The Future is Now – Hooray for Norway

(This article was first titled Welcome to the 21st Century)

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

The young ‘uns are a lucky bunch. They can hear the drumbeat of Tomorrowland… but wait, tomorrow is in their grasp and they won’t let go. They see an America becoming more like Europe and less like, well, like their parents’ America.

Imagine free college, if not for themselves certainly for their younger siblings and their children. Universal health care. A Social Security system that provides real security. Might as well throw in another entitlement that Europe provides its citizens: a very liberal annual vacation program.

And jobs. “We’re going to get back the jobs that the greedy capitalists have offshored to China, Mexico and other countries.” Providing jobs to America’s youth will now trump cheap prices. “We’d rather have good jobs for our people than worship at the altar of cheap prices.” Wait. Did somebody just say that? Could it be that Corporate America is really going to bring our jobs back and abandon the religion of cheap prices?

Bernie says this is possible. But Bernie is not going to be president. It’s going to be Hillary. Hillary will have to embrace Bernie’s ideas if she’s to win in the Fall. So yes, Bernie will indirectly bring jobs back to America.

How is that possible? By renegotiating trade deals. One constant in the new trade deals: Corporate America does not have the permission of the American people to dismantle our factories piece by piece and ship the factories and the jobs to other countries. In fact, Corporate America is on notice to start bringing manufacturing back to America because the alternative is an all-out trade war with our trading partners. And a trade war is bad for business.  So Corporate America, in the end, complies.

The top 1% represents a tiny, infinitesimal sector of the American citizenry. In a democracy, the majority rules. And the overwhelming majority of Americans want the return of manufacturing to our shores. If you’re a businessman, ignore this American want and yearning at your own risk.

So our young people will get better jobs in the near future. Will there be enough jobs to go around?

Welcome to our brave new world. An experiment was recently conducted by some robotics scientists involving the use of tiny robots to do jobs that used to require the use of huge machines. Six tiny robots, each weighing a few ounces, working in tandem, were able to pull a car weighing 3,900 pounds!

Welcome to the age of robots. More and more, our factories will be run by robots. Robots will do most of the work in our factories, supervised by humans, but what’s to prevent future robots from supervising subordinates that are also robots?

Or robots supervising humans? Scary.

While America is bringing back some lost manufacturing jobs, the robots are also taking over our factories. Are our young people’s minor victories destined to be short-lived and ephemeral? The long view is yes, in some spots in the manufacturing sector it is.

But aha, welcome to the world of the UBI. Sociologists have advanced the concept of the Uniform Basic Income. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states provide their citizens with a minimum income from their oil earnings. Alaska provides its citizens with a share of the state’s income from oil.

Robotics will be treated by the U.S. same as oil. The income generated by the government through society’s use of robotics will finance the UBI, which will work like Social Security disability payments. The UBI will be determined by statistical analysis of what’s required to afford a decent standard of living for all those displaced by the use of robotics.

Those who want more income than the UBI provides would of course learn to build the robots. They could go into business, become entrepreneurs that will accelerate the process of taking America to science fiction territory. Flying cars, intelligent appliances, homes that produce their own energy, the Internet of Everything (squared).

Robots that teach students while the students are sleeping. Society will create many more geniuses. Geniuses will be required to figure out ways the human race can turn the Milky Way into our neighborhood.

“Cesar, Cesar…wake up. You’ve been dreaming.” Ah, Mildred, but it’s not a dream. It’s a vision of the future.Today’s robots will give birth to tomorrow’s robots with artificial intelligence. And those robots will take us farther than our limited imaginations can take us.

The signs are everywhere. Along with the philosophical and ideological paradigm shift (free college, universal health care, Norway in America), new scientific discoveries are changing our physical world.

The discovery of new materials used in the manufacture of solar panels has cut the cost of those panels by more than 90%. Anticipate the shift from oil to solar in the near future. Houses, glass panes, cars are on their way to becoming producers of energy through solar paint and solar windows. Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s biggest supply of sand, will shift from oil production to production of solar panels because the new panels use sand as one of its most important raw materials.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), exported by America to European states, will free Europe from the asphyxiating bear hug of the Russian Bear.

There will be more energy produced each year than the industrialized world needs so all the excess energy will accelerate Africa’s industrialization.  Africa and other parts of our world previously bypassed by the march of civilization will be awash with energy that will enable those countries to make quantum leaps in their development.

But for all that to happen and happen quickly in our children’s lifetime, there must be that philosophical and ideological paradigm shift. There must be that new beginning that Bernie Sanders talks about constantly, incessantly.  There must be a dramatic change in the nation’s priorities.  From creation of fantastic wealth for the 1% to distribution of new and existing wealth to the middle and lower classes.

Free college. Universal health care. Cradle-to-grave security. Reform of Wall Street. Throw in reform of the pharmaceutical companies. End Citizens United.

Make government work for the people and not the 1%.

Hillary must pursue the policies espoused by Bernie.  Better: make Bernie the VP running mate.  Assign Bernie the task of going around the country spreading the gospel of Norway. Make America like Norway.

What America does, other countries will do. So the whole world becomes like Norway.

Reform the greedy capitalists by turning them into benefactors of our youth. How? By taxing them high enough so America can finance free college, universal health care, etc. that the new generations – the x generation, the “me” generation, the millennial generation all want.

Make the top 1% pay for all these mind-blowing beneficial changes that society wants for its citizens. It’s about time they contributed to social revival, about time they pay back the country that allowed them to stink up the world with their ostentatious display of newly minted gold coins.  Palatial yachts. Corporate jets. The Donald Trumps bragging about their billions.

About time.

(The author may be reached at lumbacesar@gmail.com.)
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