ECONOMIC POSSIBILITIES FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN

It looks like J.M. Keynes was right when he first pointed out the great possibilities of economic progress. However, we have not been able to benefit from technological progress as much as it was expected. To figure out what I mean, I will quote the writings of the Master in Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren:

“In quite a few years-in our own lifetimes I mean we may be able to perform all the operations of agriculture, mining, and manufacture with a quarter of the human effort to which we have been accustomed (…)

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 (…) Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy (…)

When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession -as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life -will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease (…) For we shall inquire more curiously than is safe to-day into the true character of this “purposiveness” with which in varying degrees Nature has endowed almost all of us.”

As you can see, there are several issues we have not addressed well enough, not for achieving the “good life”. Anyway, these words, which was pronounced almost hundred years ago, still remain useful today. I hope our children don’t have to deal with this hardship as long as to solve it is our responsibility. 

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