I can only imagine how all the farmers of the 1800s felt as they watched their children leave the confines of the family farm to make their way in the big city. The city offered more opportunities as factories, mills, and mines drained work-ready youngsters from the less relevant countryside.
This is exactly what's happening in countries like Brazil, India, and China. The United States is undergoing a similar migration. Instead of farmers moving to cities, our skilled industrial communities will retool and reapply their experiences to technology and information-based industries. Advances in technology and the advance of the virtual worker means that people can find new jobs with new companies without leaving their existing communities. More and more companies can build mentis-facturing work teams across the country, leaving physical communities and economies intact.
Fundamentally, this shift extends beyond economics. Our societies and core institutions must change to keep pace with the shift. To strengthen mentis-facturing, the growing leader of our economic prosperity, communities and leaders should consider the following requirements for growing a mind-driven economy:
- Change the way we educate. Our current primary and education systems are designed to train great workers who can follow instructions and fit within manufacturing-based economic systems. Remember that "test" that asked you to read all the instructions before beginning? The last instruction read: "Stop at number 1." It got me every time. Why get my brain going, then tell me to ignore all the creative outputs of my mind?
- Get citizens into the workforce faster. Our community and technical colleges increasingly provide a faster track to getting the technical and information skills people need for a mentis-facturing economy. That means more people in the workforce, faster, without the cost and delay of a four-year college education. Declining birth rates and smaller families mean we need more income-producing (and, I must say openly, taxable) citizens entering the workforce more quickly to sustain our quality of life.
- Restructure federal, state, and local tax policies. Governments and policies require a few upgrades to recognize services and information outputs as the majority of transactions in our economy. Washington State is already seeing this already with proposal to impose sales taxes on services and recently-approved taxes on mentis-facturing outputs like digital goods. This is just the start. Our leaders and communities should be at the forefront of these recommendations to get it right and avoid emotional, reactionary debates.
- Accept that intellectual property is king and work with global leadership to standardize copyright protections and enforce them. This will allow us to outsource more of our innovations to places -- domestically and abroad -- that can produce them more efficiently and cost-effectively.