But consumption is a big part of the puzzle. Whereas a century ago most economic activity focused on necessities, the reverse is true today: 70 per cent centres on discretionary spending. Perhaps not surprisingly, this drive to consume is falling short of providing us what we actually need: “We can make great plasma screens and seat warmers and teeth whiteners and apps that will guide you, turn by turn, to the nearest edgy martini bar,” Roberts writes. “But when it comes to, say, dealing with climate change, or reforming the financial system, or some other large-scale problem out in the real world, we have little idea where to start.”
But what if…
Plasma screens and seat warmers and teeth whiteners and apps… ARE the solution to “large-scale problems” like “climate change” or “reforming the financial system” or…?
What does your average “veteran journalist” know — truly know — about “the real world” and its real problems (as opposed to imaginary ones like “climate change”?)
I guarantee you: he knows even less about how to “deal” with “problems” (rather than just write about them), and even less about how to conceive of, manufacture and market real and useful objects, like plasma screens and seat warmers.
Many of the pharmaceutical drugs we use today were discovered while the inventor was trying to invent a cure for something else.
And in many cases, doctors and chemists still don’t understand why they work.