I call this little theory of mine Technological Economy Failure.
Currently, we are supposedly getting more skilled workers, so our economy looks brighter. I disagree. There are more workers doing jobs that require skill, but that no longer means they have the skill required. Yes, they get the job done, but this is only because machines are being created that do all the work for you. You don’t need to look back too far to see when the tools used had to be hand crafted, but precision tools are now big machinery with lasers and computers. This means “skilled” workers no longer need the skills they had 20 years ago, which is fine until said piece of machinery stops working. The “skilled” worker doesn’t know how the machinery works, so they can’t fix it, and they don’t have the skill to do the job manually. This means someone with a university degree comes in to fix said piece of machinery causing the supposed efficiency of these machines to becoming non-existent as you have a workforce unable to do anything while said machine is fixed.
With the fact machines are making our products comes the fact that most products last a fraction of what similar products did not too many years ago. For example, I am currently using a stereo system that was bought about 20 years ago. It still works perfectly, and the sound quality is brilliant. However, a similar system bought today will generally only last five years tops. They aren’t built to last, because there is no craftmenship involved – it is the cheapest design that can be made easily by said machine. This disposable nature means that even though we say inflation is usually within the Policy Target Agreement (1-3% on average in the medium term), we don’t take into account that most things we would have only bought once every 20-30 years before, we now have to buy once every 2-5 years. So if the cost of a CD Player was $50 in 1980, and is $60 now, over the twenty years from 1980-2000, you will only pay that $50, but in the twenty years from 2009-2029, you are likely to pay $240. That changes the average inflation rate from 0.69% p.a. on that item over the twenty-nine years from 1980-2009, to 13.10% p.a. – this cannot be good for consumers, nor for the economy.
This is where Technological Economy Failure comes in. I define this as when the economy is negatively impacted by technological advances. Technological advances mean that we are experiencing what I described above, and this is not good.
So what can we do to solve this problem? For one thing, we can stop using machines to create final products. Craftsmenship is a skill that deserves much more respect that it currently receives. We are currently having talks in Copenhagen about cutting our impact on the environment, and as much as I don’t agree with the Climate Change rubbish that is being discussed, but one thing that could save so much impact on the environment is decreasing resource use. Surely making products that will last is a way to do this – you aren’t having to replace them, and therefore using the resources over four CD players over 20 years rather than one.