Over the last 2 days I’ve been tweetshotting excerpts from David Wells, “Recent Economic Changes“, 1890. For background reading on the economic period of ~1870-1890: Second Industrial Revolution.
This period is not a direct historical analog to ours, but it’s probably as close an analog as there is, along with the 1920s-1930s. Each of the three periods struggled with serious macroeconomic crises, albeit substantially different natures. It’s hard to compare those.
People of that time did wonder the same questions that are being so frequently asked today: What is the nature of technology-driven economic change and creative disruption? What is the future of income and wealth distribution and returns from progress — for labor and for capital? How do present changes compare to those in the past, and what can be forecast about the changes yet to come? What kind of world are we building, and what kind of world will we leave for our children and grandchildren?
Wells, writing in 1890, would have been wholly gobsmacked at the widely distributed gains of the next 100 years! It may not surprise you that I think we are going to repeat what Brad describes in Slouching Towards Utopia? in this century again. But, we actually have to prove it, and do it.
Source Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12