The people who run the economy have really screwed it up over the last four decades from the standpoint of ordinary workers. This is a bipartisan issue, so it's not a blame Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and Trump story. Clinton and Obama were also willing to support a bloated financial sector and trade policies that redistributed upward by subjecting ordinary workers to low-wage competition while protecting doctors, dentists, and other highly paid professionals. This policy was made worse by the high dollar policy pushed by President Clinton which led to the massive expansion of the trade deficit in the years from 1997 to 2005.
They also supported longer and stronger patent and copyright monopolies, policies that allow for hundreds of billions to be sucked away from the rest of us to pay the small group in a position to benefit from these rents. And both Democratic presidents (especially Clinton) were just fine with monetary policy that keeps millions of people (disproportionately African American and Hispanic) from having jobs and depresses the pay of tens of millions of workers who have jobs.
Anyhow, the key to ensuring that the bulk of the population benefits from future growth depends on reversing these policies. (Yes, this is the topic of my [free] book Rigged.) Naturally many of us would like public policy debates to focus on reversing the structural barriers that prevent most people in sharing the gains from growth.
However the beneficiaries of these gains don't really want public discussions of the policies that gave them all the money, hence we get a NYT column from Thomas Friedman with the title, "Owning your own future."
This piece includes gems of insight like:
"The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner.
"And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill."
"If you think machines are smart today … wait a year."
In the course of the piece we learned that Friedman met with Brian Krzanich, the C.E.O. of Intel, who told him:
"I believe my grandchildren will not drive (emphasis in the original).”
He also met with Mark Bohr, Intel’s senior fellow for technology. And he visited Devon Energy, an oil and gas company in Oklahoma City.
Anyhow, Friedman obviously travels widely and talks with many important people. He also has great self-help advice. Of course, if we don't change the basic structure of the economy then even if people did become good "lifelong learners" it would only be a question of some modest changes in who are the winners and losers. If we continue to let the Wall Street crew and corporate CEOs rip off hundreds of billions every year and we give the pharmaceutical and software companies ever stronger and longer patent and copyright monopolies, then there is not going to be much left for the rest of us.
But if you're talented in distracting people's attention from what is really going on in the economy, as apparently Friedman is, then you can have a very good-paying job.