What about the rest of the “top 10%” families? Well, many are successfully centered around a doctor, lawyer, mid-level executive, or financier. But in the anonymous and soul-crunching background, the other 90% of families are starting to look like a ragtag conglomerate of debt-serfs and welfare-survivalists.
Populists like to take pens against pond scum CEOs, but it is unlikely that CEOs, even with their crony compensation committees and captured boards, are what’s driving unbalanced pay.
What’s more likely is CEOs are the happy pawns of natural selection. It seems natural selection is telling us we don’t need as many total people to run business, the country, or the planet, anymore.
Most multinational companies have reduced workforces and are sitting on both profits and inventory. Multinationals can produce more than populations can buy, and with a relatively small amount of labor. And most of the labor can be faceless and temporary. Numbers.
And facelessness will increase over the next years as robots proliferate. Tens of millions of workers will become jobless, with no new jobs, except possibly pretend jobs, ever to be created.
Prostitutes and mid-level executives alike will be under pressure, as sexbots and business bots replace their job functions. Basically, the further you are away from being CEO, the more pressure you will feel. In fact, we are already feeling an early form of this pressure today, which is why CEO pay is going up relative to all other levels.
Looking back, we can see that people were in high demand from 1947 to 1974. During this period, the middle-class flourished, as businesses and governments needed huge numbers of people to produce goods and services.
Then, a new 50 year cycle started after 1974. Mass amounts of labor were not needed, unions could be crushed, limited numbers of shareholders could be enriched. Sure, there were exceptions like the dot-com boom and the real estate bubble, but they were fleeting, and have not changed the big picture of CEOs relationship to the common worker.
Around 2024, a new 50 year cycle will begin. It is very likely to be a robot cycle, where robots and artificial intelligence begin a saturation of the physical world.
The coming 50 year robot cycle will introduce critical questions about humans’ place on the planet. Initially, the response will be additional welfare, and faux-jobs which will not be necessary but which will pay salaries for families to survive. But just as labor unions were crushed and shareholders won over the 50 year cycle starting in 1975, so will natural selection’s dynamic in the robot cycle inexorably contradict humanist central government policies.
Those entrepreneurs and politicians at the top of the 50 year robot cycle will do fabulously well, and will probably not have to scrap for their own survival for several additional 50 cycles. Natural selection will still handsomely reward the humans at the top who help her along with evolutionary cycles. Today’s high CEO pay is an early indicator of this.
These natural forces being outlined are nothing new, however the cycle times are fast by human standards. For instance, the Neanderthals became extinct during a 10,000 year period of being economically squeezed-out by more intelligent modern humans. But it took only 40 years for today’s cognitive elite to exert an economic stranglehold on the lower 90%. During the coming robot cycle, this could become dangerous for the lower 90%, the non-shareholders who happen to represent the exact labor pool that’s becoming non-necessary.
We’re not talking revolution here. Today’s human society is more peaceful and bloodless than it ever has been. The most likely scenario is a firm control by the elite of reproductive rights upon the lower 90%, in exchange for taking care of the lower 90% for the remainder of their natural lives. In this scenario, being elite counts for more than money; it’s survival of offspring. Already, many economically-pinched young people are planning to lead a life of maximum personal pleasure by not having children, so no government policy will even be needed, and welfare policy could easily be tweaked to stop births. We have already seen how countries like China and India have dramatically reduced population in one generation’s time.
Any one country that embraces the fifty-year robot cycle and reduces their dependent human populations will gain tremendous economic efficiencies over neighboring countries, and immediately put pressure upon the neighboring countries to follow suit. In contrast, any country that continues to artificially support high birthrates might reasonably turn into a slum from within. This, in turn, would reduce birthrates on its own.
In the end, we cannot blame CEOs for what is actually natural selection. CEOs are merely being rewarded for being the hand of natural selection. Whether the human population increases out to 50 billion people, or reduces down to 1 billion people, has more to do with forces of natural selection than with a 100-year government plan.
Humans do have the intelligence to embrace natural selection in a peaceful way. Unlike Neanderthals, who were mostly decimated by slow starvation, as a result of not being able to compete with cognitively elite modern humans, the surplus population today could be given long and pleasurable lives, but no children. In the end, the shape of things will be up to the wisdom of our future leaders’ response to natural selection.