slower pace of life, a consideration for the well-being of the people around us rather than a lust for instant gratification of all desires by people for whom patience is considered an irritant.

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Standing Fast
on January 20, 2020 at 16:54:08 pm

Standing Fast:

Hey, nicely expressed especially at a time when the human touch is now defined by "selfies" or the latest, "slo-fies" and when it is the narcissistic gratification of self that is paramount.

so Stand Fast to your faith and approach to this rather short life.

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gabe

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