Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Good Old Days?
And in those days milk was delivered to the doorstep. So were newspapers. Sheets were sent to the laundry once a week. The window cleaners came every Wednesday. The piano tuner every couple of months. On buses there was a conductor to collect the money. At stations there were plenty of porters to carry the bags. Theaters always had a live orchestra. And the point is that all these people could earn a living doing these jobs, and we could afford to pay them.
The cost of living and wages have risen so steeply that all the above have disappeared. Likewise the big corporations have shipped manufacturing jobs abroad, the banks have shipped their service centers abroad. It makes one wonder what jobs will be available for the generation now growing up.
I had a long chat yesterday with a young man working as a bagger at the supermarket. He's also a college student and asked me if I thought his generation lacked the drive and enthusiasm of former generations, who had wanted to make the world a better place. I said I thought he had grown up in bad economic times which had created a depressing atmosphere for many young people. In the past we expected to get a good job after college. This is no longer true. In fact in some parts of Britain there are people who will never work in their lives. There are no jobs in areas that used to be coal mining, ship building etc.
So what's the answer? Obviously the bright young people will make jobs for themselves. The next Steve Jobs and Bill Gates will do fine. But how can a country sustain itself and flourish if there aren't enough jobs? My own daughter has been unemployed for two years now. And she applies for several jobs every day. And she has great credentials and work experience. She's been reduced to part time babysitting and office work in an attempt to keep her head above water.
As a writer I watch as the e-book gains momentum, wondering what that will do to my future book sales. obviously I don't make as much from an e-book as from a hardcover. And then there are the pirated e-books being offered free on the internet. Almost every day my name shows up on one of those sites now. The music industry has the same problem. I remember when we'd rush to the music store the day the new Beatles song came out on a 45. (I realize this dates me)
So what do you think is the answer? Where are we heading? Is there any good news for our young people?