Blockchain will end Income Inequality
Once we realize that our current economic system must be left behind
Say that word and 95% of the public will say, “oh, that Bitcoin thing” and then any possible range of reactions might follow. Some will be impressed by the earnings and wonder how they too can get into “this thing?” — FOMO. Others will hint with an air of all-knowing smugness, “dude, that’s a Ponzi scheme, get out now.”
Blockchain is not a crypto-currency just like the internet is not email.
Blockchain is possibility. It is possibility in a world that with each passing year seems to offer less and less of it to the majority of human beings on the planet — here I focus on my country of birth. Many Americans whose stock portfolios are going through the roof will tell you in a very 1990’s way — I am conjuring up the irrational exuberance of the end of the Clinton-era — ”the US economy is rocking! Unemployment is at 4%, if you don’t have a job then you don’t want one.”
Suffice it to say, America is not rocking and each passing year, not to mention month, creates larger and larger “earnings’ craters” leaving ever more Americans stuck on dangerously steep slopes falling to a bottom few can see.
Here are a key hurdles I see that unless we leap over them ASAP — first we must collectively admit they are indeed hurdles — then America will quickly devolve into Mad-Max territory.
There’s Retail and more retail
In communities all over America, there is sadly one type of job crowding out all the rest: Big-Box retail (services). Choose your “career”: Walmart or Target, McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s, the travel agency on the corner, the CVS or the Walgreen’s, the sushi place (chain) or the the art supply store (national chain), Dick’s, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks's and the list goes on.
Retail jobs are ever at the whims of board-room decisions made by unseen and unknown managers. When you are in (of) a community, it is harder to close store downs, more difficult to cut wages; an owner’s conscience maybe prevents him from ending over-time. When you are located a thousand miles away and you know not one soul working in your soon-to-be-closed-down shop, the laid off workers are just numbers. Their removal from you P&L makes you in a way happy because you will get a handsome bonus for being so shrewd. These are now families with decreased or lost income, however.
Suffering Communities lack Creative Governance
Freehold, NJ, my hometown, suffered from the pillaging of retail a long time ago but thanks to being in a state close to New York and Philadelphia, R&D jobs filled in some of the lost upward mobility. New York’s financial capital status spills over to Freehold and there is a reasonable amount of tourism opportunities and so the town thrives today despite the Walmart, Target and other national chains that all fail to offer sustainable and living wages.
In other parts of the US, many communities haven’t fared as well as Freehold. The one factory town closed and was replaced by nothing. The town boarders nothing but massive patches of corn fields. The offshoring of jobs, or the disappearance of them due to redundancy thanks to technological advances, further debilitates the town. Local citizens end up both unemployed and when working, terrifically under-employed. It is in these “labor deserts” where “retail oases” arise providing the only jobs for a majority of Americans.
The over-reliance on retail chains was never forced upon communities. It was a quick fix for localities lacking vision, lacking a basic understanding of opportunity cost and the consequence it has. The failure to creatively govern is a choice. Politicians only considering their own chances at re-election as opposed how best to increase the quality of life for all of the residents in the community are guilty solely because they are incompetent and lazy — and probably greedy.
College Education has become Indentured Servitude
It is from these retail oases that kids all across America struggle to escape. College is the promised land. They major in all sorts of “fun” things which free their brains but more often than not offer zero prospects for getting jobs after college. Many return home to empty towns with little more than a stiff parchment and shiny, new $100,000-student debts.
How does it happen that we are churning out so many thousands of college graduates each year and so many end up decades later trapped in unsustainable careers earning less than living-wages struggling to repay those student loans? Many will have long ago defaulted resulting in tens of thousands of dollars of penalties?
This modern-day indentured servitude should make elected officials lose sleep with shame. It should make the best and brightest minds teaching at those debt-collecting institutions to ask the question: how can we do this differently? How can we rebuild our labor infrastructure so that these young, energized minds add value and not become disgruntled cashiers or waiters with substance abuse problems (I am not saying all cashiers or waiters have substance abuse problems).
Creative Use of Blockchain can save us
Open it up, ensuring transparency— Every single decision made by politicians that will effect my overall economic well-being should be transparent. An honest assessment of opportunity cost can be made for every decision.
Elect people who want to be creative — If a politician isn’t doing everything to increase the chances for creating jobs — and this means setting up job retraining centers, working night and day to get investment to reclaim factories, fighting drug epidemics, then using the increased transparency of the blockchain residents will have trustless information sources pass judgement and vote this person out of office.
City Clusters — Thanks to the above-mentioned increased transparency, we can expand this to provide residents with the power of comparison. If City A has similar demographics and an industrial infrastructure like the one in which I live, and it is is booming while my city is in the rots in the doldrums, I am now informed enough to see all of the actions taken or not that resulted in this situation. In the past, a lazy politician on the take would try to spin the given economic strife by blaming it on immigrants, minorities, etc. but with the power of comparison and transparency citizens can demand creative governance.
Make Academia work for you —Many universities already do good work to benefit their communities, but we need to know what they are doing; and, what more they could be doing. There are a lot of grants going to professors who seem to be less concerned with solving the problems in, say, Newark, New Jersey, than writing economic papers only their colleagues at the club will understand. A lot of resources are being used that offer no practical benefit for society. Our nation is in a critical state so how can we condone this waste? Increased transparency will let us see what’s going on.
This “opening up” of everything around us will provide answers for one question — why are the bulk of jobs in my area not sustainable, not offering living wages? What are the elected officials in my town or state doing wrong and what can be done right to turn the tide, to get investment flowing into the town, into worker retraining? Into a coal-mine reclamation project, etc.? How can we ensure our local students won’t be tethered to debt for 30 years? Perhaps, there are possibilities for me, given my skill-set, elsewhere in another state or city?
The Blockchain I hope for
The blockchain I envision will arm citizens with machetes of knowledge — de-politicized, just the facts, maim —thanks to resources like USAFacts.org the lies and disinformation can be swept away. The current situation, of citizens voluntarily and willfully giving away their collective power to the few comes down to not just intellectual laziness; but also too-difficult to function in infrastructure of gathering information for empowering oneself. At the end of the day, everything we need to be informed is available for us, it just happens to be buried purposely beneath layers of obfuscation.
Our current value-creation system, our economy in other words, is broken. Imagine a community freed from corrupt politicians and greed-driven corporations. Communities achieving full-accountability from the “powers” that have failed it, and led it to its current state of malaise, can be reverse the current trends. I really don’t know how else we can reach this state of “a better place” unless localities all across America adopt the blockchain as part of their governing infrastructure — as soon as possible.
Once communities take back the power and become the centers for value creation, they can even issue their own “CityTokens” whose value is tethered to the community. The better off the community, the smarter and more creative local governance, the more the token appreciates.
The people become the value.
This is something I can envision.