Trends for society through technology: What Jay-Z knows
Mary Meeker from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins recently gave a presentation at Stanford University on the the state of the web. The slide deck is filled with industry trends and statistical data to back it up.
So, I went through the deck and if you’re paying attention to the world we live in, nothing in the deck should be a surprise to you. Every presentation of this kind is backward-looking. That is, it describes trends that everyone can observe. These sorts of presentations do not “look around corners” nor do they speculate on a discontinuous or non-linear future. Of course, these latter events in history represent the significant opportunities for society and culture.
All that being said, there is interesting trend data and statistics in Mary Meeker’s deck.
The linear societal doom
It was going good until I looked at the last few slides in the deck. One slide shows US spending on entitlements and debt as percent of GDP. Another slide shows the distribution of taxes among entitlements, defense, interest and other. The US spends 57% of taxes on entitlements. A third slide shows that entitlement and interest expense will exceed GDP by 2025.
What Jay-Z knows
We were kids without fathers… so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves. – Jay-Z
What Jay-Z knows is about peer groups. Pick your peer group, don’t let it fall to chance.
Everyone who walks on the face of the earth encounters peer groups. Each peer group has it’s own culture and set of standards. Whether you are going to be successful in life (a sort of difficult self-referential idea inside the group) depends on what peer group you hang with.
We could probably all agree that being part of the entitlement system which represents 57% of tax revenue spending is, in a sense, making one group of people pay for the existence of another group of people. If this entitlement peer group continues to grow then a well-functioning economy is unsustainable. When entitlements and debt exceed GDP (Gross Domestic Product) then that will be the end of the “late great USA”.
Pick who will inspire you…
Reading the slide deck its easy to see that the folks who consume these sorts of decks believe that “the future has unlimited possibilities”. And, as Jay-Z says, “we pick and choose… [those] who would inspire the world we are going to make for ourselves.”
But what about the other peer group? What about the people who consume 57% of the taxes that other people pay?
There are people everywhere where the temptation of having someone else pay your way is too strong to resist. I encounter these people from time to time. They have little regret or embarrassment for their situation. They would rather spend their time “working the system” to try to get benefits than spend their time positioning themselves to be productive members of society.
Read the Jay-Z quote again and then page through the slide deck linked below.
Who will you pick to inspire the world that we collectively will make? Are you the “Meekers’s” or a recipient of the 57% of tax revenue?
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