This past year I've taken to looking at everything differently.
I drove my three kids 9,000 miles around America, visiting many cities and states. I've been making more friends outside of my usual Silicon Valley bubble. We moved our family to a new community. I completely changed who I was following or friends with on social media, unfriending more than 4,000 on Facebook alone and unfollowing 45,000 on Twitter, among other major changes to find a new pattern to life.
One of those friends is Grace Livingston. She has been building an entrepreneurial zone in Stockton, California. Most of the people in Silicon Valley, when I tell them they should move their company there, look at me like I just told them about moving to Mars. I hear all about poverty, high crime rates, bad schools, and no good economic activity.
But she has a dream and it's better for America than the guaranteed minimum income scheme many Silicon Valley elites are pushing.
She isn't the only one. On our road trip I visited Nick Smoot in Idaho. He's working with communities around the United States to get them to help build new entrepreneurial zones too. Ones that will satisfy new craving for highly technical jobs. Last week I visited with a manager at a manufacturing plant. He laid out that his plant will soon have huge needs for data scientists and computer scientists to rethink his entire plant network. He's even looking at moving plants to make them easier to reach by autonomous trucks. He sees tons of new jobs, even as older, less skilled jobs will go away or be radically changed through technology.
A new policy is needed, one that will fund the American Dream 2.0.
The American Dream 2.0 is a better idea, one based on human happiness science: giving everyone a hand in creating a better USA. Putting people to work gives them a mission. Having a mission makes for happier citizens. Enabling them to stay home leads to unhappiness and poor communities.
THE POVERTY BEATER
First, a story. My family, until 1971, was dirt poor. We used to be coal miners. My dad grew up amongst New York's poorest, living in one of its projects with his parents.
Yet here I am, one of Silicon Valley's best-known journalists, having interviewed thousands of entrepreneurs. I was the first, or among the first, to see Siri, Tesla, Flipboard, Uber, Cloudera, Spotify, and many others.
My dad was the first in his family to go to college. He graduated with a PhD from Rutgers University in New Jersey and then went on to work at Lockheed in Sunnyvale building the radiation shielding on military satellites that keep our nation safe.
He is a veteran and, since today is veterans' day, I've been thinking a lot about what he did for our family and how he got the money to go to school.
He got the G.I. Bill.
Because he gave something to his country, by being in the Army for a few years, his country gave him a fair shot at the American Dream. It paid for his education and that act took our family out of poverty.
I'm forever grateful.
A NEW AMERICAN CHALLENGE
Now we are facing a new age where many people will find themselves jobless due to automation.
More than a million truck drivers, for instance, will lose their jobs in the next decade or two, maybe less.
If you are in Silicon Valley you see the self-driving cars and trucks all over the place. On our road trip across America we didn't see them anywhere else, so most Americans don't feel the urgency that we do here in Silicon Valley. If you visit the job site 6figr.com you can even see which jobs are most likely to be replaced by automation. See it isn't just truck drivers that will be disrupted.
American Dream 2.0 jobs are ones that won't be replaced by automation. We already know which jobs those are.
Everyone knows a truck driver's job is f**ked, right?
Which is why Silicon Valley elites have taken to thinking so much about dystopian ruin. Futurist philosopher Yuval Noah Harari has been getting lots of audiences here in Silicon Valley and he sees Silicon Valley's technology bringing a new "useless class."
"The message is:," he was quoted in the New York Times, “We don’t need you. But we are nice, so we’ll take care of you.”
On this Veterans Day, we think this thinking will lead to far deeper divisions in our country than exist today and far more social unrest. Why? Well, I can tell you what makes life fun isn't the money: it's the feeling you are part of something. It's why Alcoholics are told to get a higher power within minutes of entering the program. It really doesn't matter what you pick, as long as you pick something bigger than you and that isn't you. Humbling yourself is a human value that helps you gain happiness and, even, helps you fit into society at large. It's something I'm still learning.
Guaranteed Minimum Income will doom many to the same treatment we give the Native Americans. Which is why I posted the photo here of the Navajo store which I passed on our road trip around America. Many Native Americans are given something like a guaranteed minimum income on the reservations America gave them and what has that brought them? Higher rates of alcoholism, for one. Four times higher. Most Silicon Valley elites haven't visited the poorest communities of Native Americans. I have and they are pretty dismal places. Certainly I don't dream of my children ending up in one of them, but that's exactly what guaranteed minimum income will bring: massive numbers of slums with great unhappiness and unsustainable living for either the rich, or those caught at the other end of the economic scale.
There is a better way.
LEARN FROM ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
You might know from my previous posts that I'm an alcoholic, so I've been meeting a lot of other alcoholics and one commonality I've seen in people who stay sober is that they found a mission to life.
Jobs. Work. Church service. Community service. Or simply helping some other alcoholic out of the hole that he or she is in. All fit.
Sitting at home collecting a check doesn't. If you talk to psychologists they say it goes back to how our brains evolved. Those who helped out survived. Those who didn't had less success in survival. In AA we even use survival terminology. We say "those who stay in the pack stay sober and are happier." We are encouraged to study those who have been sober for years and find out how they made it. In our meetings that's pretty much what we share. What we were like before we drank. What got us into AA. Then what life is like since. Simple sharing helps people improve their lives.
Many people I talk to in Silicon Valley claim we won't have jobs in the future.
Don't believe them. They are abjectly wrong. And, in fact, you can use their own job sites to verify this. Many many thousands of jobs are available at tech companies. If you have the skills. This will remain true well into the future. For decades. Why?
One guy who was on the Big Blue (Artificial Intelligence) team at IBM once told me "we showed you on TV that Big Blue beat humans at playing Jeopardy. What we didn't tell you is that if you put a human together with Big Blue it beats Big Blue."
Most of the talk about AI doesn't acknowledge this.
Not to mention that there are many new jobs that will arrive due to spatial computing in the future, but that's a separate post I'm working on. I don't need to show that to show you how many technical jobs are going unfilled in the tech industry.
There are TONS of jobs. If we have the skills. And that is where many people push back, but they are wrong again and just haven't considered that even non technical people can be taught to do highly skilled, even programming, jobs.
A BILLIONAIRE SHOWED ME YOU CAN EDUCATE ANYONE
When I tell them they could train a truck driver to do many of these technical jobs in two years they say I'm nuts. But a French Man is proving them wrong. Xavier Niel. He's a billionaire and he's built a new kind of school. 42 Silicon Valley. He has a similar school in France.
When I visited last week I met several people who used to have non-technical careers. One was even a chef before deciding to join the tech world. That student showed me a stealth mode VR startup he's programming that was pretty awesome.
He went from chef to running a company in less than two years. Which proves it can be done.
Oh, did I mention this school doesn't have teachers?
Did I mention that many even get free rent to use while they are studying?
Did I mention that it works for many students, although it does require immersive focus. Students have to be in the building learning for almost all their waking hours to see these results. The building is provided for students. The computers are provided for students.
Yes, this requires a new policy, a new dream, a new educational idea that will throw many of your beliefs out the window. Remember, this school has no teachers.
But then Alcoholics Anonymous has no management structure and it works for the same reason: when people hit bottom and want to change they will find a way to make that change happen inside themselves and will look for new social structures to help them do so.
THE MANIFESTO FOR AMERICAN DREAM 2.0
Every American deserves a shot at the American Dream 2.0.Every American should have two years of capital to change careers. That needs to include all cost of living, even for a family of that person, for a period of two years so that person can really apply him or herself to learning this new skill.The only requirement for American Dream 2.0 is you want to learn a new job skill.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Less than you might think.
Why? Time will solve a lot of problems. Within three years we are getting new computing devices that will help us learn a lot faster than the computers in the current school. Already companies like Caterpillar are using spatial computing glasses to teach people to fix tractors and run job sites.
Second, these new jobs are the high quality ones that pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. So you will see costs recouped through taxes within a decade. Third, well, we are comparing educating people in a teacherless school for two years compared to giving them a guaranteed minimum income for the rest of their lives. Fourth, some of the students start companies that create even more jobs, more taxes, and more paying back of students. Look at Austen Allred. He's started a competitive school, the Lambda School, where students pay back their tuition after they get jobs and he's doing very well with this new model.
Let's talk about this. Do you agree or disagree with me about the guaranteed minimum/annual income?
How can we give our kids a fair shot at a healthy economic system whether or not we are liberal or conservative?