Last week, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman turned me on to the blog of Martin Varsavsky. It’s a great blog, and in a recent post he spoke about how understandings of entrepreneurship and wealth creation (or the lack thereof) were affecting Spain. His train of reasoning brought me back to my musings around the relationship of time, money, and the economy in general.
Martin’s post is primarily about the lack of understanding of entrepreneurship in Spain — and how that lack of understanding leads to (or is created from) a societal basis of hatred of wealth. I may come back and address that specific topic, but there was one point in his opening paragraph that got me thinking.
So as Spain goes into record high unemployment of 25% and youth unemployment of 50% the emphasis is not in improving the workings of the Spanish economy but in blaming each other.
To me, that is interesting because of the 50% youth unemployment. For the record, it is not the case that 50% of Spain’s youth are starving to death and homeless. Unemployment in the modern world is a symptom of the über-success of capitalism. We’ve made so much money that we can afford to have huge portions of our population running around, doing literally nothing. At the conclusion of his post, Martin speaks about the need for training in entrepreneurship and job creation. He is not wrong. But it’s also not enough. As I think more about the nature of capitalism, and the wealth and success we’ve created, I more and more realize that we’re well beyond the questions arising from marginal unemployment.
Certainly when a capitalist society is humming along at full speed, and full employment, the 5–9 percent of those without a job are largely unhappy and unfulfilled. However, they’re all likely to get a job soon. When a country is working at 50% unemployment, we have a fundamentally different problem.
It is true, we need people to be entrepreneurs. We need to train them better, and we need them to understand the economics better. Beyond entrepreneurship, it is also true that we need a class of managers to take over our existing, large businesses. But even putting those two things together, we get nowhere hear 50% of our youth. So the fundamental question for me becomes, what do we do with all of the free time that capitalism is generating?