Re: @ skelband
> School, college, uni, work, rented accommodation, bought a house. You?
Your perspective is tainted by your own very limited experience.
A professional of my and your experience, 40 years ago, would have expected to be able to have a (non-working) housewife, a detached house and garden, membership of a club and servants (yes, being an employer as well) and expect to retire with a decent pension.
Now in most places in the western civilisation, if you live where work is, are white-collar professionals (married or otherwise), in order to afford even an apartment, both you and your wife will have to work long hours with a crippling mortgage with very little left over to save for retirement. You can forget about hiring others, you can't possibly afford it.
If you have kids, what little savings you have will likely be destroyed by school and college fees, costs of books etc which have increased exponentially despite the real cost of education and publishing going down. Your kids could take out student loans, you say though. What better way to get them onto the debt mill than this? Is this the future we want for our offspring?
This is no fantasy. It is the life that I live now and millions of others do every day. And all of this is caused by the perversion of our current economic systems and the scarcity of the need for labour. It will only get worse because I can think of no reason why it should get better. The downward spiral of debt and cost of living increases is built into the economic systems of our countries.
Up until now, the downward spiral has been so slow and insidious, that most people don't realise it is happening.
But don't worry. You have the latest smartphone. Technology is indeed decreasing the labour that our industries need and improving efficiency. There are acres of factories powered almost entirely by robots that were once full of people. That's great and it makes great cars and cell phones.
The problem is that our social and economic systems demand that to live, we need labour. And although service and technology industry jobs are taking their place, technology is more rapidly moving into those areas. In the last 15 years or so, we have seen an explosion of automation, driving people out. Even in that small amount of time, we are now talking *seriously* about surgery being performed more efficiently and consistently with better surgical outcomes and less pain by machines rather than humans. It will become commonplace in the next 10 years. All those surgeons had better start looking for different careers. Delivery networks are almost entirely automated. Financial systems are almost entirely automated. So much of what is left for people to do, that we call "service industry" is just organising this vast engine of economic consumption. About 95% of government is there solely to manage this monster and to chastise those that question it.
So what is the response to this from the industries that remain? Protectionism and perverse incentives to fight this technological revolution so that we can preserve the need for money to live, even though money and the labour that it purportedly represents is fast becoming irrelevant. Extreme copyright and patent extortion. The fabrication of "wars" to give people something to do and to distract them.
Up until now, this has all happened over a time scale that most people don't appreciate. The rate of change is getting faster and faster though. We can't continue to remake our labour faster than technology is developing to take it over.
Unfortunately, the first to seriously suffer will be retired people. Increasingly, people are finding that it just isn't possible to save enough for retirement. The cost of living is rising faster than wages. State pensions are drying up as governments have less money to spend on them (despite the fact that tax is rising). The baby boomers have exacerbated the situation and many people think the this is the only reason for the pension crisis. It isn't. It is just making it happen sooner and more obviously that it would otherwise. Even so, many commentators are talking about the pension crisis now in terms of people failing to save for the future. In the 80s many professionals were hoping to retire early, say at 45. Now many professionals are wondering if they will ever be able to retire at all.