Sunday, October 15, 2017

Understanding century 21 - IT, Globalization and urban-urban migration

In the 90s the world kind of made sense. Since then, not so much. I don’t know if teens truly are experiencing an anxiety epidemic, but any American growing up in the new millennium has reason to be anxious.

I think the root causes of our disruption are globalization (China and India) and information technology (AI, robots, advertising supported web, etc) leading to peak human/mass disability and the collapse of the GOP.

I’m now considering a third factor — namely urban-urban migration (though it may be a consequence of globalization and IT rather than a root cause). The population required to sustain a viable local economy keeps increasing; this is absolutely not what we expected when the net was young. Once a city of 10,000 was viable, then a city of 50,000, then a few hundred thousand. We seem too heading towards a million as baseline.

This is politically potent here because the structure of American government gives disproportionate power to low population density regions. The pain of these communities is politically consequential. This is usually described as a “rural” crisis, but these aren’t “rural” in the traditional sense. They are regions around large towns and small cities that are no longer economically viable.

I was a family medicine resident and a young physician in communities like these. Recent stories feel familiar — they remind me of my desolate drives along the Erie Canal and the IT driven end of the mill town. It’s a worldwide thing.

Humans have been migrating from rural areas to cities for centuries. It’s often been socially disruptive. It still is, particularly because of the way American government works. The dying regions have power, and as they lose their cognitive elite they are ever more desperate and easier to deceive.

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