Change: Past, Present, and Future
Copyright © August 1, 2017 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
During the course of my life our world has changed dramatically.
Computers have replaced human decision making in almost everything and this has resulted in a significant reduction in human errors, and in the speed at which information can be accessed, and in the maintenance of adequate levels of inventory so that things are usually immediately available where and when they are needed.
Prices have also changed. For example, the cost of a good laptop computer has decreased from about $1,500 in the year 1997 to about $400 in the year 2017. This has been due to a variety of factors such as advancements in technology and economies of scale.
During this same period of time the cost of one pound of hamburger has increased from about $1.41 in the year 1997 to about $4.48 in the year 2017. This is due to the fact that even though there have been some improvements in the way cattle are bred and fed, there have been no significant improvements in the design of the basic cow.
Therefore over the past twenty years some items have become more affordable whereas other items have become more expensive.
Now let's take a look at the present and also at how things might change in the future and what impact those changes may have on our lives.
The Present in the Year 2017
More people are buying more stuff over the internet. This is causing small stores to go out of business. However, there are still several items and services that are purchased at local stores, such as the following:
Entertainment is changing in the following ways:
- Fresh meat, fresh fish, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables: Most people want to visually verify the quality of the fresh food they purchase. It is unlikely that people will start buying fresh food over the internet without being able to carefully examine it before they pay for it.
- Footwear: Most people still want to try on a pair of shoes before they pay for them because they know that the size of the shoe is not as important as how the shoes feel on their feet. And since they will be using their shoes for walking, a poor quality fit will normally result in foot pain and blisters. Therefore most people will continue to purchase their shoes at a local store even if there is a money back guarantee on shoes purchased over the internet because it takes more time and effort to repackage and return a pair of shoes by mail than it does to try on a pair of shoes at a store.
- Firearms: Federal firearm laws will continue to force people to purchase (or pick up) their firearms at a federal firearm dealer.
- Alcohol: Federal alcohol laws will continue to force people to purchase their alcohol at a local store.
- Fuel: Gasoline and diesel will still be purchased at local gas stations.
- Automobile Repairs, Appliance Repairs, Mechanics, Electricians, and Plumbers: Things still break or wear out and people still have to make a decision on whether to repair or replace the item. Therefore repair technicians are still in demand today and they will continue to be in demand in the future. However, the cost of new replacement items is decreasing because people can compare prices on the internet and therefore profit margins are declining in order to attract customers. This is true for automobiles, major appliances, and small appliances.
Education: Our world is changing but our schools and our universities are still graduating students with the job skills that were in demand five or ten years ago. In the year 2017 many graduates are having difficulty finding jobs in the area in which they specialized.
- Netflix is taking over the home entertainment market for movies and television shows. At a cost between approximately $8 per month (1 device) to $12 per month (4 devices) Netflix is more competitively priced than satellite TV or cable TV. And Netflix customers can pick from thousands of movies to watch anytime they want. They do not have to watch a movie at a specific time or record a movie when it is aired so they can watch it later. Netflix will also probably result in a significant reduction in the sale of DVD and Blu-ray discs. However, in my opinion, if you want to own a movie then you would be better advised to buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc because you will have a permanent copy of the movie in your possession that does not require a monthly fee or a functional wireless internet system. Approximately 200 discs (no plastic cases) will fit inside a soft carrying case that measures approximately 12 inches by 11.5 inches by 6 inches. In many cases a digital copy is included with the disc and if is not then you can purchase a digital copy online for approximately $1 or $2 if you already own the movie disc.
- Movie Rental Stores: They are closing down and they are being replaced with movie rental machines at large retail stores and some "dollar stores." As Netflix gradually grows these movie rental machines will also probably gradually disappear.
In my opinion, young people today should seriously consider the following four options and then pick the option that is most appealing to them:
I did not include the military in the above list because I personally do not think that the military is a logical choice for most young people today. Most young people today would not be happy giving up their freedom of choice and being forced to relocate to another part of the world at the discretion of their military superiors. If you are deployed to an area with an unstable government and widespread fighting then you could die in a foreign land fighting in a conflict that you personally do not care about. You would also be forced to receive a series of injections, inoculations, and immunizations that could negatively impact your health for the rest of your life. However, the military may be a reasonable option for a very small number of young people who have carefully considered all their options and the military may be their only chance of improving their standard of living in the short run and in the long run.
- High School Diploma: Graduate from high school and then immediately get the best job you can. This is a very logical option for many, many young people because it does not involve the expense of additional education, and it generates some income immediately. A good job at a growing company could provide job security and financial independence at an early age without the burden of having to pay back a student loan.
- Technical Degree: Consider enrolling in a nearby technical school where you can get training in a skill area that you would truly enjoy doing for the rest of your life. Some examples might be mechanics, electricians, and plumbers. In my opinion, this would be a very reasonable option for some young people if you believe you would enjoy doing this type of work.
- Two-Year Associates Degree: Consider a two-year Associates Degree in Business Administration at a local Junior College to enhance your chances of getting a supervisor or management job at any company that you go to work for. Before you enroll you should verify that the college you are considering does actually award a two-year Associates Degree. Colleges are constantly changing their focus and a college that offered a two-year degree in the past may no longer be offering those degrees at the current time to new students.
- Four-Year College Degree: Consider a four-year College Degree only if you are truly motivated to continue your education in a field that you want to work in for the rest of your life. However, even if you know you want a four-year college degree, you should first get a two-year Associates degree at a Junior College because it will give you an earned college degree in-hand after two years for the minimum amount of cash. Your two-year college degree will then be transferable to many four-year colleges and this would only leave you two more years of study to get a four-year college degree. If you need money as you continue your education then your two-year Associates college degree could get you a higher paying supervisor or manager job as you continue to take classes at night or online at an accredited four-year college or university.
Future Job Opportunities
The food industry, the alcohol industry, the repair industry, and the real estate business have all been in business for thousands of years. In my opinion, they will continue to be in operation for as long as mankind dwells upon the earth. The types of foods, alcohols, and repairs gradually change but these businesses will remain in operation during bad times, normal times, and good times. Therefore a career or job in one of these areas would probably be a reasonable choice when compared to a job in an industry that is currently in decline.
If you think you might enjoy a job in sales then the real estate business is a good one to consider. However, the real estate business is not any different than any other type of sales job -- some people do not earn enough money to pay their monthly bills, other people earn a reasonable living, and some people do exceedingly well.
The medical and legal professions have also been around for thousands of years. But the time and money required to become licensed in one of these professions is tremendous. And in the United States your license to practice is limited to the state where you receive your license. It is not easy to move your practice to another state. It can even be difficult to move your practice to another area within the same state because you will have to re-establish your reputation and your customer base in that new area. However, if this type of work truly interests you then you should pursue it if you are financially and intellectually able to do so.
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