by Michael Daly
The Old Fashioned Way…
Grandma’s apple pie…Ma’s beach plum jelly…Dad comin’ home with fresh-caught striped bass…children Trick-or-Treating on Halloween…all among the many things we enjoyed in years gone by.
Tweeting…snapping…downloading…Facetiming…GPS…online dating…terrorism…all among the things we are experiencing in today’s world.
The world is changing at breakneck speed. If we are not “plugged-in” — receiving emails, text messages, notifications, alerts and breaking news — we’re made to feel as though we’re being left behind. Remember when clouds were only in the sky? And friends were people we knew personally? Remember when bad meant bad and not extremely good? When gay meant happy? And when rubbers were the things we put over our shoes in inclement weather?
Who was the last person you knew who received a gold watch for 25 years of employment in their company?
That being said, I bet our grandparents and great-grandparents felt similarly when the car replaced the horse and carriage and the television came on the scene, displacing the radio.
But change in today’s Technological Revolution is coming at a faster and faster pace, much faster than during the Industrial Revolution, and it’s hard to keep up with. According to New York TImes columnist Thomas Friedman in his new book, “Thank You for Being Late”:
“…the 1950s to the early 1970s were the golden years for the American middle class and in particular for low and middle-skilled workers. In those post war years, globalization had not set in yet, trade was more restricted, and unions were strong…and the IT revolution hadn’t yet reached full force…”
Globalization is here, in this interconnected world and many of us are feeling left out. Machines, software and computers are replacing workers – look at toll booths and toll collectors. Today’s handheld phones are more powerful than the computers in 1960 that took up buildings the size of a city block!
If we don’t keep up with the pace of globalization and technological development, the world will pass us by, leaving us lost and feeling insecure. Throw in the financial collapse of 2007, resulting from the financial engineering that made it easy for mid and low skilled workers to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for quickly escalating real estate prices, and we had a recipe for a meltdown.
According to Friedman: “A June 2017 McKinsey Global Institute study, Making it in America, quoted US national income data showing that between 1993 and 2004 real incomes rose for virtually all segments of the US economy…But thanks to the 2008 recession — which crushed the value of people’s homes and in many cases wiped out their mortgages and their ability to borrow against them —…between 2005 to 2014 a whopping 81 percent of US households saw real incomes flatten or decline.”
The same financial engineering and globalization phenomenon was taking place in the UK.
The fear and insecurity of middle class Americans and British is what opened the door for the type of nationalism that made the election of Donald Trump in the US and the YES vote for Brexit in the UK possible. STOP THE WORLD AND BRING BACK WHAT WE KNOW is what people were saying with those two elections.
But the Brexit and Trump elections represent our worst fears. Those elections are the people trying to stuff Jack back in the Box, and that’s not going to happen folks!
Today, we need to identify, support and elect government and community leaders who can bring together the new realities of today’s world; the technology, the connectivity, the resources that globalization brings forth.
Our new leaders must not harp on our fears of immigration, but build on our hopes of a great communities made up of many nationalities, which is exactly how many of our families arrived here. Our new leaders must ensure that the rich and powerful don’t leave the rest of us without the resources needed to get by and raise happy and healthy families. Education, healthcare, housing, a clean environment and good food are not only our fundamental rights, but the linchpins of strong communities.
Let me ask you: Coal versus Solar, Fracking versus Wind, McMansions versus Affordable Housing, Building a Wall versus Building a Sustainable Community. What are your choices?
Now, let’s get our heads out of the sand, stop wringing our hands, look to the sky and get on with a very bright future. Are you with me?
Michael Daly is an East Ender and regular contributor to The Beacon on community issues he cares passionately about. He can be reached at 631.525.6000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org