Seth Godin, marketing genius, has a terrific blog. Most of his posts are short and punchy. Occasionally, though, he goes in for a long one. Here, for instance, he makes a distinction between recessions:
There are actually two recessions:
The first is the cyclical one, the one that inevitably comes and then inevitably goes. There’s plenty of evidence that intervention can shorten it, and also indications that overdoing a response to it is a waste or even harmful.
The other recession, though, the one with the loss of “good factory jobs” and systemic unemployment–I fear that this recession is here forever.
Why do we believe that jobs where we are paid really good money to do work that can be systemized, written in a manual and/or exported are going to come back ever? The internet has squeezed inefficiencies out of many systems, and the ability to move work around, coordinate activity and digitize data all combine to eliminate a wide swath of the jobs the industrial age created.
I think he’s right. And that makes the Obama administration’s weird obsession with 1950’s style Big Labor, and 1970’s style overregulation, all the more destructive. Godin is a little vague, but I think he’s directionally correct:
The future feels a lot more like marketing–it’s impromptu, it’s based on innovation and inspiration, and it involves connections between and among people–and a lot less like factory work, in which you do what you did yesterday, but faster and cheaper.
This means we may need to change our expectations, change our training and change how we engage with the future. Still, it’s better than fighting for a status quo that is no longer. The good news is clear: every forever recession is followed by a lifetime of growth from the next thing…
Job creation is a false idol. The future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects. It will change the fabric of our society along the way. No one is demanding that we like the change, but the sooner we see it and set out to become an irreplaceable linchpin, the faster the pain will fade, as we get down to the work that needs to be (and now can be) done.
This revolution is at least as big as the last one, and the last one changed everything.
And I think he’s right, too, that this idea of “job creation” is a really nasty one, and it’s going to set us further back as a country. Governments, presidents, central bankers, unions, doesn’t matter who — none of those creates jobs. There’s something so ossified and paleo about this president, and his party, when they refuse to acknowledge this.