It turns out that the year 2000 marks a grim historical milestone of sorts for our nation. For whatever reasons, the Great American Escalator, which had lifted successive generations of Americans to ever higher standards of living and levels of social well-being, broke down around then—and broke down very badly.
The warning lights have been flashing, and the klaxons sounding, for more than a decade and a half. But our pundits and prognosticators and professors and policymakers, ensconced as they generally are deep within the bubble, were for the most part too distant from the distress of the general population to see or hear it. (So much for the vaunted “information era” and “big-data revolution.”)
- Global labor supply effectively doubled in the 1990s, both because of the entry of China and India into the world economy and because logistics and communication made it much easier to use remote labor. The impact of that hit the American working class. A shock of that magnitude takes time to absorb.
- Most new innovations are free at the point of delivery (Github, Facebook, Dropbox ) or not excludable goods, like cleaner air.